Posts tagged: mac

The Poor Wise Man’s Burglar Alarm System with Asterisk: Under $10/month

If you’re like us, spending $50 a month or more on a home security system is a bit like pouring money down the toilet. Add to that the complications of getting one to work reliably with VoIP without spending another $50 a month on a Ma Bell vintage telephone line just adds insult to injury.

So perhaps you can share our elation when an email arrived last week announcing Straight Talk’s new Remote Alert System, a $10/month cellular-based system that uses Verizon Wireless to provide SMS and phone call alerts for up to eight numbers. And actually it’s cheaper than that. $100 buys you a year of service. That’s less than $8.50 a month. Today we’ll show you how to transform your Prius-like Remote Alert System into a Tesla that will rival virtually any intrusion detection system on the market… at any price! The extra hardware required: any Asterisk-based server including the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black.

Read and weep, ADT!

If we didn’t already have three Straight Talk lines of service, we would have filed this in the Too Good To Be True pile and moved on. But we’ve had terrific Almost-Unlimited™ AT&T Wireless service with Straight Talk for less than $500 a year. It’s not only indistinguishable from AT&T’s own offerings costing at least 50% more, but it’s also contract-free so we can bring any AT&T smartphone including iPhones to the party and never miss a beat.

We decided to take the bait and ordered the home security bundle. This gets you the Remote Alert wireless controller plus a wireless motion sensor plus a year of service for $229.99. If you prefer a one-month gamble, the bundle is only $139.99. Down the road, you can add additional motion sensors and window/door sensors for about $30 each. The add-ons now are available at Wal-Mart.

Shameless Plug. We obviously don’t charge for access to our articles. But you can assist the Nerd Vittles project financially by using our referral link with eBates® to make your purchase if you decide to try this. It doesn’t cost you a dime but returns 13.5% of your purchase price to the Nerd Vittles project. It’s just a couple of clicks. Start here to access eBates. Then Search for Straight Talk and click on the link. After the Straight Talk web site displays, click on the following link to access the Straight Talk Security Bundle. And, THANK YOU!

So… back to our story. The controller supports four zones for monitoring. Zone 4 is reserved for sensors you want to monitor while someone may still be moving around in the house, for example while only some of your family may be sleeping or if pets are roaming. The other three zones typically would be used for motion sensors that trigger alerts when anything moves… after giving you 30 seconds to leave and return, of course. You can activate Home or Away monitoring using either the controller, an optional $25 key fob, or a free app for your iPhone or Android smartphone.

You get to decide what happens when the system is armed and an alert is triggered either by motion or a monitored door or window being opened. For us, silence was the name of the game. Using the Android Remote Alert System, click the Silent ARM icon once you leave the house, and you’re done. When you return, click the Disarm icon within 30 seconds of opening the door, and monitoring is disabled. You can also enter your 4-digit alarm code on the controller to disable monitoring.

Remote Alert System Setup. Once you get the equipment, it’s a 5-minute phone call to get set up. Install the backup batteries in the controller and motion detector, and plug the controller into an A/C power source. Press the required sequence on the controller to activate it, and you’re in business. The motion detector is already paired with the controller when it arrives, but adding new sensors is a 15-second task. All of the commands are documented in the manual which accompanies the system. But the tutorials also are available on line if you want to have a look.

Step #1 is changing your security alarm password. The next step is entering your phone numbers. Straight Talk goes to great lengths warning you that this is not a home security system because it has no external siren and can’t make 911 calls. They obviously haven’t heard of Asterisk®. :-) But let’s get through the standard setup before we talk about Asterisk integration. You get to set up three numbers to receive SMS text messages when an alarm is triggered. And you get to set up five phone numbers to receive calls when an alarm is triggered. What the called party will actually hear is an obnoxious alarm tone which continues to play for 15 seconds. If you had multiple properties with alarm systems and no Caller ID, you’d never know the source of the alarm! But people with multiple properties probably aren’t smart enough to use this system to begin with so let’s move on. You configure the SMS and phone numbers by entering a special code on the controller to program each of the eight destinations. Then you enter the 10-digit number twice, and you’re done. Easy Peasy!

