Friday, December 23, 2005

Sipura SPA-3000

Although phonegnome is supposed to be the next big thing, I think the Sipura SPA-3000 device is still very good value for money. (data sheet)

Its a relatively reasonably priced FXO, FXS interface. I've purchased a couple from jmg technology in australia which had some package deal for 2.

The pain with these things that it doesn't really come easy at this stage unlike broadband internet routers.

Looking at the configuration pages were a real pain and it is really difficult to understand every option. The solution was voxilla. After you create an account in voxilla and log in. under the sidebar voIP tools, device config wizards you will find a link that will ask simliar questions to let you configure your device.

The simplied setup guide for australia can be .

The support website is

Just to get started
- plug in everything except the phone line cable
- dial **** followed by 110# to get the ip address (accessible on the LAN)

A factory reset is **** followed by 73738#

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What quake taught us

Playing Quake II basically thought me that life was short and its not nice to camp with a rail gun at a spawning point.

I read today that the average life span of a non protected windows machine on the internet is 20 mins. I'm assuming this is with all the normal activity that most people do like surfing and checking their email.

This means that the first websites we should visit and the application to install after connecting up our new machine is the windows patch page and an anti-virus protection program.

I thought this might be an interesting fact to know. And of course the average lifespan of a space marine dropped into battle is ?

Merry Christmas

Tis the season to be jolly. Christmas is upon us and I've found it excessively hard to spend time to type a new article or do any music production. I imagine it would be a great time to reflect on our achievements and areas of improvement for the next year and spend some time writing some resolutions.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Offline MIDI routing mysteries for XP

The problem I've been having with MIDI on my winXP machine is that I've been unable to do any MIDI routing without launching my sequencer.

MacOS X has an inbuilt and intuitive function in the system preferences to manage this, however this function is lacking in windows.

Some midi interfaces provide its native routing program, e.g. emagic, but my tascam us-428 just didn't have that.

The solution, MIDI OX and MIDI Yoke. They have been around for a while, but its something i just discovered that does something similar. You will need to add all your MIDI devices and connect them up.

Its not as pretty as the MIDI controls in MacOS X, but it works.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dream computer

I believe a person's personal computer tells a lot about the person. Before that, people could only read faces, palms, handwriting. Now we know more about people by seeing what brand, operating system, choice of programs, wallpaper and desktop layout.

The last few of generations of machines has just swooped by us and a lot of people would have seen at least 3 - 5 computers pass them by. Naturally, it will soon be time to be looking at a new upgrade. So what would be this character defining machine be.

The more significant machines of this decade is my Fostex 4-track, Korg N5, Pentium 2-333, Pentium 3-667. G4 977 ibook. I have to say you really get great ROI on good machines. In fact, my old pentium machines are still serving faithfully to this day.

The trick to actually determining ROI should be best determined by the amount of time you spend at your machine, or at least the amount of time you want to spend at your machine. i.e. your best ROI will be your wife's nightmare. This means productive time vs waiting time and multi-processing abilities. Notice I didn't mention multitasking. I resided to the fact that I cannot multi-task and I do not try to anymore. multitasking == distractions.

The biggest time wasters, rendering, booting, burning. Happiness may be elusive to some, but in computing happiness is the lack of lag and great response times. The solution to each normally is a fast internet connection, a fast disk, good maintenance, installation and some intelligence. Of course ample system resources help the mix but is never the solution.

I've seen some supposedly fast machines run like a dog (no offence to fast dogs). In those cases, the system just isn't maximised. Some enthuisasts go to extremes. Call me lazy, but after gazillion program installations, you just dont change the installation path after a while (with the exception for games, old habits die hard)

The next dillema is that I'm a mac addict as well, and as much as I want my powermac, somehow the few dollars cheaper saved initially on a PC seems to easily sway people over. In truth, it is probably more cost effective to get Mac. You get all the software you need up front and no hassles and pain from the normal Windows world.

Games! Unless you only plan on playing on consoles, you'd bound to get a PC game which isn't on XBOX. Dawn of War, Guild Wars, Warcraft, Half-life2, etc.

