If you are thinking about trying Asterisk open source PBX in your home or small business, I suggest you read Tom Keating on Trixbox 2.0, “the easiest way to get Asterisk up and running in just minutes”.
Now chances are at this point you probably already know more than a little about what Asterisk is and why you need it. But, if you’re like me and need to start at the beginning, start with the Trixbox wiki (formerly Asterisk@Home) on voip-info.org.
Happy to say, I just got my PhoneGnome. It took just a few minutes to plug in and configure itself (I like that part). Teeny tiny isn’t it? More later…
Vonage users can now receive local traffic reports from their Vonage phone by dialing 511. The coverage is something like 30 511 systems in 26 states. Vonage now also provides local weather the same way. Dial 700-WEATHER and then enter a 5-digit zip code. Kind of cool. Andy Abramson has some thoughts on it, and Don Rosenbaum of FierceVOIP suggests that Vonage may be casting an eye towards a future mobile Vonage customer “People tend to need traffic and weather information when they’re in their cars; unless there’s a hotspot or mobile data connection” Hmmm.
Thanks to Alec Saunders for pointing me to a post by Jajah’s Don Thorson about building really useful stuff (as in new software, services, gadgets, and whatnot). I was excited because it reads sort of like TheVOIPGirl manifesto (if there was one). Makes me wish I’d written it! Beyond its ability to dazzle, new stuff has to 1) solve a problem, 2) be easy to understand, 3) be easy to get, 4) be easy to use, 5) be easy to share.
For #2, he talks about giving new stuff the Mom test, meaning I assume that if Mom gets it, anybody will. While I object to the idea that Moms are the lowest common denominator–some of the most technical, savvy, and successful gals I know are also Moms–I think I know what he means. I’m a Mom and being one is the most important thing in my life. The flip side of this is that technology is not the priority…at all. I don’t have time to mess around with something that doesn’t meet the five basics.
Don also says that mainstream users need to be spoonfed. Okay..maybe true, but what’s wrong with that? Busy people, Moms and power users alike, need simplicity. Alec, a power user if there ever was one, atests to that as well.
All in all, thanks Don for a great post. Companies that stick to these rules have my vote.
I’ve just got home from an inspirational but exhausting weekend at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference. Sorry folks, no blogging here, IP whats-its, new-fangled phones, gadgets of any kind (can you imagine?), or mobile VOIP. Just 800 enthusiastic writers, editors and agents from all over North America. What a blast!
So next year, if you feel like rubbing shoulders with the likes of Bernard Cornwall and Diana Gabaldon, or better yet, if you’ve got a novel that’s been simmering inside you for years waiting to make a dramatic entrance, then see you in Surrey, BC (Oct. 19-21, 2007).
Alec Saunders reviews Talkster, a new service that lets you make inexpensive cell phone calls anywhere in the world, and mobile to IM (Instant Messenger) calls. In Talkster’s words: “There are a couple of cool perks to note with the Talkster service; some of the most important being that there is no subscription to the service to buy (ala Rebtel), there is no software to download (ala Jajah), it works on the cell network you are already used to using (no 3G requirement ala Fring), and it works on the phone you already have today (not just select Java phones). It also works today, with popular IM services MSN, GoogleTalk, and Gizmo Project. In a nutshell, Talkster is the first company to enable mobile-to-PC Voice over IM (VoIM) calls, that works without software, on virtually any phone.” That sounds like something worth trying.
Alec reviews it using his Blackberry and he’s impressed by how easy it is to browse his list of contacts, view their online presence, and make calls. While the service works without software on virutally any phone that supports a browser, in reality only browser-friendly phones need apply. For example, my cell phone has a browser, but the phone itself is of the entry level variety so using the web enabled capabilities is awkward (I find). I’ll be giving Talkster a try with my basic handset and with my husband’s fancy one and I’ll add my comments to the mix.
Kath over at WordofTech.com introduces us to her new blog with a post reminding us that “hell hath no fury like a dissatisfied woman consumer”. With Christmas right around the corner and visions of Mylos dancing in our heads, these are wise words.
Thanks Kath for your insights! Keep them coming…
Nextfone is another Canadian VOIP provider to add to my VOIP for Canadians list.
At first glance, their offering looks similar to many others: two basic plans, a suite of free features, and a favorable comparison to other Canadian VOIP providers Bell and Vonage.
What I like: Western Canada area codes and an actual phone number for customer service/tech support.
What I’d like to see before I sign: more information on who they are and how long they’ve been in operation, up front information (BEFORE I’m in the sign up process) about the hardware purchase or rental.
Carolyn Schuk from Voxilla has an interesting post on TelTel, who she calls one of IP communications’ best kept secrets:
“With an estimated 2 million registered international users for its service, TelTel is probably one of the best-kept secrets in VoIP. By comparison, Jeff Pulver’s much better-known Free World Dialup, has some 600,000 users.”
Now, two million is a pretty big number so I thought I’d give the TelTel softphone a try (I’ll be honest and say I hadn’t heard of them unitl now).
I was pleasantly surprised by the packaging. The software has a nice look and feel to it and I think the installation and account setup really have the novice user in mind. For new users, the first tip of the day is a handy glossary of screen symbols. Unfortunately, there’s no way to find it again once you dismiss the window. Oh well….
Further exploration of the software revealed a few problems. I experienced delays and serious hang-time as I clicked various screen elements and links (such as Buy Credit, Help and the user forum of all things). Plus, when I tried to make a call, I got the add contact dialog box instead.
I’m also not sure what’s free about this service and what’s not. TelTel subscriber to subscriber calls are free, and TelTel to landline phones are subject to low calling rates (nothing new here), but what about TelTel to SIP phone numbers, or SIP phones to TelTel?
While the marketing message is that TelTel is Skype-like but SIP-driven, I’m going to stick with GizmoProject until this softphone lives up to its looks.
After Tom Keating’s neatly packaged intro to Skype 2.6 Beta, I thought I’d give it a try. There’s a feature that turns phone numbers on web pages into buttons. Just click the grey button to dial the number on Skype. So cool! Works too!
Here’s what the contact number for a local movie theater looks like:
The Skype number highlighting icon in your browser toolbar (Explorer or Firefox) lets you turn this feature on or off, or uninstall it completely.