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A Whitelist for Phone Calls?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the i'd-settle-for-a-blacklist-on-my-cell-phone dept.

Communications 151

javacowboy asks: "I've been getting lots of strange phone calls lately. Most of the time, my phone would ring less than three times and then stop before I can answer. Then, a couple of nights ago, I got a call at 3am in the morning. It had stopped ringing by the time I woke up. *69 revealed a number with an area code of 632, which does not exist. I called the number, and the call would not complete past the area code. I want a product or service with which I can set up a -whitelist- of numbers that I allow to make my phone ring. Any number not on the list, or an unlisted phone number, tries to call me, and the phone doesn't ring at all. I would pay as much for this service as I would pay to have my number removed from the phone directory. Is something like this possible? If so, how would I do it?"

I'm getting fed up with: wrong numbers; callers hang up on me as soon as I speak into the phone; telemarketers; crank calls; late night calls; people I know that I no longer wish to speak to; etc. My telco charges $8 a month for call display, which is exorbitant. Still, a call display won't prevent my phone from ringing. A do not call list will not prevent my phone from ringing. Getting my phone number removed from the phone directory will not prevent wrong numbers. How can filter out the calls that I don't want to deal with?"

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An end- user solution (3, Insightful)

vonsneerderhooten (254776) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572781)

I remember seeing a while ago a device that you can program with a passcode. If you know the passcode, it lets the call through, if not, it emits a fast-busy signal. Damned if i can find a link to it, though.

telezapper (5, Informative)

phatvw (996438) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572955)

I think you're talking about the Telezapper [telezapper.com] A quick google search turned up a nice privacy page with useful, although fairly obvious recommendations: http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs3-hrs2.htm [privacyrights.org]

Re:telezapper (1)

phatvw (996438) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573003)

From the privacy page linked above: http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs3-hrs2.htm [privacyrights.org]

  • "Another product on the market is an attachment to the telephone called an "inbound call blocker." It allows only those callers who enter a special numeric code onto their touchtone phone pad to ring through to your number. This device is highly effective in preventing unwanted calls. However, you must be certain to give the code to everyone you want to talk to. Even so, you could miss important calls from unexpected sources, like emergency services.

    Several vendors sell such call screening devices. Check the web site of Privacy Corps (http://www.privacycorps.com) or call (888) 633-5777. Other sources include Command Communications (http://www.command-comm.com), at (800) 288-3491; and Avinta (http://www.avinta.com) at (800) 227-1782. No endorsements are implied. "

Re:telezapper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573595)

I have a rotary phone you insensitive clod!

"Privacy Manager" (2, Informative)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573109)

From the article you linked to, the very last item mentioned is 'Privacy Manager'. My brother had it (or something remarkably similar ... he said it was from the phone company, not a device) for a few years, before he just went and got his number un-listed.

The only time he ever had a problem was when he was waiting for a call from our step-father, who it seems had problems with his cell phone, and was trying to call from a pay phone, and kept getting blocked ... but he wasn't presented with the prompt to enter the code. (and of course, we were supposed to be picking him up from the airport, and he had changed flights, so it caused a bit of a problem).

And I know the incident happened more than 5 years ago, so it's been available for some time. (as I remember being slowed down at the security gate for carrying 3 knives, 2 cell phones and a PDA, but as I wasn't arrested, it must've been before Sept 2001)

Re:"Privacy Manager" (1)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573931)

SBC offered that service. It worked very well for me.

Re:telezapper (3, Informative)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575195)

Someone mod the parent down before too many slashdotters waste their money, the telezapper used to work -- but now it doesn't anymore. A few years back the automatic dialers relied on the standard telephone tones to know that a telephone had been disconnected, or busy, or whatever. The telezapper exploited that functionality by faking those tones whenever someone called. And the telezapper got so popular, that the makers of the automatic dialers stopped relying on those tones alone to know that a phone was disconnected, so now the telezapper is completely useless. Not only that, but the telezapper was also rarely used once purchased since *everyone* not just the telemarketers -- got to hear the annoying tone at the beginning of the call. Now, the people selling telezappers are just rip off artists, they know their products don't work -- so don't expect a refund.

No, the real solution is to get caller id from your phone company (assuming you live in a State or a Country that allows it) and buy one of those devices that white lists the phone numbers you want to receive, and otherwise allows your callers to punch in a special code in case they're not white listed yet. That special code, you could give it out only to your friends, or you could simply leave it on your outgoing message -- since even leaving it as an outgoing message will probably screen out a good portion of automated telemarketers. And notice, I said buy a device, don't rent, do not lease it from your phone company, those things are dead cheap, and the phone company is just going to make a nice profit on the monthly fee.

