Mark's Thought Overflow Bucket

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Watts goin down!?

December 10th, 2012 · No Comments

Exactly that!  Watts are going down.

I’ve kinda gotten used to paying the power bill.  Ya, I have computers.  Ya, they are on most of the time doing things for me.  Power and cooling – those two go hand in hand.

Over the years I’ve been challenging the utilities.  It started with the incumbent telco, then the cable-tv operator, and the cell providers.

I always said to my wife that I would take on the hydro company next, but I had mostly no idea how to do it.  Would I do solar or wind.  I can be as green as anyone else!

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Looking for an Alternative Mobile Carrier – Part 2

February 4th, 2012 · No Comments

So I promised an update to the mobile carrier saga.  Drum-roll please… It’s Presidents Choice Telecom.

Jeeze – that was unexpected!

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Looking for an Alternative Mobile Carrier – Part 1

July 31st, 2011 · No Comments

While I’m not thinking of anything like RFC 1149 (or the human readable Wikipedia Link), I am seriously thinking that my current Rogers account is “for the birds”.

You see, Rogers – or Robbers – imho,  is pretty good at giving their customers the gouge.  As a customer, I’ve decided that I’ve had enough.  Time to look at my options for a low cost, second family mobile phone for personal use, some text messages with a low-usage dataplan if the price is right.

The carriers that I have excluded due to principle (I’ve really had it with their – you’ll pay through the nose, since we have some friends over at the CRTC and we pretty have the prices rigged anyway) :

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→ No CommentsTags: Network · StickItToTheMan · Wireless

Get Stuffed!

November 26th, 2010 · No Comments

Channel Master 4221HD

So – it’s a happy day today!  I told Cogeco to get stuffed. Well not in those words exactly.

Since operates from Burlington Ontario, Canada we have a pretty good selection of OTA (Over the Air) television channels from both Canada and the USA.   These days – most broadcasters in both countries are broadcasting in Digital HD.  There are a few local exceptions at this point – TVOntario, and CKVR Barrie.  The USA has undergone the DTV (Digital TV) migration and Canada is slated for completion on August 31, 2011. (See  Many Canadian DTV stations in my area are already operating, albeit some at reduced power output, or on a temporary channel.

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→ No CommentsTags: Geek · hardware · HDTV · Infrastucture · OTA

Motorola VT2442 – Hey it seems to be Linux in there…

September 6th, 2009 · No Comments

Hi there, CBL here!

As the lurker in the lab at, I’d like to discuss what this lizard has done with a Motorola VT2442.

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→ No CommentsTags: CBL · Geek · hardware · Infrastucture · Linux · Network · Server · VOIP

Speech Synthesis on Linux

August 16th, 2009 · No Comments

Over the weekend I downloaded/configured a few voice engines for my asterisk system. There are three popular engines:

They are all high quality and quite good.  The Cepstral engine seems to be the best of all three however.  To test this I downloaded the Allison 8K (voip) voice.  The Allison voice will seem quite familiar to most Asterisk users since it’s a digital synthesized Allison Smith.  Allison kindly provides the system sounds for the asterisk source distribution.

Once the Cepstral engine was working, I was able to have (a somewhat annoyed) Allison speak to me.  If the “voice” is not registered, you will get a “Please register me or a go to blah blah message”.  This is ok though – since the licence cost is about $30  per voice, per connection – it’s pretty inexpensive.

Now that I have that working – I will venture into the Asterisk AGI (Application Gateway Interface).

→ No CommentsTags: Geek · Infrastucture · Linux · Server · VOIP

39 VOIP Softphones

August 16th, 2009 · No Comments

I stumbled on this link that highlights the features of 39 different softphones.  You may find them handy.

→ No CommentsTags: Geek · VOIP

News from the Cardboard Lizard

August 13th, 2009 · No Comments

From time to time, we at will have a guest reporter, the Cardboard Lizard. (left)

He will be posting details that I don’t feel that I should post.  These reasons are many and varied but it may be technical disclosure or political, or just plain dumb IT stuff that would bore most people to tears. You will know a Cardboard Lizard article, as he will post his picture, much like this article.

I think the Cardboard Lizard’s last position at $WORK was to be part of an advertising campaign by one of the Canadian mobile phone companies.  Now he lives and hangs out at the lab at, mostly offering lazy excuses like – “Sory – I didn’t back up your work because I was napping” or “Since the disk was full, I just deleted your files – They weren’t important were they?”

Look for upcoming articles from him on:

  • Building a reusable jtag connector
  • Implementing a MAX232 for TTL level serial communication
  • Looking inside a Motorola VT2442 VOIP Router
  • Creative excuses for data loss
  • Virtual Desktops around the home – for fun, not profit.

→ No CommentsTags: Blogging · CBL · Geek · hardware · Infrastucture · VOIP

Natures Irony

May 7th, 2009 · No Comments

I had the chance to visit Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia SC last weekend.  It’s just right size with a nice mix of exhibits.  When I travel for business I take my trusty old Canon Powershot A70.  I would much rather have my SLR, but the A70 is a bit of a favorite, and since I am familiar with the quirks, it makes a pretty fun camera to shoot.

I went around to the alligator exhibit.  In that part of the world, a ‘gator is hardly exotic, but to a Canadian – lets just say I don’t see many up here.

While observing the alligator two things came to mind:

Alligator and a Croc

Alligator and a Croc

  1. Where did he get the Croc from?
  2. Where is the small child that belongs to that footwear?


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Roach Hotel

May 1st, 2009 · No Comments

I am an average PACS implementations guy visiting an average practice in an average town in the South.

I arrived back at my hotel in a bit of a stupor.  It’s always hard traveling.  It’s even worse when a customer is really on your back.  It’s really only the former here.  The folks here have been pretty nice. I’m just a bit tired, and missing my family at home.

I’m dozing a bit, and noticed it getting late enough that perhaps I should wake up for a while or I’ll never sleep. I propped myself up in bed a bit and I thought my eyes were playing a bit of a trick on me .  This little sucker went screaming across the room.

Thats for me, I'll get it eh!

"That phone is for me, I'll get it..."

Ok, I helped him get up onto the phone, but I thought the hotel address in the background was a nice touch.

If I turned over this sucker at the front desk, would have got a free breakfast.  I tried to get free breakfast for the duration of my stay, but that didn’t work out for me. (Sorry Brian…)

I figure I’ll just share….

→ No CommentsTags: Blogging · PACS · Travel