The move from Google Voice

So this happened.. http://blog.obihai.com/2013/10/important-message-about-google-voice.html

Over a year ago I dropped the standard POTS line and went with and OBI100 and Google voice. This worked very well and I had no problems recommending this service to others. I even set up my wife’s parent with this service. Then the walls came crashing down as Google publicly announced stopping support of XMPP, the protocol used by the Obi device. What to do?

Thankfully, I don’t have to port my number out of Google voice. That part of the service isn’t going away. I can still have my number in GV and have it ring another number(s). *whew, that was a relief, I’ve used that number for a long time and I would hate to lose it due to some issue with a port. The second issue was who to start using for VOIP service, I really didn’t want to go back to using phone service from a local POTS provider.. most because I am really cheap. So I went with Anveo to start since I already had E911 service set up with them (since GV does support any sort of E911 functionality) The issue quickly became I couldn’t make heads or tails of the Anveo website. It just wasn’t clear what I could sign up for and what it was going to cost me. I finally came to the conclusion that there was a monthly charge for a DID (I needed phone number for GV to forward to), then the E911 monthly charge, and a $.005 charge per outgoing minute for US calls. This really didn’t sound too bad so I decided to give a try for a month or so.

The first thing I noticed with Anveo was the horrible call quality. I thought this might be my service provider (RCN) so I had them replace the modem and do all sorts of tests. Nothing seemed to work and the call quality was infringing on unusable. Then the final straw came. I found out that my kids couldn’t call my cell phone (Verizon) from the house phone. The error was “service provider call rejected, reason 500” After some Googling I found that Anveo’s terms of service allows them to block any outgoing call with carriers that too high of a transfer rate, what ever that means. So they basically get to block who ever they feel like, whenever they feel like it. That’s a deal breaker.

I’ve moved away from Anveo to VOIP.ms currently and thus far I don’t have any issues. The call quality has been great and there hasn’t been any blocked calls. It’s slightly more expensive that Anveo but still leagues cheaper than a standard phone line. It’s $4.95/month for the DID and $1.50 for E911 so $6.45/month total. Not a bad deal for the level of service so far.

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Hi Google+

Just testing out the integration between G+ and my WP site..

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Ubu-apps and the like

I couldn’t think of anything to name this post. I just got done reading this thread started by Colon Watson of Canonical. It’s a little dry off-hand so there is a nice summary by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. Long story short, Ubuntu is most likely going to be changing the way apps are packaged, distributed and installed.

To the Linux die-hard, this is nothing short of sheer blasphemy. Spending all evening resolving dependencies on obsolete libraries or some odd cyclical dependency to get an app to install is part of the badge of honor all *nixies wear with elite pride. The thought that an application would be wholly self contained and the only real dependency would be on the base system.. is.. is… an awful lot like OSX does things. No really, have you ever cracked open one of those magical .app program/dirs on a Mac? They are a little self-contained ecosystem of libraries and directory structure that transcends standard application paradigms of Windows and Linux with the libraries being maintained by the OS.

I can see this being hugely popular and convenient for Ubuntu as they spread out from PC’s to phones and tablets. I wonder if Apple ever thought to patent their application structure, and since I am thinking about it, I wonder if that is even something patentable? I hope it isn’t, I dislike software patents enough, and I applaud Google’s efforts to shield the rest of the world from patent trolls. So I suppose we will see how Ubuntu’s efforts pan out. I for one really hope it works. Application installation has always been a pain in Linux. Granted, it seems to work well enough, but the first time something goes wrong you see just how flawed it really is.

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I just realized my site looks suspicious

Have you ever done a web search, and clicked on a link, only to be taken to a site that has no images, a bunch of text and an suspicious looking text? I usually gloss over the page and quickly move on. Those sites generally are just trying to get you to click on a link that will present you with an ad or something. Well, I just did that with my own site. If you look there ins’t much in the way of images on the site, its mostly text and my ramblings. To someone just coming to the site for the first time they might not recognize that the site is in fact legit, and not thinly veiled attempt by a Chinese hacker to trick you into clicking on something so I can install crapware on your ‘puter.

I don’t do much with graphics any more, so I am I am going to try to put a little more flavor into my site. Most people don’t want to see my pictures, since they are mainly of my kids. I don’t do photos of my food, so thats out, I could take some pics of my dog, but that might get old quick. I will have to look around and see what other people are doing. When in doubt, copy like a lout…. or something like that

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Ubuntu dumbed down, no, really??

