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Homemade Cell Phone Call Blocker?

Cliff posted about 8 years ago | from the if-they-call-don't-bug-me dept.

245

G)-(ostly asks: "Recently, I've been plagued by a number of calls that were mis-dialed to my cell phone. They're particularly annoying because, being on a cell phone, the wrong number calls follow me everywhere as opposed to just being ignored in an empty house during the day. Verizon, of course, has scripted their drones to claim they can't do anything about it except change the number (or we can turn off the phone), which of course probably wouldn't change anything since we'd just get different mis-dials. However, since it's in my possession, would it be possible to build a software package that could be used to 'screen' unwanted numbers right on the phone? If so, how would one even begin to find APIs for phones, or load the software, once built, onto it?" How long do you figure it will take phone makers to recognize the need for this feature?A cheap and dirty way to do this would be to add the numbers you wish to block to your phone's contact list and give them a silent ring. However, you then waste the phones memory with a phone-book entry (which can be hundreds of bytes), when all you really need is a list consisting of 10-12 digit numbers (depending on locality). The other drawback to this method is that you might need to use those contact slots, so it isn't a solution for everyone. Still, this sounds like a useful feature, but there is still the issue of how much control the cell phone's OS will give you over its basic operations (blocking messages sent from a specific number, for example). Has anyone tried doing this on their phone? What kind of luck did you have?

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245 comments

How long do you figure it will take phone makers (3, Interesting)

thrillseeker (518224) | about 8 years ago | (#15007007)

... to offer this feature?

They'll never try to voluntarily assist their customers in limiting the number of air minutes used by their customers.

Re:How long do you figure it will take phone maker (1)

QBasicer (781745) | about 8 years ago | (#15007028)

The one feature I really wish my phone had was time based ringers (during class silent, after school on loud, and soft at night).

Re:How long do you figure it will take phone maker (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | about 8 years ago | (#15007270)

My free Nokia from Verizon can change profiles on a delay. It's not what you're asking for because it doesn't have a schedule, but it will let me set it silent for two hours until the movie is over, or noisy for eight hours until work in the morning.

Re:How long do you figure it will take phone maker (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15007305)

I have a P910i with a program called Magic Profiles Pro.

It will change profiles based on what cell tower you're connected to. So when I drive to work, the 3 towers near my work are all programmed and in the phone switches to Work mode.

You can also change profiles based on time and keyworks in the calender app (such as meeting, dinner etc)

You can also screen numbers using it, blacklist, whitelist, or just reject calls that don't give you any caller ID info.

It's very handy, I think you can also get it for some Symbian based Nokia's.

Re:How long do you figure it will take phone maker (1)

Ithika (703697) | about 8 years ago | (#15007039)

But you don't pay to receive calls, only to send them. So it's the same as setting up a blacklist on a mail server, in effect. The phone checks the number, realises it's on the blacklist and sends back the "not interested" signal. The person dialling gets "number not recognised" or similar, to put them off.

It seems like a grand idea. Are there any open source phone operating systems that this could be implemented on, or are we at the mercy of the telcos and manufacturers?

Re:How long do you figure it will take phone maker (3, Informative)

Peter Mork (951443) | about 8 years ago | (#15007114)

But you don't pay to receive calls

I certainly pay to receive calls. I get a certain number of 'minutes' every month. These minutes are spent by sending or receiving calls.

Re:How long do you figure it will take phone maker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15007198)

You pay to receive normal calls? Not video or anything special? Where are you, the US?!

Re:How long do you figure it will take phone maker (2, Insightful)

Knara (9377) | about 8 years ago | (#15007528)

You pay to answer calls, not receive them. You can let your phone ring and not pay for the incoming minutes, unless your plan sucks. That's what caller ID / contact lists are for

Re:How long do you figure it will take phone maker (5, Informative)

ArkonChakravanti (953458) | about 8 years ago | (#15007321)

Actually, in some countries, like Belgium, you don't pay to receive calls, only the caller pays to talk on the phone and you also don't pay to receive text messages...
In other countries, like the US, you pay for calling and for receiving calls, and for sending and receiving text messages...

Just FYI

Re:How long do you figure it will take phone maker (2, Interesting)

michrech (468134) | about 8 years ago | (#15007508)

Actually, in some countries, like Belgium, you don't pay to receive calls, only the caller pays to talk on the phone and you also don't pay to receive text messages...
In other countries, like the US, you pay for calling and for receiving calls, and for sending and receiving text messages...

Just FYI


In addition to not paying for incoming calls (USCellular), I also do not pay to receive text messages.

uscc.com even has a tool that lets you send text messages to their customers for free (no one pays for the text messages in this way!)

Not all US carriers do this. This, in addition to the fact that the ONLY major provider in my area is Sprint (and they only have towers near the highway) is why I have USCellular.

I guess Alltel could be considered "major", but they suck big floppy donkey ears compared to USCellular.

Re:How long do you figure it will take phone maker (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15007607)

I guess Alltel could be considered "major", but they suck big floppy donkey ears compared to USCellular.

MUAHAHAHA! Get used to that taste because you will soon be sucking them too.

Re:How long do you figure it will take phone maker (1)

Matt Perry (793115) | about 8 years ago | (#15007744)

But you don't pay to receive calls, only to send them.
Not in the US.

Re:How long do you figure it will take phone maker (1)

michrech (468134) | about 8 years ago | (#15007472)

They'll never try to voluntarily assist their customers in limiting the number of air minutes used by their customers.

