If there is one thing I like doing is testing hardware, specifically, testing new hardware that is related to Asterisk. I was more than pleased when OpenVox had approached me, asking to review one of their products – specifically after I once announced that I really dislike cheap clone cards. So, I got OpenVox’s D210P card, which is a fairly similar clone to the TE205/TE210 of Digium, and I decided to take a it for a test drive.
So, first off, lets take a look at Digium’s TE205 card:
The card is based upon two specific chips, the Xilinx Spartan FPGA and an Inifineon based Quad E1/T1/J1 framer chip. Technically speaking, the entire brain of the outfit is located in the Xilinx FPGA (naturally), which on the TE205P now enables remote firmware upgrades and some additional features. Digium had been using Xilinx based boards for over 8 years now, and they’ve been doing the job more than well.
Now, let’s take a look at the OpenVox clone board:
The Test Scenario and Comparison
All of the above tests were conducted according to the following scenario:
In general, I’ve connected 3 different IP phones to the testing server: A Polycom 650, a SNOM 370 and a Grandstream GXP2000. All IP phones include the latest firmwares and updates and were all working flawlessly with another similar setup, so I assumed they were all bug and issue free for the testing lab. The main reason I’m using 64Bit CentOS is simply due to the fact that all my servers are 64Bit capable (mainly E5410 and E5405).
Test 1: Normal Telephony
Well, in general, the card does exactly what it should – provides a connection to an E1 circuit (we only have E1 circuits in Israel). I’ve conducted normal telephony functions from all the above mentioned phones. In general, I’ve conduct from each phone a total of 40 calls, and repeated the test once for the Digium TE205P card and once for the OpenVox D210P card. The results were fairly similar with a slight advantage for Digium. In general, the OpenVox card had slipped about 4% of the calls, mainly to an IRQ miss that occurred for some reason. With the Digium card, the IRQ misses were not exhibited, allowing for all 120 calls to traverse normally.
Conclusion: In a normal office telephony scenario, the D210P is a fair choice – however, not my preference for a Call Center or a service provider.
Test 2: 3G based transmission (64kbps bearer capability)
I’ve been playing around with IVVR and Asterisk, mainly using the Fontventa H264 packages for Asterisk (that’s why I used 1.4 branch). With this test, the D210P provided less then medium results, specifically when trying to stream large 3gpp based video streams, while the TE205P had showed no specific issue with the transmission. Main issues exhibited were related to choppy video streams, causing jumps in the stream. The Digium card was fully capable of stream the video without a hitch. Now, I won’t hold this again OpenVox, as this usage is fairly advanced and is required by a very small portion of the market, but I believe they still have some work to do there. As they are using the same framer as Digium, I would deduce that their firmware is either an older import from Digium (reverse engineer) or some other firmware related issue.
Conclusion: Not a pick for 3G transmission with Asterisk.
Test 3: Dropped calls during high loads
No matter what test I did, with OpenVox I’ve always received a dropped call ratio of around 3-4% – when at high loads that went up to around 7%. When I mean high loads, I mean generating 30 outbound calls from Asterisk to one circuit, then receiving them on the second port (yes, a back-loop). I’ve conducted 100 runs of this test, at various speeds. It would appear that when generating calls with a 100ms interval between one initiation to another on the circuit, the OpenVox will drop a call here and there – at sporadic intervals. This may be actually related to the IRQ misses exhibited in Test 1.
Conclusion: If you have high load anticipated – OpenVox is not the choice for you.
Test 4: CPU Load/Spikes
It is a well known fact that all card that are used with Asterisk introduce load spikes of a sporadic nature. In the past, the masters of low spikes were Sangoma, however, with the introduction of Digium’s VoiceBus, that balance had tipped and Digium took the upper hand. In order to evaluate the spikes, I’ve monitor the machines’ load while having 30 calls traverse from one port to the other. The calls were playing back a static file of 5 minutes, and after disconnecting the calls would generate and additional one and continue from there. Both cards exhibited slight spikes when multiple calls either originate or disconnect, however, the CPU spikes that the OpenVox card had exhibited were about 40% higher than the ones exhibited by Digium and there were more spikes than with Digium.
