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The Dawn of Unified Messaging: Introducing FONmail for Asterisk

First, there were telegraphs and telephones for delivering messages. Then came answering machines, and voicemail, and email. And today Nerd Vittles takes the plunge into Unified Messaging by introducing FONmail for Asterisk®. Just pick up a phone, dictate a message, enter either a phone number or the first three letters of any contact in your AsteriDex database, and poof. Your FONmail is delivered in your own voice to the email account of your recipient. No special software is needed at the receiving end to play the incoming message. It’s a standard WAV file. And all you need at your end is AsteriDex and today’s FONmail application. Both are open source and are available at no cost. Is this the ultimate Unified Messaging solution for Asterisk? Well, no. But it sure is convenient when you’re driving down the highway and can’t type. One of the real problems with Unified Messaging is that it requires software or software compatibility at both ends, and that’s a tough nut to crack outside of the corporate walls. So, at least for now, FONmail for Asterisk provides another option in your messaging bag of tricks. It’s especially well-suited for Road Warriors. And you can’t beat the price!

Prerequisites. As with many of our applications, FONmail for Asterisk is a text-to-speech (TTS) application. So, in addition to a LAMP-based Asterisk installation (such as PBX in a Flash), you’ll also need either Flite or Cepstral to handle the TTS chores. All current versions of PBX in a Flash now include Flite, but you’ll have to purchase Cepstral if you want to listen to Allison. A link to our Cepstral tutorial is in the list at the end of this article. Today’s dialplan code is the first to automatically select Cepstral as the TTS engine if it is installed on your system. Special thanks to Thomas Bullinger of B-LUC Consulting for the TTS integration suggestion and some tips.

Before proceeding with today’s install, you’ll also need to first set up AsteriDex 4 if it isn’t already installed on your existing system. Finally, you need to have outbound email (aka SendMail) working reliably on your Asterisk server. For tips and tricks, see the Activating Email Delivery of Voicemail Messages section of our PBX in a Flash tutorial. FONmail for Asterisk works with almost all of the LAMP-based Asterisk products. If you prefer PostFix, that’s fine, too.

Installation. Once you have AsteriDex and outbound email working reliably on your server, you’re ready to install FONmail for Asterisk. Here’s a link to the complete installation instructions. The entire setup process takes less than a minute or two. Enjoy!

VPN in a Flash Update! We’ve had over 100 reservations for our new VPN in a Flash system. We’re very close to having a manufacturer in place so hopefully we’ll have more good news in a week or two. We have begun the documentation for the new product, and we encourage you to take a look and offer any questions or comments you may have on our forums. The documentation is in the new Google Knol format and can be reviewed here. It’s not too late to get in the queue and place a reservation for a system. Just send us a note, and we’ll keep you posted as the release date approaches. It’ll hold your place in line with absolutely no obligation to purchase.

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Special Thanks to Vitelity. Vitelity is now Voyant Communications and has halted new registrations for the time being. Our special thanks to Vitelity for their unwavering financial support over many years and to the many Nerd Vittles readers who continue to enjoy the benefits of their service offerings. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.

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  1. Great new app for PiaF! I have it working OK, but have a couple of questions. The email subject line I am getting is "FONmail Message from yourname@yourdomain". I assume the app is intended to grab an email variable from somewhere for this? Maybe I just don’t have the variable set correctly somehow? Also, the email message being sent is "Attached is an important message from PBX in a Flash." Should this substitute the sender or sender’s email address if everything is working as it should?

    [WM: Set the email address at the top of /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin/nv-mailit.php]

  2. Hi, my AstriDex phone numbers are in the UK 11 digit format. I can get FONmail working by truncating these numbers in AstriDex and then getting FONmail to prefix with 01. This prevents me calling mobiles (e.g. 07xxxxxxxxx) and stops me using AstriDex to initiate a call. Is there a better work around you can suggest. Thanks in advance.

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