Jolly Roger Telephone Company, saving the world from bad telemarketing | How Does it Work?

This is brilliant. It’s a service that screens your phone calls and answers with an annoying, delaying robot if the caller is a telemarketer or scammer.

How does it work?
1) You buy a subscription, telling us your phone numbers and your email address.

2) Pick a robot you like from our “Pick a Robot” page. Mark down the robot’s phone number and keep it handy.

3) When you receive a telemarketing call, you transfer it to the robot (see “Use a Robot” page for instructions).

4) After our robot is done talking to the telemarketer, it will send a copy to your email so you can have a laugh.

Source: Jolly Roger Telephone Company, saving the world from bad telemarketing | How Does it Work?

Mandatory 10-Digit Dialing Coming to 919 Region Mar. 31

Went to the city’s website today and found out that Raleigh will require 10-digit dialing by the end of the month. I didn’t hear anything about this until now.

The March 31st deadline doesn’t leave a lot of time for phone system vendors, alarm vendors, and others to update their equipment. This could be a trainwreck in the making.

The growing population in central North Carolina and addition of devices that require a phone number is exhausting the available numbers in the 919 area code. The North Carolina Utilities Commission has announced a new area code is coming to the 919 region. The 984 area code will overlay the 919 area code bringing 10-digit dialing to the region. You won’t have to change telephone numbers, just the way you dial in the 919 area code. The 984 area code will be assigned only for new telephone numbers within the area code.

Effective March 31, 2012, 10-digit dialing – the appropriate area code (919 or 984) + the seven-digit number – will be necessary for local and expanded local calls. It will not be necessary to dial a "1" or a "0" when dialing your local and expanded local calls. Local calling areas and rates will not be affected by this change.

via Mandatory 10-Digit Dialing Coming to 919 Region Mar. 31 – The Official City of Raleigh Portal.

Break-in, one year later

Michael Darnell Green

Speaking of anniversaries, today is the first-year anniversary of the break-in of our home. Though Michael Darnell Green was arrested for a string of break-ins around our home at the time, our home was not among those that Green confessed to burglarizing.

Since that time, I’ve become convinced that Green was the burglar. Our burglar appeared to know what he was doing and by all accounts Green is a seasoned professional. He certainly fits the description offered by my neighbors and by the surveillance video that shows the suspect. It could be that Green didn’t remember our home because the detectives taking him around the neighborhood didn’t lead him through the woods the way Green most likely approached our home. Green also was unsuccessful in entering our home, so he might not have remembered it as clearly as the others. He allegedly hit so many homes, I wouldn’t be surprised if he couldn’t remember them all.
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Still no luck using my Droid phone as a SIP client

Now that I understand why my Droid phone is using a panic-inducing IP address, I decided to try my hand again at getting the SIPdroid app to work with my home phone system.

My first try was to set my firewall rules to allow traffic from 28.x.x.x. The problem with this is that since the 28.x.x.x addresses aren’t advertised (and thus routable), my home server can get packets from them all day, but can’t send anything back. My ISPs routers don’t know what to do with them.
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Make your own cell phone network

I just discovered a very cool open-source project that turns an ordinary laptop into a cellular tower. It uses Asterisk to route calls.

Very, very cool. Now I have to find out how it works!

OpenBTS is an open-source Unix application that uses the Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) to present a GSM air interface ("Um") to standard GSM handset and uses the Asterisk® software PBX to connect calls. The combination of the ubiquitous GSM air interface with VoIP backhaul could form the basis of a new type of cellular network that could be deployed and operated at substantially lower cost than existing technologies in greenfields in the developing world.

via The OpenBTS Project.

Home break-in averted!

No sooner had I put the finishing touches on my Asterisk alarm script that it got put to use on a real break-in attempt! I stared in disbelief when an actual alarm message came in, thinking that perhaps it was a test message that had only now gotten delivered. When I saw that the alarm type wasn’t one I was using to test my script, I called RPD dispatchers. I then scrambled to find my neighbors’ phone numbers to confirm what was happening.

