Bell’s Mind has been offline for quite some time. There are many reasons for this ranging from NANPA redacting their CLLI code information, to a lack of time and money on my part. Recently I got a pseudo-landline (FiOS) again and my interest in telephony has been renewed. I have a few projects lined up to keep things interesting and I think that we’ll see Bell’s Mind back in action in the next few months. My personal time has started to free up again and rather than let this site die I want to get it back on its feet and start sharing information again.
The new site will have a redesigned interface and will eventually tie into a PBX. If you’re interested in contributing or just want the site to come back up post in the comments. If you have any new ideas post those too and we’ll see what we can do. The scene needs more telephony and phreaking.
As I move towards hosting solely on Google App Engine I threw together an Adobe AIR application that you can use to do NPA-NXX lookups on your desktop. This is a preview release so it may not work perfectly. Let me know if there are any issues. Right now it just supports basic NPA-NXX lookups but hopefully will support more interesting features in the future.
Download Bell’s Mind desktop for Adobe AIR.
I know, I know… another WordPress site. Really I only migrated to make it easier for me to update the site regularly. A side effect of this migration is that most of the formatting on old posts has been broken. I doubt I’ll have any time to fix them so you’ll just have to deal with it.
Anyway, here’s to hoping that I get to post some more stuff soon.
As you may or may not know NANPA removed all CLLI information from its public site two years ago. This means that as time goes on our data gets
more and more out of date. We still update everything else daily but the CLLI information we have will soon be useless as switch equipment is upgraded,
removed, or relocated.
This is not our fault. NANPA redacted their CLLI information [doc |
after being required by a ruling to do so. The claim was that this was to prevent terrorism but this is complete nonsense. After looking into it a bit
more I found that it was “championed” by Verizon (in particular by Robin Smith, +1-410-736-5031, according to the official documentation). I can only
guess that it was just a good excuse to keep the smaller guys out of that data so they are forced to by it from database companies at great cost.
NOTE: “Robin Smith” was very clever and didn’t put her actual contact information on the request. That number is just a generic Verizon voicemail
After thinking about it for a long time I can’t think of a single way that a terrorist could use this data other than if they had an SS7 switch and
peering agreements with big telcos. If they already have that then they already have access to this data since they must have it in order to program
their switches. The ulterior motive here is both money and decreased transparency in the telco world, as if it wasn’t closed off enough.
What can you do? I think at this point the situation may be beyond repair. Getting something like this enacted in the first place isn’t too hard but
convincing a bureaucracy to reverse a decision could be a Herculean effort. It’s not easy to get a paper-pusher to understand that a decision they made
in the past could be so wrong that they’d actually have to rethink it. My suggestion would be to call Robin Smith, record it if it’s legal in your
jurisdiction, and get a full explanation as to how this data can be used for terrorism. If you send me lawfully obtained recordings of a conversation
like this then I will host it here for everyone to hear.
I will PayPal the first person who does this, and gets good information, $10 to get things started. You need to do the following:
- Record the conversation legally, there is a guide for this but I can’t guarantee that it’s 100% correct
- Talk to the “champion” themselves OR, if they’re no longer available or in that position, get their replacement to explain when they took over for them
- Get an explanation as to why they felt this change was necessary
- Get an example of how a terrorist could use this data to commit an act of terrorism
- Get an example of how a terrorist, who isn’t currently working in the telco business and does not have access to other sources of information with
the same data, could use CLLI code information to commit an act of terrorism
- Bonus (worth another $10): Get this person to admit that the change is completely ineffective and was a bad move
- Bonus (worth another $20): Get this person to explain how the decision could be reversed
Are you up for it? It’s at least $10 just to make a phone call if you’re the first person to do it successfully. What do you have to lose?
The DROID was released today and Verizon is starting to send out e-mail touting its release. Everyone thinks that
getting the DROID at Walmart is the cheapest way to get it. Not
so if you’re an existing Verizon customer and your contract is up. Verizon’s site now shows that lucky customers that fit that bill
can get the DROID for $149 with a two-year contract. You do want to save
another $50, right?
Go to Verizon and order your DROID today!
In the past few months the mobile phone world in the US has become a bit surreal. If you haven’t been following the Android
landscape we’ll remind you that
Verizon promised to have an open platform in December 2007
and tomorrow they’ll finally release the
This is not only Verizon’s first Android-based phone but the world’s first Android 2.0-based phone so a fair
bit of hype has built up around it. Since the T-Mobile G1 we’ve seen a slow but strong uptake in the number of Android devices
being developed and shipped in the US. It seems that finally someone got the point that consumers don’t like being locked out of
the devices they bought.
In my opinion it is a lot easier of a job just to support the network and let people bring in their own phones. Then you wouldn’t
have to do all of the other stuff carriers currently do (ie. develop and test custom firmware, figure out what features they can remove, etc).
