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Sick of ringing cell phones?
July 26, 2001 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Sick of ringing cell phones? Then cheaply and effectively jam the signals with a device like the Wave-Shield pocket jammer. They're illegal in the U.S., but that's not stopping some people.
posted by waxpancake (38 comments total)

 
I have long fanstasized about building a little cell-phone ringer, which would basically have a small sound recording chip in it, which could be programmed with a dozen or so different cell phone ring sounds, and buttons to select them and play them back. Stick it in your pocket and press a button or two in a crowded room, see people dart for their phones, and laugh.
posted by jammer at 11:42 AM on July 26, 2001


Just build yourself a portable jammer! I recall seeing reasonably simple schematics somewhere online -- the device wasn't very sophisticated; it just shot high-powered interference across multiple phone bands.

...which actually sounds sort of dangerous, what with pacemakers and all...
posted by aramaic at 11:50 AM on July 26, 2001


Movie theaters should have these installed and enforced by law, while I'm at it the ones that play songs should explode when encountering one of these devices.
posted by skallas at 11:58 AM on July 26, 2001


What's more fun? listening into phone calls
posted by Zebulun at 12:16 PM on July 26, 2001


I don't see how a scanner will be useful for listening to cell phone calls, since they're all digital now anyway, and compressed and encrypted and shit.
posted by kindall at 12:20 PM on July 26, 2001


not if you use a dual mode phone in a rural area...
cellphonescanner.com managed to stream quite a bit of analog content from Ottawa. The site seems to be gone now though.
posted by machaus at 1:49 PM on July 26, 2001


forget worrying about cingulare customers in the bay area. their services are so over-subscribed that you can never get through... my phone hardly ever rings. i get a beep an hour later notifying me that a message was left.
posted by heather at 1:51 PM on July 26, 2001


Many movie theaters and restaurants in Japan have these kinds of devices installed.
posted by keithl at 2:25 PM on July 26, 2001


No disrespect, but some of you people really need to get over it.

(For the record, I do not own a cell phone.)
posted by mrbula at 2:30 PM on July 26, 2001


It's not like my cat died. This annoys me wherever I go. I can't get away from it, so why not do something to stop the problem? (And I live in Minnesota, for crying out loud.)
posted by gleemax at 3:14 PM on July 26, 2001


What if the jammer blocked out a phone call from the hospital to the mother of a kid who was just in a serious car crash? I fail to see how cell phone conversations are different from any normal conversation, especially when the ringer is turned to vibrate instead of an audible ring. Would you tell Joe Q. Public on the subway to shut up when he was talking with his wife or business counterpart? Then why force his cell phone down?

I understand that some (very few) people will use cell phones in places such as movie theatres and churches where they could be considered inappropriate (although I can't see why a restaurant would qualify). However, manners can't be forced.
posted by Kevs at 3:55 PM on July 26, 2001


What if the jammer blocked out a phone call from the hospital to the mother of a kid who was just in a serious car crash?

What did the mother do before there were cell phones? Put it on vibrate, or don't go to the cinema or concert!
posted by ParisParamus at 6:24 PM on July 26, 2001


Tangent: related dream device: a portable RF source powerful enough to blow out loud speakers in cars driving near yours (or in your neighborhood).
posted by ParisParamus at 6:32 PM on July 26, 2001


a portable RF source powerful enough to blow out loud speakers

O wow, you've so inspired me! I'm plagued by these jackasses who, in their little-penismobiles equipped with the 500-watt stereo system blaring at seizure inducing volumes, have this bizarre knack for parking outside my bedroom window in the wee hours of the night (I live in an apartment building). While I wouldn't want to do permanent damage, it would be so wonderful if a device existed that would temporarily jam such stereo equipment from say 50ft., and which could be bought or built from plans online.
posted by hincandenza at 7:57 PM on July 26, 2001



temporarily jam such stereo equipment? Go with permanently! When I was 13 and an active amateur radio operator, 250 watts of RF at about 14MHZ would totally overload and nearly blow the speakers of my parents' stereo. Properly focus the RF and, .....!
posted by ParisParamus at 8:08 PM on July 26, 2001


Paris: What did the mother do before there were cell phones? Put it on vibrate, or don't go to the cinema or concert!

