Keeping in touch - we're off to Computex - Taipei!

by Sniffer | posted on 27 May 2004

NewsWireless will be "off the air" for a day or so, because The Boss is flying off to Taiwan for Computex, the big systems exhibition in Taipei.


He left in a bit of a bad humour. It turns out he had this plan - ah, a cunning plan! - to sign up with a new Voice Over IP phone service, and publicise his new "local phone number" in the UK, on which he was going to send and receive calls.

<1/> Sipura's clever box to make things simple ...

The first surprise was that the equipment didn't arrive. That shouldn't matter. Anybody else could have told him that you don't need equipment. You just download X-Lite - a free software phone and plug a headphone into your notebook. But no: he wanted to have the Sipura SPA-2000 telephone adapter. You can plug a standard phone into that, and it rings. And very impressive it is, if it works. Of course, it didn't work, did it.

First, it arrived a week late. The supplier had set it up with a pre-config "to avoid confusion and error" which would have been a good idea, journos being what they are. Except he completely cocked it up. It didn't know what proxy to use, it was logged onto the wrong IP address, and it simply didn't work.

At this point, enter the "technical support wizard". He quickly diagnosed the problem. Our Boss had to start up this browser, change that configuration, reboot the SPA-2000 and power cycle it, wipe his nose with a dirty cigarette, and recite "Elvis, The Power of Steam, and Harry Potter" into a masked microphone while standing on one hand eating yoghurt from the roof of a Ford Focus. And ... it worked!

That is, it worked for ten minutes, and then it stopped working, because the Sipura is set up to "phone home" every hour, to check the config. And if the config is wrong, it downloads the new one.

Brilliant! - or at least, it would have been, if the new one had been the new one. But it wasn't. It was the old one - you know, the one that was broken, and which our poor colleague had spent three days fixing? and so it broke the SP-2000 again.

After that, things simply got worse. The "technical wizard" reset the config back on his home proxy server. Then "to save time" instead of asking The Boss to fill in all the correct details again, he told him just to punch in the number that made the Sipura phone home.

Exactly what settings he had actually entered into the proxy, we can't say, because (The Boss says) when he did this, the Sipura went mad, started flashing its little lights, and refused to do anything else until it had been turned off and left in the fridge for half an hour.

At the end of that, it would make calls, but wouldn't receive them.

A final try! The Boss called me in. Would I, he asked, set up a completely new account on this company's home page, and thereby avoid all the wrong phone numbers, incorrect proxy stuff, and screwed config files? So I did.

I set it up on a machine with a fixed IP address, avoiding any problems there might be with Network Address Translation and I checked the firewall, and bingo! - it went through. I dialled the aforesaid technical wizard, and suggested that he call me back.

The phone rang. I pressed the "answer" button on the phone. It instantly hung up on him. And there we finally gave up.

If you need to chat, the usual bulletin board is open and waiting! But The Boss will be airborne for the bulk of the next two days, and jet-lagged to heck, and I doubt we'll hear from him till Monday.. at least, I hope not.

Well ... put it this way: I wouldn't interrupt someone in the mood he was in when he left. This is your friendly Network Sniffer, Gossip Columnist, signing out for a long weekend ...

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