Hacking Voicemail

Isn't it astounding how much we use our voices to talk to computers nowadays? Whenevever I call customer service, I must first talk to the computer receptionist who wants to direct my call. I picture her as an anamatronic lady from the late 80s, held up with cobwebbed hydraulic pistons. How long have I been on speaking terms with a computer? Instead of feeling taken advantage of by yet another computer, here are a few things you can do to take advantage of the situation.

  • Talk to the computer with a thick Accent. Jar Jar Binks makes for a good time.
  • Pretend you're 70 and have never talked to a computer before. Say something like "Hi, I'm, calling regarding an issue with my service. I was reviewing my bill the other..." When it cuts you off, just repeat what you said, but louder.
  • Just say, "blahbudubadubaduba" over and over again. While neither computers nor humans understand what you're saying, computers invariably give you the benefit of the doubt and sincerely apologize when they don't understand.
  • Of course, you can always say "customer service representative" over and over again. If the computer insists that it's only trying to help you by correctly directing your call, argue with it.

At any rate, I decided to hack my voicemail. I got a Skype account and called myself and a friend to capture the default prerecorded voicemail message. Then I edited it in Adobe Audition, and put it back into my phone.

The first draft of my altered voicemail was just the vanilla regular version of the default voicemail plus the woman saying "one is the loneliest number." I made it from the following audio clips:

1, is, the, 'l', tone, leave, message, number.

But it didn't sound right, and a lot of it was because of the limited source material I had. A possible answer for this is to drop ten bucks into a Skype account to capture more from Cingular's voicemail interface (that thing you listen to when you retrieve your voicemail). She talks a lot there.

So I ditched that effort and tried to imagine what would happen if the anamatronic lady broke down - here's what I came up with.

Voicemail Message.

And here's a screenshot of the audio mix of the 'or' sequence at the end of the message:

Click to enlarge in new window

I've also made a customizable version for anybody to use. Here's how:

  1. Download this file
  2. Dial into your voicemail and navigate to change your message
  3. Play the file, pausing when you should say your name
  4. Say your name
  5. Continue to play the rest of the file