≡ Menu

Banned for life from Pathmark

Sometimes I’m amazed at some of the stupid things businesses do to drive away customers.  Here’s one for you, I’ve been banned for life from Pathmark, which happened back in 1972.  Pathmark is a regional grocery store chain, with a few stores in northern Delaware as well as up around the New York City area.

It all began with a gal I had a crush on in third grade named Patty Yearsley.

[click to continue…]

{ 8 comments }

SMS short codes and the evil that is M-cube

This post is to document frustrations I had removing a monthly charge from M-cube to my wife’s cell phone for $9.99 a month from the SMS short code of 44999. 

Now most sane people would just contact their cell phone provider and complain right away, but I’d figure I’d just do it the way you are supposed to do it, type STOP and be done with it.   OK, big mistake.

So five months later and five charges for 9.99 I think I finally got it resolved, but won’t know for sure until my next bill.

It all began with my bill in November…

[click to continue…]

{ 14 comments }

25 Random Things About Me

Often on social networking sites people try to create a viral message that says something silly, like you have to copy it and spread it to n number of your friends for good luck, etc, etc.  Well I got hit by one that says you need to write down 25 random things about yourself, tag 25 of your friends with it, and then they have to do it for themselves.

Normally I don’t respond to such things, but since my personal vanity knows no limits, I’m going to do this one, all the while pretending someone cares, all the while hoping someone doesn’t try to use any of the bits of info against me later when I run for public office someday.

Of course this will get posted to my Facebook page, and hence at least partially satisfy my “obligation” to perpetuate it.

[click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }

At home I run a Windows 2003 R2 Server configured for Active Directory and file service for my couple of computers in the house. Way overkill but I originally did it for the learning experience and now maintain it so I don’t lose touch. Since I’m in management now, I don’t do much “real work” and always worry about forgetting how all this works. [click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }

Straight from the mouths of the old, dying media comes word that — wait for it — Obama did not break 1981 Reagan Nielsen record for inauguration.

Wow, you don’t say. Now run around to some friends and ask them if they watched the inauguration, and if so, how.  Most — and I mean just about everyone I know — watched it online.

The CNN/Facebook partnership alone, just one of a plethora of sites streaming the inauguration, had 1.3 million concurrent live streams running just before the inaugural address.

There were even live streams going on inside Second Life.

Back in 1981 the only opportunity to watch a live news event was on TV.  It’s 2009, and it’s all about the Internet. Times change, and Nielsen hasn’t quite caught on yet.

So Obama haters can cling to that one stat and feel better, but in aggregate I think it’s safe to  say that more people watched this inauguration via whatever means than any other in history by a long shot.

p.s. The Reagan inauguration was on a Sunday as well. Less people at work means more in front of a TV.

{ 0 comments }

Personal VOIP/PBX using Asterisk, part 2

This is part two of my series on how to set up an asterisk server for home use on a Linode VPS — but is applicable to any host that doesn’t have additional hardware telephony devices installed in the server. Please refer to Part 1 for how to set up the dummy timing module.

Also, before continuing, please read my little sidebar post about IP telephony codecs. Most specifically the part on adding iLBC codec to the asterisk config. Then “read more” below for the rest of this post.

[click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }

IP Telephony Codecs

My first stumbling block when installing and trying to get Asterisk PBX working were the codecs and mismatching. If both ends of a connection can’t negotiate the same codec, the call won’t complete.

I grabbed the recommended asterisk config for gizmo5 and when attempting to place a call to my gizmo call-in number which should have landed it into my PBX I got the following errors and it disconnected:

[Jan 14 01:40:20] WARNING[23334] channel.c: Unable to find a codec translation path from 0x400 (ilbc) to 0x4 (ulaw)
[Jan 14 01:40:21] WARNING[23334] channel.c: Unable to find a codec translation path from 0x400 (ilbc) to 0x2 (gsm)

When trying to determine what went wrong, I found that ilbc is no longer part of Asterisk config, and ulaw is actually G.711 using the  µ-law algorithm. I also found that one can add iLBC codec to Asterisk by agreeing to a license agreement and running a script.

So hence this blog post, so I can document what I’ve learned and hopefully prevent someone else from having same frustrations.

