Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Java and 64-bit Linux

For anyone considering running something on top of 64-bit Ubuntu (esp. OpenVPN-ALS), be aware that Java still has a few bugs in it, when run on 64-bit. Firefox, when pointed at a OpenVPN-ALS site, is not able to start up the web forwarded windows. Instead, it just times out and then complains about not being able to synch. The apps on the server end run fine, as do the local apps in a 32-bit browser.

I get around this by running a 32-bit version of Ubuntu in a VM. It's still a bit cranky, but it works.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A whole lot of virtual

Apologies for the delay in posting. The last four weeks have been a bear, what with the car accident (see previous post), the dryer quiting, the back of the house losing power, receiving a DMCA warning, finishing the semester, and the danged holidays. (I've been busy! Still don't have my car back...)

On top of all that, I've been experimenting with a slew of virtual technologies, including Sun Containers, Xen, KVM, Virtualbox, VMware Workstation, VMware Server, and VMWare ESXi, on either Solaris or Ubuntu platforms. Quick notes (in no particular order):

  • Xen does not play nicely on 64-bit Ubuntu. It's time for the packager to spend some additional time with the code (I think the current packages were meant for 8.04).
  • Solaris Containers take a bit of research and trial/error to get running, but once it's up, it's up. I need to figure out how to do the remote graphical login next.
  • On Linux, the two most successful installs were (believe it or not) Virtualbox and KVM. Workstation needed a couple compile-time tweaks and Server failed in the middle of install (though I kept it because the disk manager came in handy when converting the DimDim appliance to KVM).
  • I played with converting formats between the various software packages and was able to get DimDim running under KVM.
  • The most powerful of the bunch is ESXi. Unfortunately, you just can't dual boot the thing. I came up with a cheesy way to work around this by reconfiguring the boot order in BIOS. It runs quite nicely on my little AMD Dual Core. Needs a Linux version of the VIC, though.
  • KVM needs a bit of code to handle shutdowns (the power off piece).
  • There's a whole lot of discussion about Solaris Containers on Google but very few pointers to actual howtos. (Yeah, I know. I need to write down how I set it up.)
  • (On my equipment) None of them play nicely with each other. I bought my computer when hardware hypervisors were just coming out so my half-arsed implementation of a BIOS causes enough problems that I cannot run the various programs, nested or side-by-side.

There, my techie catharsis should be complete. I'll start writing up notes on all of this, this coming weekend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My poor cheesecake

The Cheesecake Factory product shown below was in the passenger side of my car this evening. You may notice a flat side in the whipped cream along the left. This was caused by my sudden deceleration to keep from hitting someone who had pulled into traffic and stopped (no collision).

You may also notice that the entire topping has slid a bit to the upper right. This was caused by the sudden acceleration from someone else's vehicle trying to occupy my trunk space (he almost missed me).

Sadly, the diagnosis for the cheesecake isn't good (dislocated topping). We'll have to its suffering and send it to where all good cheesecakes go (hint: yum!). Happy Birthday, Farah!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oh just shut up!

Anyone know how to get Openfire to stop saying "This is not an anonymous room" every 6 minutes? I'm using jirc to bridge Openfire to IRC and the usefulness is degraded by that repeating message.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


It's interesting to note that Spark-Openfire-(jabber)-Bitlbee-XChat works nicely in both directions.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

ESXi and Virtualbox II

Note to self, for future reference: ESXi 3.5 does not install on Virtualbox on my equipment. [shaking fists at sky] Damn you Count!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

ESXi and Virtualbox

Note to self, for future reference: ESXi 3.5 does not install on Virtualbox.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

TBs and Identica verb for Ubiquity

After a bit of space juggling, the in-house system has been upgraded and put back online with a bit over 1TB of storage. Before any of you in the VPN gets "that look", 500GB of that is for VM storage. Given the software we're working with in class, we're going to need every bit of that.

While rooting around in my older drives, I came across some notes about Ubiquity, which I had installed on the old system. It caused me to check on the verbs for Identica (now SafeNet). Luckily, Jose Mora (jmora on SafeNet) had been working on an update. I was able to grab his working code (it just posts for now) and test it out. Thanks jmora!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


