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I should be paying bills right now, but it bores me to tears. So I thought we could make a quick deal first. If I give you some useful information that you don't already have, will you email me something in return? If the answer is yes, read on.

For years, I was habitually irked that the county was slow to fill potholes. There were months that I had to slalom my way around the same potholes day after day. Worse, nightfall and summer downpours filled and obscured them.

Too many wheel alignments later, I phoned the Public Works Department to complain. The clerk wasn't interested in my complaint, but was very interested in the location of the potholes. I told her there were dozens of them on Rotonda Blvd between Parade and Boundary. She thanked me. Two days later, every one was filled with asphalt. I've reported hundreds of them since.

So here's a tip. Program the number of the County Works Department into your cell phone. Eliminating a pothole will then be just a click away. In Charlotte County, the number is (941) 575-3600.

Speaking of cell phones, they've come a long way lately. But the carriers fail to tout the really useful enhancements - the services that have been added when you dial "411."

Do you know that panic feeling you get when you're lost and late for an appointment? Did you know that if you dial 411, the operator will give you driving directions at no additional charge? Your cell phone is all you need to "Mapquest" your route. The operator will also give you traffic updates, pre-purchase movie tickets for you, provide sports scores and read stock quotes.

Here's another thing about phones you should never forget. When someone tells you they are putting you on hold, don't believe it. If they hit the mute button instead, they will be able to hear everything you say while you are "on hold." I could tell you some real interesting stories about this.

This next tip is going to save you a lot of frustration. I want you to quickly blurt out the smallest number in this group: "123456789O". The answer is one. It's not a trick question.

The last character in the group is not a zero. It's the capital letter 'O' as in "NOPQRS." As a software developer, I have witnessed hundreds of users unable to enter passwords, software registration keys, and logon names because they read a zero as an 'O' and vice versa. This becomes crucial as inept software designers create usernames, passwords and registration keys that include a

mixture of alpha and numeric characters.

Here are the 2 side by side: O0. Remember this. The capital letter 'O' is fat and round. Zeros are taller than they are round.

I'm out of room. Ugh! That means I have to go pay bills. You've got something to do, too. Remember the first paragraph?

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Note: Brett Slattery is owner/broker of Brett Slattery Realty llc.

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