HI, MOM! LOVED THE COOKIES. LEAVE A MESSAGE AT THE BEEP.

I called a friend’s cell phone and got his voice mail. I know, because the message said, ‘Hi, Andy – I’m not here right now. Leave a message.’ Either all his friends are named Andy, or you will want to click here. (YouMail works only with cell phones.) Or here, which may be even better. (GrandCentral does the same trick, not quite so easily, but provides you with a phone number that will ring ALL your phones simultaneously, if you want it to – so that, for example, you can pick up the land line, not the cell, if you’re home. And so your partner need not try your home and office before finally reaching you on your cell.)

I’m not sure you’ll decide to go – or stick – with either of these. But they could be worth eight minutes to check out. Let me know, if you’re an early adapter (or just bored), and I’ll pass on your review.

It took me about 10 minutes to set up my cell phone with YouMail. The web site makes it easy to record personalized greetings – or you can do it just by pressing 88 on your phone after listening to a message left for you. But after the initial amusement wears off . . . oh, well. Decide for yourself. I haven’t tried GrandCentral yet.

MORE FUN

Ted Graham:Here‘s a cool animation that displays the changes in per capita GDP and life expectancy across countries over the last few decades. Having just read And the Band Played On, watching the life expectancy in South Africa fall is especially tragic. The default income scale is logarithmic; changing it to linear makes China’s amazing advance a little less impressive.’

☞ Cool indeed. It takes some playing with – you can set the speed, choose the countries to display, and much more. Run your mouse over the circles and sliders and pull-down menus and, with a little trial and error, you’ll get the hang of it. You can, for example, see how many physicians each country has had per 1000 people, year by year (or how many phone users, or the percentage of its budget going to the military), at the same time as you observe the country’s life expectancy rise or fall. (South Africa’s life expectancy is shown peaking at around 63 in 1992 versus 45 today.)

Actually, you could spend half the day playing with all this, and the phone sites above, so there may or may not be a column tomorrow – I am taking too much of your time.

 

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