And someone said it already, but I just want to repeat it in case some of you missed it. If you have a cell phone, check your manual to see what kind of built-in functionality it already has. Even the basic cell phones these days have some pretty decent scheduling functionality, ring tones or vibrations for different numbers (or categories of numbers), and automated forwarding of certain phone calls directly into voice mail.

"Privacy Manager" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19574019)

What you are looking for is available from, just POTS, and it's called "Privacy Manager". Whether cell phone companies offer it, I have no idea.

Basically, if someone is not calling from an "approved" number, the phone doesn't ring, and it goes to a voice mail system; if they want to get through, they have to say who they are, your phone will ring, and you will tell the phone whether to connect or not.

Re:"Privacy Manager" (1)

Thalagyrt (851883) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574879)

For WM5/6 cell phones, SPB Phone Suite has a call whitelist/blacklist feature that seems to work wonders so far.

Looks like Manila to me (3, Informative)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572785)

Looks like your mysterious 632 area code is really Manila [howardforums.com] , probably an outsourced call center in the Philipines.

Your topic is a Dupe [slashdot.org] , but a simple google search turned up these guys [sentinelco...ations.com] .

Re:Looks like Manila to me (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573689)

Oh well that's easy then. Get a phone with an answering device that will start every call with a recording of you saying "FUCK YOU AND YOUR COUNTRY!" then quietly, "unless you're from the US" and they might just hang up and never call again lol. By the way, your number must be really easy to accidentally dial or you wouldn't get so many whacko calls. What is it, 777-5555? Or is it really close to an American Idol number? Well most likely, it's really, really close to another in-country popular number in Manilla or some other place where if they dial a 1, they get you instead and tons of people are accidentally doing it. If I were you, I'd just change the number. And to be safe, never have it listed and only tell people the new number that you want to call you.

Asterisk / Broadvoice? (4, Informative)

karnal (22275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572791)

I have two solutions:

1. If you're a geek, try to wrap your head around Asterisk - I'd have to think either it would have that functionality built in, and if not - wouldn't be too hard to tell it to pass whitelisted #s, but dump everything else to voicemail....

2. I use Broadvoice at home, and when I don't want to be disturbed, I *77 the phone. *78 unblocks it (takes it out of Do Not Disturb) - of course, this doesn't help when it's late at night and I don't do the *77 ahead of time, but I can make sure I don't get awoken again.

Both of these implementations almost require an internet connection. While you can purchase FXO modules for Asterisk, I've just not had the interest in making a go at it with a PSTN connection....

Another alternative - only one phone in our whole house rings. I sleep rather well, so I probably wouldn't hear it if it rang at night...

Re:Asterisk / Broadvoice? (2, Informative)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572889)

Asterisk will handle this easily, but will only work if all phone in question are tied directly into it. For example, a cell phone won't be included in the solution. Just a note, since the submitter doesn't specify.

Re:Asterisk / Broadvoice? (1)

isometrick (817436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572919)

You could route the cell phone through Asterisk. (Incoming call connected to outgoing call to the cell phone, cell phone dials Asterisk to call out)

Re:Asterisk / Broadvoice? (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573443)

Actually, I think the submitter mentioned a fee for caller ID - I'm not sure that there's any cell service that actually charges for that, right?

Re:Asterisk / Broadvoice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573929)

I think he's referring to a landline phone.

Re:Asterisk / Broadvoice? (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575427)

The submitted mentioned the fee he pays the local phone company for his phone number to remain unlisted.

Re:Asterisk / Broadvoice? (4, Informative)

darnok (650458) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574889)

> 1. If you're a geek, try to wrap your head around Asterisk - I'd have to think either it would have that
> functionality built in, and if not - wouldn't be too hard to tell it to pass whitelisted #s, but dump everything
> else to voicemail....

Absolutely - I'm putting in an Asterisk box progressively over the last few nights to do all this and more. The rules aren't absolutely fixed in my head yet, but will be something like:
- voicemail for everyone in the house; if someone calls, they can choose who they leave a message for
- no calls after 10pm, unless it's from a whitelisted number (i.e. parents, friends)
- no calls between 7pm-8:30pm, unless it's from a whitelisted number
- *all* calls from numbers without caller ID go direct to voicemail (i.e. phone doesn't even ring), regardless of when the call comes in

Asterisk basically gives you full-on routing capability for your incoming and outgoing calls. You can define rules based on caller ID, time of day, ... - pretty much any "property" of either incoming or outgoing calls.

