Home » Technology » Introducing The Idolizer II for American Idol Fans with Asterisk

The Most Versatile VoIP Provider: FREE PORTING

Introducing The Idolizer II for American Idol Fans with Asterisk

Last year's demise of Kelly Pickler prompted us to put on our programming hat to conquer FOX TV® network's American Idol® and this year they've destroyed the singing career of poor Sanjaya Malakar. You'll have to agree that there's nothing quite as mind numbing as an hour of American Idol and 50 of your favorite commercials. As if that weren't enough, they expect you to sit by your telephone for TWO FOUR HOURS voting for your hero after the commercials end.

Since our original release of The Idolizer, much has changed. Not only are there new contestants, but now there's freePBX and TrixBox. Enter, The Idolizer II. So today's Asterisk® project is for those that have better things to do than dialing a tollfree number for two hours every Tuesday evening now that we're getting down to the wire on American Idol. And, no, the show's producers don't like autodialers. We don't like commercials (especially ten at a time), but they're still showing those. So here's the deal. Cut out the commercials, and we'll turn off our autodialer. And we'd bet DialIdol.com will, too. And, no, we're not affiliated with the Fair and Balanced® network nor the American Idol® show. We just don't want to waste two hours dialing the same phone number over and over ... when we could be doing our Honey-Do's to make the Little Mrs. happy.

Prerequisites. To use The Idolizer II autodialer with Asterisk, you'll need a free TrixBox PBX or at least a copy of the VMware version of TrixBox 1.2.3 for Windows or a Mac. Both run in a window on your desktop machine of choice. This works on any version of TrixBox or a plain Asterisk system running a current version of freePBX. Our tutorial will get you up and running in under an hour. Then you'll need an account with a hosting provider that gives you free calls to toll-free numbers or unlimited outbound calling in the U.S.

Installation. Using a web browser, open the TrixBox Control Panel and choose System Administration->Config Edit->extensions_trixbox.conf and add the following custom context to the bottom of the file:

exten => s,1,SetGlobalVar(COUNTER=1)
exten => s,2,Answer
exten => s,3,Wait(2)
exten => s,4,Dial(sip/8664365701@telasip-gw|18|L(10000:2000:5000)) ; 18 for TelaSIP, 22 for FWD
;exten => s,4,Dial(iax2/*18664365701@fwd|22|L(10000:2000:5000)) ; 18 for TelaSIP, 22 for FWD
exten => s,5,Goto(h,1)
exten => s,105,NoOp(BUSY)
exten => s,106,Goto(h,1)
exten => h,1,SetGlobalVar(COUNTER=$[${COUNTER} + 1])
exten => h,2,NoOp(Counter: ${COUNTER})
exten => h,3,Wait(6)
exten => h,4,GotoIf($["${COUNTER}" < "999"]?s,2) exten => h,5,Hangup

Once you know the phone number of the contestant you wish to vote for, make the following adjustments to the code above:

  • Provider ... Replace telasip-gw with the trunk name of your VoIP provider in line s,4 (see samples)
  • Protocol ... Be sure you specify the correct protocol for your provider: sip or iax2 (see samples)
  • Dialing Prefix ... The dialing prefix must be added to match what your provider expects to receive before the 10-digit, toll-free number (see samples)
  • Toll-Free Number ... Enter the 10-digit number (default: 8664365701) of your favorite contestant in line s,4 (see samples)
  • AutoDial Counter ... Set the maximum number of times you want the call placed in line h,4 (999 is default)
  • Now move to the top of the file and insert the following code in the [from-internal-trixbox] context using an available extension number on your system (default=4365 which spells I-D-O-L on your trusty Asterisk telephone):

    exten => 4365,1,Goto(custom-idolizer,s,1)

    Click the Update button to save your changes. Now open freePBX and choose Setup->Misc Destinations. For the Description, enter Idolizer II. For the Dial entry, type 4365. Click Submit Changes and then the Red Bar to reload your Asterisk settings.