Yes, and what did we do before heart defibrillators? We died...

Technology is not an evil thing, people...

Cell phones don't annoy people, rude people annoy people.
posted by fooljay at 9:17 PM on July 26, 2001


But I demand my God-granted right to Not Be Annoyed! If something comes along that annoys me, by golly, I'm sure as hell going to do everything in my power to destroy it, rights and desires of others be damned! Old people, religious zealots, mimes - punches to the kidneys for all of them! So long as it shuts them up and gets them out of my way, it's AOK with me!

Seriously though: there's no excuse for people to be rude and obtrusive with their cell phones... but I hardly see how that grants you the "right" to be a rude and obstrusive jammer right back.
posted by youhas at 10:36 PM on July 26, 2001


Yes, and what did we do before heart defibrillators? We died...


Nothing more convincing than over the top metaphors. If people in general don't have a problem with jammers installed in theaters then it really becomes part of the social contract of being in public or specifically in a packed public space that requires silence.

Here's a fun way to look at it. When I'm at home I can walk around nude, call my dog "Mrs. Woof," occasionally yell fire, take the batteries out of the smoke detectors, and talk throughout movies. Things simply change when you're in public.

If Loews was to install these devices and there was a huge outcry with a loss of business for the reason of that rare emergency call they'd be tossed out faster than a naked man yelling fire. Something tells me most people if anyone is not going to give a shit or they'll do what we've always done - gotten off our collective asses and made those 2 phone calls to the babysitter to make sure everything was OK.

Its only a matter time before opposite sound devices are affordable (mic picks up sound and speaker pushes out opposite waves canceling out both sounds) are perfected and will literally take the words out of your mouth let alone the annoying beeps from the 6 or 7 cell phones that ring at every movie I see. Maybe its not bad where you live, but Chicago for some reason wants to be the brain tumor center of the world.
posted by skallas at 10:43 PM on July 26, 2001


> Cell phones don't annoy people, rude people
> annoy people.

[The preceding message was brought to you by the National Rifle and Cell Phone Association.]

All people who use cell phones in certain places -- pubs, restaurants, theaters, anywhere within 50 feet of me, etc. -- are rude. Jam them in those places. Notify potential customers at the door that people who need constant access to their phones should not come in. There are many restaurants that welcome rude people; encourage phoners to go to them. Many otherwise phone-bound people would pay extra to go somewhere guaranteed devoid of ringing phones for an hour or two.

> While I wouldn't want to do permanent damage...

Maybe you wouldn't, but I might. Sign me up for the speaker-blasting device, too.
posted by pracowity at 11:36 PM on July 26, 2001


Its only a matter time before opposite sound devices are affordable (mic picks up sound and speaker pushes out opposite waves canceling out both sounds) are perfected

This only works in a very, very limited way -- the physics of sound make it impossible except for very specific applications. (For example, noise-canceling headsets.)
posted by kindall at 11:45 PM on July 26, 2001


But...People...Why villify the object?

It's NOT the cell phones. I carry my cell phone everywhere I go. When I go into a theatre or even into a restuarant, I turn my ringer on vibrate.

Don't punish ME because other people are idiots.

There are people who are bound to their cell phones--doctors come to mind but certainly parenting is much less stressful when you have a cell phone. A jammer would inconvenience even the responsible people.

Again, these are technological advances which ease people's lives. It's the idiots out there who reduce the gains.

One other thing, with the exception of drivers (because I have doubts about that) I think more people are responsible (and not rude) than not. It's just that you NOTICE the ones who are rude.
posted by fooljay at 12:41 AM on July 27, 2001


Someone needs to start a pub and restaurant chain with shielding (always legal) built in. Guarantee that phones won't work there, that there will never be a video game or television in there, and that the only music there will be live and unamplified. If fire and health codes permit it, install gaslight. Try hard to eliminate all circuitry, even all electricity, from the place. Maybe choose a year -- 1850? 1875? 1900? -- and aim to have nothing there that wouldn't be in the average pub and restaurant of that year.