Missed calls (4, Insightful)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572807)

Whitelists will prevent
1. your stranded grandma from calling you
2. friends calling from their friends house
3. that cute girl you just met
4. various official phone calls that you really needed to receive

Luckily, whitelists will still allow your mom to call from upstairs when dinner is ready.

Re:Missed calls (5, Funny)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572985)

> Whitelists will prevent
> 1. your stranded grandma from calling you

Why she can't call your mum is beyond me! Why is granny your problem?

> 2. friends calling from their friends house

Geeks don't have friends, remember. They have online acquaintances who use IM or
VoIP these days. Worst-case they might email you.

> 3. that cute girl you just met

Calls from girls? You're mistaking us for people who actually know how to talk
to girls!

> 4. various official phone calls that you really needed to receive

When was the last time you were required to receive a phone call? If it's that
important they kick in your door and confiscate your computer equipment using
rent-a-cops looking for any music at all.

> Luckily, whitelists will still allow your mom to call from upstairs when dinner is ready.

Damn, the one person I dont' want to call. Mum just doesn't make enough geek food
like pizza and she confiscated all my twisties. How am I supposed to write code with
broccoli and mash as the fuel?

Re:Missed calls (3, Funny)

honkycat (249849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573133)

Calls from girls? You're mistaking us for people who actually know how to talk to girls!
No, parent was right. In the unlikely event that one of these things they call "girls" *does* call, it is absolutely vital that the call get through. The odds of it happening twice in a lifetime are so astronomical as to be the stuff of fiction.

Re:Missed calls (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573765)

I must admit that one of these things called "girls" did call me twice. Turns out they were both wrong numbers, so that doesn't really count.

Re:Missed calls (1)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573963)

If you do meet a 'girl', she may just email you anyway. When I met my wife, we just exchanged AOL screen names. (Yes, I used that awful service in the 90s) No need for one of those pesky phones. I didn't even know her number for the first month.

Re:Missed calls (1)

serialdogma (883470) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575241)

>I didn't even know her number for the first month.
Nor `her' gender.

Sorry, I'll resist next time.

Re:Missed calls (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574637)

> The odds of it happening twice in a lifetime are so astronomical as to be the stuff of fiction.

By 'astronomical', you mean 'infinitesimal', right?

Otherwise, why bother with the first one, if the second one is so certain?
Actually, it would seem that the second one is so likely, it's almost like it doesn't really matter if the first one happens at all...er, hrm. Sounds like something Douglas Adams would've thought up.

Wait. Is this one of those USian say-the-opposite-of-what-I-mean things? ...like, "I ain't got no gun", or "I can't get no satisfaction".
Oh, double wait. That last one was by them English blokes, right? Well, I guess it was where the guy was when he thought of it (Clearwater, Florida, apparently [songfacts.com] ).

Re:Missed calls (1)

honkycat (249849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574971)

Well, given that probabilities can't exceed 1, I think it's safe to assume I'm referring to the reciprocal of an astronomically large number. Think of it like the astronomical(ly small) gas pressure in intergalactic space.

Re:Missed calls (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575127)

Well, yes, obviously; but that isn't nearly so funny (IMO).

Re:Missed calls (1)

Fulkkari (603331) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574813)

No, parent was right. In the unlikely event that one of these things they call "girls" *does* call, it is absolutely vital that the call get through. The odds of it happening twice in a lifetime are so astronomical as to be the stuff of fiction.

If the call gets trough, that still leaves us with the problem how to talk to the girl, doesn't it?

Re:Missed calls (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573713)

I generally just answer everything that comes from my local area code. If it doesn't or isn't of a small group of people I expect to call long distance I don't answer it. Would be nice to be able "whitelist" by area code. Most of the time the girl you just met will have a local number, if not do you really want a long distance relationship?? (Well if it means no commitment booty call??.. maybe)

Re:Missed calls (1)

benh57 (525452) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573745)

A lot of people in LA are from other states, and still have their old cell numbers. Even people who have been here years, i've found.

Re:Missed calls (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573925)

If the system doesn't allow the phone to ring, but accepts a voice message, then most of the time, it's not a problem. If "stranded grandma" has a phobia of leaving a voice messages, then she f**king needs to get over it.

Re:Missed calls (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574131)

I do have a whitelist on my mobile phone (the only phone I have), for both mail and calls. Nifty thing is, if a number or email is in my addressbook, it'll automatically be on the whitelist. So anybody I've exchanged contact info with can reach me, no problem. I would like the phone to whitelist any number I've called as well; perhaps in the next one.

1. your stranded grandma from calling you

Where she's stranded, no phone calls will go through. If I get a call from my grandmother it's time to call Max von Sydow.

