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Greetings, folks, and welcome once again to the world of The Answer Gang.
Statistics, hmmm... things are starting to look up... still want people to get the word out though. The real Linux Gazette is over here at .Net. Tell your friends.
No real peeves with our querents this time, so we have the belly laugh of the month instead - a piece of spam telling us what a great deal we can get on free unlimited technical support. Whee!
Thomas and I have been busy, and not just working away on pubbing the TAG mail. We've had quite a happy time chatting with each other now that we've gotten voice over IP working. It was a rocky road though...
Lesson Zero. Get sound working on your own. If you can't hear Linus Torvalds talking or your favorite musical strum or a nice little MP3, don't hold your breath that you'll hear anything on the "phone" either.
Lesson One. Thou shalt have a working microphone. One that you have to solder back together will not cut the mustard (but it will cut in and out even when everything else works). He got a nice cheap deal for one finding on online special. I got a nice echo canceling one built into my headset.
Lesson Two. Thou shalt plug they speakers or headphones into the right holes on the soundcard. Otherwise they don't make much noise. Whoops.
Lesson Three. This mainly affected him; I have a static IP and correct reverse DNS to go with it - but VOIP hates network address translation. Hates hates hateses the nasty NATses. Rumors that kphone has figured out a way to deal with this couldn't be tested because if it does, it's specific to that one app, and while kphone likes his box fine, it hates me, crashes (should that be krashes?) in moments after launch. Hmm. Rumors of the ease of use of SIP applications have been exaggerated... or they don't survive NAT either.
Port forwarding was tried without success, because he has a windows box speaking to his cablemodem, thanks to the brain damaged code it needs to make a connection. The Linux support for that device is starting to shape up, though.
Meanwhile, Gnomemeeting did the trick. As long as I've already launched (so my client goes and registers with an LDAP database out there somewhere) and he initiates the call (little hard to reach his Linux box directly with the NAT) then it handles all the gory details.
We had to mess with the codec for our voices too. I hear his voice fine when I set speex-15k. He likes what he hears of me when he sets Alaw. This doesn't make much sense to me, since in theory both of these are just beyond the scope of our rated bandwidth, but it works anyway. So don't take its recommended limits for gospel - goof around, try all the codecs. For long distance project work with a bunch of people, IRC works great. Wikis are pretty good too (check out that Wikipedia, our Answer Guy has grown very enamored of it and is helping out on a few topics). I'm pretty pleased with how my upgrade to my own SysadMoin worked out. But for working with only a person or two at a time, sometimes chatting directly can cut through confusion - "body language" carries a lot better in voice than emoticons - and give more time for brainstorming. Or being silly, as the case may be. We can split ginger beers and laugh about Ben leaving his dark glasses in the pretzels again.
I think it's a pretty good way to celebrate Independence Day - hands free and proud! Have a happy Summer.