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Slashback: Stupidity, Telebastardy, Fast Search 321

Posted by timothy
from the welcome-to-the-working-week dept.
Slashback tonight with updates and corrections on Overture's Fast Search acquisition (overstated in a previous story), sex.com's sordid adventures in California, the ongoing struggle involving telemarketers vs. your privacy, and more -- read on for the details.
Just the parts that matter. Peter Gorman of FastSearch writes:
"I read your Overture/FAST story on Slashdot and wanted to make a clarification.

Your headline implies that Overture is completely acquiring FAST. This is completely incorrect. Overture has only acquired FAST's Internet business unit assets, which includes FAST WebSearch, FAST PartnerSite and FAST's popular search site, AlltheWeb.com."

Thanks for the correction, Peter.

Isn't that the stuff that sells? icantblvitsnotbutter writes "In what looks like a scoop, The Register has an article covering the latest in the ongoing battle between Gary Kremen and VeriSign. The High Court of California has rejected a request to consider the legal issue of whether a domain can legally be deemed as property. This is a huge help for (relatively) money-strapped Kremen, whose opponent VeriSign was evidently using the request as a delaying tactic. VeriSign previously had breathlessly warned that a wrong decision would 'cripple the Internet'."

And they made such a pleasant version of Debian, too ... robmered writes "Three years after receiving US$135M in cash from Microsoft, and one and a half years after Xandros bought Corel's Linux assets, The Age is reporting that Corel has finally removed all Linux software from its website. The end of an era, or a margin note in history? The Age thinks the former, but the strength of Open Office, Gimp and numerous desktop environment efforts seem to indicate that the Linux bandwagon will roll on regardless."

Certainly, I would like to talk at length about your business proposal. Would you like to know my fees in advance? KC7GR writes "There's an article running at DMNews about a company called Castel, Inc. that has, supposedly, developed software that can be used by automated dialing equipment to bypass a TeleZapper, or similar SIT generators, and get through to your phone no matter what.

It is also claimed that the software can deliver any type of text or phone number to a recipient's caller ID box, no matter if it's true or false, and that it can also bypass the anti-telemarketer blocks made available by some telephone companies, such as SBC and Qwest.

Granted, this software is not cheap (about $2,700.00 per calling position, apparently), and Castel is quick to claim that they created this stuff primarily for collection agencies to help them get through to deadbeats who use TeleZappers. Does anyone here really think that'll stop telemarketers from using the same crap, just because they can?"

Brevity is one antidote to stupidity. Yoda2 writes "Here is Part II of the Salon story on the Loebner Prize that Slashdot covered yesterday."

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashback: Stupidity, Telebastardy, Fast Search

Comments Filter:
  • Caller ID faking... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MacGoldstein (619138) <jasonmp85 AT mac DOT com> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:03PM (#5401717) Homepage
    Is that not illegal yet?
  • by alpha_1100001 (653929) <alpha_1100001@hotmail.com> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:05PM (#5401733)
    When someone invented a caller id blocker blocker blocker.
  • Er... (Score:5, Funny)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:07PM (#5401767) Homepage Journal
    It is also claimed that the software can deliver any type of text or phone number to a recipient's caller ID box, no matter if it's true or false, and that it can also bypass the anti-telemarketer blocks made available by some telephone companies, such as SBC and Qwest.
    But can it get past the telephone answering machine I use to screen my calls, at the caller's expense?

    Er, nope.

    And people still fork out $5 a month for CLI. Meanwhile there's just no way a telemarketer can get through to my phone, and I don't breach the privacy of my friends and collegues (why should I force them to give me their phone number? I wouldn't force them to give me their address before letting them in the house...) and all because of a $15 piece of junk I got from the local branch of Wal*Mart.

    Bliss. And my electricity bill's lower too. Between this and my new Mac, I can power the entire house on my own smugness...

    • "But can it get past the telephone answering machine I use to screen my calls, at the caller's expense?"

      How do you convince them to pay for your local telephone service as well? If they're able to call you, you're obviously paying that particular bill...
    • Re:Er... (Score:3, Funny)

      by NeoSkandranon (515696)
      And people still fork out $5 a month for CLI

      Am i the only one whos first thought was "Command Line Interface?"
    • Re:Er... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pseudonymouse (603284)
      I heard there was a new thing where they call and leave an advertisement on your answering machine. I don't know if that's true, although I have received a fully automated telemarketing call (i.e. the calling party was a recording).

