My views on software, programming, Linux, the Internet, government, taxation, working, and life.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Penguin Party

I recently came across this interesting image.

Too bad we don't have this. The Penguin Platform adapts rapidly to changing market conditions, runs fast, lean, and cheaply yet supports so much for everyone, embraces capitalism with concepts like loss leaders and using Google AdSense to make money from almost nothing, yet does not support monopolistic practices, encourages community support, is pro-Military on the battlefield and in the server room, encourages a intelligent citizenry that shares ideas and technology without fear of litigation, cuts through red tape and gets the job done, and provides national stability and security.

What more could you ask for?

When Blogging Makes A Difference

Recently, I got an almost realistic email that turned out to be an Internet phishing scam. I did a lot of research to prove how it was a scam by so many different factors. I blogged about it and to my delight I've had 5 people where it stopped them from getting caught in this scam, and one person was already a bit deep into it and caught it early enough to get out. You know, I don't get a lot of comments on Blogspot, but it's things like that which almost make you cry -- like if it weren't for you, someone's life would have been ruined. So blogging does make a difference.

Scaling Your PHP Internet Website

There has been a lot of talk about people making money on Internet-facing websites that generate income solely from Google AdSense revenue and provide free content. Sounds nice, and if you're a budding web developer, or have done several web apps in an office, and know a little Linux and some web language, you might be the perfect fit to get something like this off the ground. But how do you scale?

I've heard people talk about using Shared Memory, but personally I find that to be unsuitable for most situations and by then you've locked up memory that could have been used to scale in more users. I've heard talk about using multiple servers to scale the traffic across, and indeed that makes sense eventually when you have the cash to host the stuff yourself with your own private fractional T1 line to your budding business. However, there's another way, and that's to use cheap offshore labor in India and Brazil to rewrite the slower parts of your project in GC++ so that they are optimized for speed. So if it were me, and I were just starting out, I'd just focus on making the website as fast as I could with the language you know, and keeping eyeballs there, and then when things are cramped and you need more speed, look for offshore India or Brazil coders to help you convert some of your functions into GC++. And when you get the first opportunity to introduce fractional T1's and host the stuff yourself, then sure, go look to build a web, app, or database farm.

Why Would Anyone Try To Be An Asterisk PBX Reseller?

For those of you don't know, Asterisk is an open source project by a company called Digium, and a large community of worldwide developers, that allows one to make a nearly free, super cool phone system for your office, or for your company over the Internet where you might have workers spread across the globe. It's nearly free because it still requires that you purchase the hardware from Digium. The hardware and software make something called a PBX, or public exchange, and this is the heart of a company phone system. Asterisk comes with lots of features and can cut PBX costs down tremendously. Sounds nice, right? Well, as a startup company trying to get off the ground, if you have the expertise to manage this in-house with more than one person, and you're willing to shave off this kind of cash, then I can't see why you wouldn't use Asterisk PBX to run your business. However, if you plan to make a business plan where you drive around putting in Asterisk PBXes, I can't see why you would want to implement this.

Here's why. At my day job, we use Avaya, which is a spin-off from Lucent, which was a spin-off from AT&T. Well, when the PBX goes down, it could be several things, and some of them might not even have to do with the PBX. Sometimes you think you know what's wrong and a few hours later you find that wasn't the case. And if it's a call center, the costs start to go up quickly when the phones are out. What I'm trying to say here is that your customers can become litigious on an easy whim, doing anything to get their phone system back online. If you don't want lawsuits, I recommend that hacks stay out of the PBX business, whether it's with extremely low cost options like Asterisk or with something like from Avaya. You might get sued. And if your small company just put in an Asterisk PBX, you better hold on to the guys who put it in -- you may need them desperately one day. Unfortunately, Asterisk is not very easy for tasks that deviate from the norm.