Ho, Ho, Ho: Some Asterisk Stocking Stuffers from Santa

As if we haven't given you enough Christmas presents already, today we have another stocking-full of goodies that you can add to your new PBX in a Flash lean, mean Asterisk® machine. Remember the Nerd Vittles promise when we began this adventure a month ago? No Bloatware and No Bugs. We promised to provide a rock-solid, ultra-reliable Asterisk platform that could be embellished with scripts to meet your every need. We think we've already delivered the ultimate Asterisk development platform. And with over 20,000 downloads in the first month, we're pretty thrilled with the response. There seems to have been a little pent-up demand. Heh, heh! You can, of course, make up your own mind. Just visit the PBX in a Flash Download Site and join the party. It's free and completely open source so that you can add all the bells and whistles you like without begging someone else to make the changes for you. And, yes, there's loads of documentation from a step-by-step installation guide with pretty pictures to our soup-to-nuts article that'll have you up and running in about 30 minutes. And there's the new Nerd Vittles Forum with lots of tips and tricks from the whiz kids. But that's only the beginning of the fun.

The real beauty of PBX in a Flash is the ease with which you can customize it to meet your every need. And today we again throw our financial aspirations to the wind and offer you a stocking full of free add-on scripts that'll really make your nerdy pals drool. For today only, we'll call them Apps-in-a-Flash. Going forward, they're just plain old scripts. Most of these scripts will only work on PBX in a Flash systems because we want to be sure that folks using these scripts have a reliable, solid base on which to run our goodies. We also need to know how your system is configured to write the scripts. And what's so special about Apps-in-a-Flash? Well, all of these scripts install turnkey applications in under a minute flat. Of course, if you prefer a shaky platform on which to build your telephony applications, there still are plenty of other options out there for you. But, when it comes to the ultimate script site for Asterisk, we've got you covered with our all-new PBX in a Flash Script Site. Catchy name, huh? And we've got some new scripts for you today that haven't even been posted on the site yet. You may also want to visit the Best of Nerd Vittles script repository from time to time, or just sign up for the RSS Feed to stay updated automatically.

Text-to-Speech Returns! If you've been following Nerd Vittles for a while, you already know that our favorite applications for any telephony server are text-to-speech apps. The idea behind all of these applications is that you can pick up a phone to find out the same information that you could obtain with a web browser, or a television, or a radio... only faster as in instantaneous. These applications also free you from the home sofa. You can dial in for the information using almost any telephone from anywhere in the world. Well, that was the theory. For those that have endured the last year of kitchen-sink Asterisk implementations, you also know that text-to-speech was the first casualty in the migration from CentOS 4 and Asterisk 1.2 to CentOS 5 and Asterisk 1.4. Well, guess what? We've finally resolved the choppy sound glitch and text-to-speech and Flite are back with PBX in a Flash, and soon we'll have support for other text-to-speech applications as well.

Bluetooth Is Back! The other casualty in the migration to CentOS 5 and Asterisk 1.4 was Bluetooth support. That was really unfortunate because CentOS 5 has incredible Bluetooth support, and it even works with virtual applications such as VMware. And why does Bluetooth matter? Well, for long-time readers of Nerd Vittles, you'll recall that we first introduced Follow-Me Phoning several years ago. In the trade, it's known as Proximity Detection. The idea here is that, when you're in your home or office carrying your Bluetooth cellphone, your calls ring on your local phones. And, when you leave your home or office with your cellphone in hand, your Asterisk server automatically transfers your incoming calls to your cellphone. With the latest version of FreePBX which is included in all PBX in a Flash installations, you can activate Follow Me Phoning in under 5 minutes. Step 1 is to read our latest article that explained how to install everything. You can ignore the parts about needing an Asterisk 1.2 server or activating Bluetooth. We've solved all of that for you with PBX in a Flash out of the box. All you really need to do is download our Bluetooth script and configure it with your telephone extension number and the number of your cellphone. Add one line of code to your cron jobs, plug in a DBT-120 Bluetooth dongle, and it just works. The really good news is that DBT-120's used to cost $30-$40. Now there is a generic clone called Vista 2.0 which we have tested that works just as well for $1.99 plus the usual $5.99 shipping gouge. Here is the eBay link.