      And exactly how profitable would it be to spend $2700/seat for a system to telemarket to people who are going to great lengths to avoid telemarketers? Isn't that paying extra to reach the least profitable demographic? I can see collection agencies being interested, but telemarketers?

    • by Cpt_Kirks (37296) on Friday February 28, 2003 @01:15AM (#5403732)
      I simply do not understand people who duck telemarketers. They are the greatest free stress relievers in existance.

      Come home from work pissed (as in mad, not drunk), the phone rings, tear the jackass on the other end a new one. You don't know them, they are vermin, your karma is clean.

      I have made MCI telemarketers cry before.

      Hey, if they want respect they should pick up cans or work at MickeyD's...
  • by Tofino (628530) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:12PM (#5401799)
    A possibly less slashdotted version of the TeleZapper article can be found at http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20030225/1553220. shtml [techdirt.com].
  • I'm curious... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SubliminalLove (646840) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:12PM (#5401800)
    I worked as a telemarketer once... for a week. I got paid full time for my training and then bailed and got a new job before ever making a call. So I know nothing about the industry.

    I'm curious, how long do you think it would take a telemarketing company to pay off the huge chunk of change they'd require to buy enough copies of this program to outfit their entire outfit? As I recall, there were several hundred stations at the place I worked.

    ~SL
    • Re:I'm curious... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by iabervon (1971) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:55PM (#5402127) Homepage Journal
      The feature of ignoring TeleZapper is probably not useful to telemarketters, because anyone with a TeleZapper who gets a call from a telemarketter is likely to pissed and hang up (or be pissed and yell at the person). People tend to be nice to telemarketters because they don't want to be rude, but will probably feel that the telemarketter is being rude if the call goes through a TeleZapper.

      The thing evidentally can reduce the dead air before the caller is connected, which could help them avoid getting hung up on before they start talking.

      It also can set the caller ID. People block based on lack of caller ID, but telemarketters could leave caller ID enabled if they really cared; the issue is mainly that they don't want people to call them back at the call center (they want people to call the client's number), but people rarely call telemarketters back anyway. The fact that they don't provide caller ID information suggests that they aren't really trying to reach people who don't want to be reached. They're mainly going after people who can be convinced over the phone to buy stuff, and these people generally answer the phone when it rings.
  • by $$$$$exyGal (638164) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:13PM (#5401811) Homepage Journal
    Many call centers opt to transmit no caller-ID data instead. Because of this, calls from telemarketers often appear as "out of area" or "unavailable" on caller-ID boxes.

    This new technology allows the telemarketers to make any name appear that they want. Great. Now I'm going to get calls from "President Bush" and "Saddam Hussein" and "Michael Jackson", instead of "Unknown Out of Area Caller". Which is worse? ;-)

    --sex [slashdot.org]

    • by tarquin_fim_bim (649994) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:25PM (#5401904)
      I've already had to block "President Bush", "Saddam Hussein" and "Michael Jackson", they just don't have anything interesting to say anymore.
    • "Now I'm going to get calls from "President Bush""

      I got enough of those during election season last year. Apparently he needed my help or something.
    • Actually that would be illegal. If they do give you information, it must be the correct info. Check this out ...
      http://www.junkbusters.com/fcc.html

      BTW, I write software for ACDs not PDs; but I do know a little about the business.
      • Great. I'm glad it's illegal. But I can still imagine telemarketers "stretching" the law a little. Let's see, let's open up a small division in our corporation with the codename: "Alex Trebek".

        --sex [slashdot.org]

    • by waspleg (316038)
      what happens when all the data farms get sold to these assholes? suddenly you start getting calls from your mom, your friends, your job only when you answer the phone its a friendly telemarketer who want sjust a moment of your time to complete their survey..

      oh well, i remember reading extensive articles about these kinds of things 10 years ago on bbs's.. (how to block/change/build your own shit etc) i guess now its mainstream for telemarketers hooray

    • Considering that the caller ID information is transmitted by the TELEPHONE company, that would mean that these guys would need to have an alliance with the TELCOS to access/change the databases. Interesting.
  • by phraktyl (92649) <wyatt&draggoo,com> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:17PM (#5401844) Homepage Journal
    So, who aquired Make.Money.FAST?
  • by SoCalChris (573049) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:18PM (#5401856) Journal
    developed software that can be used by automated dialing equipment to bypass a TeleZapper, or similar SIT generators, and get through to your phone no matter what.