Conclusion: If your system isn’t as beefy as mine, and you need full capacity – OpenVox isn’t the choice for you
Overall Operational Conclusion
The OpenVox card promises to be a low-cost alternative to the Digium card, and it surely delivers. Over all, if you have an office PBX system or a low scale IVR environment, the OpenVox alternative can be evaluated, although it’s not my personal favorite. Sure, in many cases I can say: “OpenVox would do the job” – but hey, I would always rather go with the original and not the clone. I believe that OpenVox are far ahead of its clone competitors (Atcom, Yeastar, Varion, PhonicEQ, etc), simply because it does a better job at building and designing a better card – however, they still have some way to go in order to be completely in-lined with Digium and Sangoma.
Over the years I’ve seen many scams running on the net. Ranging from the ever annoying chain mails to the ever popular Nigerian Sting – Internet fraud is all around us. Lately, I’ve been hit by a new type of fraud attack, a domain registration fraud attack – mainly located in China and Hong-Kong.
As you may know, I’m the owner and CEO of a company called GreenfieldTech, dealing with Asterisk and VoIP application and platform development. Now, we operate world wide and render services to some of the world biggest brand in the telecom industry. So, we take our copyright and brand very seriously, when we receive an indication that someone is or may be infringing our copyright or brand, we take a stand for it.
So, today I’ve received this email:
Dear CEO, We are a domain name registrar centre in HongKong,and in charge of the registeration in Asia, We have something important need to confirm through your company. We received a formal application from a company called "Hempus International Holdings Ltd" applying to register Internet keyword : greenfieldtech Domain names : greenfieldtech.asia greenfieldtech.cn greenfieldtech.com.cn greenfieldtech.hk greenfieldtech.in greenfieldtech.mobi greenfieldtech.net.cn greenfieldtech.tw In China and also in Asia on January 21 2010. During our auditing procedure we find out that the alleged "Hempus International Holdings Ltd" has no trade mark,Intellectual property, nor patent even similar to that word. As authorized anti-cybersquatting organization we hereby suspect the alleged "Hempus International Holdings Ltd" to be a domain grabber. Hence we need you confirmation for two things: First of all, whether this alleged "Hempus International Holdings Ltd" is your business partner or distributor in China. Secondly, Whether do you need to protect the intellectual property right which should have belonged to you?. (The alleged "Hempus International Holdings Ltd" will be entitled to obtain a domain not needed by original trademark owner.) If you are not in charge of this please transfer this email to appropriate dept.in order to deal with this issue better, please let someone who is responsible for trademark or domain name contact me as soon as possible. _____________________________________________________________________________________________ Confidentiality Notice: This is a letter for confirmation. If the mentioned third party is your business partner or distributor in China please DO NOT reply. We will automatically confirm application from your business partner after this audit procedure.we have to notify you,and our registration organization are not responsible for any dispute questions about trade mark,intellectual property nor patent after they succeed in registration.hope you can understand.thank you. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Sincerely, kaka.xu Sponsoring Registrar:sk holdings company ltd Web:www.sk-dns.org/www.asia-gov.com Tel:00852-95660489 / 00852-95660103 Fax:00852-30696940 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org/ Address: 3A, Units 20/F, Far East Consortium Bldg, 121 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong
So, this is obviously a scam, as when I searched the alleged company, I couldn’t find anything. However, the term “International Holdings Ltd.” had produced many scam alerts and related information popped up everywhere. Now, bear in mind that this is the 10th time them past 2 months that I’m receiving such emails. So, I’ve formulated the following response to them, and you are welcome to use it:
Dear Kaka, Thank you for contacting us in regards to this matter, to be completely frank with you, we’ve received over the past 2 months a similar request/demand from various Asian registrars in China/Hong-Kong. Through our contacts in the far-east, we’ve concluded that your request/demand is fraudulent, and that the company you indicated doesn’t even exist. Please note that your approach to us claiming that someone wants to infringe our copyright and brand had been noted and passed to our legal department. In addition, we’ve forwarded your email and general company information to various SPAM, Abuse and Security teams that are in contact with us around the world (mainly, [Mention your really BIG business partners and large customers here - also through in some ISPs in the far-east, specifically China). Should your company register ANY of the below mentioned domain names or keywords, following this email, we shall be forced to follow legal actions in accordance to the laws of the state of [Put your country here] and other countries where our company has representatives or local business engaged partners. P.S. [Always add a personal note - and refer to something in the mail they sent, for example] On a personal note, when sending emails to anyone in Israel, I would suggest that you choose a different name, other than Kaka. Kaka in Hebrew is directly related to the bodily function of purging waste – also known as taking a dump in the toilet.
