Monday, 24 November 2008

Asterisk - so powerful

I've been doing some things with Asterisk that have been causing me headaches. However, this is probably due to my inexperience and the fact that I'm still learning. I can do a lot of stuff already but there's tons more that I know can be done and I'm probably not doing.

My dilema is that if I were to take a course, as far as I can tell, they tend to cover the basics. All the things that I know will be repeated. Now, will I lean something new? Maybe. Will is be worth the £XXXX that I have to pay for the course? I don't think it will.

I am going to see what else I can do that will help me learn - other than trying to implement things, I don't know what I can do that will make me discover ALL that Asterisk can do.


Sunday, 9 November 2008

iPhone 3G - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I got an iPhone 3G and I must admit that I like it. It's not much of a surprise, however I did find quite a few things that go wrong.

One thing that I noticed it doesn't do well is SMS. I use to be able to write several SMSes with my old phone even when there wasn't a signal available. I'd "send" the message and write another one and once the phone had a signal again, it would send all the messages. Well, I wasn't able to do that with the iPhone. It kept on complaining that there wasn't a signal and it couldn't send. (Yes I KNOW, save it for later!)

The other issue I've had it that it's gotten "stuck" with a few applications and I've had to force reboot it. One was just trying to write into a large text field on a website. It started slowing down and finally I wasn't able to do anything. I couldn't go back to the home screen or anywhere.

One time that actually happened with an email. Speaking of email. I also have a lot of problem sending emails. It keeps on complaining that the email address I'm sending to is incorrect, even though I know it's right. I'm still working on that one and to see if I find a solution.

However, I must admit that the user interface is great and the other day I saw someone using the Samsung touchscreen phone. They went to send an SMS and what did I notice? They got a NUMBER KEYPAD as if it's a regular phone instead of a full keyboard. This meant having to use the number to select the letters which makes me thing that these manufacturers don't understand what the purpose is for the touchscreen. Anyway... lets see what they come up in round two.

Well, all-in-all the iPhone isn't a complete disappointment. I hope they can fix those stability issues, but I think they still have the best interface in town. Let's if what Blackberry's phone does can compete.


Wednesday, 15 October 2008

A few issues resolved with new drivers...

After struggling with some of the wifi networking issues on my MacBookPro in Ubuntu -- I had to use ndiswrapper -- I got an update today that seems to have fixed those issue.

Basically, I could connect to my WAP/WAP2 protected wifi network, but I'd have problems with the card not getting a DHCP address. I looked further into it and realized that my DHCP server wasn't actually receiving the request. I figured it was the wpa_supplicant application that wasn't working quite right. Well, all of a sudden it's all working right.

BTW -- Ubuntu showed those drivers as being the restricted drivers (not open source) -- but they actually work great.


Thursday, 4 September 2008

C&C: RA1 and Ubuntu

So who said you can't play games on Linux? I've just downloaded the ISOs for Red Alert 1 from the EA website. Yes, it's a free download as the franchise has turned 13 years old (or maybe it's just that game.)

I installed it on my MacBook Pro - in Ubuntu - using wine.

There were a few issues but these were issues that were mentioned in the WineHQ website and were seemingly easy to overcome.

One issue I still have though is that the menu entry didn't get created, but I'll just add it manually. Also, you have to set the emulation mode to Win95 or Win98 for it to work well, but I'm not complaining.

Red Alert is a classic - I still have the CDs somewhere in storage!

RA 3 looks really kewl - wish they'd made a Linux version...


Google Chrome

I don't know anything other than what I've read in other blogs, articles and on the Google page. I'm just trying to see if by putting this in the title I'll get more hits!

Why? Just because...

Move on... Nothing to see here...


Monday, 11 August 2008

64-bit Ubuntu on MacBookPro and Google Earth

Well, I managed to get the last thing that wasn't quite working to work.

I like to use Google Earth. It's a great learning tool and it helps to make you realize how small you really are. But I was running into problems the first time I installed this. This isn't specifically a Mac problem, it's a 32-bit vs 64-bit problem. I had several 32-bit libraries installed but the one that Google Earth was missing and therefore causing my headaches turned out to be lib32nss-mdns. Once I installed it, I was going around the world in 2 seconds.

I found the solution in a Google Groups posting.

So now, everything works. I can suspend, hibernate, wifi, voip, VPN, google earth, browsing the web, email, sound, IM, VNC, scanning and printing from my HP printers (the office and home printer using HPLIP toolbox.) I even got desktop recording to work which will help with tutorials.

