Voip Geeked out….

Those that really know me, know that I’m really a geek.  In case you had any doubt, I’ll tell you about my latest geek activity.  If you have no interest in my geekness, stop reading and just go ahead and skip this post.

I’ve had Vonage for quite some time and grew tired of having to pay the $25 a month for simple Voip (voice over internet protocol) phone service.  There HAD to be an easier way.  I did a little googling and I found many answers, here is the one I chose.

These guys offer a simple or complex solution for the issue that I had.  For starters, I wanted to KEEP my Vonage # and stop paying $25 a month for something I hardly use.  Here is how it all went down.

Signed up for VOIP.MS and I paid $25 to port my number over from Vonage (or any phone service you currently have) to Voip.ms.  This took a few weeks but went off without a hitch.  Once it was complete and Vonage canceled my account I was free to hack away at my Vonage router.  (DO NOT hack the Vonage router prior to them canceling the service or run the risk of paying a breech of contract penalty.)

The big catch here is that when Vonage or another Voip service gives you or sells you a router, it’s got their version of the Firmware installed.  In order to use another Voip service you have to “unlock” the router and trick it into thinking it’s getting a standard upgrade while in reality flashing the firmware to the basic retail version for that manufacturer, in my case Linksys.

I won’t go into all of the details, but I had to download the earliest version of Firmware I could find FROM Vonage, setup a TFTP server and use a Ping hack to re-image my router and essentially Down Grade my router.  Once it was in that state I ran a custom program that then “Unlocks” the password for the router which allows me to then “upgrade” my router to a retail Linksys Version of the firmware without the Vonage locks in place.   In order to do that I had to hack the Linksys Firmware with a Hex Editor to make the router think it was a Vonage version.  Once I did that I just performed a simple upgrade of the Firmware and bam, I had a standard, off the shelf Linksys Router with Voip capability.

Now all I had to do was configure the router to point to my new Voip.ms service and wha-la, it was done.

My monthly charge is now $1.49 a month plus around $0.01 per minute calls…..to most countries.  WAY better!  The tutorial I used to somewhat guide me through is found here.  If you are searching for a tutorial on YOUR router, search for “Unlock voip” and your routers make and model #. 

Hey, I warned you that I was a geek.  If you want guidance or clarification on the above, just shoot me a note and I see if I can help!

Backup your data!

What is your disaster recovery plan?

I remember asking a good friend a few years ago who shoots weddings and other events, how he backs up his data.  He explained how he has multiple external backup drives in the event that his computer’s hard drive crashes.  That’s a good start, but what happens if you’re hit by a fire or all of your drives and computers are stolen in the night.  That client that wants to finally put her wedding album together isn’t going to be very understanding when you say you don’t have any pictures.

Currently when I import images from my camera onto my computer, they are stored on 2 drives that are configured in a RAID 1 configuration, i.e. a mirror image of each other.  Then, I push them over the internet to a shared NAS drive at a friends house on the other side of the country.  If I lose a hard drive locally I’m ok.  If my house burns down I have backups I can reach remotely.

I also NEVER change any of the original files.  The original RAW file or JPG is never altered in any way shape or form.  Using Adobe’s Lightroom I manage all of the changes within that application and also back up the Lightroom Database to ensure that I have those changes in the future.

Chase Jarvis explains his process.  It makes my process look like preschool, but at the end of the day I’m covered from multiple angles.  If photography or video is how you pay your rent, you might want to step it up a notch.  The great thing is that you can do it all fairly inexpensively.

Sebastian’s Halloween Extravaganza!

I just got back from this year’s Second Annual Halloween Freefly Extravaganza held at Skydive Sebastian.  With 4 freefly organizers and a Hybrid organizer how could you go wrong?  The turn out was great and the jumps were going off without a hitch from SDC’s N10EA.  I even had a nice surprise when I got there, a brandy new Katana 120 with a custom logo.  Now that’s how I like to start a boogie!

Saturday night the party was underway starting with the Costume contest which had loads of prizes only to be followed up by a ‘Fear Factor’ style eating contest.  7 people entered and only one would win.  Who could eat all of the courses and claim the prize at the end?  Everything from raw eggs to cat food with a dollop of Crisco to live worms and the finale of a live Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.  Now there is a contest I don’t want to win!!!!

To end the event I climbed aboard a Bell 407 with some guys from Venezuela for a fun ride and then a great jump!  If you’d like to see all of the pictures from this event, please visit my events gallery here.

2 times the cover shot……

It’s been a great week for my photos.  First I got my new issue of Parachutist in the mail.  It’s got a shot of SoCal Converge on the cover that I took just after their last round at the 2010 USPA Nationals.  This was their celebratory dive saying they had just won their third National Title.  About time they got some appropriate coverage, and what better place than on the cover!  Click here for more details of the issue.

The second cover shot I got was on Performance Designs 2011 Calendar.  I took this shot over Skydive Sebastian a little while back as I dove towards the ground and captured the ocean and the huge PD Wings logo racing towards Earth.  If you’d like to pick up a copy, please visit the PD store and order yours today!