    I would think that this would do far more to hurt the industry than help them, especially as far as the government deciding whether or not to regulate do not call lists.
  • by Monkeyman334 (205694) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:20PM (#5401870)
    If you have your own phone switch, you can send out any caller id you want. It's not authoritative, never has been. It's about the same as a reply-to address in email. It's a shame the poster didn't buy Kevin Mitnick's book after it was mentioned on slashdot so many times, because he does cover caller id spoofing for social engineering on people who do think caller id is a secure way to id the caller.
    • Caller ID is easy to spoof, our company spoofs ALL outgoing phone traffic to report the phone number of our main trunk line. So this isn't that surprising to me. It's all in what you send over the data channel.

      But what about 911? They use something other than Caller ID, don't they? Something that can't be spoofed by the end user? If they don't, or it can in fact be spoofed as well, I can see quite a bit of abuse once this practice becomes mainstream.

      What is their "special" Caller ID called? How is it transmitted to them? Can regular people receive it?
      • Re:What about 911? (Score:5, Informative)

        by rot26 (240034) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @09:13PM (#5402261) Homepage Journal
        But what about 911? They use something other than Caller ID, don't they? Something that can't be spoofed by the end user? If they don't, or it can in fact be spoofed as well, I can see quite a bit of abuse once this practice becomes mainstream. What is their "special" Caller ID called? How is it transmitted to them? Can regular people receive it?

        What you're talking about is ANI, which IIRC is "automated number information". It's out-of-band information (unlike caller ID) which is primarily used for billing purposes by whatever carriers lie between the caller and callee. It cannot be blocked (unless you're one of the rated carriers in the middle, then you're regulated out the ass anyway.)

        I used to write automated call software (incoming and outgoing) and I worked with this all the time. It used to REALLY piss off people who have their caller ID blocked (or have used *67) yet have their number recognized anyway. Hehehe.
        • I used to write automated call software (incoming and outgoing) and I worked with this all the time. It used to REALLY piss off people who have their caller ID blocked (or have used *67) yet have their number recognized anyway. Hehehe.

          In fact, I used to work for a guy that would hold a grudge against everybody that ever quit the job, and he would literally call them and harass them and do all kinds of weird shit. So, when I quit working for him, I quit answering the phone. He was also paranoid and had his call ID blocked, so nobody could see his number when he calls them. The first time he called (idiot, he left a message so I knew it was him) I waited until the answering machine finished, and then I picked up the phone and blocked his number. You don't have to know the number you're blocking, you just have to be able to block it right after they call.

          He was confused, and it took him something close to a week to figure out that he should call from another phone. Heh. Then he didn't harass me, saying something about respecting me for figuring out how to block his phone. Idiot.

      • Re:What about 911? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Phexro (9814)
        Don't know about 911, but corporate customers can get ANI (Automatic Number Identification) on their lines. Some prefixes have ANI built-in, like 888. ANI has been around for a long time, long before CID. I'm sure that googling will turn up tons and tons of information on ANI for you, if you're more interested.

        CID has always been a consumer-level service, and this just shows that a little better.
  • by sam0ht (46606) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:27PM (#5401913)
    In the UK, you can use a dial-up ISP for 'free', and they just take a cut of the phone bill direct from the telephone company. No bills.

    You don't need to give them your real name, address, or anything, just surf over to their website and create an account with fake info. However, they do tend to require a caller ID, one soldier was kicked because his base's phone system blocked outgoing caller ID. So the ISP still has your real phone number.

    If it is indeed possible to transmit an arbitrary caller ID, then one could spoof caller ID, and create and use an account completely anonymously. Which would be nice.
    • " So the ISP still has your real phone number"

      But if you dial 141 first they can't log your number either.
  • by Dave21212 (256924) <dav@spamcop.net> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:27PM (#5401917) Homepage Journal

    (As I mentioned [slashdot.org] early Thursday...)

    There are still ways to fight [bidstrup.com] the estimated 19 million calls per day (6.8 billion/year), but passing the out of service tones might not be one of them any longer.

    "Rain [slashdot.org]" posted [slashdot.org] these tones in a prior discussion [slashdot.org].
  • Deadbeats? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yoshi_mon (172895) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:27PM (#5401922)
    ...and Castel is quick to claim that they created this stuff primarily for collection agencies to help them get through to deadbeats who use TeleZappers.

