Saturday, January 28, 2012

Today's telemarketer call...

(caller ID name: Unknown Caller; number: 1) -- 2nd time calling today.

Me: beep! please leave a message.
Caller: (call center static starts to kick in)
Me: Hello, hello?
Caller: (in his muted Indian accent) Hello, is this Adam Howard?
Me: Why, who is this?
Caller: This is Michael. How are you?
Me: Good, how are you?
Michael: Good.
Me: Oh, good, I had been wondering.
Michael: The purpose of this call is to inform you your name and number have been selected to receive a $7,000 dollar grant.
Me: Oh, will that affect my taxes?
Michael: Excuse me?
Me: Will this affect my taxes?
Michael: Yes, you can use this money to pay your bills, or your taxes, or buy a car.
Me: $7000 isn't going to be enough for the car I want. Can you increase the grant?
Michael: What was that?
Me: I'm not going to be able to buy the car I want for just $7,000.
Michael: (catching on that this call is going nowhere) Ok...
(1:40 into the call)
I guess I didn't play along for long enough to keep Michael interested...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

You're free, cheesy bread!

Glad to see this commercial's still available...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Android Prank App reviews

Looking to use your Android phone to get more productive? Then these are not the reviews for you. I've reviewed a few apps that will let you play some practical jokes on your friends. 

Prank - U Broke My Screen! / Droid Smash!

Price: $0.99

The setup: You tell your friend you've found this addictive new game for your phone, so you hand over your phone so they can play it. They tap the phone several times, and then all the sudden, the screen is broken!

Review: Image looks real but isn't full-screen on a Droid. The app disables the Back, Menu and Search buttons. Home button brings up an app chooser list: is that because I have ADW Launcher installed, or what?

Rating: 3 stars


Price: Free

The setup: You sneak up behind your friend and fool them into thinking you're taking an electric razor to their head.

Review: App has a picture of a razor with a spring-loaded switch - when you press the button the phone vibrates and makes a buzzing sound, when you release the button it stops. Points for style, but for ease of use it would be best to let you press anywhere on the screen. I don't think my phone's vibrator is strong enough to fool anybody into thinking it's a razor, though. But if you prep for this prank by making someone think you're going to get them  and shave their head when they least expect it, I think it will do the trick.

Rating: 3 stars

Smell Scanner

Price: Free (ads)

The setup: You tell your friends your phone has a smell scanner, then wave it around over their body until it detects some stinky odors.

Review: If your friends think there's a smell sensor in your phone, they're gullible indeed. This app basically [pretends to] work as advertised, but it's obnoxious that you're forced to look at ads before and after you run the app.

Rating: 1 star

Christmas Naughty or Nice

Price: $0.99

The setup: Your phone can detect if someone's naughty or nice

Review: I wouldn't call this a prank app exactly, but I can see it being mildly entertaining for young kids. Would be better if the "full body scanner" actually used the phone's camera to show a picture of who it's scanning. The fingerprint scanner gives your phone a quick buzz to let you know when it detects your finger on the screen. Relevant for the holidays, but the app doesn't really do much.

Rating: 2 stars

TSA X-Ray Scanner

Price: $0.99

The setup: You tell your friends the TSA made a mobile airport security backscatter imaging app, and a hacker friend broke into their systems and got a copy. Input some settings, point the phone at your friend, it takes a picture then "processes" it into a backscatter X-ray image.

Review: One of the more convincing prank apps I've seen so far, as long as your friend's body type matches one of the available options. The backscatter image isn't *too* revealing, but then, who would expect a handheld device to work as well as the big machines at the airport? Now if the backscatter image revealed something embarrassing/funny, or you could email the backscatter image to your friend, that would certainly be a great addition.

Rating: 4 stars

Caller ID Faker

Price: Free (audio ads)

The setup: Your friend receives a call from the Whitehouse switchboard. Or the phone company. Or his mom. Or at least, that's what the caller ID says on his end...

Review:  This app gives you access to a service that will spoof your caller ID to whatever number you want to appear on your friend's phone. Enter your friends number, the caller ID to spoof, then sit through a few audio ads before you're connected to your friend. The app requires a lot of permissions to install (and asks for your email address too), but promises that they don't share your personal info.

Rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Lego Droid Dock

I happened across this forum thread about people who created docks for their Droid phones using Legos. In particular, I liked this one by HoboDroid:

So I pulled my Rubbermaid tub of Legos out of the cellar and found all the pieces to make something pretty similar:

Same basic design, but mine has a channel for the charger cord to run to the back, plus I discovered I had actual Lego magnets, so I used one of those.

Now I just need to find the pieces to make a second one for at work...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

How many full moons does it take to fill the sky?

Go outside and take a look at how big the moon is. If you don't, you'll probably overestimate how big the moon is. How many moons do you think it takes to fill the sky?

For the answer, skip ahead to page 203 of this article. How close was your guess?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hello, Gmail calling...

Yesterday, the Google Voice team announced a cool integration with Gmail: the ability to place and receive phone calls in your web browser. Just install the latest voice and video plugin, and viola! Free (for now?) phone calls from your browser.

But why Gmail? Wouldn't it be logical to have put the ability to do voice calls inside the Google Voice webapp, not the Gmail webapp?

I suspect they did it for a couple reasons. First, the plugin was already built into Gmail, which could do voice and video chat. So perhaps it was less work to do the integration this way than to build a chat plugin into Google Voice.

Second, Gmail has a much larger user base than Google Voice. Tease all the Gmail users with free phone calls from your computer, and maybe you can build up the GV user base too. Especially if you can get people who make paid international calls on board, you can use that revenue to fund free calls in the contiguous USA.

Third, this gives Google the flexibility to completely fold Google Voice into Gmail. Rather than maintain two separate interfaces, Google could in time merge them into a single interface. I mean, they're already doing realtime chat, text messaging, AOL instant messenger, voice chat, video chat and email in one place. If they can keep it easy to use, why not add phone calls too?

Will this attract enough users to keep GV viable? I hope so. Google seems to be betting a lot on it, giving the GV team access to a pretty prominent spot in one of their most widely-used services.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Office plant

I think this may be the first time in my career that I've had a plant in my office at work.