Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reset Elastix Password to default

If you are using Elastix distro and you have forgotten your password you can reset it to the default palosanto password by executing the following command

sqlite3 /var/www/db/acl.db "update acl_user set md5_password='7a5210c173ea40c03205a5de7dcd4cb0' where id=1"

Note: the command is one line

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No Perfect SIP phone

I've tested a number of SIP phones over a 2 year period and I still can't pick one single phone that solves most of the business requirements. I will list the top manufacturers with the main strength and weakness.

1. Grandstream - The company I love to hate. SIP's answer to DLink. Lots of features - good for testing. Terrible for customers. The stuff breaks or starts failing really quickly. Over time everything fails.

2. Linksys/Cisco SPA900/500 series. Good features all around. All the features work as advertised and quality is OK. The speaker phone could be much better and lack of BLF buttons keeps them from being deployed in many offices.

3. Polycom - Excellent speaker phone and call quality. Lack of message button and BLF buttons on 300 series phones keeps these phones from many solutions.

4. Snom - Good features, good quality, but real ugly. This is the volvo of phones. Practical but nothing to get excited about. Haven't looked into the 800 series phones but a huge improvement in the looks department

5. Aastra - Good mixture of features. Speaker phone good, call quality good, BLF buttons good. Variety of models from the traditional looking "office phones" to a more current look. The only real complaint about Aastra phones is the new models handset feels like it was designed for a little girl. The phones also have these funny little peg legs that can't position the phone vertical enough.

The one feature missing from all these phones with the exception of the Polycom 650/670 is end user call recording to usb keys.

This feature is asked over and over when talking to customers. Lawyers and Mortgage firms seem to want this feature more than anyone. If this feature was available I could probably sell more SIP based solutions as it provides a real reason and a business need to replace that aging key system.

Monday, December 14, 2009

FreePBX Phonebook & Directory Confusion

In FreePBX there is a Directory and a Phonebook. Similar functions but a different way of implementing. The biggest confusion comes from the way FreePBX has named everything.

Directory - Is accessed from the IVR by Selecting "Enable Directory" checkbox
When a caller is in the IVR they can press # to access the names directory.

The directory is built from the information that was entered during the creation of the extension and voicemail. For basic look up of extension names this is all you need to enable.

The option to choose searching by first,last, or first and last name is configured from the General Settings under Company Directory

Phonebook or Asterisk Phonebook or Phonebook Directory is a completely different option. The confusion comes from the naming.

There are two install modules - Phonebook and Phonebook Directory

Phonebook appears in the Tools menu as "Asterisk Phonebook" once installed
This is where you can create your own phonebook entries

Phonebook Directory is found in Destination options of FreePBX once installed. In the IVR you can select Phonebook Directory to search for names that were entered in the "Asterisk Phonebook" under the FreePBX tools menu.

This can be used to dial other names besides extension names.

*Note: The Asterisk Phonebook can also be used as a source for Caller ID Lookup Sources Module

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rogers does block VOIP!

In what took 6 days to resolve turned out to be Rogers Internet blocking certain VOIP traffic to certain IP ranges.

This was not a complete blockage of VOIP which makes it really difficult to detect. Rogers was blocking certain voip traffic from a specific carrier. Voip service worked just fine from another carrier.

This was not a home setup that was running peer to peer software constantly. This was a business account that uses voip, encrypted traffic for a financial application, and encrypted traffic of online backup data.

This makes me believe that Rogers does employ software to automatically detect peer to peer traffic (even on business service) and throttle/shape/block suspicious activity. In this case I believe the software was fooled and started blocking legit voip service.

Thank you Roger! I love you as much as Bell now!

Asterisk As A Voicemail Server for Legacy PBX Systems

Not coming from a Telephony background I didn't really understand how legacy PBX systems provided voicemail. It turns out voicemail is considered a separate solution. Many PBX companies left voicemail to third party companies.

To me this seems strange but hardware was much different in the early days and mass storage wasn't as cheap as it is today. In any case there many legacy PBX systems that are still running today.

One way Asterisk can benefit from this using Asterisk as replacement voicemail server. This is good because it gets rid of some of the problems of initially trying to sell Asterisk as a complete replacement to their existing system.

Here are some reasons why Asterisk will make a good voicemail server.

1. No expensive wiring or handsets to consider (client is happy)
2. Extends life of current system (client is really happy)
3. It will add additional features than the voicemail system its replacing, vm to email for example
4. Increase their voicemail storage
5. Client will be more open to move to a full Asterisk system once they are comfortable with it being a VM server first

For some systems it may not be possible to actually integrate Asterisk. But there are systems with SMDI and sip trunking support.