If you’re new to home security systems, the key to motion sensors is placement. Straight Talk recommends placement about seven to ten feet off the floor with a wide field of view. The range of the motion sensor is about 26 feet. It obviously depends upon the layout of your house or apartment, but we had much better success placing the motion sensor on a window sill at about 5 feet high and aiming it at the center hall of our home. It improved the motion detection dramatically. Trial and error is your friend!

The next step is positioning your controller. A mounting bracket is included so that you can place it almost anywhere you like. Our preference is to hide it so long as it still has Verizon cellular coverage and a source of electricity. You can test it by arming the controller with your smartphone and then triggering the motion sensor. If you get an SMS message or a call, it’s working. We also prefer silent mode. An intruder is obviously going to attempt to destroy your controller if they hear it. Yes, the intruder may leave, but they’ll probably carry some of the family jewels with them. With an Asterisk server in place, we’d prefer to send the police without alerting the intruder that something has gone wrong.

Asterisk Integration. Speaking of Asterisk, here’s what we’ve developed to add 911 alerts and telephone alarms to this system. It’s a 5-10 minute project! The way this works is to first add a phone number to your controller that calls a dedicated DID on your Asterisk server. Calls to that DID trigger the special context [st-remote-alert] which verifies the CallerID number of your alarm system. As configured, if the CallerID doesn’t match, the call is immediately disconnected although you could easily modify our code to use an existing (non-dedicated) DID if you prefer. Just route the non-matching CallerIDs to whatever context you traditionally use to process inbound calls. If the CallerID of the alarm system is matched, then the call is disconnected AND an outbound call is placed to 911. When the 911 operator answers, a prerecorded message is played at least twice that says something like this using REAL information:

This is an automated security request for assistance from the residence at 36 Elm Street in Podunck, Arkansas. The owner of this residence is Joe Schmo at phone number: 678-123-8888. An intruder has been detected inside the home. A suspected burglary is in progress. All of the residents of the home are unavailable to place this call. Please send the police.

The phone number from which this automated call is being placed is 678-123-4567. If the owners have a working cell phone, you can reach them at the following number: 678-123-9999. Please dispatch the police to 36 Elm Street immediately, whether you can reach the owners or not.
A suspected burglary is in progress. Thank you for your assistance. This message will repeat until you hang up…

You can either use Flite and Igor to play the message, or you can record your own message to be played to 911. Use the FreePBX® Admin -> System Recordings option. We recommend the latter especially since you’ll be sending these emergency calls to 911. You obviously want the 911 operator to be able to quickly decipher what’s being said.

Legal Disclaimer. We cannot stress strongly enough that you need to test this carefully on your own server by placing test calls to some number other than 911 until you are positive that it is working reliably as determined solely by you. Be advised that this system will not work at all in the event of an electrical, Internet, or server outage. As delivered, this code will NOT place calls to 911. The choice of whether to modify the code to place 911 emergency calls is solely yours to make. Be advised that false and inadvertent calls to 911 may result in civil and criminal penalties. DON’T BLAME US!


NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING THE IMPLIED WARRANTY OF FITNESS
FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND MERCHANTABILITY, ARE BEING PROVIDED.

BY PROCEEDING WITH IMPLEMENTATION AND INSTALLATION OF THIS SOFTWARE, YOU AGREE
TO ASSUME ALL RISK AND COMPLETE RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY AND ALL CONSEQUENCES
OF IMPLEMENTATION WHETHER INTENDED OR NOT AND WHETHER IMPLEMENTED CORRECTLY
OR NOT. YOU ALSO AGREE TO HOLD WARD MUNDY, WARD MUNDY & ASSOCIATES LLC, AND
NERD VITTLES HARMLESS FROM ALL CLAIMS FOR ACTUAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES.
BEFORE IMPLEMENTING AUTOMATED 911 CALLS, CHECK WITH A LOCAL ATTORNEY TO MAKE
CERTAIN THAT SUCH CALLS ARE LEGAL IN YOUR JURISDICTION.

IN THE EVENT THAT ANY OF THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS ARE RULED UNENFORCEABLE,
YOU AGREE TO ACCEPT $1.00 IN COMPENSATION FOR ANY AND ALL CLAIMS YOU MAY HAVE.

