To lie or keep in hiding, as for some evil reason.  To move or go in a mean, stealthy manner.

Thursday October 7, 1999

WebSkulker Newsletter
I've skulked and I can't get up!

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Skulking with your CentreCom number

Hopefully you jr. skulkers have received your CentreCom number by now; if not, read near the bottom of the 10/5/99 issue for instructions.  If you are new to WebSkulker, the reason you should do this is that CentreCom will give you a toll-free voice mail number and the equivalent of a $50 pre-paid calling card -- all absolutely free.

The instructions on the CentreCom web site aren't very good, so we will explain some details about how to use the "follow me" features.  Even if you don't need them, they are fun to skulk around with.  "Follow me" means that you tell people to call your CentreCom number all the time, or maybe have them try your home phone first and if that doesn't work, call the CentreCom number.  You call your own CentreCom number, enter * plus your password, then program up to three phone numbers where you might be.  The names of these are slightly misleading.  One is called your "primary number" and the other two are your "follow me" and "second follow me" numbers.  The trick is that the "primary number" behaves exactly like the two "follow me" numbers so think of it as "third follow me" and it will make more sense.  There is a fourth number that can be entered: your pager number if you have one.  You can't enter this yourself; you must call the CentreCom customer service number and they will enter the pager information for you.

If you always go to the same three places, that's all you need to do.  If you go different places during the day, you can call in and change the follow-me numbers whenever you want.  You don't need to use all three; there are separate touchtone commands to turn on and off the use of each of the three numbers so if it makes sense in your case, you can leave three specific numbers entered, but turn them on and off as appropriate.  You can also give a touchtone command to tell the system that you are unavailable right now so it should just take a message.

If follow-me is enabled and someone calls your CentreCom number, it will invite them to speak their name, then the system will immediately and simultaneously dial ALL of your "follow me" numbers that are enabled, along with your pager number. If you answer any of those numbers, the system will say that there is a call for you and play the short recording the caller just made saying their name.  You press 1 if you want to accept the call, and you will be switched through to the caller.  If you are not at any of these numbers, but your pager goes off (with a code showing that CenterCom is calling) you can go to the nearest phone, dial your CentreCom number, log in, and get connected to the person who is waiting.

There are two other phone numbers you can enter: a fax number and a "personal operator number".  CentreCom can accept faxes as well as voice calls, so you enter a fax number to optionally have it forward faxes there.  The operator number is used if the caller can't reach you and presses 0 to speak to what they will believe is your company's operator, but the call will really go to whatever number you programmed. 

Now that we have explained the general workings of CentreCom, you should be able to make sense of the documentation on their web site for the details. 

Free videoconferencing with fellow skulkers

The CentreCom web site talks about using your CentreCom number with the Microsoft Netmeeting product, but doesn't document this very well either.  In this section, WebSkulker will explain the Netmeeting product in general in case you have never used it, and in the next section will explain how CentreCom and Netmeeting work together.  Netmeeting is free from Microsoft and comes along with Windows 98.  Before trying to use it, you should go to the second link above and download the latest version.  The first link is the Microsoft home page for Netmeeting.  The third link is a non-Microsoft site that explains Netmeeting in detail with pointers to alternative directory servers and shareware products that work with Netmeeting.

Netmeeting is primarily used for audio and perhaps video connections between you and someone else on the Internet.  Both sides must have fairly fast Internet connections for this to be successful.  For audio, all you need is for both sides to have a sound card, microphone, and speakers or headset.  WebSkulker strongly suggests that you buy a headset meant to plug in to a sound card instead of using loudspeakers, because the speakers will cause feedback into the microphone.  A headset will be much more natural and make the experience more like a phone call.

If you add any of the sub-$100 video cameras that plug into a PC (the USB type are the best if you have a USB port) then Netmeeting will let the other side see your image as you talk.  If both sides have a camera then you can do full videoconferencing, but both sides had really better have very fast connections.

