Posts tagged: sip phone

The Perfect Threesome: iNum + VoIP.ms + Google Voice

We’ve got a terrific new VoIP development for you today especially for those who travel internationally. For several years, a VoIP company called VoxBone has been pushing hard to establish an International Number™ (iNum™) for every phone on the planet so that every telephone could call every other telephone at little or no cost. They’re not quite there, but two recent events will certainly hasten the implementation. The first was an announcement from VoIP.ms that they would provide a free iNum DID and free iNum calling to every one of their customers with a credit balance in their account. The second was last week’s announcement from Google that they, too, would support free iNum calling worldwide using any Google Voice account. Today, we’ll show you how to take advantage of these two developments to begin making free calls worldwide using your PBX in a Flash™ server, a WiFi-enabled smartphone, and an available WiFi connection. Basically, the plan is to use free iNum calling to get back to your PBX for dial tone and then use DISA for free Google Voice calling in the U.S. and Canada.

Until everyone has an iNum or Google opens up Google Voice outside North America, the hidden beauty of iNum for those of us who have both is the cost savings that can be achieved by phoning home with iNum from anywhere in the world for free. And, once the call hits your Asterisk® PBX, it’s incredibly simple to route the call to DISA, prompt for a password, and then place a call to anywhere in the U.S. or Canada at no cost with PIAF2™ and Google Voice.

This can be accomplished in several ways. First, you can download a SIP phone and use it in conjunction with your VoIP.ms account and a smartphone to make free iNum calls from any WiFi hotspot in the world. Bria is our favorite on both the iPhone/iPad and Android platforms. If $10 is too rich for your blood, there are some free alternatives: CSipSimple for Android and 3CXPhone for Android or iPhone. A second alternative is to use Google Voice or Gtalk to connect back to your PIAF2 server via iNum and then use DISA and your local trunks to place outbound calls. A final alternative is to take advantage of the numerous local numbers now available in many countries to phone home using iNum. The only cost of these calls is the cost associated with calling the local number. You’ll find a list of the local phone numbers to make these calls on the iNum web site or in the footnote to this article.1 So today we’ll show you how to set up your PIAF2 server to support free iNum calling. It’s a 15-minute project.

VoIP.ms Setup. To get started, if you’re not already a customer, register for a voip.ms account by filling out their registration form.

Once you submit the form, you’ll have to confirm your registration by clicking on the link that is emailed to you. Then you’re ready to login with your email address and the password you set up when you created your account. That’ll bring you to the Main Portal Page for your new voip.ms account.

You’ll need a positive balance in your VoIP.ms account in order to create your free iNum account so deposit some money using PayPal or a credit card by clicking Finances, Add Funds. The minimum deposit is $25 which can be used to make penny a minute calls in the U.S. and Canada or equally reasonable calls to any phone number in the world. We won’t be doing any of that today. For today, all of our calls will be free thanks to iNum and the generous support of VoIP.ms. But the nest egg will be there as a backup to your other PIAF2 VoIP providers which is an excellent idea anyway.

Like Vitelity, VoIP.ms lets you create subaccounts to compartmentalize your VoIP services. This makes it easy to use VoIP.ms on multiple PIAF2 servers or even standalone SIP telephones. It also provides added security by separating out account names and passwords for VoIP services from your main VoIP.ms portal account that let’s you manage your settings and VoIP funding, a very good idea. So let’s first set up an account to use with Asterisk just to show you how easy it is.

From the Main Portal Menu, click on Subaccounts, Create Subaccount. The Subaccount creation form will display. Fill it out so it looks something like this. Just click on the form below to enlarge it if you want a better view.

Once you’ve clicked the button to create the subaccount, it takes about a minute for voip.ms to activate it. Then click Main Menu, Portal Home. The bottom of the portal page will now show your subaccount.

Let’s create one more subaccount. We’ll use this one so that we can access VoIP.ms from a standard SIP app running on our iPhone or Android device. We can use the subaccount either to make outbound calls directly from VoIP.ms on a pay per minute basis, or we can use it to make free iNum calls. To create the subaccount, repeat the process above and fill in the blanks using your own credentials and a very secure password. Be sure to choose ATA device, IP Phone or Softphone for the Device Type. We always leave International Calls Disabled unless we really plan to make international calls. This will not affect your ability to make iNum calls, and it reduces your financial exposure in the event your subaccount is compromised. Never, ever use auto-replenishment from your credit card on a VoIP provider account from any provider.

Before we get too far along, let’s activate your new iNum DID. Click on DID Numbers, Order DID. When the DID Order Form displays, click on the iNum link to order your free iNum DID.

When the iNum DID order form displays, fill out the form by clicking on the POP location nearest to your server. Then, in the SIP/IAX Routing column, be sure to select the Subaccount we created previously rather than the default Main Account. Finally click the Click Here to Order button.

You’ll get a Confirmation display that shows your new iNum DID. Write it down! We’ve already set up the proper routing for your new iNum DID in the previous step so you can ignore the Managing Your DID message.

That completes the setup of your VoIP.ms account with your free iNum DID. Now let’s configure your PBX in a Flash server to support VoIP.ms and iNum. We’re assuming you already have a PBX in a Flash server configured with at least one Google Voice account activated. If not, stop here and complete that step using the PIAF2 tutorial and optionally the Incredible PBX 3 and Incredible Fax 2 tutorial.

Smartphone SIP Client Setup. We used the free cSipSimple Android app to set up a connection with our second subaccount at VoIP.ms using cSipSimple’s Basic Setup Wizard. Here are the entries required to gain connectivity:

Once your SIP client is connected to VoIP.ms through your smartphone, you can make free iNum calls using this dial syntax: 0118835100xxxxxxxx where xxxxxxxx is the last 8 digits of your iNum beginning with 0. As noted previously, you do NOT have to enable international calls on your VoIP.ms subaccount for these calls to go through.

PBX in a Flash iNum Setup. We’ll be using the FreePBX GUI to configure PBX in a Flash to support iNum. Using your browser, log into the IP address of your server: http://ipaddress/admin. When prompted for your username and password, use maint and whatever FreePBX password you assigned when your server was set up.

To simplify things, we’re going to set up 2 trunks: one for your VoIP.ms subaccount and another for iNum. Begin by choosing Trunks, Add SIP Trunk in the FreePBX GUI. For Trunk Name, use voipms. For Maximum Channels, choose 2. For the Dial Pattern, enter 1 | NXXNXXXXXX and, in Outgoing Settings for the PEER Details, enter the following using your subaccount name and password as well as the POP you chose for your subaccount:

canreinvite=yes
nat=yes
context=from-trunk
host=atlanta.voip.ms
secret=subacctpw
type=peer
username=137786_myinum
disallow=all
allow=ulaw
fromuser=137786_myinum
trustrpid=yes
sendrpid=yes
insecure=invite
qualify=yes

Leave all the fields for Incoming Settings blank. For the Registration String, the syntax is subacctname:subacctpw@atlanta.voip.ms:5060/8835100xxxxxxxx. Using our example and assuming you’re using the Atlanta POP, the entry would look like this where xxxxxxxx is your own 8-digit iNum beginning with 0:

137786_myinum:secretPassword21@atlanta.voip.ms:5060/8835100xxxxxxxx

Verify that your server got a successful registration with your VoIP.ms subaccount by clicking Tools, Asterisk Info, SIP Info.

