An oddly interesting conversation

My cell phone rang a while ago, and an older man asked, “Is this Robbie?”.  Hardly anyone calls me Robbie.  My mother did, and my dad sometimes does – but nobody else.  So I assumed, correctly, that this was a wrong number.

I tried to explain this to the gentleman when he told me I needed to shut up, so he could make amends and leave this world in peace.

It is really hard to just hang up when you hear something like that.

So, I told him I was Robbie.

Then he started to tell me his story – and explain to me how he wronged me 17 years before I was born.

It seems he, who he said was named Guy, was a bit of a swindler. A bit of a big-time swindler.  He confessed that he had stolen $6500 from me in a bridge building scheme in Colorado, back in 1944.  He says he claimed to be working for the government who needed a new bridge to supply a new top-secret base in New Mexico.

He rambled a great deal, and I could tell he suffered memory loss, because he repeated parts of the story several times.

This was a 45 minute phone call.  Why would I spend 45 minutes listening to him?  Well, it actually just beat anything on television.

At the end, he was sobbing, and asked my forgiveness, which I gave.

At the end, I was compelled to send a Tweet:

I have the most unusual conversations. With the most interesting people. That nobody has ever heard of. #thingsthatmakemesmile

Leaving Corporate America – starting my own “Social Media” firm.

I’ve been really busy since SXSW.  Met some really great people there that convinced me to start my own SM “firm”.  I put that in quotes because I am not so sure just how firm it is.  But it feels firm.  Sometimes firm feels fake, but this firm feels real.  Firm but with flesh.  So kinda firm.  Fleshy-firm.

I’m going to start managing Social Media for third parties.  I’ve already obtained a lot of useful twitter handles that I think will drive business, like @comcastreallyreallyreallyfreakingcares and @buyafordbecausetheywontkillyoulikeToyotawill and @Ilovethefactthatwalmartletsmespendmoneyintheirstores

The really long twitter names are not an accident.  I really don’t want to work too hard on this stuff and really long names give me even less characters to “share” with your customers – who really don’t care who I am except for the value I add to you.  Besides – you pay me by the character so I am saving you a TON of money since I charge only 75% on the characters in the handle (LIMITED TIME OFFER!)!

I want a check and I am measuring my worth by dollars/character – so short conversations mean I make more – which adds value to you.  And if I make more I know my customers are happier.  Because that is what motivates them – making me happy.  And that is how your business wins, and gets to that next amazing level – of making me happy.

But it is all about the customer – so I hope I get a couple.  Especially some with money, because they rock.

I want to help you sell more stuff to your customers.  I have Twitter bots, spambots, robots, and ding-bats all ready to help me help you help your business grow!

I’m an online social media expert. I am a wizard at talking to your customers.  I will make you millions and take only about half of it. Sometimes I take less than more than half.  Call me – I am open to almost anything that moves money from you to me!

That is just the way I guru it.

Together we are twice as good as I am without your money!

Please feel free to contact me with proposals that gain me more than 50% of your company – but sorry – I don’t accept debt anymore.  I’m so beyond that!  So make sure you at least make enough money to pay me enough to make you look amazing and make me feel marvelous.  If you underpay me you will be perceived as weak.  And in some cultures with a small penis.  Go big or stay home.

And if you just don’t have time to talk to me, but want the benefits of working with me, just send some money to kr8tr on PayPal and we’ll both be happier. And your investors will be amazed by what you have accomplished!

And don’t forget – I don’t make money unless I take money from you.  Really! 

I guarantee it!

This should be an amazing new stage in my career – and in your business.  Prove it to yourself – take that first step now.  SEND ME MONEY.  The results won’t be measurable but they are guaranteed.

BTW – I am currently offering a 1% discount (on pseudo-services only) to anyone that gets me an iPad before 05APR10.

We really hit it off… for 35 minutes. But had fun for weeks.

I run Adium on my Mac.  Between AOL, and Yahoo, internal Jabber at work, Microcoft Live Messenger, and multiple GChat accounts, I have over 5,000 contacts.

