Tuesday, 24 March 2009

calendar malfunction creates a taxi conversation about phone numbers

I've spent today zig-zagging around this snow stormy town in taxis. Until it all went horribly wrong.

A simple calendar malfunction between two different systems.

My system showed one venue and the other system showed another. We'd both arrived at what was effectively each others' base camp for what was supposed to be a face to face meeting. My colleague and I called a cab to go back to our base for the meeting.

Bizarrely the cab driver was one we'd had much earlier in the day. I was quite surprised but apparently this is less unusual in this city with its short phone numbers.

So we talked about phone numbers whilst we made our way back and said I thought that American numbers were originally designed for big cities to have short rotary numbers (ie like 1s and 2s and 3s rather than 8,9,0).

Of course we couldn't prove my assertion, which I said came from a book I'd once read called Microserfs.

I'd have let it rest. But my colleague decided to look it up.

So later this evening, after I returned from a short visit to The Comforting Pizza Place, I received an email with a copy of a Wikipedia article about American phone numbers. Yes, New York did get 212 and LA did get 213, Chicago 312 and so forth. Vermont was 802 (20 clicks) or something similar.

I then felt compelled to score an online copy of Microserfs to check out my original source. Sure enough a Russian website had an illicit online copy.

It's all there in the conversation with Karla.

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