Now click Setup, Trunks, Add Custom Trunk. For Trunk Name, use iNum. For Maximum Channels, choose 5. For Dial Pattern, use 0XXXXXX. including the period! For Custom Dial String, use SIP/0118835100$OUTNUM$@voipms.

Next, we need to create an Inbound Route. Use your full iNum DID number in the DID Number field, e.g. 8835100xxxxxxxx where xxxxxxxx is your personal iNum beginning with a 0. Activate CallerID Superfecta for the CID Lookup Source. And choose a Destination for the incoming iNum calls. This could be an extension, an IVR, or whatever else you’ve set up on your server. For now, route it to a working extension on your PBX so we can test it below. Then you can edit the inbound route and change it to any destination.

Finally, create an Outbound Route. Name the route OutiNum. For the Dial Pattern, use 0XXXXXX. with the trailing period. For the Trunk Sequence for Matched Routes, choose inum. After you save the trunk settings, move it to the top of your trunk listing in the right column of FreePBX. What this route does is allow you to call other iNum numbers (including your own) by simply dialing the last 8-digits of any iNum that begins with 8835100 or 0118835100. These 8 digits will ALWAYS begin with a 0.

Now let’s modify at least one of your existing Google Voice Outbound Routes so that you also can make iNUM calls with Google Voice by dialing from any extension using the full 8835100xxxxxxxx international number. Go to Outbound Routes and click on the name of one of your Google Voice trunks. Add the following new Dial Pattern and click Submit Changes: 8835100XXXXXXXX

Taking iNum for a Spin. To test things out, use a phone connected to an extension other than the one you chose to route incoming iNum calls to above. Dial the last 8 digits of your own iNum DID, and that extension should begin ringing. Answer the other extension and make sure you have audio in both directions. Next, dial your complete iNum DID beginning with 8835100. This should also cause the other extension to ring even though the call was initiated through your Google Voice trunk. If you’d like to get a Weather Report by Zip Code, we’ve set up an iNum for you to try. Just dial 09901997.
Enjoy!

Originally published: Monday, February 27, 2012




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…

  1. Local iNum Access Numbers include the following: []

Tips, Tricks & Apps to Get the Most Out of Your iPad 2

Rather than providing another glowing review of the iPad 2®, we thought it might be more helpful to sketch out the daily use potential of this incredible device based upon our experience and that of our 10-year old daughter. Yes, we’re one of the 30% who purchased an iPad 2 having already owned a number of first generation iPads. With double the RAM and nearly double the processing power of the first generation device, the one cautionary note that potential purchasers should heed is don’t buy the $499 model. Our daughter has survived a year with a $499 iPad only to find it completely full when she attempted to load Garage Band. And you will want Garage Band which is a storage hog by iPad standards. That’s not to suggest that Katherine’s iPad hasn’t served her well. She has almost 150 applications plus substantial collections of photos and music. What she doesn’t have is movies and video clips. With the addition of two cameras on the iPad 2 as well as Camera, AutoStitch, Movie, and Photo Booth apps and once you see what’s possible with iMovie, you’ll be begging for more storage capacity. Keep in mind that your storage capacity choice is irrevocable! There’s no way to add more storage later unless you buy a new device. And there’s no external storage other than removing apps and data through the iTunes interface. Perhaps more than anything else, that’s why the absence of a microSD slot on the iPad 2 is both a significant shortcoming and a huge disappointment.

The other suggestion we would offer to first-time iPad 2 purchasers is this. Get organized early. What we mean is decide early on how you’re going to use the 10 screens to organize your applications. Before the year is out, you will use all 10 screens assuming your bank account survives. At least now you can also create folders within a screen if you run out of room. Here’s our methodology, and it has served us pretty well. Screen 1 is reserved for the apps we use every day. The other screens are reserved for categories of applications: business, news and books, social, drawing and graphics, music, games, location-based services, and system/network management. If you’re a big gamer, artist, or musician, you may want to reserve two screens for your favorite category. The point is to spend a little time up front deciding how to organize applications. And, fortunately, you can move things around with the iTunes interface down the road so long as you leave one screen available for reorganizing.

You can also place six apps at the bottom of the display, and these are accessible from all 10 screens. Here’s where you’d want your browser, email or Gmail buttons, App Store, and Settings. That leaves you two more must-have apps. If you play music all the time, you’d probably want the iPod app. If you look at Photos all the time, you’d want the Photo app. But you get the idea, use Screen 1 for Daily Use Apps and the 6 bottom slots for your must-have at all times apps. If you don’t heed this advice, then you’ll find yourself having to search for apps on Screen 0 every time you want to use an application.

Favorite Apps. That brings us to our favorite apps. For ease of reference, we’ll cover these in the same way they are organized on our iPad 2. And, we’d love to hear about your favorite apps, too. Just post a comment. In the Daily Use category, here’s our list:

Calendar
Contacts
Mail
Maps
Videos
FaceTime
Camera
Photo Booth
EyeTV
YouTube
Hulu Plus
SlingPlayer
NetFlix
Bria
Travelin’ Man
OBiON
Pandora
Pulse News
Flipboard
iSWiFTER
 

Most of the above applications are self-explanatory, but we’ll mention a few. If you have a Mac, then EyeTV is a must-have addition. It lets you play and record all your favorite TV shows. Removing commercials from a one-hour show is about a 2-minute click-and-drag operation. And it’s incredibly easy to export your favorite recordings in either iPhone or iPad format. So long as iTunes is running on your Mac desktop, you can play your recordings or live TV at any time using either a WiFi or 3G network connection. SlingPlayer does much the same thing (only worse) with no recording capability, but it works with Windows machines as well as Macs, and it’s a standalone device. The Netflix app lets you stream movies and TV shows to your iPad for $7.99 a month, and it supports 6 simultaneous devices including many current generation HDTVs. OBiON is the VoIP app that lets you make free Google Voice calls in the U.S. and Canada using your $49 OBi device. You can read all about it here. If you have an Asterisk® PBX, then you’ll want Bria and our Travelin’ Man app for secure, remote, and free SIP communications. Finally, there’s the new iSWiFTER app which brings Flash video back from the dead on the iPad platform. It’s free for a limited time and, believe it or not, it’s available in the App Store.

Books & News. We spend every morning at the breakfast table with the Books & News page on our iPad. Here’s our list:

Kindle
iBooks
Friendly (Facebook)
Twitterific
AccuWeather
ABC News
ABC Player
CBS News
CNBC RT
CNN
Huff Post
Newsy
NYTimes
News Pro
USA Today
WSJ
Wash Post
The Daily
TV Guide
Tweetdeck
 

We don’t watch much Faux News which has become more akin to Incitement TV. We really hoped The Daily would be different. It’s not. But… to each his own.

