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TCAPI – where are thou? January 6, 2009 at 10:03 pm

I join in celebrating FreeSWITCH‘s 1.0.2 release! The project is really gaining momentum and looks very promising, and I’m happy to be along for the ride.

I am also honored to have the TCAPI project mentioned in their announcement as a “future look ahead.”

What happened to TCAPI, you may ask?

TCAPI is very much alive and well but admittedly we are working very hard on getting some core pieces in place first before inviting the masses to join. I really am only looking for dedicated contributors at this point who want to spend time and energy contributing to the project. The project has morphed slightly along with another project (well known to many of you). While all the details are not yet public, I’m happy to share info on a 1:1 basis. Feel free to drop me a note if you are still interested in contributing to this project – email me.

In the meantime, if you haven’t played with FreeSWITCH yet, hop to it!

Ruby on Rails installation on CentOS 5.2 – zlib and other errors at 9:59 pm

I thought it would be good to share my experience with installing Ruby on Rails w/ CentOS 5.2.

It didn’t get off to a very good start, namely because the person before me had already tried to install rails unsuccessfully. The issue appears to stem from the configure mechanism in Ruby which links against zlib libraries that may or may not be correct. Undoing this was non-trivial.

Specifically I was receiving this error when doing anything with gem:

`gem_original_require': no such file to load -- zlib (LoadError)

Installing zlib and zlib-devel libraries on CentOS did not fix the problem because the linking had already occurred back in the ruby build (I think, anyway). I decided the easiest thing was to do a “rip and replace” fix by ripping out all of ruby and the associate gem software and re-installing. I did this as follows:

1. Remove all packages that were installed via yum

rpm -qa | grep ruby
yum remove [insert results from output above here]

2. Go look for remnants that may have been installed by gem or by a manual compile of ruby and remove them, too. A few places I had to look:

rm -rf /usr/local/lib/ruby
rm -rf /usr/lib/ruby
rm -f /usr/local/bin/ruby
rm -f /usr/bin/ruby
rm -f /usr/local/bin/irb
rm -f /usr/bin/irb
rm -f /usr/local/bin/gem
rm -f /usr/bin/gem

3. Download the latest ruby source and rubygems source to /usr/local/src/ and extract them. At the time of this writing, those commands were:

cd /usr/local/src
wget ftp://ftp.ruby-lang.org/pub/ruby/1.8/ruby-1.8.7-p72.tar.gz
tar xzf ruby-1.8.7-p72.tar.gz
wget http://rubyforge.org/frs/download.php/45905/rubygems-1.3.1.tgz
tar xzf rubygems-1.3.1.tgz

4. Go into the Ruby directory and compile it, like so:
cd ruby-1.8.7-p72

NOTE: This was the key part to watch. This time around, you should see compile messages stating that zlib was compiled successfully at the end of the log on your screen.

5. Now install Ruby, if all went well:

make install

6. Now go setup RubyGems, like so:

cd ../rubygems-1.3.1
ruby setup.rb

7. Update the gem system for good measure

gem update --system

7. Install Rails

gem install rails

Presto, a nice clean CentOS 5.2 install.

Phish ReUnion : Who didn’t see this coming? October 1, 2008 at 3:29 pm

From phish.com:

“Phish returns to the stage for three concerts at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia on March 6, 7 and 8, 2009.

A limited number of tickets are available directly through Phish Tickets’ online ticketing system at http://phish.portals.musictoday.com/ . The ticketing request period is currently underway and will end on Wednesday, October 8th at 11:59AM EST.

Tickets go on sale to the public on Saturday, October 18th at 10 AM EST and may be purchased online at http://ticketmaster.com or by phone at 757.671.8100, 757.872.8100 or 804.262.8100. Tickets will not be available at the venue box office and there is a two-ticket limit per show.

The band intends to announce additional touring in 2009 early next year.”

And a note to others searching for arrangements to the show:
– All hotels within 5 miles of Hampton Coliseum are already booked up
– Get your flights now 🙂

TCAPI @ AstriCon September 23, 2008 at 4:38 pm

I’ll be at AstriCon starting today, Tuesday, September 23rd thru Thursday, September 25th.

If you’re interested in the first open-source FreeSWITCH GUI based on TCAPI, or interested in how TCAPI might work with Asterisk, or just want to say hi, look for me @ AstriCon! 🙂

TCAPI Project now out there somewhere… September 7, 2008 at 8:18 pm

Those developers who joined the introductory WebEx today can now access the code that was released. It’s not much, but it’s a good start. Hopefully some folks will commit some stuff to it.

