Posts Tagged ‘telecommunications’
Washington, DC, October 31 – The Federal Communications Commission has begun to crack down on ringtones that drive people crazy. It will also seek to reduce cringe-inducing and distasteful mobile phone usage.
The Silencing Harmful, Uncouth Telephone Users Program (SHUTUP), a new FCC initiative, will enforce an array of measures designed to cut down on ringtones that pervert otherwise decent tunes; that have no discernible aesthetic value; that grate on the ears of anyone with an ounce of good sense; or that attempt to reproduce a particular sound or association, only to succeed in producing in bystanders a desire to murder the phone user.
The first category is by far the broadest, said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski. “I don’t think there’s anyone out there who hasn’t heard some digital-sounding rendition of Mozart or Beethoven coming from a phone, and thought, ‘Oh, God, poor Wolfgang must be rolling in his grave, wherever that is.’ And most of us can’t walk down the street without our ears being assaulted by techno garbage,” he explained.
The FCC’s solution is straightforward: SHUTUP. SHUTUP has already formulated a set of guidelines for mobile device manufacturers and distributors that lay out the criteria for acceptable ringtones. Perhaps more importantly, the guidelines delineate what constitutes a violation of those criteria and what penalties apply to violators.
Both the customer and the retailer of the offending tone or tones will face fines. Those fines will follow a sliding scale, the severity of which will correspond to the magnitude of annoyance that type of violation produces. At the low end of the scale lies the misuse of famous tunes, for example a hold-music-worthy digital adaptation of the “Axel F” theme from the 1984 film Beverly Hills Cop. Such a minor violation, corrupting as it does a tune already primarily orchestrated electronically, would incur a $50 fine for the phone user and a $2,000 fine for the supplier of the tune.
Slightly higher on the scale, melodies massacred by techno or MIDI orchestration would incur fines of $350 for the user, with the creator or marketer of the ringtone liable for $5,000 per ringtone sale.
At the high end of the scale lies any tune by Barry Manilow, New Kids on the Block, Lady Gaga or William Shatner, among others. Those selections will incur a fine of $10,000 and confiscation of the mobile device that played the tune. The entity that provided the sound file would be fined $150,000, and the individuals responsible would face up to five years in prison. The internet provider that enabled the download would be similarly fined, and its Board of Directors forced to perform 100 hours of community service.
In terms of other heinous misuses of mobile phones, SHUTUP will target jerks, such as people who talk loudly in quiet environments such as commuter train cars and doctors’ waiting rooms; who let a phone ring until voice mail is activated or the caller hangs up, instead of actually answering or disconnecting the call; who neglect to turn off the ringer at venues such as movies or concerts; or who pretend to be on the phone or otherwise absorbed by its use so they can ignore panhandlers or avoid having to engage another human in actual face-to-face conversation.
That set of violations will incur fines of up to $300 and confiscation of the device. For pretending to use the device, the penalty will also include two hours in a closed room with the panhandler in question, or be forced to endure fifteen uncomfortable questions from the person ignored.
In a pilot conducted in the Virginia area during August and September, SHUTUP reduced breaches of mobile device etiquette by 85%, and cut annoying ringtones by 98%. The program ran into legal trouble when the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued the government on behalf of a violator, contending that SHUTUP constituted a breach of the First Amendment right to freedom of expression – which has long been taken to refer especially to unpopular content. The judge dismissed the suit when the counsel for the government played the offending ringtone – an electronic rendition of Beethoven’s “Für Elise” that repeated over and over – and ruled the plaintiff in contempt.
Please Like Mightier than the Pen on Facebook, where we are completely ringtone-free.
Oh, baby. I can’t believe they bought it! #wealth here I come! Long Live the King and Queen!
Anyone know where you can get a decent navigator around here? Crazy Juan’s closed last month. Plague.
Think I should make potential crewmen submit to a physical? Please answer: how many arms do you have…
Gotta remember the jerky. Gotta remember the jerky. Gotta remember the jerky.
