killing off unlimited smartphone data plans, Verizon realized it had a walloping PR mess to clean up. Alas, the carrier isn't budging on its decision to impose usage-based plans, which go into effect today, but it is making nice the best way it knows how: by checking in frequently to let you know just how many megabytes you've burned through. Starting this week, smartphone owners with new (read: not unlimited) data plans will begin receiving free text message alerts informing them when they've consumed 50, 75, 90, 100, and 110 percent of their monthly allowance. People with My Verizon accounts can request email alerts instead, the same way they would with mobile broadband cards and netbooks, though either way you can only disable the alerts for the 50 and 75 percent makers -- those 90, 100, and 110 percent milestone markers appear to be mandatory. In addition, you can, as always, keep tabs on your usage by entering "#DATA", downloading the Data Usage widget for Android and BlackBerry, using the online data calculator, or availing yourself of the My Verizon portal. Hit the source links to find those last two, and best of luck with that gigabyte diet.