For those who didn’t join today you can still get involved. Please drop me an email if you want to develop some code for what is currently a FreeSWITCH-based GUI front-end for a PBX (and whatever other functions you might desire).

You can reach me here.

Also, I’m curious to start getting feature requests. What makes up a good FreeSWITCH UI? What functions do you want to see? Let me know your thoughts.

TCAPI Pre-Alpha Release (formerly FreeSWITCH GUI Project) September 3, 2008 at 3:53 pm

I’m pleased to announce the pre-alpha (yes, pre-alpha, meaning “doesn’t do very much”) release of the FreeSWITCH GUI project (now named “TCAPI” – the Telephony Configuration API).

Before you get all excited, I want to make sure I’m clear that my main focus has been concentrating on structure and flexibility of the back-end and whatever modularity I could build thus far. I will publish a stack-type diagram shortly to show what I’m looking to achieve. In the meantime, I’m releasing what code has been written (it’s not much) to help people get familiar with the underlying structure of the code. The UI doesn’t *do* anything except configure extensions with various variables that aren’t recognized by default by FreeSWITCH so if you are thinking this GUI will, today, actually do anything for you, keep holding.

Here’s what HAS been accomplished:

  • Implementation of a reasonable AJAX-based JavaScript framework that also implements cross-browser compatible CSS “frames”
  • Helpers have been created to aid in reading/writing XML files with complex element/attribute structures
  • Ability to write your data to MySQL/SQL/Firebird/DB2/Oracle/ODBC/Postgres/etc.
  • Ability to write to raw/native FreeSWITCH XML files via a FreeSWITCH model (+ the start of a DBO layer for FreeSWITCH)
  • Basic controllers with limited logic
  • A lot of work has gone into making the JavaScript work in an abstract-able way, so that a different AJAX framework can be introduced later
  • Menus are configurable without touching any JavaScript. You can write stuff that utilizes the JavaScript framework without knowing or touching any JavaScript directly
  • DHTML/CSS frames-based layout allows for “plugging in” just about anything as a menu item (including scripts in other languages, if necessary)
  • XML save/load models are easy to duplicate, and mapping helper functions are just a few steps away
  • Extensions page is functional and easy to modify/setup/etc.
  • Basic sample pages have been put together for other areas (domains/users/devices)
  • Browser-based AJAX streaming classes have been written/included to allow for streaming channel status information
  • Everything has been written with layers in mind (as much as time allowed for anyway)
  • Oh, and of course, an IRC channel on freenode
  • irc.freenode.net #tcapi

    Here’s what’s very much missing:

  • A web page describing the software & it’s mission (I have this written, but would like to post it on a nice looking website)
  • A bug tracking system
  • A proper email list
  • A PHPDocumenter-generated (or similar) list of functions & what limited classes/APIs have been written
  • A simple install procedure/instructions/etc. file
  • SIP Profile configuration tools
  • Domain configuration tools
  • A dialplan that allows advanced features being saved to the XML work (stock dialplan)
  • A ‘settings’ page to configure base settings via the UI
  • JavaScript is not properly abstracted on most pages
  • this needs to be completed
  • Pages should be designed to work within the JavaScript frames as well as when they are NOT in the frames
  • The fsxml component needs to be abstracted as a custom behavior

    Other ideas I’m tossing around:

  • Making all HTML and back-end pieces WSDL/SOAP accessibile
  • True APIs – everything has been written as if it was a program for now, but I’m at the point where many things should have get/set/etc. commands added and the related variables that are being modified should become protected, so that things can be moved into libraries.

    A few things have been kept out of the initial check-in until I clean them up, but the channel & conference status pages will be checked in by Friday I hope so that you can monitor calls in progress/etc.

    So what’s next! I am limiting who gains access to the initial files and who commits to the project. I am doing this to gauge interest and because so much still needs to be done, I frankly only want serious, interested developers at this time (even if you can’t commit gobs of time, you need to show your interest in at least learning how the things work). This is mostly to avoid questions and also avoid disappointment from “end-users” who are just out there to try things out, since most of this code doesn’t do very much yet and a lot of hand-holding to install it is still required.

    So here’s what I’ve decided to do. I am going to hold two training WebEx meetings in the next week. The first one will be on Sunday at 11am PST. I will go through the code and how to set it up. I will provide an SVN link at that time to the code and you can follow along with the setup process. All you need is an install of FreeSWITCH on a Linux box + Apache + PHP5 stock libraries. Past that, I’ll get you going, show you how the code is setup, where things are, how to add menu items, how to add a table to the custom model, and so on. And you should be off to the races to try out any of the above items you wish, or some of your own!