I don't know how wide-spread this is, but on USCellular, so long as you are on their network, incoming calls are free (as in they don't use ANY of your minutes). 24/7/365.

So what would their incentive be for *not* offering a feature like this? For that matter, why would *any* carrier not offer a feature like this? It's a "feature" they could charge their subscribers monthly to have!

Re:How long do you figure it will take phone maker (3, Funny)

Siffy (929793) | about 8 years ago | (#15007679)

24/7/365

Sweet! Where are you living that has 365 weeks in a year?

Re:How long do you figure it will take phone maker (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 8 years ago | (#15007745)

365 days silly.

But the problem with a program in the phone screening the calls is that when it refuses a call, it will get kicked into voicemail. You will pay (use your minutes) when checking voicemail. Weeding though 20 wrong number calls is about as bad as talking for 20 minutes.

Re:How long do you figure it will take phone maker (1)

thatnerdguy (551590) | about 8 years ago | (#15007973)

And here I thought my plan was average in that it didn't charge me for voicemail calls. Well it turns out it is awesome!. Of course my plan really is awesome: unlimited incoming calls! (Fido here in canada for anyone who's interested)

beer + typing never mix

Caller ID (2, Insightful)

AllMightyPaul (553038) | about 8 years ago | (#15007013)

My phone has caller ID, so I can see who the number is and if it matches a number in my phone book. I think every cell phone made in the past five years has this. What more do you want?

Re:Caller ID (1)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | about 8 years ago | (#15007045)

Not only that, but several phones have the ability to select ringing profiles and include certain numbers in the groups and exclude others.

What works for me is to simply set it up so that all of my friends cause my phone to ring, with a few select people excluded. Everyone else just shows the number and makes the phone vibrate. That is, unless you're someone I know I want to talk to, you're on "silent".

I'm not sure if all phones offer this, but the last couple of phones I have owned have had this feature.

Re:Caller ID (2, Insightful)

biocute (936687) | about 8 years ago | (#15007074)

I got a feeling that the asker wants to block the calls automatically, which I think is a bad idea.

Unlike spams, the best way to stop wrongnumber-dialers to call you again is to tell them they have got the wrong number.

Re:Caller ID (1, Insightful)

itwerx (165526) | about 8 years ago | (#15007156)

...the best way to stop wrong number-dialers...is to tell them they have got the wrong number.

Ah, I'm so glad somebody pointed that out.
      I was sitting here trying to wrap my head around how the phone could have a "psychic powers" API to know when a caller had a wrong number! :)

Re:Caller ID (1)

Vince (4999) | about 8 years ago | (#15007246)

Or, send them straight to voicemail, where they'll figure out that you're not the one they were trying to call.

Re:Caller ID (1)

TheVoice900 (467327) | about 8 years ago | (#15007357)

This might work in theory, not in practice. I still get tons of voicemails all the time like "Hey Jim, I'm going to be late for our meeting today..." or "Bob, I couldn't find that thing you wanted.." etc... hint: my name is neither Bob or Jim..

Re:Caller ID (1)

Siffy (929793) | about 8 years ago | (#15007672)

Those are boring. For most of last summer, 2-3 times a week I'd get wrong number calls that almost always left the same voicemail "I ain't heard back from you since Tuesday, if you don't show up with my weed again this weekend I'm gonna kill your ass, Boo." for the gist of it. And no, my name is not "Boo" and I'd had the number for about 6 months when this was happening. I never bothered to answer that number or reply to the voice mails for 1, cause they were just so damn funny (to listen to during unlimited minutes hours) and 2, if a drug dealer actually got killed over my inaction I see that as a good thing. I'm now wondering if that's why the calls suddenly stopped.

Microsoft Smartphones (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15007026)

You can do this with Microsofts Smartphones because they have an open API and freely available tookits to develop with. Just go to http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile [microsoft.com] for more information. Who knows about other phones, like Symbian. They are pretty much closed so you can forget about them.

Re:Microsoft Smartphones (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15007088)

Symbian is closed? Hmm. If you say so. You can download Python for Symbian phones, or even the full Symbian SDK [nokia.com].

Anyway there are several applications out there that will block particular, or all unknown, numbers from getting through to your Symbian phone. Perhaps it would have helped if the original poster mentioned exactly WHAT phone he has...

Ahoy, hoy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15007033)

When I get a wrong number, I suggest they practice dialing their telephone-machine.

Huh? (4, Informative)

Derg (557233) | about 8 years ago | (#15007037)

My old as crap sony ericsson t237 from cingular has a call management feature that lets me select groups to accept calls from. I can select to accept calls from the list, from all, or from none. Why cant you just put all the people you are most commonly expecting calls from in the "whitelist" and select to accept calls only from the list? Any other calls are directed to voicemail, where you can choose to ignore or reply at your leisure. Another benefit of this is that your voicemail message will convey who you are to the caller, and simple misdials will realize and most likely hangup. I do not see what the big deal is? What am I missing?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15008037)

What if that girl you gave your number to last night actually calls? Oh... right... you were home playing Star Wars Galaxies last night...

Im guessing your number is (3, Funny)

technoextreme (885694) | about 8 years ago | (#15007048)

555-filk.

