Tag Archives: telephony

Disguise your smartphone’s phone number.

Burner screenshot on smartphoneWhile watching a Youtube video clip about the recovery of a stolen bicycle, I learned about Burner, a smartphone app that allows a smartphone user to temporarily mask his or her phone number with an alias phone number. It’s available for iPhones, but not yet for Android phones. (originally published on 31 December 2012. 9 July 2014: Burner is now available for Android phones, as well as IOS.)

Theft recovery seems like a perfect use for telephone anonymity. The victim, who’s a Portland, Oregon resident, responded to a Seattle Craigslist for sale ad for what seemed to be his stolen bike. He used Burner to make his phone calls appear to originate in Seattle.

Bike theft is a low-risk occupation. Watch a NYC resident steal bikes in public view.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

In technology, Tempus fugit

A few months ago, while emphasizing the importance of data network reliability to college-age students, I stressed that users expect information systems to be as reliable as their telephone. Me:

When we pick up a telephone handset, we expect to hear a dial tone.


What’s a “dial tone”?

How’s that for realization of how quickly technology changes? And for how old we are?

More recently while introducing DNS to the same group, I compared the Domain Name System to a phone book. Their response:

What’s a “phone book”?

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

How strongly do you feel about NSA snooping?

You may sign a petition at stopwatching.us that states

The revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA’s spying programs.
. . .
We are calling on Congress to take immediate action to halt this surveillance and provide a full public accounting of the NSA’s and the FBI’s data collection programs. We call on Congress to immediately and publicly:

  • Enact reform this Congress to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court;
  • Create a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying. This committee should create specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform to end unconstitutional surveillance;
  • Hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.

Signatures as of 23 June total over 400,000.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Tim Wu discusses the Internet and telecoms in the US

Tim Wu, who first coined the phrase “net neutrality”, can be seen and heard discussing the Internet in context with information market history in a recent speech titled The Rise And Fall Of Information Empires on YouTube.

masterswitch-160wTim is author of The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.

ListenYou can also listen to his information market observations during an audio interview with WABC radio host John Batchelor.

ListenTim again speaks in more detail during an interview with KERA’s Krys Boyd.

One message is that information markets — movies, telephone, radio, data — seem to devolve from open to closed. This leads to

  • lack of innovation
  • inflated prices

He points out that Bell Labs invented a (steel) tape recorder – based telephone answering machine in 1931 but didn’t develop it because they feared that it would reduce revenue from Bell’s operating companies. (Sounds like Kodak: they hid their invention of the digital camera because they feared that it would kill their photographic film business.)

According to Mr. Wu, “People are all the same: when they’re not in charge, they favor competition. When they’re in charge, they hate competition.”

Another message is that ownership of content and transport medium (“the pipes” that deliver content) should be kept separated.

empire of the airIf you’re interested in the history of American radio broadcasting, there’s no finer book than Tom Lewis’ Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio. I loved learning about the giants: David Sarnoff, Lee De Forest, and Edwin Armstrong.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695