Asterisk, and other worldly endeavours.

A blog by Leif Madsen

Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Chopsticks Played On The Phone

As I haven’t updated my blog in a while (been very busy with wedding planning!) I thought I’d share this with you ūüôā



Written by Leif Madsen

2011/07/29 at 12:17 pm

Posted in Musings

Asterisk 1.8 And The Importance Of Looking Ahead

With the end of maintenance for the Asterisk 1.4 (the previous long term support (LTS) release) and Asterisk 1.6.2 (the previous standard, short term support release) branches, the time to look at using Asterisk 1.8 (the next long term support release, which provides another 4 years of maintenance, followed by a year of security support) is upon us. For those who have successful deployments of Asterisk 1.4 and 1.6.2 (heck, even 1.2!) there is no immediate need to migrate those existing systems; let them happily continue what they‚Äôre doing. And for those who have successful product launches based around 1.4 and 1.6.2, there is still a year of security maintenance, so the lead time to migrating existing systems to 1.8 can start now, but doesn’t need to happen for another 12 months, which gives us all a little breathing room.

It is important that the Asterisk community continue to look forward and progress the Asterisk project. The resources of the Asterisk Development community must be used as effectively as possible, and sometimes this means making tough decisions in the short-term for the greatest benefit in the long term. With the end of maintenance support after the releases of Asterisk 1.4.42 and (with the first release candidates due out shortly), all focus can now be put onto Asterisk 1.8, continuing to stabilize additional components and making it the most robust, feature rich release of Asterisk to date.

I’ve already deployed numerous systems on Asterisk 1.8, and have been ecstatic as to the early reliability compared to other dot-zero releases. I’ve always been an early adopter when it came to Asterisk though, and I can certainly say the number of show-stopping issues I’ve run into has continued to decrease excessively over the years. When deploying Asterisk 1.4 pre-1.4.0, I was working on a database driven, physically distributed call centre where I learned many of the tricks of my trade. When I deployed another call centre running pre-, I found it remarkably stable in comparison to those early 1.4 deployments (and that call centre is STILL running pre- code without issue).

Having done a few more deployments with pre-Asterisk 1.8.0 (and subsequently 1.8.2 and 1.8.3 based deployments), I’ve run into even less issues, and none of them show stoppers. I think a few things contribute to those successful deployments:

  • Enhanced understanding of Asterisk after dozens of custom installations
  • Development of best-practices in many areas of Asterisk
  • Reviewboard which finds many issues in code BEFORE they are committed, rather than when doing deployments
  • Developers having greater experience with the Asterisk code base and knowing how best to code in various situations — greater code fu

One of my favourite new things is the Asterisk Testing Framework, currently being managed by Paul Belanger. The testing framework allows people to provide tests to the project in order to have greater confidence in performing upgrades going forward. So if there are some business critical aspects to your deployments, and you want to be confident that code changes don’t break your infrastructure, then spend the time writing tests and submitting them to the project. Not only will you be helping to make Asterisk better, you’ll be getting the direct advantage of having the developers notified of changes to functionality shortly after a commit.

More information about where Asterisk is going into the future was posted by Bryan M. Johns on the Digium blog:

Written by Leif Madsen

2011/05/17 at 3:40 pm

Asterisk Cookbook Is On! (We Think :))

After finishing the first draft of Asterisk: The Definitive Guide (3rd Edition), I’ve been a bit antsy with wanting to do some more writing. After about a week of a break (i.e. sleeping in past 7am for the first time in nearly a year), Russell Bryant and I have decided to team up on delivering the long awaited Asterisk Cookbook.

To start off with, we’ll be writing a short, 80-100 page eBook that will be distributed by O’Reilly in all the formats they support ( The book is scheduled to have about 25 recipes, and should be written in the next 30-40 days, which would mean it should be available shortly after Asterisk: The Definitive Guide is released (which means you can bundle them together! :)).

We just finished the outline this morning and sent it off to our editor Mike Loukides. Unless O’Reilly is already booked up (pun intended?) for the next few months with production and other books, we should be starting work on this as early as next week. If all goes well after we’re done the eBook, we’ll continue expanding it with the goal of eventually releasing it as a print edition.

As a side note, we’re still accepting reviews from people for Asterisk: The Definitive Guide. We have to return all edits and changes to O’Reilly no later than February 14th, so that means you still have a couple of weeks to get some reviews and testing done! If you could make sure you have your reviews done before February 11, 2011 that would help us out tremendously as we’ll be working on getting all the edits we need done in an email to O’Reilly by Monday, February 14th. You can help out at

Thanks to everyone who has contributed thus far!

Written by Leif Madsen

2011/01/27 at 9:33 am

Asterisk: The Definitive Guide, First Draft Complete!

