Small aviation update


I've been waiting for quite a while now to do my Private Pilots License flight test - and its just amazing what the weather can do. I've been forced to reschedule my flight test countless times as whenever I do book it the weather turns out to be unsuitable!

My latest attempt resulted in a severe turbulence warning across the entire area of my flight. It seems the best way to guarantee awful weather for a day is to get me to book my flight test on it! My next attempt is scheduled for Thursday 25th. Lets see how we go this time... ;)

Update on Digium Fax


Well, I've completely given up on the commercial Digium Fax for Asterisk module. After completely rebuilding my config to test the module I encountered tons of issues. Faxes were failing 99% of the time. I rebuilt the free app_fax with spandsp and straight away things were back to 100% success rates for both sending and receiving.

Sorry Digium but you just can't compete on this front.

The tech support offered to me after my last post was polite, but you can tell that they are not intimately familiar with every portion of Asterisk and seem to overlook details from previous communications. It was a nice notion by Digium but notions don't make products work!

Dealing with Digium is like having a hole in the head


UPDATE 19/01/2010: I got a call from Patrick at Digium this morning. He had a quick step through the problem I was having regarding the Fax for Asterisk application. Apparently the free / trial 1 license Fax for Asterisk does not come with support. From what I have been told, the ones you actually buy should have a link for support. I can't test this to verify it, but this is what I've been told. Patrick has also started a bug report on the license issue so hopefully this will get fixed for everyone.

For those of you who do a lot with Asterisk, you know how this story goes, those who don't need a warning!

Digium is the creator of Asterisk - an open source telephony project - and probably one of the worst companies to deal with in the history of computing. The Asterisk open source people are quite - well - disowning of anything done by Digium and it is almost considered a sin to try and get help in the Asterisk IRC channel.

So what makes Digium so bad?

1) Quite a while ago I purchased a number of g729 licenses. These are $10USD a piece and should (in theory) allow you to legally transcode between other codecs and g.729 on your asterisk server. These license for these codecs are tied to the MAC address of your network interfaces.

Sadly, if your network interfaces are changed, or the machine that you run Asterisk on changes, then your licenses are now invalid. If the boot order of your network interfaces change, your licenses are now invalid.

Digium is kind though. If you request Digium to relicense your codecs then they will - once. After that, you need to buy them again. I have had Digium flatly refuse to relicense my g.729 licenses after experimenting with running Asterisk in Xen and needing to relicense 5 times. I now use the fully functional and freely available g729 codecs for asterisk.

2) I recently got a couple of Digum Fax for Asterisk licenses. These are Digiums commercial offering for sending faxes using either T.38 or falling back to g711. You are offered a free license for 1 fax at a time and multiple concurrent faxes can happen at once if you purchase more licenses.

This is all well and good, however when you get a free license, or when you buy these, there is ZERO support. If you try to find somewhere to lodge a support case then you find that it is just about impossible. The support area of their web site tells you that you need to register one of your hardware devices to get support. If you email the address that sent you the licenses, you get told (after a 3-4 day wait):

"This request for technical assistance was sent to Digium Customer Service. Our technical support team can be contacted at +1 256-428-6161 or http://www.digium.com/support ."

My options are to be awake and call them internationally at 3am in the morning, or tough it up and get no support at all. Great customer service!

So what do I need to contact Digium support for? Well it seems there is a SLIGHT bug in their fax product that doesn't release a license slot when a fax fails under certain conditions. This means if you have 10 licenses and 10 faxes failed in a certain way then the only way you can send or receive any faxes is to restart asterisk - causing ALL calls to drop. This probably should have been picked up by their testers before releasing their commercial offering, but I'm starting to think that their customers ARE their testers!

Overall, my dislike for Digium is growing at a rapid pace and wonder how long they will continue to ignore their customers with shonky procedures and if it will eventually mean the end of them. Time will tell.

Happy New Year to all!


Well, it's been quite a while since I've posted an update on here. Things have been quite insane in the last few months with a number of fun things happening.

  1. I lost nearly 1Tb of data when 3 x hard drives died within 24 hours
  2. I've had to restructure my entire backup system
  3. I've been working my butt off at Melbourne Airport
  4. I've been working hard to get my PPL happening
  5. .... and probably more!

