Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Spammer until proven innocent

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  • James Green,

    I'd had to go through an operator to work out how to use the pay phones (they need area codes, but there are no area codes posted anywhere around)

    US payphones are remarkably difficult and confusing to use, relative to most other countries, and I think it revolves around weird things relating to area codes. Or something. Anyway, turns out its much easier to convince someone to lend you their cellphone.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    US payphones are remarkably difficult and confusing to use, relative to most other countries, and I think it revolves around weird things relating to area codes. Or something.

    All starts with the refusal of Americans to accept that $1 is not a reasonable denomination for a banknote.

    Fortunately my Razr (not the 3G one) picks up a GSM network most everywhere in the US.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    I also really love that the steadfastly keep the penny, despite the fact that basically they're not accepted anywhere, unless you be arsed counting them out in a shop. They must just about have more value as scrap.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    So as of '06, apparently the US cent contained .8c of metal, but cost .6 cent to make. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cent_%28United_States_coin%29

    And there are groups both for and against the removal of paper dollars and pennies (based on respective commercial interests).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Save_the_Greenback
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coin_Coalition

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    US payphones are remarkably difficult and confusing to use, relative to most other countries, and I think it revolves around weird things relating to area codes. Or something. Anyway, turns out its much easier to convince someone to lend you their cellphone.

    I don't know if it's changed, but when I tried to use one in the States in the mid-90s it wasn't simple enough to put some money in and dial numbers, there had to be competition between providers and would you like this meaningless acronym, in which case you have to dial these 12 numbers first, or would you like this one, in which case please enter your card number and pin, or would you like to BASH THE PHONE RECEIVER AND YELL INTO IT "I JUST WANT TO MAKE A PHONE CALL!"

    Seriously, I think it would have been easier to phone Telecom NZ, and ask them to make the call for me.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    All starts with the refusal of Americans to accept that $1 is not a reasonable denomination for a banknote.

    I can't figure out what that sentence means. Too many negatives. Does not compute. I just know that my time in NYC was awash with dollar bills, because my friend I was staying with was a waitress, and we drank a lot which meant slapping a lot of $1 per drink tips down on the bar.

    also really love that the steadfastly keep the penny, despite the fact that basically they're not accepted anywhere

    Why must you hate on the auldskool preppies, James? Without the penny, what would they put in their penny loafers?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I also really love that the steadfastly keep the penny, despite the fact that basically they're not accepted anywhere, unless you be arsed counting them out in a shop

    They make excellent tips for poor service. Maybe that is their purpose, to insult.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    so I have a phone exchange at home (based of the open source "Asterisk") - I kind of expect everyone to have some form of an exchange within 10 years (even if it's just their voicemail) as we all switch over to VOIP (Telecom's plan at least).

    There's a number of cool things about having an exchange - one of the best is that we get NO telemarketers - getting a message telling you who you have to dial to get the various family members when you call in confuses their auto-dialers and they move on to bother other people.

    Best thing though is that it's open source - I can hack in anything I want - my plan is to add an 'on-hold' feature - basically it comes down to: "why should I be on hold, I have better things to do than to listen to inane music, why aren't they on hold" - my plan is to set it up so when I get put on hold drop the connection into a mode where I can hang up, the exchange plays "I really want to talk to you press '*'" over and over again and when they do my phone rings again .... honestly we all need this

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    All starts with the refusal of Americans to accept that $1 is not a reasonable denomination for a banknote.

    I can't figure out what that sentence means. Too many negatives. Does not compute.

    Ok, I'll rephrase.

    Americans believe that a $1 banknote is an essential part of a modern currency. This results in $1 coins (which do exist) being very rare. Consequently, there is no easy and reliable way to put much more than a dollar into a telephone (or vending machine).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    Americans believe that a $1 banknote is an essential part of a modern currency

    Ahhhh. Well it is. Have you ever tried to tuck a dollar coin into a g-string?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    The North American Numbering Plan is another example of what happens when you don't learn from global best practice.

    When introduced, it was an elegant and effective system. 86 places (states and big cities) had 3 digit area codes which were used with 7 digit phone numbers. Calling within a city or state used 7 digits, whilst calling long distance used the full number. Local calls (7 digits) were free on a private line.

    But as telecoms changed and improved, the NANP became increasingly creaky. Big cities now have multiple overlapping area codes, mobile phone subscribers get charged for incoming calls and trying to use a phonebooth is a nightmare!

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Have you ever tried to tuck a dollar coin into a g-string?

