Rush Limbaugh’s iPhone 4S has been hacked. Maybe it’s Obama, maybe it’s those pesky Anonymous guys, or even that teenager down the street who just wants the lulz, but one thing for certain is that Rush Limbaugh, one of America’s most polarizing political figures, had some crazy stuff happen to him while using Siri on his drive to work this week, and he thinks the main culprit is Obama’s minions trying to give him the spooks.
I wish we were creative enough to make this up, but it’s a “true” story…. if by true, you mean that Rush Limbaugh actually said something this wacky. On his show earlier this week Rush told his listeners how he was using Siri on his way to work, per usual, when he started getting some crazy replies from Apple’s virtual assistant, including this winner: “Obama’s minions are taking over and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
The entire story is pretty hilarious well worth the read, and we got the full transcript after the break.
Today after my hotspot established its connection with the iPhone and I got Wi-Fi going and everything’s hunky-dory. I’m maybe a quarter of a mile from home on the way in to work, I attempt dictation, and nothing happens. I hit the microphone button and I get the three beeps and no connection. It’s not working. So I say, “Ah, damn it, the system’s down. Something’s wrong with the servers,” but I keep trying. The third attempt… I was trying to respond to some stuff Kathryn had sent me. She needed an answer on some stuff. So I said whatever it was my answer was the third time, and what came back to me? This is what you’re not gonna believe. What showed up on my iPhone was “Obama’s minions are taking over and there’s nothing you can do about it,” and I hadn’t said anything like that!
The audio on the radio did not un-mute. The audio on the radio never came back. The whole system was discombobulated. So I switched from satellite to AM just to see if there was something wrong with the satellite signal, and AM came in fine. So I tried it again. I deleted that. I did not save that. I thought, “Man, something’s really not right.” So I responded to Kathryn again. I don’t even remember what it was saying. I was answering questions about some stuff we’ve got going on this weekend. I said it again, the same thing I’d said the first time.
What came back to me the second time was totally unrelated to anything I had said. It was talking about wind power and Obama and, “You don’t have a chance.” I am not making this up. And I said to myself, “You know, somebody’s hacked Apple’s servers. I’m gonna get in there.” I said, “I can’t wait to get to work and fire up some of these Apple blogs because I’ll bet you this has been going on all morning and I’ll betcha it’s a big story that Apple’s servers have been hacked.” So I tried it again. The third thing which came back had nothing to do with politics.
It had nothing to do with Obama, but it was not anything close to what I had said. Then I started doing, “Testing one, two, three,” and I would get back four sentences that did not have “testing” or “one, two, three” in them. So, as I say, I didn’t save any of these. I wasn’t thinking. I was so curious. I didn’t send them. It didn’t make any sense. If I would have sent these things to Kathryn, she would have thought I’m losing my mind even more than I already have. (interruption) Wait, I’m not through with the story! So I get here. This happens two more times. I get here, the first thing I do when I get into the studio on our network system is start dictating, and it’s flawless. It’s perfect.
It was only in my car that this happened. It was only with my Verizon LTE hotspot and my Bluetooth. I got in here and I used our Wi-Fi network, and dictation worked perfectly. It’s been working perfectly all morning. It was only in the car. I got so busy, I didn’t have a chance to go back out to the car and try it again. I’ll try it later when I leave. So I sent this story. I typed this story I just told you and I sent it to a bunch of computer people. I said, “What could possibly explain this?” And the answers I got back ranged from, “You’ve been hacked,” to, “Somebody got into your car,” to, “Somebody’s tampered with the Bluetooth module.”
It was, “Somebody’s done something. They’re sending you a message that they can do it,” or, “Your Bluetooth module is so totally defective that you need a new one,” or, “There’s something wrong with the LTE hotspot.” There was no answer that was satisfactory. This has never happened. But that first message that came back was: “Obama’s minions are taking over.” As I say, I can’t prove this, because I didn’t keep the transcriptions. I deleted them. I don’t even know if I actually deleted them. I just didn’t send them. (They are not on the phone. I went and looked.) So when I finish here this afternoon and am on the way out, I’m gonna try this again.