2. friends calling from their friends house

My friends all have mobile phones.

3. that cute girl you just met

I'm married.

4. various official phone calls that you really needed to receive

If it's _official_ and important it'll come through postal mail. If it's work I have that nubmer range listed. If it's neither, well, that's the kind of calls I'm screening against.

Re:Missed calls (1)

rabblerabble (884373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574985)

But I need Mom to call me... But only when she says that she just got some Pzones from Pizza Hut®. Otherwise she can stay the hell upstairs, all that light...!

Re:Fax switch & answering machine (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575345)

Whitelists will prevent
1. your stranded grandma from calling you
2. friends calling from their friends house
3. that cute girl you just met
4. various official phone calls that you really needed to receive

Luckily, whitelists will still allow your mom to call from upstairs when dinner is ready.


I use a programmable fax switch. A cold call goes to the answering machine. A fax tone goes to the fax. A dialed 22 at the answering machine rings the phone on port 3. My friends and family know to buzz me if the machine gets it.

Re:Missed calls (1)

dmayle (200765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575765)

What he needs is not just whitelisting, but greylisting. If he sets up and asterisk server with a default pass through on his whitelist, everyone else gets a recorded message asking them to press a button before ringing through to the house, and he can even force to voice mail for his non-whitelisted numbers at unreasonable hours. If he 's really concerned about someone needing to call him in the middle of the night, he gives out a passcode that people he knows can use to bypass the menu even in the middle of the night.

Asterisk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572825)

Get a wildcard x100P or clone for less than $15. Get an old PC of at least 300 or 400 MHz. Install Asterisk from one of the pre-packaged distros, such as TrixBox.

The functionality where by you send a call straight to a "special place" (usually voicemail) based on caller id is usually called "ex-girlfriend logic" for obvious reasons. If you check the online documentation for TrixBox and similar setups, you should be able to find something which has that configurable with a web interface, if not, you will have to write a script that checks a variable called $CALLERID and does the right thing.

You might consider having this ability kick in based on time of day.

One thing people do is have the system request the caller enter in THEIR OWN caller id and check for it to match. Most call center folks have no way of knowing what their own caller id is showing up as. You could have the system automatically whitelist that number after that.

Easy Solution (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572831)

Stop telling your one night stands your phone number.

one night stands? (0)

game kid (805301) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573469)

I can't even get one one night stand, you insensitive clod!

Re:Easy Solution (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573785)

Exchanging numbers at clubs is now considered normal.

Re:Easy Solution (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573831)

No, I ment if he stops scorning women then he'll stop receiving fury at 3am.

Re:Easy Solution (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573873)

Who says the 3am calls have to be full of fury? The person you origionally replied to was talking about calls from women not getting through your whitelist because they weren't added to it.

Maybe I'm not the standard geek, but I've gotten a whole lot of calls at weird hours that were more interesting than they were furious. Of course, I was usually out at the time and the calls were coming to my cell. If I'm asleep, I turn off the ringer. =]

However, I have to admit that getting called by drunk people who dialed the wrong number (someone's number was like one digit different than mine) can be downright hilarious.

Re:Easy Solution (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573915)

Attempt at joke: aborted.

Re:Easy Solution (1)

malraid (592373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574361)

"Phone number? No I don't have one, and I don't have a last name either. My parent's were very postmodern, so they didn't give me a last name" ... Works everytime !!!

Use Asterisk (2, Informative)

ResQuad (243184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572855)

The scripting for the extensions.conf file is more than powerful enough to have a CallerID based whitelist, heck, you can even have it database powered. You can have the Asterisk PBX do what ever you want. How about:
Step 1: Phone call comes in, Asterisk picks up
Step 2: If the CallerID is whitelisted, ring internal phone.
Step 3: If the CallerID is blank/unknown, prompt for CallerID or send to voicemail.
Step 4: If the CallerID is black listed - do whatever you want (perma-onhold, disconnect, fast busy, etc)

Its not hard, really. It would only take a few minutes to setup once you have asterisk running.

Re:Use Asterisk (1)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574739)

It's quite easy in theory, but setting up Asterisk is no cakewalk. Although I guess I've never tried any those easy install asterisk distributions.

632? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572875)

I've been getting lots of strange phone calls lately. Most of the time, my phone would ring less than three times and then stop before I can answer. Then, a couple of nights ago, I got a call at 3am in the morning. It had stopped ringing by the time I woke up. *69 revealed a number with an area code of 632, which does not exist.

Er, maybe you should try adjusting your medication...

