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Reblogged:Four Random Things

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A Friday Hodgepodge

1. A startup writes up its experiment with running a phone check at a convention. The description of the process made me smile. (Each step is elaborated upon within the post.):
Image by Diana Polekhina, via Unsplash, license.
  1. You give us your phone, and we give you a claim ticket like any coat check.
  2. You get a "Replacement Phone" which is a notepad and pen.
  3. You get a "Phone Free" badge to wear around the party.
When I first saw mention of this, I thought something like Pfft! I'm not on my phone all the time like some people. But then I realized that at things like conventions, I am, due to my very strong tendency towards introversion.

The experiment seemed to go well for the participants: Based on that, I think I might try going phone-free with or without help the next time I attend something like that event.

The phone, as a multipurpose device, has many uses and so, many misuses. There can be more than one good reason to do without one from time to time.

2. I sometimes have to run legacy software, and use virtual machines running decades-old operating systems to do so.

I recently had to do enough on Windows 2000 that I realized I would want a decent text editor for it.

I appreciated the ease of finding a version of Notepad++ that would run on Windows 2000 at OldVersion.com.

The site's motto is "Because newer is not always better." That was certainly the case for me that day, when newer would have meant inoperable.

3. Having lived in Texas for as long as I did, I developed a taste for Shiner Bock beer, brewed west of Houston at the Spoetzl Brewery.

Since we'll soon live in New Orleans and will occasionally visit Houston, I should finally be able to tour that brewery pretty easily.

An interesting wrinkle will be that the brewers there are branching out into distilled spirits, according to a very recent piece at Inside Hook. While distilling operations are getting off the ground, the products will be confined to the tasting room at the brewery.

4. At Futurity is a piece describing a new tool which harnesses AI in the fight against robocalls.

I love the approach, which sidesteps the potential to violate privacy that would come from monitoring private phone lines, and takes advantage of the fact that many scammers provide a callback number:
Perhaps most importantly, the researchers were able to extract the phone numbers used in these scams. Robocallers often "spoof" the number they are calling from, making it impossible to tell where the call actually originated. However, scammers increasingly encourage the people receiving robocalls to call a specific phone number. This may be to resolve a (fictional) tech support issue, resolve a (fictional) tax problem, resolve a (fictional) issue with Social Security, and so on.

"Scammers can fake where a robocall is coming from, but they can't fake the number they want their victims to call," Reaves says. "And about 45% of the robocalls we analyzed did include this 'call-back number' strategy. By extracting those call-back numbers, SnorCall gives regulators or law enforcement something to work with. They can determine which phone service providers issued those numbers and then identify who opened those accounts."
The data is collected from thousands of phone lines dedicated to the purpose.

-- CAV

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