Category Archives: VOIP 2.0

My new blog – Human VOIP

Writing a blog is not a simple task, writing a good blog is very difficult. I’m not sure I’m the kind of person who can handle more then one blog, I’m not Lee Brimelow :), but, I’ll give it a try anyway.

My new blog name is, Human VOIP, it’s supposed to be mainly about telephony related stuff, but, somehow Flash seem to sneak in ;)

If you’ll put in the pressure they will Flex

I have written before about my previous working place and how I’ve desperately tried to convince my superiors over there to make the move to Flash/Flex instead of our homebrew Active-x. Back then my CTO rudely dismissed the idea every time it came up.

More then two years after I’ve written this article, he (the CTO) was let go, and the company decided to make the move to Flash. I was no longer working there, but, it became a live or die situation for the company. It might seems that the CTO was the main blockage for this move but he wasn’t the only one. Almost anyone that had an opinion was against Flash. I remember my team leader determining repeatedly “It will never be Flash”. How about some hat eating, if you got any hats left ;)

It might sounds like I’m breaking even with them in this post, and it’s a somewhat true, but I still care for their success and do still keep in touch with most of them and help when I can. It’s just annoys me that people can be so short sighted sometimes.

Anyway, they are currently in an advanced phase of the development, rewriting the homebrew active-x functionalities in Actionscript 3.0. They use the Flex 2 editor although they use little to none of the Flex 2 framework.

Though it saddens me a little, that it was such a painful process for them to turn to the right path and also that I didn’t get to develop this cool Flash product by myself. I believe that I have set the foundation for this move, brightening on the capabilities of AS3 and the Flash VM2 and how it can switch the active-x. So I do feel comforted by the fact that they managed to do it, even if it’s in the 11th hour.

These days I work for jajah, which though it is a larger company, it is still much more younger and dynamic. But still, I encounter some of the same ignorance regarding Flash and non Microsoft technologies. While the use of Flash/Flex isn’t something that is life changing for jajah, yet. We can use it in a lot of places to improve our products. We recently released the Jajah Flash widget and currently working on some Flex stuff.

I still, from time to time hear the same old cliche, “How is your Macromedia/Adobe stocks are doing?”. The fact is that I’ve never had any Adobe stocks, the fact is that I’ve never argued for the use of Flash when it wasn’t simply the best or the only solution. When their will be any alternatives then we’ll see. Since then – Open your eyes, be flexible!

I will present my previous company cool new, Flash driven, product and all of the details, in here, ASAP.

Call me now! Jajah new Flash widget

We’ve just released the Jajah Buttons which enables you to receive calls from your website, blog, online community, email, etc’ directly to your phone and all that without revealing your phone number. Check it out, call me now.

The Jajah button let’s you determine when, where and to whom you are available for calls. It also give you a permanent short link that leads people straight to your phone. You can always reach me with this url – jajah.com/guy

The Flash widget is completely customizable in size, colors, supports multiple languages and have a unique look and feel. The widget was developed in Actionscript 2.0 mainly for compatibility reasons, it was intended to be released some time ago, before the Flash 9 Player reached 90%. Over that time it was overdeveloped with many features and a complete set of controls that were developed from scratch. Many of these features did not make it to the final (first) release, but, are ready to be put back in when the time is right, so stay tuned if you’re interested in this kind of stuff.

The Jajah Button graphics were designed by the uber talented crew at Ichiban.

Jajah widget colors

Call animation:

Jajah widget call animation

Developing Actionscript 2.0 controls is a tiring and unappreciated task. Show it to a non-flash developer and they’ll tell you – “thats nice but I have that in HTML also, I simply write an input tag…”, they simply can’t see the difference. This strengthen my feeling that some people, mainly developers, are color blind and can’t differentiate between a circle and a box ;). If Microsoft is expecting these guys to do something appropriate with Silverlight, then they shouldn’t, cause it ain’t gonna happen.

Using the macromedia’s V2 components, as always, didn’t seem right. The Flash CS3 Actionscript 3.0 component set, although modest, looks like something that is more reasonable to inherit from. To complete your set, take a look at yahoo’s Flash components.

This is the code I used to embed the Jajah flash widget inside this post using the Kimily Flash Embed wordpress plugin. There are more parameters you can add to make its colors look more like your style, check the editor for that. The Jajah Buttons Editor also gives you the code snippet suitable for your needs.
[code] [/code]

Screenshots from the editor:

Customize colors and size

Editor - Customize colors

Set your availability

Editor - Availability 1

Countries you wanna get calls from

Editor - Availability countries

Callers blacklist

Editor - Availability blacklist

For more info go here…

Pay Per View with Flash Media Server

At JAJAH we are always looking for ways to leverage our payment system in new and exciting ways. One of the ideas that came up was to sell calls to videos. You call to a certain number and while the call is active, you can watch a certain video. Not a new concept at all, it’s been used in some industries for ages now ;). But, we only needed a demo for now and we needed a super quick way to create it. The obvious choice was to use Flash Media Server with some kind of ticketing system. For this demo we used a third party shared server from influxis which is more then enough in this case.

Creating a ticketing system with FMS couldn’t be easier, you can find some tutorials about it here, here and here. But let me summarize it for you. Create some kind of a temporary ticket (random number or GUID will do) and send it to the client (the Flash player), when the player request the video stream from the server, send this ticket to the FMS along with the request. The FMS in it’s turn validate this ticket against your server. Continue checking this ticket in a certain interval and as long as this ticket is valid, play the stream, if it become invalid kill the connection. Thats it. Most of the articles on the web about FMS tells you that Flash-Remoting is needed for any kind of communication from the FMS. It isn’t completely true. While using remoting may be beneficial in some cases, since FMS 2.0 it is easy to make asynchronous calls like webservices and loadvars. So you have more choise when developing your ticketing system. If you want to use Flash Remoting in dot.net consider using Midnightcoders WebOrb, as an alternative to Macromedia’s Flash Remoting MX (both didn’t install on Vista at the time, btw).
Since Jajah’s pay per view is only a demo, we didn’t exert ourselves to make it supper secure. you can learn more about securing your videos in this Adobe Flash Media Server article.