I'm considering converting the wiki from MediaWiki to PMWiki. The main reason for doing this is ease of backup. Also, there's just too danged many features on Mediawiki that I'm not using. I'm imagining that by using a flat-file system, it'd be much more portable. Thoughts?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Apologies for being offline this past weekend. Took my wife to VIR in Alton, VA (about a 4 hour drive). Was able to get her into the passenger seat of a high-end Beemer. Watched her orbit the track at about 180 mph. She says she forgot to breathe.
I took a much saner approach (not by much) and rode in the pace car. Learned that it's possible to return from a lap with more rubber on the tires than when you left. Also learned that, contrary to what it looks like on TV, the pace cars aren't really travelling all that slow (yikes!).
Also got to play with my camera and took a couple hundred pictures. Most of them were crap (I'm still a rank amateur) but some turned out nice. Spent part of yesterday playing with Hugin, stitching together a couple panoramic pics. Just by looking at them, I want to go back and take them from much better vantage points. Maybe next year? Wife says she definitely wants to do this again.
In any case, I'll get back to working on Asterisk code and playing with MythTV in the next few days.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I busted my hump in the month of September. Seriously, I worked very hard during that month! So much so that I never want to repeat it again. Maybe I'll try to put a few things off to only two months before a deadline vice all in the same month?

In any case, a couple things are coming up to counter the affects of last month. For the personal side, I'm celebrating my birthday by taking my wife to VIR and putting her in one of the pace cars (thanks Aaron!). (She's the race fan.) Mebbe in the next year or so I can swing an autograph with Tony S. for her (I grew up near Watkins Glen and went to school with one of the Bodine brothers).

On the technology side (to those in the VPN), thanks to my finally settling on a document management system (Alfresco) and digging in, you may notice that there's no storage space left on the server. To counter this, I'm laying in an extra TB of drive space: 500 GB this weekend, another the next. In short, the main server will be offline for at least part of Sunday, if not also Monday, and then again next weekend. As always, services will come back online piecemeal as I, or volunteers (hint!), reinstall them.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Getting things done

For those easily distracted, and running Ubuntu, I have an offering for un-distracting yourself: a clock that pops up on your screen every fifteen minutes. Basically, I've mixed the gnome-osd-client, date, and cron utilities to do this. As usual, notes are in the wiki.

Monday, September 14, 2009

MythTV and TV-out

Finally picked up a video card with TV-out. This one was about $30 in the clearance bin in a store in northern Virginia. The main improvement is that I can now watch videos without having to transcode them (for some reason, Hak5 always lost sync in this process).

Annoyances still include: getting MythTV to automatically start its front-end in the second screen, incomplete remote control mapping, and having to clean up the wiring "plant" hidden behind my desk. (Note: this last has priority due to the minimum acceptable spouse acceptance factor (MASAF).)

Still to do includes testing the OSD (Asterisk Caller ID and alert) functions and the phone interface. Wiki notes to follow.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Repair note to self

A recent update to a number of packages broke the festival wrapper for swift. Festival also ceased to work. A quick Google search brought up this fix from navaburo, who'd gotten it from the now non-existant Gentoo Howto for speechd. Just in case the Ubuntu forum post goes away, the repair amounts to executing the following:

printf ";use ALSA\n(Parameter.set 'Audio_Method 'Audio_Command)\n(Parameter.set 'Audio_Command \"aplay -q -c 1 -t raw -f s16 -r \$SR \$FILE\")\n" > .festivalrc

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


A couple months back, Andy suggested that I post my code for the configurable conference room management software on Google Code. Taking up his suggestion, I've started a page called "CRTK" (short for Conference Room ToolKit). It'll take a couple weekends to get things pushed over (very busy schedule this month!).

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tweaking mythtvosd

I've started a wiki page for tweaking MythTV's on-screen display (mythtvosd) utility.

KnowledgeTree/Alfresco revisited

With apologies for the following, long ramble...

Mike Hatfield (from Alfresco) commented on my post about comparing KnowledgeTree and Alfresco. To be fair, I'd like to revise part of it here. Please keep in mind that I'm a total amateur with Document Management Systems (DMSs) and the CMIS protocol. Much of my previous post was based on first impression.

Defining my needs. I need a document management system to manage (store) and search other people's documents, regardless of their format (doc, pdf, etc.). Both KnowledgeTree and Alfresco do this nicely, both having more or less the same open source tools sets in their backend. These include:

  • OpenOffice for file conversion
  • Lucene for indexing/searching
  • MySQL for storage of metadata

Both tools are designed for collaboration and development of documents. I need neither of these features. The feature set that I want/need is only a minuscule part of what either tool provides (the word "overkill" might be used here). However because both Alfresco and KnowledgeTree meet my requirements so well, I'm still unable to decide which tool better fits my needs.

Document descriptions. Alfresco has this feature built-in. It shows up in search results. A document description can be added to KnowledgeTree's metadata via "Document Fieldsets" under "Document Metadata and Workflow Configuration". I haven't yet figured out how to get this description to show up as part of the search results, like it does in Alfresco.

