Somebody app delivers text messages in person

A quirky messaging app called Somebody by performer/filmmaker Miranda July aims for the opposite. On Somebody, users post a message and bank on the kindness and courage of strangers to have it delivered in person. Picture users performing your text messages as a monologue, complete with emotions and actions as indicated in the note. Odd and inefficient, but also an interesting concept. Of course, July, who will be performing this month at the Walker Art Center — a Somebody “hotspot” — made a short film about it. (See below.) “I hoped it would simply be a way out, a portal that leads from ones phone to the real world,” she said. “You can’t use the app to deliver a message without looking up, looking around, seeing who is out there right around you.” What’s with the “hotspot” at the Walker? Well, the app only works when you’ve got a critical mass of users in the same area. The idea is that museum-goers use it while wandering among the art. When the app works, it takes “the casualness of text messaging and emailing people and almost turns it into a ritualized performance experience,” said Andrea Brown, associate director of digital marketing and e-commerce at Walker. There are other Somebody hotspots at museums in Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Mexico City. “I always go to museums with a sense of expectation, I dress up and assume that I will meet someone new and exciting,” July said. “Usually this doesn’t happen, but with Somebody your chances are much higher.” Brown mostly uses the app for little inside jokes among friends — stuff that’s generally unimportant if it never gets delivered. But it has produced some surprises, like the time two strangers stopped by her Minneapolis apartment building to deliver a message one of her friends had posted on the app. (The geolocation feature of the app had led them to the vicinity Continue Reading

Texas church gunman sent hostile text messages before attack

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas — The gunman who killed 26 people at a small-town Texas church had a history of domestic violence and sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law, a member of First Baptist, before the attack in which he fired at least 450 rounds at helpless worshippers, authorities said Monday. A day after the deadliest mass shooting in state history, the military acknowledged that it did not submit the shooter's criminal history to the FBI, as required by the Pentagon. If his past offenses had been properly shared, they would have prevented him from buying a gun. Investigators also revealed that sheriff's deputies had responded to a domestic violence call in 2014 at Devin Patrick Kelley's home involving a girlfriend who became his second wife. Later that year, he was formally ousted from the Air Force for a 2012 assault on his ex-wife in which he choked her and struck her son hard enough to fracture his skull. In the tiny town of Sutherland Springs, population 400, grieving townspeople were reeling from their losses. The dead ranged from 18 months to 77 years old and included multiple members of some families. "Our church was not comprised of members or parishioners. We were a very close family," said the pastor's wife Sherri Pomeroy, who, like her husband, was out of town when the attack happened. "Now most of our church family is gone." The couple's 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle Pomeroy, was among those killed.Kelley's mother-in-law sometimes attended services there, but the sheriff said she was not at church on Sunday. The massacre appeared to stem from a domestic situation and was not racially or religiously motivated, Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin said. He did not elaborate. Based on evidence at the scene, investigators believe Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he was chased by bystanders, one of whom was armed, and crashed his car. The 26-year-old shooter also used his cellphone Continue Reading

Ukrainian attorney calls for probe into text message claims that Paul Manafort ‘knowingly’ had people killed

A Ukrainian human rights lawyer has reportedly requested an investigation into what appear to be text message conversations between Paul Manafort's daughters suggesting their President Trump-connected father had a hand in the bloody mass killings carried out by Ukrainian security forces in 2014. Manafort was ousted from his role as Trump's campaign manager over the summer just a few days after it was revealed that he might have received over $12 million in illegal payments from disgraced Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Last month, an anonymous hacker website published roughly 300,000 text messages that were supposedly sent between Manafort's daughters, Andrea and Jessica, and the accusations in the apparent conversations are harsh. "You know he has killed people in Ukraine? Knowingly," Andrea Manafort apparently wrote to her sister in March 2015, referring to their father's alleged role in the February 2014 police shootings in Kiev that killed over 100 pro-Western protesters in the weeks leading up to Yanukovych's escape. Yanukovych, who's closely connected to President Vladimir Putin, has been hiding in Russia since he fled his home country after his ouster on Feb. 22, 2014. He remains wanted on charges of high treason. In another text to her sister, Andrea Manafort supposedly claimed that their father was behind the "strategy" that Yanukovych allegedly implemented in order to have his security forces kill dozens of protesters in Kiev's Independence Square. "Do you know whose strategy that was to cause that, to send those people out and get them slaughtered," Andrea Manafort supposedly wrote to her sister, referring to their father. "He has no moral or legal compass," she added. Eugenia Zakrevska, a human rights attorney representing the victims of the Kiev killings, submitted a motion on Thursday calling on prosecutors to look into whether the hacked texts are authentic. "I call on Mr. Manafort to Continue Reading

Hundreds mistake Washington, D.C. man’s phone number for Chipotle, mass text him asking for a free burrito