THIS SOFTWARE IS FREE AND YOU AGREE TO ASSUME ALL RISKS WHETHER INTENDED OR NOT.
YOU ALSO ACKNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTAND THAT THINGS CAN GO WRONG IN TECHNOLOGY.

WE CANNOT AND DO NOT WARRANT THAT THIS CODE IS ERROR-FREE OR THAT IT WILL
PROTECT YOUR PROPERTY, YOUR LOVED ONES, OR ANYONE, OR ANY THING IN ANY WAY.

IF YOU DO NOT AGREE WITH THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF USE, DO NOT PROCEED!

Asterisk Implementation. First, you’ll need a dedicated DID that can be used to receive incoming calls from your Remote Alert System. Hopefully, you won’t be receiving many calls on this number so any of the inexpensive pay-by-the-minute DIDs will suffice. Or you can use a free DID from ipkall.com. The only gotcha with ipkall.com is having to make a call to keep the number active at least once every 30 days. But this could be accomplished with a weekly telephone reminder that only connected for a few seconds. Just don’t make the weekly call using the CallerID of your alarm system. You obviously do not want to trigger a 911 emergency call.

Next, you’ll need an outbound trunk on your Asterisk server that’s previously been registered with E911 support and that already is configured to place outbound 911 calls from your server. Google Voice trunks will not work! Your name, address, and phone number as they were registered with E911 will be important pieces of information to relay in your automated emergency call to 911. You’ll also need a cellphone number that can be provided with your 911 calls so that emergency responders have a way to contact you to follow up on automated emergency calls from your server.

Temporarily, you’ll also need a 10-digit number to which to deliver the automated emergency calls for testing. Your cellphone number would suffice. Once you’re sure everything is working, we’ll show you how to modify the dial plan code to replace this number with 911 when your system goes “live.”

Installation. Once you have all of the required pieces in place, you’re ready to begin the installation. Log into your server as root and issue the following commands to begin:

cd /root
wget http://nerdvittles.com/wp-content/st-remote-alert.tar.gz
tar zxvf st-remote-alert.tar.gz
rm -f st-remote-alert.tar.gz
./st-remote-alert.sh

Once the install is finished, use FreePBX to modify the DID Trunk that will receive the incoming alerts from your Remote Alert System. Change the context entry to: context=st-remote-alert

Test. Test. Test. Testing is critically important before you actually turn on automated calls to 911. Once you’ve installed the software, activate your Remote Alarm System and then trip the motion detector to trigger a call to the dedicated DID on your Asterisk server. There’s typically a 30-second delay between tripping a motion detector and the commencement of the alert calls. Within a minute, you should receive a call on the emergency number you set up for testing. You can follow the progress of the procedure using the Asterisk CLI: asterisk -rvvvvvvvvvv. We recommend testing this repeatedly for at least a month before even considering 911 deployment. Make certain that everyone in your household knows how to disable the alarm system when they return home after arming it. Make certain that everyone in your household knows to never arm the system with motion detectors activated when anyone or any animal inside the house could potentially trip the alarm. At least until everyone is accustomed to these new security procedures and has a proven (successful) track record, NEVER DEPLOY SILENT ARMING OF YOUR REMOTE ALERT SYSTEM! If you change to silent arming of the Remote Alert System, test for at least another full month with no inadvertent failures before considering 911 deployment.

Making Changes. The st-remote-alert.sh installer has been designed to let you run it over and over again to replace or update your settings. So don’t be shy about making changes.

Substituting a Personally Recorded Message. If you’d prefer to record your own message to be delivered to 911, then review the script above and make yourself a cheat sheet before you begin. Then use a browser to open FreePBX. Choose Admin -> System Recordings and enter an extension number on your system to use for recording. Click the Go button to begin. Then dial *77 from that extension and record your message. Press # when you’re finished. Be sure to listen to the recording to make sure it’s what you intended. If not, rerecord the message until you get it right. You can dial *99 to listen to your recording a final time. When you’re sure it’s correct, name the recording nv-alert. Click Save.

Now you need to tell the automated alert dialer to use your recorded message instead of Flite and Igor.
Edit /etc/asterisk/extensions_custom.conf. Search for the line containing “pickrecording”. Change Extension: 4 to Extension: 5. Save the file and reload your dial plan: asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

Do some additional testing if you have substituted your own recording!