Re:Im guessing your number is (1)

masterren (733946) | about 8 years ago | (#15007264)

Hello, and welcome to your worst nightmare. I know you're in there, Cosmo Kramer, Apartment 5B. You're in big trouble, now. You've been stealing my business. If you'd like to do this the easy way, open the door, now. Or, please select the number of seconds, you'd like to wait, before I break this door down. Please select, now.

O2 (3, Informative)

biocute (936687) | about 8 years ago | (#15007049)

If wrong numbers are troubling you so much, consider investing in a O2-type smartphone which comes with features to screen/block numbers.

Not to be cynical, but geez... (4, Insightful)

Rude Turnip (49495) | about 8 years ago | (#15007070)

"A cheap and dirty way to do this would be to add the numbers you wish to block to your phone's contact list and give them a silent ring. However, you then waste the phones memory with a phone-book entry (which can be hundreds of bytes),..."

Hundreds of bytes? Spare me the drama. If you're the type of person with the wherewithal to even think about developing a number-blocking app for your phone, then you probably have the type of phone where hundreds of bytes isn't going to matter. What you call a "cheap and dirty" solution I'd call "cheap and simple." My "cheap" referring to less use of my time thinking about the problem.
   

Re:Not to be cynical, but geez... (1)

QBasicer (781745) | about 8 years ago | (#15007366)

I agree, but if was seemingly random people calling, one could set the ringer to silent and set only the people you want to get calls from with an audible ringer. Hundreds of bytes? Please! My phone has a 40MB memory.

Sign me up to help! (1)

cmarks03 (900042) | about 8 years ago | (#15007083)

I have a similar problem, but it's on a scale that probably much worse. I get a SHIT-TON of calls from one number, some from another, and more recently, many from unavailable numbers. If someone wants to write this, I'll test it on my phone in a second.

As for if it can be done, I would imagine it would require some firmware hacking and/or rewriting. It would be easier from the customer standpoint on the provider end. I know that my land-line phone company offers (or is working on offering) a service which does exactly that, so it's not out of the realm of possibility, but I do agree that providers probably wouldn't do it because it would cut into their profits. But I bet that once one does it, people will start switching to them for various reasons, and soon everyone will have it.

what's wrong with 'wrong number #1' etc.. (4, Insightful)

Dave_B93 (528595) | about 8 years ago | (#15007084)

I used to have someone doing this all the time and so added them to my phone book as 'wrong number #1' and just not answering it. Do you really have more than the 250 or so numbers that your sim card can hold ( or more if you're using phone memory? ) An alternative would be to have caller groups and only having it ring if it was a known number, but then you have to know everyone who calls you. If they're calling from a Private Number then you're really screwed.

Re:what's wrong with 'wrong number #1' etc.. (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | about 8 years ago | (#15007247)

And for phones with multiple #s per contact, you can just make one contact with all the bad numbers.

Mine is called "bill collectors", rather than "wrong numbers". Fuckers.

Different #s have different wrong number rates (5, Interesting)

localman (111171) | about 8 years ago | (#15007092)

I once had a cell phone where I would get at least four wrong numbers per day. I'd never had that much trouble before, and never again after I changed numbers. Everyone calling was asking for a different person, so it wasn't because I had a number similar to a popular business (though that happened to me once before too).

Eventually I figured out the reason for the many wrong numbers: my exchange matched a nearby area code, and the first three digits of the rest of my number were an exchange within that area code. So, for example, let's say my number was 555 1234, there were a thousand valid numbers in the format 1 (555) 123 4###. What that meant was that anytime someone in my area code forgot to dial 1 when dialing one of those 1000 numbers, it resulted in a wrong number to me.

Once I figured that out, I got my number changed and things got much better. Don't know if that's what's happening to you, but I thought I'd mention it. If you think it is something like this, be sure to change exchanges too, not just the last four digits. Make sure the exchange does not match a nearby area code.

Cheers.

Switch Bounce (1)

Detritus (11846) | about 8 years ago | (#15007220)

I've noticed that numbers with repeated digits, like XXX-X77X, get more misdialed calls.

Re:Switch Bounce (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | about 8 years ago | (#15007595)

I've noticed that numbers with repeated digits, like XXX-X77X, get more misdialed calls.

I've always wondered why we can't have a check digit (to make the number add to zero, for example) added at the end to prevent misdials. They're just numbers - we've got more of 'em in storage. if we want.

Re:Different #s have different wrong number rates (1)

magicchex (898936) | about 8 years ago | (#15007235)

Weird. If I dial like this from a landline, I get an error saying to dial a 1 first. On a cell phone, the 1 is not required. I'm curious if your problm is still possible?

Re:Different #s have different wrong number rates (1)

Random Destruction (866027) | about 8 years ago | (#15007385)

there is no possible way that what you say is true

his number was, say 555-1234
but the number 1-(555)-123-4000 is valid.
If you forget to dial the one on the second number, how could the phone company possibly know that you meant to dial a one? Itll just route you through to the first number, and youll dial 000 as it rings.

Re:Different #s have different wrong number rates (1)

amliebsch (724858) | about 8 years ago | (#15007519)

No, think about it. You dial the number, then press "SEND". The routing of your call does not actually take place until the number has been completely dialed and the "SEND" button pressed. What you say is true of POTS with a dial tone, though.

Re:Different #s have different wrong number rates (1)

Random Destruction (866027) | about 8 years ago | (#15007945)

yeah, sorry. I replied to myself to clarify I was only thinking POTS, and youre completely right for cell.

