VOIP – Part II

I have no idea why I’m playing with this stuff, but apparently I still am. The little psuedo phone company (Free World Dialing) that I’ve been using gave us phone calls this mother’s day weekend for free.

I had fun chatting with Ted; it sounded pretty good but suffered lots of misc. tiny drop outs. It would probably work better if I had a real microphone. Ian mentions more examples of how all this is not quite there yet.

Back in the good old days phone calls were routed by operators who’s answer the phone and then rearrange cables so that the caller and the callee were connected.

These days a box usually sits in the phone closet at work and does something similar. That’s called a PBX – for “private branch exchange.” There are about a dozen open source projects that will let you run your own PBX on commodity hardware.

I noticed that I could install one of these on one of the FreeBSD boxes in my basement by typing make install in the right directory; so I did.

That was Asterisk. Golly. Configuring this thing is a lot like a combination of writing microcode and snobol. I sense that it’s got the legacy of years and years of craft knowledge beloved by phone engineers. I mostly found it to be a little odd. It does all kinds of cool things; voicemail, conference rooms, etc. etc.

But a couple wasted hours of fooling around and I can call out thru my own PBX and incomming calls can get routed to voice mail. The voice mail is fun, it get’s emailed to me.

This makes me my own pseudo-phone company. Look out VodaFone!

It appears I can arrange to have my little phone system connect to other little phone systems; like the one I used to talk to Ted. Following the directions seemed to work; but my voice mail prompts don’t get thru.

Apparently if I by a card to stick in the computer in the basement I can hook my little phone system up to the old fashion phone system. But I probably ought to mow the lawn or get that squirrel out of the eves instead.

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