Grand Central (4, Informative)

EMeta (860558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572879)

The NYT had a very interesting article about Grandcentral.com, which I believe would whitelist and much more, if you sign up for them, which at the time, I believe was free. Here's the article. [nytimes.com]

Me too, but I don't think this would work for me (1)

isometrick (817436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572895)

I need something like this as well, but there are plenty of situations where I might need to get a call from a number I've never encountered. E.g., sometimes my wife forgets her phone (or it runs out of batteries) and ends up calling me from a friend's phone.

I get junk fax calls sometimes between 3-5am on my cell phone (beep ... beep ... for a couple of minutes and hangup). They either have no caller id, an invalid phone number, or a phone number that the phone company doesn't think exists.

Quick Answer (1)

xero314 (722674) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572899)

Don't have a phone. Well to be more realistic don't have a land line. I rarely get wrong number calls and never get telemarketing calls, but that's because I do not have a land line of any sort. Because of the rate structure in the US of cell calls it is illegal for you to receive unsolicited marketing calls on a cell phone.

The other solution, as a friend of mine has taken on, is to switch to texting for anything you can.

Re:Quick Answer (2, Informative)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573135)

On my cell phone, I set custom rings for everyone in my address book. I can turn off the default ring on my phone by setting it to "alarm only". Anyone in my address book will still ring, anything else is silent. I just use this setting when I don't want to be disturbed. The only time I answer an unrecognized phone number is when I'm expecting to possibly get calls, for example right now when I'm looking for a job in another state. If it really is important, and I don't answer it because it's an unrecognize number, well that's what my voice mail is for. If it's really important, they'll leave a message and I'll call them back. I haven't had a telemarketing call in many years. In fact, I haven't even had to use my "alarm only" setting...only time I tried it was to test it.

I'm one off from the local... (5, Funny)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572915)

Marriot Hotel. Lots of wrong numbers which isn't a problem. The one time it was a problem was when some teachers group had some sort of convention there.
Their people printed our number on their fliers. Most of the folks were nice when we told them they had the wrong number, but a few got really pissed and insisted that they had the right number. I really wanted to say after they "insisted" rudely for a few times, "OK, you got me! This really is the Marriot and because I, Joe Schmoo, gave you a hard time, you can have the presidential suite and a bottle of Dom every night - free of charge. Here's your confirmation #." And then I would then let them go.

My wife vetoed that. Sign....

Re:I'm one off from the local... (1)

Plebis (125823) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573519)

And why would you listen to your wife?

Re:I'm one off from the local... (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574359)

You aren't married, are you?

If you are, no, I don't know any divorce attorneys.

Re:I'm one off from the local... (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573733)

My wife vetoed that. Sign....

I've called my wife a lot of nasty things in the past, but never a *sign*. That's just wrong. Take that back.

Re:I'm one off from the local... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573983)

As a student our flat's phone number was extremely close to that of the local pizza parlor. We ask the local teleco to change our number, but back then this took about 6 months.

We very quickly discovered that it was more fun (and only slightly slower) to take the order than explain their mistake*. The pizza place was only pick-up and had no delivery service, so I presume people would go to collect their order and the pizza parlor would simple deny they had received. The parlor could then make the pizza then and there.

* Why do people often think its your fault they phoned the wrong number?

Re:I'm one off from the local... (1)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574807)

We had the same thing with the local hospital, though I forget which department. The best part was our number had an 8 at the end an the hospital's was a 9 -- easily confused in the cheap phonebook font, especially by the elderly, who would often insist we were the hospital. We promptly requested a new number...

Re:I'm one off from the local... (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575113)

We got issued the number of a former hospital. We had the number for ten years and were still getting referrals for, IIRC, mostly breast-screenings.

Re:I'm one off from the local... (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575161)

I had my work direct line (diverted to mobile after hours, never again) listed in the paper for a no-experience, good pay, lots of travel, sales job.

About 10% of the 'applicants' failed the simple test of:
Sorry, this is the wrong number, try nnnn-nnnn.
Yes, the paper has the wrong number. No, I don't know about the job.
I don't know about pay.
I can't re-schedule your interview.

Re:I'm one off from the local... (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575263)

Our phone number is nothing special, but our group's name starts with the word "Citizen". Every now and then we get calls from old folks wondering where their Ottawa Citizen newspaper is (a particularly amusing example of which I have saved to a sound file), and the other day I got a call from some ESL dude who was wondering about the status of his citizenship application (a clue: you probably sent it to the wrong address).

When I tell them they have the wrong number, they assume that I must know the phone number of the place they're looking for. Sigh again...

- RG>

The feature already exists.... (4, Insightful)

Yuan-Lung (582630) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572917)

I want a product or service with which I can set up a -whitelist- of numbers that I allow to make my phone ring. Any number not on the list, or an unlisted phone number, tries to call me, and the phone doesn't ring at all.