Re:Different #s have different wrong number rates (0)

larry bagina (561269) | about 8 years ago | (#15007962)

No, the middle digit for an area code is always 0 or 1.

Re:Different #s have different wrong number rates (1)

Random Destruction (866027) | about 8 years ago | (#15008183)

Very good. Allow me to clarify for you

his number was, say 555^H^H^H505-1234
but the number 1-(555^H^H^H505)-123-4000 is valid.
If you forget to dial the one on the second number, how could the phone company possibly know that you meant to dial a one? Itll just route you through to the first number, and youll dial 000 as it rings.

Re:Different #s have different wrong number rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15008222)

My 847 XXX XXXX number differs to beg.

Re:Different #s have different wrong number rates (1)

Tacvek (948259) | about 8 years ago | (#15007401)

Weird. If I dial like this from a landline, I get an error saying to dial a 1 first. On a cell phone, the 1 is not required. I'm curious if your problm is still possible?
Sure it is still possible. The GP live in Place_A which has an echange of '555'. Nerby is Place_B who has an area code of '555'. There is also place_C, from which Place_A is local, and Place_B is long distance. Place_C is one of those places in the country where area codes are not yet mandatory. If Somebody in place_C is trying to call place B it is crutial to dial the 1, because if they fail, the call goes to place_A.

Obviously somebody was an idiot when they decided that exchange '555' could be located nearby exchange '555'.

Re:Different #s have different wrong number rates (1)

localman (111171) | about 8 years ago | (#15007540)

Obviously somebody was an idiot when they decided that exchange '555' could be located nearby exchange '555'.

Yeah, that was exactly what I thought. I mean, there's only like 25 area codes in all of California... probably only 10 of which that would be local to my area at the time. Couldn't they skip those when making exchanges? I hear that originally area codes always had a 0 or 1 as the middle digit, and exchanges never did. But they ran out of numbers that way and now they'll put any number anywhere. Clever original design to prevent this kind of problem, but not scalable, and certainly overlooked today as they grow the network.

Cheers.

Re:Different #s have different wrong number rates (3, Funny)

plover (150551) | about 8 years ago | (#15008127)

Here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, it has been split into four area codes: 612 (old), 763, 952 and 651. The area codes were specifically chosen to not match any existing local 3-digit exchanges in order to avoid that exact problem.

On a somewhat related note, I, too once had a number that was commonly misdialed. The old number was (not the 555, obviously) 612-555-3116. I started getting calls for people trying to order Twins tickets. I couldn't figure it out until I picked up one of those little pocket Twins schedules they used to hand out at gas stations. There, printed right on the cover, was "FOR TWINS TICKETS CALL 612-555-3116". They published the wrong number, and it was mine! For a few days, I had "Hi, leave your Visa number at the beep!" as my outgoing message, but I figured I might be asking for trouble.

Re:Different #s have different wrong number rates (3, Funny)

fm6 (162816) | about 8 years ago | (#15007323)

I once had a similar issue with my landline. The problem was that if you swapped two digits while dialing a certain motel, you'd get my number. Not only did I get a lot of calls from people who were just sloppy dialing, but I got a lot of calls from one particular flake who misdialed the number quite consistently. Never did find out why he called the motel so much, though his attitude and way of talking made me think his drug connection must have worked there. He'd refuse to believe me when I told him he had the wrong number, and get really nasty when I'd remind him that this was the umpteenth time he'd done so.

Once I answered the phone, got the usual idiot. I said, "Asshole!" and hung up. He speed-dialed me until I got tired of hanging up on him, then left a 20-minute rant on my answering machine.

Eventually, I moved to a different area code and had to change my number. Had Pacific Bell notify callers of my new number. Came home one day to find a message on my machine: "What the fuck?" Yep, same guy. I'll always wonder: did he think the motel had moved across state or what?

VZW dont care (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15007099)

I used to work for VZW, both as customer service and Tier 1/2 tech support. It was my experience that VZW doesnt care that you get misdials or the inconvenience you might experience from them. VZW is a company that has its entire business process focused entirely upon their profit motive and nothing else, customer service really is secondary to everything else. A perfect example of this would be a cell tower "upgrade" that removes or severely inhibits the ability for analog phones to get a signal, thereby forcing all the residents nearby with older phones to get new ones and 9 times out of 10 get them back on contract again. To specifically answer your question about blocking incoming calls:
a) This would be seen as tampering with the equipment and void warranties of any kind
b) Almost every phone supported by VZW has been altered in some way by the manufacturer to accomodate VZW's business goals. This includes locking phones so you cant change the software in any way. If the system sees that your phone is not operating within the specifications that it expects it to, your service is liable to be "interrupted".
c) The few phones that are not completely locked up by the manufacturer for VZW only allow very minor edits to the software. http://www.howardforums.com/ [howardforums.com] HowardForums is a nice place to visit. Lots and lots of useful information is posted there. You may be able to find something useful to your particular phone. Be advised the site loads very slowly due to a large amount of traffic and a /. effect wont help any :)

Re:VZW dont care (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | about 8 years ago | (#15007553)

I used to work for VZW, both as customer service and Tier 1/2 tech support. It was my experience that VZW doesnt care ...

They don't seem to care about many customer concerns. I was constantly getting calls, with no one there on the answer, from numbers that have been intentionally blocked in some way, i.e. a caller id with all zero's for example. They didn't quit till I threatened to sue Verizon to get the number blocked - they care if you pitch a big enough fit.

