Posts tagged: trifecta

Asterisk CallerID Perfected: CallerID Superfecta 2.0

If you’re new to VoIP and Internet Telephony, it may come as a shock when you discover that incoming calls no longer display the names of your callers unlike your POTS CallerID service. The problem is that most telephone providers deliver only a CallerID number when sending calls. Your DID service provider is responsible for looking up the incoming number in their directory and supplying a matching name. Simply stated, CallerID numbers are pushed to recipients, but CallerID names must be pulled from in-house databases. With Ma Bell and siblings, this was easy because they had a monopoly on all of the records. They’ve done their best to preserve that advantage. For example, Google provides very good CallerID information for people in the traditional phone book but provides no facility for adding numbers of those that don’t have a Ma Bell line. Coincidence? Probably not. With Internet Telephony Hosting Providers, CNAM lookups are few and far between. A few now will provide CallerID lookups but only on a per call fee basis.

A similar problem arises for outbound VoIP calls that you place. Even though you may provide a CallerID name and number, most telephone companies throw the supplied CallerID name in the bit bucket and do their own lookups. If you’re not in their directory, your number or nothing will be supplied instead of your actual name. Bottom line: This is one major piece of the telephone monopoly that Judge Greene forgot to address. And it’s only going to get worse now that more people own cellphones than Ma Bell landlines.

With Asterisk®, the simplest solution is to do your own CNAM lookups. And today we’re delighted to introduce CallerID Superfecta 2.0, a FreePBX module with incredible flexibility. It also serves as a living testament to how open source development actually should work.

The History Lesson. We originally wrote an AGI script for Asterisk@Home known as the CallerID Trifecta. As sources of CNAM lookups expanded, a number of other individuals contributed code to support those lookups. The original application morphed into the CallerID Superfecta when these new sources were added, but all the code still resided in a difficult-to-maintain PHP/AGI script. Tony Shiffer picked up the ball last year and converted the CallerID Trifecta into a FreePBX module which made it incredibly easy to install the application and configure the providers you wished to use. Fast forward to today, and now Jeremy Jacobs, with help from other members of the PBX in a Flash Forum community, has taken the original work of a number of PBX in a Flash Forum participants and released a real masterpiece, CallerID Superfecta 2.0. It’s not only easy to install and configure, but now it’s incredibly flexible and simple to expand as more and more people begin contributing lookup routines to this open source project. And Tony has put the icing on the cake with a new SVN development site to track bugs and feature requests for this project and others as we move forward.

The CallerID Superfecta Design. As originally implemented, CallerID Superfecta let you choose one or more lookup sources for incoming CallerID numbers. When an inbound call arrived, the sources were queried in a specified order, and the first source that provided a matching CallerID name won. The CNAM search result was returned to Asterisk for display on your phone instruments, and the lookup procedure ended. The problem with the original design was that newer and better lookup providers continued to appear, the hard-coded search order wasn’t necessarily ideal for every user or organization, and the providers kept changing formats to make lookups more challenging. CallerID Superfecta 2.0 fixes all of that!

What’s New. For openers there are a number of new lookup sources as well as some tweaks to older sources that stamped out a few bugs from our previous, sloppy code. :-) The web user interface (UI) for FreePBX also has been totally reworked. Now you can prioritize the lookups in the order that best meets your needs. And, as new CNAM lookup sources become available, they are automatically added to the new UI. The code also has been modularized with separate templates for each provider. This makes the addition of new lookup sources incredibly simple to implement. There’s also a new debug function built directly into the web user interface. By entering a telephone number in the new debug field and pressing the debug button on the form, the results from your selected lookup sources together with the latency of each enabled data source are displayed on the form for you to review. This new debug function greatly enhances troubleshooting while serving as a terrific tool to assist in fine tuning which providers to actually enable and in what order. Providers who can’t be reached, or who perform too slowly, or who provide lousy results can be turned off completely or moved to the bottom of the search order. Finally, CallerID Superfecta 2.0 introduces prefix code hooks. This gives developers the ability to trigger an additional outside process when the Caller ID function is initiated. For example, this feature might be used in a call center to allow the system to automatically perform an ODBC query and bring up a customer record for use by a customer service representative.