Business Apps. This is kind of a catch-all page for stuff we use frequently as well as some apps we’ll probably never use again. Here’s our list:

iMovie
Keynote
Pages
Notes
Bento
Sorted
2Do
Todo
Zenbe Lists
Voice Memos
aNote Lite
Dictation
Due
FlipTime XL
MobileNoter
Pad Info
PaperDesk LT
News Rack
GoodReader
textPlus
 

Of all the ToDo applications that are available (and we’ve tried most of them), we like Todo the best. But, for quick reminders, you can’t beat Due. GoodReader, Keynote, and Pages are must have business apps, and iMovie is every bit as good as the app on the Mac. It’s about perfect for an on-the-go, need-it-in-a-hurry project.

Navigation & Wi-Fi Apps. When we’re on the road or looking for a WiFi Hot Spot or good place to eat, here’s our list:

CoPilot HD
Charts & Tides
Navionics Marines
ShipFinder HD
GPS Drive HD
GPS HD
Hurricane HD
UrbanSpoon
Epicurious
Where To Eat
ZAGAT
Zillow.com
WiFiGet HD
Dash Four
Mifi
World Atlas
Skobbler
SpeedBox
WiFon
Trapster
 

GPS navigation on the roads is hit and miss on the iPad. Nothing comes close to Google Maps navigation. CoPilot could be a contender except for the outdated maps and copy protection paranoia. On the water, both Charts & TIdes and Navionics Marine are fantastic. We compared both of them to a $10,000 Nav system on a very fine boat only yesterday. There was virtually no difference in the information available with the exception of the radar-enhanced features. If you’re always shopping for real estate, there is no finer app than Zillow, period. If you’re in to fast cars, there is no finer app than Trapster.

Games. Last but not least, everybody needs a diversion once in a while. Here’s a list of some of our favorite iPad games:

Game Center
GearedHD
Frogger
Foosball HD
AirCoaster
Angry Birds
Asphalt 5
JirboBreak
Doons HD
ElectroRacer
FarmVille (WAF)
Hit Tennis 2
iFooty
Pac-Man
Pinball HD
RealRacing HD
RealRacing GTI
Snowboarding
Checkers HD
Wacky Circus HD

 

This will probably be the category that changes the quickest with the new lightening-fast graphics and dual core processor on the iPad 2. Stay tuned!

Originally published: Monday, March 14, 2011


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

2010 Bargain of the Year: Nortel 1535 Color SIP Videophone

We try not to get overly excited by new discoveries, but once in a while there comes along a VoIP deal that probably never will be repeated. Now’s the time. Here are a Baker’s Dozen reasons why you should buy a boatload of these Nortel IP 1535 phones before they’re all gone. Just make a bid of ~$60. We’ve given you a hint below on the going rate. :wink:

WARNING: There are reports that some of the phones from various merchants do NOT include WiFi even though the ad may say otherwise. If you need WiFi, be sure to carefully read the merchant’s ad AND verify that the phone you are ordering has WiFi before purchasing.

  • Nortel’s top-of-the-line $700 phone can be had for about $60
  • SIP-compatible and works with Asterisk® and sip2sip.info among others
  • H.263-compatible color videophone works flawlessly
  • Wired and 802.11 b/g WiFi is easily configured
  • Supports both U.S. and European power cords out of the box
  • Speakerphone rivals the best speakerphones on the market
  • Integrated apps include browser, email, calendar
  • Music and video storage supported using SD/MMC cards
  • Configurable voicemail button for easy access to any mailbox
  • Language support for English, French, Spanish, German and more
  • Tons of integrated multimedia capabilities
  • Robust STUN and proxy support so they work from anywhere
  • One year warranty on the phones from the eBay merchant

Connectivity Options. Once you have your phones, there are almost limitless SIP connectivity options including direct connections to many of our favorite providers: Vitelity, voip.ms, Future Nine, and Axvoice. But today we want to address two other connectivity options: sip2sip.info or as an Asterisk extension on your PBX in a Flash system, both of which give you color videoconferencing out of the box.

Using sip2sip.info with the Nortel 1535. If you haven’t discovered sip2sip.info, it’s one of the few VoIP freebies left in the universe. By simply providing your name and email address, sip2sip.info will give you a free SIP a URI that lets anyone on the planet call you via SIP at no cost. In addition, all calls to numbers registered with ENUM are free as well. For example, to call numbers in the U.S. listed with e164.org, just dial 001NXXNXXXXXX. You can talk as long and as often as you like. The call can be pure audio, or it can be an H.263 video call. It’s simple to set up and use. And, once you have your phone configured with sip2sip.info, it’s incredibly easy to add a free DID from IPkall and then a free local DID from Google Voice. Then, presto, you have a local phone number for inbound calls that will never cost you a dime. If you make most of your outbound calls from a cellphone, then this is a perfect solution for a free home telephone number where anyone can reach you. And it includes a free voicemail account that will deliver the voicemails to your registered email address whenever you miss a call. We actually travel with one of these phones preconfigured with a local number in our favorite towns. When we go to a different place, it’s easy to change the local phone number. Update: You also can obtain a free SIP URI from GetOnSIP.

There’s only one trick to the sip2sip.info setup. Once your credentials are emailed to you, log into your account and change your password to a very secure but all-numeric password.

Using Asterisk with the Nortel 1535. We have a personal preference for Asterisk, and it’s a perfect fit with these phones. Just add these entries to sip_general_custom.conf in /etc/asterisk, and video support comes to life in all versions of PBX in a Flash once you restart Asterisk:

rtptimeout=120
videosupport=yes
allow=h263

Then you’re ready to set up your extensions to support the Nortel 1535. Here are the settings we use, and they work equally well with the X-Lite 4 client if you’d like to try some test video calls on your server:

dtmfmode=rfc2833
canreinvite=yes
context=from-internal
host=dynamic
type=friend
nat=yes
port=5060
qualify=yes
disallow=all
allow=h263,ulaw,gsm

Configuring the Nortel 1535. All of the manuals for these phones still can be downloaded from Nortel’s web site. With the exception of the early phones which were configured for Turkey, here is the setup that works for us with sip2sip.info and Asterisk. Our special thanks to the dozens of gurus on the PBX in a Flash Forum who assisted with sorting all of this out. If you get stumped on any of this, the thread link provided has loads of additional information.

The two buttons at the top of the phone do most of the heavy lifting. The left one is the equivalent of the Enter key on a keyboard. The right one is the Back key. The other two keys of importance are * and #. * is used to enter special characters such as the period, slash, etc. # is used to change the keyboard type: ABC, Abc, 123, etc. Be sure you always have the correct keyboard type for the type of data you are entering. Pressing the Green button twice redials the last number called. The function key to the right of the number 3 connects you to voicemail. The function key to the right of the number 6 accesses the web browser.

Before you can configure the phone, you have to log in as Admin (Menu, Settings, System Settings, Admin, Login). The password is 1234. Then back out one level and set your Date/Time preferences. The most important one is to enable Network Time. For the Server Setting, enter time.nist.gov for a reliable NTP server. Then back out a level and choose Enable.