File storage. Neither tool stores the file using the original filename. This practice has both its pros and cons. The big advantage is that filename collisions (a very bad condition for DMS tools) is avoided. A minor shortcoming (if it is that) is that you have to always access the file via your tool of choice (e.g., KnowledgeTree or Alfresco).

User interface. I'd confused Mike Hatfield by stating "demo built into installed software". This statement was based on my first impressions of Alfresco's interface. The tabs "My Alfresco", "Company Home", "My Home", and "Guest Home", along with the "Demonstration" and "Feature Tour" links, lend to the impression that the front end is intended more for a demo presentation than a working interface.

Keeping in mind that Alfresco and KnowledgeTree both have much more capability than what I needed (i.e., just document storage/search), it struck me that I'd need to put a bit of extra work on Alfresco's web interface.

After using the tool for a bit, this impression was erroneous. It's just that the interface takes a little time before it becomes "comfortable".

Backups. Alfresco is written in Java. Alfresco strikes me as being easier to back up because, other than the requisite external tools (OpenOffice, dot, etc.), you only have to copy the MySQL database and the folder in which Alfresco is stored. In short, the web server is incorporated into Alfresco. It "plays well" (ignores/doesn't conflict) with any other Apache install.

KnowledgeTree is written in PHP and relies upon an Apache instance, either upon your existing Apache install or installing one if you lack it. It takes a bit of work to wedge KnowledgeTree into a separate instance of Apache (though you really don't need to). The end result is backing up KnowledgeTree becomes part of your process of backing up your web server, while backing up Alfresco means copying a folder (both require backing up MySQL).

Unneeded features. By this, I mean features that I don't need, not unneeded features in the tool. Both tools have many more features (workflow, collaboration, etc.) than what I need. It's just that, for what I do need, both tools work so wonderfully well.

Problem (if you can view it as such): Mashups of toolsets, with Alfresco or KnowledgeTree, are possible via the CMIS protocol. This means that you can connect Alfresco or KnowledgeTree to other tools such as Drupal, SugarCRM, or ProcessMaker. I already have a large time investment in specific tools (e.g., MediaWiki) and neither works well with what I have. This means that I tend to treat both as stand-alone tools. (At one point, Alfresco did have an interface for Mediawiki. Because both tools are actively updated, this interface didn't survive upgrade.)

Mike, I did look at the Share interface and do see a lot of nice features there. It looks quite interesting and I'll probably grow into it. At the moment, it's much more than what I need.

To tell the truth, I still haven't decided on which tool to go with. The differences (for me) boil down to a couple minor differences in search results. Alfresco includes the document description as part of the search results. KnowledgeTree includes an excerpt of each document's text (ala Google) as part of the search results. Neither provides both; I want both. (Poor me!)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Connecting Cepstral to Festival

Just because I haven't posted to the blog in a bit doesn't mean that I haven't been busy. A couple projects at work have expanded to fill the time spaces left by attending first one class and then another.
In any case, I did find some time to install Cepstral's Perl-based Festival wrapper. The short version of describing the tool amounts to: use Festival's function calls to control Cepstral voices. A slightly longer description: this script allows you to easily add Cepstral's voices to wherever you are using Festival, with only a minimum of tweaking.
The documentation for the script is embedded in the script and is only a little vauge. I've added my notes for the Festival wrapper to the wiki.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