    Ok, so let me get this straight. I'm Joe deadbeat, but I still pay for a phone. But, since I've been labled a "deadbeat" by EQUIFAX or some rabid collecation agency, it's OK for them to spoof my CallerID or bypass means that I have put in place to try to require callers to present a valid call?

    This type of morality, it's OK to do X to Y beacuse they are Z, just sickens me. I personally think that anyone who subscribes to this kind of slipperly slope logic should get a punch in the mouth.
    • I'm guessing that irony was intentional...hoping at least.
    • Well sure, YOU were the one they falsely billed and didn't pay up, causing them to have to waste time and money harrassing you.

      Sheesh. Some people just don't get it.

      KFG
  • by unicorn (8060) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:28PM (#5401937)
    I'm in charge of the phones, among other things here at the office. And our Nortel switch can already transmit whatever the owner wants, for CID info, according to the company that handles our maitenance contract. The tech told me that it's childishly simple to change it to almost anything.

    And this system, is several years old.
  • by Myriad (89793) <myriad@tGAUSShebsod.com minus math_god> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:29PM (#5401939) Homepage
    VeriSign stands to lose $100 million if the appeal court decides in favour of Kremen. It is doubly concerned however that the case will be used as a foundation for thousands of similar cases in which the registrar and owner of the .com top-level domain has acted negligently.

    Wow, a business being held accountable for their actions? Who would have thought!

    Of course VeriSign would have no problem nuking your domain should you fail to pay them for registering your domain name to you. By definition then you are paying for the domain name to be registered to you.

    If I purchased a car and the dealership turned around and gave my car to someone else do you think they'd get away with it for long?

    If I order food from a restaraunt and they make an error on my order do they turn around and tell my "Tough sh*t"?

    Why then, if someone were to pay VeriSign for a service, should VeriSign not be accountable for said paid for service?

    • by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @10:49PM (#5402862)
      > Why then, if someone were to pay VeriSign for a service, should VeriSign not be accountable for said paid for service?

      Because if they'd really wanted a vendor who was accountable to the customer, and who delivered what was paid for, why the fuck'd they choose Verisign in the first place?

      Old joke:

      Q: How do you know someone in your office is talking to someone at Verisign?
      A: You hear someone three cubes away, screaming at the top of their lungs into the telephone "you dumb motherfucker!"

  • by parc (25467) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:30PM (#5401952)
    In Texas, law explicitly requires callers to identify themselves in CallerID with a phone number the business can be reached at (NOT attached to an autodialer), or if the equipment is not capable of presenting a number, they must state their company name and callback number in the first 30 seconds of a call.

    Note that by having ANY id, your equipment can obviously present callerID.

    For once, Texas has a useful law.
    • I live it Texas and most such calls show up as unknown and it is pulling teeth to get them to even tell me the company name.

      Hello.

      Hello Mr. X. I'm Bob I'd like to tell you about this great...

      Who are you?

      I'm Bob.

      No what company?

      This isn't a sales call...

      What company?

      Well I calling for WhizmoPhone.

      And this isn't a sales call?

      No I offering you the chance to save money...

      No I offering _you_ the chance to get a sale.

      Oh?

      Yes, call someone else. I anit buying. *slam!*

      It allways takes longer then 30 sec to get that far.
      • by SubtleNuance (184325) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @10:47PM (#5402838) Journal
        The best thing you can do, to STOP them from calling someone else -- is to quicly say "OHHH! great, i was just looking ot buy a %whatever%. Can you hold a moment while I get a pad and paper".

        Then put the phone down until you hear it buzzing (they hang up).

        this stretches the calls out so they cant bother more people.

        pass it on ;)
  • by Yoda2 (522522) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:30PM (#5401954)
    In contrast to the chatterbot quest, I've been working on software to provide computers with a more humanlike understanding of language.

    Experience-Based Language Acquisition (EBLA) is an open source software system written in Java that enables a computer to learn simple language from scratch based on visual perception. It is the first "grounded" language system capable of learning both nouns and verbs. Moreover, once EBLA has established a vocabulary, it can perform basic scene analysis to generate descriptions of novel videos.

    A more detailed summary is available here [osforge.com] and this [greatmindsworking.com] is the project web site.