Installing CallerID Superfecta 2.0. Installation and setup should be a snap on any of the FreePBX-based Asterisk aggregations including PBX in a Flash. First, using a browser on your desktop PC, download CallerID Superfecta 2.0 from the Superfecta repository. Do not decompress the .tgz archive. Second, open FreePBX with your browser and choose Admin, Module Admin, Upload Module. Browse and select the superfecta-2.x.x.tgz module from your desktop and click the Upload button. When the upload completes, click local module administration. Scroll down and click CID Superfecta. Click the Install or Upgrade radio button depending upon whether you have previously installed the Superfecta FreePBX module. Click Process, Confirm, Return to install the new module. Reload the Asterisk dialplan when prompted.

Configuring CallerID Superfecta 2.0. There really are only two steps to bring CallerID Superfecta on line. First , we’ll configure the lookup sources and search order of the lookups. And then, for each inbound route on your Asterisk system, we’ll tell FreePBX to use CallerID Superfecta as the CallerID lookup source.

To configure CallerID Superfecta, click Admin, Setup, CID Superfecta in FreePBX. If you’re using PBX in a Flash or trixbox, be sure to insert the UserName maint and your FreePBX maint password in the fields provided under General Options. Then choose the Services you’d like to use for queries by clicking on the corresponding Enabled buttons. If you’re unfamiliar with previous versions of the product, we’d recommend you start with Addresses, White Pages, Yellow Pages, Any Who, and Telco Data. If you use the Asterisk Phonebook, AsteriDex, or SugarCRM, enable those options as well. Our rule of thumb in prioritizing the searches is to move your personal directories (Asterisk Phonebook, AsteriDex, and SugarCRM) to the top of the list. For the remaining choices, we recommend you start with the following search order: Addresses, White Pages, Yellow Pages, Any Who, and then Telco Data. Telco Data normally returns only the city and state of the caller, not the caller’s name. Who Called requires registration. Once you get everything squared away, click the Save button. Then key in a few known phone numbers in the Debug section of the form and click the Debug button to make sure everything is working as you expected. Take note of the retrieval times and the results and adjust the search order to meet your needs. Remember, the first match on a name using the search sources from top to bottom wins. The other search sources are never consulted for this number.

For additional configuration options and tips on configuring SugarCRM, see this thread on the PBX in a Flash Forum.

Once you’re satisfied with your lookup sources and the search order, the only remaining step is to designate CID Superfecta as the CallerID lookup source in your inbound routes. For each inbound route on which you want CallerID lookups performed, click Admin, Setup, Inbound Routes and choose the desired route from the column of routes on the right margin. Scroll to the CID Lookup Source section of the form and choose CID Superfecta from the dropdown box. Click Submit, Apply Config Changes, Continue to save your entry. Enjoy!

Good Things Are Coming. Sometimes you can just sense that something really terrific is about to happen with a project that’s been properly nurtured. So it is with PBX in a Flash. Many of us invested countless hours in the Asterisk@Home project, but it just never quite took off in terms of fostering independent development. And that is what open source is all about. When we started the PBX in a Flash project with Tom King and Joe Roper, we wanted something different, a participatory platform that could get folks excited about Internet telephony and open source development. As long time readers of this column know, we’ve pumped lots of applications into PBX in a Flash in hopes of encouraging others to catch the spark. Well, we’ve made it. CallerID Superfecta 2.0 is a perfect example of a creation from a developer who hasn’t previously contributed to any open source project. And there now are many more in the works. So we’re excited for the Asterisk community. Seeing your baby grow up is quite a thrill. We’re quickly building a network of application developers and contributors of many varieties, and it is starting to transform a really good telephony toolbox into a really spectacular application platform. Have a look at this new project to get a glimpse of what lies ahead.

This isn’t a private club. If you’d like to participate in a big or a small way, please visit our new, non-denominational Development Site and kick the tires. The objective is to create applications that can run on any of the FreePBX-based Asterisk distributions. So, while we’re a little biased, you don’t have to be to join in on the fun. Just click the Register link at the top of the form. Welcome!!!