I've been a "loyal" (read braindead) Verizon customer for many years, having paid enough in cellular bills over the last dozen years to put some manager's kid through college, but expect to move to someone else in a month when my latest contract expires. I'm simply tired of being told they can't help, and of only gaining access to new hardware long after it's available, and then once getting it discovering it's been intentionally crippled. Enough.

Better yet (0, Redundant)

nizo (81281) | about 8 years ago | (#15007113)

I need a button on my phone to send a goatse picture to the last caller when someone misdials me at 1am and then hits redial and calls me right back after I tell them they have the wrong number.

Get a different phone. (1)

Reeses (5069) | about 8 years ago | (#15007126)

My cell phone lets me:

- set a custom riner for each person in my address book.

- set a DIFFERENT ringer for numbers that are *Unavailable*

- set another ringer for numbers that aren't in my Phonebook.

That way I can ignore it based on the ringer.

If someone I know calls, but I didn't know they called, then they can leave a voicemail, and I can add them to my Address Book. Hunt around. Play with phones before you buy them. Some have options like this, some dont.

A Better Solution (which you'll never see) (3, Insightful)

mkcmkc (197982) | about 8 years ago | (#15007143)

I'm not sure blocking on the phone will help much, since you're probably getting these calls from an assortment of differing numbers that you can't predict.

What you really need is a "magic number" (a simple password, basically) that callers have to enter to get access to your line, after they've reached you. This would block out everyone except the people you want to talk to (who you've told your magic number). A little unfriendly maybe, but not much different than having an extension that people need to remember.

Coincidentally, I used to work on the email-to-phone interface for a major cell carrier. Since their numbers were assigned in blocks, the system was trivial to spam. This wasn't considered to be a problem until the executives of the company started receiving it. ;-). Anyway, I suggested a magic word solution similar to the above for that case. Instead they spent megabucks on some antispam solution. No idea if it works--I have text messaging for my phone permanently disabled...

Re:A Better Solution (which you'll never see) (1)

ResQuad (243184) | about 8 years ago | (#15007251)

Actually AT&T (or SBC or whom ever they are now) I belive has something similar to this offered for their land lines. It was something like, if you called with caller id blocked you could either punch in a magic number - or - anounce your name to the recording system. That system would then ring the home line and play that recorded name back to you - so you could answer it if you wanted to or not.

Extremly unfriendly, but I hear it helped some people.

How to kill a fly with a cannonball.... (1)

hummassa (157160) | about 8 years ago | (#15007276)

Every Nokia phone I had (I had ten to twelve of them) had a "profiles" option, and inside each profile "rings for" where you can select which of your caller groups your phone rings for.
Simple.
Already exists.
It works.
For instance, I have a profile called "in class", that is absolutely silent... except if my (39 weeks pregnant) wife calls -- and if she does, it vibrates. If anyone else calls, too bad...

Re:How to kill a fly with a cannonball.... (1)

mkcmkc (197982) | about 8 years ago | (#15007846)

Sounds great, but it solves a different problem. Specifically, it only really works if you know the phone numbers of the people you want to talk to (or block). Doesn't help for people calling from arbitrary numbers, which is the problem the "magic number" technique is appropriate for.

Re:A Better Solution (which you'll never see) (1)

iterus (939399) | about 8 years ago | (#15008090)

That is too much of a pain-in-the-ass. I created a site a while back to let users port their number and then manage allowed incoming calls via the web. Originally it was designed so that people moving out of their area codes could forward landline calls indefinitely to their new number, but it could easily handle 'whitelists'. The server is getting smashed with hits right now, but check it out at http://www.callpass.net/ [callpass.net]

VOIP solution (4, Interesting)

hlh_nospam (178327) | about 8 years ago | (#15007154)

I determined long ago that I did not want to be a captive to a cell phone company, so I got an inexpensive VOIP number to forward to my cell phone. I do not give out my cell phone number at all, but I forward my VOIP phone to my cell phone (most of the time). In addition to being able to ditch my cell phone company at any time without having any hassles over notifying people of my new number, I can also go online anytime I want to 1) get a complete list of calling stats, 2) set filters to weed out unwanted calls, and 3) set timers on various other features.

My favorite feature is the ability to assign any number that I don't want to answer again a permanent busy signal. That, BTW, includes *any* call with a blocked caller ID. I get a little kick out of seeing in my log some low-life telemarketing company trying unsuccessfully to reach me hundreds of times. I can also set timers to go directly to voicemail during certain hours (like when I want to sleep), and I can selectively filter important callers (like my family) to ring through anyway.

Costs about $15/month. Oh, yes, I can also use the VOIP phone as originally intended, too.

Nowadays, with local number portability, the 'captive' part is less of a problem, but the other features make keeping a VOIP service worthwhile.

Re:VOIP solution (1)

nizo (81281) | about 8 years ago | (#15007289)

Interesting, can I ask which VOIP company you use?

Re:VOIP solution (2, Informative)

hlh_nospam (178327) | about 8 years ago | (#15007613)

VoicePulse [voicepulse.com]. I got the $14.99 account with unlimited local calls and 200 long distance minutes, of which I rarely use more than 20 or 30. Only problem I've had was when I was with Comcast, the bandwidth that Comcast provided after 5pm in the evening was not sufficient to use the VOIP line. However, since Verizon came to my neighborhood with FiOS, Comcast is now history as far as I'm concerned; good riddance.