The break-in attempt was unsuccessful as the alarm sounded as soon as the guy pried open the window. He fled, but not before two of my neighbors caught a glimpse of him. Police arrived, searched the house, and determined that no one had been inside. They secured the window and rearmed the system. My neighbors have since offered to secure the window themselves.

The funny thing is that I was literally testing the system at 10 AM this morning. When the real alarm came in, Kelly called me right after our alarm called.

“How many times today is our house going to be broken into?,” she asked, jokingly.

“Uh, honey? That was a real alarm.”

The police have plenty of clues about the perpetrator. He’s a white guy with a similar build as me, who was riding a bike and wearing a bike helmet. He took off but I would guess that it won’t be long before he’s apprehended.

I’m glad I found out about it five seconds after it happened!

Update 27 Nov: At least six other homes in the area were broken into or attempted yesterday. At one home, the intruder actually took a moment to cook himself some waffles, topping them off with honey. I’m really not sure what that says about the burglar.

Asterisk alarm script fixed

After getting another annoying 3:50 AM wakeup call from my Asterisk alarm monitoring script yesterday, I fixed my script once and for all. I customized the script first created by Uros Indihar, adding the zone assignments that were made on our system, among other things.

Now my Asterisk system only sends alerts for actual alarms and not test messages, unlike my previous script (those test calls get made at 3:50 AM on the fourth Thursday of each month). I can also parse the zone information, letting me know exactly what sensor on the system tripped.

I’ll fix my script up a little more before posting it.

Randall for Congress breaks the law?

A neighbor got a political robocall on behalf of Randall for Congress yesterday. While that’s not unusual, what IS unusual is that the company calling on behalf of Randall spoofed the CallerID on the call, pointing it to a disconnected number in the 919 area code. This is in apparent violation of NCGS § 75-100, North Carolina’s Telephone Solicitation Law:

(i) No telephone solicitor shall knowingly use any method to block or otherwise circumvent a telephone subscriber’s use of a caller identification service. No provider of telephone caller identification services shall be held liable for violations of this subsection committed by other individuals or entities.

Here’s what my neighbor said about the call:

I got a robocall last night in which a person claiming to be Maria Schrader (sp?) representing African American conservatives encouraged me to vote for Bill Randall for congress. My caller id showed her number as 919-521-8593. I called back to ask to be taken off the list and got an automated message indicating the the number had been disconnected or was no longer in service.

I’m not too impressed with the use of forged callerid, so I left a message on the “Randall for Congress” line and got a call back this morning from Tom Price who informed me that the robocall came from Washington Political Group. I called them at 678-794-9988 and Don Burrell said he would take my number off their calling list.

Longtime MT.Net readers know I don’t take kindly to callers using forged CallerID. I’m sad to see it has come to North Carolina politics. I hope the attorney general steps in and smacks any campaign that tries to do it, as they so clearly deserve it.

Answering machines

I called someone at the city today and my call got sent to what sounded like an ancient voicemail system. I was subjected to a lengthy computerized lesson on how to leave a message and it struck me as so totally irrelevant here in the year 2010.

Answering machines have been around a long time. A man named Vlademar Poulsen invented the first one in 1898. Dubbed the telegraphone, it was a manually-operated means of recording a telephone conversation. It wasn’t until 1935 that a machine that could answer itself was invented by Willy Muller. It was later still (1960) before answering machines were first sold in the U.S.
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Asterisk hacking

I had reason to check my Asterisk phone server logs today and noticed some script kiddies have been knocking on its door. Apparently an exploit kit exists that hacks into Asterisk PBXs and allows you to register as a phone on these systems. Way back in 2002 I put some firewall rules in place which allowed fairly wide open access to my Asterisk system. They had been there so long that I never revisited them, but on the other hand I never had much reason to.

I’m not quite sure what the point is as VoIP makes calling any number in the world virtually free, and VoIP-to-VoIP calls are completely free. Where’s the incentive to hack? Heck, back in my day when ten-cents-per-minute long distance was considered a bargain there were plenty of tools and methods to get free calls. Not that I ever tried them, mind you, but I knew a number of people who did (Apple Computer might not exist today if it weren’t for this kind of petty larceny).
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