[click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }

My Wife opens up her shop in Second Life

My wife’s been into Second Life quite a lot lately. In fact, her avatar now has it’s own website: www.ellcee-tabak.com.   She sews a lot of neat clothes and costumes in real life, and amazingly was able to transfer that skill into the virtual world, and has opened up a store to sell her own creations on Muse Isle at:  Village at Muse Isle NW, Muse Isle NorthWest 117,27,23 [PG]

This is in addition to all the stuff she’s doing in the educational realm, like integrating Second Life into her Architecture and Design class this semester.

elLCee Tabak's shop

 

Right now ole EllCee is fast asleep since she was up all night last night working to get it done.

If you are “inworld” be sure to stop by her place for a visit!

{ 0 comments }

Personal VOIP/PBX using Asterisk, part 1

Background

Voice over IP is simply placing phone calls over the Internet instead of  traditional phone lines. This means the calls are usually cheaper, but not free in many cases since often the telco lines have to get involved at some point to either originate or terminate a call. However, true voip calls are almost always free, no matter where in the world they are.

There are many commercial products out there already that makes this easy for a user, like Vonage and Comcast’s voice, but they have fairly hefty monthly fees. They do usually offer unlimited domestic (U.S.) calls.   But they also have drawbacks, like, ah not working if the power or cable goes out.

The next few posts will document my experience in rolling my own voip service.

Part 1 is compiling the support drivers on my “Linode” for Asterisk.

Click through for the details…

[click to continue…]

{ 8 comments }

WordPress migration to new host

I purchased a new VPS (virtual private server) host and have been moving many blogs I host for myself and others to the new host (Linode — which I’m very satisfied with and recommend highly). There’s multiple ways to do this, including just saving the mysql table as a backup, and reimporting, but since I’ve already created blogs on the new host, using the wordpress export, then import, features sounded like a good idea.

And it was, except for a few potential show stoppers that I hit, and I later cleaned up.

One blog was being split into two. All topics about Second Life were to go into the new blog and everything else carried over with the same blog name.  So theory was to import the data twice into each blog on the new host, then delete unwanted data.

Two issues hit me. In the examples below the old site is named voices.catzilla.org and the new one is www.ellcee-tabak.com

1) Even though I swore I told it to also import thumbnails, it imported the pictures from the old site, but the thumbnails were still IMG SRC’ed to the old site.  ie, the HTML on the new site had the URL of the old site for the thumbnail and the main pic linked on the new site as expected. This required two steps to solve. One was to copy over from the downloads directory manually all files that weren’t imported. The second was a scary find/replace in the database of all links to the old site URL and replace with the new one. Fortunately, it was fairly easy using SQL.

update lc_posts SET post_content = replace(post_content,"voices.catzilla.org","www.ellcee-tabak.com");

Basically find all references two voices.catzilla.org and change to www.ellcee-tabak.com.  

2) The harder one was I couldn’t log onto the blog, at all. Got a permission denied. I had to change the db prefix to get two new sites out of the old one, and doing so caused logon problems. To fix that required a few more edits on the wordpress db tables.

update `lc_usermeta` SET `meta_key` = REPLACE( `meta_key` , 'voices_', 'lc_');
update `lc_options` SET `option_name` = 'lc_user_roles' WHERE `option_name` = 'voices_user_roles' AND 'blog_id' = 0;

Not bad. Of course, back up everything before going into DB surgery like this, cause you could always kill the patient, and that’s not good!

Another minor complication from moving a blog this way is that the blogroll and other lists of links don’t come over. In order to do that, must use OPML data to do so.

I got these steps from googling, but unfortunately lost my browser history and can’t find  now what sites I used to dig this up to give them credit, so feel free to return the favor and don’t give me credit if you blog about this either!

Update: 11 Jan 09

I found a far better way is to simply export and import the mysql data. NOT THE ENTIRE DATABASE (unless you are moving over all your blogs) but just the tables associated with the blog being moved.  This requires access to the database the blog lives in on both hosts.  Since I use MySQL it was as simple as (assuming the db name is wordpress and the table prefix is example_:

mysqldump wordpress  > /tmp/blogs.sql

Then edit the blogs.sql file using a text editor and remove any lines referencing tables that do not begin with your prefix_ and save. Note some lines can be horribly long so use an editor that supports very long lines. I used emacs. 

After editing, transfer file to new host and then simply run “mysql wordpress < blogs.sql” where blogs.sql is the edited and copied file from above. 

Note: You may have to specify -u and -p options to the mysql commands above if they are not specified in a cnf file somewhere.

Finally, after doing that copy your entire wordpress directory tree from source host to destination, checking the wp-config.php file to ensure it all is still set up correctly for the new host.

For those who don’t have access to their databases or doing this makes you nervous, I still think the export/import procedure is the best.

{ 0 comments }