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With the fingerprint identification technology on the iphone to discourage pranks, I'm surprised there isn't a good mayday app yet. I got the TowBoatUS app, thinking that would be a neat idea to keep from having to send/receive garbled messages, but that doesn't actually do much.
 

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Facebook?

Oh for F's sake! :mad:

Did he post a photo with a caption: If only 10% of you repost this you will be Blessed with eternal good Luck....

Or Please repost for especially if you know someone in the Coast Guard.


Maybe Twitter will be next.... Mayday in 140 characters....

Instagram... Send a naked photo in distress?

SnapChat ... A Mayday that lasts for 8 seconds....
 
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"to discourage pranks" Bear in mind, there are no "cell phones" there are only computer-equipped radios. And every call they make these days, can be traced back through the entire route, even if they are forging callerID. (Which is endemic these days, apparently there's even a favorite mythological area code 523 being used.)

So locked phone or not, a prank call to the USCG should be easily traced back to the phone.

Of course, you can always put the distress numbers on speed dial, and there actually are apps that will grab your GPS coordinated and append them to any email you send out. A friend of mine uses one of them when he's traveling.

But this reminds me of a phone call that was made back when Motorola "brick" phones and dollar a minute calls were state of the art. Guy on a big powerboat had a problem and went in the water, phoned his wife to say "Honey I'll be late for dinner". And then he called the Coast Guard.

Phone got wet, but not too wet to call Mom, who just happened to be looking at his FB page...hmmm....queerer than a three dollar bill, that one is.
 

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"to discourage pranks" Bear in mind, there are no "cell phones" there are only computer-equipped radios. And every call they make these days, can be traced back through the entire route, even if they are forging callerID. (Which is endemic these days, apparently there's even a favorite mythological area code 523 being used.)

So locked phone or not, a prank call to the USCG should be easily traced back to the phone........
I would think a mayday app would not make a phone call, but rather send an email or text with coordinates and an MMSI, like an epirb, etc. In my experience, these go through from longer distances than phone calls.

The SAR would presumably begin with phone calls to your registered contacts, marina, etc, just like the others.

The prank I was thinking of may not be the actual owner of the phone, but some kid pulling a prank on another, by using their phone. Therefore, requiring a fingerprint identification, which is easy on the iphone, would keep things honest. I think.

The more I think about it, the more I think this should exist. The vast majority of boaters are inland, coastal or waterway and well within cell range. Other than 911, you may have no idea who to call locally, if you got in trouble. An app could know who to notify, based on the gps coordinates. Certainly not as reliable as an eprib and that liability may be why this doesn't exist. However, not many boats have any SAR notification tech on them. On a lake we frequent, most boats don't even have a radio.
 

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apparently there's even a favorite mythological area code 523 being used.
The country code for Mexico is 52. Calls from the west coast like +52-31-... and +52-33-... can appear on caller ID as area code 523.

I would think a mayday app would not make a phone call, but rather send an email or text with coordinates and an MMSI, like an epirb, etc.
TowBoat/US has an app that sends out of band information to the dispatch center while making a call. When TowBoat/US answers they know who and where you are.

I expect there are other apps that perform similarly.
 

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surprised that it wasn't able to make a call, but could manage to post online just fine must've borked the speaker/microphone. Which makes me wonder, why post to FB and wait for someone to do something, instead of a simple text to someone. Seems less margin for error that way. He got lucky that time. Hope he goes smarter next trip.
 

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Auspicious-
I didn't want to get into the pseudo-Mexico thing. But when I was tracking down a "Name not found" from 523-land, I came across pages discussing that, and the clever way 523 was being used intentionally, by folks who have been prosecuted for using it, partly because other folks might mistake it for Mexico.
Bottom line, CallerID is no longer a means of verifying anything, although it can be used as a "gatekeeper" (on smarter phone systems) to route incoming calls, i.e. allow or deny them at 2AM based on who they are.

Minne-
"The more I think about it, the more I think this should exist." Well, just whip off the app!
Wassamatta, you no habla Java or iOS? Not to worry, there are firms that will whip off any app you please, and they take half (ish) the profits as payment for doing so. Easy to commission apps these days.

My latest phone tells me there are two emergency numbers hard coded into it. 911, and 112. Huh? 112 in the US? Yeah, apparently it is used elsewhere so they leave it in the phone's programming, and the US carriers forward it to 911 with a warning that may cause delays. Go figure.

I suppose a one-shot direct "SMS to SAR with GPS position" would be faster than trying to call 911 and then fire up the GPS app.

[later]
Ooops, too late. "Mayday Emergency Lite" from the Play store claims to do all that.
 

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I find data goes through when offshore, much easier than a voice call. I use the iphone/ipad for weather and nav info offshore all the time, but can't call to make a dinner reservation until closer in.
That's true, though I would imagine texts would be the least resource-dependant. But then again, he WAS 18, and I'm sure his first thought for most any situation is "Must Facebook!".
 

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Text messages (true SMS messages) used to use the cellular systems' command channels so they were taking advantage of the most robust core of the system.

But with the volume of data today, and the fact that "everything is data" now, including all the voice calling, I think the text messaging is going out over the regular data channels and not the command channels. That's the kind of question you can ask a celco but then they will either tell you "There there dear, don't worry your silly head, ignore the man behind the curtain" or they'll get all gruff and say "And who wants to know?!"