Welcome Home to the Asterisk Weather Station. If you've missed dialing in for a quick weather report from your Asterisk server this past year, the wait is finally over. Today, Nerd Vittles is proud to announce the return of all three of our weather applications for Asterisk: Weather by Airport Code, Weather by Zip Code, and International Weather Forecasts. There's one major difference this time around. With PBX in a Flash and our three weather scripts, you can install all three applications in less than one minute each. In fact, you'll probably spend more time typing the commands to execute the scripts than it will take the scripts to run. So let's get started. For each of these installs, simply log into your PBX in a Flash server as root and execute the commands shown below. Two words of caution: First, only run each script once on the same server. These scripts do lots of stuff behind the scenes including populating MySQL databases and modifying your Asterisk config files. So, if you run the same script more than once, you will most assuredly get a mess. Second, if you have changed your default password for MySQL, you will need to edit these scripts and insert your new password before running them.

Asterisk Weather Reports by Airport Code. After logging into your PBX in a Flash server as root, here are the commands to execute to install this application:

cd /root
wget http://bestof.nerdvittles.com/applications/weather-airport/weather.pbx
chmod +x weather.pbx
./weather.pbx
amportal restart

To use this application, pick up any phone on your PBX in a Flash system and dial 611. Then enter the three-character airport code for the weather report you wish to retrieve. Keep in mind that there are a lot more airport codes than letter combinations on your phone so we had to make some choices. You can change these if there are missing airports that you care about. Complete documentation is available on our Best of Nerd Vittles web site. Installation time: under 15 seconds.

Asterisk Weather Reports by Zip Code. After logging into your PBX in a Flash server as root, here are the commands to execute to install this application:

cd /root
wget http://bestof.nerdvittles.com/applications/weather-zip/weatherzip.pbx
chmod +x weatherzip.pbx
./weatherzip.pbx
amportal restart

To use this application, pick up any phone on your PBX in a Flash system and dial Z-I-P (947). Then enter the five-digit U.S. zip code for the weather report you wish to retrieve. No configuration of this application is really necessary. Complete documentation is available on our Best of Nerd Vittles web site. Installation time: about 30 seconds. Sorry it's so slow, but we're loading the entire zip code data base for the United States into MySQL.

International Weather Forecasts for Asterisk. After logging into your PBX in a Flash server as root, here are the commands to execute to install this application:

cd /root
wget http://bestof.nerdvittles.com/applications/weather-world/weatherworld.pbx
chmod +x weatherworld.pbx
./weatherworld.pbx
amportal restart

To use this application, pick up any phone on your PBX in a Flash system and dial 612. Then enter the one-digit code for the weather forecast you wish to retrieve. This application comes preconfigured for the ten international cities shown below. Here are the default city codes:

0. Tokyo
1. Washington
2. Berlin
3. Florence
4. Gough Island
5. London
6. Moscow
7. Sydney
8. Toronto
9. Zurich

You can easily change these to meet your needs. Complete documentation is available on our Best of Nerd Vittles web site. Installation time: under 15 seconds.

Yahoo NewsClips for Asterisk. After logging into your PBX in a Flash server as root, here are the commands to execute to install this application:

cd /root
wget http://bestof.nerdvittles.com/applications/newsclips/newsclips.pbx
chmod +x newsclips.pbx
./newsclips.pbx
amportal restart

To use this application, pick up any phone on your PBX in a Flash system and dial 511. Then enter the one-digit code for the news headlines you'd like to hear. This application comes preconfigured for nine Yahoo news feeds. These can be customized to meet your own requirements. Here are the default news feeds:

1. Top Stories
2. Sports
3. Technology
4. Showbiz
5. Business
6. Politics
7. Most Read
8. Most Sent
9. Hurricanes

Complete documentation and customization tips are available in this Nerd Vittles article. Installation time: under 15 seconds.