I haven’t changed any circumstances. I’m not charging the hotspot. I’m not gonna switch out the Bluetooth unit. I’m not gonna change. What I might do turn is off the hotspot if it happens again or just use the AT&T 4G and see if it happens that way. But to understand this again: When you use dictation on your iPhone or iPad, the phone is not doing anything. What you get is transmitted to Apple’s servers and then there’s software on those servers made by Nuance, which does the voice translation to text. And that gets sent back to your phone, in whatever application you’re using: E-mail, message. Whatever has a keyboard, you can use dictation. So what do you think of that, Snerdley? Who could possibly explain this?
Could it be that somebody at Apple can ID my phone, knows when I’m voice transcribing and can send something back? Could that possibly be? Who knows? I have no idea. I am not a power user. In the sense… I mean, I’m probably a consumer power user, but I’m not a power user in terms of people that can use a terminal, write code, and all that kind of stuff. I haven’t gotten into it that much. I don’t have any other theories, but I sent this off to two people who might, and none of them could believe it but they then started trying to explain it to me what various things could exist to explain this. But it was the first two that came back that specifically mentioned Obama.
So there’s that. (interruption) The Martins didn’t hack anybody! Snerdley just asked me… That grandfather and grandmother couple, they were driving around in I think either Tampa or Jacksonville somewhere. And like everybody, they had a cell phone radio in their Cadillac. They were able to monitor cell phone calls. Like a police scanner, theirs monitored cell signals and frequencies, and they overheard Newt having a conversation with John Boehner back in the nineties. And this grand-couple, big Democrat activists, thought that they were in on history. And they recorded it, too! They had a recorder in their car along with the cell phone radio in their car, and they recorded it. And they sent it to the New York Times, who published it. But they didn’t hack anything.
They just had a radio that was able to monitor those frequencies. Well, I know that was years ago. It was like 20 years ago when that happened, and they’ve upgraded. But the first thing I thought of was somebody hacked Apple’s servers. Because it’s impossible for dictate — for example, if you have Dragon dictate on your iPhone or your iPad, the hardware, software inside the phone is not doing the voice-to-text translation. That’s happening off-site via servers and comes back to your phone via the network. ID’d by phone number, e-mail address, with the iMessage program you can set up five different e-mail addresses that people can reach you on. But in this case it would be IP, because this is Wi-Fi. This could be a combination phone number and IP address. Who knows. As I say, I’m not that much of a power user to be able to explain that, but this didn’t happen yesterday when I parked the car in the garage. The only thing that happened to the car yesterday was it got washed, at home.
Now, I was in the library most of the night working. Somebody coulda come in, got the car, drove it somewhere, I would never know. The garage is about a half mile from my library. Just kidding. But I didn’t check the security camera, so I don’t know if anything happened to the car. I don’t know if it left the garage and came back, I don’t know. I have no clue. And of course, if I start asking, I know the answer I’m going to get. No, no, didn’t touch it. But the most common suggestion I got from the people I sent it to was, “You’ve got a Bluetooth problem here. There’s something wrong with Bluetooth.” That may be, but for Obama and his minions to end up in a translated voice-to-text message when I didn’t say Obama, I didn’t say minions, I didn’t say anything about any of that, the dictation’s never been that far off. I don’t take super-secret phone calls. That’s the point. This wasn’t super-secret. It was just to Kathryn. It happens all the time.
If it happens this afternoon I’m gonna keep whatever it throws back at me. I won’t be able to prove what I say, you know, that’s lost to the ether, but I will be able to show whatever it thinks I said in terms of the translation that comes back.
What do you think? Was there a crazy glitch that only affected Mr. Rush? Or is Obama really plotting Limbaugh’s downfall by invade his iPhone? Or is there an actual, you know, sane explanation of what happened here? Let us know what you think in the comments.