Monday, May 1, 2000

Organize your calling cards with PocketCall

PRODUCT REVIEW

By Greg McKinney

Recently, I was at an airport attempting to use a pay phone to call a co-worker back at my office. I set my carry-on luggage down at my feet, picked up the receiver, and placed it on my shoulder, holding it in place by craning my neck. Then I pulled out my calling card and my Palm device. That was the tricky part, holding them both in my left hand while attempting to dial the phone with my right.


"Just to get in touch with your office, you have to combine the skills of a mathematician and a contortionist."

Unfortunately, I had forgotten one important step; I had neglected to look up the number I was attempting to call! Of course that meant I had to rearrange everything so that I could get to my stylus and open the Address Book on my Palm device. I could probably go on, detailing all the steps it took to make that phone call (and not dropping anything along the way), but you get the idea.

The solution

The simple act of making a telephone call has become increasingly complicated, as we're forced to dial strings of access numbers, PIN numbers, international codes, extensions, etc., all while juggling calling cards, address books and phone receivers. Just to get in touch with your office, you have to combine the skills of a mathematician and a contortionist.

There are several ways to work around this situation, however. One such solution is a piece of software called PocketCall, designed for the express purpose of organizing your various calling cards and phone numbers. Simply tap on your Palm device a few times, and you'll have all the information you need to make a call.

PocketCall is put out by a company called Electric Pocket. What the product does is allow you to store all your calling card information right on your Palm organizer. It also stores access numbers, telephone numbers, and international codes, so everything you need to make a phone call is in one place. You even get instructions on how to dial, written out in script form.

Making the call

With your calling cards entered into your Palm device, making a phone call is relatively simple. Once PocketCall is started, simply fill in the blanks with drop-down menus. As you can see in Figure A, the interface is quite friendly to use.

FIGURE A

The PocketCall interface is quite friendly to use.

First, select the calling card you wish to use. In the example shown in Figure B, I selected "Sample" from the drop-down menu, but you'd probably choose AT&T or some other carrier.