You’d think after all the Jews were expelled you wouldn’t be running into them right and left. Some Inquisition*this* turned out to be.
When I get to India, I’m trading Pedro the cook to the natives for someone who can cook. #indigestion
Some guy just said something about the world being flat. Doesn’t he know the Greeks already knew it was round?
And away we go! Sail the ocean blue! On to India!
Oh, %$#@. Forgot the jerky.
Four days out. Not much to report. Canary Islands haven’t sunk yet.
Pedro scored some really fatty mutton while we were loading supplies in the Islands. Maybe we’ll keep him.
Remember that comment about the Jews? I should have said right *to* left. Get it?
Oh, Jesus I’m so bored. Need a volunteer to fall overboard so we can have some excitement.
Wonder how Real Madrid is doing, considering they won’t be established for another five centuries or so.
Burned again. Really must stop sunbathing in the altogether.
With all this talk of mutiny, there’s no one to do the cooking. Plenty of brine for pickling, though.
Land! Land! And it looks fabulous for growing tobacco! Whatever *that* is. This is supposed to be India.
I have an idea: we’ll just ignore the fact that this isn’t India and call it India. Also, let’s spread smallpox.
Smallpox for syphilis: a fair deal?
Goddamn Indians. Not an ounce of chicken curry in sight. #gypped
Farewell, Santa María. *Sigh*. Only foosball table in the fleet.
Well, must be getting home. These Indians don’t take too well to being outgunned and treated with contempt.
What are all these sores?
You might consider yourself unworthy of the attention – and I would wholeheartedly agree – but you still might be at risk of having your phone hacked. So here are some tips for keeping your voice mail secure, even if you think the DVD drive is just a fancier cup holder than a CD drive:
1. Ditch your phone entirely and communicate only by telegram or bicycle messenger service.
2. Strike first by hacking your own phone, with an implement such as a meat cleaver or hatchet.
3. Record an intolerably long and grating outgoing message so that no one will have the patience to leave you any voice mail.
4. If you suspect someone has been hacking into your voice mail, just keep telling anyone who will listen, rather than contacting your provider or the authorities. It’s so much more satisfying to have something to complain about than to actually do anything about it.
5. Have your phone answered by a secretary instead of a machine or software. To avoid having your secretary hacked, stand over your secretary with a mallet, using it to wipe the secretary’s memory after each message is taken.
6. Use your phone to make threatening calls to prominent figures in organized crime. Openly mock their ability to track you down. Voice mail will no longer be your problem.
7. Use one of those old-fashioned rotary mobile phones that don’t come equipped with voice mail.
8. If you send me $1,500 by PayPal, I will magically make your voice mail hack-proof.
9. An all-prune-juice diet will help you focus on aspects of your life more fundamental than some silly electronic message system.
10. Anything more technologically advanced than the typewriter is an affront to the Lord. You flagrant sinners deserve all the trouble you get.
Good morning, everyone. Thanks for assembling so promptly. It’s quite a breath of fresh air. Free donuts will do that, I guess. Dibs on the Bavarian Cream.
The announced topic of this meeting was something ridiculously boring and irrelevant, and I don’t even remember it: something about adapting to a new paradigm of interactive blah blah blah. But it’s good to see so many of you here anyway, trying to accomplish two things at once: feigning interest in something the CEO has to say, and finding a legitimate excuse to beg off your usual work so you can nap in your auditorium seat while some buffoon dims the lights for a tedious series of PowerPoint slides.
There will be no more PowerPoint presentations today. Or ever. They are a time suck more potent than Angry Birds, more pervasive than pharmaceutical commercials. If you want more details on that last item, see my full ad in Ladies’ Home Journal, and ask your doctor about Dammitol.
That’s right: no more PowerPoint presentations. If you’re calling a meeting, you’d better not waste everyone’s time reading aloud the contents of each slide. We, too, learned how to read many years ago, and can decipher those mysterious markings on our own. If you wish to impart your wisdom to the rest of us, send us a well-written e-mail. Or speak to us. Meetings shall occur only when a group of people need to interact regarding a specific set of issues. The key word in that sentence is “interact,” which does not mean, “you all sit there trying not to make your iPhone use seem too obvious while I drone on and on about some Venn diagram.”