A Washington, D.C. lawyer has a case of mistaken identity — with Chipotle. That’s what happens when Chipotle tells everybody to text 888-222 for a free lunch, and his phone number was 888-2222. Henry Levine, a lawyer based out of the D.C. area, started getting texts asking for a free burrito at noon on Monday, just an hour after Chipotle’s giveaway began. “My wife walks in the door around 12:30 p.m. and my phone just started to jump off the table,” Levine told the Daily News. More than 24 hours after the offer ended, Levine said he’s still getting texts with the giveaway code, “RAINCHECK.” He’s amassed more than 300 texts since Monday, and it hasn’t stopped. Most messages end at just the promotional code, but others get aggressive. He’s received messages like “Where’s my burrito b---h?” and other slurs from Chipotle fans, he told the News. Other messages cared more about winning Levine’s heart than a free burrito. “Two women have sent me an offer to go out,” the 64-year-old said. The technology lawyer said he contacted Chipotle twice about the number mix-up. When they responded, the Mexican grill chain apologized and gave him four coupons for a free burrito after he received hundreds of unwanted text messages. Levine offered to send out the free burrito coupons manually to the several hundred senders in the D.C. area who mistakenly sent him the message. The company declined his generous proposal, he said. “I felt bad for the people who never got their burritos.” While Levine is the only 888-2222 number in his area code, Chipotle told him that there were others with the same number in different states affected by the digital mix-up. Levine’s advice to the unfortunate others was that the messages will start slowing down eventually. “The worst part of it for me was that my Continue Reading

Mom shares tragic text messages from son as Orlando mass shooting unfolded

The text from her son woke Mina Justice from her sleep. “Mommy I love you,” Eddie Justice typed as an unhinged gunman rained terror on an Orlando nightclub where he was partying. “In club they shooting.” Minutes later, he tapped out a message to her to call 911. “Trapp in bathroom,” he wrote. “He’s coming. I’m gonna die.” After a few more agonizing minutes, and a few more torturous texts, Justice’s phone went mute, and hours passed before the worried mother got the worst news imaginable. “It’s just, I got this feeling,” she said as she waited. “I got a bad feeling.” Mina Justice had waited in anguish for hours before her son’s name showed up on an official list of the dead, which, by early Monday, included the names of only 10 of the 50 people shot and killed. Those victims included Edward Sotomayor, an employee of a gay travel website and Luis Vielma, who worked at the Universal Orlando Resort theme park. “Imagine a future moment in your life where all your dreams come true and the greatest moment in your life, and u get to experience it with one person, who’s standing next to you?” Vielma poignantly wrote in his last Facebook post. “We went for my birthday two years ago, he got us the tickets,” family friend Suemy Orozco said of getting theme park tickets from Vielma. “He was just a nice person like that. He was like my older brother.” Others killed included Stanley Almodovar, Luis Ocasio-Capo, Juan Guerrero, Eric Ortiz-Rivera, Peter Gonzalez-Cruz, Darryl Roman Burt II, 29, and club bouncer Kimberly Morris, 37. The bouncer job was Morris’ second part-time job, and she started it less than a week ago. She asked her friend, Rasheeda Hicks to stop by Pulse, but Hicks said no. “I feel Continue Reading

Australians hit with mass death-threat text message

Thousands of Australians received a frightening message on their cell phones this weekend demanding they pay $5000 or face death, in what a local detective has called the worst scam he’s ever seen of its kind. The message, blasted to Australians all over the country on Sunday, threatened, “Sum1 paid me to kill you get spared, 48 hours to pay $5000. If you inform the police or anybody, death is promised...Email me now.” The text included a Yahoo email address which police said has since been disabled. “I’ve never seen this before,” Detective Superintendent Brian Hay of the Queensland Police Service said at a press conference on Monday, referring to the speed and widspread reach of the scam. “The crooks have an extraordinary level, or quantity, of Australian consumer data that they’re exploiting.” Police departments across Australians were deluged with calls, leading them to believe a significant number of people were affected. “Our phones have been going all day,” Hay said. “It’s extraordinary - absolutely extraordinary.” Police are “still making inquiries” as to who was responsible for the threats, but in the meantime Hay cautioned anyone who received the message to “delete it immediately” and told those who had responded and actually sent money to report that to the police “immediately.” Most importantly, he said, was to remain calm and understand it was simply a hoax. “Don’t panic - that’s what they prey upon,” he said. “That’s what they take great joy in, getting you to panic and respond.” New South Wales Police via Facebook Police are “still making inquiries” as to who was responsible for the threats, but in the meantime Superintendent Brian Hay cautioned anyone who received the message to “delete it immediately” and told those who had responded Continue Reading

Bus-ted: Chicagoans can track mass transit by web and cell, but New Yorkers can’t

