Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Podcast Feed Tracker for Apache

I exchanged some emails with Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central this week. Todd is interested in a way to track statistics for his excellent Geek News Central podcast. The current requirements:
  1. Primary URL should not need to change
  2. Easy enough to implement that a regular website user can use it
  3. Counts each request/pull for a podcast
  4. Tracks user-agent information like podcast reader, ip address, etc.
Decidedly, this would be a useful tool so I have been hacking together an Apache module called mod_clicktrack. I have added a few requirements:
  1. Stores tracking data in MySQL database for easy retrieval using PHP or other scripting tool.
  2. Configurable using a .htaccess file
  3. Track pattern-based URL requests (*.mp3, *.ogg, etc.)
I currently have the module spitting out tracking data into the error_log but plan to have these requirements implemented by the end of this week (2005.12.02).

Once this module is installed by the sysadmin, you could enable and configure it by editing a .htaccess file. Then access to the tracking data would require some PHP, Ruby or other scripting code.

Send me an email or comment if you would also be interested in this project and any additional requirements or features that would be useful. I am interested to know what information podcasters would like to track and who else may be interested in using this. Of course, this will be released under the GPL.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to you and all of your family. In the holiday spirit I'd like to share some interesting ideas for things to do around the holiday season. My family and I like to do the following:
  • Give a hug to a random, unkown person.
  • Give a plate of cookies to an elderly neighbor.
  • Give gloves to a beggar.
  • Invite someone, who would be alone, to dinner at your home.
These are just a few of our traditions, but it can be surprising, heart-warming, and eye-opening to watch people's reaction to these acts of kindness; especially the hug. That one often takes people off-guard and it is fun to see how they react to it. Frequently, the hug generates a smile or a thank you. Occassionally you will see a tear and sometimes you get a puzzled look or a sideways "what is wrong with you" look. It is great fun to observe, just nod and say "I felt like you needed that."

Have fun and be kind.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

phajax - PHP class to do Ajax without the XmlHttpRequest object.

Inspired by the article by Dennis Pallett. I threw together a static PHP class to help with Ajax - PHP development. All you have to do is write your PHP 'view' script to display the HTML, and your PHP 'model' script to process and retrieve dynamic HTML from the server. Make the Ajax calls using this class and you are ready to go.

The flow goes somewhat like this:
  • browser sends request
  • html loads into browser
  • user clicks a button or performs an action
  • javascript event fires
  • javascript calls ajax_get passing a php script and DOM element(s) for dynamic control
  • php script performs server-side work and dynamically manipulates the passed DOM element(s) using javascript which gets dynamically loaded into the browse
Source code is released under the GPL at SF. The release package is here or follow the directions at the CVS page to get it that way. Please add enhancments and make it better, just send me a patch so I can update it and the rest of us can enjoy your awesome changes.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - Microsoft offers 'open' Office formats - Microsoft offers 'open' Office formats:
Finally Microsoft gets the message about its proprietary office document formats. Nobody wants to have their documents locked inside the secret MS format, just to have them stop supporting the version that you own, forcing you to upgrade for another $400.00.
The software giant will submit its Office Open XML format to the International Standards Organization (ISO) to be adopted as an international standard in time for the launch of the next version of its Office software suite, it said today.

The decision comes as a group of technology rivals led by IBM and Sun are pushing the OASIS format for office applications called OpenDocument as a global standard format.

It also comes in the wake of a highly publicised decision by the state of Massachusettsto require compliance with OpenDocument for government documents - which effectively forces the phasing out of Microsoft Office and its proprietary format.
I tend to believe it is too little, too late for the Massachusettes state government.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Asterisk 1.0.9 Module Template

Mark Spencer has done a great job with the Linux-based PBX software Asterisk. It is so easily extensible, I want to share an example module application in hopes that more people will find how easy it is and write more modules for Asterisk. Granted Asterisk 1.2 has now been released, most companies will be using version 1.0.9 for quite some time to come.

The following source code, written using C, has been stripped down from an Asterisk module that I developed for VozCafe International, my company's VoIP telephony service for internet cafes. It is meant only as an example. Although it compiles and links properly, with a proper Makefile, it will need some more work to make it completely functional. I'll try to post a Makefile later. Feel free to use the code under the GPL.

Questions can be sent to my gmail account (look to the right of this blog for the link). If you find it useful please let me know.

Click to download app_timedcall.c

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Digium Announces the Launch of Asterisk 1.2

Asterisk 1.2 has over 3,000 improvements, upgrades, fixes and additions

Download Asterisk 1.2

Digium Inc., the creator of Asterisk? and pioneer of open source telephony, announced Asterisk 1.2 yesterday at the IP.4.IT conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Asterisk 1.2 is the first major revision to Asterisk since the release of Asterisk 1.0 in September 2004, and includes over 3,000 feature additions and improvements to the overall performance and efficiency of memory usage. Asterisk, the world's first open source PBX, offers a strategic, highly cost-effective approach to voice and data transport over TDM, IP and other architectures.