AsteriDex for PBX in a Flash. After logging into your PBX in a Flash server as root, here are the commands to execute to install this application. Only use this script if you live in the United States and can place outbound calls on your server by dialing 1-areacode-phonenumber. Otherwise, install the software manually using our Best of Nerd Vittles tutorial.

cd /root
wget http://bestof.nerdvittles.com/applications/asteridex4/asteridex.pbx
chmod +x asteridex.pbx
./asteridex.pbx
amportal restart

AsteriDex, as you may know, is The Poor Man's Rolodex. It has an easy-to-use web interface which you can access by pointing your web browser to the IP address of your web site. Then click the Administration tab and click on the AsteriDex button. Or you can go directly to the site: http://ipaddress/asteridex4/. You now can set the phone on your system to use for placing calls from within the web interface. If you want to access the AsteriDex directory from your cellphone and you've enabled web access through your firewall, here's the link: http://publicIPaddress/cellphone/. There's also a speed dialer which is explained in the documentation.

Complete documentation and customization tips are available in this Best of Nerd Vittles article. Installation time: under 15 seconds.

Needy Nerd's Fund. As long time readers know, we don't often solicit donations. But these are special times, and we need some help. The new Nerd Vittles Forum is already a big hit. While it uses very little bandwidth, it's a huge processor hog. We really need something other than a shared host on which to run this forum. There are a couple ways you can help. First, you can click on the Donate link at the top of this page and chip in even a little bit so that we can lease a dedicated server. Or, if you happen to be in the hosting business, you could provide a dedicated server in exchange for some terrific advertising on the Nerd Vittles site. Most of our readers have deep pockets. We're just frugal. So now's the time that you can really make a difference in this project. Thanks in advance for your help.

That's All Folks. Well, there you have it. We're going to take a breather for a few weeks. Enjoy all your new goodies. The Nerd Vittles crew wishes you a very Merry Christmas. We may slip in a few more surprises between now and New Year's, or we may not. Just check out the Nerd Vittles forum once in a while for late-breaking tips and tricks. And maybe we'll throw in another script or two as well. Enjoy!


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5 Responses to “Ho, Ho, Ho: Some Asterisk Stocking Stuffers from Santa”

  1. adam says:

    Those all look awesome and i cant wait to get this going now when we install PBX in a Flash at our new office the first of the year instead of trixbox for the first time. I can only hope with all the new stuff you got going on you get a chance to add a new TeleYapper to the PBX in a Flash Script Site.

  2. Quy says:

    PBX in a Flash is only getting better, fast! Adios Trixbox…

  3. Jan Fure says:

    Hi; I have installed the pbx-in-a-flash version that was released about a month ago, with CentOS 5.0. It is working great, but there is one feature I am missing, that I believe was in the previous ‘nerdvittle’ version, the ‘trixbox menu’, while inferior for system administration, the SIP/IAX/registered device info screen from the ‘Trixbox Menu’ was superior to the info that is displayed by clicking the ‘Admin’ tab. What I am taliking about, is a screen that shows registration status, ip address, jitter in a very detailed manner, I believe the name is ‘Asterisk Info’ Is there anything equivalent in the latest pbx in a flash?

    [WM: Assuming you've installed it from within FreePBX, Asterisk Info now appears under the FreePBX Tools tab, and it's much improved.]

  4. Mike says:

    Thanks to Ward and the entire PBXiaF team for a great product that’s extremely stable and bug-free! I like your build so much better that that “other” brand…played with it off and on since the AAH days. Yours is the first my wife has allowed me to put into production in our home…which means it just works…every time.

    Again, thanks for taking the time and initiative for a truly open solution that’s easy to use.

  5. Ian says:

    Can you give more information about the bluetooth adapter you tested. I see a lot of different ones listed on the ebay link and not sure which one you were meaning, could you list the manufacturer etc

    [WM: No brand was listed. Find the one that matches the price and shipping charge quoted in the article, and I think you'll be good to go.]

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