Adding Audible Alarms During Emergencies. If you prefer a little noise sprinkled around your home during burglaries, then we’ve put in place the necessary components to sound alarms on SIP phones that support AutoAnswer after feeding an extension to the speakerphone. For example, assuming you have deployed a Yealink T46G with an IP address of 192.168.0.10 and default admin credentials, you could add this additional line just before the final s,n,Hangup line in the [st-remote-alert] context of /etc/asterisk/extensions_custom.conf:

exten => s,n,System(curl -s -S --user-agent "Alert" http://admin:admin@192.168.0.10/servlet?number=25276)

To add additional Yealink phones, just add additional lines to the dialplan with the IP address of each phone. For other phone models, you’ll need to do a little research. :wink:

Going Live with Automated Emergency Calls to 911. When you and everyone in your household are absolutely comfortable with the arming, disarming, and motion detection procedures, then you can decide whether to reroute the automated notifications to 911. Be advised that, in some states or municipalities, it may be illegal to auto-dial 911 from a non-human caller/system. Before doing this, check with an attorney or local authorities in your jurisdiction to make sure you are in compliance with federal/state/local laws.1 If you elect to proceed, edit extensions_custom.conf in /etc/asterisk. Search for the line containing “SEND-HELP-REQUEST-TO”. Replace the temporary number that you set up with the number: 911. Save the file and reload your dial plan: asterisk -rx "dialplan reload". Sleep well!

Originally published: Monday, July 14, 2014


Support Issues. With any application as sophisticated as this one, you’re bound to have questions. Blog comments are a terrible place to handle support issues although we welcome general comments about our articles and software. If you have particular support issues, we encourage you to get actively involved in the PBX in a Flash Forums. It’s the best Asterisk tech support site in the business, and it’s all free! Please have a look and post your support questions there. Unlike some forums, ours is extremely friendly and is supported by literally hundreds of Asterisk gurus and thousands of users just like you. You won’t have to wait long for an answer to your question.



Need help with Asterisk? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID from our special Vitelity sign-up link. If you’re seeking the best flexibility in choosing an area code and phone number plus the lowest entry level pricing plus high quality calls, then Vitelity is the hands-down winner. Vitelity provides Tier A DID inbound service in over 3,000 rate centers throughout the US and Canada. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road while you get an incredible signup deal as well. The going rate for Vitelity’s DID service is $7.95 a month which includes up to 4,000 incoming minutes on two simultaneous channels with terminations priced at 1.45¢ per minute. Not any more! For PBX in a Flash users, here’s a deal you can’t (and shouldn’t) refuse! Sign up now, and you can purchase a Tier A DID with unlimited incoming calls for just $3.99 a month. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won’t get the special pricing! Vitelity’s rate is just 1.44¢ per minute for outbound calls in the U.S. There is a $35 prepay when you sign up. This covers future usage and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

  1. Autodialers that make emergency calls to E911 as part of a burglar alarm system are specifically exempted in some states such as Illinois. This comports with federal law under The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (47 U.S.C. § 227). Emergency robocalls are specifically exempted from the new PSAP Do-Not-Call Registry rules. See also this article about E911 laws in the Northeast. In most cases, but not all, these laws target abuse of the E911 system. Surprisingly, one town that reportedly prohibits ALL autodialing to 911 is Palo Alto, CA. And Paris, Tennessee also has joined the illegal club. Special thanks to @TheMole on the PIAF Forum for his excellent research. []

Installing OS X Lion: The Short List of Gotcha’s

It’s been a wild ride for the past 24 hours since Apple released OS X Lion. For those of you contemplating the move, here’s the short answer: Just Do It… after you make a backup.

A lot has changed and much has improved. On the pricing front, it’s one of the best bargains available at $29.99. That’s the price to load it on all your Macs, not just one. You’ll need to get a current version of Snow Leopard running on your existing Mac before you can install Lion because you need access to the Mac App Store for this download-only software. For those still using a PowerPC-based Mac, sorry. And say goodnight to Rosetta-based apps as well. The road ends at Snow Leopard for you. For everyone else, it’s a No Brainer!