You’ve got to set up network connectivity before the phones will work obviously. They come preconfigured for a wired connection with DHCP support. That’s a good way to begin. Once everything is working reliably, you can switch to WiFi if desired. The only trick to WiFi is that you need to set your WiFi Type (Menu, Settings, Profile, WiFi, Settings, Wireless Settings, Authentication, Type) and then the WiFi Password for the chosen type before choosing your WiFi network (Menu, Settings, Profile, WiFi, Settings, Wireless Settings, WiFi Scanning). Once you have those set up, back out one level and choose Apply. Then back out one more level and choose Enable. You’ll be prompted to confirm you wish to restart the WiFi network. Then you’re all set.

Now you’re ready to configure your VoIP settings (Menu, Settings, VoIP Settings). Start with the domain of your server: sip2sip.info or the FQDN of your Asterisk server (Menu, Settings, VoIP Settings, Misc., Domain Name). While still in Misc., adjust the Codec Priority for video (Menu, Settings, VoIP Settings, Misc., Codec priority, Video). Choose First and change it to None. Choose Second and change it to H.264. Then choose First again and change it to H.263. Asterisk only supports H.263 so it has to be the first priority, or video won’t work. Then back out until the top left of the screen shows VoIP Settings. Choose User Information and enter your username for Username, Display Name, and Authentication name. For Asterisk, it’s your extension number. For sip2sip.info, it’s your 10-digit number beginning with 223. Enter your account password for Authentication pwd. Back out to VoIP Settings and enter the IP address of your server for Proxy, Proxy Address. For sip2sip.info, it’s 81.23.228.129. For Asterisk, it’s the public IP address of your server. While still in Proxy, choose STUN. For STUN Server IP Address, enter 75.101.138.128. Then Enable the STUN Server. Finally, back out to VoIP Settings again and choose Registration. Set the Expiry Timer to 3600. Then choose Register to connect your phone to your desired server. Done!

Using sip2sip.info with Asterisk. We were so impressed with the simplicity and functionality of sip2sip.info that we decided to also set up a sip2sip.info trunk on our Asterisk server. This is a very secure way to enable a SIP URI on your Asterisk server without exposing your server to SIP vulnerability. The only additional step with PBX in a Flash is to lock down external SIP access to the IP address of sip2sip.info. For setup instructions, see this thread on the PBX in a Flash Forums.

Configuring Voicemail Access. It’s easy to configure these phones to access any existing voicemail system. The only trick is that the number to call for voicemail access must be all numeric. On Asterisk systems, this means *98 won’t work! So, in FreePBX, first set up a Misc. Destination called Voicemail-Read and use *98 as the Dial String. Then set up a Misc. Application called VoiceMailRead and enter 86245 as the Feature Code. Then choose Misc Destination: Voicemail-Read as the Destination.

On the phone, choose Menu, Settings, VoIP Settings, Misc., Voice Mail, Voicemail Number and enter 86245. You can leave the Mailbox ID and password blank on Asterisk-based systems, and you’ll be prompted for them. Or you can fill in either the mailbox number or both the mailbox number and password, and your entries will be passed to Asterisk to access the desired voicemail box.

To access Voicemail from the phone, press the function key just to the right of the number 3 on the phone.

Using the Nortel 1535 Browser. While it’s not the best browser on the planet, these Nortel phones do have a decent web browser that can be used to retrieve current content such as news, weather, and sports scores. To set up a web link, choose Menu, Services, Web Browser, and choose one of the four links. Here are a couple entries to get you started. Others can be found in this thread on the PBX in a Flash Forums. Remember to use the Top Left function key as the Enter key in browser links! HINT: While in one of your four preconfigured web sites, if you press the Right Button just above the directional arrow keys, you can navigate to additional web sites.

  • mundy.org/news.php – Latest Yahoo! News
  • google.com/m – Google Mobile

To access the Browser, press the function key just to the right of the number 6 on the phone.

Accessing Email on the Nortel 1535. Both POP3 and IMAP email access are supported on the phone. And a number of boilerplate email messages already are preconfigured for sending using your chosen email provider. You can set up additional ones using the Template option. To set up email, go to Setup, Messages, Account Settings.

Nortel 1535 Organizer. These phones also include a very capable Address Book and Calendar. Entries can be imported using a standard SD/MMC card. We’ll leave the rest for you to sort out. Or take the guess work out of the experiment and read Nortel’s excellent documentation. Enjoy!




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…

The Incredible PBX: Remote Phone Meets the Travelin’ Man

Ever wrestled with one of those thorny problems for weeks only to wake up in the middle of the night with the answer? Thus was born Travelin’ Man, a web- based, one-click Asterisk® application that automatically reconfigures your Asterisk PBX to enable remote SIP phone access from your cellphone, iPad, remote PC, NetBook, or desktop telephone.

News Flash: Be sure to read our latest article introducing Travelin’ Man 3, a completely new security methodology based upon FQDN Whitelists and DDNS. In a nutshell, you get set-it-and-forget-it convenience and rock-solid VoIP security for your Cloud-based PBX or any PBX in a Flash server that’s lacking a hardware-based firewall and you get both transparent connectivity and security for your mobile or remote workforce.

If you’ve read the Incredible PBX series of articles on Nerd Vittles, you already know what a thorny problem remote phone access is if you want to preserve the overall security of your server. Indeed, our recommendation has been to leave SIP access closed on your hardware-based firewall because of the dangers inherent in activating remote SIP access. Now we have a better idea!

Today’s new approach works like this. First, we’ll run a little script that secures all of your extensions with permit entries locking down all these connections to the IP address range within your private network. Then we’ll open the SIP and RTP ports on your hardware and software firewalls and map these ports to your Asterisk server’s private IP address. With this setup, no one can attempt remote SIP logins to your server because Asterisk blocks all SIP extension connection attempts except those originating inside your LAN. To manage external phone connections to your server, the install script creates a new virtual Apache web server on your Incredible PBX using port 83. We’ll enable and map TCP port 83 on your hardware and software firewalls to your server as well. Web access with port 83 is limited to running the Travelin’ Man app to activate external phones.

Now we’re ready to set up access to your server for remote devices. For each extension you wish to enable for remote access, we’ll create a special web directory using an obscure, random file name which will serve as the web link for the Travelin’ Man web app. For example, in the diagram above, directory 184778 manages extension 501, directory 2389957h manages extension 701, and directory 6993h5j manages extension 702. This is accomplished by simply changing the extension number in the index.php script stored in each directory.

When one of these web links is accessed remotely, the PHP script will automatically reconfigure Asterisk to enable access to the designated SIP extension on your server using the remote IP address from which the web page was accessed. And, of course, there’s an additional layer of SIP security as well. You still need your extension credentials to actually log in to your server with a softphone to place and receive calls. The Travelin’ Man installation process takes only a couple minutes, and the remote SIP activation procedure takes just a couple seconds each time you want remote access from a different location. Here’s a quick example of how it actually works.

Let’s assume we want to use the new $3.95 Bria SIP softphone on an iPad to connect as extension 501 on our Incredible PBX back at home. The problem is that the dynamic IP address of your iPad changes at each new site on your itinerary. Some locations have WiFi while others only have 3G connections.

