Category Archives: General Topics

VoIP Galore!

After years of careful planning, it is finally done.  I managed to finally go all digital voice here at home.  Freeing myself from the “traditional” telephone providers, aka Bell, proved to be a most interesting and fun challenge.

The set up did not come super easy.  It required a lot of work and fiddling around with archance software.

First up, is the IP-PBX.  I went with Asterisk, as it is the best well known package to use.  Specifically, I went with Trixbox, since it comes as a distribution as is easy to install.  Within about 20 minutes the phone system itself is working. Next, I wanted to integrate true “unified communications”, so I set up Office Communications Server 2007 R2.  I can now make calls from the OCS client, and take them too, score!

For the phones in the house I went with the Cisco SPA3102.  It is finicky, and MANY people who claim to have set them up properly in Asterisk, have not.  Unless all 4 LED lights are on, it’s not set up.  After a couple days of playing, finally, all 4 lights work, and it is a proper extension in the house.  The SPA3102 features 911 and power-off pass-through, so, in emergencies, it will still work with Ma Bell.

Finally, I decided to use FlowRoute for my IP-Voice traffic.  There rates are cheap, and with the SPA3102 I can still keep my Bell line, but route local calls locally, and long distance out to FlowRoute.  All of my calls are digital, as even to go to local Bell calls, Asterisk digitizes them.

I’m quite pleased with the performance.  Even in a VM Asterisk runs ok.  In my next major hardware swap (later this year), I’ll move Asterisk to physical hardware to improve voicemail recording, but right now, it is not a issue.  Saving 50$ a month is quite impressive.  I may even offer the service to family and friends, who knows.

All I can say is once you go digital,  you never want to go back!

Merry Christmas … 2010

Merry Christmas!

Another year has passed us by.  This year has seen some interesting developments in the IT community.  The rise of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter would top my list.  The next would be the release of updated versions of VMware and Hyper-V.  Canada finally has more than one national GSM mobile phone carrier.  The Great Recession wrecked havoc with IT budgets early in 2009, and recovery appears to be underway leading into 2010.

What is ahead for 2010?  I have crystal ball, but expect more socail networking growth.  Expect more mobile application growth.  Over 2 billion downloads from iTunes shows that market has some legs.  Oh, and one thing we can look forward too is the new Mac Tablet.

If we think back 10 years to the end of 2000, RIAA was trying to kill media “pirate” media companies, the Internet bubble was just bursting, Nortel was still a force as a Canadian company, I found out I really enjoy good Indian, and who could have predicted 9/11 and the changes to travel and communication after that?  Lest we not forget Enron that brought SOX and financial IT requirements upon us. SCO vs IBM and the Linux world.  Eventful.

The next 10 years will be even more eventful.   Here is to a happy 2010.

IP Anywhere

globeI have been doing a lot of travel lately.  Right now, as I type this I’m on my way to Montreal via train from Toronto.  The train service’ internet was spotty, so time to use the trusty iPhone to get me working.  This got me thinking about the topic of IP-Anywhere.  Literally, if I look over there are many perople using their IP-connected devices to do things like Twitter, Facebook, etc.  10 years ago this would not have been the case.  Many would have good books to rad.  There is still some of that, but for the most part, it’s IP-devices and working with them.

This has me thinking.  What about the next 10 years?  Are we going to have IP-enabled seats on the trains where you won’t even need the device to connect?  Am I dreaming?  It seems pretty logical that the next 10 years will be an even bigger jump than the last.

What do you think? Discuss…

The rise of Social Networking…

twitter_logoIt’s rare these days that you can go very far without hearing aboutthe likes of Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other new “social networking” sites.  The impact on IT is undeniable.  Given the current election turmoil in Iran, the ability for the population to get the word out on these networks is in part to the inherent design of the Internet.  Increasingly, more and more media outlets are turning to Twitter as a way to get peoples immediate feedback.  Global television here in Canada regularly asks users Twitter questions, and they broadcast the replies, live on the air.  It’s very interesting, and promises a hint of the more “hyperconnected” future some companies have been talking about.

Fundamentally, as IT architects, how do we integrate these technologies into our systems?  Is there a lesson to be learned from the design of Twitter, in how we can design more efficient networks and protocols for the delivery or say corporate data?  While the need to know what your boss is tweeting is probably not high on your list of things, Tweets can be a effective means to schedule ad-hoc meetings or give quick status updates for teams on the go. 

Is there a place for Twitter-like applications in the Enterprise?  Discuss…

NSN Connectivity Scorecard

Canada Connectivity ScorecardAccording to our friends at The Tech Report, Nokia Siemens Networks just released their 2009 “Connectivity Scorecard.”  Now, while I usually take company funded reports with a grain of salt, the Connectivity Scorecard from NSN reveals an interesting position for Canada.  Our score is 6.15 compared to the US with a score of 7.71.

Why the difference?  The short blurb contends Canada has low 3G penetration and Ultra-boradband (50Mbps+) is non-existant.  You can read the detailed PDF here. Do you agree?  While many of us do not have much better than regular DSL (8Mbps), do you think we got the shaft in this assessment?  Anecdotally, I’ve heard we tend to lead the world, so, this was surprising.

You can see the report for Canada at