And each day, at least once, sometimes many times, I get a spam IM.  How they get through security procedures on the platforms, I don’t know.  But sometimes they do.

I “always” just click “block” and close the window.

But several times over the last few weeks –  a “girl” – always with the same name followed by random and changing numbers – would send me messages.  They looked like spam.  So I blocked each of them in turn.

Until things turned.  The messages started to actually talk about things I did, or said.  Usually something I posted on Twitter, but sometimes a link to a comment I made on a random blog.

Then I got, “You need to mow your grass – but I do understand that is has been raining a lot, and your mower would trench the yard”.

Whoah!  This was odd.  While the person could have assumed that I needed to mow, how would “she” know that I have a large commercial mower?  Unless “she” knew me?

Still, I blocked the message as spam – just as I had the many others.

Until late last week.  I responded to one of the messages, “Who are you, do you know me?”

I received no response.  About 20 minutes later I clicked “block” on her message and went to make something to eat.  I almost immediately heard the “ding” sound informing me of a new message.

The message was simple, “To find me again, you have to block my IM – for I am.  You follow me on Twitter, but I don’t follow you”.

Aha!  I could narrow it down!  But there are about 2200 people that follow me.  And I follow under half of them.  So I couldn’t narrow it down too much.  But still – assuming she was a she, and that she lived near me, I could whittle the list down to about 60.  Based on those of the 60 I knew, or knew of – I got to 52.  I could have made a mistake here, but was pretty careful to only “remove” those I knew for certain weren’t the mysterious IM’er.

52 might as well be 500.  And then I thought, what if it is a friend just messing with me, or perhaps it is actually a guy?  The 52 seemed like a useless number.

Anyway, I blocked the latest account and didn’t hear? anything for a couple days.

Then I got a new IM that said, “Be honest and be rewarded – how large is your suspect list?  <50?  >50? >100? <500?.  Win a clue.”

I replied >50, then blocked the account.  It was now an amusing game.

Fifteen minutes passed before I got a new IM, from yet another account – it said, “Not good.  Not bad, but not good.  I’m two blocks away, at a place you like, but I’m leaving now”

OK.  There are four places within two blocks of me that I have talked about publicly (or checked into from FourSquares).  Three are VERY public places.  One is a quiet store where I am usually the only customer.

I replied back, “Did you enjoy your drink?”  – thinking this would narrow things down to two places.  I should have worded it better so it could have been narrowed to one – but I wasn’t that clever.

Same routine – blocked the account.  Woke up the next morning to this: “Drink was great. I’ve been reading your blog – five posts from APR 2007.  Are you IP-Savvy?”

OK – at this point I am pretty much having a good time with this entire game.  So my curiosity was really peeked.  Whomever this was had a sense of humor, and some tech savvy.

I replied back, “I see your IP. You humor me.”


Next day I went to both of the local bars I have been know to hang out in and connected to the open WiFi – and checked the IP address assigned.  < Bingo!  Had her/him!  Blanco Tavern.

Later that day I received a new IM that said, “Bet you figured it out.  But I am never there when you are, but am often in other places you are.”

Damn!  This was getting pretty interesting 🙂

So I wrote a private blog post.  I sent her a link, “Here’s what I’ve found, let me know if it is sound”.

Then I blocked her.

And watched for an IP address to hit that post (and yes, with Woopra, I can see in near real-time).  Just 8 minutes later someone was reading my private post – from the Lion and Rose Pub, just two blocks away (it was one of those IP addresses I had checked earlier).

I didn’t respond then – I didn’t want her/him to know that I was on to them.  I grabbed my laptop and keys and hit the door.

5 minutes later I was sitting on the patio – the lone patron outside that day.  And I opened my laptop.  I sent a simple IM back to “her”, “I am on your sub-net.  And I am on the patio. – Step out”.

Then I blocked her/him.

