Tuesday, February 8, 2011

FUDCon 2011 - Day 2

Day 2

The second day of FUDCon was much shorter than the first day. In particular,
there were only presentations in the morning, and the afternoon was devoted to hackfests. I started out by going to a few talks.

Asterisk Hacks

This was a fun session for me to attend. I've always wanted to setup Asterisk at home, if for nothing else to play with it. Up until now, I haven't found the time, but I'm hoping to do so in the near future. This talk was about various out-of-the-way features of Asterisk.

Being a telephony system, Asterisk can do all of the normal stuff you associate with telephony: make and receive calls, do call queuing, voicemail, 3-way calling, conference calls, etc. However, there are a number of fun things that Asterisk can do.

The first one is the ability to shift the pitch of your voice. There is a PITCH_SHIFT setting in the Asterisk configuration files that allows you to change the pitch of the voice on the sending or receiving end. There don't seem to be too many practical uses, but it could be fun to be both the secretary and manager of your "company".

The next hack is the ability to avoid someone. Asterisk can do call routing based on the caller ID coming in. You can then have it automatically hang up, redirect to voice mail, or even redirect to another number. All very useful if you are trying to avoid an irate ex-girlfriend ;).

You can also use Asterisk to increase the volume on a connection automatically for certain phone numbers. This might be useful if you often talk to someone that is very soft-spoken.

Finally, Asterisk can be used to trigger calls based on calendar events. It currently has support for integrating with caldev, ical, and exchange calendars, and based on events on those calendars it can trigger a call when that event is starting. This could be very useful for remembering meetings.

GIMP as a pro photo editing tool
I then went to the session on GIMP hosted by María (tatica). She was fun and engaging, and showed off a few tools including GIMP and a couple of others for editing photos. Unfortunately I was deep in the middle of hacking, so while I looked up from time-to-time, I did not fully listen. Sorry María!

The last official talk I went to was about Matahari, which is piece of software aiming to provide remote APIs for system management. The full slide deck is here; I'll just go over some highlights.

  • Matahari is aiming to provide cross-platform, generically useful APIs over remote interfaces
  • Initial targets are for machine/guest introspection and general OS management
  • Matahari is implemented as a QMF agent; uses the AMQP protocol underneath
  • Matahari does not provide policy; needs to be driven externally
  • Initial agents are for Host, Network, Services

This was the last session of the day. The rest of the day was devoted to hackfests. For my part, I spent a bunch of time with Marek Goldmann, the maintainer of Boxgrinder. Boxgrinder and my own project, Oz, share some of the same common goals. The nice part, however, is that there isn't a lot of overlap, and we talked a lot about integrating Oz with boxgrinder and how to speed up operating system installs. I also got quite a bit of hacking done, so I thought this was a useful exercise for me.

All in all, I thought that it was a useful and productive FUDCon. I would definitely go to another one to learn about the things going on in Fedora and meet some more intelligent, fun people.

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