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Jot it down by cellphone

I get some of my best ideas when I’m out bicycle riding, but I worry that I’ll forget them by the time I get home. I rarely have pen and paper with me, so sometimes I call my home answering machine to leave a message about the idea. But now I can use my cell phone to “jott” it down by calling a toll-free number and dictating the message. When I get home, it will be in my e-mail inbox.

The free Jott service not only lets you send messages to yourself, but also lets you use your voice to send e-mail or text messages to friends and colleagues.

Setting it up is very easy. You go to Jott.com to open an account and give it your cell phone number and e-mail address along with the names, cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses of people you wish to contact. You can also import contacts from Outlook, Outlook Express, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and other services.

Jott will assign you a toll-free number to call when you’re ready to send a message. A recorded voice asks “Who to you want to jott?” You can say “me” or the name of any of your contacts. It then confirms your choice and asks you to speak your message. When you’re finished, you hang up or wait to record another Jott.

If it’s a message to another person you have the option to have it sent immediately via e-mail as a voice recording or to have it sent as both text and audio. If you chose the latter there will be a short delay while someone in India actually listens to the message and transcribes it.

The goal, said Jott CEO John Pollard, is to get messages transcribed within a couple of minutes, but there could be delays during peak periods. Be warned that a Jott contractor in India will hear your message.

Another service, SpinVox.com, offers a number of services including the ability to dictate memos to yourself from a cell phone that it sends to your e-mail box. Spinvox also has a nifty voice mail feature that turns your incoming voice mail into text messages or e-mail, saving you the trouble of having to listen to your messages.

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