There are a few things you need to know before you begin the install. First, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t have any PowerPC-only apps that you desperately need because those are all toast once you move to Lion. Of course it’s been 6 years since Apple began the transition to Intel from the PowerPC so this shouldn’t be overly traumatic for most folks. The major apps that won’t work include Adobe Creative Suite (CS2 and earlier), AppleWorks, FileMaker Pro (version 8 and earlier), MacroMedia Studio and Freehand, Microsoft Office (2004 and X versions), Quicken (almost everything… lazy bastards!), and some older games. You can check for compatibility by selecting each app in your Applications folder and choosing Get Info. In the Kind field, if it says Universal or Intel, you’re O.K. If it says PowerPC, you’re S.O.L.

The second cautionary note concerns the Migration Assistant. This is an Apple utility that lets you migrate your data from one Mac to another. If you plan to transfer your data from another Mac to the new Mac on which you are installing OS X Lion, then you first must get the other Mac updated to Mac OS X 10.6.8. Otherwise, you cannot migrate the data as part of the Lion install. You’ll also need to install the updated Migration Assistant on this other Mac running Snow Leopard 10.6.8. Here’s the link to download the new Migration Assistant from Apple.

The final gotcha you need to be aware of is that the OS X Lion installer self-destructs once the install is complete. If you want to burn a copy of OS X Lion to either a DVD or an 8GB USB Thumb Drive, you must do so before you kick off the actual install by clicking on the Continue prompt on your Desktop. Once you purchase OS X Lion, a copy of the installer will be downloaded into your Applications folder. It’s called Install Mac OS X Lion.app. The links above will tell you what to do next. Or you can wait until August and Apple will sell you a Lion Thumb Drive for $69. :roll:

To play it safe, cancel the install after making your DVD or thumb drive. Then reboot while holding down the Option key and choose the DVD or USB installer you just made to perform the install. In this way, you’ll know you have a good installer to use with your other Macs. Then you can preserve it for posterity. At this point, the original installer still will be available in your Applications. But, be aware, it still will be deleted at the end of the install even if you’re using a DVD or thumb drive. So rename it if you want to preserve it.

Where to Go Next. The premiere platform for getting all of the latest and greatest tips on Lion (and almost everything else) is Google’s new Google+. We’d love to help you get started. Read our Google Plus article for some great tips.

Want an invite? Just drop us a note and include the word Google in your message. We’ll get one out to you promptly. Once you’re signed up, be sure to circle us for the latest tips and tricks.

Originally published: Thursday, July 21, 2011




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


whos.amung.us If you’re wondering what your fellow man is reading on Nerd Vittles these days, wonder no more. Visit our new whos.amung.us statistical web site and check out what’s happening. It’s a terrific resource both for us and for you.


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID and 60 free minutes from our special Vitelity sign-up link. If you’re seeking the best flexibility in choosing an area code and phone number plus the lowest entry level pricing plus high quality calls, then Vitelity is the hands-down winner. Vitelity provides Tier A DID inbound service in over 3,000 rate centers throughout the US and Canada. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road while you get an incredible signup deal as well. The going rate for Vitelity’s DID service is $7.95 a month which includes up to 4,000 incoming minutes on two simultaneous channels with terminations priced at 1.45¢ per minute. Not any more! For PBX in a Flash users, here’s a deal you can’t (and shouldn’t) refuse! Sign up now, and you can purchase a Tier A DID with unlimited incoming calls for just $3.99 a month and you get a free hour of outbound calling to test out their call quality. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won’t get the special pricing! After the free hour of outbound calling, Vitelity’s rate is just 1.44¢ per minute for outbound calls in the U.S. There is a $35 prepay when you sign up. This covers future usage and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

A Baker’s Dozen Asterisk Nuggets from the Forums

Whether you’re new to the Open Source VoIP Community or an old-timer, we wonder how many folks actually miss many of the terrific Asterisk® applications that are hidden in message threads on the various Asterisk forums around the globe. In honor of St. Patty’s Day, today we want to take a stroll through the PBX in a Flash forum just to demonstrate what you may be missing by not visiting the forums or subscribing to some of the better syndication feeds.