Talk about exciting! I'm trying to save up some cash to get myself a HTC Touch Pro 2 to do some development work on and provide a port of my ROM for owners of that device - it shows a lot of promise! If you feel like helping out, feel free to throw $1-5 my way via paypal ;)

2 way radio update.


It's been a while since I've posted anything about the 2 way radios in my car. I've spent a considerable amount of time (4 days in total!) reworking the entire boot of the car to tidy things up and make them much more presentable!

Here are some photos of the new setup. Left side of boot

Right Side of Boot

Battery box, isolator and radio

Entire view of boot

There is still a little bit of tidying up of wiring etc - but it's a very nice setup and leaves HEAPs of boot space available for every day usage.

Yorkshire Puddings


Ingredients
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup cold milk

Method

  1. Sieve flour into a bowl and add salt and pepper.
  2. Make a well in the flour and add the eggs.
  3. Add water and milk.
  4. Beat with a electric beater until smooth.
  5. Leave to stand for about 30 minutes.
  6. Place a teaspoon of oil into each of 12 muffins pans, place in a preheated oven at 220C and let heat for about 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and pour the batter into the pans.

Cook for about 30 minutes or until the puddings have risen and browned slightly.

Recipe notes You may have to add a little extra milk and water if the batter is too thick. It should be like a pikelet batter. The batter can be strained to get rid of any unwanted lumps.

A hard landing for drunk pilot


Allan Hall, Berlin September 1, 2009 - 12:00AM A DRUNK amateur pilot had to be guided to land by a rescue helicopter after he radioed the control tower of his airfield to ask: ''Where the bloody hell have you hidden yourself?''

The 65-year-old drank a large quantity of beer and wine before flying over the central German state of Thuringia in his Cessna light aircraft on Saturday.

Once airborne, he continued to drink while at the controls. Two hours later he was happy but alcoholically challenged - so much so he was unable to read the instruments telling him where the Schoengleida airfield was.

''Come on, I know you're down there,'' he radioed. ''Where the bloody hell have you hidden yourself?''

Control tower staff say he also sang a few songs, cracked a mother-in-law joke and told them to ''pull their fingers out as I've got a party to go to''.

Fearing instrument failure, the tower scrambled a rescue helicopter, which homed in on the man in clear-blue skies west of the airport, and gave instructions for the pilot to follow it back.

Officials at Schoengleida said the pilot, who has not been named, managed to make a safe landing.

''But when the helicopter pilot went over to see him, that was when he got the full force of the alcohol fumes in his face,'' a spokesman said.

The man wobbled from the cockpit to his car. Airfield authorities alerted police.

He was stopped on the way home, breathalysed, and found to be nearly four times over the legal limit for driving.

Now he has lost his pilot's licence - and his driving licence. From The Age.

Why Google Maps isn't a TomTom replacement


I've been tinkering a lot with Google Maps lately on my Windows Mobile based phone - and it just doesn't quite have the edge to dislodge TomTom as a navigation platform. There are multiple problems with the way Google Maps is implemented that takes it from navigation solution to a mere playtoy.

Google_Maps_Fail1) Route planning. If you've ever had much of a play with the Get Directions part of Google Maps, then you know what I mean by this. Google Maps is known to not do this task very well. As an example of this, take a look at this screenshot of it's awesome route planning skills :)

2) No adaptive route planning. Whenever you drive off the recommended route, the planning doesn't keep up - this means if a road is closed, or you ignore a stupid plan like the one as an example to point #1 then you are out of luck in having Google Maps re-plan the route for you. Sure, you can manually get it to re-plot things from your current location and start the whole game again, but this is a trivial matter that should be handled automatically!

3) Stupid backlight handling! This is a major point for me. While Google have made a good point and made the software respect the backlight settings that Windows Mobile have been set with (via Start -> Settings -> System -> Backlight), the most useful purpose of Google Maps is rendered useless by having to keep tapping the screen or a button to stop the backlight turning off while attempting to use Google Maps as navigation software!

If these above issues can be fixed in newer versions of Google Maps then TomTom may have some very good competition - as the integration of searching for businesses etc within Google Maps would be VERY hard for TomTom to compete with - but at the moment, I won't be switching my navigation software to Google Maps any time soon.