Recently, I had to install the CheckPoint SecureClient on my notebook, which is currently running Windows 7 (ok, a linux guys running Windows 7 is something completely different, but let’s talk about that later). In any case, I’ve gone into the CheckPoint website, looking for SecureClient, and got a really funny Seinfeld flash-back:
This kinda reminded me of this:
Today I got the chance to speak at a Polycom half-day convention, mainly to speak about Asterisk and HDvoice. Now, putting aside the part about HDvoice (I’m getting a post about that on its own), I gotten to the point where I believe that I’m currently perceived as being an eccentric.
So, why am I eccentric? very simple, I’ve reached a point where I can say things that may be perceived as rude – and write it off an being an eccentric quirk.
I’ve talked about Asterisk ability to support Video, while the current Polycom VVX1500 video phone isn’t yet supported at its fullest. One of the people in the crowd mentioned some sleezy,al-cheapo, SIP Video phone (to be more exact, he’s the local distributor) – and I claimed that I don’t count that phone as a comparison to Polycom or other VoIP Video phones, simply because in my view it’s not a worth while comparison. Comm’on, let’s be realistic, can you compare a Polycom VVX1500 (an HDvoice Video phone) with some shitty sub-VGA SIP Video phone from China? the mere comparison is simply insulting for Polycom.
Shortly after negating that phone, the person stood up and left the room. At the break, a friend said to me that I shouldn’t have said that, in order to come out the bigger man. Common, the guy is surely making a joke of himself. I commented: “I’ve said what I said, I stand by my opinion – besides, you know I’m eccentric – eccentric people say eccentric things” – he agreed that I’m eccentric, after all, you can’t be an Open Source evangelist without being an eccentric – now can you?
Ok, it’s day 1 (or actually day 2) for AstriCon 2009 – and here’s my report for the day.
Yesterday was kind’a of a hectic day for me, as I was teaching a full day track of Asterisk and Cloud Computing, specifically, implementing Asterisk systems with Amazon EC2. I started the day with a class filled with 20+ people, and ended the day with a similar number – so in general I’m very happy. Not many people tend to attend the pre-conference days, so having that number of people and their positive reactions through out the day were very reassuring to me.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it is the following: If you give a full day track, don’t arrive at the hotel 24 hours prior to it – you need at least 48 hours! People didn’t really notice (I hope), but through out the day I was suffering from a splitting headache – one that would usually send me right into bed with a couple of Advil’s. But hey, that didn’t stop me and I powered through it, I’m fairly proud of myself for doing so – as at the end of the day I regained back my strength and was livelier.
Today was the first official day of the conference – I gave the opening talk for the Cloud Computing track of the day. My talk was about how to build “IP Centrex” like services, without building an “IP Centrex”. I guess that I didn’t really introduce a brand new concept, but actually talked about something that many are thinking about, but are not inclined to try it on their own and burn some cash on. I guess my talk helped them out saying: “Hey, we’re not talking out of our asses here, this guy makes some sense and what we thought of isn’t that far fetched”.
Previous to that, Digium announced the 2009 Digium innovation award winners, where my company won an award in the pioneer category. This is the second year in a row my company had won the award, and I’m really happy with being acknowledged for this specific work. Having being a part of the community for over 7 years now, this award, at least to me personally, says a lot – it’s basically saying: “Look, you’ve done good, you’ve done some work that really helps out the project and the community in general – here’s a beer and a toast to you – hip hip” – well, that’s kind’a of a mouth full, but you get what I mean. I think that this is actually the place to mention that the award was for developing a high-powered Dialer/IVR platform, used in the Israeli elections and the work was contracted for a company called Shtrudel.
The all conference party is tonight – so I better rest up and be ready for it – should be fun. I guess beer and food are always a good mix when a bunch geeks are getting together