First, we’ll generate an icon to run Travelin’ Man from your iPad desktop. Use the same procedure with an iPhone or iPod Touch, and there’s a similar procedure for Android devices.1 You only have to do this once. Start up Safari on the iPad to access the new port 83 web server at the random web address the installer created to support extension 501. That web address is something like this using your own FQDN2: http://myserver.dyndns.org:83/184778. After establishing the link once, we’ll hit the + button in Safari and choose Add to Home Screen. This creates the TravelMan icon on the iPad. See the screenshot below of our demo iPad setup which used extension 221 instead of 501.

Once configured, it’s just two clicks to enable your remote phone anywhere: click once on the TravelMan icon. When your IP address is confirmed, return to your Home Screen and click the Bria softphone icon to establish a SIP connection back to your server. Behind the scenes, the Travelin’ Man application will generate the required permit entry for your remote IP address mapping it to the designated extension on your server, and then it will reload your SIP settings to make your Asterisk server accessible to the Bria softphone in your hotel room. The entire process takes only a couple seconds.

If your company happens to have a dozen traveling salesmen, then you’d simply assign a dedicated extension to each employee and create secure directory names for each person (e.g. 2389957h and 6993h5j in diagram above) with a copy of the Travelin’ Man app configured for that employee’s extension number. Now your entire mobile workforce has connectivity back to the home office from any location on the globe. And, when an employee leaves the company and another arrives, just create a new name for the old employee’s web directory to preserve the security of your system (e.g. 184778 in our example becomes 78hd773). Keep in mind that each time the Travelin’ Man app is run for any extension, it wipes out any previously authorized IP address entry for that extension. Thus, the security of your Incredible PBX is always preserved.

Prerequisites. Before proceeding with today’s install, you must be running a stock install of Incredible PBX with PBX in a Flash behind a properly-secured, hardware-based firewall3. We recommend the latest version of Asterisk 1.4 because it addresses a SIP vulnerability that might cause you problems if malformed SIP packets are targeted at your server. The current release of PBX in a Flash (1.7.5.5 Silver) is ideal, but any version of PBX in a Flash can be brought current with Asterisk using the update-source and update-fixes tools. Travelin’ Man assumes that you have the Incredible PBX base install of extensions: 501 plus 701-715. You can obviously add more or remove some, but you’ll need to manually adjust sip_custom_post.conf to reflect your actual extension list after the install completes.

The installer has been encrypted for your/our own protection. In source form, the script would allow anyone to defeat the Incredible PBX requirement. Doing so would mean the required IPtables security component would not be in place and properly configured to protect the underlying system from attack. So we’ve opted to play Big Brother to avoid potential security problems for all of us down the road. This article clearly explains all the necessary components if some folks want to roll their own version. We just don’t want the responsibility if something goes horribly wrong. As Forrest Gump would say, “Shit Happens.” :-) If you don’t believe it, check out the latest security scramble in the trixbox forums.

Installation. Now we’re ready to get started. So log into your Incredible PBX as root and issue the following commands:

cd /root
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/travelinman.tar.gz
tar zxvf travelinman.tar.gz
./travelinman.x

NOTE: If you’re using PIAF2 with CentOS 6.2, you’ll need to use the updated version of Travelin’ Man because of a syntax change in the Apache config file:

cd /root
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/travelinman2.tar.gz
tar zxvf travelinman2.tar.gz
./travelinman2

The first step in the install procedure is to lock down access to all of your extensions to your private LAN subnet. In case you ever want to do this on another server not running the Incredible PBX, here’s a link to our privip.sh shell script that shows how to do it. This should work on most FreePBX-based Asterisk systems.

Once the extensions are locked down, the script will modify your IPtables and Apache configurations to permit web access on port 83. Next, it will adjust your Asterisk setup to support the Travelin’ Man permit scheme. This involves reworking of sip_custom_post.conf so that permit settings for individual extensions can be stored in files named 501.inc, 701.inc, etc. Finally, the installation procedure will set up a single web site to support extension 501 with a randomized directory name for remote access.4 This setup will be stored in /var/www/travelman. To activate support for additional extensions, you would simply copy the subdirectory giving it a new random name: cp -r dir1 dir2. Then edit config.php in the new subdirectory and change the $extension entry.

To complete the install, you must reconfigure your hardware-based firewall and map the following ports to the private IP address of your server:

TCP 83
UDP 5060
UDP 10000-20000

When the installation is completed, it will show you how to access the new web site for extension 501 using either a fully-qualified domain name or a public or private IP address. Now just follow the steps at the beginning of this article to set up your Android or iDevice, and test things out. Enjoy!

Reminders: Be sure to review the comments to this article and the related support forum thread for a week or two for late-breaking enhancements and issues. Also, Incredible PBX comes preconfigured with call forwarding activated for extension 501. Don’t forget to either disable it or set up a real call forwarding number for extension 501 if you want your cellphone to ring. From any extension on your server, just dial *72501 to set up call forwarding. To cancel call forwarding and pass calls directly to the registered 501 softphone, dial *74 and enter 501. Also be aware that the default RingAll ring group (700) configuration on Incredible PBX systems does not include extension 501. So add 501 if you want your remote extension to ring for incoming calls.


The Incredible PBX: Basic Installation Guide

Adding Skype to The Incredible PBX

Adding Incredible Backup… and Restore to The Incredible PBX

Adding Multiple Google Voice Trunks to The Incredible PBX

Adding Remotes, Preserving Security with Incredible PBX

Continue reading Basic Installation Guide, Part II.

Continue reading Basic Installation Guide, Part III.

Continue reading Basic Installation Guide, Part IV.

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! We maintain a thread with the latest Patches and Bug Fixes for Incredible PBX. Please have a look. Unlike some forums, ours is extremely friendly and is supported by literally hundreds of Asterisk gurus and thousands of ordinary users just like you. So you won’t have to wait long for an answer to your questions.




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…

  1. To create a desktop icon for Travelin’ Man on Android devices, navigate to the link with your browser. Then save the link as a Bookmark by clicking the Star icon in your browser then click Add. Return to the Home Screen and, from the screen on which you wish to add the icon, touch and hold your finger on the screen. When the Add to Home Screen menu appears, choose Shortcuts then Bookmarks and select the link you previously saved. As with iDevices, you only have to do this once. []
  2. FQDN = Fully-qualified domain name []
  3. We recommend the dLink Router/Firewall. Low Cost: $35 WBR-2310  Best: DGL-4500 []
  4. If you’d like to download the web site code independently from the Travelin’ Man install procedure, here’s the link. []

VoIP Softphone Shootout for iPhone, iPad, & iPod Touch

We interrupt our Incredible PBX coverage this week to bring you a summer roundup of the best and worst VoIP softphones for use with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch in conjunction with Asterisk®. We’ve tested all of these products with Asterisk sitting behind a NAT-based firewall/router which introduces some additional wrinkles unless your softphone and server are connected through a virtual private network. We’ll leave the VPN discussion for another day. None of these products has native support for the iPad although all will work with any iPad as will any standard iPhone app in either 1X or 2X mode.

