September 2011 archive

Speaking Next Week on IPv6 and VoIP Security at 7th Real-Time Communications Conference in Chicago

If any of you will be in Chicago next week, October 4-6, 2011, for the 7th Annual Real-Time Communications Conference & Expo, I'll be there on the 5th and 6th as a speaker.

I'll be speaking twice. First on Wednesday the 5th at 4pm on "The Current State of VoIP Security", wearing my VOIPSA hat and leading off a series of talks about security. I'll be providing an overview of the main threats to VoIP and communications security in general, leading the way into the two more specific talks following mine.

I'm rather excited that my second session will be my first public appearance wearing my new Internet Society hat (if you are not aware, I've posted details about my recent move) and will of course be about IPv6... more specifically "How IPv6 Will Impact SIP And Telecom".

Due to ongoing events on the personal front, I wasn't sure that I was going to make it out there... and quite frankly there's still a chance that I won't... but I should be out there.

If you look at the conference schedule, the speakers include outstanding people involved with so many different aspects of real-time communications. It should be truly an excellent event!

P.S. You can still register if you would like to attend!

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The Economist Asks: Who Should Run The Internet?

Who should run the Internet? Should it continue in the "multi-stakeholder" way it has operated so far? Or should governments have more of a say in how it is run?

The Economist captures that argument in a piece out today entitled "A plaything of powerful nations" that reports on the meeting this week in Nairobi of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The article rather succinctly covers some of the tension and challenges around public policy issues I briefly mentioned in my recent post about joining the Internet Society.

A key point for me is this (my emphasis added):

The multi-stakeholder approach dates from the beginnings of the internet. Its founding fathers believed that more openness would be both more secure and better for innovation. What is more, since the internet is a network of independent networks, it is hard to construct a form of governance that allows anyone to dictate things from the top.

Yet as the article notes, many governments would like to try - and the power struggle is really only beginning.

There are definitely going to be some interesting times ahead...

NOTE: While I am now employed by the Internet Society, I am NOT involved with the public policy activities of the organization and all comments and viewpoints expressed here are entirely mine alone as an individual.

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Calling All Vendors! Test Your SIP over TLS at SIPit 29 Oct 24-28 in Monaco

SIPitAre you a vendor of SIP software or hardware devices? If so, do you support SRTP or SIP over TLS? If you do – or are thinking about doing so – why don’t you join Olle Johansson for some interoperability testing at SIPit 29, October 24-28, in Monaco?

Olle raised just that suggestion today in the VOIPSEC mailing list and said that he will be there focused on testing VoIP security (and also IPv6). As he said:

Customers need at least first hop TLS and SRTP to work as expected. They also need interoperability between devices. To get interoperability, everyone needs to work with it. It just doesn’t happen by accident. SIPit has been organised twice a year for 15 years in order to get the amount of interoperability we have today in SIP.

If you develop SIP software or devices – register for SIPit now. If you are a customer and have seen issues in this area, remind your vendors to participate. The more we are, the more time we can spend on VoIP protocol security.

The SIPit test events are outstanding places to go and test your software or hardware. For the relatively small fee and your time and travel, you have access to an incredible test bed in the form of all the other vendors participating. Where else will you get to interact with designers and engineers from all the major vendors and not only test your software/hardware, but also re-test your equipment if you try some fixes while you are there.

You still have time to register for SIPit29 and join Olle and others in the security testing.

P.S. If you aren’t aware of the SIPit events, more info can be found on the main SIPit site. They are held twice a year in various locations. The summaries of past SIPit events give you a good flavor for the type of testing that goes on.

How To Create Github-style “Fork Me” Ribbons Using Only CSS


Can you create a “Fork Me On Github” ribbon using only CSS? And have it say some other message?

That was the question I asked myself while working on a new website (for the new job). You see, the new website is going to go online in a “preview” mode and I wanted some way to very clearly indicate to visitors that the site is still in development. I’ve seen the Github ribbons on many project sites and thought this might be a great way to do the kind of marking that I want to do.

The problem is that the “official” Github Ribbons are simply images that are overlaid on your site using absolute positioning in CSS.

With an image, of course, I can’t modify the text to have my own message. And while the PSD files are available for the ribbons, I didn’t want to get into modifying images.

I figured with the modern browsers we have I ought to somehow be able to do this using plain old text and Cascading Style Sheets.