I also use Skype, my Vodafone data card, dual screens, project management, development, Asterisk monitoring (using gastman) oh, and lets not forget games! There's a ton of OpenSource games out there that I found thanks to another site and I've just had to "sudo apt-get install" them. The iSight works too with Cheese although I hope they improve that app a little. I can burn DVDs and ISOs of the different server images we have for work.

Right clicking is done by using the right "cmd" button instead of ctrl-click.

The only thing I haven't tried to do yet because I haven't had the necesity to is to use Bluetooth. I haven't paired my Plantronic 509B Headphones or my Sony Ericsson phone.

I'll try that later and post about it.

So in conclusion ... MacBook + Ubuntu is a win-win situation. You get great hardware and great software with a little bit of hassle if you've never set things up. I'm sure if I had to do it again, I would have less trouble doing so and I'd still be very happy with the outcome.


Wednesday, 23 July 2008

TTG - Text Traffic Grapher

Have you ever wanted to know how much bandwidth you were using this instant? Do you like CLIs? (i.e. Command Line Interfaces) Then this utility is for you!!!

I found this utility the other day and discovered that it's one of those tools that I don't know why it's not included in most distributions. It's actually at the very bottom of that page, but it's very good.

You provide the name of the router or switch you want to monitor traffic on, the RO community string (usually public) and then you can type "list" to see the interfaces you can monitor and their status. Once you know, use that and you'll see the most recent traffic utilization through that interface.


ttg switch public gi1/0/1

Found "GigabitEthernet1/0/1" at index 10101:
[09:44:59] current throughput: in 411.9 kB/s out 218.8 kB/s
[09:45:00] current throughput: in 405.9 kB/s out 247.4 kB/s
[09:45:01] current throughput: in 485.4 kB/s out 342.4 kB/s
[09:45:02] current throughput: in 523.7 kB/s out 357.5 kB/s
[09:45:03] current throughput: in 538.3 kB/s out 350.8 kB/s
[09:45:04] current throughput: in 486.4 kB/s out 302.4 kB/s

---- ttg statistics ----
in out
maximum throughput: 538.3 kB/s 357.5 kB/s
average throughput: 475.3 kB/s 303.2 kB/s
minimum throughput: 405.9 kB/s 218.8 kB/s

Nice huh? This will definitely help me when trying to figure out bandwidth utilization over a short interval.

And there's loads of things it can do ... try the help.


Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Ubuntu isn't perfect, but it's damn close

I have everything working on my new MacBook Pro. I installed Ubuntu Hardy (i.e. 8.04) like I mentioned in the previous post and after using it for a few weeks for my day to day tasks I can honestly say that it's 99% there.

I've discovered a few annoying issues that are slowly being worked on by the Linux community at large and I hope will fix my problems once they release the new version of these applications.

Which applications are causing problems? Well the two worst issues are the ones that unfortunately I think are quite important. One is something I need to have for daily use - a softphone. Now there are several applications out there: Ekiga and Twinkle are two of the Open Source ones that are available for install - Ekiga being the default. However I found that there were a few times where they didn't work. When I used Mac OS X I would use X-Lite, then I discovered Zoiper and used that instead. Well, Zoiper runs on Linux too, so I've installed it as well to test. I also found WengaPhone which I installed and tested too.

The reason for testing all these applications is that I would always encounter a problem or on a different application, a different problem. On Twinkle, my audio drivers would not work if some other audio application (or itself) crashed. With Ekiga, I couldn't get it to work over the VPN. I tried different settings and maybe I missed something, but on a VPN it doesn't work. With Zoiper - I thought that being on a familiar application I would be able to troubleshoot it better and get it to work. Well, that didn't work either. I also tried WengaPhone which worked much better, but had the same problems as Zoiper - the audio would sometimes fail and I wouldn't be able to hear or talk to anyone. I think this may be due to the applications being 32 bit while I'm on a 64 bit installation. I have the compatibility libraries - including sound, but still no go.

Anyway - while I'm in the office I'm going to use Twinkle and just have to reboot if the audio driver fails (what a pain.) A possible solution which I haven't tried yet is finding a way to reload or reset the audio drivers. If you have an idea of how I can do this easily, let me know. I may just have to script the rmmod, insmod for the sound modules.

