During lunch, the topic of American Idol came up. I asked if anyone heard of any stories where someone was caught using custom hardware/software to increase the number of phone votes. Tonight, I stumbled on to a article discussing the same thing.
Now there are reports that hackers are messing with the system. They're using a combination of auto-dialing hardware and software that ranges from homegrown applications to souped-up old BBS dial-up software like Procomm to dial in and vote in record numbers for perhaps the worst performers in the group. The software apparently helps them overcome whatever technological safeguards the show has in place to prevent people from voting more than once. Some believe they are also using hardware like the automatic phone dialer PowerDialer ($248) to beat busy signals. It can dial the same number up to 25 times per minute. It's just a TV show, I know, but the competition matters to these young talents, and this chicanery has apparently resulted in some less-than-stellar singers sticking around for way too long.