Reliable VoIP on iPhone 1.4

April 16th, 2008 § 3 comments § permalink

While taking a break from homework this evening, I came across a post on Engadget, declaring the availability of fring for iPhone. This is quite remarkable for a number of reasons:

First, fring is a commercial outfit, who have apparently developed a non-sanctioned application for iPhone for profit-making purposes. They are not the first organization to do so; Navizon springs to mind. That functionality eventually got merged into the official iPhone 1.4 firmware, rendering the application somewhat redundant. On their website, they note that in order to use fring on iPhone, one has to ‘open’ their device first (notice the reluctance to use the word ‘hack’ or even ‘jailbreak’). They instruct prospective users to “refer to the Internet” for instructions.

Second, the application drastically goes against Apple’s forthcoming policy on VoIP applications that will be available from the iTunes App Store: in order to protect the Apple/AT&T walled garden, VoIP applications will be specifically barred from distribution in the Store.

Third, it works! And it appears to be entirely carrier-agnostic, allowing users to even use a SIP provider of their choice if they have one. This is immensely liberating for those who have access to wholesale VoIP and could stand a break on their cellphone bill. All you need is an Asterisk server and a connection to the Internet, and you’re basically set to make as many free (or so low-cost they might as well be free) calls as you like.

Fourth, this application could only have been written using the hacker-provided iPhone toolchain, or some as-yet-unknown hack to the “Official” SDK released earlier this year. For a commercial entity to put so much stock in a dubiously-legal product that came direct from the Internet underground is a bold move, to say the least.

Thesis Presentation Wrapup

April 15th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

The presentation last night went incredibly well, better than I thought it would. Courtesy of Chris Penido, here are a few photos of the event, with his own captions:
Guy declares he's an 3l33t h4x0r

Guy declares he’s an 3l33t h4x0r: What a great icebreaker! We all lolz

Guy is the only dude up there

Guy proposes the notion that hax0rz make the Internet “go”: This is very tru…

Openess of Web 2.0 on Media hacking portrayl

Openess of Web 2.0 on Media hacking portrayal: Hacker is no longer viewed as an evil ruffian, but perhaps the person that helps empower others to take control of technology. Media supports that perspective.

Guy is the only dude up there

Guy is the only dude up there: Just noticed that… :-P

Guys certificate refers to Guy as a "her"

Guy’s Certificate refers to him as a ‘her’: LOLz

Pandora and Web 2.0

April 14th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

In about 1998, when we first had an ISDN line and a Pentium-powered computer at home, I set up an Internet ‘radio station’ with Winamp, ShoutCast, and my then-meager collection of MP3s. I found a tutorial somewhere on the Nullsoft website, fired up a server on my fat 64kbps pipe, published the URL someplace, and waited for someone to connect to my station. It was anyone’s guess what the title of the song was. Of course, that’s academic, since only one or two listeners could ever connect concurrently.

Not long after, I tried to set up a feed of ‘What I’m Listening To’ by automatically uploading a text file to my website, then using some shameful PHP code to put that text onto my horrendously ugly homepage, circa 2000. Naturally, it was a total failure and I abandoned the idea quickly. A year or two later, while I was working at KMIH/X104, I enlisted the help of my good friend Slava to create a system to do essentially the same thing, but this time using a snippet of XML code from the station’s automation system, which was uploaded every few minutes, parsed server-side, and placed on the home page. It was far more successful, but involved quite a few moving parts which broke often and failed in a pretty ugly way.

One of the things that continually amazes me about ‘Web 2.0′ is how those moving parts are handled seamlessly and effortlessly, allowing any old user to create and share media in domains that previously belonged exclusively to media outlets, the excessively geeky, or both. A moment ago, I added a widget to this blog which lists my favorite songs and stations on, based on the RSS feed from my profile there. Then it adds it into my site, integrated with the look and feel of everything else. Not only that, but the entire ‘radio station’ backend is taken care of for me, with a limitless supply of music that’s chosen based on extremely granular musical qualities, far better than I ever could at either the age of 12 or 21. I haven’t uploaded any files, parsed any text, set up any streaming servers, or even chosen much music, but with a few mouse clicks, you can check out what I’m listening to, and go and listen to it for yourself.

Thesis Presentation

April 10th, 2008 § 3 comments § permalink

If for some reason you’re in the New York area and would like to come and see me condense eighteen months of research and writing into an eight-minute presentation, you are welcome to come to my department’s annual Honors Thesis Presentation, where I will be giving a short talk about my work

April 14, 2008


Department of Media, Culture, and Communication

239 Greene Street, 7th Floor

You’ll need some sort of ID to enter the building, and it would be wise to email me and let me know you’re coming first. The presentations will be:

  • Love Expert MD: A Look at Self-Help Romantic Relationship Articles in Young Adult Magazines and the Sources They Use
  • The Effect of 9/11 and the Invasion of Iraq on Media Portrayals of Scott Ritter
  • ILOVE the iPhone: Hackers, the Internet, and the Press 2000-2008 [That's me!]
  • From the Outside Looking In: The Societal Influences of the Doctor-Patient Relationship
  • The Stained Glass Ceiling

Rejoining the NYU Security Team, and visiting Little Branch

April 10th, 2008 § 3 comments § permalink

If you’ve spoken to me directly in the last week or two I’ve probably told you this already, but I’m excited to announce to the world that I’ll be rejoining the NYU Technology Security Services team full-time starting on April 15th. This is my post-graduation, real, full-time, proper, grown up job and I’m thrilled to sign there after an eighteen-month stint at NBC.

Naturally, in classic fashion there were some celebratory libations in the village with my new colleagues. We paid a visit to Little Branch, owned and operated by the creator of Milk and Honey, the hallowed, super-secret speakeasy that I’m, frankly, not nearly cool enough to have the unlisted number to, let alone actually attend. The bar is as a bar should be: smallish, dimly lit, clean, tidy, and specializing in precisely one thing: drinks. Little Branch prides itself on mixing drinks in the manner they were mixed at the time of their creation. Their menu is small, but the expertise of their staff spans decades of cocktail history, and a popular choice is to ask suggestions of the bartender or waiter, who will expertly guide your beverage choice based on your suggestion of liquor, flavor, and so on. Some noteworthy drinks from the table:

  • Gordon’s Cup: Mint and Cucumber muddled with Gin, with a pinch of salt and a dash of bitters. Outstanding
  • Vieux Carré: Rye, Cognac, Sweet Vermouth, Benedictine, and bitters. Rather like a Manhattan, but, well,better.
  • Little Italy: Can’t quite remember. (What can I say, it was the last round.) Most likely Bourbon, Vermouth, and Cynar. Bitter as hell, but very tasty

Many thanks go to Jane and Chris for doing the necessary reconnaissance work and introducing me to this fine establishment; I can’t wait to return.