So if I were to get a machine, here is what I would get:

- Intel Socket 775 Pentium D 830 3.0GHZ 800MHZ FSB Dual Core CPU
- ASUS P5ND2-SLI-DELUXE nFORCE4 LGA775 2xPCI-E G-Lan Raid Motherboard or Asus P5WD2-PREMIUM I955P PENTIUM D 4xDDR2 Raid PCI-EX GLan LGA775
- DDR2 2Gig(2x1G)PC5400 667Mhz Dual Channel Kit+Copper Heatspreader OCZ
- 2 x Maxtor 300G Serial ATA Hard disk
- Radeon X850XT, PCIe, 256MB GDDR3
- LG DVD16X+- Super Multi DVD Rewriter with Software(DUAL LAYER Black )4167BBK
- SilverStone LC17 BLACK ATX Desktop Case
at umart - $2,576

Yamaha 01x at musiclab - $1,299
Dell 24in 2405FPW LCD display at dell - $1,499

And if I were to get another notebook, it'd be a powerbook. Hey, a person has to have at least one Mac. Then again the new imac's do look really sweet.

So I wait... and I would imagine it will be a long wait....

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Awards for 2004/2005

Fav tracks

These aren't from 2005 but I would just claim them to be my fav tracks this year. To qualify I would have listened to each track like numerous times and occasionally several times at once.
A couple these tracks are fun to drum since I got my kit this year. A couple I played guitar with the band. Others are just exceptionally touching.

K's Choice - Iron Flower
Radiohead - Exit Music (For A Film)
Beatles - Come together
Bach - Concerto in D minor, BWV 1043 - I. Vivace
Chemical Brothers - The Test
Crystal Method - Weapons of mass distortion
Depeche Mode - World in my eyes
Grinspoon - Kills, Thrills, And Sunday Pills
Jebediah - Animal
The Vines - Ride
Collective soul - Listen
Stone Roses - Love Spreads
Getz/Gilberto - girl from ipanema
Air - dirty trip
New order - brutal
Sergio Mendes & Brazil 66 - Más Que Nada
Propellerheads - On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Placebo - bulletproof cupid

Other awards

Best Band - K's choice (thanks to many train rides and 1 MD)
Best Album - stan getz / joao gilberto (its a hi fidelity CD, good stuff too)
Best concert - Muse (real nice out in the park event)
Best Soundtrack - Doom (clint mansell)
Most memorable concert - Pavarotti (most expensive)

Gizmo vs Skype

Skype is going video while Gizmo is SIP.

In all fairness, I think people should give gizmo a go. I like the idea that its interoperable with other SIP networks while maintaining the ease of Skype.

Unfortunately, its not getting as much glory for being bought at a huge price, but I'm sure gizmo is a contender for the next big thing.

I've got my gizmo ID, get yours!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

aliens designed apple computers

Last night I dreamt I was back in my old room and there was a blackout. My UPS was buzzing and I had to rush to shutdown all my machines with only 1 KVM.

Soon after I hit control alt delete to save time, the wall I was facing was sucked away leaving a funny material wall with a small beige cusioned tunnel. the flat cusions was stuck to the walls of the tunnel with velcro.

I climbed into the tunnel and finally reached a white corridor and discovered little blue aliens. The aliens revealed that they designed apple computers when I noted that the ship internals look familier. As I walked along the corridors, I noticed a small chill out loungy looking bathing pool with bubbles populated with some guy and more aliens. I also met some immortals from "The Highlander" one played by Sean Connery.

Soon it was time to leave and I was hoping for a free mac. Unfortunately they didn't keep any stock but were kind enough to loan me one of the early concept design macs which actually looked like a 1970s portable hifi box with USB ports and VGA port on the side and a purple CRT monitor(similar to the blueberry series).

They explained that this model didn't do very well in the trade show and they finally went with the current designs. Purple wasn't very popular as well, so I could keep the monitor.

I probably exited the spacecraft and ended up in some graveyard voodoo ritual, but thats another story.

Friday, December 02, 2005

voIP adoption - part 1

Sure, we know all about voIP. We read the news and about how telecommunications is going to change. Apart from some phone card services and the alternate IDD line that use internet gateways, how else has voIP changed our lives.

About one year ago, I was trying to get my friends and family to install skype. Some finally did and still run it faithfully while others still plainly refuse. Now, I'm trying to get these people not to use skype but use a SIP capable internet phone instead. I was never quite happy with the limitation of skype not being transferable between other voIP services, but the plain simplicity of the installation and use was great for the people you had to talk to on the other end.