Many modern phones already have this feature, in the form of custom ring. Just set the numbers in your contact list that you would like to whitelist to have a ring, and set the default ring to silent.

Re:The feature already exists.... (0, Redundant)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573047)

Damn, and I already posted in this thread and can't mod you up. I never would have thought of something that simple or elegant (if they're using a cell phone).

Re:The feature already exists.... (1)

coldcell (714061) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573267)

That would seem helpful, though many people have some form of answer-phone/voicemail system, and (as someone who also suffers from TFA's problem) many of the cold callers, or even automated robot callers still get through. I'm getting sick and tired of deleting 5+ messages a day that simply hang up, or record a robot speech into my answerphone from people I don't know/want to deal with!

For the record, I do usually set the 5+ phones in our house to silent when watching a movie, and only a couple on the lowest volume at other times.

Re:The feature already exists.... (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573275)

Anyone know how to get a silent ringtone on a t-mobile phone?

I've looked into the normal SMS format (basically prefix the content of the message with a "port number" that defines what kind of data follows) but apparently t-mobile screws with incoming messages and puts a header on them, causing the port number to be treated like normal text.

While I would reluctantly pay a few bucks for a truly silent ringtone, I don't want to use one of those 3rd party services that will sell you ringtones because I don't trust that they won't just resell my info and cell phone number to more junk-callers and who knows what other scummy types.

Re:The feature already exists.... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574025)

Are you talking about a cell phone? If so, why does your provider have anything to do with it? Personally, I use mp3s as my ring tones, and making a silent ring tone is as simple as making a silent mp3.

Re:The feature already exists.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19574497)

Because SMS messages pass THROUGH your service provider who can choose to screw with them or not. T-mobile screws with them.

Re:The feature already exists.... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574613)

What do SMS messages have to do with ring tones? Your phone has bluetooth right?

Re:The feature already exists.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19574679)

he's an american, they have the worlds biggest steaming pile of shite for cellphone networks... or in their completely fvcked idea of things, it's known as a "wireless provider"

just thinking about it makes my head hurt worse than sculling a slushy

Re:The feature already exists.... (1)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575319)

Fuck that. Most modern cellphones you can set up to block calls from people who aren't in your address book.

Re:The feature already exists.... (1)

algf2004 (748651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575395)

Many modern phones already have this feature...set the default ring to silent.

Could you please give me a few model numbers to look for? My phone has an alternate ring, but not a silent one. In fact the alternate is more annoying than the regular ring. Vtech, GE, etc?

Get a better phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572927)

I was having similar problems with my mobile phone. I configured my phone to only ring when a number in my phonebook calls me. Stop looking at the service and start looking at the device. Surely there's a home phone that allows you to do the same with caller ID.

I had the same problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572951)

I destroyed my normal phone with my bare hands after a tele-marketeer called me. I got several bleeding wounds from that. But then it did shut THE HELL UP!!!!

Then I started to care about the features of my bloat handy and it turned out I can specify different rung tones for different callers.

So, I can only be reached by handy from now and no-ring-tone is the default.

The quality of my life has been increased.

Asterisk or Trixbox (1)

swsuehr (612400) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572963)

Asterisk [asterisk.org] can do this rather trivially as part of the dial plans. Get yourself a TDM22B [digium.com] or some other similar card and you can set up anything you want to happen when a number calls in. From forwarding to another number to answering and then hanging up, to answering and asking for a passcode in order to make your phones ring, you can do it with an Asterisk set up.

Maybe try Trixbox [trixbox.org] for an easy to use, all in one setup of the same. Pop in the Trixbox CD and it auto-installs.

I have a configuration that allows incoming calls during certain times of day and then only from other numbers after those times. So it definitely sounds like what you want to do will be possible with *.

Steve

Breaking phone privacy news: (-1, Offtopic)

PurifyYourMind (776223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572993)

I just pooped my cute little pants.

In Soviet Russia (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573081)

Cute little pants poops YOU!

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

PurifyYourMind (776223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573577)

Hahaha. Good one.

Strange this got modded as Interesting. Mods are drunk tonight I guess.

Re:In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573817)

I have had three 24 ounce steel reserves tonight.. And I am posting anonymous because fuck you.

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

PurifyYourMind (776223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573837)

I have 24 ounce steel balls.

Check your phone (1)

xXenXx (973576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573025)

Most Nextel cellphones (at least) have a whitelist built-in. You can have it allow only numbers in your phonebook in, everything else gets redirected to voicemail. Hopefully if someone needs to tell you something urgent, but they aren't in your phonebook, they'll have enough common sense to leave a message...