And waited, but just a moment.  The door opened, and the waitress came out.  She handed me a napkin with “DSL” written on it.  Said a woman (yes!) had asked her to give it to me, and that I would know what it meant.

I did – that is the “name” of my primary WiFi network at my house!  I paid for my drink and quickly headed back home.  As I pulled in front of the house, there was nobody in the driveway – just one car – up the street.  Tapping it’s break pedal.  I took it as a signal, and followed.

It was 1.5 blocks and a stop-sign ahead of me, but I rushed to catch up.  I didn’t – but I saw where the car went – Blanco Tavern.

I finally crossed the busy Blanco Road and walked into the bar – which is very dark, and it was very bright outside.  So I could barely see.

But I heard, “Hello, Rob.  That took you a while”

As I approached the table at the nearly empty bar I could finally make out the face of someone I had met before, but wasn’t sure where.

“Interesting game”, I said. “You play well.”

She laughed and professed that she didn’t mean to get “caught” just yet.  Yes, she was attractive, and yes, she was younger than me.

“I don’t recall where I met you – I’m sorry”, I offered.

“You haven’t”, said she.  Just call me (and she gave another variation of the numbers based yet always changing name she used on IM). “We’ve been in the same places, but never met”.

We chatted about how she pulled this off – “easy”, she said.  What a Geek – and a Linux hack at that.  We were getting along wonderfully, and chatted for 35 minutes.  But not about who she was, or how she knew me.  I figured that would all come out eventually.  The conversation did not seem as if it were about to stop anytime soon.

Until the door opened and a man yelled, ‘Sam, I know you are in here”.  To wit “Sam” told me – “you better go” – which I did – by taking advantage of him being blinded coming in from the sun.  As I took the long way out of the bar I heard him yelling at her about “no wife of mine”…

Two days later I got another IM from her.  I replied, “No wife of mine…” and have blocked the last several chats without responding.

Perhaps I should – but I don’t want to get in the middle of any drama – and certainly not in the middle of a marriage.

But if Geeky Sam figures all that out, and wants to spar again without the baggage – you know my IP’s 🙂

And yeah – I know this wasn’t a really happy ending, but it was fun playing the game.

My Father’s Day

I woke up early, which doesn’t always happen anymore.  I used to be up at 7 am no matter what.  Lately I’ve been staying awake much later than normal.  Call it part of my job.  But I love waking early.  My problem is that I also love staying awake until the wee hours of the morning 🙂

Anyway, this morning I woke to this drawing, emailed to me from my daughter.  She drew it on her Wacom tablet.

Happy Father's Day.

My daughter is always thinking of me.  She will make a great artist (and perhaps even a great wife and mother, should she decide to push her skill-sets) some day. 🙂  Love her to death.

Later my kids did the grocery shopping, and fixed me a wonderful meal, which they insisted we ate at the table together (at 18 and 20, my kids are rarely home for meals, much less eating together!).

My son has recently started cooking – and he has a knack for it.  Love him as well!

It was a wonderful day.

But not for everyone.

This conversation, which my friend Robert Scoble started, explains why.  Hard to enjoy this day when so much of the world is in pain.

If you can stomach it, here is the before and after photos of one father’s daughter on Father’s Day.  Don’t click if you are squeamish.  She was shot and killed while walking in a peaceful protest with her father.

I am proud that I served my country, and am inspired by all of those in Iran who are doing the same.  Sounds like a cliche, but freedom really isn’t free.

Ask Neda’s father.

Because we can’t ask Neda.

I’m back, but where did I go?

I lost ownership of my domain name, for several weeks.  I won’t go into the ugly details, but I could certainly have prevented this.  Now I have the domain locked, set to auto-renew, and the email address I have the domain registered under is NOT an email address hosted on the domain.

It took a LOT longer to get my domain back because of (I assume) the Holidays.

What really sucked is my entire family has email on the domain – so I wasn’t the only one affected.  Bummer, family – and sorry about that!

So, the blog is back, the email is back, and I won’t make that mistake again 🙂

And that is all (for now) 🙂