Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Technology Fail

As my last posts demonstrates, all this technology $#!^* can be double-edged sword.
Because just as the internet can deliver to me faraway places and persons at the speed of electrons, it can also take people who, 50 years ago, could have died after being eaten by wild pigs without affecting my life one whit, whereas now, the jackass in your neighborhood 10 time zones away can now also be a PITA in my electronic one now.

Take one aspect of my employment. As one might ascertain, I work occasionally in that section of the organized circus of human freaks called the movie and television production biz. (Don't tell my mom, she thinks I play piano in a whorehouse.) Once upon a time, such work made the ultra high tech of a pager a necessity, so that one was reachable to arrange employment. But one might be driving, or in an area with no phones, or even working on a show out of range of the page itself, so people in the biz understood, paged you, and waited until you might have had a chance to reach a phone to call in and take the job before concluding you weren't the guy.

Then, some asshole genius invented cellphones. So now there's not a public phone anywhere, for the first time since about 1900, but everyone's connected, 24/7/365 (void in huge swaths of flyover country, deep canyons, and toney restaurants with illegal Israeli cellphone jammers). Which has occasioned what I refer to as The Assbag Page.

Instead of calling a person for a job, getting a no, or waiting a decent interval, someone trying to fill a call pages 5, 10, or 30 people simultaneously for the same job. In an industry where folks may be in a dead zone, or on a stage where they can't turn their cell phones on, answer them, or have to wait until they have a break to walk 50 yards away to return the call. So when you get up, go to where you won't disrupt the $100,000/day production actually paying you right now, to return a call about prospective work, 90 seconds after the original page, and are told "Sorry, I already filled the call", you have just been paged by an Assbag.

There might be 1 in 100 times where you needed someone right this second, or it was midnight and you needed to arrange something last minute for 5 AM or something, but by and large, that's never the case. So there's no reason to send 50 people sprinting for their phones, and dashing for the exit, knowing you're just jerking 98% of them around, for a job that's 1, 2, or more days in the future. Unless you're an unmitigated dick who deserves to be kicked in the crotch with steel-toed boots until the explosion of colors in your head fades under a haze of unconsciousness. Just saying.

So maybe the best technology is one less than cutting edge.

Once upon a time, I had a problem, in that a number of vendors of recreational pharmaceutical products decided that the corner leading to my cul-de-sac was their new retail location brainstorm.

I tried calling the local constabulary, who were attentive and understanding, until I persisted in calling with no results, and a kindly detective informed me that they'd added my corner to their List Of Things To Do, but as they were currently swarming 2 such sites a day, and mine was now number 179 on their list, it would be approximately 3 months before they could swing by. (Which, in fairness, they did do, just about exactly 3 months later.)

Enter Captain Technology to the rescue.

The main problem wasn't the street corner vendors, it was the house across the street wherein resided their supplier. I ascertained this with a brief foray of neighborhood reconnaissance over a couple of nights, after observing the one house where the corner guys and the local girlfriends for hourly rental seemed to keep visiting with an unmistakable frequency and repetition, at all hours.

A friendly visit to the local building permit office and a polite request about the owner of a certain property got me a printout with the name and phone number of that owner. Suitably pissed, but savvy, I phoned the number the city had.

I never identified myself as a federal agent, being a college student at the time, because that's not only bad, it's also generally understood to be illegal. But by the well-placed use of the royal "we", and inclusion of words like "reports", "drug activity", and "asset forfeiture", it can be understood how someone might have honestly but mistakenly assumed that they were receiving official interest from a multi-lettered federal agency. You know what happens when people assume.

All the better that I had reached not the actual owner, but instead his rather royally still-pissed-at-him ex-wife. (Guys, if you're not getting the moral here, scroll back and start over.)
Who happily told me the actual owner's current address, phone number, the name of his multi-million dollar inventory antique business which might also need to be seized, and volunteered the identity of the probable renter as the ne'er-do-well no-goodnik nephew of the former Mister @$$hole. Why thanks ma'am, thanks for your support.

A second phonecall, this time to actual owner, at actual business, with the same keywords, but now armed with the probable culprit's name and identity, a couple of pointedly interested questions about where actual owner got the money for such a lucrative business, and the reports and suspicions about drug activity, once again without ever misstating or misrepresenting my identity or occupation, brought a flood of information, including culprit's telephone number, and earnest expressions that this disturbing development would be reveiwed ASAP by the property owner, first thing next Monday.

Which, under the circumstances, still seemed like three extra days of drug dealing too many to suit me.

But at this point in civilization, modems were like NASA satellites. High tech, but not very bright.

So now knowing the actual phone number of a guy clearly dealing drugs 24/7 at the house in question, I programmed my low-tech modem to auto-dial Drug Dealer's phone. For 2 seconds. Then hang up. Then auto-dial. Then hang up. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Being before pagers OR cellphones, or even reverse dial, or caller ID, this could be seen as something that could understandably put quite a wrench in this particular monkey's business.

I can only assume it did. I started it running at 9 PM on a Friday evening. Dial, RING, click. Dial, RING, click. Dial, RING, click.

At 2:42 PM Saturday afternoon, more than 17 hours of non-stop speed-dialling later, I turned it off for 15 minutes.

Then called the number.

>Woman's voice<"HELLO!?!"

"Hi. You know, drug dealing is baaaaaaad. You should probably move out, and stop doing that. Right away."

"Why you! If we ever catch you, you miserable motherf***"- click.

Dial, RING, click. Dial, RING, click. Dial, RING, click.

At 1 AM Sunday, I stopped it again. For 20 minutes. Then called to see how business was going. (Although there had been a notable drop-off in foot traffic already.)

>Same woman< "HELLO!?!

"You mean you haven't moved out yet?"

"Hey, Dave, it's HIM again!! It's the sonofa"-click.

Dial, RING, click. Dial, RING, click. Dial, RING, click.

I turned it off again Monday at 8 AM.

When I got home from classes after lunch, a moving van was in their driveway, loading up their belongings.

No gunshots, no firebombings, no court costs. Sometimes, a little less technology is better than a little more.

So I'm thinking that makes me a Cyber-Luddite. I'm definitely in favor of making fire. But instead of sharks with frickin' laser beams, or orbital satellites focusing sunlight through diamond arrays, I'm perfectly satisfied with using napalm to do it.

No comments: