Browsing Category "Technologies"
4 Nov
Posted in: Technologies, VOIP
By    Comments Off on VOIP – It’s a wondrous (but not new) thing

VOIP – It’s a wondrous (but not new) thing

It must have been around a decade ago. I was in the USA on an education exercise finding out about the various large scale data centres around the traps, and one of the sites was Cisco. Looking around their centre, they had a demonstration phone with an invite to phone anywhere for free. I was working for a telco at the time, and didn’t realize that this was really my first exposure to VOIP.

Several years later, I was chatting online (using VAXNotes or VMSphone – technology that predates most of you “pups”)nwith John Covert, who I had worked with when I was in the US many years before (pre-dating even the trip that I spoke of), and Bob Bowles (or Bubbles, as I called him) both of whom were telephony gurus, They introduced me to the world of Asterisk. An old PC (a Pentium III/1Ghz with 512MB of RAM and a 40GB disk), and I was rolling – oh, and a Cisco ATA186, as well.

John, being one of the smartest software engineers I have known, was a purist, and believed in hand-coding the complete Dialplan management himself. While interesting, this was not fun, as the “DialPlan Language” is, in my opinion, non intuitive – possibly a legacy of the “old days of telephony”.

I soon found that there were a number of “package environments” coming out to run Asterisk, and each of these has progressed towards making it simpler to implement. Trixbox was an open source environment, but when it was acquired by Fonality, the “Open source” motivation, sort of disappeared, and the “Free version” became a poor second cousin to their paid version. I moved towards Ward Mundy (et al) and the PBXinaFlash variant. It still has a level of secrecy about how some of it hangs together, but the group (including Ward) maintaining it, are far more responsive, and innovative with respect to new features and enhancements. This couple with the folks at “Freepbx” who have built a beautiful XML based, Database-backended system for configuration management, has made for a reasonably stable, yet dynamic environment.

I worked with Ben Sharif, author of a number of ebooks on this technology, in a range of areas, and have deployed Asterisk for a few other people. I am looking to build a “package” environment around it and some other software as a commercial product (and that’s all I am going to tell you about that, as I plan to make money from that). In addition, I have designed multiple Large Scale Asterisk environments and currently in the process of implementing yet another.

Enjoy the world of VOIP, and if I can elaborate on anything, please let me know.

2 Nov
Posted in: Politics, Technologies
By    Comments Off on eGovernment in Australia – are they really serious?

eGovernment in Australia – are they really serious?

In conjunction with the “Magic” NBN and various other efforts we keep hearing about eHealth and eGovernment and so on. eHealth is a whole separate “other story”, so let’s focus on eGovernment, or the “Big Picture”, although Health will come into the discussion.

In the United States we are starting to see a massive movement towards eGovernment. When they first started out, there were but a handful of applications, now the US Government datasets (and applications being built from them), are running into the hundreds. Here in Australia, there are a mere handful. Possibly one of the notable in the US, is the NY state Senate – it has opened up almost everything, and actively canvasses for mashups and so on.

I have a particular “beef with government” on this issue.  I was inspired when I saw, the “google transit” Project.   You may already know that Google “do” maps. If you are watching closely, you will see that their maps include the ability to present directions – how to get from a to b, and with a number of variations, like graphically forcing a slightly different route (to pick up something on the way). Equally, you can specify to Google Maps that you want to walk – I am not sure what the differences are in terms  of route selection, with this (I am assuming, walking across parks and gardens rather than around them, and so on).   But the most often understated component of google maps is Google Transit.  Google have an open specification for data formats which they keep at. The bue

Other areas of eGovernment, that just aren’t happening in Australia, must include the mammoth efforts of NEHTA. The National Electronic Health Transition Agency, has to be one of the most ultimately ineffective bodies associated with our government. It has drawn a budget in the billions of dollars, over the course of the last half dozen years – It has staff in the hundreds. It’s brief was to develop standards for e-health, and after much delay and fanfare – they just adopted an international standard – SNOMED-CT (Systematized? Nomenclature of Medicine – Clinical Terms). This takes hundreds of people? How so?

It is the epitome of “non-delivery” with Doctors billing for things that it hasn’t even made yet, such as
Phantom payments. There is a reasonable assumption that if you are meant to be the peak body for Medical IT Standards in the Country, that you would be keeping track of such things.

But then, the track record in our medical system in general isn’t all the flash. There has been an IEEE standard for Medical Device Management for over a decade. IEEE11073, as I recall. Oximeters and Infusion pumps typically have compatible connectors for this standard – and how many of our hospitals that we have spent billions in IT on, have networks capable of connecting and monitoring all of these…

And then you have simple things like tides data. You can get it for all sorts of locations around the world. But try to get it in a raw format to feed into a program, from the Boreau of Meteorology. Nope they have to print up tide books and charge for them (again and again). In this day and age, an app on an IPhone to do the same, would make so much more sense.

Or there is the ABS (Bureau of Stats) – Tons of Data, but very little of it, in a manipulatable format.