Asterisk on Steroids: The Orgasmatron Installer, Part IV

If you haven't installed our two dozen turnkey Asterisk® applications in under 5 minutes, it's not too late! We recently introduced our Orgasmatron Installer for PBX in a Flash. And today we wrap up the tutorials with Part IV in this series. Faxing and email work out of the box. More than a dozen extensions and a number of hosting provider trunks are preconfigured. Delivery of CallerID names with numbers is available from over a dozen providers of your choice. ODBC database connectivity is now painless. And the Flite text-to-speech engine is preconfigured with Cepstral TTS only a few keystrokes away. Also included are FreePBX 2.5, Apache, SendMail, MySQL, PHP, phpMyAdmin, IPtables Linux firewall, Fail2Ban, and WebMin. Here's the complete list of what 5 minutes of your time brings to this one-of-a-kind Asterisk server platform:

In Part II of this series, we walked you through securing your system and configuring a few of the major applications: AsteriDex, CallerID Superfecta, CallWho, Cepstral, and Emailing with SendMail. In Part III, we covered faxing with nvFax, FONmail, FreePBX backups, the Gizmo5 FreePBX module, setup of Hamachi VPNs, interconnecting Asterisk servers with IAX, setting up on-the-fly conferences, ODBC database implementation, and telephone reminders using a phone or web browser. Today, we'll cover the remaining applications in the Orgasmatron build: Hotel-Style Wakeup Calls, Mondo Full System Backups, Yahoo Newsclips, SIP URI support, TeleYapper, Tide Reports with xTide, Weather Reports by telephone, and how to use the Zaptel updater.

Hotel-Style Wakeup Calls. This application was specifically designed for FreePBX and does just what the name implies. From any phone connected to your PBX, dial *68 and follow the prompts using 4-digit numbers for the desired wake up call times. Then wait for your wakeup call. Doesn’t get much easier than that. There are a number of configuration options which can be set by logging into FreePBX and choosing Admin, Tools, Wakeup Calls. Operator mode lets you specify extensions which can set up wakeup calls for any extension. You also can define the ring time, number of retries, and the time to wait between retries. For the complete tutorial, see this Nerd Vittles article.

Mondo Full System Backups. One of the age-old limitations of Asterisk@Home and now trixbox was the inability to make a full disk backup of your PBX so that it could be restored after a catastrophic event, man-made or otherwise. Tom King solved all of that with his implementation of Mondo Rescue for PBX in a Flash systems. There are numerous options for storing the backups. We prefer using a USB flash drive and rotating between two of them. With falling prices of flash drives, you now can purchase 8GB and 16GB models for peanuts. To enable the backup system, insert a USB flash drive on your PBX. Log into your server as root and type dmesg. Scan through the contents of the display until you find the device name for your USB flash drive. The listing should look something like this:

usb-storage: waiting for device to settle before scanning
Vendor: Kingston Model: DataTraveler 2.0 Rev: PMAP
Type: Direct-Access ANSI SCSI revision: 00
SCSI device sdc: 15874048 512-byte hdwr sectors (8128 MB)
sdc: Write Protect is off
sdc: Mode Sense: 23 00 00 00
sdc: assuming drive cache: write through
SCSI device sdc: 15874048 512-byte hdwr sectors (8128 MB)
sdc: Write Protect is off
sdc: Mode Sense: 23 00 00 00
sdc: assuming drive cache: write through
sdc: sdc1
sd 8:0:0:0: Attached scsi removable disk sdc
sd 8:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg2 type 0
usb-storage: device scan complete

In the listing above, it would tell you that your device is named sdc1. In Mondo parlance, this device name would be /dev/sdc1. Your mileage may vary obviously depending upon the type server you are using. Don't guess! Otherwise, you may end up inadvertently formatting (aka erasing) your primary hard disk since this is the first step in the Mondo backup process.

