AsteriskNOW! Is Out Of Beta

As of a couple of days ago AsteriskNOW is no longer in beta. I just downloaded release v1.01 this evening. It weighs in a a hefty 501 MB for the ISO. I’m thinking that I’ll fire it up on a test system to get a look at the GUI.

Maybe it will convince me to move away from Astlinux. I thought that Askozia might be worth a try, too. But I’m still running Astlinux.

In the mean time, congratulations to everyone who worked on the project.

Refurbished H-P T5700 Series Thin Clients Available Direct From H-P

HP T5700 on whiteI’ve already described how much I like these little beasties. They’re perfect for embedded Asterisk hosts, FreeNAS, even as routers with a second NIC installed. I’ve found used ones on E-bay in the $100-200 range.

I was surprised to find that H-P has them in their refurbished inventory for $99-320. They have an offer of buy one get one 50% off at the moment. These are fully warrantied units sold as new but at a discount.

The most expensive one listed has 1 GB ram which is a lot for this sort of hardware. The least expensive has a 400MHz CPU, only 64 MB ram and a Linux OS. The middle range models are $249 and feature 1.5 GHz CPU, 512 MB RAM and 256 MB flash DOM.

These prices compare favorably against the latest hardware from Soekris Engineering. Especially if you consider the included case and power supply.

With the expansion case (E-Bay around $30) they will accept one PCI card which opens up a lot of possibilities.

Update: There seems to be some real interest in these devices. Some have indicated that the expansion case can be a bit hard to find. Josh Richards points out that the expansion case is in fact still a current product and H-P’s web site lists it here for $29.

HD-DVD: The End Is Near

Toshiba HD-XA1 HD-DVD PlayerWe all knew if was coming after the CES debacle earlier this year. The Hollywood Reporter is today reporting that Toshiba will finally kill off HD-DVD some time in the coming few weeks.

How things have changed in just a year. Coming out of CES 2007 the association representing the Adult Video Industry made a statement in favor of HD-DVD over BluRay citing lower production cost and ability to ramp up production faster. Some may recall that long ago a similar position from a similar group was one of the major factors that closed the debate on VHS vs Betamax.

I wonder if my Toshiba HD-XA1 first generation HD-DVD player will ever be considered collectible?

UPDATE: And this hits just keep coming! This time its Wall-Mart dropping support for HD-DVD.

BluRay vs Apple TV vs HD Cable vs SD DVD

iLounge has a very interesting post comparing these various home entertainment delivery mechanisms. It considers resolution, bit rates, availability and pricing. I’m not certain that I agree with some of their assumptions. They seem to think that Apple TV with modest bit rate 720p content encoded in h.264 will be “good enough” for most people. I’m not so sure.

Traffic Shaping for VOIP: Visible Proof

m0n0mon Graph smallI just love it when things work as expected. Having been out of town for a couple of days I came back today and needed upload quite a few things to servers in the UK. As I was doing this the phone started to get busier. That implies that the VOIP systems are functional. Nice.

The fact that the call quality is really good tells me that my QoS and traffic shaping solution is working well. I had pinned my ADSL service with both upload (FTP) and download (syncing Outlook email) and the voip call quality was still excellent.

It’s kind of fun to watch m0n0mon graph my DSL traffic, and note when a call ends by the sudden change in data rate. This is clearly indicated by the drop in data flow noted on the left side of the m0n0mon image.

HD-DVD Merchandising At Fry’s: The Look And Sound of Incompetance

I took this picture with the camera in my Blackberry Pearl back in November 2007. I was at Fry’s Electronics in Houston to pick up a few things and thought I’d swing by the TV department to see what was new. I was shocked when I saw the display pictured on the left.

Here you see what could have been a really nice end-aisle display of Toshiba HD-DVD wares. It has one of the nice new Toshiba LCDs, a couple of HD-DVD players and a nice assortment of discs. So what’s the problem you ask?

If you look at what’s on the LCD-TV it’s the local Fox affiliate, off-air in SD running Judge Judy. This is just simply wrong in so many ways.

It’s not HD , it’s SD. It’s not even good quality SD, it’s crappy off-air with no cable. The players are right there in the display. The discs are right there, too!! My guess is that the department staff didn’t or couldn’t work out how to make one disc repeat endlessly, so they just tuned something they might like to watch.

I bet Toshiba paid a considerable sum to mount these displays. I hope they know how great an effort their retail partners made as well.

BTW, when I was seen to be taking a picture I was approached by a salesperson who was otherwise trying to avoid being engaged. He told me to stop and that taking pictures was not allowed in the store. I guess they don’t want their merchandising magic being leaked to competitors.