  • by chazzf (188092) <cfulton@deepthough t . o rg> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:33PM (#5401978) Homepage Journal
    I've always been intrigued by Salon's output, but I cannot honestly take this article seriously. The author has a very clear pro-Loebner bias that he doesn't even try to conceal. His hostility towards Minsky, Dennett, and the rest of the established academic community is so blatant (and unfounded) that it's embarrassing to read. Take this quote:

    Decision sciences, by the simplest possible definition, refers to computerized assistance in resource allocation. An example provided by a press release from MIT announcing the creation of a decision sciences program was "complex computer-based 'passenger yield management' systems and models that the airlines use to adjust pricing of each flight's seats in order to maximize revenue and profitability to the airline." That's a far cry from the bold claims made by A.I. visionaries in decades past. But focusing on such systems has a signal advantage for scientists who have been failing miserably at the Turing test. It gets them off the hook.

    And later: In other words, if you read between the lines what you come up with is that one reason "serious" A.I. scientists don't try to mimic human speech anymore is that they discovered they can't do it.

    Okay, so he's holding up the academics to ridicule because they abandoned the Turing Test. Why did they abandon the Turing Test. Will, according to the filty academic, it's because: ""The Turing test is not very useful for many A.I. scientists today because they work on projects that have nothing to do with human linguistic performance."

    So, the respectable AI people aren't working with the Turing Test because they aren't working with linguistics. Gosh, that seems fairly reasonable to me. I mean, I suppose it's possible that the entire AI academic community, en masse, chose to boycott a hack contest run by an East Coast elite who started the contest because "He's a hedonist who thinks work is an abomination and sloth is our greatest virtue. He got interested in A.I. because he hoped the day would come when robots and A.I.'s could do all the work and people could play all the time." The rich kid wants to play so those damn academics better make me a robot who can bake me a pie. But I digress....

    The contest focuses on a field that has been abandoned by current AI research. Why? Because we can't make it work yet. The hardware isn't there yet. So we're doing other stuff. Look at the progress of chess programs, mission-critical systems, UT bots. AI is getting better. A souped-up ELIZA isn't going to confirm that. They attack the AI people for not producing better entries for a contest the AI people don't find valid. Loebner and the author, who are obviously in the same camp, are trying to have it both ways. Bullshit. If Salon wants my money [slashdot.org] to stay afloat, they'll have to do better than this.

    ~Chazzf
    • The author has a very clear pro-Loebner bias that he doesn't even try to conceal. His hostility towards Minsky, Dennett, and the rest of the established academic community is so blatant (and unfounded) that it's embarrassing to read.

      While I will agree with your asserion of a pro-Loebner bias, the embarrassment rests firmly with the Gods-o'-AI that Loebner has made look like fools.

      Even if you ignore all the peripheral circumstances, this comes down to one issue only - If everyone hates Loebner, they all have the option of ignoring him. A wealthy eccentric offering real US cash for a sci-fi-esque goal does NO harm whatsoever to the field.

      However, I do find it somewhat interesting the way AI has divided into different camps, separated into decision making processes (DS), and overt system behavior (MS, "mimetics sciences"). As much as DS has to offer computer science in general, no amount of grandstanding and assertion by the "experts" can hide the fact that, fundamentally, they no longer have anything to do with AI-proper. So if they dislike the label... Not a problem. Their work doesn't involve it anyway, just a sort of "natural" approach to design and analysis of algorithms. If they can live with that fact, that they've completely abandoned the goals they started with, I'll gladly call them "decision scientists". But I won't stop hoping that real AI researchers will eventually make something that acts passably human.

      I personally feel (and suspect many geeks who grew up on Neuromancer, 2001, and countless other staples of sci-fi do as well), that "real" AI means "able to fake humanity well enough to convince a real human". If Minsky et al don't believe that, fine, they can do their own thing (which, ironically enough, they want to *deprive* the other camp of that same right). But going out of their way to denounce a contest... Who should feel ashamed of themselves?
    • Did you read the whole article?

      I had the same opinions throughout the first section, but at the end, he points out that the Turing test will likely be won by a program which is no smarter "than a bucket of hammers," and that real AI will come from the academic research.

      The main reason he likes Loebner is that he approves of his support of hobbyists and underdogs. At the same time he compares him to (the literary version of) Don Quixote, who was dangerous, silly, unreasonable and idiotic.

      At the same time, he appears to dislike the standoffish nature of the academics who appear unable to come to grips with the slow development in their field... whatever, I can understand that. Ivory tower science is not something I'm a big fan of, and I'm a scientest.