Skype Gateway to Asterisk. If you read our recent column on integrating a Skype gateway into your Asterisk server, good for you. But, if you missed the forum dialog which followed release of the article, you missed all sorts of enhancements and system integration tips which made the Skype gateway a much better fit on many systems.

CallerID Superfecta. One of the most perplexing issues facing those that implement VoIP telephony solutions is wrestling with CallerID issues which flow from the ongoing Baby Bell phonebook monopoly. Many of you may have tried our CallerID Superfecta application which provides CallerID lookups for FreePBX-based systems using AsteriDex, Google Phonebook, AnyWho, and WhitePages. But, if you’d explored the forum additions to CallerID Superfecta, you would have uncovered an incredibly slick FreePBX installer as well as support for WhoCalled.us and Telcodata plus SugarCRM as well as numerous fixes for syntax changes on the various lookup sources.

Faxing with Asterisk. Other than CalleriD, there’s probably no issue that generates more consternation in the Asterisk community than fax integration. We reintroduced nvfax for Asterisk 1.4 recently. But, if you’d been following the forums, you’d also know that HylaFax and AvantFax now can be easily integrated into PBX in a Flash thanks to the work of Joe Roper and Tony Shiffer.

A2Billing for Asterisk. Another application that’s been difficult to get working with Asterisk has been A2Billing, a sophisticated calling card and PBX billing system. There really never has been a clear, concise cookbook for getting the software installed and properly configured. Once again, thanks to Joe and Tony, this forum thread provides a step-by-step tutorial for getting every facet of A2Billing installed and properly configured.

Asterisk Stickies. This is another promising Asterisk web application for PBX in a Flash that pops up stickies when incoming calls are received. You then can add the contact to your phonebook and also generate the XML code to update the phone directory on Grandstream and Cisco phone sets. It also supports click-to-dial from the web interface. You can keep up with the progress of this developing application in this very active message thread.

Text-to-Speech FreePBX Module. Just today a new TTS module for FreePBX was introduced which lets you generate TTS announcements for use with any FreePBX-based Asterisk system.

Overhead Paging with Asterisk 1.4. Most workplaces need some sort of overhead paging system. With the tips in this thread and any Asterisk 1.4 server, it’s incredibly easy to implement.

Streaming Music on Hold. We introduced streaming audio for Asterisk over three years ago in the Asterisk 1.2 days. A new message thread has updated that technology to support Internet radio using any Asterisk 1.4 server.

Email Alerts on Trunk Failures. For those that rely upon Asterisk systems to do real work, it’s essential to know when access to your carrier has failed so that you can make adjustments to your outbound and inbound trunks. This thread provides a simple tutorial and script to get you started.

Outbound Emails with Asterisk and SendMail. Another one of our Top 5 most perplexing problems with Asterisk is getting an outbound email capability with SendMail working reliably. Part of this is the configuration hassles with SendMail. But service providers such as Comcast have made matters worse by blocking outbound access to port 25 on most non-business accounts. Here’s a message thread that will walk you through configuring SendMail to use Gmail as your outbound SMTP relay host, and you’ll never have an email problem again on your Asterisk server.

Voicemail Notification. Unified messaging may be everyone’s dream but the reality is that it would be nice to be called on your cellphone when a new voicemail arrived at your office. The Voicemail Notification System does just that. And this thread integrates the original design into a FreePBX module.

Configuration Editor for FreePBX. FreePBX stores much of its magic in Asterisk config files. At least in PBX in a Flash, we hide some of these files to protect the integrity of your system. In addition, changes made to some of these files will get overwritten the next time FreePBX is started since it populates a lot of the information in these config files from data stored in MySQL tables. For those that want to learn more about the FreePBX, there now is a configuration file editor which will let you view and edit any FreePBX config file on your system. You’ll find a complete tutorial in the forums.

Hotel-Style Wakeup Calls. A few weeks ago we covered Tony Shiffer’s new add-on module for FreePBX that provides hotel-style wakeup calls for Asterisk systems. This code actually had been available in the forum for several months and is yet another reason to frequently check the new message threads.

Mac OS X Scripting Package. Since publication, a new link to a Treasure Trove of Goodies for Mac OS X has been posted including a link to the new Mac OS X Scripting Package and Asterisk binaries for Mac OS X from Sven Slezak at Mezzo.