Thankfully, I found out that Daniel Perez Alvarez had already done this with a wonderful walk-through:

He steps right through the process showing you exactly what you need to do in CSS to approximate the images.

John Balogh from Mozilla wrote a similar post a bit earlier with a slightly different recipe:

Both posts were helpful to me in learning more about how you can manipulate text using CSS.

Of course, the question is…


Daniel Perez Alvarez includes a table at the end of his post showing which browsers would support this technique as of when he wrote the post in October 2009. I’d like to hope that two years later more browsers will support these techniques… but then again, there are still people out there using IE6 so we can’t expect newer browsers to be widely deployed.

Still, for the target audience for my new website I’m going to expect many of the users will be using newer browsers – and I’m going to see what I can do to make it degrade gracefully (as in, not appear) for older browsers.

My ribbon looks great… and no, I can’t show it to you yet. 😉

Thanks to both Daniel Perez Alvarez and John Balogh for posting their tutorials online.

Did Amazon Just Fork The Android Operating System?

Did Amazon just fork the Android operating system with their Kindle Fire? That's the question asked at Mashable today in a post "Amazon Kindle Fire Just Hijacked Android where it was noted that all the promotion around the Kindle Fire did not mention Android. The key piece to me is this:

Amazon is not the first company to use Android for its devices, only to customize the UI and add its own App Store...

Still, Amazon’s customization of Android goes above and beyond re-theming the interface. Amazon has created its own apps for email, video playback (using Amazon Instant Video), music and books...

Amazon is using Android 2.3 as its base, not the tablet-specific Honeycomb, and we expect that the company has taken the opportunity to optimize 2.3 specifically for the Kindle Fire’s hardware.

Likewise, instead of applying tweaks to the basic Android web browser, Amazon chose to build its own: Amazon Silk...

The tragedy here is that the Amazon Kindle Fire will undoubtedly be a very popular device. At $199, I can see many people picking these devices up.

And it could be a great opportunity to bolster the Android ecosystem.

To encourage and nurture a further competitive marketplace for apps.

But the challenge is stated well in the Mashable piece:

We expect Amazon to start courting Android developers to make customized Kindle Fire-specific versions of their apps.

It's not an Android device... it's an Amazon device. And though it may use Android as a base, it has a highly customized layer on top.

Do we now have effectively yet another application ecosystem?

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Congrats, I think, to Alec Saunders as RIM’s New VP of Developer Relations

Congratulations (I think) to my friend Alec Saunders for taking a new role as "VP of Developer Relations and Ecosystem Development" for Research In Motion (RIM), makers of the Blackberry line of mobile devices.

Or perhaps condolences are in order... somehow he has to make developing for the Blackberry sexy again to all the app developers who focus these days on the world of iOS/iPhone/iPad and the Android platform.

Alec certainly has his work cut out for him. As he writes in his post today announcing the news:

Over the last few days I’ve been in San Francisco at the Mobilize conference, and speaking with developers. It’s clear from those conversations that the primary problem we face is lack of support from application developers. My team’s job is to correct that – to win the hearts and minds of mobile developers again.

"Lack of support" probably doesn't go far enough as a statement. Any of a zillion charts will show you Blackberry's rapidly declining marketshare (particularly in the US). iPhones are dramatically outselling Blackberries and Apple is poised to launch iPhone 5 / iOS 5 / iCloud next week, pretty much assuring even more of a boost to the iOS platform and developer ecosystem.

On the Android side, recents stats show twice as many people buying Android devices as iPhones... and today's mega-launch of the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet is going to light an even larger flame under the Android ecosystem.

Plus, add in Microsoft and all they are attempting to do with the Windows Phone platform...

And somehow... in the midst of all of this...

Alec is going to try to get developers excited about developing apps for the Blackberry???

Not just for the Playbook, mind you, but for the traditional Blackberry platforms of "BBOS" and the new QNX platform. As he says in an interview posted on RIM's Blackberry Developer Blog today:

Developer evangelism is all about personal contact, listening, responding, and educating. We’re going to work very closely with the developer community, expand on support and programs that make it easy and rewarding for developers to create apps, be in the midst of developers to understand their needs and secure a great developer experience, and identify and remove the barriers developers face in supporting our platforms and doing business with us.

It's a tough task, made even more challenging by RIM's recent earnings report (or lack thereof), but if anyone has a hope of pulling it off, it's Alec. He's an exceptional communicator, marketer and salesman... and brings both a great technical depth and ability to communicate in "regular" language.

