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Newsgroups: comp.risks
X-issue: 9.87
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 90 4:09:32 EDT
From: (Brad Templeton)
Subject: Blaming it on the computer?

The stories of crossed lines remind me of the oldest RISK of all -- blaming
things on the computer that humans do.

Almost 20 years ago, when I was younger and less responsible, a "friend" had
two phone lines.  He hooked up a circuit to conference them and play the whole
thing through a loudspeaker with no mic on the line -- not hard to do.

Then he would go and call two parties and connect them, to listen to the fun.
Much more creative than plain prank calling.  When random parties got boring,
he tried connecting the only two people in the book with an unusual name,
hoping they would be related.  Sometimes they were, but the most amusing
exchange went on for several minutes between two unrelated Mr. Vandenbroeks.
Several times, they would say:
	"Who is calling?"
	"Mr. Vandenbroek."
Unaware that they had the same name.  On to the RISK... In all these cases,
the parties connected attributed the double call to crossed wires -- as
though it happened all the time.  Prior to this digest I had not heard
of actual switch defects ringing two people and connecting them for no
reason.  And not two relatives, or employee and boss.  Nobody thought to
attribute it to malicious youngsters.

Today, every yuppie kid has a house with a two line phone with a conference
button.  No knowledge of circuits required.  If my immature "friend" did it
then, it must be a regular event today.   Yet we jump to blaming the

Brad Templeton, ClariNet Communications Corp. -- Waterloo, Ontario 519/884-7473

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