VoicePulse does not pay referral fees, so my recommendation is a freebie. Probably better that way...

Re:VOIP solution (1)

loraksus (171574) | about 8 years ago | (#15007397)

Even with number portability - some carriers (sprint was one when I checked) won't give you any incentive to continue with them ($200 rebate or whatever) after your contract has expired. You can get the discount - but you have to get a new number.
Not sure why, it is easier and cheaper to go with another provider because of stuff like this, but sprint does what sprint does.

It's a small world on a loop (1)

isn't my name (514234) | about 8 years ago | (#15008126)

My favorite feature is the ability to assign any number that I don't want to answer again a permanent busy signal. That, BTW, includes *any* call with a blocked caller ID. I get a little kick out of seeing in my log some low-life telemarketing company trying unsuccessfully to reach me hundreds of times.

I went for Disney's "It's a Small World After All" with the gain set high on a continuous loop.

I've only put two telemarketer numbers on that. One took two calls to stop. The other only took one. (This was after them calling at least 6 times in the previous two weeks.)

Looking at the logs of those calls gave me a nice warm feeling.

Missing info (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15007162)

It would have been very helpful to know what type of phone the submitter had, as there are now several different types of phones, and the different phone OSs will typically require different solutions. A J2ME based solution for a Blackberry probably won't work on a Symbian phone, for example. Also, a number of phones have features to do this built in already, so it may be a moot point...

How about a checksum digit in phone numbers? (4, Funny)

evilad (87480) | about 8 years ago | (#15007182)

One checksum digit would eliminate *every* one-digit-wrong misdialed number. Why why why don't phone numbers have checksum digits?

Re:How about a checksum digit in phone numbers? (1)

djmurdoch (306849) | about 8 years ago | (#15007281)

Because they're running out of numbers, and need to use every one they can.

The other problem here is the crazy North American idea of having cell phone numbers in the same area codes as landlines, but requiring the receiver to pay for incoming calls. If all mobile providers were on their own recognizable area codes, and the caller knew that calling a mobile number was expensive, there'd be a lot fewer of these wrong numbers.

Re:How about a checksum digit in phone numbers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15007430)

"The other problem here is the crazy North American idea of having cell phone numbers in the same area codes as landlines, but requiring the receiver to pay for incoming calls."

I call bullshits... the receiver does NOT pay for the cost of the call. Sure, they get dinged minutes on their plan by their provider but this is not the same.

An example would be if I called you from a number not local to you, you do not pay long-distance charges for that call. I pay the long-distance charges, you merely use the cellular minutes per your agreement with you provider.

Re:How about a checksum digit in phone numbers? (1)

TeraCo (410407) | about 8 years ago | (#15007479)

An example would be if I called you from a number not local to you, you do not pay long-distance charges for that call. I pay the long-distance charges, you merely use the cellular minutes per your agreement with you provider.

It's still retarded, however you paint it.

Re:How about a checksum digit in phone numbers? (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | about 8 years ago | (#15007778)

The cell phone user is still paying for those minutes, just the minutes on the plan are pre-paid. If you somehow managed to use up all of the minutes on your plan, then you would be paying for additional minutes, incoming or outgoing. (At least, you would on most US cell phone plans.)

Re:How about a checksum digit in phone numbers? (1)

jpostel (114922) | about 8 years ago | (#15007751)

Because they're running out of numbers, and need to use every one they can.


Incorrect. http://www.nanpa.com/pdf/NRUF/October_2005_NPA_Exh aust_Analysis.pdf [nanpa.com] Most area codes will not be exhausted for many years. The reason we are seeing new area codes is that it is easier to create new area codes for the cellular networks than to reassign existing area codes and exchanges. Most exchanges are not even full.

A single exchange contains 10,000 numbers and therefore an area code contains up to 10,000,000 numbers. There are about 25 cities in that world that have more than 10,000,000 people. http://www.citypopulation.de/World.html [citypopulation.de] They might need two or three area codes. Even accounting for everyone (including children) in New York City (all five boroughs) to have a unique home and work phone, it would require 5 area codes. There are currently 9 area codes for NYC.

Not wholly correct, the 10 million (1)

way2trivial (601132) | about 8 years ago | (#15008173)

you can't have any exchanges that start with
411 or 911 or I think 611 for example.

There, I've just taken 30 thousand from your 10 million.

Re:How about a checksum digit in phone numbers? (1)

stienman (51024) | about 8 years ago | (#15007717)

Because most people would rather misdial once in every 100 phone calls than have to remember an extra digit for all 100 phone calls.

Besides, many people would skip remembering the extra digit and calculate it on the fly, which would lead to a correctly checksummed wrong number.

And we'd still be dialing an extra digit because some geek doesn't like the occasional misdial. What he doesn't know, however, is that there's a good chance the misdial is in his general area, and stands a good chance at being cuter or more available than what he is used to. Perhaps he has cut out an opportunity in the name of efficiency.

Perhaps...

-Adam

Re:How about a checksum digit in phone numbers? (1)

fbjon (692006) | about 8 years ago | (#15008017)

calculate it on the fly
I find your faith in the general public disturbing.

Re:How about a checksum digit in phone numbers? (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 8 years ago | (#15008118)

Who says it's misdialed? I get calls from collection agencies because some asshat has given them my number (I assume they picked it out of the air).

