Entry for February 25, 2007 – The Phone Guy

I am at work (new employer, who just moved into a new office with a new phone system) and overhear conversations about problems with the new phone system. I ask a few questions and learn that the new system is using VoIP phones, connected to an Ethernet switch that supplies power as well as data, all controlled from a plain-looking PC that is running Linux and Asterisk. I do a little reading and find out that this is all Open-Source software and start to get interested. No one in the office was comfortable with Linux, and when they found out the software was “just downloaded off the Internet”, they assumed it was sub-standard software. I found myself trying to explain the truth of open-source to the guys, and sat in on a close-out meeting; Before I knew it, I was designated “the phone guy”.

So now I inherented the punch-list, problems, and responsibility of provisioning new phones, equipment, etc. I saw it as an opportunity to learn more about this technology. I was amazed at the flexibility and available features, and the variety of standards-based low-cost equipment. Since it is kind of hard to fool around with the phone system in use, I decided to set something up at home. I installed trixbox on an old spare computer, signed up for a free VoIP service, signed up for a free incoming PTSN phone number, and installed a free softphone. I even spent some money on an analog adapter and a SIP desk phone.

So next time you call my house, don’t be surprised if you hear music instead of ringing, prompts for voicemail, etc. I might even require the caller to record an announcement to help me screen calls, but don’t worry, you won’t have to “press 1 for English”!

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