Caller ID Spoofing: Journey through the Un-phone

 

Caller ID Spoofing is no fun for the Owner or Recipient

Jokes and pranks are all fun and games until you are on the receiving end.  Some people can take a joke, but when it’s a joke that involves their business, livelihood, or their lifeline to the world, then it’s no laughing matter.   Lately, Caller ID Spoofing has become the domain of scams and debt-collectors. And both the owners of the numbers and recipients of these calls are getting shafted.

It’s always someone else’s problem until it’s your problem and recently it became mine. In Mid October of 2015 I noticed that I couldn’t make any calls from my cellphone.  Every number that I dialed returned the Routing Error message of three ascending tones and the response, “The number you have dialed has been disconnected or is no longer in service, please recheck the number and dial again.”  Every single number that I dialed had the same response and it was getting very annoying. GoogleVoice

I finally narrowed the problem down to the call forwarding service (Google Voice) that I had been using for many years.  Apparently, when I tried to dial out with the forwarding service, the system needed a valid carrier connection.  That connection had been labeled as a spammy number by another phone company and so when I was dialing every call was being blocked.  After a great deal of testing, both with apps, the phone, and another cellphone, I resigned to using a VoIP app (Google Hangouts) to make all my calls.  This was not ideal, but it could work.

The answer to my issue came the following day when I received a call FROM MY CELLPHONE.  My cell number called my Google Voice number — of all the weird things to happen — and I realized what I needed to do. I called my carrier and had them give me a brand new number.  (Recently where I live a new area code had been set because of the population increase.)  This new number had never belonged to anyone and would be free of the issues that prior numbers usually had.

Immediately I could call out again, the problem had been resolved.  I only spent about 4 hours with Google and with my carrier to resolve this issue, and fortunately I have a forwarding number, so that I can change my carrier number without much hassle.   But for all the other people who do not use Google Voice or some forwarding service, when they get a spoofed number they have less immediate recourse.

As technology improves and we see more that a tool can be used both by regular citizens as well as criminals, we will need to become more vigilant in our design as well as use.  Telecommunications have drastically changed our society and we need to respect that change as we move into the future.  Legislation is only one way to resolve these issues, right thinking and acting will help curb the misuse of such tools.

 

Minecraft, Virtuix Omni, and Oculus Rift together for Awesome

MineCraftVRFun

Just to make you drool, The top names in Virtual Gaming got together recently to make Minecraft a VR experience.

Using the Multiplayer mode for Minecraft, the Oculus Rift VR headset, and the Virtuix Omni treadmill video gaming is heading to where we though it was going in the year 2000.  This is about as close to a holodeck as you are going to get in the foreseeable future.  This ideal beats the whole wardrobe off the Microsoft Connect, and any Nintendo Wii gaming.

I’m looking forward to TF2 with this setup. Say to the stereotype of gamers being fat, they wont be able to reach their cheetos and soft drinks in this get-up.

Check the video for the visual experience

Carbonite Online Backup

Internet Backup Service 

Carbonite Online Backup

For years I listened to Leo Laporte from This Week in Tech, talk about Carbonite Online Backup.  It got to the point where I felt like I knew his family just from his talking of his personal experiences with the service. I never thought that I would ever consider purchasing a service to backup my data.  Until one day the unthinkable happened, I lost an entire folder of unrecoverable data.

Over the last decade, I worked as a Systems Administrator for a prominent microchip manufacturer  in Silicon Valley.  Part of the definition of my position was to maintain the data of all the Engineers in our department.  I spent a great deal of time setting up servers to perform the backups of all the data for each engineer locally and nearly as much time negotiating a contract with a Colocation provider in another state.

Continue reading Carbonite Online Backup

Is it live or is it PhysX?

PhysX water demo

As a testament to the never ending possibilities of imagination Miles Mackilin and Matthais Müller-Fischer of nVidia have raised the bar for fluid dynamics in 3D computer graphics.

Video game graphics are already pretty good now, but when fluids and solids mix they often do not look the same as in real life.  However with this new Position Based Fluids simulation algorithm, water will finally act realistically.   From an abstract taken from the scientific research done by these men, it seems that to render all the particles of the water separately takes too much time to show in “real-time”, so their method simplifies this problem.

In fluid simulation, enforcing incompressibility is crucial for realism; it is also computationally expensive. Recent work has improved efficiency, but still requires time-steps that are impractical for real-time applications.

In this work we present an iterative density solver integrated into the Position Based Dynamics framework (PBD). By formulating and solving a set of positional constraints that enforce constant density, our method allows similar incompressibility and convergence to modern smoothed particle hydrodynamic (SPH) solvers, but inherits the stability of the geometric, position based dynamics method, allowing large time steps suitable for real-time applications.

We incorporate an artificial pressure term that improves particle distribution, creates surface tension, and lowers the neighborhood requirements of traditional SPH. Finally, we address the issue of energy loss by applying vorticity confinement as a velocity post process.

Source

Skype Killer: Viber

Viber Logo

 

A little healthy competition never hurt anyone, right?  Well, if that’s true, then Viber is rolling out a hefty dose of competition by moving on Skype to steal its title of VoIP king.

Today Viber announced that it’s debuting a free desktop to go along with its mobile phone app.  The key feature released along with the desktop app is that the user can swap between it and the mobile app seamlessly as noted by TechNewsToday host Tom Merritt, when he and Jason Howell attempted this transfer live, was good.  There was no apparent issue when making the change over.

Although Viber already has apps for both iOS and Android, as well as Blackberry OS, the new roll-out will include Mac OS, Windows and possibly Linux (in the near future).

Will you leave Skype for Viber?