Stumbled upon in the iPhone app store yesterday: Buster, a cool little program that, for 99 measly cents, will let you track via GPS the exact location and progress of your city bus, in real time, on your phone.If you live in Chicago, that is.And there, you don't even need to spend a penny. Log onto the Chicago Transit Authority's Bus Tracker website, and you can find your bus on a map. Its little icon moves as the bus moves.Or you can track your bus via text message. Easy and free.And - did we mention? - it's only in Chicago. New York, how does it feel to be the second city?Yes, your MTA says a similar innovation is on its way here.When, exactly?Is there an app to tell us that? Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Notify NYC city emergency alerts via phone, e-mail, text message now available citywide

In case of emergency - you'll be notified.Notify NYC, the city program that sends out emergency e-mails, phone calls and text messages, goes citywide Thursday. "We want people to be aware of what's happening in their city," said Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Bruno. The alert system began as a pilot program in December 2007 in lower Manhattan, the Rockaways, northeast Bronx and southwest Staten Island. During the program, the city sent 66 notifications or alerts. "Generally, it's tough to get information from agencies about what's going on in your district," said Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14, which represents the Rockaways. "This is certainly one way of actually getting accurate information in real time." The program offers warnings about emergencies, such as Amber Alerts, natural disasters or building collapses. It also notifies subscribers about school closings, extended mass transit disruptions and suspensions of alternate-side parking. Anyone with a computer can sign up at Notifications also will be posted on, and the information will be available through 911 and 311. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Did AT&T power texting win ‘American Idol’ for Kris Allen and rob Adam Lambert?

Adam Lambert fans have dubbed it "the AT&T scandal." Supporters of the raven-haired glam rocker are outraged over reports that AT&T – one of "American Idol's" biggest corporate sponsors – may have skewed the votes in winner Kris Allen's favor by distributing mobile phones for free text-messaging to the Arkansas crooner's fan groups and offering lessons in casting mass votes. AT&T is the only mobile network fans can use to cast text votes for contestants on the Fox show. According to a report in the New York Times, the phone company provided free text-messaging services at two fan parties in Arkansas for Allen supporters after last week's final sing-off, but offered no such services for Lambert fans. AT&T defended its presence at Allen fan events by say the company was there by invitation. "In Arkansas, we were invited to attend the local watch parties organized by the community. A few local employees brought a small number of demo phones with them and provided texting tutorials to those who were interested," said a company spokesperson via a statement. It also said that in the future, the company will ensure employees understand that its sponsorship "celebrates the competition, not individual contestants." In a separate statement, Fox and the show's producers said they are certain the results are "fair, accurate and verified" and that the integrity of the voting process was protected against unfair influence. After news of the texting parties first circulated, Lambert fans joined forces online, posting messages on "Idol" fan forums with complaints that the voting was unfair and skewed the tally in Allen's favor. They don't blame Allen - most fan wrath was directed at the show's producers. "I don't think AI will do anything about it," writes hs309. "If they did, it would mean they admit that their voting system is flawed... Everyone will remember season 8 as the season where adam got robbed." Commenter idc Continue Reading

BABE BLITZING. The guy who sent that late-night text may be casting a wide net. Beware the booty grazer.

It's 3 a. m. and you have a text message. "Hey cutie. U out? " It could be from a current boyfriend, an ex, a friend or a frequent booty caller, and you're flattered. But don't think you're the only one who just got that message. You may have just been booty grazed. Text-message technology has given way to a whole new way of booty calling - it's booty grazing. In a city where monogamy is often the exception among daters, booty grazing is the new security blanket for single men. By sending out the same text message to several hookup possibilities, a guy is assuring himself some party-time later in the evening. "It's a law of averages. You're raising your odds. It is 3 in the morning," explains Steve, a 25-year-old banker. "Some of these girls are going to be in bed, some might be with other guys. By sending a message to, say, five different girls, you are guaranteeing a response. " Some men admit they are sending out text messages to as many as 10 women between 2 a. m. and last call. Of course, booty grazing isn't always a perfect system. "Say you get a response from one girl and she's like your third choice and then you end up in a can and your first choice calls," says Steve, with real fear in his voice. "Now you know you're missing out on something better and your third-choice girl is mad you're getting phone calls at 4 a. m. " But, still, the mass text message is much better than making a bunch of telephone calls in the wee hours of the morn. "With the text, you aren't playing games and beating around the bush," says Doug, a 25-year-old architect. "Every phone call I've ever made late at night, I've struck out. With the texts, I'm at about 80%. " Of course, you're putting on your bad idea jeans when you make any decision at 4 a. m. Brian, a 26-year-old consultant, once started booty grazing and fell asleep, leaving a very angry woman knocking on his door at dawn. "I found out the next morning after four missed Continue Reading