A friend commented on my recent post about Alfresco, stating that I needed to try out Knowledgetree to be fair/objective in the comparison, so I built a stripped down Ubuntu 8.10 VM (I removed Apache, MySQL, and OpenOffice) and loaded the open source version of KT DMS v3.6.1.
My friend was correct. The little bit of extra effort required to run the full install of KnowledgeTree was worth it. It's convinced me to attempt to install the less easy "source code only" version (i.e., force it to employ the Apache, MySQL, and OpenOffice instances that I'm already running).
For the test VM, installation of KnowledgeTree was straight-forward. I only had to make the installer executable. The installer asked only a handful of questions (e.g.,what port? what password?) before installing. Keep in mind that this is not a small toolset. Installation did take a few minutes. After that, I loaded a few of the more obnoxoius documents that I have on hand: Asterisk - The Future of Telephone (15 MB!), one of my point papers in Word, an ODP presentation, a PowerPoint with a large graphic, and a PNG graphic file.
One thing noticed with both: PDFs with special formatting for trademarks tends to throw both programs. This is caused by their dependency on the same set of data extraction tools. There were no searches where one tool was more dependable than the other. Both failed on searching for "PostgreSQL" in "Asterisk - The Future of Telephony".
The differences between the two pieces of software don't appear to be technical. I don't have the resources to immediately test how each performs with large quantities of documents. You can be sure that I'll gripe about it if the tool-used acts up.
It's the web interface features that set the two apart. Each has features that I like, and features/issues that I don't:
  • Alfresco Pros
    • allows you to add a description of the document
    • indexes content and makes it searchable
  • Alfresco Cons
    • doesn't excerpt content as part of a search result
    • document uploads are indexed immediately (delays caused by large documents)
    • doesn't allow for multiple categories to be associated with one document
    • file stored without uploaded filename
    • demo built into installed software
    • heavy customization expected from user
    • deleting a document, deletes the document (no recovery)
    • some plugins require manual addition of a plugin manager
    • displays the filename instead of the title as part of search results
    • runs on top of Java (I'm an old fart. I remember the Linux + Java issues.)
  • KnowledgeTree Pros
    • indexes content and makes it searchable
    • uploaded documents are placed in a queue for indexing (allows for indexing in the background)
    • allows for multiple metadata ("cloud tags") to be associated with individual documents
    • light customization expected from user
    • allows filename change via the web interface
    • has a number of built-in tools for database and archive repair/management
    • deleting a document moves it to a hidden queue where it can later be expunged
    • built-in plugin manager
    • skinnable
    • runs on top of PHP (not sure if this is actually a plus)
  • KnowledgeTree Cons
    • doesn't allow for a description of the document (might be countered by the "Discussion" feature for each document)
    • file stored without uploaded filename
    • (at least for version 3.6.1) The "Search and Indexing" menu (only visible to the Admin) has a number of double entries (tolerable but ugly)
  • Other
    • Both tools are also slightly different in their purposes. KnowledgeTree strikes me as striving to be more of a front-end tool than Alfresco. Of late, Alfresco has been attempting integrate with other tools (MediaWiki, Drupal, Joomla, etc.). This would be nice, but the integration didn't carry over into the newest version. (MediaWiki integration may cause me to return to Alfresco.)
    • For those that require commercial support, both tools have it, if you're willing to pay for it.
    • KnowledgeTree has a much cleaner front end (it feels less Web 2.0-ish even though it uses metatags)
    • Both tools provide for open source versions, while formally declaring them unsupported (it's something that I can live with)
    • For the full-blown installs, both tools have nice interfaces
All in all, it looks like I prefer the KnowledgeTree tool. Much depends on how easy it will be to install the source code version. My only other requirement is that I need to be able to declare the storage location. Alfresco allows you to state this up front. KnowledgeTree requires installation first (I think) and then allows you to change the storage directory.
I'm still uncertain as to which tool I plan on using in the long run. Right now it's a balance of "how hard is the source code version of KnowledgeTree to install?" vs. "how hard is it to change Alfresco's interface and remove the demo from the install?". I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On my list of things to do

This past month was very odd. Lightning strike near work took out the A/C and the snack machine, nothing else. A/C out all week. Took two online classes (Wireshark and Kismet-Newcore). Won one of the Wi-Spy DBX's in the raffle during the Wireshark class. Rec'd reimbursement for travel expenses for recent trip. Used part of extra cash to order DLP data acquisition products. (Plan on using one to trigger phone calls during severe weather alerts. (Notes pending.))

Then Digium announces the Skype for Asterisk public beta (Got mine built!). Then it looks like GizmoVoice is going to bust the GV thingy. I never did get the Asterisk/Gizmo/GoogleVoice/POTS thing to work. Then the brothers announce their crackdown on Skype. (Note: I still haven't gotten SFA up and running on Asterisk 1.6.1).

Things to do in the near future:

  • see what can be done with gastify (works with Asterisk 1.4, I have 1.6)
  • take HUDlite for a spin
  • work on road warrior solution (OpenVPN and Asterisk)
  • work on weather alert solution (with the data acquisition cables)
  • test chan_Skype (anyone want to join the experiment?)
  • add storage to desktop system (this is fast turning into a priority)
  • play with Wi-Spy DBX

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I finally buckled down and installed a document management system. I was looking at having to buy yet another hard drive to contain all of the I-gotta-save-this-it-might-be-useful stuff that builds up as a result of over 20 years of messing with computers.
I played with installs of Epiware, KnowledgeTree, and Alfresco. Of the three, Alfresco was the least evil (it was the easiest to install and does what I need). Epiware had issues with extra large PDFs and KnowledgeTree had install issues (it insisted that more instances of JDK, Tomcat, and MySQL were needed on my system).
In any case, I'll be working my way back through all of my kruft, deleting what's not needed, and cataloging (with Alfresco) the rest.
As always, notes for installing Alfresco are in the wiki.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

PSTN to GV to Gizmo to Asterisk

Posted the notes for receiving inbound calls to Asterisk via GoogleVoice and Gizmo5 in the wiki. Had make a couple last minute changes as kmem pointed out that it is GV that presents the recipient with the IVR and not Gizmo. (Thanks kmem!)