Some of you are using your iPhones even now. Anderson, for example, just tweeted that he’s pretty cheesed about my forcing him to attend a meeting when he had planned to be on the golf course with a client. Crowley is trying to catch up on Marshall’s Facebook feed, which, as I understand, is a daunting task even on a full-size screen. And Lee and Markowitz are messaging each other back and forth in a never-ending contest to see who can interpret my words as rudely as possible.
But I like that. I like the multitasking. I like the efficiency. I like the intolerance for meetings. In keeping with that attitude, I am announcing a new policy, effective immediately, as follows:
1. No meeting shall exceed twenty minutes except by my advance approval. It better be important. Do not waste my time and yours trying to get approval to waste more time.
2. If a meeting exceeds the allotted time, the conference room heaters will turn on full blast, the lights will cease to work and the intercom speakers will emit nothing but the sound of pigs squealing at maximum volume for half an hour.
3. At regular intervals during any meeting, the participants will be asked to vote discreetly though their mobile devices whether the meeting is worthwhile. When a majority of respondents answer negatively, the lights will cease to work and the person conducting the meeting will be docked pay commensurate with the time the meeting took.
4. Since this meeting policy will cause much increased use of e-mail, chat and texting to get things done, it is imperative that we communicate clearly. Any use of creative spellings, missing letters, numbers where letters should be, and the like, will result in the confiscation of the device used to mangle our language so mercilessly. Each badly constructed sentence will result in a day’s participation in our Community Volunteer Initiative, where you will dole out slop to disgusted high school students in the cafeteria at Thomas Jefferson High School over on the next block.
5. That’s it. This meeting is already getting too long. Get the hell back to work before I think of more incentives.
Maître d’: Good afternoon. Thank you for calling Chez Guevara. How may I help you?
Thag: Hello, I’d like to make a reservation for six o’clock. Four people.
Maître d’: Four people, for six o’clock. Under what name, please?
Maître d’: Mr. Thag, may I have a phone number in case we need to reach you?
Thag: Certainly. I’m at 555-1213.
Maître d’: Very good, sir. See you at six.
Thag: Thank you. Goodbye.
Maître d’: Good afternoon. Thank you for calling Chez Guevara. How may I help you?
Thag: Hello, this is Thag. I called earlier about a reservation for four people at six o’clock, but I need to change that.
Maître d’: Just a moment, Mr. Thag. Did you say six?
Thag: Yes. Four people.
Maître d’: I’m sorry, sir, I don’t have anything like that in the records.
Thag: What? That can’t be – I just made the reservation an hour ago.
Maître d’: An hour ago? Oh, sir, but you never closed the reservation, so it never went through.
Thag: Closed…what are you talking about?
Maître d’: It’s standard procedure, sir. A reservation must be closed before it can be processed further. It shouldn’t matter this time, sir, we still have space left at six o’clock. Would you like me to put the reservation in again?
Thag: Yes, please – but how do you close it after that?
Maître d’: Oh, I’ll just do that right now, as well. One moment…you said your name was Mr. Thag?
Thag: Right. Four people – oh, wait, no, it’s five people.
Maître d’: OK, five people at six o’clock. The reservation is complete. Your phone number in case we need to reach you?
Thag: 555-1213. What good is the phone number if you don’t use it to call me?
Maître d’: We might need to, sir, if there’s a problem with the reservation.
Thag: But you didn’t call me to tell me there was a problem!
Maître d’: Sir, there wasn’t a reservation.
Thag: But there was! I made it an hour ago!
Maître d’: It was never closed, sir, so it never was. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.
Thag: Goodness gracious. I do hope there are no more hassles.
Maître d’: We do too, sir.
Maître d’: Good afternoon. Thank you for calling Chez Guevara. How may I help you?
Thag: Hello, this is Mr. Thag. I’d like to change my reservation to six-thirty if at all possible.