Once you are positive that you have the correct device name for your flash drive, edit /etc/asterisk/disk-backup.conf. Change line 11 to the following: CONFIGURED="1". Then change line 50 to the device name for your flash drive: USBDEVICENAME="/dev/sdc1". Save your changes. Now run a test backup to be sure everything is working properly: /etc/cron.weekly/disk-backup.cron.

You can review the contents of your flash drive by making a script with the following commands. Be sure to make the script executable and use the actual device name for your flash drive:

#!/bin/bash
mount -t vfat /dev/sdc1 /mnt/usbmondo
df /mnt/usbmondo
echo " "
ls -all -h /mnt/usbmondo
umount /mnt/usbmondo

Be aware that Mondo backups may not properly restore on some of the new Atom-based netbooks. A patch has been released by the Mondo development team which we currently are testing. This newer version also supports creation of bootable flash drives as part of the backup process. Stay tuned.

Yahoo Newsclips for Asterisk. This was one of the first Nerd Vittles text-to-speech (TTS) applications for Asterisk, and it remains one of the most popular. To use it, dial 511 from any phone on your Asterisk system. The default setup gives a choice of numerous Yahoo news and sports feeds which will be read to you over the telephone. For detailed setup instructions, see the original Nerd Vittles article. The application, by default, uses the Flite text-to-speech engine. If you have purchased Cepstral, you can easily reconfigure Newsclips for Asterisk to use Cepstral as the TTS engine. Just edit nv-news.php in /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin and change the $ttspick entry in line 16 from 0 to 1.

Asterisk SIP URI Support. Direct SIP-to-SIP communications is one of the most exciting emerging trends in Internet telephony. Within 10 years, Gartner predicts that 50% of all phone traffic will be pure IP from end to end. You can start using it with your new server to make free phone calls today. All that's really needed is a SIP URI for your server. SIP URI's work just like email addresses except they tell phone systems where to deliver calls over the Internet. The Orgasmatron build preconfigures a number of SIP URI's for you including mothership, e164, and fax. This means that anyone can contact you by "dialing" your SIP URI using either the IP address of your server or a fully-qualified domain name that points to that IP address. A typical SIP URI would look like this: mothership@192.77.210.14. This tells the calling system to route the call to the mothership context on the Asterisk server living at 192.77.210.14. You also can contact the demo applications on your server by dialing nv-demo@192.77.210.24.

The next logical step with SIP URI's is to interconnect your server with a traditional POTS phone number using your SIP URI. You can sign up for a free incoming phone number at ipkall.com. For your account type, choose SIP. For your SIP phone number, enter: mothership. For your SIP proxy, enter the fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) or IP address of your server, e.g. mypbx.dyndns.org. Choose a password and enter your real email address, and ipkall.com will beam you a Washington state phone number within a day or so. Just use it at least once a month, and you've got free inbound calls using a real telephone number forever. You can do much the same thing with Gizmo by signing up for an account using the FreePBX web interface included in the Orgasmatron build. You can't beat the price! For more detail on SIP proxies, see this Nerd Vittles article. To add your new number to directory assistance listings in the United States, just go to listyourself.net and sign up.

The other great use for SIP-to-SIP communications is to register yourself in the ENUM system so that other Asterisk and FreeSwitch systems can translate your plain old telephone number into a SIP URI and place the call SIP-to-SIP without any communications charges. To sign up for the service, go to both 164.org and enumplus.org. It only takes a minute. ENUM is implemented for default outbound calls by default on Orgasmatron builds. This means your server will attempt to place the call for free through ENUM before using your other outbound trunks for which you have to pay a fee to a provider.

TeleYapper. This application is an automated message broadcasting service commonly known as a call blasting or phone blasting system. It is licensed for non-commercial use including the following: to send prerecorded phone messages for neighborhood association announcements, school closings, tornado alerts, little league practices, fund raisers, municipal government reminders, and for just about any other non-commercial purpose. TeleYapper is simple to use. Dial extension M-S-G (674) on your Asterisk system and enter your password. You'll be prompted to record a message. Next you enter the group number for delivery of your TeleYapper message. The system will tell you how many recipients are in the group you have chosen. You then can begin the phone blasting session, or you can choose to resend messages to failed calls on a previous try to the same group. TeleYapper keeps track of which calls were successfully delivered and which were not so that follow-up calls can be placed. For detailed instructions on how to add entries to your TeleYapper database, see this Best of Nerd Vittles article.

