Narcissus' Echo

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cell phones: bash and jam

The videos on this site had me in stitches. The looks of shock and befuddlement as the victims' cell phones are snatched right out of their hands in mid-conversation, and then, confusion and outrage as the offending devices are hurled towards the concrete / asphalt at a high rate of speed and summarily stomped on, are priceless. One thing I'll give the two guys: they can really run in those costumes.

Going about dressed as a giant cell phone, snatching cell phones off the hands of obnoxious motormouths, smashing them, and then running for the hills, is impractical, however. There is a much better way to deal with inconsiderate cell phone users: cell phone jammers.

The incessant ringing was bad enough, but when patrons of the Whiteley Shopping Centre's cinema in London began answering their cellular telephones mid-movie -- shouting to be heard above the dialogue -- Nasser Ahmadi knew something had to give.

"Some people were getting so angry that they were leaving the cinema," said Ahmadi, a consultant to Universal Cinemas International, which operates the multiscreen movie house. "People were asking why we didn't do something about it."

Across the globe, cell phones disturb plays, concerts and films. Phones ring out during funerals and weddings. They bleep and buzz in trains, restaurants and bathrooms. Cell-phone-free zones, polite requests, even icy glares can't seem to stop the ringing and consequent jabbering.

But Ahmadi found something that does: a cellular telephone jammer.

Five months ago, he installed the C-Guard cellular telephone firewall and complaints stopped. Made by an Israeli company called NetLine, the C-Guard is one of a handful of cell phone jammers commercially available today.

Within their operating radius, jammers prevent wireless phones from contacting a cellular radio tower. The affected phone behaves as it would any place where reception is too poor to carry a call.

Users "don't complain because they don't know what's going on," Ahmadi said. "There are lots of places where there are blackouts, anyway. They think it's the construction of the building, so they come out in the foyer to make their phone calls."

"It's very Machiavellian but perfectly harmless," said Jonathan Lemel, managing director for Special Electronic Security Products, U.K. Ltd. of Manchester, England, which manufactures jammers.

Yes, they are illegal in North America, but as the following article suggests, that doesn't stop pissed off people from purchasing and using them:

Illegal cell phone jammers sell like hot cakes on NY street corners

The New York Post is reporting that illegal cell phone jammers are "selling like hotcakes" in New York City. The jammers are sold by street vendors or in the back rooms of spy shops.

"I bought one online, and I love it," said one jammer owner fed up with the din of dumb conversations and rock-and-roll ringtones.

"I use it on the bus all the time. I always zap the idiots who discuss what they want from the Chinese restaurant so that everyone can hear them. Why is that necessary?" He added, "I can't throw the phones out the window, so this is the next best thing."

Online jammer seller Victor McCormack said he's made "hundreds of sales" to New Yorkers."

Jammers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from portable handhelds that look like cell phones to larger, fixed models as big as suitcases. The smaller gadgets emit radio frequencies that block signals anywhere from a 50- to 200-foot radius. They range in price from $250 to $2,000."

As the patience of an increasing number of people wear thin, the use of cell phone jammers or blockers continue to spread:

Japan allows public places such as theaters and concert halls to install jammers, provided they obtain a government-issued license. And last week, France's industry minister approved a decision to let cinemas, concert halls and theaters install them - as long as provisions are in place so emergency calls can still be made.

In Monterrey, the Sacred Heart church, a baroque temple favored by Mexico's elite for weddings, church officials acquired their blockers two years ago.

"Whenever there was a wedding, cell phones would ring every five minutes," said Bulmaro Carranza, a parish clerk. "It was a real problem because there were times when even the groom would forget to turn his cell phone off."

For months, the devices went unnoticed until reporters covering the weddings began complaining that their cell phones never worked.

Margarita Escobedo, a Catholic who goes to church at least twice a week and volunteers at the San Genaro church, says she would welcome the jammers in her parish, where cell phones are becoming a nuisance.

"Those who bring cell phones to church are not committed to God," Escobedo said. "It's very distracting to be praying and suddenly hear birds chirping or techno music."

Cell phone jammers come in many sizes and power ratings to suit the budget of just about any individual who has had it with blabbermouths.

Cell phone jammers also come in portable versions. Some of them are even disguised to look like regular cell phones:

This cell phone jammer looks just like a cell phone and is ideal for use when commuting on the bus and train or when eating in restaurants etc, anywhere where you need effective control at close quarters!
With this cell phone jammer switched on in your pocket you will be able to silence those anti-social types who insist on using their mobile phones in the most indiscrete way, the beauty is that they will not know it is you that has switched them off!, all they will see is that their signal has dropped out on their cell phone.

When you have had your meal or enjoyed your coffee in peace and quiet, you can then switch off your [cell] phone jammer and continue on your way completely stress free.

Here's another model:

This little gem simply keeps phones from talking to their base towers, preventing annoying ringing, calls, and SMS text messages. It works by transmitting low power radio signals to cut off communication between cell phone and cellular base stations. It does not interfere with any communications other than cellular within the defined regulated zone. After activating the blocker, all phones will indicate "NO SERVICE". Incoming calls will be blocked as if the cellphone is off. When the blocker is turned off, all cell phones will automatically re-establish communications and provide full service. (Source)

Imagine this, you can silence an entire cafe, restaurant, bus, train carriage, etc. You become, in effect, a "dead zone" for cell phones. The yakkers will never be any wiser too. They will just think they have gone into an area with no service.

The "What if I have an emergency call coming through?" argument doesn't work. If you read through the contract on your cellular service agreement, there is a clause (or several clauses) which explicitly states that the provider does not guarantee coverage in every location, at all times. If you are expecting an emergency call, grab a copy of War and Peace and sit by a land line.

No, I'm no Luddite. I just enjoy peace and quiet. I don't need to hear the details of your first prostate exam while having my dinner. I will own one of these before I own a cell phone.


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