Alas, Verizon is not there yet and neither is Sprint. GSM providers basically do let you this but
even they used to be a disaster. Good luck
having a sales rep figure out which data plan to put you on. That’s changed a lot but don’t think they doing you any favors or
getting better. They’ve now just lumped everyone into the more expensive category of data plans.
Anyway, all of that aside, it’s been fun to see companies finally competing for our business a bit.
It doesn’t happen on price. All of
the prices are fixed by illegal collusion (AT&T unlimited data: $30/month, Verizon unlimited data: $30/month,
T-Mobile is a bit more
confusing) but it does happen on handset choice and network coverage.
And this week everyone is whining about handset choice.
Verizon, Motorola, and Google inked a deal that would allow Verizon to be the exclusive carrier of the first Android 2.0 phone and
would give Motorola early access to the operating system to make that happen. After thinking about it for a bit I really have to
wonder why they did it. The only currency OSS has is quality and openness. Compromise either one and people jump ship or start to
question the platform viability. This was a bad move on Google’s part, for sure. As of today the SDK is available but now everyone
else has been delayed unnecessarily.
Consumers aren’t the only ones whining though. AT&T is back in court again. The issue is that AT&T’s
“There’s an app for that” commercial was spoofed by Verizon. Verizon’s
commercial says “There’s a map for that” and shows that Verizon’s 3G
coverage map is 5x larger than AT&T’s (their claim, not mine).
So, why is AT&T complaining about a commercial that features their own coverage map from their website? We’ll get to that but
first let’s acknowledge that AT&T makes it difficult to understand where 3G coverage is available. Do this exercise to see what I
- Go to AT&T’s site
- Find the coverage map
- Click the “Show 3G coverage in select areas”
- Find your area and click it
This will take you to a coverage map for your specific area that is highly zoomed in. You’ll notice that 3G coverage is only
available in the blue areas. For every other kind of service (voice, 2G data, Loopt, MobileTV) it is immediately apparent how to
see what kind of coverage you get but not for 3G. AT&T’s 3G coverage, along with their MobileTV coverage that nobody really cares
about, is abysmal. I’ve built a map that
is the closest you’ll get to a full 3G map on the AT&T site
since once you zoom out to the full nationwide level they turn off the 3G display. Remember, 3G coverage is only in those sparse
This commercial gives an honest depiction of their 3G coverage which is no doubt pulled from and pieced together from AT&T’s
deceptive map application. So, again, what is AT&T’s gripe? Their complaint is that it may confuse non-technical viewers into
thinking that AT&T users have no service when they’re not in a 3G coverage area. Yes, some consumers may be confused by this but
the commercial itself is truthful and doesn’t refer to voice service in any way. The confusion is either unintentional or very
cleverly crafted. I tend to think that the latter is true since really the only clever stuff that’s ever come out of Verizon until
the DROID was in the form of advertisement. The Verizon commercial claims these very specific things:
- “If you want to know why your 3G coverage works so well on Verizon Wireless, there’s a map for that”
- “Or why you can watch videos at 3G speed almost anywhere, there’s a map for that”
- “And if you want to know why some people have spotty 3G coverage, there’s a map for that too”
No mention of voice, no mention of dropped calls, no mention of not having service outside of 3G areas.
So when do we start seeing “There’s a tort for that” parody commercials? Someone has to do it…
We toy with this idea every once in a while but it never gets any traction. Recently Lunar e-mailed and reminded me that it has been four
years since Phreak Phactor originally went live. He is now running a few polls (Phone Losers and BinRev) to see how interested people are in seeing it come back.
Go over there and voice your opinion and if we get enough positive votes (and maybe some beer) we’ll start planning on a new episode and
give you guys a hard deadline on when it will happen.
The PBX isn’t up again but at least we have a single conference online. We’re using
SIP Broker for our PSTN connectivity. It’s
a lot like what we used to have with Free World Dialup and Libretel several years ago. In addition to this we
plan on publishing SIP URIs so that everyone can connect if they have a SIP client or a softswitch.
We’ll post on the blog as we add more features. For now we only have a single conference running. To
connect you need to dial an access number,
then dial our network code *9098, followed by the desired internal extension. The extension for our single
conference is 666 so the full code is *9098666.
Try it out and let us know if there are any bumps in the road. In particular we’ve noticed that +1-360 codes
have trouble passing DTMF. Avoid those numbers for now and post which ones work best for you. We’ll be putting
our preferred DID list online as we learn the new system.
The Bell’s Mind conference lives again and will get a lot more exciting soon.
We received several complaints about the login being broken and submissions not working. Things appear to work properly now so let us know ASAP if anything doesn’t work. I’m
chipping away at modernizing things and making the site’s interface a lot less kludgy so from time to time things could break but there shouldn’t be any extended outages.
Today linc232 let me know that the search watcher is transparent and switch RCs can end up showing through it if the screen is too narrow. I’ll try to work on this soon.
Any other formatting issues I should be aware of that you’ve seen?