Friday, November 25, 2005

You have to love Sir Isaac Newton and US Cable TV

Who would have thought that these two items belonged together in a sentence.

Lets start with US Cable TV, without a doubt it is the one thing that I already know I will miss when I leave the USA - 600 channels with on demand movies (and dual tuner pvr even though I know these are already being rolled out around the world).

The coolest part of having 600 channels is that you get super specialized channels (there are at least 4 dedicated cooking channels and 4-6 other home design/renovation etc) One is a channel just on the Military (24 x 7 army seals, world war 2 tactics, famous commanders etc).

One of my favorite shows is on the Science Channel, it's basically a series about scientists and their impact on the world today.

Last week was Sir Isaac Newton, what can I say, this guy was nothing short of a legend - everyone knows the story sitting under a tree, apple falls on his head = gravity.

What I didn't know was how amazing this guy really was, I also had no idea how prolific this guy really was, he totally redesigned the telescope from lens based to mirror concentrator (the same design is still used today), he re-evaluated how we understand light waves to work and for a 30 year period he didn't bother to tell anyone he designed a new maths that today is the basis of calculus he only 'revealed' this to a fellow scientist who was trying to understand what shape of orbit a body under the effect of gravity would result (ellipse).

Gravity whilst his best known result, was only one of at least 6 to 9 other discoveries of at least equal value. I have a new respect for Sir Isaac Newton and a new respect for the ability of multiple channels to deliver truly specialized content, this more than anything might be molding what I work on next.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Walking Under Ladders Cause Terrorism included something sensible in today's issue as lawyer Julian Burnside points out, the response should be proportionate to the threat - and the likelihood of a Westerner dying from jihadist violence is around 0.0001%.

By contrast, the annual probability of an Australian dying of smoking-related causes is 0.1%.

Or as economics commentator Ross Gittins notes, Americans are almost nine times more likely to die falling off a ladder than in a terrorist attack.

If the government and media response to Australia's biggest problemswas based on reality, probability and relativity, the SMH's top fiveheadlines might read something like this:
"Govt's new laws to reduce road toll"
"Moves to double price of cigarettes"
"Suicide research grants quadrupled"
"Push to increase cancer funding"
"Death: as easy as falling off a ladder"

well it made me smile :)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Sony's new Root Kit = "Welcome to Sony's World"

Bought a Sony CD lately? played it on your pc?.....then you no longer own the rights to prevent Sony modifying any and all of your pc's files from root.

Yep Sony installs a Root Kit (a software program that you cant see or delete, have no idea of what it's doing without looking at the binary code, runs in the background even after you stop playing the CD) from the first time you play one of their new cd's in your pc. It also phones home via the internet with your details each and ever time you play the CD again...thought you owned the rights to use the CD anyway you see fit? nope not with these new 'content enhanced cds' and also Sony have the rights to brick (prevent from working ever again) your computers CD player should they feel you are using a pirated version of the CD.

Oh by the way, dont mind having Sony access these files ..... well it also lets anyone else hack into your pc and modify these files using a $SYS$DRV prefix, the first trojan has already been reported by Sophos.

You didn't realise that this CD was anything other than a music CD .... sorry yes you can remove the software, however Sony dont tell you how to do it without adding your name to their email marketing list and there is a fair chance you will need to reinstall windows when you finish

Ahh what happened to the good old days when you liked a bought their CD, you listened to like it so much you bought another one of their cd's..... etc etc

It's a fairly technical read but if you want this is one of the best articles written on this issue (and also one of the first discoverers of the root kit)

(Sony free and going to stay that way until they change their ways)

Sony have suspended production of these cd's, at this moment they have refused a recall of the existing cd's but I suspect this space.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


You know I was just looking over the first 2 weeks worth of posts and I realised that I hadn't posted at all about Asterisk.

Considering how cool I think this software application is I'm surprised it's taken me this long. I know Asterisk may seem like a geek toy or something only companies can use but considering you can run Asterisk on a $100 P3 - 1Ghz pc it's something that everyone should look at for even the smallest of home offices.

Asterisk is an open source Linux based ip-pabx. That means you can download for free one of the smartest and most flexible IP PABX solutions available today.

To start check these links out;

There is a growing wealth of information on the wiki
(although a little unorganized)

Asterisk includes features out of the box such as
· Voicemail to email
· Fax to email
· Conference rooms with secured passwords
· Gui web control for conference rooms
· Agent and call centre stats
· Web displayed operators console including drop and drag transfers
· Dial from outlook/dial from html command.
· Text to speech – when I dial extension *61 my asterisk box downloads a text file of the New York weather report from the bureau of meteorology and then reads it aloud to me – (to get it to do this took only 40 lines of code)
· Remote agents – you could answer your office extension from your home pc.
· Auto/manual recording of calls (auto archive or email of calls to conversation participants)

Asterisk also gives you the ability to intuitively customize your solution as much or as little as you want, allowing this project to be open sources means you have 1,000+ developers out there working for you on customizations you can implement when/if you choose and as this technology is gpl’d you never need to worry about increasing costs or license fees.

For the non technical there is now asterisk@home (don’t be put off by the name – people run entire companies on this version)

Here is a link to the latest Beta version of Asterisk@home 2.0

The asterisk@home solution the easiest way to get started. It is an .iso cd that you burn, load into a suitable PC (I run mine on a P3-700) and this super smart scripting code automatically installs the following software;

- Asterisk (the open source switching software)
- AMP (an open source release of a gui configurator) they have their own separate sourceforge website
- FOP (a graphical web page for transferring calls, monitoring who is online etc)
- Web meetme (a graphical web page for monitoring and controlling conference calls)

Asterisk gives you today for free what the very best Cisco, Nortel or Avaya can offer you for $40k+ and allows small companies (or the largest) the latest in technology.

Examples of this include my Sydney phone number which for $A9.50 a month is actually just an extension of my Asterisk PABX in New York.

I can make local calls across Australia for 10c unlimited, or I can receive calls from people in Sydney which only costs them a local call (and doesn't cost me anything at all apart from the $A9.50 per month).

Who doesn't have friends, families or customers overseas that they could take advantage of with something like this. Plus the ability to answer your home phone from your laptop in the office is always a cool feature.

Feel free to ask me any question you might have as I love this software and want to see it widely supported.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

lol - wasn't what I was thinking of posting today but.....

1. Player Name dean.collins, General Rating 10339

I finally made it to Number 1 on - it's a web based version of the Risk board game.

I found out about global combat over a year ago and probably play a game at least once a day...... dont even try to calculate how much time I've spent playing this game but being number 1 out of 64,586 players feels pretty good.

Ok now back to work