Maître d’: Just a moment, sir…was that a six o’clock reservation for five people?
Thag: That’s right.
Maître d’: How would you like to change it, sir?
Thag: I’d like to make it six-thirty, please.
Maître d’: I’m sorry, sir, I can’t do that.
Thag: Why not?
Maître d’: You never confirmed your reservation, sir. We gave the table to another party.
Thag: Confirmed?! What in blazes are you talking about?!
Maître d’: Please sir, there’s no need to get excited. All reservations must be confirmed or they are canceled.
Thag: No need to get excited?! You canceled my perfectly good reservation!
Maître d’: Mr. Thag, I can try to restore it. Please be patient. I will check to see whether we still have room.
Thag: Still have room? Why didn’t you call me to make sure? I left my phone number for just that reason!
Maître d’: Sir, you didn’t call to confirm.
Thag: Why did you take my phone number then? What do you need it for?
Maître d’: In case we need to contact you, sir.
Thag: Why would you need to contact me?
Maître d’: In case there’s a problem with your reservation.
Thag: But you didn’t contact me!
Maître d’: No, sir, there was nothing wrong with the reservation.
Thag: And yet you canceled it!
Maître d’: Exactly. It wasn’t confirmed, so we canceled it.
Thag: But you should have contacted me first to make sure!
Maître d’: No, sir, only if there was a problem with the reservation. There was no problem, just a lack of confirmation. If you’d have called to confirm that would have been a different story. Now do you want me to put it through again?
Maître d’: …I can put you down for a party of five at six forty-five. Will that do?
Thag: It’s not as if I have have a choice, now, is it?
Maître d’: Sir, there’s no need to get testy. Shall I make your reservation for six forty-five?
Thag: Yes. Then close it, or whatever the hell you’re supposed to do. Then confirm it.
Maître d’: Right away, sir. May I have your credit card number and expiration date?
Thag: My what? Are you serious?
Maître d’: Completely serious, Mr. Thag. We need to make sure our guests show up. The space here is in high demand.
Thag: Oh my goodness. I can’t believe this…my card number is VISA 4690555125558444, expires January 2012.
Maître d’: Thank you sir. See you at six forty-five.
Thag: Not if I see you first.
Maître d’: Welcome to Chez Guevara. May I have your reservation please?
Thag: Thag, party of five.
Maître d’: …Party of five…I’m sorry sir, there seems to have been a problem with your reservatio-
TV News Anchor: …Thag, 36, of Shaker Heights, was charged with aggravated assault for attempting to strangle the maître d’ of Chez Guevara, Mr. Thomas Alvarez…
I’m sorry. I’ll try not to do it again. It was a stupid idea.
You see, I went a long time without checking my spam folder. Upon clicking on that long-neglected link, I came face-to-screen with the realization that I had missed out on months’ worth of fabulous offers. Some were even in languages I didn’t know existed. And some were quite possibly English, but not necessarily. I mean, they used real English words, mostly spelled correctly, but put them together in ways no speaker of English ever would. Those mostly came from Nigeria. I didn’t know there were so many Africans with oh-so-tantalizingly close access to millions of dollars. No wonder the continent is in trouble: all that useful cash, locked away from the public. If everyone wrote back to those Nigerian widows today, we could solve the AIDS crisis, a couple of wars and food distribution problems from the Sahara southward.
Now, I do not, currently, have a need for a certain pill, the name of which will prompt some filters to regard this post as spam, but it features a phonetic rhyme with a set of waterfalls shared by the U.S. and Canada. That pill promises to eliminate certain performance issues in men. Oodles of messages offering it end up in my spambox everyday. But should I save all those messages, in case, when I reach a certain stage of middle age, I might need said med? The more sources I consult, the more likely I am to find to a competitive price – and as I understand, the going rate for this particular non-chewable tablet is something like twenty bucks per dose. I’d better set up a filter to override the spam-detector and file those messages away for safekeeping. In fact, if you’re looking to get rid of yours, I’ll take your leftover messages in that vein, as well.
