Tag Archives: telephone

POWERMASTR 10: KOM OK

My phone just lighted up. POWERMASTER 10 told me something. It said “POWERMASTR 10: KOM OK”.

Over the last fewSMS conversation screenshot months, I’ve received almost 30 weird text messages from a “POWERMASTER 10”, originating from a Swedish phone number in a number range reserved for “devices”. Yeps, I’m showing the actual number below in the screenshot because I think it doesn’t matter and if for the unlikely event that the owner of +467190005601245 would see this, he/she might want to change his/her alarm config.

Powermaster 10 is probably a house alarm control panel made by Visonic. It is also clearly localized and sends messages in Swedish.

As this habit has been going on for months already, one can only suspect that the user hasn’t really found the SMS feedback to be a really valuable feature. It also makes me wonder what the feedback it sends really means.

The upside of this story is that you seem to be a very happy person when you have one of these control panels, as this picture from their booklet shows. Alarm systems, control panels, text messages. Why wouldn’t you laugh?!

powermaster10-laughing

Monitoring my voip line

Ping Communication Voice Catcher 201EMy “landline” phone in my house is connected over voip through my fiber and I’m using the service provided by Affinity Telecom. A company I never heard of before and I can only presume it is a fairly small one.

Everything is working out fine, apart from one annoying little glitch: every other month or so my phone reports itself as either busy to a caller (or just as if nobody picks up the phone) and the pingcom NetPhone Adapter 201E voip box I have needs to be restarted for the phone line to get back to normal (I haven’t figured out if the box or the service provider is the actual villain).

In my household we usually discover the problem after several days of this situation since we don’t get many calls and we don’t make many calls. (The situation is usually even notable on the voip box’s set of led lights as they are flashing when they are otherwise solid but the box is not put in a place where we notice that either.) Several days of the phone beeping busy to callers is a bit annoying and I’ve decided to try to remedy that somehow. Luckily the box has a web interface that allows me to admin it and check status etc, and after all, I know a tool I can use to script HTTP to the thing, extract the status and send me a message when it needs some love!

Okay, so I just need to “login” to the box and get the status page and extract the info for the phone line and I’m done. I’ve done this dozens if not hundreds of times on sites all over the net the last decade. I merrily transferred the device info page “http://pingcom/Status/Device_Info.shtml” with curl and gave it a glance…

Oh. My. God. This is a little excerpt from the javascript magic that handles the password I enter to login to the web interface:

    /*
     * Get the salt from the router
     */
    (code gets salt from a local URL)

    var salt = xml_doc.textdoc;
    /*
     * Append the password to the salt
     */
     var input = salt + password;
    /*
     * MD5 hash of the salt.
     */
    var hash = hex_md5(input);
    /*
     * Append the MD5 hash to the salt.
    */
    var login_hash = salt.concat(hash);
    /*
     * Send the login hash to the server.
     */
    login_request = new ajax_xmlhttp("/post_login.xml?user=" + escape(username) + "&hash=" +
         escape(login_hash), function(xml_doc)

    [cut]

Ugha! So it downloads a salt, does hashing, salting and md5ing on the data within the browser itself before it sends it off to the server. That’s is so annoying and sure I can probably replicate that logic in a script language of my choice but it is going to take some trial and error until the details are all sorted out.

Ok, so I do the web form login with my browser again and start to look at what requests it does and so on in order to be able to mimic them with curl instead. I then spot that when viewing that device info page, it makes a whole series of HTTP requests that aren’t for pictures and not for the main HTML… Hm, at a closer look it fetches data from a bunch of URLs ending with “.cgi”! And look, among those URLs there’s one in particular that is called “voip_line_state.cgi”. Let me try to get just that and see what that might offer and what funny auth dance I may need for it…

curl http://pingcom/voip_line_state.cgi

And what do you know? It returns a full XML of the voip status, entirely without any login or authentication required:

<LineStatus channel_count="2">
  <Channel index="0" enabled="1">
    <SIP state="Up">
      <Name>0123456789</Name>
      <Server>sip.example.org</Server>
    </SIP>
    <Call state="Idle"></Call>
  </Channel>
  <Channel index="1" enabled="0"></Channel>
</LineStatus>

Lovely! That ‘Idle’ string in there in the <Call> tag is the key. I now poll the status and check to see the state in order to mail myself when it looks wrong. Still needs to be proven to actually trigger during the problem but hey, why wouldn’t it work?

The final tip is probably the lovely tool xml2, which converts an XML input to a “flat” output. That output is perfect to use grep or sed on to properly catch the correct situation, and it keeps me from resorting to the error-prone concept of grepping or regexing actual XML. After xml2 the above XML looks like this:

/LineStatus/@channel_count=2
/LineStatus/Channel/@index=0
/LineStatus/Channel/@enabled=1
/LineStatus/Channel/SIP/@state=Up
/LineStatus/Channel/SIP/Name=012345679
/LineStatus/Channel/SIP/Server=sip.example.org
/LineStatus/Channel/Call/@state=Idle
/LineStatus/Channel
/LineStatus/Channel/@index=1
/LineStatus/Channel/@enabled=0

Now I’ll just have to wait until the problem hits again to see that my scripts actually work… Once proven to detect the situation, my next step will probably be to actually maneuver the web interface and reboot it. I’ll get back to that later..

decopperfied

copper

Today I disconnected my ADSL modem through which I still had the landline telephone service running. I’ve cancelled the service so at the end of the month it will die and I’m now instead signing up to one of them lesser known companies that offer cheap IP-telephony that is network independent: Affinity telecom. Staying with only phone service over the copper was not a good idea since the cheapest service is still expensive over that medium.

Why have a landline phone at all? I’ve decided to stick with a landline telephone for a few reasons: first, our phone number is distributed widely and it is convenient to keep it working and keeping it reach our house instead of a specific person. Secondly, we have two kids who like to phone at times and they can use this fine and it’ll end up cheaper than if they’d use their own mobile phones. And thirdly, the parents-in-law factor. My parents and my wife’s parents etc like calling landlines instead of mobile phones, I think partly due to old habits but also partly because it is cheaper for them…

Ping Communication Voice Catcher 201E

When I researched which service to pick I discovered that not a single operator exists in Sweden that only charges for usage. They all have a minimum monthly fee, so I went with one of the cheapest I could find on prisjakt for my usage pattern.

I simply yanked the RJ11 from the ADSL modem and inserted into my new “Ping Communications Voice Catcher 201E” device (see picture) that I received. The instructions that come with the device say I should connect it directly to internet and then let my existing LAN traffic route through it. I don’t want to add yet another box between me and the internet and I fear that a cheapo box like this might cause problems in one way or another if I do, so I just plugged this new toy into my router and after I while I could happily confirm that it worked just as nicely. It got an IP from my DHCP server and I can call my old-style analog phone now (I love number portability) and I can use it to call out to my mobile.

I’m curious to see how good/bad this is going to work…

Update: It didn’t work to make the box a regular DHCP client. Even if I made it into a DMZ it still wouldn’t work to accept calls. I would only get a signal and everything, but once I answered the phone there was no sound. In the end I moved it to sit between “internet” and my local router and now my phone seems to be doing fine.