The three four products we’ll be evaluating are Acrobits SIP Softphone, the WiFone from Snizmo.com Ltd., the Media5-fone, and CounterPath’s just-released Bria softphone. All support SIP dialing, and the WiFone provides IAX connectivity as well. We were a bit surprised that, despite their reliance on SIP to connect calls, SIP URI support was minimal to non-existent in all but the Bria product. Before diving into the individual products, we should note that, in conjunction with our product evaluations, we received no compensation or discounted/free software from any source. We are a beta site for CounterPath’s next Bria release.

Acrobits Softphone. The Acrobits Softphone requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and was recently updated on June 3, 2010. The softphone only supports SIP but works with both WiFi and 3G connections which makes it a perfect complement to current generation iPhones as well as the iPad-3G. The softphone also supports push notifications for inbound calls until multitasking is available with iOS 4.0. Multiple SIP accounts can be registered, and the softphone has SIP proxy, VPN, and STUN server support, a must with Asterisk sitting behind most NAT-based routers. G.711, GSM, and iLBC audio codecs are supported in the standard configuration, and we experienced excellent call quality using WiFi with no DTMF issues. As with all of these VoIP phones, 3G call quality was all over the map depending upon the reliability of your nearest cell tower. SIP URI’s can be called by cutting-and-pasting dial strings from entries in the Contacts list email address fields provided the SIP URI destination name is numeric. Quirky but it works. There’s also a speed dial feature for your 12 favorite contacts. Flexible dial strings are supported to smooth the path for international calling. With iOS 3.1, a bluetooth headset can also be used. The application sells for $7.99 in the App Store, and G.729 support can be added for an additional $9.99. G.729 is a must-have if you’ll be using a 3G network for most of your VoIP calls.

While call quality is obviously subjective, the Acrobits Softphone was our personal favorite for daily use. We routinely use it on an iPad to check Asterisk voicemails and to make outbound calls through our home Asterisk server while traveling. Setup is as simple as entering the IP address or FQDN1 of your Asterisk server and an extension number and password to handle the calls. We added a public STUN server entry because of our NAT-based Asterisk setup.

Snizmo’s WiFone. A very close runner-up in voice quality was the WiFone from Snizmo.com Ltd. This softphone has the added advantage of supporting both SIP and IAX2 connections to Asterisk. If security and ease of use matter most to you, then you can’t go wrong with this softphone. IAX2 connections are much less vulnerable to attack from the Internet and are considerably easier to configure because of the elimination of thorny NAT issues. If we had found this softphone first, we probably would have looked no further. As you can see from the screenshot, this softphone supports multiple SIP and IAX connections and is easily set up using the configuration menu. For our European friends, it also supports SMS using a dozen different providers. Echo cancellation and STUN support are available, and G.711 and GSM codecs can be individually configured for SIP and IAX connections. An Outbound Proxy is also available as well as support for international dial strings and prefixes if you need it.

For SIP accounts, simply provide the server address, a username, and password. Authorization name, SIP port, and proxy server settings are optional. For IAX accounts, server address, username, and password are the only required entries. Each account can be toggled ON and OFF to meet your individual requirements. SMS Settings provides a listing of a dozen SMS providers. Simply add your username, password, and a CallerID and SMS just works. The contacts list also synchronizes with your Mac Address Book as well as MobileMe. The call quality of both SIP and IAX connections using WiFi was excellent. 3G support is not yet available. The web-based tutorial is excellent, and the application is available in the App Store for $6.99. An international version also is available.

We could not get the SIP URI functionality to work because the Contacts list phone numbers do not support SIP URI syntax, and there’s no way to manually enter or cut-and-paste a dial string from an email address in the Contacts list. While the polish of the application was not quite up to the Acrobits Softphone, the call quality was uniformly excellent with the SIP URI limitation that we’ve noted.

Media5-fone. Our final softphone in today’s roundup is Media5-fone from Media5 Corporation. It can be downloaded from the App Store for $4.99. While the application is exclusively a SIP phone, it does have preconfigured setups for dozens of providers in the event your requirements extend beyond the Asterisk universe. Unfortunately, there is no STUN support in the current version which makes it unsuitable for use with Asterisk implementations that sit behind NAT-based routers. Multiple SIP connections are supported as are second call, call waiting, and call toggle. In the current version, both SIP over WiFi and 3G are supported using iLBC, G.711, Enhanced G.711, G.722, and iSAC codecs. SIP Info, RFC 2833, and RTP Inband DTMF methods are configurable for each SIP account. Dialing prefixes are flexible and the phone has language support for English, Arabic, French, German, Italian and Spanish which facilitates international use. The phone also includes a nice implementation of visual voicemail; however, the SIP password and voicemail password would have to be the same to function properly with Asterisk. Automatic gain control and echo cancellation also are supported. With the addition of STUN and SIP URI support, Media5-fone would be a worthy competitor.

Update: CounterPath’s Bria. As luck would have it, CounterPath released their new Bria softphone for the iPhone today. It also is iPod Touch and iPad-compatible and supports both WiFi and 3G. The softphone is available at an introductory price of $3.99 in the App Store. It’s the best bargain in the softphone market. G.729 support can be added for an additional $8.99. G.722 wideband support reportedly is coming in August. You may recall CounterPath’s terrific and free X-Lite offerings for Windows, Macs, and Linux. They’ve been one of our favorite developers ever since, and we are actually serving as a beta tester for their next release. As usual, the Bria interface offers what is hands-down the best UI in the business. The voice quality of the calls is impeccable. Our only criticism is that out-of-the-box, Bria doesn’t work for placing outbound calls with Asterisk. Registration of credentials works fine, inbound calling works great, but outbound calls to either an extension, a phone number in the Address Book, or a SIP URI all just hang with no error message or notation in the log. Only after tracing down an obscure link on their web site did we discover the problem. It turns out that one simple change of a single default setting gets things working as they should. To make the change to support Asterisk, click Settings, Advanced Settings, Network Traversal Strategy, User Specified. Then change ICE:ON to ICE:OFF. Click the Advanced button, and then Apply Changes. Aside from this one default configuration glitch, the Bria softphone would be our Editor’s Choice. We highly recommend you make your purchase while the softphone still is available at the introductory price. For an excellent review, see Alec Saunder’s Blog today.




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…

  1. FQDN = Fully-Qualified Domain Name []

Meet The iPhone Terminator: The World’s Best Mobile Phone

Photo courtesy of HTC and androidcommunity.com

With apologies to Arnold’s infamous line, all we can say to iPhone enthusiasts of the world is that once you try this Android phone, you won’t ever go back. Google has done for the mobile phone what Apple did with Mac OS X except Google also opened up the hardware platform. Unfortunately, Apple opted for locked and proprietary hardware and software in rolling out its iPhone. Now that the second-generation Android phones are appearing, the difference is palpable.

Update. There’s now a third-generation Android phone that’s even better than this one. You can read all about it in our latest article.

Choosing the World’s Best Cell Phone is obviously fraught with peril. All other things being equal we would have bestowed the honor on Nokia’s E71 which we reviewed recently and have personally used until a month ago. That’s when we jumped into the Android World which we will tell you up front is still a bit of a work in progress. But, all we can say is WOW! The openness, the technology, and the creativity showcased in the new Android phones point to an inescapable conclusion. Google once again has struck the Mother Lode. Seeing is believing as they say. And today we’ll digress from our usual format to bring you a pictorial tour of the HTC Magic. No. You don’t have to carry a white one like Arnold. Heh. A shiny black one is readily available. We actually had planned to walk through the process of rooting the phone, but we’ll leave that for another day primarily because this mobile phone provides sufficient flexibility in its native state to deliver an almost perfect cellphone experience even without root access.