You can call a specific friend or business associate with Netmeeting, or you will learn from the above links (especially the NetMeet site) that there are many public directory servers where thousands of people on the Internet are hanging out all the time waiting to meet new friends.  Look here for a list of popular servers and the type of people you will find there:

You choose a directory server and can get a list of everyone waiting on it, along with a description of who they want to talk to.  An icon shows whether each person has video, or only audio capabilities.

Skulking phone calls with Netmeeting

The CentreCom site talks about an interface between Netmeeting and your CentreCom number, but is very unclear why you would want to do this and how it works.  When you get the email assigning you an 888 number for CentreCom, you will also get a 7 digit number called "Your NetMeeting Gateway Phone Number."  Enter this number into Netmeeting along with the other information as shown at:

You should now be able to dial your CentreCom number from Netmeeting instead of a telephone; just put in the 10 digits in the Netmeeting field where you would normally enter the name or ip address of the person you want to call and press the Place Call button.  You should hear ringing, then your outgoing greeting.  From the Netmeeting menu press View/Dialpad to get a virtual touchtone pad, press * on it followed by your password very slowly, waiting between digits.  You can now give commands to CentreCom, play back your messages, make an outgoing long distance call, etc. through this connection.

Why would you want to do this instead of just dialing on a phone?  Because it is neat to see this work with Netmeeting, and it can save you money.  Once your free $50 runs out, CentreCom will charge you 8 cents a minute for dialing into your 888 number to play messages or issue commands.  Through Netmeeting this is all free.  You can make outgoing long distance calls through Netmeeting for only 4.5 cents per minute (although they will probably sound a lot worse than a normal phone call).

Netmeeting can be one of the choices for CentreCom "follow me".  When you first get your number, you might notice that the second follow-me number is set to area code 999 followed by your 7 digit Netmeeting Gateway phone number.  The special code 999 means that CentreCom should attempt to call you through Netmeeting if a caller dials into your number and is waiting.  This can be useful if you have only one phone line and it is busy because you are on the Internet.

New search engine caches sites it skulks

One of WebSkulker's pet peeves is using a web search engine, getting a list of pages that are supposed to contain the search terms, and then not being able to find the terms on some of the pages that looked promising.  It is impossible to search the web in real time, so when you go to a search engine and type a request, you are really getting results that may be weeks to months old.  The list of pages returned as the results of the search no doubt had your search terms on the date they were last visited, but may have changed in the meantime.

The new Google search engine solves this problem by saving a copy of each web page exactly as it was when it was last visited by Google.  Do a Google search and you will see that the results page contains links to a set of supposedly relevant pages just like any other search engine, but each result also has a link called "cached".  Click on the main link and you will get the current version of the web site, which may have changed and no longer contain the search terms.  The main link might be very slow or unreachable.  Click on "cached" and you will get the page as it was saved by Google so you can see why it mentioned that page and you can see the contents even if the site is currently unavailable.

Google has been around as a beta test for some time, but recently launched their official service.  The second link is an article that describes Google in detail.

This made WebSkulker laugh

Twisted Sayings:

Dyslexics have more fnu

Clones are people, two

Entropy isn't what it used to be

Microbiology Lab: Staph Only!

Santa's elves are just a bunch of subordinate Clauses

Gravity: Not just a good idea, it's the LAW!

Air Pollution is a mist-demeanor

Anything free is worth what you pay for it

Atheism is a non-prophet organization

COLE'S LAW: Thinly sliced cabbage

Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?

Editing is a rewording activity

Help stamp out and eradicate superfluous redundancy

I used to think I was indecisive, but now I'm not sure

My reality check just bounced

Rap is to music, what Etch-a-Sketch is to art

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

Energizer bunny arrested, charged with battery

No sense being pessimistic, it probably wouldn't work anyway

Boycott shampoo... Demand REAL poo!

IRS - Be audit you can be


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