% fortune -ae paul murphy

An idea from 1997 - needed now

I was looking at an application of the DUNDI (Distributed Universal Number Discovery - "a peer-to-peer system for locating Internet gateways to telephony services.") protocol within the Asterix open source PBX environment when I noticed that the combination is missing something important -which I just happen to have "invented" a few years ago.

The problem is this: you're in your car, thinking about a client finally facing up to a mumps conversion and you want to talk to some guy you once met on another job but whose name you forget and whose number you obviously don't know. Now what?

I use a pair of csh aliases:

% addph echo !* " "`date` >>/usr/murph/telcon/ph.list
% ph (egrep -i !^ /usr/murph/telcon/ph.list)

to deal with this on my desktop by recording one line notes about the people I talk to:

% addph Keith [lastname + ph num + email] VHS Oracle mumps conversion 3rd norm issue on record length and 8byte first index limit

This makes finding the guy afterward easy:

% ph mumps |grep ora
Keith [last name + ph num + email] VHS Oracle mumps conversion 3rd norm issue on record length and 8byte first index limit Wed Jul 10 13:14:50 MDT 1996

But, of course, this has two big limitations:

  1. it's limited to your personal database - or at least the stuff available within one community of users; and,

  2. it's not readily accessible via cell phone.

On the other hand, generalization of the idea to the web, and non terminal devices like playphones, isn't that hard. In fact, when Oracle ran a database cartridge programming ideas contest in March of 1997 I submitted a plan to do that.

Here's how Oracle described the contest:

The Cartridge Solutions Network Fund Competition the "Competition") is designed to encourage businesses, educational institutions, and individuals to submit proposals for the development of "cartridges," the distributed components that make up Network Computing Architecture. Oracle Corporation ("Oracle") will issue cash awards from the Cartridge Solutions Network Fund ("CSN Fund") to applicants who submit proposals for the production or marketing of cartridges which the judges deem to be a sufficiently significant engineering or business achievement, based on the judging criteria described below. Recipients are encouraged to use their cash awards to further the development and marketing of their cartridges.

For purposes of this Competition, only proposals for the production and marketing of application server cartridges will be accepted. Software components are considered to be cartridges if they run in conjunction with the Oracle Web Application Server.

My entry, which I sent off into the ether via FedEx and never got any response to at all, suggested a cartridge to be called "Hyperphone" - a product that would now make the Asterix/Dundi combination even more powerful:

Cartridge name: HyperPhone ?

Alternatives considered so far: Fastlink, Forward_411, CellSaver, Computer? (as in "computer?, locate Mr. Data.")

Cartridge Title 50 word text for Press Release

Hyperphone, announced today by Oracle Corporation, establishes personal communication connections between users of Oracle's web server software. Users access personal, corporate, and hyperlinked contact lists from their desktops or cell phones to establish connections which may be voice, video, or text based depending on the transmission channels and tools used.

Basically what hyperphone was going to do was collect "addph" entries from devices in use within the user organization, correlate them with public corporate phone directories in web format, make the combination available to desktop and remote phone users via IVR/CTI, and then use the computer to select the lowest cost connection from the caller to the target selected.

Nine years later Oracle has yet to respond - but both playphones and VoIP capabilities have improved almost beyond recognition and the application looks like a natural addition to the Asterisk/Dundi effort.

Any takers?

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.