      My main problem with the article is that this all comes out in the last page. Kind of like "surprise, this is what I REALLY think".
  • by macdaddy (38372) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:39PM (#5402018) Homepage Journal
    Think about it this way. Why on Earth would you want to call the people who have gone out of their way to say they don't want to talk to you? It's not likely they are likely to buy anything from you just because their impressed you can ring through on their landline and around whatever means they have to block you. All you'll really accomplish is to piss them off even further.

    It might even be possible to say that by intentionally bypassing someone's blocks they put on your incoming calls that you're harassing them. IANAL though. I only play one on slashdot.

    • actually, that may not be true. I did door to door sales*, and the rule of thumb is, the more 'No Soliciting' signs, the more likely you would make a sale.

      *it was a very long time ago, and I am not proud of it. Interesting note, I found out if I took my merchendise to a strip club, people would by it in droves. I had to give the girls 10%,but hey everyone gets there cut.

      • actually, that may not be true. I did door to door sales*, and the rule of thumb is, the more 'No Soliciting' signs, the more likely you would make a sale.

        Makes sense. If you know you're pathologically susceptible to marketing, your best course of action is to try not to be marketed-at in the first place.

  • What we need to do is start apply spam principals to telemarketers, like a teergrube [iks-jena.de]. I don't know if it would be possible to do, but I'd like to have a button next to my phone which I could press which wouldn't hang up the connection for an hour or two, thus clogging up their precious lines. I've heard that law enforcement has something like this to help in tracing calls. Or even better, have a machine setup which listens in and whenever it hears a pause on the other end of the line it would spit out a canned recording saying something like "hmmm.. that's interesting. Tell me more".

    And why exactly can't we have a SPEWS/blackhole type of call blocking list? I'm paitently waiting.

    • by Kphrak (230261)

      Holding the line clogs up your precious line, too. Even if you're not listening, it still wastes your time (and maybe money).

      I think we need either more advanced telephone technology, or a different idea.

  • by phorm (591458) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:40PM (#5402028) Journal
    The question remains:
    If people are willing to subscribe to/buy telezappers, block lists, do not call lists, etc...

    Can't telemarketers get the point that these people are not potential sales, they're only potential angry call recipients?

    Not only that, but wouldn't forging a phone number come under some sort of legal troubles... especially if you used a number that somebody else owns?
  • Yeah, right (Score:3, Informative)

    by taustin (171655) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:40PM (#5402031) Homepage Journal
    It is also claimed that the software can deliver any type of text or phone number to a recipient's caller ID box, no matter if it's true or false, and that it can also bypass the anti-telemarketer blocks made available by some telephone companies, such as SBC and Qwest.

    Anybody with an IDSL or PBX phone system can put in anything they want on Caller ID. And recognizing SIT tones is a feature on better telemarketing rigs, and generally one that can be turned off. They don't "bypass" the telezapper, they simply ignore it. Duh.

    On the other hand, any telemarketer that pays $2700 for something so obivously a ripoff will get no sympathy from me.
  • DMCA Violation? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DarkKnightRadick (268025) <the_spoon.geo@yahoo.com> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:44PM (#5402052) Homepage Journal
    Isn't Castle, Inc's software a direct violation of the DMCA? It purposely gets around blocks AND can falsely report information to a caller id box. Sounds like it's time to pull out the lawyers.
    • Re:DMCA Violation? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by finkployd (12902)
      Everyone seems to forget the word "copyright" in that acronym. And what copyright are they violating by bypassing the callerID box and call blockers?

      I know you mean well with comment, but the DMCA does not apply to circumvension of everything, just copyright stuff.

      Finkployd
  • by rot26 (240034) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @09:05PM (#5402214) Homepage Journal
    All the telezapper does it emit the first of the three tones in a standard SIT signal... you know, the little "doo dee dweep the number you have dialed is no longer in service" thing you get from time to time. This tone is handled in the automated dialing software the same way that any other tones (1,2,3,#,etc) are... i.e. however the programmer wants to handle it, depending on the application. There's no magic involved in "getting around" a telezapper, it would involve one line of programming code to simply ignore it.

    by the way, you don't NEED a telezapper... if you use an answering machine, just record the SIT tone (or even the first 1/3rd of it) at the beginning of your outgoing message. Human callers expect weird noises from answering machines, they just ignore it. But automated dialers which are programmed to look for it assume the number is disconnected.

