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H.325 Experts Progress Standard through Electronic Meetings

November 29, 2009

At the most recent meeting of ITU-T SG16, the H.325 experts decided to initiate a series of electronic meetings in order to help progress the work. For those interested in participating in the creation of this exciting new multimedia system, see the meeting notice posted on the h325-design mailing list.

Permalink: H.325 Experts Progress Standard through Electronic Meetings

IP Address Blacklisting Still an Issue

November 21, 2009

As we reported earlier, a number of spam-fighting organizations decided to block part or all of Amazon's EC2 service. This caused significant disruption to the mailing lists that we operate on Packetizer's mailing list server, including which provides list services for those working on ITU-T related work.

This past month, Spamhaus decided to block all of Amazon, in spite of the fact that we had previously submitted our IP address for removal at Spamhaus. That resulted in about 30 people getting kicked off of various mailing lists. So, if anybody reading this is wondering why you have not received email in a while related to H.323, H.325 or other protocols, Spamhaus might be the reason.

Fortunately, Spamhaus and Amazon quickly reached an agreement on how better coordinate in order to ensure that all of Amazon's EC2 IP addresses are not blocked again. To that end, Amazon now requests all mail servers to be registered with Amazon, which of course we did immediately. Amazon reviewed our request and granted authorization to use the server in order to transmit email.

On or about the same time, unfortunately, Amazon was also listed in MAPS and SORBS, two other spam-fighting organizations. We visited the MAPS web site, provided our IP address, and were almost immediately removed from their list.

SORBS, on the other hand, has been a real problem. The organization absolutely refuses to unblock Amazon EC2 or our individual address. We contacted SORBS and, while they were responsive, their reply was less than satisfactory. One of the more polite statements was:

You are not required to make a donation for delisting as the entry was not generated because of your actions, however the listing will not be removed until your service provider terminates the spammers or makes the required donation.

That is perhaps the closest thing we have ever seen to extortion. Sadly, while we continued to have a friendly dialog, after 20 days our mail server is still blocked by SORBS. It would appear they have absolutely no intention of removing Amazon EC2 and we do not believe that Amazon has any intent to work with them either. We can only suggest that if your company is using SORBS, you consider using an alternative blacklisting service.

Permalink: IP Address Blacklisting Still an Issue

IP Address Blacklisting Issues

September 24, 2009

Spam has been a problem for years and it seems almost impossible to address. Two years ago, Packetizer was receiving thousands of spam messages per day and we were forced to implement various spam blocking technologies, including blacklisting IP addresses. As much as we hated to do that, it became necessary, as it was otherwise impossible to find and read the legitimate email. We also began employing technologies like SPF and are also now using DKIM, digitally signing every message transmitted by our mail server.

It was never our intention to block legitimate mail servers and as issues were brought to our attention, we took immediate steps to resolve the problems. Our servers would provide a response back to senders when they are blocked and we also provided a tool where anyone can query to see if their server is blocked.

In the spring of 2009, our mail server was re-located and is now running inside Amazon's EC2 cloud service. We were assigned a static IP address and have been using that same IP address for all outbound mail since. Initially, we were somewhat disappointed to learn that our server was actually blacklisted on a few Internet blacklists. However, we were quickly able to resolve those issues with the more legitimate blacklisting organizations, such as Spamhaus and Spamcop. Unfortunately, UCE PROTECT was not very willing to cooperate. After a month of negotiating, they finally agreed to remove us from their list.

The reason our server was on their list is because we run mailing lists and some bots subscribe (or attempt to subscribe) to mailing lists using bogus addresses, to which our server politely responds with a welcome message, assuming the message passes the SPF test. (We are presently not enforcing DKIM, but will once this is generally practiced.) Unfortunately, UCE PROTECT treats those messages as spam messages and then places our server on the blacklist.

Packetizer was not listed on UCE PROTECT's blacklist for several months, but it appears we are now listed again. We attempted to contact UCE PROTECT via email and were blocked. So, there appears to be little or nothing we can do: we cannot even discuss the issue.

Unfortunately, many people on the H.323 Announce list and other mailing lists are not receiving messages and, in some cases, are being removed from mailing lists due to message rejections. Please note that this is not our fault and if you find yourself unsubscribed, definitely feel welcome to subscribe again. If your service provider or employer is using UCE PROTECT, you may wish to ask them to stop using the service.

Permalink: IP Address Blacklisting Issues

Announcing Packetizer Forums

August 25, 2009

With the increased focus on videoconferencing and VoIP communications, there has also been an increase in the number of questions people have about implementation, configuration, deployment, troubleshooting, etc. Some questions are rather straight-forward, while some really require the expertise of people who have been working in the area for a while.

Packetizer is a community-driven web site that operates a number of different mailing lists and publishes a lot of material in an effort to try to help people build, design, and deploy multimedia communications technologies. On Packetizer, you will find high-level overviews about VoIP, frequently asked implementation questions and details, tutorials, and so forth. However, even with all of the resources already available, there seemed to be something more needed.

After collaborating with a number of people in the community and taking a poll, it was decided that a new discussion forum would be useful. As a result, we created a new site called Packetizer Forums, which is open to everybody to ask questions, provide answers, and to learn. Oh, and having fun never hurts.

We hope you enjoy the added service!

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H.323 and H.325 Moving Forward

June 18, 2009

The increased focus on videoconferencing has brought with it a renewed interest in H.323. While this is not entirely surprising, given that H.323 was specifically designed to enable video communications over packet-switched networks, it is nonetheless an indication that H.323 is still a major force in the market.