Jajah Pay Per View

To watch the pay per view demo, go to jajah.com, login or register and make a (free) call to this number +43-123456789. Your phone will ring, answer the call and behold. You will see a cool animation, an homage to IceAge. When you’ll hang up your phone, the animation will stop. If you’ll try to watch the movie after hanging-up, the stream won’t be served from the FMS since the ticket isn’t valid anymore.

Hostlynx 2.0 – Serious Flex app

There is a claim that there isn’t enough serious Flex applications out there. I’ve recently had the honor to preview an impressive one, and also to conduct a short interview with Dima Gutzeit the Project Manager of this app, named Mailvision Hostlynx 2.0.
This is another one for you to showoff when arguing for the right technology for your next application, currently there are only some information and screenshots, but, I’ll let you know when a full demo is publicly available.

Hostlynx 2.0 - Screenshot2 small

Hostlynx 2.0 - Screenshot1 small

Q: What is Hostlynx 2.0?

A: Hostlynx 2 is the next generation of MailVision Class 5 SoftSwitch for VOIP telephony (SIP protocol). The product allows a system provider to setup a telephony network and offer advanced telephony services to its subscribers (IPCentrex). System management of the solution is based on Flex+Webservices.

Q: Who is the audience of this application?

A: Service providers and corporates who wishes to enter the fast evolving VOIP market.

Q: Why do you think Flash is the right technology for this project?

A: During the research for the project we have considered several technologies, including various AJAX toolkits, JSF and etc. The following convinced us to go with Flash/Flex: Flash player is installed on 98% of desktop computers so in majority of cases it will not require any client side installations. We wanted to deliver the best user experience we could and flash allowed us to do that.

Q: Generally, how is this app structured, client, backend, architecture etc’?

A: Our application uses webservices to communicate between client and server, where Flex application is used as a webservices client and JAXWS on the server side. When we started working with Flex (2.0) its webservices implementation was very weak and basic, so we had to create many workarounds on the server side to compensate. Flex 2.0.1 Hotfix 2 changed that, since we were part of the beta program for Hotfix2 and Adobe staff were kind enough to listen to our requests and enhance the webservices implementation.

Q: Have you used Cairngorm?

A: Yes, we do. Our application uses MVC, and this is done by using Cairngorm (2.0). ServiceLocator is responsible for all the webservices related stuff – sending requests and etc.

Q: How many people worked on the project?

A: Project development involved 2-3 developers and one designer. Project duration was around one year.

Q: Did any of the developers had previous experience with Flash or Flex?

A: That was one the “negative” factors when we decided on technology, since none of our developers had any previous experience not with Flash nor ActionScript. The learning curve was not a short one, since all the developers were from Java/JSP world.

Q: Will there be an online demo of the app?

A: We are on Beta 2 release, and a full featured demo will be available as soon as the application is stable enough.

Q: Do you have plans for creating similar apps?

A: I believe that the majority of future web/desktop projects of Mailvision will use Flex/AIR.

Q: What do you think is the future of the Flash platform and RIA in general?

A: Flex rocks :-).

So Microsoft is interested in Flash ?!

No, not another conspiracy theory about Microsoft, and not another rant about Silverlight, just my latest, somewhat delirious, job search. Few months back I’ve sent my resume to only one HR company. In my resume I’ve clearly stated Flash as my top skill, and oddly enough my first call was from Microsoft. It’s not exactly Redmond but Microsoft Israel also has it’s standards, I guess. I surprisedly asked the person on the other side. – Microsoft is interested in Flash ?! – You’ll be surprised… he replayed. Microsoft, as expected looks like a very nice place to work in, with extremely nice people, there were also some open XBox and joystick boxes that were probably being plugged somewhere. Though there were many motivations, I had to move on, since this was my first offer I had to check some others.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of offers I got, but really got surprised when I’ve asked for a salary which wasn’t that modest at all and got offered more then I’ve asked for. After that I’ve continued to raise the numbers with every job interview and was still getting the flattering OK. It reached to the point when I was uncomfortable to name a figure and felt the need to deeply apologize before doing so.

Another interesting aspect is that even if the company currently isn’t using Flash at all, they seem interested in this “new” cool technology that no “serious” developer seem to know much about. It goes something like “we’re also interested in doing some stuff in flash” or “do you know, what is it called, Flex… ?” and then I start babbling about Flex 2 and Flash 9. Just give me a chance and I wont stop :D.

Obviously it seems like the most interesting places to work in are these risky startups. You can sometimes get to these by using something like jobs@companyname.com. At the young companies there is probably no HR department and this email address is routed to the CTO or even the founders. See an interesting startup on techcrunch in your area? just send ‘em your resume to the jobs address.

At the end it become too stressful to handle, with too many good options and my ex-employer pushing all of my sentimental buttons in order for me to stay. I’m glad I’ve made the right decision and signed up with JAJAH, an exciting Austrian-Israeli-American VOIP 2.0 / Web 2.0 startup. While my original role is an AJAX developer, we’re already looking at ways we can leverage the Flash technology to our needs.

You may call this Bubble 2.0 and you’ll be somewhat right, but theres a big difference this time it is much more realistic. For once, we now have a deadpool.