    So again, WebEx, Sunday, 11am PST. If you’re interested, please email me and I’ll send you a formal invite with an attendee link.

    If you’re not interested in contributing at this time, just sit tight. I expect a true functional alpha release to be ready within 30 days (or less) that can configure SIP profiles, domains and directory entries completely from the UI.

    You are also welcome to invite others – pass along this URL if you wish.

  • Outside Lands – Good things come to those who wait August 25, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Friday got off to a bit of a rocky start in my eyes at San Francisco’s inaugural Outside Lands music festival. The polo field simply could not handle the 60,000+ crowd that streamed in to watch Radiohead, and the sound system couldn’t handle it, either. Two complete cut-outs for at least 30 seconds? Unacceptable! I was mad.

    But the festival redeemed itself on Saturday when better weather, more relaxation during the day and the start of a great and more local lineup began. The festival was actually quite well organized for the sized crowd that was present Saturday & Sunday. No lines for beer, IDs, or other stuff. An awesome wine tasting tent. The Visa Signature room was killer, too – a secret spot to hang and enjoy clean portajohns, a nice bar and streaming live music from the stages – if you had a Visa card. Slick promotion if you ask me. And even the weather got better every day – from thick fog Friday night to blue skies on Sunday. This was clearly a festival that just got better over time.

    Mike Gordon’s set was most anticipated by yours truly, and it was OK, but not spectacular. I miss the old Phish. What can I say. Steve Winwood, on the other hand, was unexpectedly “jammy” and there were great improv songs during his set which got the crowd really moving.

    All in all the festival was fantastic. People were respectful, though the park was far from clean when it was over. I hope the festival is welcomed back next year, and I hope a not-quite-so-big headliner is chosen for Friday night so we don’t anger the rest of the city by completely ruining mass transit. (Not that it functions anyway, but, you know…)

    United – What are you doing to loyal business travelers? August 24, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I am a loyal frequent flyer on United Airlines, mostly due to their p.s. service from San Francisco to New York. For roughly $450 round-trip plus the equivalent of $250 in frequent flyer miles, I can usually upgrade to the largest domestic business class seat in the US and get a hot meal on the way. I find this a pretty reasonable fare to pay for a seat and service that is akin to business class on an international flight (and better then first class on most domestic flights), and since I hate flying, I’ll do just about anything to make my experience more comfortable.

    Now the reality is I fly about 20 times a year so I probably generate roughly $10,000/year in airline revenue. Half those flights are NOT on p.s. because I’m not going to New York. But I still keep my business with United so that I can maintain my flying status within the UAL Mileage Plus program. In doing so, I must endure many “normal” configurations of United planes, especially annoying on Ted where business class cabins are not available. This is still a reasonable trade-off to me. Again, the tickets are usually more but the long-term benefit is the EQMs and the increased upgrade availability due to frequent flyer status.

    And the upgraded seats really do help me conduct business. I use the extra space to spread out papers, go through old contracts I have yet to review (though sometimes I’ve already signed), and on a really crazy week I occasionally go through old personal mail. If I’m with a coworker, we can talk business without having an occupied seat in the middle. The value is high to me, because I ultimately save time and energy while I travel, and I also get some good focus time for thinking about difficult problems.

    This latest trend of nickel & diming, however, has now begun to irritate me. It seems that United Airlines has finally gone from catering to business travelers to treating everyone like they are on a Greyhound. As one SF Chronicle article puts it, “The savings they will get doing away with lunch in business class – they will lose more than that when corporations yank business.”

    So what am I so annoyed about? Well yes, it looks like I must finally admit it. I like my airline food. It’s not unusual that I’m catching a 6am flight and haven’t had a chance to grab breakfast, or a noon flight that was directly after a long-running meeting. Does the money actually bother me? No, not really – what bothers me is having to have cash on board. Or having to settle for a shrink-wrapped selection of garbage. Or having to ask a flight attendant for a receipt if I plan to file an expense report for said meal. Or maybe I’ll just absorb the cost out of pocket (as small as it may be), which annoys me further.

    For the first time ever, I am now looking at other airlines mileage programs. This is the worst thing for you, United.

    I really wish you’d just raise the business class fares by $10-20 to cover my meal. Isn’t that reasonable? We business travelers don’t mind. We want to fly without thinking or reaching for our wallets. We’re busy people.

    So please stop with the nickel & diming – it’s fine in coach, but we don’t want “a la carte” in business class.

    The FreeSwitch GUI Project July 26, 2008 at 2:24 am

    Welp, it’s official.

