Any working SIP-phone on FreeBSD?

Chad Perrin perrin at
Mon Jun 20 17:19:51 UTC 2011

This email actually mentions Skype and SIP phones toward the end.

On Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 06:29:03PM +0200, Polytropon wrote:
> On Mon, 20 Jun 2011 09:46:24 -0600, Chad Perrin wrote:
> >
> > I still managed to do everything I needed to do in under twenty
> > minutes, but if the data had been left in the plain text, linewise
> > format I had sent to this person, I would have been able to do it all
> > in about *two* minutes, including the time spent writing the script
> > to grab the data and shove it into my database.
> Text, pure ASCII text, is _the_ standard format for data interchange
> (and I'm not paying attention to EBCDIC on IBM here). People start
> realizing this when they can't open their documents anymore. That's why
> I like LaTeX for example. It's pure text. There is a difference between
> the document one is working on (semantic document), and the result
> (typographic document). But understanding that difference and its many
> advantages requires some brain power. :-)

In general, the simplest possible format to achieve what is actually
needed is the best option.  This means that even LaTeX is usually the
wrong choice.

> >
> > The thing that most bothered me about all this is the fact that it
> > must have taken this person twenty minutes *at least* just to create
> > that absurd table-columnar format in the first place, and that's
> > assuming the person had some way to automatically place the data in
> > these tables' cells, rather than having to cut and paste each datum
> > individually. 
> In a "funny" way, people seem to have time for this. An example I've
> seen is a programmer who's job it is to take the data files output by a
> mainframe system (plain text with numbers and text, usually
> column-oriented) and manually (!) put it into "Excel" tables, arrange
> them, and prepare for printing. It would of course be much easier to
> write an output processor for the mainframe to deliver LaTeX or even
> OpenOffice XML files, and she as a programmer would much prefer to do
> this, but no, the "big boss" wants it that way. (Note: She is a
> professional mainframe PROGRAMMER who spends her time manually
> arranging data - this must be very disappointing.)

Does this programmer get to write a simple script to translate to CSV,
then import CSV into Excel, when the boss turns his/her back?

> >
> > So, basically, people are so compromised, so brainwashed, so
> > afflicted by office suite Stockholm Syndrome, that they will spend
> > between twenty minutes and an hour formatting simple text data in a
> > frankly hideous four column format when the end result is that I will
> > have to spend another twenty minutes undoing all of that to insert
> > the data into a database.
> They also do this with "Excel" tables they use as a worse phonebook.

An Excel spreadsheet probably would have been easier to use, because of
the ability to export as CSV.

> It doesn't occur to them that there are things other people can do with
> computers that they can't, as they understand theirselves often as "IT
> professionals", where "professional" means that they - on their own! -
> can switch the PC on on their own and use the mouse.

In this case, it was an HR professional (though what we were doing was
well outside of that working environment).

> The task "leave it in the original format" would be too complicated to
> explain, I think.

I think the approach I need to take next time is to create a Web form
that takes inputs for the values and does not allow the user to touch the
key names.  When the form is submitted, it creates a plain text file for
me, or just adds it to the database automatically.  Placing it in a
browser would make things marginally more effort-intensive for the end
user than editing a text file directly, but much *much* less
effort-intensive than creating that four-column format.  With luck, it
would never occur to the end-user to copy and paste from the Webpage into
a Microsoft Word document and send that to me.

> Let me tell you that it can be worse, I've seen that _once_: The
> "professional" user imported the scanned document into an image
> processing software, and used _that_ to change some text.

If the person in my case had decided to make changes in some image
editing software, that at least would have been effective (for some
definition of "effective").  Importing it into a Microsoft Word document,
however, resulted in nothing getting done until someone else came along
and asked "Where's the original document?"

> >
> > Consider the stories of major corporations literally banning use of
> > PowerPoint and seeing a significant productivity boost.
> I've not heared about that, but I think it was a good step.

It has been a couple years since I started hearing about this stuff.  I
think the big names doing that kind of thing included Sun.  After a
couple months, of course, this kind of thing stops being news, so I have
no idea who may still be doing stuff like this -- because nobody would
report it any longer.

As for making telephone calls with the help of a computer . . .

I do not have high hopes for Skype in the future.  As I think I mentioned
in an earlier email, I expect Microsoft to "extend" Skype in ways
intended to break compatibility with non-Microsoft platforms.  I also
expect that, if Microsoft really support Skype rather than just letting
it die, it will get some MS Office integration "features" added to it
that will make it the voice chat equivalent of exactly the sort of
stupidity we have been discussing.

An open source equivalent that could be run just as easily from the
command line as from a GUI and is not dependent upon any specific OS
platform's facilities in particular would be great.  SIP phones and
Asterisk PBXes are great for what they are, but they do not really
address the needs of casual voice chatters who want telephone-like
convenience without having to essentially set up their own telephone
company offices.

Of course, I don't think such a thing can really be entrusted to the
Linux community these days.  Portability is essentially the last thing on
the minds of most Linux community developers lately, from what I've seen.
So, too, is designing software without making it a monolithic GUI-only
tool that has far too many useless features in a single application.

For portability in particular, consider the problems of XFCE portability,
and the fact there are people in the GNOME developer community who are
questioning whether they should bother continuing to consider portability
in the future.

Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: ]
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