14.4 Kbps modem makes excuses for everything

If your boss is like [Michael Scott] you probably find yourself in constant need of plausible reasons for your action or inaction. Now you won’t have to waste away the workday coming up with those ideas yourself because this little box will always provide you with an excuse. It’s actually a 14.4 Kbps modem, which brings back memories of the early ISP days when you’ve find banks of these in the corner to service incoming calls. [Alex] altered the circuit board to map out an ICSP port for the PIC 16F690 that controls the system. Just use your key to unlock the Emergency Excuse Generator and press the button to spit out a doozy. The 8,000 word memory on the microprocessor stores all of the excuses which can be combined a number of different ways based on how the rules files is built. This rule file is by far the most interesting part of the build and worth looking over.

We think this would be a nice addition to the other office electronics you built.

[via Dangerous Prototypes]


  1. Karl says:

    Anyone besides me remember Madlibs?

  2. florinzgtrst says:

    “Good day mister boss person! I’m sorry I didn’t finish the review; I left the toaster on the briefcase on my way to get a slushie and it caught on fire, heating the battery and making it explode, thus melting my laptop HDD – making me unable to… uhm… so… yeah… you know… “

  3. 0.zer0 says:

    Madlibs! ^.^d

  4. rbjacobs says:

    Simon would approve.

  5. Rob says:


    I made a PC app for that back in the Win95 days. It had a central DB on the office server to store user-contributed excuses, some of which were really very good, like: “That’s because Chris designed that module!” Of course, in my day, you had to create the entire excuse. The lexical-randomizer here (or whatever you call it) is a really nice touch, and major labor-saver. An important thing in generating excuses, for obvious reasons.

  6. Shadyman says:

    The BOFH would be proud.

  7. erv says:

    Excellent ! Reminds me my time in the military service where I worked as a programmer. I wrote then a rule based smalltalk / excuse generator.
    Here’s my vocal version, with the smartass box


    which can express anything you record as audio files. Pun, excuses, silly thruth, shake & get !

    congrats for your project !

  8. Ekaj says:

    14.4Kbps? Meh. I’ve been dialing up since the 1200 baud units were released, I still have my first 2400 baud modem in my closet, and a 1200 baud unit that you had to set the phone receiver on to use it =)

    I still remember the early 90’s when I started using the gopher protocol to read the news… It was the coolest thing ever.

  9. Jorge says:

    Oh believe me, everyone is just skipping over the article now to read your comment again and again. We just can’t believe how damn cool you are because you were alive back in the 90’s and you did stuff. Its insane to think that was YOU who was doing all that. Wow you’re just so cool.

    Awesome hack tho.

  10. pff says:

    Jorge: that was actually funny A+

    Don’t get me wrong guys, i love key switches, but the last thing i would want to be doing when i need an emergency excuse is searching for a key.

  11. Sigg3 says:

    Nice re-use of old modem box! I hadn’t thought of that, but I have several of them lying around here somewhere.. could make for some nice project finishing touches!

  12. Ekaj says:

    Did someone strike a vein, buddy? Chill out! Time for some anger management classes, pal. Get to it.

  13. hintss says:

    I have a shell script that connects to the BOFH excuse server.

    towel.blinkenlights.nl port 666

  14. Lots of old gopher content can be accessed here via a browser btw : http://www.thegopherarchive.com/ The Gopher Archive search engine

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