People would be willing to pay enormous sums for the pleasure.
posted by pracowity at 3:35 AM on July 27, 2001


pracowity: People would be willing to pay enormous sums for the pleasure.

Then it looks like you've got a business plan, no?

As fooljay said, it's not the cell phones, it's the stupid asses who leave their ringers on instead of turning them to vibrate, or proceed to take phone calls during dinner or movies. It's not my fault, so why penalize me for having better manners than some?

And while you're at it, why not ban all small children from public places? Some of them make more noise than a cell phone ringer or user ever would, are likely to trip you or grab at your legs, and in some cases they even smell bad. Eh.
posted by lia at 4:18 AM on July 27, 2001


Mefi & Pracowity

A place I'd go. But I'd turn it off first. Respecting the rules of the place.
posted by crasspastor at 4:29 AM on July 27, 2001


> And while you're at it, why not ban all small children
> from public places?

I wouldn't be against banning kids from some public places. A restaurant, for example, should be able to declare itself kid-free.

Some places decide who can come in based on what people wear. No tie? Stay out. But kids are much more annoying than men without ties. [Though nothing is more annoying than Men Without Hats. Especially the goofy chick.]

> A place I'd go. But I'd turn it off first.

Or risk having it confiscated by my bouncers.
posted by pracowity at 5:10 AM on July 27, 2001


Obviously, the solution would be to intermittently jam the conversations of people who were unbearably rude. It's important that you only jam the call briefly, so that they call back. And then you can jam it again. Read some B.F. Skinner for more on this. Or any biography of Steve Wozniak.

From the article: It's apparently not illegal to build a shielded room and jam calls that way.
posted by mecran01 at 5:58 AM on July 27, 2001


Can any of you oh-so-bothered people explain why it is so very troublesome to you that someone several tables away has a cell phone conversation in a restaurant? Is it that the two or three chirps are so startling and awful? Is it that you can't bear to see people conversing with other people that you can't also see? What is it? I'm dying to know.
posted by Dreama at 8:08 AM on July 27, 2001


Can any of you oh-so-bothered people explain why it is so very troublesome.

I think the legitimate objections include: (1) phones ringing at inappropriate times (2) a shrill and/or tacky ring at inappropriate times; (3) people talking at louder than normal speech amplitude; and (4) more conversation/sound going on than what would take place without cell phones. On this last point, what comes to mind is the commuter train. The expectation is that a commuter train (or an AMTRAK trip) will include a certain amount of people, fairly few, conversing with other people on the train. Cell phones change this. There is more talk going on, more sound, and as a result, the ambient sound level gets signifantly higher. I have other objects as well (e.g., the personal or other nature of the conversation; the fact that the conversation, while nearby, doesn't include you; the aesthetic horror of, e.g., cell phones in a concert hall), but these are the chief ones; the ones which have made me move my place in a train, or feel like punching people.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:22 AM on July 27, 2001


I asked rather specifically about restaurants, but let's use your commuter train example, ParisParamus.

1. Phones ringing at inappropriate times -- what is an inappropriate time on a train? When announcements are made, maybe, but other than that, is there some silence rule that I'm unaware of?

2. Shrill or tacky rings at inappropriate times -- tastes differ. What's shrill to you may be just right for me to hear from the depths of my baggage. Tacky? Same difference - I may hate the William Tell Overture ringtones, but love my Animaniacs Theme Song. It's not a legitimate reason to oppose the use of the technology wholesale.

3. People talking at louder than normal speech amplitude -- it happens, whether they're talking on the phone, reprimanding a squalling kid, explaining something in detail to an elderly companion, hard of hearing themselves, etc. Unless they're screaming for a protracted period of time or disturbing you intentionally, it's still not enough to oppose the use of phones in all public places.

4. More conversation/sound going on than would take place without cell phones -- what? More appropriately, so what? If you're not in a library or in a place where there is something specific to hear, like a movie or a concert, what difference does it make if everyone around you is talking, whether on a phone or to a companion? If you need that much peace and quiet maybe you should stay home. Ambient noise happens.