"We have been working very hard with the support of the Asterisk community to release version 1.2 of Asterisk," said Mark Spencer, president of Digium and creator of Asterisk. "As Asterisk plays an ever expanding role in the telecommunications industry, it's important to support the rapid development model of open source software - quickly moving features from concept to product while retaining software quality and architectural integrity."

A significant number of changes have been made to the core of Asterisk including code formatting, simplification and documentation. The Asterisk developer community extends all over the world, and the new changes incorporated in Asterisk 1.2 make it easier for new developers to get involved. New features include:

* Improved voicemail features
* Addition of the DUNDi (Distributed Universal Number Discovery) protocol
* Easier Asterisk configuration
* Creation of a Realtime Database Configuration Storage Engine
* More power added to the Asterisk Dialplan
* Introduction of Asterisk Extension Logic, a new, flexible method for configuring the dialplan
* New interface for dynamic IVR flow control
* Configurable access to general call features
* Improved SIP protocol support
* New features for the IAX (Inter-Asterisk eXchange) protocol
* Use of sound files for native music-on-hold
* Customized CDR Support
* PRI support improvements

For more information about any of the above improvements, please visit.

Asterisk 1.2 is currently available for download from the Asterisk website, FTP, and CVS servers.

About Asterisk
Code for Asterisk, originally written by Mark Spencer of Digium Inc., has been contributed from open source software engineers around the world. It supports a wide range of TDM protocols for the handling and transmission of voice over traditional telephony interfaces. It also supports US and European standard signaling types used in standard business phone systems, allowing it to bridge between next-generation voice-data integrated networks and existing infrastructure. Using the IAX Voice over IP protocol, Asterisk merges voice and data traffic seamlessly across disparate networks. Asterisk is available as open source under the GPL, and from Digium in the professional Asterisk Business Edition package, or under commercial license terms.

About Digium
Digium is the creator and primary developer of Asterisk, the industry's first Open Source PBX and Asterisk Business Edition, the professional-grade version of Asterisk. Used in combination with Digium's PCI telephony interface cards, Asterisk offers a strategic, highly cost-effective approach to voice and data transport over IP, TDM, switched and Ethernet architectures.

Digium solutions reduce the costs of traditional TDM and VoIP implementations through open source, standards-based software and innovative hardware solutions, including legacy PBX, IVR, auto attendant, and next generation gateways, media servers, and application servers. Digium hardware supports traditional voice and data protocols, and packet protocols such as IAX? (Inter-Asterisk eXchange), and SIP VoIP.

Digium provides a highly refined selection of quality hardware and software products, developed and implemented using innovative engineering techniques (primarily open source development). A full range of professional services complement these product lines, including consulting, technical support, and customer software development services. The open source communications revolution is here, and Digium is leading the way.

The Digium logo, Digium, Asterisk, and the Asterisk logo are trademarks of Digium Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respected owners.

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Sony Should Have Asked Me First...

...I could have told them what a mountainous blunder they were headed for with thier DRM rootkit. After a huge backlash against Sony BMG for releasing some of their latest CDs with a software trojan , Sony gets the message... - Sony to pull controversial CDs, offer swap: “Sony BMG Music Entertainment said Monday it will pull some of its most popular CDs from stores in response to backlash over copy-protection software on the discs.”

Sony had managed to irritate the Foo Fighers, Dave Matthews and Switchfoot who were among the EFF and thousands of consumers and other groups.

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The Amelioration of the Voice Conversation

VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol, is relatively new. Even so, the buzz is everywhere. VoIP delivers on cheap phone calls today, but the innovators are starting to take notice. With Skype delivering free calls from computer-to-computer, the Vonage $24.99 unlimited, domestic calling plan and the open source Asterisk software, VoIP is in just about everyone's immediate reach.

Now enter the FlashPhone from MPLAT...
The FlashPhone is an USB personal communicator for internet VoIP software, the FlashPhone have embedded the audio device and flash driver in small size. You can download and install softphone in flash driver, make/receive the free internet call at FlashPhone, save your chat history and transfer file to your flash driver.

The FlashPhone will focus on mobile user who working at different place. Travel and drop in any internet bar, keep your important file and chat record, plug and talk, unplug and leave.
This is such a cool device, though I have not personally tested it yet, it will be mine... oh yes... it will be mine. Stay tuned for a linux driver...

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I'm an Old-Timer

I have been around for 40 years and was working on the world-wide-web before it was called "The Web" and before most people even knew it existed. It is interesting and exciting to see how people are using the web and the internet in general today.

Being relatively new to blogging -- I joined and tested "Blogger" long before Google purchased it, got the sweatshirt, but never really got into it -- this will be an experiment for me.

So, about me... as stated, I'm 40 years old, happily married with children, President of my own consulting company and Chief Engineer for VozCafe International. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, love God and our Savior, my family, my music and most everyone else.

Feel free to post comments to correct me, criticize me, or otherwise comment on things I say here.

Hope to see you around.