    If she ain't worth $5 she ain't worth anything!

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    Have you ever tried to tuck a dollar coin into a g-string?

    ...My witty rejoinder has been deemed unsuitable for anything but a late night audience ...

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Why must you hate on the auldskool preppies, James? Without the penny, what would they put in their penny loafers?

    It's not so much that I hate auldskool preppies Jo, more that I hadn't heard of penny loafers. Now that wikipedia has enlightened me, I can point out that apparently it's more common to use dimes.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • kmont,

    Best thing though is that it's open source - I can hack in anything I want - my plan is to add an 'on-hold' feature - basically it comes down to: "why should I be on hold, I have better things to do than to listen to inane music, why aren't they on hold" - my plan is to set it up so when I get put on hold drop the connection into a mode where I can hang up, the exchange plays "I really want to talk to you press '*'" over and over again and when they do my phone rings again .... honestly we all need this

    Oh dear god yes please

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    NANP was killed by the cell phones, fax machines and modems - the need for numbers got big too fast - and the idea of 'long distance' is really an artifact of the pre-internet days (BTW local calling typically used to only be to some 3 digit prefixes of those 7 digit numbers). Really there's no need for area codes these days other than as a way to hit up the customer for more money.

    IMHO we are screwed in NZ - one thing the US did right was to allocate their cell phone numbers within their local calling numbers - that's now meant that the FCC can force the various phone companies to make numbers portable - I can take my cell phone number and move to a different cell company, or move my fixed home number onto my cell phone or (in my case) take my US home phone number and move it to a VOIP provider so it rings in NZ.

    In NZ because cell numbers are tied to corporate area codes we consumers can't just move them around when we decide that we're being screwed by telecom/vodaphone/clear/etc - good lock-in for the phone companies, bad for the consumer

    (the downside is that in the US you pay for all of your cell phone - there's no cost differential when calling a cell phone as the owner is paying for the service)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    Umm, Paul, we do have number portability - you can take your corporate 027 number and stick it on a vodafone account. It'll just confuse hell out of people trying to free text you...

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    "Please state your current location."

    "Broadway."

    "Please state your desired destination."

    "Um, Broadway."

    "I'm sorry, your current location and destination appear to match. Would you like to revise your travel plan?"

    "Well, actually, I'm going from 3756 Broadway to 6736 Broadway. It makes sense - can I just talk to a human?

    Ah, you needed to ask a fellow passenger. "Broadway" just is the name of a main street, not a destination - and it runs for a looooong way through several parts of Vancouver. The answer they were looking for would have been:

    West Point Grey
    Kitsilano
    Fairview
    Mount Pleasant
    Grandview-Woodland (north) and Kensington-Cedar Cottage (south)
    Hastings-Sunrise (north) and Renfrew-Collingwood (south)

    but I must admit having lived in NZ for 18 years and going back to Vancouver I did feel like I was trapped in a Jacques Tati movie there... everything is very futuristic compared to NZ and we felt like a couple of hicks, we had so much trouble operating stoves, dishwashers, taps, telephones, thermostats...

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Back to the OP Telecom screwed up when they named their ISP xtra
    I forget how many bounced eMails I had before I realised that Extra wasn't Xtra, or vice versa and that's the price you pay for pretending to be "trendy" they are paying again now as many spam filters tend to pick up bad spelling as a way of eluding "bad word" filters.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • samuel walker,

    so when I get put on hold drop the connection into a mode where I can hang up, the exchange plays "I really want to talk to you press '*'" over and over again and when they do my phone rings again .... honestly we all need this

    im off to the patent office, see you in the morning........


    [i want one!]

    Since Nov 2006 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    too late to patent - the idea has already been published (actually I went and published it as soon as I had the idea I wanted it in the public domain and unencumbered by patents - I'm not quite the first person to have it either - there are variants out there already - finding the right 'UI' in the context of a phone is hard).

    Jeremy - yes you can move some numbers (not all) but the idea that "I have to pay extra if I call an 02x number" is pretty ingrained these days and means that people will think twice about calling you - I do like the (US) idea of telling telemarketers that they can't call cell phones - but then later making the numbers portable so they can't tell which numbers are cell phones (sometimes unintended consequences are good)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    Had a look at mintshot yesterday. I *wish* it was tic-tac-toe you played for the minor prizes!

    ...

    So it does indeed come down to who has the most time to waste.

    And a high tolerance for mindlessness too ...

    Of course, if you pitch at an IT literate audience, with too much time on their hands, certain outcomes are all too predictable.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

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