Over the past several months, we have received an increased number of inquiries related to H.323 on topics related to tools, deployment, protocol questions, etc. Additionally, others in the videoconferencing community, including equipment vendors and stack vendors, have also reported an increase in activity, including sales, feature requests, and so forth.

With all of this renewed focus on H.323, it was a surprise to receive one message that asked whether there was any work going on related to H.323 since it had been several years since H.323 was updated. Indeed, it has been a few years. Even so, there has definitely been work going on behind the scenes.

In fact, the ITU is planning to approve H.323v7 in November. There are also several other H.323-related documents currently in development scheduled for approval in November. Some may be ready, but some may be delayed. The bottom line, though, is that there is definitely active progress. See the current documents in progress here: http://www.packetizer.com/ipmc/h323/doc_status.html

Equally important, though, is the fact that there is not as much progress as in previous years on H.323, simply because the standard is fairly mature. There are topics related to Telepresence that the ITU will likely explore, but H.323 is already well-suited for such applications: it is a very stable and mature protocol at this point.

In parallel to the work on H.323, though, there is work on a very new multimedia system that has been slowly moving forward. The new system is called the Advanced Multimedia System (AMS), also known as H.325. H.325 is still in the requirements gathering phase, but the road ahead is fairly clear. H.325 will be an application platform that will enable multimedia communications applications to work together in order to provide a rich communication experience. The objective is to enable users to use any number of devices together seamlessly in a communication session. Equally important, by decomposing the multimedia system into a control element and a set of applications, the system will truly be an open platform upon which application developers will be able to create and deliver new features and functionality without being dependent on any other vendor. It is truly going to be a revolutionary technology that is unparalleled by anything in the industry today.

These are definitely some exciting times. Without a doubt, the ITU continues to lead the charge in delivering powerful multimedia communication systems for the 21st century. And, Packetizer is committed to sharing information with the world on the progress of those standards.

Permalink: H.323 and H.325 Moving Forward

Packetizer Deploys XMPP for Instant Messaging

January 4, 2009

With all of the emphasis on VoIP, one of the related technologies that we have not addressed as sufficiently as we should have is instant messaging. During the holidays, Packetizer deployed an open source XMPP server called Openfire. To our delight, it worked flawlessly and significantly better than we had expected. Within minutes, we had the server up and running and communicating with the Google Talk service. Read more about this standard that has become the leader in enterprise instant messaging.

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Packetizer Makes Improvements to Daily Payload

October 23, 2008

We are continually working to improve the content offered on Packetizer. Most recently we made significant revisions to the look and feel of Daily Payload. For those who are not familiar with Daily Payload, it is a site where we publish terse summaries and links to news headlines related to VoIP, videoconferencing, mobile communication, WiFi, WiMax, IM, and other technologies related to multimedia communication.

There are two obvious and significant changes that you can immediately see when you visit Daily Payload. The first is that we've changed the color scheme. We now have a light gray background on the sides and a black header across the top. The second and perhaps most substantial change is the logo. We now have a new logo that appears on all pages and the e-mail messages that get sent to subscribers of the Daily Payload news e-mail lists.

One of the features that we added to Daily Payload some time ago is a view of the site designed specifically for mobile devices. If you use a mobile device, you might find that you are redirected to dailypayload.com/mobile. Or, perhaps you will not. We do not have the signatures for every possible mobile device out there, but Windows Mobile, iPhone, and a few other mobile devices are recognized and users are automatically redirected to the /mobile section.

Another feature added a long time ago is an RSS feed. That probably needs little mention, since it is clear from the volume of traffic to the site that many people have discovered this one. But, in case you are not aware, we do syndicate the postings on Daily Payload via RSS.

A new feature that we have added, but not immediately visible, is the ability to post complete articles on the site through the web browser. We plan to start publishing more original content and would invite people from the public to submit content, as well. If you are interested to write a news article, send it to us for review. We do not object to product promotions, as long as the article also contains useful and interesting information on voice, videoconferencing, or related technologies.

Lastly, feel free to send us feedback on anything you like or don't like. We welcome the input to help improve the growing Packetizer community.

Permalink: Packetizer Makes Improvements to Daily Payload

Progress on the Advanced Multimedia System

September 7, 2008

ITU-T Q12/16 met the last week of August to make progress on the Advanced Multimedia System (AMS), the next-generation multimedia communication system that will enable users to communicate using a multiplicity of communication modes across any number of independent devices. The focus of this meeting was primarily on network architecture and requirements. Read the full story here.

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Advanced Multimedia System Takes Steps

July 3, 2008

Experts working on the next generation multimedia communication system known as AMS recently completed a meeting, reaching some important decisions on architecture, terminology, and protocol syntax used in the new system. The new system will be a decomposed system, allowing anyone to create new applications and will utilize XML as the basis for the signaling protocol. You can read the full story here.

Permalink: Advanced Multimedia System Takes Steps

VoIP Bandwidth Calculator Now Multilingual

February 21, 2008

The Packetizer VoIP Bandwidth Calculator was recently updated to include a Spanish translation! This is exciting since, although Packetizer's visitors come from nearly every country in the world, this is the first non-English web page published by Packetizer. While trying to make the entire Packetizer site multilingual would prove to be a nearly impossible task, certain content like the VoIP Bandwidth Calculator are definitely good candidates for translation since it is such a useful tool.

We would like to reach out to the Packetizer Community and ask for your help: if you are a user of the VoIP Bandwidth Calculator and would be willing to provide us with a translation into a different language, do it! We will gladly put up any language version that is provided to us. All we would need is a translation of the text that appears on the page in your language in either a Word file or a UTF-8-encoded .txt file.

Permalink: VoIP Bandwidth Calculator Now Multilingual

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