IPv6 Redux

Got IPv6 up and running on the home machine again. It's become quite simple to stand these things up via tunnel brokers. Also, kudos to hurdboy for standing up the IPv6 side of (about 6 months ago). I'm only now catching up with that. Y'all can visit that side of the site via http://[2001:470:e048::20]/. This blog is at http://[2001:470:e048::20]/~joat.
From all appearances, everything works except for the stuff that employs redirects (e.g., the default page for a Mediawiki-based wiki).
A nice-to-have when experimenting with IPv6 is the following Firefox plugin: ShowIP. It shows a website's IP address in the bottom right corner of the browser, in green if it's IPv6, in red if it's IPv4. It's great for quickly figuring out in which "world" the site exists.

Monday, July 13, 2009

To do

Project for the week: Work on getting IPv6 up and running again. (This is, what, the fifth time?)

This time, it may take a bit more work as the home network is much larger, some sections need segregation, some equipment needs updating (the APs are currently running Tomato which doesn't natively support IPv6), and I need to figure how it interacts with OpenVPN.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


It's been a bit since I've posted here. That's not to say that I haven't been busy. I have. Very.

I've added the following to the wiki:

I've also updated:Some are minor tweaks, some are still works in progress.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Hmmm... Gastify looks interesting. I wonder if I can use it to monitor both the big and little boxes.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


To do list (projects) for this weekend:
  • connect wake-on-LAN to Asterisk, see if the NSLU2 can wake up the server
  • configure Asterisk to turn on/off various services, including VirtualBox
  • debug the serial port (is it a bad cable?)
  • research what's needed to move the IPv6 connection to another gateway
  • look for Laconica service/site (will 757 host one?)

Somewhat of a busy weekend. I'm having a lot of fun, experimenting with Asterisk's system command!

Monday, May 25, 2009

NSLU2 and Asterisk

I spent a good chunk of this past Saturday building an Asterisk server on one of my Linksys NSLU2s. For those that don't know what that is, it's a very small computer, just a bit smaller than a paperback book. Its original, commercial purpose was to provide file storage for home networks. Its only interfaces are one Ethernet port and two USB ports.

In any case, this effort sprang from a conversation with Sparks, where he was looking for something to provide VoIP access without drawing quite so much electricity as the behemoth desktop computer that he built (I'm still drooling over it). He's interested in what I can build with the NSLU2 because it only draws 10 W, where his desktop monster draws 300+.

A few of the things that I've learned this weekend:

  • the native build environment DOES NOT include building kernel modules
  • the asterisk16 package in the Optware distro is borked (asterisk14 works nicely)
  • the Slug (the generic name for a NSLU2 + SlugOS) can supposedly only handle 4 concurrent calls
  • the Slug and my desktop system can't come to an agreement on the alaw codec, but they play nicely with the ulaw codec
  • a good bit of spit and polish has gone into SlugOS since I last played with it; it now boots and shuts down quite nicely
  • If, with a 1GB thumb drive, you build the OS, build/mount a 200 MB swap file, and install Asterisk, MySQL, screen, irssi, and a number of core utils, you'll have about 500MB of free space left.
  • building a cross-compile environment is not a simple task (I was trying to build two actually: one for the NSLU2, one for my Media MVP).

Even though I'm not going to have anything to show for my effort after Monday (when Sparks takes custody of the box), I feel that I've accomplished a great deal this weekend. That and two of my friends will _owe_ me (ahem, Sparks, zENGx!) (heh).

As always, the notes for installing Asterisk on the NSLU2 are in the wiki.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Meru Networks

It's nice to see that Meru Networks is still around, having had a nasty spat with Cisco and Aruba earlier in the decade. I attended the 802.11n Roadshow this past week, hosted by CWNP and sponsored by Meru. The training was interesting but the Meru demo was downright entertaining.

Meru's gear, back when they were only doing "b" was interesting. Now, when it's combined with 802.11n's MIMO, it makes other vendors' networks just look bad. Seriously, if you're looking to deploy a wireless network that will host streaming audio or video, Meru is the best choice (technically or financially). (This was my opinion 5 years ago and it hasn't changed.)