The answer might be somewhere on the web. But I know some of the original SMS "gateways" have been shut down.

If you fell overboard...wouldn't your first priority being to tell everyone you know for all posterity that, ah, "Dude, I fell off a boat! " ??

Paging Mr. Darwin, paging Mr. Charles Darwin....
 

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In my area at least, they still have it set up so that standard SMS goes over the voice network, any MMS (Multimedia) goes over data. If I drop data connection for any reason, I can still get regular texts, but again, that might just be my area, as I'm sure there are plenty of other regions where the carriers are switching to that completely (I'm in upstate NY on Verizon).

How is there not an Instagram selfie of him on his capsized dinghy hull?!
 

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I'm not sure there is a "voice" network anymore. Verizon, like every other major carrier, has abandoned analog cell phones in favor or pure digital. So the voice calls are just one more digital data stream. Email, voice, media downloads, all the same, all data, all digital.

If you ask about SMS, you'll probably be answered about sending text messages and how many messages do you want to buy. That's not SMS any more, so it can be routed over the command channels or the main data stream, either way. All the apps to create and send it are "texting" apps, most of the reps don't even know what SMS was so they just use the words interchangeably.
 

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I'm just referring to it as the voice network, as I can still make and receive calls when I am unable to pick up data for some reason. It does stand to reason that it is coming over the same stream (since I can't think of anywhere I've been where I don't at least get SOMETHING), but I know that if I'm not getting data connection, I can still call and send a traditional, text-only message. Probably different channels or whatever within the signal, but either way. I just do hope it at least serves notice to even a couple other people in the importance of having a reliable solution when your life is potentially at stake, and redundancy if possible. Phones are great - until they don't work. Too many people put all their eggs in one cellular basket these days.
 

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Charlz-
I did a little cursory peeking on the web, and found one explicit reference that "voice" and "data" on digital networks do in fact use the same network but the two services are provisioned separately.
Provisioning basically refers to billing and programming. It tells the cellular system "when you see this phone, this is what and how and where you may respond to it". So if your phone is provisioned for "unlimited data, but throttled down from 4G to 2G after the first gigabyte" the cellular system may literally refuse to connect you to a 4G tower after you've hit your data cap, because the 2G data is handled on a totally different frequency and hardware. Similarly, provisioning could tell other carriers "he can't roam here" or "he only has voice roaming here" and any of that could cause a difference in the way your voice and data calls are handled.

Mark-
I know that on my ancient (may it rest in peace) StarTac, I had true SMS messaging that came and went for free on the command channel. These days...last time I tried to get SMS gateway addresses and billing rates from several carriers, mostly I heard about txt msg instead. And from the gateway addresses and billing procedures, I am led to believe that text messaging all goes as email, over the same conventional systems, and not the command channels anymore. I don't know for certain and would love to find out.
Despite all the conventional advice about landlines, cell phones, text messages in disasters...I can say "No." During TS Sandy a group I worked with was sadly able to confirm that sometimes text messaging failed, and failed to deliver for 48 hours or longer, when cellular voice calls went right through. VOIP, landline, cell, text...Nothing worked particularly better than any other, and each worked about 1/3 of the time.
There's also an advantage to using a cell phone in the 911 or 611 voice call modes: If either of those numbers is dialed, the phone immediately goes to full power which gives it the best chance of capturing a connection to a tower.
AFAIK no text, data, or SMS call does that, although they should keep trying the call at higher power until they do reach full power. In theory.

Which would also be an interesting enhancement for a "Mayday" app, if it could force the phone into full power mode for a mayday transmission regardless of type.
 

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SMS runs over the control channels. It has nothing to do with data. If you are patient it will eventually get through in very marginal signal conditions.
All I know, is that when I've had issues in the past, it was traced to that. When I worked as an Authorized Verizon dealer (2 years ago), if we blocked data on a line, it would block multimedia messages completely. Regular text worked. And if I turn off the data connection on my G2, I can send a regular text just fine. If I send a picture, it re-enables the data connection for the duration of sending and receiving. I'm not saying that they might not all run on the same paths and whatnot, just giving my experiences.

I know a lot is changing these days, and with VoLTE coming and all that.. I just know that in areas of low signal, I can usually get a text in and out more reliably than a phone call at times. And I know that other data-services such as browsing or streaming, or anything, are sitting there spinning their wheels (which I would expect when in a weak area - probably trying to push at less than dial-up at that kind of signal strength), but again, a text message will still go or come back. Might take it a few seconds longer to send, but usually will go.

That's the reason I was surprised that he would've gone through the paces of posting to FB instead of a text message to someone. Not so much that it would've been a signal issue, really, but just that I would've thought a text would've been faster overall than going onto FB and posting...though I'm sure that was pretty quick for him to do anyway.

Anyway, I've rambled enough. Kinda got sidetracked from the thread as it was. Just hope they dinghy takes a VHF in the next dinghy :)
 

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All I know, is that when I've had issues in the past, it was traced to that.
Right. The issue is that nothing has changed. SMS is a short (160 char?) text message. It always goes over the control channel or it isn't an SMS. An MMS message has an SMS header but the picture or video goes over the traffic (voice/data) channel.

That's the reason I was surprised that he would've gone through the paces of posting to FB instead of a text message to someone.
Doesn't make sense to me either. *grin*
 
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