    To get the SIT tones, just google up sit.wav, you can find it all over the place.
  • by jmcharry (608079) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @09:22PM (#5402324)
    Since these devices answer, then play the SIT tones, a fair number of predictive dialers are immune to them anyway. The reason is that they detect answer supervision and move their tone detectors to another call. Real SITs are sent without answer supervision, and moving the detectors to the next call saves resources.

    As to sending false CLID, a PRI trunk can be made to do it, if the carrier doesn't enforce checking. For that much outbound calling, probably a lot of carriers would be more than happy, if they bother doing that in any case.

    I don't know, or perhaps don't recall, where the name lookup is done. If it is from the A end, it would be equally easy to fake. If it is done at the receiving telco, they would have to give the real number of the institution being faked.

    There is a plethora of discussion on Telezappers in comp.dcom.telecom. Check the Google archive.
  • Read any book on the insides of competing in the computer chess arena: Getting your system ready to run in a competition actually takes work. Having managed a CS research lab, I'd say that the last week is often dedicated to locking down the system, pulling out the really flaky experimental parts and testing it to make sure that there aren't any nasty surprises in the middle of the 'show'.

    If the Loebner prize isn't respected by your peers, then the competition isn't that much worth the work of cleaning up your system for the competition. If competing was simply a case of opening up a telnet port to the equivalent of your running nightly build, it wouldn't be such a big issue running in each and every competition out there.

  • by macX_rocks (531018) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @09:56PM (#5402511)
    A friend of mine lives in Denver and his phone has a service provided by Qwest (I think he got the service when they were still USWest) that plays a message stating that "this number does not accept solicitations... if you're a solicitor hang up and put this # on do-not-call list, otherwise press 1..." His phone doesn't ring unless the caller presses 1. There is also some legislation in Colorado that states, with a system like that, any solicitor who presses 1 to go through anyway can be sued for something like $10k per incident. My friend tells me there have been very few times when a solicitor comes through (where he then mentions the possible fine and they hang up abruptly).

    I wonder why there aren't more phone companies offering such a service and why more states don't back up the disturbances with hefty fines. Maybe the telemarketers' lobbyists are lining pockets... maybe(?).
    • he mentions the fine?

      id be collecting the fine
      any numbfuck who still presses one deserves it
    • I used to do telephone surveys. (Bad economy! I needed the job!) Since we actually weren't selling anything we'd press 1 and go through.

      One lady I called had an unlisted number. She was really upset and asked how we were able to call her. I explained that we were using an autodialer that dialed numbers at random.

      She then said, and I quote, "Well, what I want to know is how can you randomly dial an unlisted number!!", and then abruptly hung up. Good thing to, since I started laughing my ass off at that point.
  • 1. Win Loebner Prize
    2. Adapt it to answer telemarketing calls
    3. Fun and maybe Profit
  • It's long been rumored that SBC has "pink contracts" with certain spammers, where for a certain amount of extra money, SBC agrees to hold off enforcing its supposed anti-spam policies. So if they do this as an ISP, what's to prevent them from doing this with regular phone service?

    And they do. Pacbell, an SBC company, has been doing this for years. Even if you sign up for an unlisted number, certain companies, notably the LA Times, seem to automatically get it within hours of your establishing a new line. This has happened to me every time I've gotten a new phone line in the last 15 years. When I ask how they could have gotten my unlisted number, they say it's automatic whenever someone gets a new phone. So there you go -- the number *is* being given out, even when you've *paid extra* to not have this happen.

    Taking this one step further -- if unlisted numbers are for sale to the right bidder -- why wouldn't they let certain companies, for the right price, get through caller ID blocking systems?

    The fact is, there's no real protection. Whatever the laws are, companies seem to flout them freely. That's because there's no practical means of enforcement.

    Take faxes, for example. Junk faxes are clearly illegal, and have been for at least 10 years, yet I know people whose offices receive dozens per day. And these tie up phone lines much worse than junk phone calls do. But still, no one bothers to track down the culprits and prosecute, even when it would be like shooting fish in a barrel. The problem is that each junk email, call, or even fax is too much trouble to pursue individually for the amount of nuisance it creates. And that's the perpetrators' inherent advantage.
  • all the telezapper does is send out eh same tone that a switch sends out to signal that "this number is not in service", so the computer will detect it and hang out, i cant imagine it could be anything more than trivial to program the computer to simply not hangup when it receives that tone.

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