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State Your Name February 25, 2009

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Random Musings.
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There are many unsung heroes in the history of technology.  Today, I’d like to salute Ted Paraskevakos, the inventor of Caller ID.  Ted started working on Caller ID back in 1968.  I cannot believe that 40 years have passed and we still have not erected a monument to him somewhere.  I would have settled for a Bud Light Real Men Of Genius salute, but even that has not come to pass.

Caller ID converted the phone from something controlled by the caller to something I control.  In olden days, you pretty much had to pick up the phone; you never know what lay at the other end.  Good news or bad, you took your chances, and you often got stuck with some interminable sales call.

With Caller ID, I get to choose my conversations.  Whether the goal is catching that important call or avoiding a bothersome caller, Caller ID puts us all in charge of our phones.  In the past, this luxury was reserved to those with full-time personal assistants.  Now, we are all in control of our phones.

Best of all, I can now completely avoid calls from people who insist on blocking their Caller ID information.  When the phone rings and the display shows “Unknown,” there is only one course of action: dump the call to voice mail.  Who in their right mind would take a call from someone who is intentionally hiding their identity prior to the call?  Most telling, the vast majority of these callers never leave a message.

Long-time readers know that I am a big fan of YouMail, the personalized voice mail service for your cell phone.  Among the many marvelous features of YouMail is the ability to detect and handle blocked Caller ID separately from your other calls.  In my case, callers get a message telling them that I do not accept blocked calls, and that they need to call back with the Caller ID information exposed.  The call is then dropped, without even giving the caller a chance to leave a message.

So, a word of advice to potential callers: show yourself.  If I have time, I’ll usually take the call.  But if you block your name, I guarantee that I will never take your call, at home, or work, on on my cell.

On the other hand, if “Ted Paraskevakos” ever shows up on my phone’s display, I will definitely take the call.

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