NICK DOUGLAS — Some time when modern folk started storing our phones in our pants, we decided we no longer wanted everyone to know our numbers. At the same time, we started inventing ways to use phones that didn't involve that distasteful habit of actually talking on phones: voicemail, Skype, and texting from computers. The chimera of all this tech is Jaxtr, a service that lets you take calls, texts, or voicemail from anyone on the web, without handing them your phone number. So I tried it. Go ahead, leave me a message.
Jaxtr's home page explains the service with a three-panel comic:
That's pretty clear. You post a friendly widget, people call you from their computer, you hear calls or voicemails at your leisure, no one knows your number, and you can end the service at any time. I can see three types of people appreciating this service:
- Anyone posting an ad on Craigslist, selling something on eBay, basking in 15 minutes of YouTube fame, or some other reason to take calls for a period of time. For them, Jaxtr is a voice-message system that just happens to conveniently fit with their normal phone habits.
- Picky people with more fans than friends, who want to hear constant aural love without the promise of loving back — or the trust of handing over their number to everyone they want to hear from.
- The penny-pinchers who, back in the payphone days, would "ping" each other like so: "Mrs. Douglas, you have received a call from It's-Nick-pick-me-up-from-school-thanks." Jaxtr lets them leave voicemails without paying for a normal mobile call.
Signing up was simple. I filled out two quick forms, told Jaxtr my phone number, got a call from them and entered a two-digit phone number to confirm my phone (no signing up with your enemy's phone number), and posted here. We'll see how the calling goes.
One weird detail: The Jaxtr programmers decided that actually naming time zones is too obvious, so they picked cities — not major cities, mind you — to represent time zones. I just have to figure out whether my zone is "Boise, America" or "Dawson Creek, America":