As some of you may already know, I’ve been chosen by Digium to perform Asterisk training services here in Israel. For me, as a long time Asterisk community member, it is fairly a big thing, even bigger than the book I’ve written – as it incorporates two of the things I really like – teaching and Asterisk.

The first bootcamp is currently planned for the 25th of May till the 29th of May, in Ramat Gan, Israel.

You can find additional information at http://www.greenfieldtech.net/asterisktraining.

Oh, btw, did I mention that I’m now a freelance consultant? check out my website at http://www.greenfieldtech.net/

Ok, I always wanted to write a book – and I finally did it. Thanks to Schuyler Deerman at Digium, who had connected me with Packt Publishing, I’ve written and AsteriskNOW book. My book is basically a quick-start cook-book to get up and running really fast with AsteriskNOW. If you want to build your own PBX, this book should enable you to build your own PBX in less than a day.

If you are an experienced Asterisk user, this book will also serve as a quick reference to AsteriskNOW, getting you up and running in no time.

The book looks like this:

and can be purchased online directly from Packt Publishing’s website, at: Packt Publishing or at Amazon (can’t believe I’m on Amazon) Amazon

As an Open Source consultant and evangelist, I’m sometimes amazed at the sheer GPL violations companies do, in the persuit of an exit. First of all, let us understand that general aspects of utilizing a GPL product:

  1. You are FREE to download, use and modify any given source code.
  2. In case you re-distribute your modified code, one of the following MUST apply:
    • You must re-distribute your code in source form to your customer, and/or
    • You must contribute your modifications to the main source code of the project, and/or
    • You must obtain a proper license/permission from the original author of the open-source code you are using.

These are more or less the basics, in lamen’s terms – without getting into the legal stuff that is usually some acustomed to these issues. So, in general, the basic limitations about using Open Source in a commercial products are mainly related to re-distribution. Modifications for personal-commercial usage (as long as no-distribution is performed) is permitted.

My work mainly involves the Asterisk Open Source PBX project. The world PBX market is a multi-billion dollar market, thus, for a company to infringe on the Asterisk GPL code may be a highly lucrative violation.

I’ve recently learned that 4 different comanies in Israel, all operating within the office PBX market, are violating the Asterisk GPL code. One company had embedded Asterisk as an auto-attendant and voicemail, while another had embedded it as a smart call-routing engine. Now, in general, if they would have used Asterisk as-is, that wouldn’t have been a problem. However, they had performed modifications to the Zaptel drivers, to work with their proprietary cards, they had modified the Asterisk code to work with various processors (mainly ARM) – and when asked for the modified code, their immediate claim would be: “Sorry, that is proprietary information”.

My main concern here is different, as companies will always be companies. All these modifications are performed by Open Source consultants and evangelists. Question be asked, why would an Open Source aware consultant enable this? the answer is simple, he needs to EAT! For the sake of making a living, sometimes (usually most of the times), a consultant will put aside his belives and idiology and will perform a violation knowingly. He would usually explain the violation to the customer, in such a way, that makes him feel good about himself and will pass the responsibility to the customer.

While the above may pass the responsibility to the customer, the consultant is as guilty (from my POV) as the customer. A consultant permitting the violation of GPL code can’t be considered a true Open Source conultant and Evangelist. Open Source is not only a way to earn some money, it is a way of life and a methodology of behavior – if one truely believes in it, one should stick to it all the time. If you know that a project you are about to take is a GPL violation, you should do the following:

  1. Don’t accept the project, till the customer had given you a written proof that they are aware of the GPL violation, and their commitment to contact the original authors to obtain a proper license to the code.
  2. Don’t accept the project, till the customer had given you a written proof that they are aware of the GPL violation, and their commitment to release the modified version of the code to the public or to the up-stream project.
  3. Don’t accept the project, till the customer had given you a written proof that they will re-distibute the modified source code to their customer.

┬áIf one of the above is not met, simply DON’T TAKE THE PROJECT!

As most of you already know, I’m heavily involved within the Asterisk Open PBX project. Over the course of the past 5 years of my dealing with Asterisk, Asterisk had always suffered a serious flaw, and that is, a single-threaded Manager interface – which usually led to serious dead-locks when writing a multi-threaded server that connects to it.

One of my long time challenges was to surpass the 4-5 originate requests to the Asterisk Manager interface, enabling me to automatically dial more than 4-5 calls at the same second. My initial work had began with the idea of increasing that by a factor of 50%, going up to around 7-8 calls per second – I had achieved that using a combination of smart synchronization between the manager interface and my originating server – and also enabling asynchronous originate requests – however, that methodology had proved to be problematic – in terms of reliability.

I understood that something else had to be devised, something that doesn’t rely completely on the manager interface, and that will allow me to originate calls freely, without clogging up the manager interface. So, I decided to move my interest from the Manager interface, and concentrate on understanding Asterisk’s channel handling, especially, how do calls originating from the manager interface are handled by the Asterisk spooler and the Asterisk channel drivers.

more will follow…

I guess that I always was a sucker for political comedy, and I think this one is really funny. I had this one sent to me on Facebook by and old college friend, Shadi Abu-Ahmed. Shadi and I studied together at the Technion and we were both Open Source evangelists and promoters.

The following video is somewhat of a cross between Osama Bin-Laden and the Swedish Chef from the Muppet show, and I find it highly amusing. The music in the background is a Romanian song that was highly popular about 2 years ago. The funny thing is that I speak Romanian, and I understand the song – which is very amusing to me to see Osama Bin-Laden singing a modern day love song in Romanian, about sending SMS messages to his girlfriend.