Super Simple (3, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573027)

I'm not sure how this made it to the front page.

The easiest solution:
Go down to your local big box store & check out the various cordless phones. You'll find the ones with fancier base stations will allow you to deal with incoming calls however you like.

After the person has called. You just setup that # not to ring, to go directly to voicemail or if the phone supports it, it'll just hang up.

You don't even have to give up your corded phones & buy extra handsets.

Re:Super Simple (1)

plierhead (570797) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574257)

Your idea is probably one tenth of the cost, certainly one hundredth of the effort and most likely ten times as reliable as using Asterisk as some other posters have suggested....

Therefore your geek credentials are hereby revoked.

PIME TARADOX! (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573335)

"I got a call at 3am in the morning"

As opposed to 3am at night?

Re:PIME TARADOX! (1)

fremsley471 (792813) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575279)

One in the morning Two in the morning Three in the morning Four in the morning Five in the morning Six in the morning Seven in the morning Eight in the morning Nine in the morning Ten in the morning Eleven in the morning Noon One in the afternoon Two in the afternoon Three in the afternoon Four in the afternoon Five in the evening Six in the evening Seven in the evening Eight at night Nine at night Ten at night Eleven at night Midnight

Re:PIME TARADOX! (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575287)

For normal geeks, 3 a.m. IS at night. The only people for whom 3 a.m. is in the morning are monks and marines.

Blacklisting by number and time might be better (1)

solid_liq (720160) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573421)

You could setup an Asterisks PBX (free open source, based on Linux), use VoIP to save money, have all the features you need and a lot more, and if you have a spare PC lying around for this (an old one is plenty of power), it'll cost you a lot less in the long run than paying a monthly fee. Plus, it'll be really cool: music on hold (music YOU like :), different mailboxes, nice voicemail system, ability to use cool phones if you want to (like those Cisco phones w/ the color displays), etc. If you can afford the upfront cost, then I think it's worth it. Use it to show off your geek prowess ;)

Privacy Corps makes the product you want (1)

Shabbs (11692) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573475)

Check it out:

http://www.privacycorps.com/products/?id=20 [privacycorps.com]

Cheers.

Re:Privacy Corps makes the product you want (1)

gbickel (1106009) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573669)

I agree fully with this poster. The Caller Id Manager is a practical, easily implemented solution. Nothing special other than caller ID is required. You are in charge of who can make your phone run. Private calls and callers that I deemed annoying hear a phone ringing until they give up, while my phone remains silent. Works as advertised. You can operate in a mode where you blackist numbers or area codes, white list mode where everything is blocked unless you choose to allow.

This answer might annoy you (1)

sparks (7204) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573481)

My phone line doesn't allow calls from people I don't want calling. If you're not from my area code, and you don't have CLI in the whitelist, you can only make my phone ring if you know the correct PIN. Otherwise, sorry.

If you are a telemarketer or other phone spammer who has annoyed me in the past, you might get worse treatment. Depending on my mood, or based on your CLI, I might have the phone network tell you that my line isn't in service. Or I might consign you to "virtual ring" hell, where you will hear what you believe is my phone ringing, and ringing, forever until you give up on me. Or heck, I might just forward you to your own phone number so I can waste two phone spammer's time instead of just one.

All these things are standard features of the VOIP plan I use, which is Talk Broadband from Primus in Canada. It's a delightfully geek-friendly system. Unfortunately I don't know if there is an equivalent in the US which you could use...

Re:This answer might annoy you (1)

sparks (7204) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573509)

I should add that all these call treatments are handled by the network; I don't manually decide what to do with each call when it comes in; I have programmed these behaviours in advance.

I've got a new one... Anybody seen this? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573511)

Not a new solution, a new kind of problem.

I get very few marketing calls, thanks to do-not-call lists and such. I screen the rest with an answering machine.

Recently I was getting no-message calls at random times of day, a sure sign that some call-center was trying to reach me.

Then one day immediately after hanging up from a legitimate call, the phone rang. I thought my friend forgot to tell me something, so I picked up. It was a call center looking for a political donation.

The odd thing was that they managed to call immediately after a real call. That's a high coincidence considering that I get few calls during the day.

It made me wonder if they paid for some kind of special "camping" feature. Anybody else seen this?

Re:I've got a new one... Anybody seen this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19574749)

A local telco around here (Manitoba Telecom Services) had such a feature in the past - if you listened to a busy signal for a few seconds, they'd offer to keep calling that number for you until it rings, and then they'd phone you and connect the calls together (for a coin or two, of course).