I just read this article that is claiming that Ubuntu is starting to be dumbed down. http://www.linuxinsider.com/rsstory/77894.html So the new 13.04 release is getting ‘meh’ reviews since it locks the user out of much of the configurability of the operating system. Really?? They are just coming to this conclusion, Ubuntu has been in the wild for more than a couple years here and it’s managed to do something NONE of the other distros has, getting main stream (Read, Steam) gaming to come to the platform. Granted 13.04 does seem like a pretty minimal release, without many new features, but you are going to get that with a static release schedule. Sometimes stuff just isn’t ready to be released. Better to release a small update than a broken one.

For wide acceptance Linux HAS to be dumbed down a bit. There’s nothing worse than introducing someone to Linux (who is used to Windows) and I have to drop to the command line to get something configured properly. I’ve said this before, if you want Linux to be more than a geek toy you must remove the need for someone to use the command line to configure their system. If simply must configure your system and monkey with the guts..Debian hasn’t been discontinued, and you can really get into the guts there. Or better, yet Gentoo, or even better yet Linux From Scratch!!

Really, Ubuntu has done a ton for getting Linux into the mainstream. The mainstream desktop that is, RedHat still reigns supreme in the Linux server market and they contribute more code back into the baseline kernel than Ubuntu. This is despite the fact that I really dislike RHEL or CentOS for that matter, you can read my rant about CentOS here. This is just personal preference too, many other admins like RHEL (poor bastards)

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The experiment goes on

In my previous post I started a project/experiment to create a simple Java Rest client. I immediately found that I would need a simple service that didn’t do much in order to test it properly. So that is leading to another part of the project, the simple PHP service. I started writing what I thought would be a pretty simple generic PHP service, then it hit me…I suck at PHP. No really, I haven’t done it in a while, and even then I wasn’t highly proficient. So I scrapped the whole idea and decided that someone out there in the interweb must have created a simple PHP rest service thinger. As it turns out, I was right

This project was super simple and did everything I needed it to do. Predefined service routes and responses. Yes, I could shoe-horn it into doing a lot more, but I don’t need that. Just something easy to create and modify service responses to test my simple client with.

I guess after all this I have to say that the old mantra of Unix coding is really starting to die out. “Make each program do one thing well” It seems everyone is so concerned with creating programs that do everything for everyone, they don’t do anything very well.

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Simple Java Rest Client

I added a new page for my newest experiment. I had to create a very simple REST client for a project that couldn’t depend on any outside libraries, just the standard Java EE libs. I got it build and functioning, but it’s pretty barebones right now. It was a good learning experience and I plan to continue that, making it more functional and complete. The goals of the experiment are:
1. It will be a single java file
2. It will not depend on anything other than the standard Java libraries
3. It will handle HTTP and HTTPS
4. It will handle all standard HTML responses in a logical fashion (thats open to interpretation right now)
5. It won’t suck…

Well thats all I have right now. Check the project out here if you want.

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Secure your site with SSL

I’ve been wanting to secure the back-end of this site with SSL for a while now. More so now that the attacks against the site have really ramped up. I don’t make any money from the site so I had a hard time swallowing the price for an SSL cert. StartCom to the rescue! They have level 1 certificates for free. You just need to install their intermediate certificate, which they provide a nice tutorial for. So yeah, if you want a free cert, check out Startcom at https://www.startssl.com/

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The site is getting hammered

No, I don’t mean it is getting drunk. (curse you english language with you double meanings for everything) Since I added the Better WP Security plugin I am geting site lock out notifications at about 2-3 a day now. Tracing the requesting IP’s all go back to one nefarious country…dun dun dahh…China. The performance of the over server is degraded as well with the number of requests coming in. I would love to say that I am really that popular, but it seems I am directly in the crosshairs of some individuals in China with a lot of bandwidth.

I should really just blacklist the whole country really. I used to run my web server out of my house but the bandwidth was pretty poor on a home DSL line. It didn’t help that I was getting attacked pretty regular as well. I ended up blacklisting most of Russia, China, and Korea. It cut down on the amount of serviced requests greatly and saved on my server wear and tear but it still ate up bandwidth.

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If you are running WordPress

Just read this article last week and I added a couple new plugins for security. Namely, I added Limit Login and Better WP Security. The very next day after adding these plugins it was already blacklisting IP’s coming from China that have been trying to brute force their way into my site.

If you run a WordPress site I can’t recommend enough that you beef up your password strength and add those plugins (if you haven’t already). AND MAKE SURE YOU KEEP YOUR WORDPRESS INSTALL UP TO DATE!!!! The amount of bogus traffic over the past couple of weeks has been scary. You have been warned.

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