Blog and site news

Retrofitting Polaroid flashgun #268 with electronic flash

The original Polaroid flashgun #268 was designed for disposable flashbulbs. These flashbulbs could only be used once and were not produced for a long time. The only option to buy them would be ebay, garage sales, etc.
Sure, it's possible to use a modern electronic flash with Polaroid, but it's not fun, I wanted to preserve the authentic look. So I got myself the original flashgun (luckily this thing doesn't have any collectibles value, I got mine for $5 on the ebay) and retrofitted it with modern electronic flash.

My Polaroid Land 440 with original flash

Renovating antique pressure gauge to display internet bandwidth

Who doesn't like old technologies? Like a Nokia cell phone as heavy as a brick and built to last centuries (literary)? I do like old stuff, my dear readers. That's why when one day I came across a cool looking (and rightly priced!) antique pressure gauge on ebay I bought it with very little hesitation. Presumably, gages like this had been used on steamboats and locomotives. At that point I already got an idea to upgrade it to use this piece of the ancient technology for modern purposes, specifically to measure my home internet bandwidth utilization.

And this is what I got in the mail few days later:

Source 01

Source 02

Not cool. I am not ready to hang this at my desk - it's too ugly even for me, not to mention my wife. What I really wanted to see is a brass bezel and black body not a rusty bezel and grey rusty-dusty body.

Tired of "Hands Free"? - How about "Hands Full" solution?

I used to have an old Motorolla cell phone, actually it wasn't even a phone, back then it was called DPC - "Digital Personal Communicator", which is in my mind sounds much more scientific than a modern "cell phone". So this is used to be an awesome piece of equipment back in its days (actually it was the smallest  phone in 1989), but it's quite useless now, since it does not support modern networks (it was designed for AMPS network, but this service had been discontinued around 2007).

Image Cell Front

I was thinking of disposing this device, but luckily I managed to nearly destroy my bluetooth hands-free (Jabra BT250) by accidentally dropping it and stepping on it. Blending two useless devices together promised an interesting result...

So the first step was to get to the guts of both devices. Cracking open the handsfree was quite simple - it was already broken.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (2010) to Everyone

Upgrade USA call-in number

I removed one of the USA Chicago call-in numbers (1-773-326-4001) because it's duplicated by another Chicago area number and provides lower voice quality. Please use the other Chicago number (1-312-205-6421) instead. This is the number from another provider and should provide the best possible voice quality.

Securing Asterisk server with firewall (iptables and CentOS)

Configuring iptables rules for my Asterisk server. Note: all iptables rules are temporary and will be lost after reboot until 'save' command executed (see below)

First, we have to clear all existing rules (if any)

[bc@truecard src]# iptables -F

Enabling SSH incoming connection. Assuming we connected to the Linux box using SSH, without this configuration remote shell will be unavailable. If it happen - don't save rules and reboot server remotely, it resets rules. Protocol on TCP, port 22

Installing additional codecs (speex, ilbc, G.722) on Asterisk 1.4 (CentOS)

Asterisk 1.4 supports several FREE and most popular codecs out of the box (G.711, GSM, etc). I didn't really need any additional codecs, but decided to install 3 other popular and FREE codecs (speex, ilbc, G.722)

Installing speex codec

Latest source code has to be obtained from

How to show list of blog's tags in the block

I need to group blog posts by category using drupal blog feature, also I want to show categories manu only then blog page is open. The short answer to create blog categories is to use taxonomy module. This module is part of drupal package, but it needs to be enabled in menu "Administer/Site building/Modules".

Create vocabulary in menu "Administer/Content management/Taxonomy" (it's easy); Create list of tags (list terms) in vocabulary (also no problem here)

PSTN test number (USA)

I was searching for USA test number to verify voice quality when was traveling, i didn't want to bother my friends at 3 am US time, so i decided to setup my own test number. I obtain generic USA VoIP number and redirect it to my system and setup simple test extension.

I didn't use it match since when, but it is a good tool to and verify voice quality as well as how DTMF digits transmitted. Everybody are welcome to use this number. You don't have to be registered on my system, just call USA number: +1-253-753-1536 (it is not extra charge or something, just regular PSTN number)

At the main menu you it reads greeting when plays music, reads menu options, plays music again and start from the beginning (infinite loop). Useful to verify overall voice quality. You can choose from 3 options in main menu:

Successfuly configured sipbroker account

Successfully configured sipbroker account today, it could be potentially be useful for peering from/to other VoIP network and also could be used for accessing system from other countries, using sipbroker PSTN access numbers. Here is the list of the PSTN numbers. Dial one of these numbers and after the voice prompt dial "*89565" or "*01113122056421" you should hear my system voice prompt asking for entering PIN, proceed as usual.


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