Google Helpouts – A Help Provider’s Review

Google has recently started offering a new service called Helpouts for connecting consultants for various  disciplines with people wanting help via video conferencing / IM in a sort of app-like marketplace online.  This is a great use of their Hangouts platform to connect everyday people with other small business providers to provide a variety of consultation services.  I received an early access invite to set up my own Helpouts listing, and thought I’d share my thoughts on it from a provider’s viewpoint. Continue reading

Response to Vic Toews’ Email re Bill C-30 Privacy Concerns

I recently sent an email of protest concerning the Internet privacy Bill C-30 via OpenMedia.ca. Interestingly, I got a automated reply back from the Honourable Vic Toews addressing the issues in the email. Unfortunately, the email raises a lot more questions than it answers, for me. Here is my response, with the text of the original email following afterward: Continue reading

Android 472% Malware Increase Scare Is Sensationalist

Today I’m seeing a huge number of articles screaming “Android Malware Surges Nearly Five-Fold Since July” (PC Magazine) and “Android malware has jumped up 472%” (Apple Insider).  Well, percentages and other stats are very nice, but it’s easy to manipulate numbers like that to get scary looking figures.  Always look at the hard data backing the stats to get the real story!  As Benjamin Disraeli said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  As it is, the actual numbers tell a much less alarmist tale. Continue reading

Migrating Openfire Instant Messaging Service

Jive Software’s community software organization Ignite Realtime has some great products available.  One of the best is the Openfire, a real time collaboration (instant messaging) server: it’s open source, based on the XMPP (Jabber) transport open standard for easy integration with other tools and clients, is actively developed and widely used.  For companies needing an instant messaging solution it has a lot to offer and I install it for quite a few clients.

I recently needed to move an installation using MySQL running on an Ubuntu server to a new PBX in a Flash (CentOS) server.  On Debian systems this is a breeze as the package is well maintained in the repositories, but on CentOS it’s a little more involved.  Here’s how I did it: Continue reading

PBX In A Flash: Custom Dialplans & FreePBX

PIAF is a great collection of Asterisk tools, and I'm pretty happy with the fact that someone has collected them all for me and put them together in a decent package.  However if you're wanting to delve a little deeper and get into more complex Asterisk dial plan scripting, it can be a bit of a trial to work out exactly which config files you can safely modify without tanking your existing installation.  The documentation can be hard to find and/or follow, especially since material is often ambiguous as to the version of PIAF.  So I thought I'd share a little of what I've scraped together for those who want to start rolling up their sleeves and tackling their own scripting with Asterisk!

For the record I'm using PIAF 1.7.5.6.2 based on CentOS 5.6 (32bit), which is based on Asterisk 1.8, and my main self-study material is the incredibly well written Asterisk: The Definitive Guide (May 2011). Continue reading

Android App Review: Remote Desktop For Your Phone!

The other day I came across a must-have app for anyone who administers Android based devices like cells phones or tablets: SmartDog Studio’s Remote Web Desktop.  This app has some nice polish and great features, the most prominent of course being the ability use your browser to remotely control the phone’s interface.  You need to root the phone to use the app, but that’s a pretty minor requirement.  Overall I’m very impressed with how well this app works. Continue reading

PBX In A Flash: Send Email Using Gmail / Google Apps

Recently I’ve been experimenting with PBX in a Flash, a CentOS based distro meant to make setting up Asterisk quick and easy. It comes with sendmail, which is fine if you don’t already have an email system set up. However, most of my clients Google Apps for Business for email and so I wanted to integrate PIAF with existing Google Apps. I found a decent little tutorial aimed at Gmail users that helped me with set up sendmail as a SMTP relay to Google Apps It was missing a few bits and bobs and the English isn’t too good so I thought I’d write my own guide not only to remind me later but hopefully to provide a little clarity for others. Continue reading

Take Action On The CRTC’s Amendments To Allow News Broadcasters To Report Opinions Or Lies As Facts

The Immediate Issue: The CRTC’s Proposed Amendment

This is, with no exaggeration, one of the most important issues we as Canadians need to take action on this decade.  The definition of what may be reported as news in the media as described by a new Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) amendment would allow broadcasters to report as fact anything that wouldn’t actually put the public in immediate, physical danger.  In other words, broadcasters may report as factual news anything they like so long as it doesn’t immediately endanger people, such as Orson Welles’ famous “War of the Worlds” broadcast hoaxOpinions, rumours, propaganda – basically anything can be reported as factual news without any disclaimers whatsoever! Continue reading