Other Coming Attractions. Well, we got distracted again this week because CallerID Superfecta 2.0 was such as terrific new product. We’ll wrap up the Orgasmatron Installer tutorial in our next column. Stay tuned!

Security Alert. Secunia has published some security vulnerabilities in FreePBX. Upgrade all of your FreePBX modules at your earliest convenience.


Twitter Magic. If you haven’t noticed the right margin of Nerd Vittles lately, we’ve added a new link to our Twitter feed. If you explore a little, you’ll discover that the user interface now brings you instant access to every Twitter feed from the convenience of the Nerd Vittles desktop. Enjoy!


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.
 


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Asterisk 101: Some CallerID Tips & Tricks

If you're relatively new to Internet Telephony and VoIP, then it may come as a bit of a surprise when CallerID for incoming calls shows the phone number for both the name and number of the incoming caller or when names that popped up using your plain old telephone's CallerID service no longer do. The problem is that most telephone providers only deliver a CallerID number when sending calls. Thus it is left to your service provider to look up the incoming number in a directory and supply the matching name. To put it another way, CallerID numbers are pushed to recipients, but CallerID names must be pulled from in-house databases. With Ma Bell and siblings, this was easy because they had all of the records. With some Internet Telephony Hosting Providers, it's a different story. The reverse is also problematic. Even though you may provide a CallerID name and number, most telephone companies throw the supplied CallerID name in the bit bucket and do their own lookups. So... if you're not in their directory, your number or nothing will be supplied instead of your actual name. Just another last vestige of monopoly preservation. With Asterisk®, the simplest solution to this mess is to do your own lookups. And today we have an updated CallerID directory lookup service to assist: the CallerID Superfecta.

NOTE: This article has been superseded. Continue reading the latest article here.

We have a second utility as well. Since moving to PBX in a Flash and Asterisk 1.4 and 1.6, we haven't provided a simple way to block or screen anonymous calls, i.e. those that show up in CallerID as either blank, anonymous, unknown, private, restricted, or toll free number. As they say, those are the usual suspects when it comes to weeding out unwanted callers. And today we'll provide several solutions from which you can choose. Our personal preference is to never answer these calls and route them straight to voicemail. You may be more curious than we are so we'll show you an option to screen calls using the Asterisk Parking Lot feature. Still others may hate these callers so much that you send them into IVR hell for hours at a time. And we've got some suggestions on that one, too.

Introducing CallerID Superfecta. We've dusted off an oldie but goodie today and reworked it a bit for newer versions of PHP. We also want to thank taiter and M Joyner for their whitepages.ca contribution to what used to be our CallerID Trifecta. The CallerID Superfecta now lets you choose up to four CallerID lookup sources for your incoming calls. The sources include the Google Phonebook, AnyWho, WhitePages, and our very own AsteriDex address book and robodialer. Complete installation instructions are available from our Best of Nerd Vittles site.

Installation and setup is a snap on all of the FreePBX-based aggregations including PBX in a Flash, Elastix, and trixbox. First, download and unzip the callerid.zip file into the root directory of the web server on your Asterisk system. Next, configure the sources you wish to use in callerid.php by setting the desired sources to 1 instead of 0 on the second page of the file. Then define the new CallerID Lookup Source in FreePBX. And finally, select the CallerID Superfecta as the lookup source for each of your Inbound Routes. The whole setup should take you less than two minutes. Now sit back and enjoy a much enhanced CallerID experience when incoming calls arrive on your Asterisk server.

Introducing the Creep Detector. Well, not so fast. The CallerID Superfecta doesn't get rid of the creeps that call wanting to sell you something or urging you to vote for your favorite Coroner. For that, you'll need a couple of tools. FreePBX includes an excellent web-based implementation of the Asterisk Blacklist. It allows you to specify the phone numbers of calls that should be blocked. You also can do this with a phone on your system by dialing *32 to blacklist the last caller or *30 to blacklist a specific phone number.

