May 2011 archive

China Passes 900 Million Cell Phone Users! (Featured Blog)

Fascinating stats out of an article at TheNextWeb this week: China has become the first country to reach the 900 million mobile phone user milestone after amassing about 11 million mobile phone users in April alone, according to a report by the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. More...

Skype Issues Official Statement About the End of Skype for Asterisk (Featured Blog)

Before writing my story yesterday about Skype killing off Skype For Asterisk, I had reached out to Skype's PR agency to see if there was any statement from Skype. There wasn't at the time, but today they sent over this statement from Jennifer Caukin, a spokeswoman for Skype... More...

FBI’s Newest VoIP Fraud Case Shows Danger of Social Engineering

Fbi 1Over on the Voice of VOIPSA blog yesterday, I wrote about a new VoIP fraud case were a group of people stole over $4.4 million in services from a variety of Internet Telephony Service Providers (ITSPs) / carriers, including AT&T and Verizon.

As I note in that blog post, this wasn't a "VoIP security" attack as much as it was a social engineering attack. This group went to rather remarkable lengths to convince ITSPs that they were legitimate businesses to whom the ITSPs should extend credit... and then they abused that credit once it was given.

In the book, I talk about these issues of both fraud and social engineering. From a protection point-of-view, this latest fraud case really highlights the uncertainties in the "SIP Trunking" space (a topic I focused on in Chapter 5) and the need to perform adequate due diligence on the ITSPs from whom you are purchasing SIP connectivity. (Although, admittedly, this particular group went to such lengths that it is not surprised they duped do many companies.)

The reality is that as the market for Unified Communications and IP communications continues to grow and expand, it will only become more tempting for scammers and thieves... so I expect we'll see even more fraud cases in the time ahead.

My Github repo of SMSified experiments

Smsified 1Earlier in the week I mentioned a quick python app I wrote to send SMS messages using SMSified. I’m storing that code and some other experiments up in a Github repo at:

If you are a Github user and also interested in building SMS apps, please feel free to “watch” that repo and follow along with my own experiments. Code will probably be a mixture of python and Node.js, with occasional other languages thrown in.

Skulpt – a JavaScript-based way to run Python inside your web browser

SkulptIn the process of writing about the site that lets you run Linux in your web browser, I learned about that is essentially the same idea only for a python command line.

The demo at is pretty cool… just modify the python code in the screen and press Ctrl+Enter to execute the code and have the output appear in the box below.

To play with it yourself, you can get the code at or as author Scott Graham shows on the page you can just use mercurial to clone the repo.

I haven’t installed it myself… again, like the “Linux in your browser” experiment, I think this is very cool but I’m not entirely sure where I’d personally ever use. Still, I’m very glad people build projects like this – if for no other reason than showing that this could be done!

Cool stuff…

Greg Bayer: How to Move Files From One Git Repo To Another While Preserving History

By way of a Hacker News post, I learned of this great post by Greg Bayer:

Moving Files from one Git Repository to Another, Preserving History

I’ve actually had a couple of cases where I’ve wanted to move some files and keep the history. I couldn’t easily figure it out and opted to just copy the files into the new repo and lose the history. This looks like a workable solution instead. Thanks to Greg Bayer for writing it up.

P.S. a comment to the HN post also mentions this “git-subtree” tool, which does look interesting.

A Quick Python App to Send SMS via SMSified’s REST API

Smsified 1Today Voxeo[1] launched SMSified a new service that lets you use a really simple RESTful API to send text messages within the US for only 1 cent per message. I and other colleagues have been writing about SMSified on the SMSified blog and after writing a tutorial about using SMSified with curl, I figured I’d play around with python a bit and code up an example of sending a SMS via python.

So here it is… stored up in my Github account, but also here:

#!/usr/bin/env python

# Really simple python app for playing with sending SMS messages
# via SMSified –
# Created by Dan York – May 2011

import json
import urllib

senderid = "dandemo" #SMSified account
password = "notmyrealpassword" #SMSified password
sendernum = "5853260800" #SMSified phone number

apiurl = "https://"+senderid+":"+password+"

address = "14079678424" # Phone num to which you want to send
message = "Hello there" # Whatever msg you want to send

data = urllib.urlencode(((‘address’,address),(‘message’,message)))

f = urllib.urlopen(apiurl,data)

print json.loads([‘resourceReference’][‘resourceURL’]

As you can see in the code, there are really only three lines of importance: the one building “apiurl”; the one urlencoding the data; and the one opening the URL. The rest are really just for the convenience of using variables.

The final line simply prints out the info included in the result JSON. I was going to (and still may) make that print out prettier or say something more… and if you are reading this sometime in the future, the version on Github may have already morphed and evolved into something different. The point is that now that you get JSON back, you can parse it and start to take action on it.

Anyway, this was just a quick sample app to experiment with SMSified. If you have checked out the new service, it’s free to set up a developer account and currently is free entirely during the beta period.

[1] In full disclosure, Voxeo is my employer.

Fun Tool to Run a Linux Computer IN Your Browser Using JavaScript

Here’s a fun little JavaScript experiment… go to:

Watch the boot sequence… and… ta da… you’ve got a Linux root prompt! Use basic Linux commands, edit files with vi, compile apps in C using “tcc”.


Fabrice Bellard explains why he wrote this JavaScript PC emulator.

My immediate thought was how this could be used for teaching people Linux. Regardless of what it is used for or whether it’s just a fun experiment, it’s very cool to see that JavaScript engines in the latest browsers can support this type of more complex activity. Kudos to Fabrice Bellard for writing this!

Also check out:

The End of the “Skype as Bandit” Era (Featured Blog)

And so it ends... Skype was always always a fun company to write about because they were always a bit of a rogue. The scrappy little startup that took on the megacorps of the telecom industry... and won in so many ways... look at their leading % of international calls... or the fact that per-minute call costs are now very clearly being commoditized down to zero... More...