Strategy and services help avoid over 50 billion robocalls

Are unwanted calls getting worse? No, but they’re still a nuisance.

There were approximately 54 billion robocalls last year. Fifty-two billion are expected this year. The reduction may be due to recent changes made by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC began requiring carriers to verify all incoming and outgoing calls.

Even so, unwanted calls can be difficult to recognize. Once I got a call from a guy claiming to represent a local theater group. I should have hung up and called the theater instead of making a donation. Later, I learned that I had been scammed. So the next time someone wants to donate and I’m inclined to donate, I’ll hang up and call the organization myself.

Here are some other tips I got from CNET. First, if you are asked to press a number before being connected to a representative, hang up. It could be a scammer. Second, don’t answer “yes” to a question like “can you hear me?” Scammers trick people into registering by registering the word “yes”.

Major carriers offer services to combat spam, including AT&T’s “Call Protect,” Verizon’s “Call Filter,” T-Mobile’s “Scam Shield,” and Sprint’s “Call Screener.” T-Mobile’s Scam Shield is free. Sprint’s Call Filter is free until Sprint customers fully migrate to T-Mobile. The others have both a free version and a pro version.

If you have an iPhone, you can send unknown callers to voicemail. To set it up, go to “Settings”, tap on the phone app, then scroll down and tap on “Silence unknown callers”. On an Android phone, tap the phone icon, then tap the three vertical dots in the top right. Tap on “Settings”, then on “Blocked numbers”. Toggle the switch next to “Block calls from unidentified callers”. But that just blocks them, rather than sending them to voicemail.

SEND TEXTS FROM LARGE KEYBOARD

I rarely text from my phone. Thanks to Microsoft’s free “Phone Link”, I send text messages from the large keyboard on my Windows desktop.

For this to work, a phone must be turned on and connected to the internet. To set it up, tap “Phone Link” at the bottom left of your screen. If it is already installed, click “open”. Otherwise, install it.

Google has its own version. Go to messages.android.com on your computer and follow the onscreen instructions. It works fine, but I always have to set it up again because my Ccleaner app wipes my tracks when I close my web browser.

With Microsoft’s method, the text app is still available on my taskbar. I can also use it to view phone photos, view phone call recordings, and make phone calls from my computer. But it does not allow me to delete photos. I get a message asking me to allow it, even though I have already done so. As a friend said, “It’s Microsoft for you.”

INFINITY BIKE

If you’ve ever seen a tank, you know how it moves over rough terrain. Now there’s a prototype bike that moves like that.

The “Infinity Bike” by Stephan Henrich from Germany redefines what a bicycle is. It has a single tire that moves like a caterpillar. “This mono-tyre is powered by a humped center wheel receiving its power from a crank on a short chain and an 8-speed gearbox,” Henrich explains. He hasn’t set the price yet. It is still in the design phase.

CAR THING

Because Thing, you make my heart sing. Or you would if I had a car, phone service with unlimited data, and Spotify’s “Car Thing” gadget for listening to music in a vehicle. I went carless last year after being inspired by a carless friend. But I still appreciate the car stuff.

With Car Thing, you can request music from your Spotify Premium playlist. Or you can tap, spin, or swipe to get songs, artists, playlists, and podcasts. The price is $90. To make it work, you’ll need an auxiliary socket in your car or Bluetooth connectivity, as well as a data plan on your phone.

What’s the benefit? With Car Thing for music and podcasts, you can dedicate your phone to a map application. This way, you’ll be less tempted to fiddle with it. Or you can save $90 by enabling voice commands in the Spotify app. But it doesn’t work in my tests. He keeps saying “I didn’t understand that”.

QUANTUM COMPUTERS

I used to think quantum computers were science fiction. After all, they involve what Albert Einstein called “frightening action at a distance” – the ability of separate objects to share a condition. But it’s not so scifi anymore.

There’s a quantum computer at the Cleveland Clinic, a 65-qubit machine made by IBM. The clinic will also have access to IBM’s upcoming 1000+ qubit quantum system.

A 65-qubit machine can process data in more than a quintillion states at once. “Quintillion” is a 19-digit number. The new 1,000-qubit system will be able to handle so many possibilities in parallel that it would take 1,000 digits to write the number.

In 2019, Google used a 53-qubit computer to solve a problem that would have defeated any supercomputer, even the one that won “Jeopardy”. They plan to build a million-qubit quantum computer by 2030. It remains mind-boggling at the number of parallel processes this would allow.

If you’re inclined to give it a try, Agnostiq.ai, a software-as-a-service startup, offers Covalent, a free workflow platform designed for quantum computing.

Joy Schwabach can be contacted by email at [email protected]

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