We’ve already covered our objections to the iPhone in a previous article so we won’t repeat them here other than to note that SIP clients can’t run in the background on an iPhone which makes them next to worthless for inbound calls. Yes, there are kludgey workarounds, but these open yet another can of worms. We’ll dispose of the Nokia product line by telling you they’re headed in the wrong direction just like Microsoft with the wrong operating system(s), the wrong product design, and the wrong technology mix. Just when the world is finally looking for a mobile platform that provides flexibility in transitioning between the cellular networks, WiFi, and WiMax, Nokia kills the SIP stack and SIP client on its entire line of new cellphones. So a company that once was THE innovative cell phone manufacturer in the world suddenly is looking a bit like Yahoo, lots of thrashing around but no cigar. Sadly, it’s mostly the result of self-inflicted wounds. But we’re not going to dwell on the past today. We’re going to look at what the future holds in mobile communications. And the one word that best sums up our hopes for future mobile telephony is Google… more precisely, Google’s totally open source Android Platform.

So let’s again go about this by the book… with a requirements analysis! You can match it to your own wish list. We want a cellphone that makes cellular calls from most locations, and we want the ability to decide which cell provider we use depending upon where we are. We want the option to make phone calls through our own SIP provider, or Asterisk® server, or Google Voice whenever we feel like it with or without a Wi-Fi connection. And, of course, we want VoIP Prioritization. This means we want our cell phone to prioritize incoming and outgoing calls by attempting to use VoIP services first, cellphone carrier second. We also want to be able to check our email using gMail, POP3 and IMAP servers at 3G data speeds. For the business community, we also think Microsoft Exchange support is indispensable. When we need to send or receive something on our notebook computer and there’s no WiFi around, we want our cellphone to provide data connectivity. We’re not going to be downloading movies and 1,000-page books all day long. We just want to get an important file attachment from the office so we can read it on a normal screen. If the cellphone provided a PDF viewer, so much the better. And, finally, we’d like a QWERTY keyboard for messaging, and we want to be able to change our own battery, add a memory chip, and swap out SIM cards whenever we’d like. We also want the ability to gain root access should we ever wish to do so. After all, it’s our phone! Bluetooth for phone calls and A2DP for music in the car would be great, and a good camera as well as GPS functionality would be nice to have on the phone as well. For those in the U.S., we’d add one additional requirement: support for AT&T’s 3G network so you’re not stuck with T-Mobile’s dog-slow (and incompatible) wireless data network. Most of the Android phones currently flunk this test leaving you with nothing but EDGE service if you use a provider other than T-Mobile. Of course, with T-Mobile, you get mostly EDGE service in the U.S. as well. :roll:

And the winner is…

Our pick is the unlocked Rogers HTC Magic phone, the only Android phone that we could find which supported rooting and AT&T’s 3G network in the U.S… albeit from a Canadian provider. That’s the price U.S. consumers pay for a government that continually rewards the telephone oligopoly with exclusivity rip-offs. So how does the HTC Magic stack up to our wish list? We’d give it a 94. It does everything on our Wish List… and more. The images which follow incidentally were taken using the screen capture utility that’s part of the Android 1.5 SDK. It is easily installed on either a Windows or Linux PC or your favorite Mac (except Snow Leopard for the moment). There’s a great tutorial on how to install the Android SDK as well as a YouTube video and tutorial on rooting the Rogers HTC Magic phone should you desire further information on those topics.

Getting Started. Before proceeding, set yourself up a Gmail account if you don’t already have one. As with most provider-specific cellphones, this HTC Magic phone is hard-coded to the Rogers network in Canada. Assuming you want to use AT&T’s network in the U.S., step #1 is to enter AT&T APN settings when you first turn on the phone. After inserting the AT&T SIM and booting the phone, press the Menu key before doing anything else. Next click Add APN. Enter the following values leaving the remaining fields blank:

Name: att
APN: wap.cingular
Password: CINGULAR1

Now press the Menu button again and choose Save. For other providers, try this Google Search.

Main Screen. Once you’ve entered your Gmail credentials, the phone will boot and display a Main menu. It actually is three screens wide. You can move to the other screens by swiping your finger to the left or to the right. You’ll notice a thumb tab at the bottom of the display. By dragging this up, you can access all of the other applications on the phone. Move it back out of the way by dragging it back down or pressing the Back button (←) which is the third from the left button just below the screen display.

Applications. Here’s the first page of our Applications. You scroll through the list using the trackball, or you can drag your finger vertically on the screen to reposition the display up or down. Tapping on an entry starts the application. Pressing the Home button on the far left just below the screen display returns you to the Main Screen. Every app is displayed in this listing except for Widgets. Widgets are more like scripts and typically are used to toggle functions on and off. In the left Main screen above are four widgets to toggle WiFi, BlueTooth, GPS, and Ringer/Vibrate/Silent functions of the phone.

Android Market. All of these applications didn’t necessarily come with the phone. Google’s Android Market has been set up for developers to display their wares. You can become a developer, too. And, unlike the iPhone apps, most of the Android apps still are free. Just another advantage to open source technology. To access the Market from your phone, just choose the Market app and follow the intuitive menus. There’s a great Search function. Again, unlike the iPhone, these applications get stored on a MicroSD card. A 2GB card comes with the phone. Do yourself a favor and start with a $50 16GB card.

Messaging. As you might expect from Google, the Android platform excels at messaging of all flavors. Whether it’s text messaging, Gmail, or POP3/IMAP email connectivity, Android has you covered (see above). And the support for Microsoft Exchange is nothing short of brilliant. In the social networking department, there’s full-featured support for Twitter and Facebook, among others. Using the Search function in the Android Market, you can have your phone set up with your favorite tools in just a few minutes.

Android Security. Securing your phone is also nothing short of brilliant on the Android 1.5 platform. Simply draw an unlock code pattern using your finger, and that becomes the signature for future access to your cellphone. Also works pretty well as a sobriety test. :-) If you can’t unlock your phone, don’t unlock your car! You also can lock your SIM card to your phone and set a password if you’re nervous about losing your $500 crown jewel. What the security system really demonstrates is that the open source community has nothing to apologize for. The quality of this software is every bit as good if not better than the software produced by the other cellphone players.

Placing Calls. Yes, we hear you. What about making phone calls? You’ll be pleased to know that the HTC Magic can do that, too. We were just saving the best for last. In fact, this phone can make calls in three different ways: through your cellphone provider, through SIP using your Asterisk server or another provider, and through Google Voice. Once you install the Google Voice application from the Android Market, simply configure it with either your cellphone number or an intermediate provider such as SIPgate or IPkall. You then have a choice of whether to make Google Voice the primary or secondary calling source. Or you can choose to be prompted for each call as shown above. Google Voice calls that go out through your WiFi data network connection incur no charges in the U.S. and Canada.

