Further progress ... my telephony gunk is now able to call me up on my cell phone and annoy me. Ring detection when dialing out turns out to be surprisingly hard, though - it seems that there's no way to tell if someone has picked up the phone in the middle of a ring until we fail to detect the next one. I suspect that voice data will fool the ring-detection filter, too. Perhaps the suggestion to use the speech recognizer to detect rings and pick-up is not so far fetched after all.
There is also a fair amount of black magic involved in getting the IXJ card to play DTMF tones correctly; the duration of the tones is magic (180ms on and 45ms off are the magic numbers supplied in the SDK, and other values tend to fail randomly), and also, it seems necessary to pause for at least a hundred milliseconds or so after setting the device off-hook, or it will fail to report tone state appropriately, causing none of the tones to be played correctly at all. Ah well. I keep telling myself "we build voices, not IVR systems" and that excuses all this ad-hockery.
I'm gaining a certain amount of sympathy for the idea of retiring to the countryside to grow fruit trees and "dealing in units of time no shorter than a fortnight". Yeah, a Jargon File reference (I think). So shoot me. (I have to be careful about saying that in the US, I guess)
I managed to fry the motherboard in my home machine when transplanting it into a new case, resulting in much cursing, swearing, weeping, and gnashing of teeth. The 'whisper' power supply that I bought is, in fact, very quiet, though. So presuming I don't fry the replacement motherboard, I should finally have a machine suitable for leaving on all the time and hence running mail, web, music, and wireless stuff from.
Still waiting for CMU to make another Sphinx release, as well as releasing the training tools and so forth.
I must admit that there are some things I like quite a lot about Red Hat 7. Being able to enable and disable inetd services with chkconfig(8) is pretty swell. Having POP3 and IMAP over SSL configured by default is as well (though of course one must still upgrade stunnel to a non-vulnerable version). It's a bit frustrating when it takes longer to download and install all the urgently needed updates (over a T1, natch) than it does to install the distribution itself, though.
I'm still regretting that I failed to snag a Conectiva 6.0 CD at LinuxWorld. By all accounts it sounds like the best of the RPM-based systems yet; they seem to have their heads screwed on straight with regard to security (shipping BIND in a chroot jail by default, for instance) and upgradability (well, if their APT port is any good, at least).
That said, I'm still waiting for one of the RPM based distributions to get rid of Sendmail as the default MTA in favour of Exim or Postfix... then I might actually consider using one on my own machines.
I actually sent a piece of snail-mail today that was not a parcel or rent cheque. Trying to hook up again with yet another old friend who has managed to avoid the rise of the Internet entirely, it seems. I keep half-heartedly searching people's names on Google wondering if they might have resurfaced on-line, but haven't had much luck.