The other issue that I have is related to the wireless connectivity. At home I setup my wifi to use WPA+WPA2 for protection. I was able to get our wifi printer on the network, our Nintendo Wii and the two other computers. My MacBook Pro on Unbuntu sees the network requests the key and then doesn't do anything. It seems to connect to the network, but doesn't get a DHCP address. I've tried using a static IP address, overwriting Network Manager, but that worked once and then stopped working. I even had created a profile for "home" so I could just toggle that and have a static IP at home... but nothing!

For now I'm tethered via a network cable. Not the best solution, but it'll have to do until I find a solution.

By the way, I did disable the WPA+WPA2 settings and went with JUST WPA and then with JUST WPA2, but in both situations I had the same problem that I don't quite complete the connection and don't get an IP address from the router's DHCP server and I can't get the static IP address to work either.

Anyway - all in all - I'm very pleased with my Ubuntu installation.


Wednesday, 2 July 2008

New MacBook Pro now with Ubuntu

I got a new MacBook Pro for work and I decided that I was going to run Ubuntu on it. So after reading multiple threads, webpages and blogs on the subject went ahead with the install.

Let me tell you that IT'S AWESOME!

I've always liked Ubuntu and had it running on my old MacBook Pro on Parallels. Well, running it directly on HW is so much better.

If you want to know how I did it, just Google it, or click on the links at the bottom.

I got everything to work: sound, iSight, wifi (although I have a strange problem at home where DHCP doesn't take so I had to create a profile and give myself a static ip,) even my 3G Vodafone USB modem.

So far, everything that I use for work I can find a replacement for an apt-get away.

The only tool so far that I can't get a straight replacement for is OmniGraffle. We'll, I'm working on something...

Ubuntu on MacBook Pro 1
Ubuntu on MacBook Pro (most recent hardware)
Ubuntu and Vodafone 3G

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Concept laptops

Computer World has an interesting article on concept laptops and what we expect laptops to look like in 7 years. It's an interesting read and I find that there are several things that aren't mentioned that I would expect in future laptops.

Have you had a laptop stolen? How about manufacturers starting to build "phone home" hardware. I think this feature should be built into ALL laptops and activated when the user does the first setup.

How about cooler hardware (as in temperature, not looks) or maybe the head dissipating through the screen cover (I'm tired of warming my pants - except in winter) could be used to partially recharge the battery. It's not impossible according to this press release.

I'm sure there are tons of things that other people can think of that they want from their laptops.


Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Karaoke - you know you want to!

I recently bought a Karaoke microphone for my wife. It's the MVK II that I found at Best Buy for about $80. It had some file already in it and the good thing about it was that you could add your own MP3s to it and just add the lyrics.

Now this isn't the microphone my wife wanted. The one she wants has a game mode where players get scored on how well they sing. My sister-in-law has one and that's how she knew about it. However I couldn't find the mic on short notice so I got her the other one.

So finally I decided to add some mp3s to it, but one of the strange things I discovered when I added my own mp3 songs was that you could still hear the original singer instead of getting a karaoke version of the song - no matter what settings you selected on the microphone. Well, I found out why this is. The version that come with the microphone had the original song playing on the right track, while the karaoke version is playing on the left side. Therefore when you make the selection on the mic, you get a non vocal version.

Now this means I'm going to have to make Karaoke specific versions of files... And it also means I have to find version without vocals (maybe midi files?) that I can use. If anyone has a suggestion, that would be greatly appreciated. Still - I'm glad I solved that simple problem.

Time to sing!


Thursday, 6 March 2008

USB Flash Drive vs USB HD

I've been looking around the internet for a comparison of speeds between USB Flash Drive (thumb drives, memory sticks, whatever you want to call it) and USB Hard Drives. I haven't found any so I am going to run some tests myself.

I'll post the results here...


Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Do you remember the weather on your birthdays?

Today is my birthday. It happens that today's weather looks to be nice and mildly-warm, even if it started cold. Last year is was also sunny, even though the weatherman has said it would be cloudy and miserable.

As a matter-of-fact, as far back as I can remember (and have taken note of) the weather on my birthday has always been sunny. For some time, I've even told myself that "It's God's birthday gift to me" not that just being alive isn't a gift in and of itself.

Now March isn't particularly a great month for weather as it's almost Spring, but it's still Winter and therefore you're prone to having some wild weather (at least in the Northern Hemisphere.) I know, Australia probably has great weather ALL of March, but that's not the point. I've lived all my life in places where it's usually Winter-ish but have had wonderful weather.