Now, I do wish I could understand Russian, because a good number of the messages in there are in that language. How the hell am I supposed to know what they’re telling me? What am I supposed to do about this? What if it’s some really crucial information that my English-speaking sources have missed? The same goes for what I guess is Chinese. I need help, but I can’t deal with all that gibberish on my own!
Then there are the offers to increase one’s physical endowment. I do not, thank you very much, require enhancement of my bust, least of all through what appear to be thoroughly unscientific means, but if I were, I would wonder how you knew, since I certainly wouldn’t be going around telling everybody I was considering it. So I suspect I’ve been getting these messages in error, and they are intended for someone else with a similar address. As for roughly analogous offers directed at males, thank you, but I believe those were received in error, as well; I’m quite unlikely to broadcast, uh, shortcomings in that region, so even if it were relevant, I wouldn’t trust my anatomy to people with no sense of discretion.
Of course I could occasionally make use of access to pharmaceuticals with a diminutive price tag – available only with a physician’s endorsement – so should I save those messages, as well, and refer to them again next time the little ones need some amoxycillin? This sure is getting complicated. There are so many helpful people out there, waiting to provide assistance where it might be needed – and here I sat, losing faith in humanity. Well, from here on in I resolve to pay more attention to the wrong side of the incoming e-mail tracks. Those neglected messages would appreciate it, and it’s the least I can do for them.
Now, would you like to see that for-sure authentic video of Bin Laden’s death?
Where Your Discomfort Comes First
Furtive glances at amputee at adjacent table
Mysterious odor from kitchen
Irritating ring tones
Loud, inappropriate neighboring conversation
Stubborn grease stain on table
Unsightly mark from leaky roof
Served with sneers
Dining companion who makes a scene
Horribly messy spill
Pointing and whispering from table across the room
Getting garment caught and ripped on corner of chair
Entrées ($21 )
Served with your choice of patently disingenuous concern or blatantly cynical disillusionment
Incompetent, badly executed nose-blowing
Awkward blind date
Allergies to key elements of meal
Companion who claims to be on a diet
Constantly getting elbowed by the person next to you
Wheezing, snorting laughter at adjacent table
Swarm of gnats
Children’s Menu ($8)
Being on “my” side of the invisible dividing line
How come she gets a yellow cup and I get a boring old brown one?
Ketchup all over my shirt
1996 Atlanta Braves Swoon
1997 Construction on the FDR Drive
1997 Detroit Blight
1998 Steroid Allegations
1998 Six Papercuts from a Single Sheet
1998 Construction on the FDR Drive
1999 Construction on the FDR Drive
1999 Invincible Bathroom Mildew
2000 Construction on the FDR Drive
2000 Wedgie-Prone Briefs
2001 Construction on the BQE
2001 Caught Speeding
2002 Construction in Afghanistan
2002 Iraqi Chemical Weapons Program “Slam Dunk”
2003 Destruction, Construction in Iraq
2004 Construction on the FDR Drive
2004 New York Yankees Swoon
2005 Mideast Peace in Our Time
2006 More Mideast Peace in Our Time
2006 Construction on the BQE
2007 Irredeemably Ugly Driver’s License Photo
2007 Construction on the BQE
2007 Leaky Bathroom Faucet
2008 More Mideast Peace in Our Time
2008 Big Loser in Atlantic City
2008 Vomit-Inducing Halloween Costume
2008 Construction on FDR Drive
2009 Mishap with Hair Dye
2009 Cat Hairballs in Roof Gutter
2009 Construction on FDR Drive
2010 Krispy Kreme Displaces Local Dunkin Donuts
2010 Construction on BQE
2010 More Mideast Peace in Our Time
2010 Still Haven’t Won the Lottery
We live in a world of process. Despite an entire generation of youth raised to expect instant gratification, human gestation still requires forty weeks; fourth-period history still takes forever; and the National Hockey League playoffs still last approximately twelve years.