If the Road Show is coming anywhere near you, I recommend signing up for it. You'll get to meet a number of engineers who've been around the block a few times and the food is darned good also (the training (and the food) was at the Occidental Restaurant in DC, near the White House). I believe that it was in the Monument Room that the training was held.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

VirtualBox as a service

One of the nice features of Sun's VirtualBox is the ability to start headless VMs (i.e., runs without having to open a window to "see" the guest OS). I use it to run a Linux VM to host my internal wiki and web services. The advantage is that when I rebuild a system (and I do this more often than friends, family, & other users like), I don't have to restore the wiki. I only have to re-install Virtualbox, and start the appropriate VM (there are advantages in keeping your home directory on a separate partition).

VirtualBox allows for the use of multi-word names for VMs. One missing piece for VirtualBox is a script to start/stop headless VMs. Various people, such as Ross Peoples and Brendan Kidwell, have written scripts to fill this void.

I like Ross's script (you'll need to scroll down) but it didn't like my naming scheme, so I've adjusted it. My version of his script is in the wiki.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Installed this past weekend. Haven't had much of a chance to play with it yet. One thing that I've noticed is that, once again, (as with a number of the previous new versions) speaker detection in the meetme app is broken. Hopefully, (as it usually is) it'll be fixed in the next update.

I really need to brush up on my C skills so's that I can fix these on the fly.

Monday, April 27, 2009

System upgrade

In upgrading the system (yet again), I managed to forget to back up the internal "house wiki". There wasn't much on there that isn't already on the regular 757 wiki except for a couple works in progress and it wasn't anything that I can't redo out of my head (or notes).

If anyone else is missing something, I'll dig into the backups (but you have to respond now as I'm coming up on the end of the month and will be deleting a lot of stuff).

For those in-house, most of the system is off-line, including phone, video (including the television controls (find the tv's remote in the mean time!)), lighting, intercom, music (including Icecast and the jukebox), Laconica, IRC, and motion detection. I've dug out some of the older hardware and will be re-implementing some of my more favorite projects. The services will be coming online gradually as I restore files and test each. I promise there'll be no more upgrades for awhile, unless something breaks down.

Note: development is no longer allowed directly on the house systems. If you need it, I'll provide a VM for your use.

Update: The tv controls are back online (squeaky wheel gets the attention). Low channels only, though.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

HE IPv6 Cert

Not sure how valid it is but Hurricane Electric is offering a free cert for IPv6. To show off your creds, they offer a badge, to put on your website, that tracks your progress. Mine is on the bottom right of this page.

Monday, April 6, 2009

IMAP Voicemail on 64-bit Asterisk

I spent this last weekend nursing my wife (she had surgery on her foot) and updating my system to a more recent 64-bit operating system. One thing that I didn't like is that the packages for Asterisk were a bit dated. The follow-on problem is that while vanilla Asterisk compiles fine on 64-bit, some of the non-standard features don't.

In short, the compiler crashes in the imap-voicemail section, complaining about not being able to read symbols and recommending a recompile with -fPIC. This isn't as drastic an issue as it looks. Just find the EXTRACFLAGS line in the Makefile for the IMAP code and make it look like "EXTRACFLAGS=-fPIC".

I've added these notes to the IMAP Interface for Voicemail notes in the wiki.

Oh, and BTW, the post freeze is delayed due to issues with the new system.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Content freeze

I'm putting a content freeze on the wiki and blog content until the "powers that be" upgrade the system (assuming they do it in the near future). My home system will be offline for an upgrade and overhaul to support more services (company coming again). Maybe I'll move some of the background services to NSLU2's?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What it ain't...

Having just listened to Steve Balmer's speech (it wasn't an interview) on the Gartner podcast, I offer this in response: you should notice that no one is saying that 7 is rewritten from the ground up. That's right kiddies: when you line up to buy 7, what you'll be getting is Vista with various stuff scraped off (but not the DRM).

Could this be why MS is still going with the six different versions?

Don't get me wrong, 7 Beta runs wonderfully. However, you should be paying attention to what's not being talked about by the marketing department (i.e., there's stuff there they'd rather not discuss).

I imagine that the Home Basic version will still suck royally and that MS will expect a few hundred (if not more) bucks for the upgrade. It'd be nice if we could get out of the Vista morass for $99 (flat). I'm not holding my breath though.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Conference Manager

I've posted the code for the conference manager. The code works (I use it) but it isn't exactly clean enough where I'd normally share it. However, since I've received at least four requests for the code, I've posted it. Look for the link most of the way down on the wiki page (link above).