Still, the question is still valid... Do you remember the weather on your birthdays?


Sunday, 2 March 2008

Hex Hex and Hex Hex Next

I'm not the type that usually will play board games or card games, however a friend of mine introduced me to Hex Hex and Hex Hex Next, a game by Smirks and Daggers that once you learn the basics will having you wanting more.

So I bought Hex Hex Next while travelling and introduced it to a group of my friends. At first, they weren't sure what was going on, but after a few rounds they all agreed to make it a weekly event. Even my wife who is very hard to convince about things like this wanted to play it after that day.

In case you don't know the game, you basically have a hexagon (multiple actually) and cards. You start with one Hex and during play you have to divert the Hex using the cards that you have been given. The cards have basic "deflection" like Turn Aside Right, which basically makes the Hex go to the right. Once you run out of cards and you receive the Hex you are Hexed and lose 1 point (Voice.) The game gets interesting when you play cards like Madenning Compulsion Left which means that everyone has to play a card that makes the Hex go to the left, if they can't they're Hexed.

So, I think you get the idea. The rules are on the website above as well as a page with all the cards for you to look through them. I recommend this game! It's addictive and a lot of fun.


Friday, 18 January 2008

Great UNIXy tips

I've been using Linux and Unix for a long time and I am always trying to make people that aren't Linux users change and go to Linux. One of the things that I like about Linux is the command line and all the tools available to speed things up using just one line (or maybe a few lines.)

Here's an example:

You want to build a complex directory tree of ... I don't know, say 20 directories and subdirectories. Now instead of typing

mkdir first-dir/ ; mkdir first-dir/first-sub-dir ; first-dir/first-sub-dir/first-sub-sub-dir

You can do:

mkdir -p first-dir/first-sub-dir/first-sub-sub-dir

Nice... But how about those twenty directories in a more complex arrangement? That's easy too!

mkdir -p first-dir/{first-sub-dir/{first-sub-sub-dir,second-subs-sub-dir,\

Yes, that was one line! (Or multiple lines separated with a \ so that the command continues in a new line.)

What does that look like?

ls -R first-dir/
first-sub-dir second-sub-dir third-sub-dir

first-sub-sub-dir second-subs-sub-dir third-sub-sub-dir







another-dir one-more








So what do you think? Neat huh? Try doing that within your gui!

By the way, I found this on a page at IBM's site a long time ago.

There's tons of them, search the site for "Speaking unix" and Unix tips. There are tons of things that you can find. Some of them you know, some I'm sure you don't.

By the way, one thing of importance... remember not to put any spaces between directories. If you have a directory with a space in it, quote it!

mkdir -p test/{test ing} will not create a test directory with a test and ing subdirectory... ;)


Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Apple announcement and why I am not an analyst

So Steve Jobs announced the MacBook Air yesterday. It looks great and even my wife went "Wow, I can carry that in my purse!" Yes, she has a large purse.

Well, we got a new ultra-thin notebook, but unfortunately the tablet I was hoping for didn't materialize. I still have hope that someone will develop this or maybe even that the makers of the ModBook take some of the functionality of the new multi-touch software and make this tablet.

What do you think?


Thursday, 10 January 2008

2008 Tech

I like reading articles related to future devices to appear in our homes. As I mentioned before, one of the next Apple devices to be released would be a tablet like device with multi-touch capabilities. I don't really know that this is going to happen, I just read about it. I don't usually see a photo to go with it since the products are not actually announced, but the artist rendition of Apple's product looks very nice and even if Apple doesn't release it, someone should! I'm talking about the item posted at this website:

I hope we get to see more esthetically pleasing hardware. Lets hope it works too.


Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Back from Mexico

We've been back from Mexico for a while. We had a great trip and I must admit I wish it would have lasted longer. Even without internet access I was able to find things to do. ;)

Now back in the UK, I'm trying to get into a new rhythm for work. I'm starting earlier that before and that means getting up very early to get into the office. At first I thought this was going to be the "worst thing ever" but it's not.

Now it's time to concentrate on getting the MythTV setup working. This should be a couple of weekends of work and hopefully that'll be it!

There's a few things I have to do around the house though... I think I am going to have to run a new antenna cable from the outside, but that's not too bad. Anyway, this is part of the few weekends that I need to get it done.