Astricon So Far

Two days of working the floor at Astricon, and ‘m already tired.  I’m definitely not used to talking quite so much.  I’ve been very happy with the reception we’ve had with the Asterisk community though.

Coming into the conference, Ivan and I figured we’d be able to have some good discussions with people looking at ITSP (Internet Telephony Service Providers), as we have a package that fills their needs far better than other open source solutions.  Heck, we beat out proprietary ones too :). What has been nice though is to really get a feel for the needs of other markets, such as call centers and larger enterprises.  We’ve found we can already fulfill a large part of their needs also, and can quickly extend to provide even more capabilities that no other products are fulfilling.  Many of these groups are realizing that they need to perform internal “billing”, accounting for departmental expenditures, or track individual callers usage.  Freeside’s provisioning system makes it much easier for many groups to setup users, manage inventory, and automate rollout procedures.

Many people are really seeing a future of Freeside powering a lot of their Asterisk process, and we couldn’t be happier.  Now we need to get more documentation on how to do it up on the wiki :-/

Pushing an agenda too far

Ok, this article really pissed me off:  Water pistol prizes draw a sharp rebuke

The basic point is, a city councilman (Democrat) was working as a lifeguard at a pool, when he found a 9-year old boy that had a water gun toy.  This councilman took the toy, and asked where he got it.  The boy replied it was a prize he won from the town libraries’ reading contest.

So, from a big box of mixed prizes, a little boy wins a water gun, and the city council man is “up in arms” about it.  Somehow he believes it’s ill-conceived, and that we must do so much to stop horrors like this.

The worst part is the article has the director of the library apologizing for the “mistake”.

How can we have progressed to where we have to feel bad because a little boy got a prize that he probably really liked.  And from a reading program at that.  Remember folks, the lesson today is that it must be those toy guns that are the cause of violence, not people’s choices

Last Minute Asterisk

As a last minute trip, I’ll be heading out Wednesday to Astricon to assist Ivan in presenting Freeside to the Asterisk community.  Hopefully we’ll be able to help a lot of people and companies understand how their billing needs are already met with open source.

Oh, and the hackathon time will be really nice too.  Thanks to jsmith and sisd for helping me out with the trip.  If you want to learn about how to bill, or even account for Asterisk calls with open source, look us up, we’ll be featured in the Open Source Showcase.

Bending Finance Law

America is a country built on breaking the law.  It’s a fact, just look at how our country formed, why we broke free, and how it was possible.  Smuggling was a key industry.  I had a teacher years ago that harped about how this ethos has continued on to make us what we are today.  It’s why we feel ok breaking laws like speeding, and more.  But it’s also what I think causes so many people to find it easy to try and find ways to circumvent our tangled laws.  One that I look into a lot is what ways people will find to get around the convoluted Sarbanes-Oxley act, and also for campaign finance laws, such as McCain-Feingold.

Two examples of this that came up recently that got me to the point of writing this article:

First: Bundling Issues .  As reported in the linked WSJ article, some groups are using a refunding scam to get around the laws and donate more than the legal amount to their preferred candidate. From the article:

When Hillary Rodham Clinton held an intimate
fund-raising event at her Washington home in late March, Pamela Layton
donated $4,600, the maximum allowed by law, to Mrs. Clinton’s
presidential campaign.

But the 37-year-old Ms. Layton says she and her
husband were reimbursed by her husband’s boss for the donations. “It
wasn’t personal money. It was all corporate money,” Mrs. Layton said
outside her home here. “I don’t even like Hillary. I’m a Republican.”

Second: Hsocking Hsu Secrets Revealed!

As people dig into the background of the now famous Hsu, we find out all sorts of dirty little secrets about how he’s been getting money to different people.  Some in ways related to the previous article.  What really ticks me off is after people discovered the Jack Abramoff scandal, some representatives were run out (in many ways I agree).  Yet based on party lines, some people were completely kept clean (Sen. Reid for example).  Hsu has donated *as much* to Democrats as Abramoff did to republicans (and 99.96% of his monies to Democrats alone), and yet they seem to be unscathed, pitching Hsu as a standalone donor.  What is the difference between the two?  Why can prominant Democrats be seen as clean from the money, when someone simply from another party be considered dirty?  Loopholes, fair for the victimization party, unfair for the others.  (They both are guilty IMHO).

The Wheel Stops Turning

This is exactly why I will never start another “unfinished” book series.