Tide Reports with xTide. As the name implies, the xTide for Asterisk TTS application lets you retrieve tide and lunar information about any U.S. port by dialing 8433 (T-I-D-E) from any phone connected to your Asterisk system.

The default port setting for xTide for Asterisk is Pawleys Island, South Carolina. You can change this to meet your needs. There are three steps to reconfiguring the desired port city. First, identify a port city supported by xTide. Second, test the port city you have chosen using the tide application. Third, configure xTide for Asterisk for your desired port city. To identify whether a particular port city is supported by xTide, visit this link and search for the city you wish to use. Once you have verified that your desired location is supported, test it manually with the tide application that was installed as part of xTide for Asterisk. Log into your server as root and issue the command: tide -l "portcity", e.g. tide -l "boston".

Once you have verified that you get a tide report for your chosen city, simply reconfigure xTide for Asterisk to support that destination. While still logged in as root, edit /etc/asterisk/xtide.conf and change the contents to your new city. Be careful NOT to add any blank lines to the config file!

SITE="pawleys"
SITENAME="Pawlees Island, South Carolina"

You'll note that the spelling of the SITENAME was modified slightly to assist the TTS application. Complete details for configuring xTide for Asterisk as well as instructions for changing to Cepstral TTS support are included in the Best of Nerd Vittles article.

Weather Reports by Phone. Three separate TTS weather applications are included in the Orgasmatron build. You can retrieve weather forecasts by zip code and airport code as well as by international city. Dial Z-I-P and enter a 5-digit zip code. Or dial 6-1-1 and enter a three-character U.S. airport code. Or dial 6-1-2 and choose the international city preconfigured in your system. By default, the Worldwide Weather Forecasts for Asterisk application comes preconfigured to support 10 cities around the world. Here's the list:

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

For details on changing the city codes as well as tips in using the other weather applications, see the Best of Nerd Vittles articles.

Miscellaneous Scripts. For your convenience, a script is included to update your zaptel setup whenever you add a card to your system or install a new Linux kernel. You'll find the script in the /root/nv folder on your server: zaptel-update.sh. There's also a script to install A2Billing: install-a2billing. There's also a detailed FAQ to walk you through configuring the Amazon S3 cloud computing service to work with PBX in a Flash as an off-site storage facility: s3cmd.faq. For configuration tips on configuring S3, see this Nerd Vittles article.

CallerID Superfecta 2.1. It's only been 10 days since the new FreePBX-based CallerID Superfecta was released. But wait until you see this new version. The original release of this application included 3 data sources. This one has 15 including the first Canadian source! There are too many new features to mention all of them here, but here's the short list:

1. Added Local Caching to MySQL
2. Retention of Valid Caller ID Name if Provided by Trunk
3. "Automatic" Support for sources requiring authentication
4. Post CID retrieval processing for source scripts
5. Altered whocalled behavior to return textual CallerID info
6. Support for sources with CID and SPAM rankings
7. Enhanced script error reporting in debug interface
8. "Report Back" capability to populate Data sources

You'll have to install this yourself unless you downloaded the Orgasmatron Installer (v1.4) after 5 pm EDT yesterday, May 24. The install instructions are included in the release notes, and it only takes a few seconds. Here's a link to the writeup on the new module on the PBX in a Flash Forum.

Unrelated But Still Interesting. If you're fascinated by all discoveries relating to words beginning with the letters o-r-g-a-s-m, be sure to check out Mary Roach's recent Ted Talk. Enjoy. :-)

Read Part I and download the software.

Read Part II.

Read Part III.



Need help with Asterisk? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.
Or Try the New, Free PBX in a Flash Conference Bridge.


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