Today we marked the finishing of Asterisk: The Definitive Guide (3rd Edition) by sending the first draft off to the O’Reilly production team. We finished nearly on schedule (within a few days, which is remarkable considering we added 150 more pages than originally intentioned) and have our favourite copy editor Rachel Head (formerly Wheeler) who did the first edition of Asterisk: The Future of Telephony who we emphatically enjoyed working with. We’re looking forward to it again.

With the draft done now, and the copy sent off to production to do their magic, I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with my mornings! Perhaps I’ll start blogging about some dialplan stuff, or coming up with some sort of project to build. We’ll see! Any suggestions about things to document on my blog are of course welcome.

Don’t stop posting your comments and suggestions to the OFPS site though! ( When the O’Reilly production team is done with the book in a few weeks, we’re going to have time to do additional modifications and editing, so your comments will get addressed then. It’s looking like the estimated shipping date of books for March is realistic at this point.

Thanks for all the support the community has shown us this far. This is going to be by far the best book on Asterisk to date.

Written by Leif Madsen

2011/01/11 at 8:30 pm

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter‚ĄĘ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 39,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.


In 2010, there were 21 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 50 posts.

The busiest day of the year was September 29th with 449 views. The most popular post that day was Asterisk IMAP and Gmail.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for qr code vcard, cisco vpn client ubuntu 9.10, cisco vpn ubuntu 9.10, vcard qr code, and asterisk mixmonitor.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Asterisk IMAP and Gmail September 2010
4 comments and 1 Like on,


Creating vCards with QR Codes August 2009


Cisco VPN Client on Ubuntu Karmic 9.10 November 2009


Using a Nokia E71 with Asterisk (3G or WiFi) March 2010


Consuming SOAP complexType webservice with PHP August 2009

Written by Leif Madsen

2011/01/03 at 1:21 pm

Posted in Musings

Wow, lost ticket recovery for VIA Rail is pretty much garbage

Here is the response I got from VIA Rail for a lost ticket, which was printed off at the time of departure for my return trip. Why they insist on printing the return ticket the time of departure I don’t know, but how ridiculous is this?

VIA Rail will not issue a free ticket against a lost or stolen ticket being reported. Customers are required to purchase a new ticket at the original fare and complete a Lost Ticket Indemnity Bond. Refund of lost or stolen tickets are subject to a processing fee of $40 per person per ticket. The claim for refund of lost tickets must be submitted no later than 30 days after the last scheduled departure date shown on the ticket.
There is a holding period of 60 days from the date of receipt or the last date of travel, whichever is later. Total time for processing the claim is 75-90 days.

Wow, $40 processing fee, purchase of ticket at full price, and a lead time of 3 months for a refund? It should also be noted the entire trip was $141 with taxes return, so the $40 processing fee seems extreme, not to mention the out of pocket expense and 3 month lead time for refund.

If tickets were scanned with a hand scanner when on the train, it would be trivial to cancel one ticket and scan the new ticket in order to avoid people scamming the system. I don’t think VIA Rail could make replacing a lost ticket any more inconvenient.

Written by Leif Madsen

2010/10/29 at 1:35 pm

Posted in Business, Musings

Long-term ‘shopping list’ helps couple furnish Caledon townhouse

Recently, @jenspeedy of interviewed my¬†fianc√©e¬†and I about our recently purchased townhouse in Caledon after our designer @melissadavis of and recommended she speak to us. Danielle (my¬†fianc√©e) and I had a pretty good idea about the items we wanted for our new townhouse build, but were looking for a designer to make sure we didn’t get too far off track, and to steer us into the direction we ultimately wanted to achieve, while not breaking the bank (i.e. we didn’t need someone to hand hold us, or to do the actual implementation; we just needed someone to do some floor plans and give us some ideas on furniture based on our tastes).

The article describes the process we took about keeping prices within a reasonable range while at the same time getting almost everything we wanted out of our home, knowing it’d be a medium-term house for us until we eventually scale up to something a bit larger in the future (like when we have kids, etc…). Our thoughts are we’ll be there anywhere from 5-7 years, so obviously we want to make sure there are some items that help us enjoy our home while we live there, while giving good resale value in the future, but not installing¬†frivolous¬†items that aren’t necessarily worth it for a home we won’t be in for 20+ years.

Check out the article because it’s awesome ūüėČ ¬†–long-term-shopping-list-helps-couple-furnish-caledon-townhouse

Our article is part of a larger set of articles too, so check those out as well:

PS: Check out this table we bought on the weekend based on style recommendations by Melissa Davis! She gave us a ‘shopping list’ of items so we can get a feel for things that all go together. When we saw this table, I saw it and liked it quite a bit. I saw the price, and thought “wow, that’s a pretty good price!”. As we walked around the store looking for sofas, I kept coming back to it, and we both liked it so much we decided to buy it! Just remember not to be stuck on exactly what is on the list, because the purpose is to give you a feel for the type of pieces that would go together, but be sure to give it some of your own character!

What was on the list

What was on the list

What was on the list

What we got

Table we purchased

The table we purchased

Written by Leif Madsen

2010/04/15 at 4:30 pm