secret society of super sydney sysadmins

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Asterisk saves me money, even using just the one VoIP provider. (Disclaimer: The provider I use is run by my employer, but I’m writing this only as a happy customer! :). It just so happens that my work desk phone number is a free call, but my wife can never remember the number and is usually in too much of a hurry to stop and think about whether I’m at my desk yet etc.

…or at least, not as bad as it’s sometimes made out to be. Please note that I am not discussing any password system used by any employer, past or present. This is based on general industry knowledge only, and is meant to explain why so much software suggests or requires plaintext passwords to be stored. When I first came across a professional application that used plaintext password storage (about six years ago now) – I thought, “Ugh, why would anyone store passwords cleartext?”.

One of the nice things Asterisk can do is manipulate Caller ID information on the fly. Since I’m too lazy to update the stored numbers within my individual cordless handsets, I use Asterisk to cheat. Asterisk looks up the incoming phone number (“08XXXXXXXX”) in a MySQL table, finds matching text (“Bob”) and passes that along to the handsets for display. This assumes you have a MySQL database on the same box as asterisk, with a username of asterisk, password of mypassword, your database is called asterisk, and your final internal destination is SIP/myphone.

A quick adding game for Asterisk. Set up an extension (I used “4263″) to Goto(game,s,1). It will speak two numbers from 1-8, and expects a single key to be pressed for the sum of those two numbers. I’ve only used fairly standard sounds, so there’s no recording involved. Hoping that my five-year-old enjoys this :) [game] exten => s,1,NoOp(GameSTART) exten => s,n,Set(num1=${RAND(1,8)}); exten => s,n,Set(maxnum2=$[9-${num1}]) exten => s,n,Set(num2=${RAND(1,${maxnum2})}) exten =>

When I mention to someone that I have a PABX at home, people always ask me – WHY??? Early Media – this is a fancy way of saying that when someone calls me it doesn’t just go “ring ring” – I have it going “rrrrrinngggggg rrrrrrinnnngggg” like an old-school telephone. I’ve considered having cackling monkeys, but I don’t want to confuse people too much. Free Calls Home – Anywhere I have full Internet access (like at an Internode CityLan hotspot ;) I can connect to the PABX and call the “extension” that rings my home phone.

Well, it’s been three months at Internode – a bit over, actually. And… it’s cool here. I really like that I can focus on just sysadmin work, instead of trying to divide my attention sixty ways. (That’s Anton’s job now :-). And I still get to spend time on forums (think Whirlpool), though it’s not quite as easy to justify! I also have had quite a few freebies already (coffee mugs, shirts, hats, etc – from node itself and vendors).

End of an Era

Well, it’s done. Over. My last day at Ballistic Media (CGSociety) is now finished. To my friends – for five years, my family – good bye. Keep in touch!

Changing Jobs!

Wow. It wasn’t that long ago that I never thought I’d do this. On the 25th of July, 2008, my time at Ballistic Media will come to an end. On the 28th of July, I will begin working for Internode as a Systems Administrator. Wow. So many reasons – mostly that I need to explore new things, and try new stuff out. It’s been one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made: giving up the family and security that I’ve had here at Ballistic, for the dream of something new and different.

A beautiful quote from Asimov’s “Prelude to Foundation” Why, he wondered, did so many people spend their lives not trying to find answers to questions – not even thinking of questions, to begin with? Was there anything more exciting in life than seeking answers? – Hari Seldon, subchapter 54.

Please note that the following was written some time ago, when the described flaw was only freshly fixed. I found the document recently, and have cleaned up the text in minor places; other than that it is as written in early 2004 MSN Messenger inconsistent UTF-8 handling (Or, How I Learned To Start Worrying and Hate UTF-8) Introduction UTF-8 is a godsend. It allows encoding of foreign (including non-Latin) characters into a file that’s still compatible with US-ASCII for all English-only use.