Thu

Aug 10
2006

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

whocalled.us

Here's another take on Suburban Mom Embraces the Surveillance Society. whocalled.us is a site where people can share comments about the identity of phone spammers. Get a call from an unrecognized number on your cell? Look it up to see who it was, where they are, and who else they called that didn't like it. Here's how to tag this interesting: antispam hacks, collective_intelligence, smartmobs, surveillance.... Not to mention another clever use for the vestigial .us domain!

Aside: Surj Patel, the program chair for our Emerging Telepony Conference, sent in this pointer. If you see any other interesting phone-related apps, be sure to let us know, as we're starting to think about the program for next year's conference now.

Digression: I'm fascinated by the stages of new technology. First it's cool, then people start to realize some of the downsides, then people figure out how to harness some of those downsides and it's cool again, at least with regard to these hacks. Eventually, everyone becomes inured to it, and it becomes boring, regardless of how important it is :-)

Going really far afield, I'm reminded of Tom Stoppard's wonderful riff on the unicorn at the beginning of Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (image courtesy of a screen shot from Google Book Search -- isn't it a shame it has to be an image and not the actual text, for what is surely fair use):

stoppard.png

I've loved that passage ever since my brother James and I used to riff on this play during high school. How true it is, and how well it describes the nature of progress.


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Comments: 14

  John Pacchetti [08.14.06 08:10 AM]

We have a pretty cool phone application at TeleTimecard.com. It allows remote workers to check in and check out by telephone. Employees can report activity codes, special hours, mileage and expenses. Every shift that is reported via telephone is viewable in real-time via a web-based interface. Text-to-Speech broadcast messages can also be created to disseminate important messages to a remote workforce.

  Eric Safern [09.29.06 02:18 PM]

I just used the site to identify (and report) a particularly nasty phone spammer - 'First National.' They get around the do-not-call list by representing themselves as offering surveys. Then, apparently, they sell your name to others who spam you for product sales (the second part is pretty clearly illegal, imho).

FWIW, the number showing up on caller ID is (818) 333-2670...

  LJ [01.11.07 02:30 PM]

I live in Winnipeg Canada and they're calling me too...they don't even say anything when I answer the phone. I've had about 6 calls from them this week..

  Dave [01.17.07 01:36 PM]

I live in Washington and this 818-333-2670 has called me 6 times this week and when answered - they say nothing. I reported this.

  Nish [01.31.07 12:25 PM]

At this point I do not answer any tel. calls coming from toll free numbers and any are code starting with 8.. If it is that important they can leave a message. Basically these people do not care about any legal rulings. The best thing is to prosecute few of them and throw them in jail, probably this way they get the message of DO NOT CALL listing. Enough is enough for invasion of privacy

  Pat [02.02.07 01:13 PM]

I'm in Ontario Canada and I am getting the same crap from 818-333-2670 and 866-253-6957. After reading some of the above, I have decided to get my air horn handy to the phone and blast the next moron that calls from these numbers.

  Rick [03.02.07 08:00 AM]

Another example of criminal parasites that should be shot in the face. They are harassing my elderly parents several times a day. You call the #, and you get the "telephone menu from hell" where NO OPTIONS WORK!! Plus, regardless of when you call it says "We are closed...our hours are until 5PM". Typical for these kinds of bastards. Victims of these kinds of parasites need to team up, go on a "witch hunt" and hang them.

The net is full of harassment complaints against these a$$holes.

  Guy [03.19.07 11:30 PM]

I keep getting phone calls from 818-333-2670 and no one answers. Lets hunt them down and jamb the phone in their ear. Another one is 702-322-0145.

  Laura [05.22.07 01:51 PM]

These people call at least 2 times a day. They don't say a word. They just listen for us to answer and then just hang up. Why? What are they trying to do?

  Dizi [07.10.07 09:56 AM]

Why doesn't someone sue these bastards for calling numbers listed on the do-not-call list??

  chuck [07.23.07 08:08 AM]

There is a free program called PhoneTray. You need a voice modem to get it to work. You can specify unique messages for unique called ID events - some are included or you can record your own as a .wav file and use it. You can use it to "Zap" calls marked as 'private' or 'not available' or block specific numbers. It has a log so you can see who's calling. I use 3 stooges messages for the most annoying serial callers. Also put caller ID on your computer screen and says the number if you turn those features on. Best windows freeware I have ever seen.

  Steven [02.17.09 12:34 AM]

@GUY

I've filed complaints against 702-322-0145 and a couple other numbers over at WhatNumberIsThis.com. Seems to have stopped most of the annoying telemarketers recently.

  kelli [03.29.09 08:40 AM]

Hello,
I keep getting a call from Fredrick hanna representing Bank of American, Yes I do owe them $$ but I have some one representing me. they call with these horrifying consequences if i do not basically comply with them. i searched the number and name today and have come up with so much negative in formation. the number is 866.811.1159 contact name Mr. Moore or Don johnson. They have also contacted my fiances ex sister in law how do we fix them from not calling her????

  Jessie [04.06.09 03:27 PM]

@kelli

You could try WhosePhoneIsThis.com. I filed a complaint over there recently against this pizza delivery bozo who kept calling me. Not quite the same as your financial situation but just as annoying!

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