Number Re-assignment (2, Informative)

rueger (210566) | about 8 years ago | (#15007184)

Part of your problem is that phone companies, and cel providers in particular are re-assigning numbers faster than before.

In days of yore when you surrendered a phone number it would sit dormant for enough time that callers would stop using it.

These days your "new" number may have belonged to someone else only a few weeks ago. Consequently you get calls from people that they knew. Usually at 3 AM.

I had one phone that got calls every few hours from one particular phone number, but from different people. Near as I can tell it had been written on a washroom wall, right by the pay phone...

Re:Number Re-assignment (2, Funny)

beacher (82033) | about 8 years ago | (#15007555)

That happened with my Cingular line. The funniest thing was that they didn't delete the "say your name" recording that the previous number had. Moussad Arryah (something like that.. really thick arabic accent).
I really enjoyed leaving messages to other Cingular customers because it left Moussad's greeting and it was ominous. The downside is that I occasioanlly got calls from his creditors.

Re:Number Re-assignment (1)

maxume (22995) | about 8 years ago | (#15007615)

I still get wrong numbers on a phone number that I have had for six years. A lot less than before, and I think some of them were due to someone with the same exchange+4 in a nearby area code.

The last one was amazing, the guy was pretty sure he had the wrong number when he called. He was looking for Bubba. Color me surprised.

Re:Number Re-assignment (1)

RESPAWN (153636) | about 8 years ago | (#15008159)

A friend of mine actually met a pretty cool chick one time like this. He called his brother's old cell phone number by mistake and ended up talking to and going to meet this girl who now had the same number. Not sure what actually ended up happening between the two of them, though.

I feel your pain (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#15007194)

The phone# of a friend of mine is one digit different from the one for Ticket Master.

After walking with him for a while, you'd start to think his name is "wrong number".

Re:I feel your pain (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15007412)

Ooh baby, teach him to answer by saying "can I have your credit card number please?" Only tell people it's a wrong number after they give it. Those people will dial carefully after that. Also, he will probably be able to afford another phone.

Null ringtone. (0, Redundant)

SharpFang (651121) | about 8 years ago | (#15007199)

Set all (whitelisted) phone numbers in the phone's phonebook to 'custom' ringtone (any you want, normal default is fine) then set the phone's 'default' ringtone (the one used on all calls with no ringtone defined) to one consisting of silence. This way you'll hear only calls from people on your contact list.

symbian (2, Informative)

peu (163472) | about 8 years ago | (#15007200)

there is software for symbian phones that allow you to decide, by a set of rules the behaviour of your phone asnwering status, it can even tell the caller the line is busy

First Question, How many wrong numbers? (1)

DoninIN (115418) | about 8 years ago | (#15007201)

How many wrong numbers do you get? I get about two a month it seems, so I really don't care. I understand if your phone number is one digit of the local Pizza King, or is in fact the same number with one digit different in the prefix (556-1234, instead of 555-1234) and you're getting dozens of calls you don't want. I guess what I'm saying is if you really get so many wrong numbers it's a big problem then probably the underlying root cause here is something that could be addressed more easily than by inventing call block software.

Re:First Question, How many wrong numbers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15007774)

I wouldn't mind wrong numbers if they people weren't such morons. When you call someone, don't say "Hello?" back to them.

Ring

Me: Hello?
Them: Hello?
Me: I just said that, do you want something?
Them: I'm just calling you back.
Me: I don't even know who the fsck you are. -hangup-

Ring

Them: A-hole! -hangup-

As if it I was paid to help them use a telephone.

My first thought (1)

violent.ed (656912) | about 8 years ago | (#15007259)

How long do you figure it will take phone makers to recognize the need for this feature?

How long will it take you to figure out that 1 mis-dialed call that is answered means 1 more minute that you loose from your calling plan. That's 1 more minute closer to being able to charge you outrageous fees for exceeding your minutes for the month. Besides, even if the phone makers add such a feature, how much will the phone corp. charge you to use it ;)

There is no ideal solution (4, Informative)

stienman (51024) | about 8 years ago | (#15007267)

A misdial looks exactly like an intentional dial to the phone company. There is no way that you or the phone company can prevent someone from dialing your number.

Your phone already supports basic white list or blacklist functionality. If the same people keep misdialing your number, then you'll want to blacklist them using the method sugested in the editorial portion of this article.

If, however, you get misdials from different phone numbers then you'll need to add everyone to your phone book that you want to know about immediately, and set the general ring to silent. In this way you'll still get voicemail if the caller left a message (typically misdials won't leave voice mail if you set up your outgoing message well) so you won't be completely out of the loop with a real caller from an unfamiliar phone number.

I don't see how custom software will solve this any better than the phone book will. You have four different scenarios:
1) Someone who does want to talk to you dials correctly and reaches you
2) Someone who does NOT want to talk to you dials correctly and doesn't reach you
3) Someone who does want to talk to you misdials and doesn't reach you
4) Someone who does NOT want to talk to you misdials and reaches you

Only calls from #1 and #4 reach you. There are two further possibilities:
A) The person calls from a number in your phone book
B) The person calls from a number not in your phone book (or is blocked)

A person who does want to talk to you and is not in your phone book (payphone, friend's phone, etc) looks exactly like a person who does not want to talk to you and is not in your phone book. Therefore, as far as the phone company, your phone, and any possible software you could invent knows, 1B == 4B.