SIP calls are placed using the SIPdroid application which also is available in the Android Market. Shown to the left is a sample setup for SIPdroid to connect to your Asterisk server on a private home network. In the SIPdroid Call Options, specify whether to use WiFi and/or 3G/EDGE for the SIP calls. And set a preference for how your calls should be placed, i.e. cellphone carrier or SIP. The only tricky part is the Extension Settings on your Asterisk server. Just create an extension in the usual way using FreePBX. But make sure your settings include the following entries: canreinvite=no, nat=yes, and qualify=no.

To route outbound calls through SipDroid instead of your cellphone provider, just append + to the end of the phone number. You can generate a + symbol on your phone keypad with a long press of the 0 button.

Android Backups. No article would be complete without some mention of backups. The Android platform currently supports four options: Android images, MyBackup, and Google and Exchange Synchronization. Android images can only be created if you gain root access to your phone or load a different image on your phone. MyBackup is a $9.95 app from the Android Market that lets you backup your Applications and Data separately onto your MicroSD card. Unless you’re a techie, it’s well worth the money. Google and Exchange Synchronization you will find under Settings, Data Synchronization. With Google Sync, you can back up your Gmail, Calendar, and Contacts data automatically and as a background task. Be sure to activate it. Finally, you’ll see displayed above a browser display from mundy.org/whereib that you may find helpful from time to time. It displays not only a map of your current location based upon your IP address, but also shows your public IP address.

Android 3Gtest. We’ll leave you with a hot tip about one additional application: 3Gtest. Just download and install it from the Android Market and then run it. You’ll be amazed by the results. Not only will it tell you how good your upload and download speeds are, it also will tell you some interesting tidbits about whether your provider is living up to their oft-repeated promise of Net Neutrality. Our download 3G speed in Charleston, South Carolina was actually close to T-1 performance. Interestingly, our upload speed was pitiful… about as fast as a circa 1860′s telegraph machine.

Android System Backup. We said we weren’t going to cover rooting your phone, but we do want to point you in the right direction and also show you how to get a perfect image backup of your phone. If you’re not comfortable entering system commands, stop here! We are Mac snobs so what follows is the Mac way of doing things which is incredibly simple compared to the hassle with Windows in getting the correct USB driver loaded to make things function properly. If you’re determined to use Windows, be sure to install the Android SDK before you connect your phone to your PC. And read up on how to install the appropriate USB driver for Windows. With a Mac, all of this just works… out of the box. As we mentioned previously, we’ve only tested this with Leopard and Snow Leopard, and Snow Leopard does NOT work!

Before proceeding, you must enable USB Debugging on your phone. You’ll find it here: Settings->Applications->Development->USB Debugging

To get your Mac set up with the proper toolkit, do the following. There’s nothing tricky here. Just don’t skip any steps. And you only have to do this once! First, download the Android 1.5 SDK for the Mac from here. Unzip android-sdk-mac_x86-1.5_r3.zip on your Desktop and rename the folder to android-sdk. Now drag that folder into your Applications directory. Next, open a Terminal window and create/edit .bash_profile: nano -w .bash_profile. Add the following entry: export PATH=${PATH}:/Applications/android-sdk/tools. Then save the file: Ctrl-X, Y, Enter. Now run the same command from the CLI prompt to update your PATH now: export PATH=${PATH}:/Applications/android-sdk/tools. Next, download fastboot-mac onto your Desktop from the HTC Support site. Unzip the file and rename the file to fastboot. Then, download recovery-new.img to your Desktop. Drag both fastboot and recovery-new.img into the Applications/android-sdk/tools folder.

Now we’re ready to make your backup. Plug your phone into your Mac using the USB cable that came with the phone. Open a terminal window on your Mac and change to the SDK tools directory: cd /applications/android-sdk/tools. Run the following command and make certain your phone shows up in the listing: adb devices. You should get a display with the serial number of your phone:

List of devices attached
HT95RNK02843 device

Assuming your phone shows up in the list, you’re ready to proceed with a backup. Turn off your phone. Then, while pressing the Volume Down button, turn your phone back on. Hold down both buttons until you see a screen that says <BACK> FastBoot Mode with dancing Androids on skateboards at the bottom of the display. Press the BACK button (←) and the FASTBOOT USB menu will display. In your computer’s Terminal window (NOT on your phone), type: fastboot boot recovery-new.img. Your phone will reboot and display a screen with several options in blue. Use your phone’s trackball to carefully scroll down to the Nandroid Backup 2.1 option. Then depress the Trackball button to begin the backup. You’ll see a yellow display message indicating that the backup is proceeding. When the backup completes, choose the Reboot System Now option to restart your phone normally.

You’ll find the new backup on the SD card. To copy it to a safe place on your Mac, drag down the Message Bar at the top of the display after your phone has rebooted. Tap the USB Connected Select to copy files to/from your computer option. Then tap the Mount button. A new drive NO NAME will appear on your Desktop. Double-click on it and drag the nandroid folder to a safe place for permanent storage of your backup. To unmount the phone, do it on your Mac desktop first. Then reverse the mount process we initially used on the phone to mount it. Simple!

Rooting Your Phone. We have NOT done this so you’re on your own. You’ll probably void the warranty on your phone by proceeding. The best article we could find on the procedure for rooting and restoring your phone is here. But it doesn’t have the correct backup image. If you restore the wrong image, your phone’s radio may no longer work on your provider’s network. The consensus seems to be that the proper image for a rooted Rogers HTC Magic is here. The best tutorial for actually performing the magic appears to be here. But we would stress again that we have not actually tried this, and you really, really are on your own if you proceed past reading this article. It’s your $500 phone… or brick as the case may be. Before doing anything further, we would strongly recommend you make several backup images as outlined above and also spend some time doing a careful review of the postings in this forum until you are very comfortable with all of the wrinkles and procedures. If something goes wrong, post your problems there, not here. :-) We’re handing you the map, but it’s your choice whether to jump off the cliff. Enjoy!

Update: The unlocked Rogers HTC Magic phone used for this review is now available for purchase from Nerd Vittles. It supports 3G networks of both Rogers in Canada and AT&T in the United States. Just make us an offer we can’t refuse. It’s still a terrific phone!



The Future of Android. For a glimpse of what the future holds for Android, see this Giga OM article published on October 7.


Web Site of the Week. For all of your favorite Nerd gifts, don’t miss the new Mashable collection.

Articles of the Week. For another excellent technical review of the HTC Magic, check out TechRadar UK’s review. And be sure to check out Justin West’s Free Homebrew VoIP with Google Voice and Intel Atom.


Enhanced Google Maps. In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve added yet another Google Map to Nerd Vittles. Now, in addition to showing our location with Google Latitude, we also are displaying your location based upon your IP address. We’ll show you how to add something similar to any LAMP-based Linux system in coming weeks. It’s a powerful technology that has enormous potential. If you’re unfamiliar with Google Maps, click on the Hybrid and Satellite buttons and then check out the scaling and navigation options. Double-click to zoom. Incredible!


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.



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


 
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…


Ringbinder theme by Themocracy