It is important to realize, even in this world of push-button, immediate stimulus-response, that some islands of patience remain vital to the functional person and society. E-mail might have removed the glorious anticipation of sending and receiving a real letter – try it sometime; it’s so retro – but Microsoft has managed to preserve, even in our high-tech environment, the need to wait about two presidential terms for Windows to restart. It might take mere seconds to find relevant research materials through Google and Wikipedia, while a trip to the library (remember those?) in days of yore could occupy a full afternoon or two just finding and collating the information – but it will still take the geek you’ve bullied into doing the research a good bit of time to do the actual reading for you.
Microwaves revolutionized the way people ruin food: now you can cook a potato beyond repair in less than ten minutes, whereas our ancestors had to boil them for half an hour or more just to get them to the mildly repulsive stage. Food preparation in general has become so hands-off, in fact, that rendering a feast for twelve inedible now takes a fraction of the manpower it used to.
I, for one, revel in the process. It’s special experience to watch circumstances slowly develop, as piece after piece of the situational puzzle comes together. The anticipation builds; the suspense and excitement crescendo, with the final moments of the well-planned, exquisitely choreographed pie in the face offering a catharsis. That catharsis would never happen if the pies were flying all over the place from the first moment, would it?
So I say, bring back select aspects of the old way: walking to work or school; reading an actual newspaper; using a phone with an actual cord that limits the range of all that ridiculous pacing some people seem to have a pathological need to do, as if absentmindedly tripping over things and walking into walls and falling down steps somehow enhances their focus on the conversation.
Will you stop that? I’m trying to type.
How can a blogger not react to the drama of Hosni Mubarak’s downfall? Can Thag remain obtuse to the revolutionary currents in his very neighborhood? Can he ignore the political and social earthquake occurring in his back yard?
You’re damn skippy he can. Thag loves democracy as much as the next guy, but he’s not the politically active type. Or curious. Or informed. Really, the world is better off if he stays ensconced in his little office, typing away at his little blog and keeping himself out of more trouble. Trust us.
Which is not to say he is unaware of the goings-on over in Cairo; he’s just happy that throngs of other people have been doing the real legwork. It’s cold out there right now. If he were involved, we get the feeling the movement would have become less about Power to the People and more about Powdered Donuts for the People. Or person. Is it just him, or did all those government officials addressing the public look like they could use a couple of scoops of Ben & Jerry’s to pick up their spirits? Bread and Circuses are exactly the kind of thing to keep Thag and his ilk out of the authorities’ hair. Just make sure the bread has poppy seeds or rolled oats on it, and we’re good.
It’s a good thing the Egyptian army has announced it will uphold the treaty with Israel. Thag can just see Israel demanding the Sinai back. Heaven knows there were enough people uprooted from there to make some political noise if push came to media attention shove. So Thag is grateful for that datum; he’d hate to be confused even further by people claiming there’s some historic opportunity to right a wrong that most other people don’t think was wrong – it was really right, and the people who feel wronged were wrong to think they had a right. As you can see, Thag has what to be grateful for; he wishes to convey his appreciation to the Egyptian military, who probably wouldn’t notice. But what the hey, go ahead and pass Thag’s wishes on to them, dear readers. Are they on Facebook?
What did grab Thag’s attention, though, was that Congressman from upstate New York who sent his shirtless likeness to a potential paramour via Craigslist. Yes, he lied about his age; yes, he lied about his occupation; yes, he’s married; yes, he resigned rather abruptly. What strikes Thag as incredible is that said Congressman claimed the shirtless photo was the only one he had available to share with this potential suitor. Is it just Thag, or is that one of the lamest excuses for a come-on this side of, “Was your father a thief?”? What would have been his backup choice, I wonder? “Hey, sorry for this one; my wife has all the other photos and all my shirts are in the laundry she’s doing right now, so I have to snap a photo with my phone right now. Also, I have this spasm in my right side that causes me to flex my biceps and pecs all the time, so that’s not me posing at all, no ma’am.”
You thought Thag disliked politics. You were right, except that occasionally Thag’s snark generator gets wind of the vortex of stupidity emerging from the political realm, and reflexively vomits out its reaction. Ooh, are those powdered donuts?