The issue with the Hang Up function turned out to be caused by how Asterisk tags locally originated channels. Where a SIP call might be tagged as "SIP/1701-098f7ae0", the channel tag for a local call will look something like "Local/191@default-de5a;1". Where I'd originally thought the issue was caused by the "@" sign in the channel name, it turns out that the issue stems from the last two characters (the ";1"). While my solution for this probably isn't the proper fix, it should work for now.

The Record function turned out to be a bit more difficult than I'd previously thought. For now, you can record by clicking on the Record button, but you'll need to have access to the system to retrieve the resulting file. I'll build this out in a future revision (or you can create your own).

If you have features you'd like to see in it, want to complain about bugs/bad logic, or just want an explanation, email me or post your input as a comment on the wiki page.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

MS vs. Mac

I stopped doing the editorial/opinion piece type post awhile ago, but Steve has forced me to post this one. Apologies to any offended and, no, I will not responde to the usual flame wars that follow any mention of this topic.

With that said...

The argument that a Mac costs more than a MS PC is a tiring one. It's complete BS and smacks of a marketing playbook that should have been thrown out in the 90's.

If you load up equitable hardware with similar software, they cost about the same, thanks to the prices you'll pay for Office (though MS still hasn't come up with a decent competitor to Keynote), a decent media editor, and upgrading within the confusing array of MS OS versions to make it equitable.

Don't get me wrong, MS is a decent OS. To tell the truth, if I owned either type of laptop (I'm without one at the moment), I'd quadruple boot the sucker as I also use SunOS and Linux in my work. This will probably mean that my next purchase is an Apple because you can't boot into OSX on a non-Mac machine.

My problem is that Mr. Ballmer's statements are exactly what's annoyed me about the company for years: it's the marketing department in action. I want the tools, not the hype. Would someone ask Mr. Ballmer to please sit down and shut up?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

AdZapper and Squid

Web surfing, of late, has become an annoying experience. My browser stalls while attempting to load advertisements from various third party sources. In researching redirectors for Squid, I rediscovered AdZapper, which is extremely simple to incorporate with Squid. I've added notes to the wiki which explains how to set up Squid and AdZapper to filter ads with a non-caching Squid proxy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wiki spam update

To be honest about it, there hasn't been a whole lot of spam showing up in the wiki comments. Is this something that's no longer done much? What spam did show up was caught by Akismet and auto-expired. I've not had to do much other than approve legitimate comments.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Wiki Spam

[*Sigh*] Wiki comments weren't turned on but for one hour and already the spammers are testing the feature. I've just realized that Akismet could suddenly demand $20 from each of their users and they'd probably get it (just to keep things like spam for "anime family sex" off of their blogs/wikis).

In any case, I've updated the code behind the wiki and have added a number of features. If you had author-level access in the previous version, please contact me so that I can re-enable your account(s).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Design issue?

Here's an odd one: I recently purchased a USB-UIRT to allow MythTV to control my cable box. I configured LIRC just as stated in the wiki pages and it works fine, with the front-end.

Now the wierd part: this configuration doesn't work if the front-end isn't running. If I attempt to change channels via the command line, MythWeb, or just the back-end changing channels to record a show, the LED blinks but the cable box ignores the input. I have to have the front-end running for any of this to work.

The immediate work-around is to run the front-end in a window, minimized, but this is one of those annoying bugs that I'll obsess about until I have it fixed. Anyone have any ideas?

Monday, February 16, 2009

XChat weirdness

Not sure if anyone else has detected this, and not sure how far it goes, but it's weird. I logged into IRC (via my desktop machine) with a XChat client which auto-joined a number of channels. Later, from a different network, I fired up XChat on my N800 and tried to join four other channels. When I returned home, those four other channels were open in the desktop client, in addition to the ones I'd originally opened.

Anyone else notice this?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

SPA-3102 TZ

From the note-to-too-blind-to-see-it dept.: To stop your DECT phones from switching to San Diego time (while you're on East Coast time), change the Time Zone setting in the SPA-3102 under the Voice-Regional tab (last line on the page, under "Miscellaneous").

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Myth filename to show name

For a friend, I've written a quick script to match up MythTV filenames with their show names. Basically, it just pulls/prints data from the "recorded" table in the mythconverg database.

Monday, February 2, 2009

MythTV alerts on Laconica

Mark Waters had posted a method for posting recording alerts to Laconica. It's pretty cool in that it's only a shell command (no MythTV modules required!). The problem is that it relies upon the Rewrite command in .htaccess and appears to be written for a version of Laconica that's pre-0.7.