The process of making the switch will probably be gradual, but how do I make sure everyone is on the same system for interoperability? My solution would be to pick the protocol and not the application and SIP naturally comes to mine. Although SIP has been out for a while now, I still think it hasn't totally caught on as yet. Although I hope it would as mentioned in this article.

For a new system that everyone including my grandmother can use, there has to be no complications and very intuitive to be able to use by all skill levels.

I've identified there are 2 methods:

1. Mostly try to use the phone
2. User is able to select most preferable application

To be able to do this, some hardware is required.

Full setup: FXO/FXS interface, POTS line and telephone, dedicated server, internet connection
Half setup: FXO/FXS interface, POTS line and telephone, optional computer, internet connection
Computer setup: computer, internet connection, microphone

As most people already have more than half of the list, just getting the FXO/FXS interface would be the only thing left, if not a computer setup can be used for voIP calls.

Naturally to start things off, I decided to get myself one to figure out how it all works and since last year, I've been banging my head agaist the wall with my asterisk development kit only to find out I had a faulty set. Well, I just decided to put that aside for now and got a Sipura SPA-3000. After configuring my brand new spa-3000, I was rather excited that I could set it to ring my house phone when my freeworlddialup SIP number was called over the internet and get redirected if there was no answer.

The next challenge will be to do more intelligent routing to PSTN numbers and SIP numbers and to get my dial plan right. *sigh*. Is this ROI justifiable? Well, i do hope so. I'm sure it might be easier to just use a subscriber service, but just think of the satisfaction of dialing 9 first for an outside line? Maybe and maybe not.

Will provide a more detailed update as I progress.

monitoring and reporting interview

Q: Is there a monitoring and reporting tool package that can do "everything"?

A: Depending on the application. Well, speaking on past experience, I haven't seen a tool that has just out of the box done all the monitoring and reporting you will ever need. Uptime, performance or disk space alerts probably, but once you get down to the application you need to support, you're on your own and will need to build your own interface to the package or alert system.

Q: What about mature software packages by big vendors that have complicated specifications and requirements.

A: Some of these are great tools that work in specialised enviornments. Each tool will work on a case by case basis. Policy is currently an organisations best friend in controlling this enviornment. It can dictate what computer hardware and software are used. However in real life, its very difficult to maintain a certain standard as everyone works differently and you will obviously get the renegade department or people who will do something else and making them comply to standards is not a method of increasing productivity.

When you find a monitoring system that sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true. Always implement a proof of concept and determine the measures of success first.

Q: What are the measures of sucess of system monitoring and reporting?

A: 100% of system managers will say if the business need is met. Thats just an easy answer because its vague and easy to get away with. After all, who is going to challenge "business need"? A chalenge of determining a success of a system is normally in determining the metrics and thresholds. Since monitoring and reporting are already metrics, success factors are already determined. How easy is that?

I'd work through this process with the example of recording a track, as there is always more than one method. Laying the drums is normally the most basic and un-inspirational. Using an appagiator kicks of some imagination, but gets monotonous. These are the easiest methods. drum == server metrics, apagiator == third party tools. You get a solution but is it what you need?

Q: What makes the best "track" or solution?

A: I feel that the best track normally comes from the inspired player. It doesn't happen often and thats probably why there aren't that many best tracks around. How this equates to system and reporting is that the designer already knows what he or she wants. An apple hitting the head, or falling in the bathroom (kids do not do this at home). After knowing what you want, just go out and get or build the thing that you need.

Sounds way to tough, but dig deep and find that the answer is always simple. That determines the best solution for you. Do not fret if its not like what other packages are like. As long as it works for you and your organisation.

About the interviewee; pipsqueak has been designing monitoring, reporting and alert systems in various projects accross different servers both with and without cash from management.

computer gym

One of the more fun things about thursdays other than band practises is the computer gym. Its like a truck with computers for kids. I think its a great idea but i'm not exactly sure if the kids feel the same way. Still its good to get a bit of screen time and a lot more time outside.

dead pi

Well, I guess it has to happen at some point. the home automation raspberry pi has died. Much to do with the stupid Strontium mini SD card. ...