Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Everything You Want via Text

If you’re like me you often find yourself walking around and need some random bit of information. Maybe it’s the number for a restaurant to make a reservation or the score of the Monday Night Football game. Well, wonder no longer, there’s a better way than calling that friend of yours who’s always around a computer and asking them. There are two text message services that will answer your questions for you. The best part is, they’ll do it for free (assuming you’ve got free text messages or some large number of prepaid).

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while since it’s one of those things where everyone around ooohs and aaaahs whenever I do it. Now, my faithful reader, it’s time for me to impart my wisdom onto you, so you may impress your friends with your mobile savvy. So here’s the deal:


Also known as 44636, 4INFO is the best way to get your sports fix while you’re on the go. Just text a team, say “Chicago Bears” to 4INFO (44636) and they’ll get right back to you with the score of the game (or the time if it hasn’t been played yet). Want to know all the scores? That’s easy too, just text “NFL” (obviously you don’t need the quotes). Other good ones are “NCAAF” (NCAA football), “NCAAB” (NCAA basketball), plus the obvious ones like “NBA” and “MLB.” Plus, and I didn’t know this until I visited their site, you can get fantasy football stats this way too? Want to know how many yards Kyle Orton threw for in this afternoon’s game against the Packers? (Not many.) Just text “Kyle Orton” to 4INFO and they’ll return text you with the answer. There are lots of other uses for 4INFO, you can get a list on their FAQ or just text “help” to 44636 and they’ll return text you with the lowdown. (Another one I just noticed is “pu” for “pickup line.”) Anyway, poke around, I’m sure you’ll find lots of other cool uses. Or, you could try . . .


Also known as 46645, this is Google’s SMS search. I use it primarily to find phone numbers and addresses for things around New York City (which 4INFO can do as well). Want to make a reservation at Balthazar but don’t have the phone number? Just text “Balthazar New York City” to GOOGL and they’ll get back to you with the address and phone number. On top of the basic local lookup, GOOGL has weather (text “weather” and your zip code), movies (text “movies” and your zip code) as well as other goodies. My personal favorite feature, however, is the basic questions. Having an argument at a bar about how old Shaun Alexander of the Seatlle Seahawks is? (This question may come from personal experience.) All you have to do is text “how old is shaun alexander?” to GOOGL and they’ll get back to you with his age (he was born in 1977). Similarly, GOOGL also has a defintion feature. Just text “define” and your word to 46645 and Google will tell you the definition. Great for those impromptu street Scrabble battles . . . I guess.

Well, that concludes today’s lesson. I hope you will find these text message services as useful as I have. And, as always, if you’ve got any suggestions or know of any other cool related stuff, drop a comment.

December 5, 2005