Robo-Call Reminding Me to Vote TOMORROW

IMG_0319I received a voicemail at 2:23 PM today (November 3, 2009 — election day) encouraging me to vote for Tom Menino for mayor of Boston. Not unusual on election day, right?

Right, except that it asked me to vote tomorrow, not today.

I don’t know if this is a case of computer/operator error or a legitimate case of electoral fraud through misinformation, but I was asked to record and share it by a number of people on Twitter, so here it is.

Because it was left today, I could not figure out how to get the voicemail system to say the actual date it was left. If I wait, I can get a properly timestamped version, but that will take a few days. In the meantime, I’ve included a screenshot of my iPhone voicemail screen taken at 2:41 today. I don’t think iPhone screenshots have EXIF data, but it’s the best I can do.

Did anyone else receive one of these calls?

For the record, I didn’t campaign for or support either mayoral candidate this year, so this isn’t an attack on anyone. I just found it curious and thought it was worth sharing.

Click the play button below to play the message.

The Sound of Millions of Technophiles Screaming

Two big tech glitches happened last night:

  1. The TurboTax servers went down hours before tax returns were due.
  2. The main servers for BlackBerry email went offline.

According to a spokesperson for TurboTax maker Intuit,

Yesterday was a huge volume day for our back-end electronic filing. As a result, we had a significant slowdown in our ability to process and transmit electronic returns to the IRS.

Luckily for those last-minute filers who got burned, the IRS is going to allow extra time for those people who couldn’t get their returns through the clogged pipes.

As for #2, the BlackBerry servers at Canadian Research in Motion went down overnight, cutting off email to most subscribers in the Western Hemisphere. This was a great quote in the New Zealand Herald:

“I felt like my left arm had been amputated,” said Joe Shoemaker, communications director for Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois.

As for me, I did my taxes in February and I’m not addicted to email on my phone, so I barely noticed.


A “Traditional Media” Experiment

The Boston NOW paper I mentioned before was launched this morning, and I’m in it twice.

There’s a blurb about the Museum’s podcast and a callout box on the page of Boston Marathon coverage featuring the latest Boston Behind the Scenes.

I wanted to see if this would convince people to go to my website, but the early returns aren’t good. Boston Behind the Scenes has  seen exactly one unaccounted-for hit from the Boston area today – and that was from the servers of the Community Newspaper Company in Taunton. I’m pretty sure they were just thoroughly investigating the new competition.


Google has just launched Google Voice Local Search, and experimental phone-based search system.

According to the website:

Google Voice Local Search is Google’s experimental service to make local-business search accessible over the phone.

To try this service, just dial 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) from any phone.

Using this service, you can:

  • search for a local business by name or category.

You can say “Giovanni’s Pizzeria” or just “pizza”.

  • get connected to the business, free of charge.
  • get the details by SMS if you’re using a mobile phone.

Just say “text message”.

I’ve tried it out a few times, and it seems to work alright. The system was down for a while, but that’s to be expected with a service that’s less than a week old.

To hear a test call, listen to the MP3 below. Here’s the text message I got from Google during the call:

Subject: Burger King

Burger King
128 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02108