But, what about blacklisting all of those anonymous callers. Well, there's not an existing function in FreePBX to do it. Our preferred method goes like this. When an incoming call arrives, a message plays saying "Thanks for calling the Mundy's. Please hold a moment while I connect your call." During this message, a Stealth AutoAttendant will allow family members to press various buttons to be connected to various extensions. See the previous article for details. Once the IVR times out (in about 5 seconds), the call is passed to a Privacy Checker which screens the calls for creeps. If the call isn't identified as such, it is sent to a ring group. If a creep is detected, the system first plays a message that says: "Press 8 to be connected." If no key is pressed, we hang up. If 8 is pressed, the call goes to voicemail 704. If 4 is pressed, the call is passed to the ring group. This lets friends calling from phones with CallerID blocked still get through the maze.

So here's how to get it installed and working. Log into your server as root and add the following code snippet to the bottom of /etc/asterisk/extensions_custom.conf:

[custom-privacy-check]
exten => s,1,SetMusicOnHold(default)
exten => s,2,GotoIf($["${CALLERID(num)}" = ""]?s,16)
exten => s,3,GotoIf($["foo${CALLERID(num)}" = "foo"]?s,16)
exten => s,4,GotoIf($["${CALLERID(name):1:8}" = "nonymous"]?s,16)
exten => s,5,GotoIf($["${CALLERID(name):1:6}" = "nknown"]?s,16)
exten => s,6,GotoIf($["${CALLERID(num):1:6}" = "rivate"]?s,16)
exten => s,7,GotoIf($["${CALLERID(name):1:6}" = "rivate"]?s,16)
exten => s,8,GotoIf($["${CALLERID(num):1:9}" = "estricted"]?s,16)
exten => s,9,GotoIf($["${CALLERID(num):0:4}" = "PSTN"]?s,16)
exten => s,10,GotoIf($["${CALLERID(num):1:3}" = "oll"]?s,16)
exten => s,11,GotoIf($["${CALLERID(name):1:2}" = "--"]?s,16)
exten => s,12,GotoIf($["${CALLERID(name):0:1}" = ","]?s,16)
exten => s,13,GotoIf($["${CALLERID(name):1:3}" = "oll"]?s,16)
exten => s,14,GotoIf($["${CALLERID(num):0:3}" = "000"]?s,16)
exten => s,15,Dial(Local/777@from-internal)
exten => s,16,Playback(custom/nv-press8)
exten => s,17,Set(TIMEOUT(digit)=10)
exten => s,18,WaitExten(10)
exten => s,19,Hangup
exten => 4,1,Dial(Local/777@from-internal)
exten => 4,2,Hangup
exten => 8,1,VoiceMail(704@default)
exten => 8,2,Hangup

You'll need to make a couple of changes in the code above before using it. In lines s,14 and 4,1, modify extension 777 to reflect an extension or ring group on your phone system that you want to call after incoming calls are screened for creeps. In line 8,1, modify 704 to reflect a voicemail box that is active on your system and that should be used for recording messages from unwanted callers.

The next step is to add the "Press 8 to be connected" message to your system. While still logged in as root, issue the following commands:

cd /var/lib/asterisk/sounds/custom
wget http://bestof.nerdvittles.com/applications/callerid/nv-press8.wav
chown asterisk:asterisk nv-press8.wav
chmod +x nv-press8.wav

Now we need to configure your FreePBX setup to use the code above. The easiest way is to modify your Stealth AutoAttendant IVR and simply change the timeout destination (t) to a Custom App: custom-privacy-check,s,1. Save your changes and reload your dialplan, and you're all set.

Some additional ideas have also been floated on the PBX in a Flash Forum for handling anonymous callers. If you'd prefer to park these calls and announce them, see this thread. And here's an embellished version that gives you options to accept the call, send it to voicemail, or banish the caller. Enjoy!


Vitelity Special: Time Is Running Out. Remember, you only have one more week until July 15 to get your half-price DIDs 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 before the end of June, and you can purchase a Tier A DID with unlimited incoming calls for just $3.79 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.


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