Maybe you should stop being so nosey and try concentrating on your own interests. Then other people's conversations won't be so bothersome.
posted by Dreama at 10:24 AM on July 27, 2001


I wouldn't be against banning kids from some public places. A restaurant, for example, should be able to declare itself kid-free.

A restaurant is private property. They should be able to do that already, I think -- I can't think of any reason it shouldn't be legal. Which of course doesn't mean it is.
posted by kindall at 10:33 AM on July 27, 2001


Phones ringing at inappropriate times -- what is an inappropriate time on a train?
This point was not directed specifically to trains, although traveling at 9pm or 10pm on AMTRAK and trying to nap, or taking the 10pm train home from the City might make levels of sound especially "inappropriate." Does the term LOUT mean anything to you? Inappropriate also includes during films, concerts, religious services, depositions, motions, therapy sessions.

Shrill or tacky rings at inappropriate times -- tastes differ.
Sorry, but I claim a public right to no more than a certain amount of noise, especially shrill noise, especially in confined spaces. When 10 or 20 cell phones go off in the course of a 50 minute train ride, that's unacceptably painful (even without the ensuing phone conversations).

it happens, whether they're talking on the phone, reprimanding a squalling kid, explaining something in detail to an elderly companion, hard of hearing themselves, etc.
None of the other things happen anywhere as frequently as obnoxious cell phone conversation.

If you're not in a library or in a place where there is something specific to hear...
My remarks were addressed to all such places, including trains. Why are radios illegal on trains? On planes?

Sorry I am more sensitive to noise than you.

The point of this tread was to discuss the merits of baning cell phones in certain places, not altogether.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:31 AM on July 27, 2001


"Why are radios illegal on trains? On planes?"

Are they illegal on trains? They sure aren't on the MBTA trains (both subway and commuter). I've never ridden Amtrak.

They're illegal on planes, IIRC, because of the potential for interfering with the plane's navigational equipment.
posted by CrayDrygu at 12:58 PM on July 30, 2001


Radios aren't illegal on trains. They are prohibited on planes, but even if they weren't, the chances of picking much up at 30,000 feet seems slim.

Sorry I am more sensitive to noise than you.

That's not justification for the banning of cell phones from any of the public places that you've mentioned. Religious services, movies and similar entertainment and private meetings are another issue -- in those situations, neither noise nor interruptions are appropriate. The remainder of the scenarios you paint, however, have no such limitations. They are public access situations where whatever normal-volume noise (and cell phone ringtones count among that) is par for the course.

I strongly recommend a hearty dose of getting over it.
posted by Dreama at 1:04 PM on July 30, 2001


an athletic club in detroit my dad used to belong to bans the use of cell phones in the building except where there are pay phone booths. so there is an area of people who are talking over each other, but it doesn't bother others. i agree with fooljay on one thing, though: keep it on vibrate. cell phone etiquitte is definitely lacking. the book needs to be written. emily post, anyone? ha!
posted by adampsyche at 1:09 PM on July 30, 2001


Radios aren't illegal on trains. They are in these parts.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:27 PM on July 30, 2001


Radios aren't illegal on trains. I'm not talking about headpohnes here (the headphone louts of the NYC subway are a different thread)

But even if they weren't, the chances of picking much up at 30,000 feet seems slim.
Actually, you can have some fun with an FM Walkman going from New York to Europe. Works quite well, but not sure it's legal on all planes.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:31 PM on July 30, 2001


Cell phones are legal, but annoying, on trains. The problem is reception in tunnels. Transit providers use different service providers so your AT&T phone might not work in a train tunnel while Verizon will. In Europe, with the GSM standard, that's not an issue.
posted by NJguy at 4:45 PM on July 30, 2001


> Cell phones are legal, but annoying, on trains. The
> problem is reception in tunnels.

If only they would make half of all train and subway cars with shielding to block calls on cell phone. Declare those the noisy cars. Let cell phonies bother one another.
posted by pracowity at 10:57 PM on July 30, 2001


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