By looking at the commands in the suggested .htaccess and by multiple checks with the wget man page, I've come up with alternate syntax for those that are running Laconica 0.7 and don't have the ability to instantiate .htacess. I've wiki-fied my notes for MythTV Laconica alerts.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Laconica and Twitter

From the Note-to-Self Department: When connecting Laconica to Twitter, be sure that you have PHP support for curl installed and that you restarted your web server before attempting to connect the two.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Streaming TalkShoe to Squeezeboxes

ricko73 in the VoIP Users Conference asked for a write-up on how to stream the VUC conference call to his SqueezeBoxes. The write-up is mostly a rehash of stuff that I've written about before, with a couple new things (e.g., command line dialer) thrown in. The notes are here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Invalid database specified

If you've upgraded Asterisk to the most recent version ( and you're suddenly receiving the "MySQL RealTime: Invalid database specified: asterisk" error, it's because the configuration file parser was tweaked. Where previously, an entry in /etc/asterisk/extconfig.conf of "extensions => mysql,asterisk,extensions_table" would indicate "use the extensions_table table in the asterisk database on MySQL", the second field now denotes the context in /etc/asterisk/res_mysql.conf.

In other words, if you've used the default "[general]" context in res_mysql.conf, your line in /etc/asterisk/extconfig.conf should look like "extensions => mysql,general,extensions_table".

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thanks Digium! (or How I can't win for losing)

So the in-laws came to vist, last Thanksgiving, and stayed to visit all the way through to this past weekend. Which means that we reorganized the den to allow for opening the sofa sleeper. Which means that we moved the other couch into the office. When means that my wife and I traded desks and I moved my computer, with the smaller desk, into the spare bedroom. Which means she ended up with my Digium mouse pad.

To shorten the story: last week, my wife noticed waxy-looking circles in the middle of her (my!) mouse pad. She promptly declared them to be mold and forced me to throw it out (she wouldn't touch it)(this cost me spouse-points). I'd rec'd that mouse pad with my TDM400 card that I'd bought direct a couple years back. It was a nice mouse pad. She'd had it for at least two months before the mold showed up. (Pointing this out cost me additional spouse-points.)

Of course, I ratted her out on Twitter (this too cost me spouse-points).

To get to the punchline: Digium heard my plight (we're both in the VoIP Users Conference Twitter group) and sent me not only a mouse pad but a sticker, a patch, and a pen! This all arrived today via Fed Ex and, some how, I've managed to lose even more spouse points (she opened the package). Okay, I might have resurrected the "that wasn't mold" argument for entertainment purposes but I did say it was a nice mouse pad, didn't I?

In any case, thanks for the swag, Digium!! The pad is on my desk, the sticker is going on my car, and the pen is going to work with me.

Me? I'm still in the dog house.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Grandstream's rep?

I've only started working with Asterisk recently (within the last two years). My fascination with Asterisk increased recently, having been lent a hard phone earlier this year. In talking with various Asterisk geeks, it appears that I'm the lowest of the low: a Grandstream user.

For the longest time, I didn't understand the invective heaped upon my poor BT200. I believe I may have figured out the reason behind the bias, unjustified as it may be.

In setting up a recently acquired GXP-2000 (I love my friends! They keep an eye out for this stuff!), I noticed that the volume continually cycled up and down, repeating every 3-5 seconds.

The problem was both extremely annoying and very easy to fix (firmware upgrade!). I can imagine that someone without the knowledge and/or resources to acquire the new firmware might become frustrated with the phone's issues. However, those issues aren't permanent and neither should the bias against the phone.

Alternative attitude: most of my Grandstream's were given to me (they were free), so bite me! (heh)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Icecast relay

Figured out how to run Icecast in single-broadcast relay mode, leeching live audio off of Spark's server and distributing off of mine. I'm wondering how obnoxious of a set up we can get if we run slaved mode...

In any case, the single-broadcast relay is quite simple. Just uncomment/edit the example included in the default icecast.xml and point it at your icecast source of choice. No additional configuration is needed for the source.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Wait! Wut?

So the official fix for your dead Zune is time (i.e., wait until the new year starts)?! I guess MS expects you to not have your Zune when the next Leap Day rolls around.

If this issue can't be fixed via firmware upgrade, this will be a PR, technical, and logistical nightmare (think: having to repair devices without losing DRM'd music).

Mark your calendars kids! If this doesn't get fixed, and you still have your 30GB Zune on December 31st, 2012, it'll probably be dead again.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ices and PulseAudio

Contrary to what Burkhard over at Truth or lies has stated, PulseAudio play nicely with Ices and Icecast. Creating a special entry in .asound is not required. Just use the OSS module for Ices. my notes and a config file are in the wiki.