“Wheel of Time author Robert Jordan dies”:

Yes, I am one of those who with each book release has re-read the whole Wheel of Time series, and was more than eagerly awaiting the last book. It’s long been said he’s had the end written, it’s all the stuff in the middle he’s been working on. Now hopefully we’ll get someone to finish up the last bit of work on this darn series.

Fully Qualified

After a seriously hard fight, Team DesertEdge has earned it’s way to the Scenario Paintball Players League National Finals.  Last weekend we had to fight through the brackets with the best scenario paintball teams in the local states to earn our way to this honor.

DesertEdge fielded two squads at this event, and wound up taking 3 qualifying spots (4th, 5th, and Sportsmanship).  Getting two teams to this point is amazing, especially considering the quality of the opponents.  Even better when we lost out of the game for first/second place by 1 point! (out of several hundred available per game).  I also can’t complain when that game was one of the best paintball games ever played.  The opponents (Team Forest Fire) were excellent, Refs were great, and the sportsmanship between the two teams was outstanding.

After them we fought the Paraplegic turtles in an intense game in which we lost through a few details that hurt us, but still with a close score.  And you can’t fault the work on the turtles, their gun-skills were top-notch throughout the day.

The top team was Team Run again this year, who has always been our toughest competition.  We were glad when we were able to provided players they needed one morning to field the team needed to complete their bracket, basically knocking ourselves out of contention for first place.

Now, I have to figure out a way to Oklahoma next month to compete in the national competition with the other qualifying teams.

Start-Up Challenge

The Amazon Start-Up Challenge has begun.  Got an idea you want to try out? Now’s your chance to play with it on the AWS cluster.  Try using their services to get your system started and you could win a bit of money.

This is pretty cool, I’ve been starting to play a little with the EC2 + S3 combination, and interested in the other fun toys like FPS and SQS.  Now, how should I use it…


Bravo to ActiveState for opening up some of their platform, and eating their own:

The OpenKomodo project was just announced.  They’ll be building their own tools off this same platform.  Could lead to some seriously nice open tools.

OpenKomodo’s licensing will apparently be three-fold.  The mozilla public license, GPL, and LGPL.  This should definitely give plenty of freedom in extending the system to great FOSS applications.  Imagine having a firefox built out where firebug-like tools became the norm of your environment.  Very nifty indeed.

Keysigning/Identity Party At UTOSC

Among the many events happening at UTOSC, you can join in the BOF session and become a part of the Utah web of trust.  Yes, we’ll be having a keysigning party, and some people had mentioned also doing cert signings.  This is a great chance to join in the best geek social network of all, one that actually has value.  You should see some new posts and emails coming out soon with more information, but if you would like to join the web, send your gpg information to gpg – at – scottr dot org.

For information about what you need to send, or how to get started, follow these instructions.  Remember to upload your key to a public keyserver, and then send the key you will use to the aforementioned address.  There will then be a web page with all the attendees fingerprints, which you will be able to verify at the party.

Unwinding At Grandaddy

I live in Utah.  I love camping.  With that said, some people find it strange that until this weekend, I’d never been to the Uintahs.  Of course, I didn’t grow up here, and just now have had the chance to really get out a bit more.  So this weekend my neighbor and I headed out to the Uintah mountains to the Grandaddy Basin.

The hike out, over Hades Pass, was 4 miles, and I had been told quite difficult.  Well, not really.  Was a lot easier than expected, which let us spend a bit of extra time finding a great camping spot.  We had heard the area was a popular spot, so we were a bit worried about seeing too many people, especially on a holiday weekend.  Instead we were pleased to have only about 4 groups total in the area, which led to an overall very private weekend.

The Grandaddy basin is quite a nice area.  After leaving the oppressive Utah summer heat it felt great to be surrounded by trees, and numerous lakes and ponds.  Spending time wandering in the forests I couldn’t help but keep finding nice water pools and meadows.  Nights were brisk, another enjoyable thing, but the fishing was extremely slow for various reasons.

As a geek, it’s extremely nice to be able to completely just get away, to spend a weekend scrounging around in the dirt, and just having fun.  I’ll definitely be heading back to this area, and hopefully bringing my family as the kids get a little older.  There are lots of fish (normally biting), lots of big and tiny lakes, short hikes, easy distance.  It’s just a great location.

Grandaddy Lake Photos
Grandaddy Lake Picasa Gallery