    Tweaking the Settings. If you find that your calls aren't being completed or that your votes aren't being registered (i.e. the call disconnects before you are thanked for voting), it's easy to fine tune the script. The number 18 in s,4 tells the dialer how many seconds to wait for an answer when placing calls. The number 10000 in s,4 (in thousandths of a second) tells Asterisk how long to stay connected once a call is answered. And the number 6 in h,3 tells Asterisk how many seconds to wait between placing calls. After making changes, log into your server as root and type: amportal restart.

    Using the AutoDialer. When you're ready to begin your dialing spree, pick up an extension on your system and dial the extension number you assigned to The Idolizer II. Remember, the default number is 4365. Put the receiver down (don't hang up!) and enjoy the rest of your evening while The Idolizer II does the dialing for you. When you're ready to stop voting, hang up the phone. If you'd like to follow the progress of your calls, fire up the Command Line Interface (CLI) on your Asterisk system (asterisk -rvvvvv) after logging in as root. Enjoy the show!

    The Year of Flash. If you're a slow learner like us, be glad you waited until now to tackle Adobe's Flash technology. The unbelievably simple tools that are now available to build Flash applications are nothing short of mind-boggling. We've been prototyping some of this technology for a new neighborhood web site. Have a look at this link, and click around the various Flash applets. We built it all from nothing in UNDER 3 HOURS! They look almost as good as Apple's Dashboard Widgets except they'll run on any platform: Windows, Mac, or Linux. All you need is a current web browser with a Flash Player to run these babies. Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari all work just fine. If you want to do a little experimenting, here's the deal of the year. The best flash tools on the planet are made by CoffeeCup Software. A close runner-up is Amara Software. You can visit their sites and get free demos to try out. Then you can buy all the tools from CoffeeCup for about $700 or from Amara for $129... or you can sign up for a year of hosting with Lunarpages and get every single CoffeeCup application for free. And, just so you don't feel totally ripped off by the one-year web hosting fee of $84, Lunarpages throws in support for 10 domains, 250 gigs of storage space, 2.5 terabytes of monthly bandwidth, and a free domain registration for as long as you host with them. Use the coupon code blog25 when you sign up to save an additional $25. That makes the total cost $59 for all you math wizards. Our site link to the Flash Widgets is actually hosted at Lunarpages so you can judge the performance for yourself. If you want them to back up your data every night and restore any or all files from a backup at any time, add another whopping $1.50 a month. Yes, we get a spiff if you sign up using our link. Sure beats clicking on the Donate button, doesn't it? And, if you happen to work in a K/12 school, the deal is even sweeter: the web hosting is free and so are five of the very best CoffeeCup Software applications. Now go learn something new or, better yet, teach it to a kid!

    Nerd Vittles Demo Hot Line (courtesy of les.net). You now can take a number of Nerd Vittles projects for a test drive... by phone! The current demos include (1) MailCall for Asterisk with password 1111 (retrieve your email by phone), (2) NewsClips for Asterisk (latest news headlines in dozens of categories), (3) Weather Forecasts by U.S. Airport Code, and (4) Weather Forecasts by U.S. ZIP Code. You're not prompted for #4 yet, but it does work! Just call our number (shown in the left margin) and take any or all of them for a spin. The sound quality may not be perfect due to performance limitations of our ancient Intel 386 demo machine. But the price is right.

    Nerd Vittles User Map. Thanks for visiting! We hope you'll take a second and add yourself to our Frappr World Map. In making your entry, you can choose an icon: guy, gal, nerd, or geek. For those that don't know the difference in the last two, here's the best definition we've found: "a nerd is very similar to a geek, but with more RAM and a faster modem." The map still isn't quite representative of where all of our visitors are coming from, but we're getting there. We're always looking for the best BBQ joints on the planet. So, if you know of one, add it to the map while you're visiting as well. We'll check it out one of these days.

    Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest...

    1 Comment

    Comments are closed.