    The FreeSwitch UI / GUI Project is underway. This week I hope to put the finishing touches on a functioning graphical, web-based user interface front-end that, at the least, adds/edits/removes extensions, adds/edits/removes service providers, lets you setup some basic global features, and maybe even allows you to have a “light” version of a functioning PBX.

    The system utilizes FreeSwitch, CakePHP and some JavaScript/DHTML add-ons. Some may bicker about this, as I am aware it bloats the software a bit, but considering the audience for this is administrators, a bit of bloat in exchange for rapid development and ease of use seems reasonable. CakePHP may also be a source of complaint (compared to Symfony and others, or maybe you just hate PHP), but hey, the reality is CakePHP is under active development and seems relatively lightweight. Best of all (in my opinion) it doesn’t use a templating engine for views. Those things make me cringe when trying to teach people in an open source project how to ramp-up on the coding pieces, and don’t add enough value to warranty this additional hurdle.

    The overall design is easy enough to understand that anyone should be able to dig into the Ajax friendly front-end views without knowing much coding, or add functionality on the back-end where the same assumption applies.

    Here’s a screen shot to wet your appetite…

    Configuration screen in FS demo

    If you’re interested in helping with development, please contact me.

    Rothbury vs. Bonnaroo – A look back July 19, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    I’m finally unwinding from my July 4th weekend (yes, two weeks later) and got some free time to write up a bit about Rothbury.

    For those of you who don’t know much about me, I have attended music festivals (the kind that draw hippies from around the country to camp out for 3 or 4 nights and listen to 20+ bands in a weekend) since I was in college. I was a bit obsessed with them, so after college I went and worked for a short time with a promoter on the east coast. It was a blast, and quite revealing on the back-end of the scene.

    When that company eventually ceased to operate, I found myself back as an attendee at music festivals, rather then behind the scenes. That was the first year that Bonnaroo happened – a music festival in Manchester, TN that, with no formal advertising campaign, sold out 50,000+ tickets in just a few weeks at $100+ a pop. Three stages of music over four days (and a few beers later), I was hooked. Music festivals were clearly the next big “music industry thing.” For me, anyway.

    From 2002 to 2007 I have been to every Bonnaroo and have watched the festival evolve. Each year I have gone with the hope that the festival would grow and learn more – new art, new logistics for the festival itself, better services, different music. Bonnaroo met that challenge for the first few years. To add to it, I always challenged myself to try something new – car camping, RVing, VIP, no car (tent-only) camping, no tent camping (yikes – thanks United Airlines for losing my bags!), etc. This just added to the fun and experience. I learned a ton about how to be a great festival go-er.

    Skip to 2007, and a host of music festivals now dot the country of this magnitude. 10,000 Lakes Music Festival, Langerado, All Good Music Festival, Vegoose, and so on – just to name a few. Each one of these has taken a page from the other, and it seems like they each try and “one up” each other from year to year.

    Then came 2008. While I had noticed a distinct shift in direction (and type of attendees) at Bonnaroo since 2002, the lineup was always interesting. I bought my flight and reserved transportation in November – before the lineup was even announced. But this year, when I heard Metallica was the headliner, with Kayne West. This was a big letdown for me – Bonnaroo’s first ever – to the point where I actually decided to cancel my ticket and plans to go.

    Then Rothbury was announced.

    The line-up was just like Bonnaroo 2002, and the location looked better. My hopes were high, so high, that I worried they wouldn’t be met. After all my experience I certainly had some standards to meet.

    Well, I’m pleased to announce that ROTHBURY BLEW ME AWAY. The festival was fantastic. It felt like someone had gone around and looked at every annoying detail about every festival and fixed it. Everything was better – from no lines to get in, to lots of room to park and camp, to lots of space on the concert fields, to the amazing sherwood forest and the related psychedellic light show there, to the calm and relaxing get-away at the beach, to the cabins that dotted the property – even the wristbands they issued were comfortable! It seemed like everything was so smoothly setup and run, I just couldn’t believe it.

    Rothbury has won me over, but it’s also showed me that you can clearly keep raising the bar – it just takes some new creativity. It is my sincere hope that Rothbury does not get so excited about this year’s success that they try to “blow up” the place with too many people and not enough new creativity. That is where, looking back, I felt like Bonnaroo fell short. It wasn’t so much the line-up that disappointed me, but the fact that nothing on the festival grounds has really changed in the last three years, so a crummy lineup + no new festival grounds “stuff” wasn’t a compelling enough reason to drop ~$2,000 for the trip there (I’m coming from California, so it ends up costing!).

    Anyway, check out the photos I’ll be posting tomorrow for some awesome Rothbury pics.

    and here’s to a Phish reunion 🙂

    Rothbury at Night #1

    Rothbury at Night #2