Therefore the problem cannot be solved any better than it is right now with the built in phone's whitelist and blacklist. Either you will only accept calls from those you've programmed, shoving everyone else to voice mail, or you will accept calls from anyone who does not match a set of frequent misdiallers.

In the old days before caller ID one could purchase an answering machine that would not allow the home phones to ring unless the caller pressed a sequence of touchtone keys. You may be able to make software do that, but generally those devices failed in the marketplace because it was too much hassle.

Of course, this doesn't answer your question. I suppose what I'm trying to accomplish here is to ask you a question:

What does your proposed software do that your phone and/or phone company cannot already do? Are you simply suggesting an easier to maintain or more explicit blacklist/whitelist, or do you have a novel method that actually does what I suggest is impossible given the information the phone is provided? If so, getting the software onto the phone is trivial once you've convinced a few key people that what you've invented actually works.

-Adam

Ahh... the telepathic interface :) (1)

TFloore (27278) | about 8 years ago | (#15008210)

Are you simply suggesting an easier to maintain or more explicit blacklist/whitelist, or do you have a novel method that actually does what I suggest is impossible given the information the phone is provided?

The ideal solution to this is for the software to have limited telepathic abilities. It should query the caller to find out who they are, then poke in your head to find out if you want to talk to that person. Then the phone only rings if it's a person you want to talk to. If it is someone you don't want to talk to, but want something from, they get dropped to voicemail. Otherwise, they are simply disconnected.

See?

Solves all the poster's problems.

Now there's just the little issue of implementing the limited telepathic abilities in the software. And, of course, preventing it from reading your mind enough to find out how petty and self-centered you are that it decides to stop working for you.

Generally, a question where the only good answer is a telepathic interface indicates one of two things... insufficiently advanced technology, or a questioner who does not understand what he is asking for. Personally, I'm not really sure which this is. I remember reading about "intelligent agents" on the internet that would know everything about you, and go find the things you were interested in. This seems a perfect application for those (also never implemented) pieces of technology.

You could of course also argue that part of the problem is that Caller ID does not identify the calling person, but instead the calling phone number. An obvious design flaw. See? I'm back to "insufficiently advanced technology" again.

CallShield for Palm phones (3, Informative)

christefano (899436) | about 8 years ago | (#15007431)

Its too bad you didnt say what phone you have.

I havent used it myself but Ive heard good things about CallShield [mantragroup.com], a utility I came across when I had a Treo about two years ago. It sounds precisely what youre looking for.

Does anyone remember 'Twins' ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15007513)

You know - the dumb movie with Danny DaVito and the Governator.

I still laugh when I see Danny's handling of a wrong phone call - it's a classic and probably a better way to handle these people than trying a techno-fix

TAPI from Microsoft is your answer (1)

cachimaster (127194) | about 8 years ago | (#15007627)

IF (big if) you have a WinCE Smartphone, Microsoft TAPI (Telephony API) is your answer. It can process incoming and outgoing calls in amazing ways. A good place to start may be here [developer.com].
I put on my robe and asbestos hat, preparing for the flames...

One more suggestion (1)

DarkNemesis618 (908703) | about 8 years ago | (#15007635)

Something else to consider is if it's the same number that keeps calling you, inform your local police. Print your phone log and show it to them. It's called harassment, and yes, it's a crime.

I understand the occasional wrong number; someone misdials and honestly doesn't realize it, phones broken and hitting a 9 actually dials a 6 (you laugh, my old landline phone did this and since there was no screen to see what you entered, it took me a little while to realize what the problem was, I feel bad for the people I called wrongly), and so on. But if the same number calls you 30 times a day, well, then that's something else entirely.

You aren't on Sprint are you? (1)

Monkelectric (546685) | about 8 years ago | (#15007799)

I have had some *CRAZY* stuff happen with sprint. I recieve txt messages for other people. Sometimes people call my phone and it goes straight to voicemail. I receive txt messages weeks late. People leave messages which I never get. I get calls for other people both right and wrong numbers.

Come to think of it, why do I put up with this...

Callfilter for Treo (1)

prothid (302906) | about 8 years ago | (#15007988)

There is a nifty app for the Treo that will let you create rulesets for calls and how to respond to them. You can have it immediately drop the call to voicemail, hang up on them, ignore, etc. It will do the same for SMS messages too. It's pretty neat if you have the time to set up.

http://www.velocityware.com/callfilter/cfinfo.htm [velocityware.com]

try callpass.net (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15007996)

Basically they have a call forwarding service where you can port your number (landline or celluar) to their system. Once it's ported, you can configure options like blocking based on incoming callerid. Great service, ugly webpage: http://www.callpass.net/ [callpass.net]

Writing software on a verizon phone (1)

Rhalin (791665) | about 8 years ago | (#15008106)

Yeah, if you were looking for a quick solution on any verizon locked-down phone, you're probably not in luck. Firstly, there's no J2ME on most (if any) verizon phones, because they use a wonderfully propriatary programming system (BREW), which requires all applications to be signed by Qualcomm (a fairly expensive process).

There are get-arounds for this on certain phones using a data cable and PC, but you'll have to find out how that works for your specific phone. And even with that, finding information on how to actually program anything for it is a rather difficult venture. My info may be a little out of date, its been a year or two since I looked into it, but I have a feeling its just as nasty.
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