I can't say that anyone would want to pay for that when doing mass calls though; you were probably just hit with a mildly unfortunate coincidence. :)

Will a cel phone work? (1)

jkerman (74317) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573739)

Not sure if a cellular phone is acceptable for your situation or not, but one of my favorite features is "custom ringtones" based on caller-ID.
If you set the main ringer to silent, and custom audibles for your friends, should work no problem!

Which brings up another good question, in that i have a cellular phone the size of a pile of credit cards, with all these awesome features. but every cordless phone on the shelf looks like the same basic piece of shit they have been since the 80s. sure, maybe a color display now, but same basic crappiness.

If the world made sense, your cordless phone would have a similar enough featureset to get the job done

Asterisk (1)

Natales (182136) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573851)

Get a low power PC and install Asterisk, OpenPBX, Yate or any other Open Source PBX. You can do *whatever* you want with the call.

I implemented a similar system for my home once. I accepted the calls, but if for some reason I didn't like them, I programmed *991 to blacklist the last number received, period. Future calls would check into a small Asterisk database and if the number is listed there, it would send it to a caller torture script that will keep the victim in endless voice prompts. Nobody says you can't have a little fun with it along the way...

Non Tech solution (2, Insightful)

sirknz (955428) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574017)

Why not just leave the phone of the hook or unplug it from the wall overnight?

Re:Non Tech solution (0, Redundant)

Megatronium (1074679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574627)

Ever tried leaving your cell phone off the hook? ;)

Translation: "turn it off."

GrandCentral.com (2, Informative)

biohack (955639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574435)

I am using a web-based service that, among other features, helps to control which calls will ring my phone(s): GrandCentral [grandcentral.com] . It allows to define several groups of white-listed numbers with separate response behavior (ring, send to voicemail, etc.) and also includes a couple of different screening options. For dealing with known telemarketers they even offer to play a "number not in service" message, but most auto-dialers can't get past the call screening anyway. It's a free service while in beta, but they promise to keep basic features free indefinitely, including "unlimited inbound minutes, unlimited voicemail (up to 30 days old), and access to all of our core features". This NYT write-up [nytimes.com] describes a few of the options in more detail.

A tiny little minus to this (1)

xrayspx (13127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575003)

I was surprised to learn that some towns in my area (verifiably, I'm sure they all do it) have, as part of their emergency response plan (think disaster response, not car-accident type stuff), to call every phone number in the exchange with a recorded message saying "GET THE HELL (IN YOUR CELLAR/OUT OF DODGE/OFF MY LAWN)", that kind of thing, and that they'd used it in the case of a disastrous flood.

So, if you block your phone with a device, that probably won't work. I have to think that any of the services offered by the phone companies would allow some kind of override for FEMA type stuff, since they're unlikely to ask if you'd like to buy a magazine subscription.

Re:A tiny little minus to this (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575363)

if you only apply the filter to calls from outside your area code that shouldn't be a problem. if they are in your area code you can drive down and raise hell.

Have done it for years (1)

scuba_steve_1 (849912) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575059)

At the risk of being modded redundant...I have done this for years...and it is not that tough...but it can be mildly frustrating for friends.

My last two mobile phones have allowed me to transfer someone directly to voice mail if the number from which they are calling is not in the phone's address book. This works well for me because I do not have a home phone...and I have a fairly complete address book.

So after years of use how does it fair? Great for me...less so for others...but they deal. When they are not at home, my friends tend to call me from their cell phones rather than an office phone, since the latter often yields an unknown number from larger corporations...and sends them directly to voice mail. If for some reason they cannot call from a known number, they know that if they leave a message, I will call them right back...assuming that I am available.

One other downside - I need to remember to disable the filter function if I have a scheduled delivery or service person coming to my home...since they often call to confirm immediately before arriving.

Honestly though, dropping the home phone and using a mobile phone exclusively has helped significantly, even when I temporarily disable the filter, since I am not listed in any directories.

Asterisk / Open PBX with voice menu (1)

linuxn (590858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19575301)

You can setup a voice menu which will stop the phone from ringing unless a menu option is selected. Check LinuxJournal site they have a few tutorials about setting up similar scenarios ( like http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/9190 [linuxjournal.com] )

A Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19575601)

1. Buy A Series 40 Nokia Phone
2. Set a silent ring tone (note, not turn off sounds completely) on a personalized profile - ie a recording of no noise.
3. Set a ring tone on all those people you wish to be alerted to.
4. Set a timed profile so the personalized one only comes on after a certain time in the evening.
(make sure vibrate is off in this profile too)

Now, your phone will only ring in the night if it is from certain important people.

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