I do seriously wish him all the best! I've been a long-time fan of the Blackberry, even though I myself changed mine in for an iPhone back in 2008 or so. RIM has done some pretty amazing things in the mobile market, but as Gizmodo recently noted ("How RIM Could Save Itself"), RIM tied itself to the enterprise so tightly that it missed out on the rise of smartphones in the consumer space - and the corresponding move of those "consumer" smartphones back into the enterprise.

What will their future look like? Can they win back developers? Can they make the Blackberry ecosystem sexy again? Can it claw its way back into being a player in the smartphone market?

Alec's got a challenge before him - and I look forward to seeing what he'll do!

P.S. Up to join in the challenge? As Alec notes at the bottom of his blog post, he's hiring developer evangelists...

Other notes about Alec's new role:

Image credit: me. Taken at ITEXPO East 2010 in South Beach, Miami :-)

Time Warner Cable Seeking More Volunteers for Residential IPv6 Trials

Ipv6 200If your cable company here in the USA is Time Warner Cable and you get your high speed Internet access through them, they are looking for more volunteers for their residential IPv6 trials. This message below went out yesterday to the NANOG mailing list:

Time Warner Cable is expanding our residential IPv6 trials in several markets, and we need more people. If you’re a Time Warner Cable High Speed Internet subscriber, and are interested in participating in our IPv6 trials, please let us know! We have a short form at

that will help us find the right mix of people, equipment, and locations, to get the most out of our trials.

Thanks in advance for participating!

As a Time Warner Cable subscriber, I immediately headed over to complete the form. My whole home office uses IPv6, but it’s through a tunnel out to and while that works okay, I’d love having native IPv6.

Now, whether or not little old Keene, NH, qualifies as one of the “several markets” to which they are expanding their trials remains to be seen…

Video: Using an iPad to Create Tropo Applications

Stuck somewhere without a computer but with an iPad? My former colleague Chris Matthieu just posted this amusing video today of how he used only his iPad to create and deploy an application using the Tropo cloud communication service. I don't know what amused me more - that he wrote the app using his iPad... or that he filmed himself using his iPhone! Quite a deft bit of handling to make it all work:

You can, of course, register for a free account and start creating your own voice/SMS/IM/Twitter apps using languages like PHP, Python, JavaScript, Groovy and Ruby...

WordTwit Pro Gives You Excellent Controls for Auto-Tweeting of Posts

I've long been a fan of the WordTwit plugin from BraveNewCode and used it on both Voxeo's blogs as well as my own to auto-tweet out new blog posts. Given that I write 99% of my blog posts offline (using MarsEdit) and send them to the blog site for posting, the fact that I couldn't configure the resulting auto-tweet in WordTwit was never really a big deal to me. Some of my Voxeo colleagues who used the WordPress editor, though, really wanted to be able to modify the auto-tweet.

Primarily they wanted to add hashtags, although sometimes they wanted to change the tweet to be different from the title of the post.

The BraveNewCode folks came out with WordTwit Pro back in June and with my chaotic summer I'd never really taken a look at it... but now that I have I admit to being quite impressed! This video gives a great tour:

I admit that what I personally find most interesting is the ability to automatically schedule multiple tweets. I know from my own reading of my Twitter stream that there is no way I can even remotely keep up with the stream... and so I only see things that happen to come by at any given time. I've often thought about auto-tweeting a blog post... and then tweeting it again maybe 8 or 12 hours later when a different group of people may be monitoring Twitter. This plugin now helps automate that.

I haven't installed it yet on my own site... but I'm definitely thinking of doing so...

Mitel Rolls Out UC Apps for iPhone and iPad

Good to see that Mitel is joining the iOS application space with Unified Communications apps for the iPhone and iPad. These apps will work with Mitel's "Freedom" architecture to allow people to use their own iPhone or iPad device with the Mitel corporate phone system.

Per Mitel's news release, the app allows users to:

  • Search the corporate directory and click-to-dial from corporate contact list to place calls through the corporate network.
  • View missed, dialed, and received calls.
  • Access visual voicemail from your office extension and manage messages by preference rather than sequence.
  • Automatically update presence status and call routing preferences based on your location, or time of day.

Given enterprise users' desire to use their own devices, it is not surprising to see these type of apps coming out from a vendor like Mitel. It will be interesting to see how this helps Mitel in the marketplace.

Kudos to the Mitel team for creating the apps.