Syndication Syntax. Many forums provide a syndication feed link, but many do not. For vBulletin-based forums, the basic syntax for an RSS feed looks like this:

http://fqdn.com/forum/external.php

You can refine the type of feed you want by specifying the type: RSS, RSS2, ATOM, or XML. For example, to pull down a feed from the PBX in a Flash forum, here’s the syntax for the various formats that are supported:

http://pbxinaflash.com/forum/external.php?type=RSS

http://pbxinaflash.com/forum/external.php?type=RSS2

http://pbxinaflash.com/forum/external.php?type=ATOM

http://pbxinaflash.com/forum/external.php?type=XML

You can further refine the feed by narrowing it down to a particular forum of interest. For example, to retrieve the latest threads from the PBX in a Flash Open Discussion forum, the syntax looks like this:

http://pbxinaflash.com/forum/external.php?type=RSS2&forumids=2

Finally, here’s the list of forum ID numbers for the PBX in a Flash forum:

2 – Open Discussion
3 – Help
4 – Endpoints
5 – Trunks
6 – Providers
7 – Wish List
9 – Bug Reporting & Fixes
10 – Add-On Install Instructions

Something We Missed? There are hundreds of additional Asterisk apps hiding in the woodwork. Please share your discoveries by posting a comment and link below. Enjoy!


Want a Bootable PBX in a Flash Drive? Our Atomic Flash bootable USB flash installer for PBX in a Flash has been quite the hit. Special thanks to all of our generous contributors! Atomic Flash provides all of the goodies in the VPN in a Flash system featured last month on Nerd Vittles. You can build a complete turnkey system using almost any current generation PC with a SATA drive and this USB flash installer in less than 15 minutes!

If you’d like to put your name in the hat for a chance to win a free one delivered to your door, just post a comment with your best PBX in a Flash story.1

Be sure to include your real email address which will not be posted. The winner will be chosen by drawing an email address out of a hat (the old fashioned way!) from all of the comments posted over the next several weeks.

And it still isn’t too late to make a contribution of $50 or more to the PBX in a Flash project and get a free Atomic Flash installer delivered to your door as our special thank you gift. See this Nerd Vittles article for details.


New Fonica Special. If you want to communicate with the rest of the telephones in the world, then you’ll need a way to route outbound calls (terminations) to their destination. For outbound calling, we recommend you establish accounts with several providers. We’ve included two of the very best! These include Joe Roper’s new service for PBX in a Flash as well as our old favorite, Vitelity. To get started with the Fonica service, just visit the web site and register. You can choose penny a minute service in the U.S. Or premium service is available for a bit more. Try both. You’ve got nothing to lose! In addition, Fonica offers some of the best international calling rates in the world. And Joe Roper has almost a decade of experience configuring and managing these services. So we have little doubt that you’ll love the service AND the support. To sign up in the USA and be charged in U.S. Dollars, sign up here. To sign up for the European Service and be charged in Euros, sign up here. See the Fonica image which tells you everything you need to know about this terrific new offering. In addition to being first rate service, Fonica is one of the least expensive and most reliable providers on the planet.
 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID and 60 free minutes from our special Vitelity sign-up link. If you’re seeking the best flexibility in choosing an area code and phone number plus the lowest entry level pricing plus high quality calls, then Vitelity is the hands-down winner. Vitelity provides Tier A DID inbound service in over 3,000 rate centers throughout the US and Canada. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road while you get an incredible signup deal as well. The going rate for Vitelity’s DID service is $7.95 a month which includes up to 4,000 incoming minutes on two simultaneous channels with terminations priced at 1.45¢ per minute. Not any more! For PBX in a Flash users, here’s a deal you can’t (and shouldn’t) refuse! Sign up now, and you can purchase a Tier A DID with unlimited incoming calls for just $3.99 a month and you get a free hour of outbound calling to test out their call quality. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won’t get the special pricing! After the free hour of outbound calling, Vitelity’s rate is just 1.44¢ per minute for outbound calls in the U.S. There is a $35 prepay when you sign up. This covers future usage and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

  1. This offer does not extend to those in jurisdictions in which our offer or your participation may be regulated or prohibited by statute or regulation. []

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