Text messaging isn't just for 'LOLZ' anymore

ByUSA Today
September 05, 2009, 9:29 AM

— -- Text messaging is popular with teens and adults alike. It's an easy way to send quick notes to others. But you can do so much more.

Many websites offer tools for text messaging. You can also control gadgets via text messaging. You can even shop by texting. Here are some of the cooler uses.

Home automation

Security cameras from Linksys and D-Link can send text alerts. When motion is detected, you're notified.

There's also the Proliphix thermostat. It can report to you via text messaging. For example, receive an alert when a high temperature is reached.

Lock maker Schlage brings this and more to its LiNK system. A smart phone is recommended to control it. Laptops can also be used.

Adjust the thermostat or the lights from afar. Or, control security cameras. It also ties in with door keypads. Be alerted every time the lock is used.

The LiNK system works with a wired or wireless network. The service is $13 per month. Components are sold individually. You can expand your system as you see fit.


Sometimes you need to find information on the go. In that case, text Google (466453).

Request definitions, movie times, stock quotes, flight information and more. Convert currencies and translate words. Or, check an item's price.

Before you begin, visit Google (Google.com/sms). It provides example queries.

You can also access Google Calendar via text message. First, visit Google Calendar and click Settings. Then, click Mobile Setup.

Enter your phone number. A code is sent to your phone. Enter it on the site to activate alerts via text.

Send a text to 48368 to add appointments. Text "next" for your next appointment or "day" for your daily agenda.

Sports stadiums

Unruly fans are common at sporting events. Sometimes things go too far. In some cases, you can complain via text.

Many NFL stadiums have text messaging lines. The numbers are on scoreboards and elsewhere. Text the number to complain about bothersome fans. You don't have to worry about a nasty confrontation.


Amazon has advanced text messaging tools. Text a product name or UPC/ISBN to Amazon (262966). You'll receive Amazon's first two results, with pricing.

You can request more information on a product. Or, buy the product. You'll be asked for your e-mail address and ZIP. An automated call completes the order.

Some stores like B&H Photography provide tracking information via text message. Likewise, you can check with an airline when booking flights. Some text flight updates.

Do you shop on Craigslist and eBay? ZapTXT alerts you when an item is posted. It also sends updates on other sites.


Banks are also embracing text messaging. Many will send your balance or let you transfer funds. You may also see recent transactions.

Your bank can tell you more. Banks require more security than other businesses.

Social networking

Text messaging is ideal for tweets on Twitter. Enter your phone number on the Devices tab on your account-setting page. Text the verification code to Twitter.

Text your Twitter updates to 40404. You can also receive updates via text message. Text ON and your user name to start receiving alerts. Texting OFF and your user name ends notifications.

On Facebook, click Mobile on your Account Settings page. Associate your phone with your account. On the Notifications tab, specify the types of alerts to receive via text.

Send updates to your account by texting 32665 (FBOOK). You can add friends, send messages, get contact numbers and more. For instructions, click Mobile on the Help Center page.

Expect to see more uses for text messaging in the future. For example, Jetstar and other foreign airlines let passengers check in via text message.

Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about computers and the Internet. To get the podcast or find the station nearest you, visit www.komando.com/listen. To subscribe to Kim's free e-mail newsletters, sign up at www.komando.com/newsletters. Contact her at gnstech@gannett.com.

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