There is never a day that goes by that I don’t hear, “You’re a geek!”, and most of the time it’s from my very own girlfriend… Hi Jess! Over the Holiday weekend, I heard it yet again because I installed a Panasonic Advanced Hybrid Telephone System in my house. To be exact, I installed a KX-TA624-5, which has all the features found on business phone systems. I’m really using it for its intercom capabilites, but it also ties in nicely with my home automation system I’ve put together. I know VoIP is the newest trend, and you’re probably wondering why I’m not taking advantage of it… well, I will… just not yet. When I do, I will just add a Vonage bridge and plug my phone system into that, no biggy. For now, the good ol’ phone company is getting my $35.
The phones I’m using are the KX-T7735B (pictured to the left). They feature a 3-line LCD display with enough buttons to make any true geek happy… plus, it has Back-Lit Keypad… what’s more sexier than that?
Here is where things get good… I didn’t want to buy Pansonic’s voicemail processing system and fax detection card, mostly because of price and limitation, so I had to figure out another way to get all the features I wanted in a tightly intergrated system. I looked around in the Mavromatic labs and found an old server laying around with a voice modem in it and recommissioned its duties to act as my voicemail processing and fax server. I installed trial versions of all the voicemail and fax management programs I could find and ended up finding one that looked good (UI), was easy to use and had all the features I wanted.
Sidenote: what’s up with software makers? Just because Apple brought metal inside a computer (IMHO, very stupid idea) doesn’t mean you need to follow this terrible UI trend. Having a graphical telephone console UI is not easy to use and is plain clunky and stupid. Sorry… I had to mention this… it’s really a pet peeve of mine.
This is why I highly recommend FaxTalk Messenger Pro 7.0. The no-frills or gimmicks UI, it looks and feels just like Outlook and is very easy to use. Solid!
Once I found the winner, I bought a full version ($90) and installed it on my server… it only took me about 5 minutes to set everything up. Here is where it gets good… this software package can email your voicemails in WAV format and faxes in PDF. Technically, I never need to check my voicemails over the phone, but, like many households, I do need to make it family friendly (a.k.a. non-geek friendly)… so having the ability to check messages or transfer a fax or person to voicemail from any extension was needed. I pulled out the 1000+ page Panasonic Installation/User manual and found that I can turn on the Message Waiting lamp on the phone from any extension. Bam! So this is how I ended up setting my system up:
– FaxTalk Server is on Port #22 of the Panasonic system and mapped to Ext. 113 (I also have an 8-port expansion card for a total of 16 extension)
– I set the ring delay on Port #22 to 15 seconds… which equals about 4 rings.
– If a user calls after 4 rings, it goes into voicemail (or detects if fax). I also have my door phone hooked up… so if I’m not home, it prompts the visitor to leave a message.
– Set FaxTalk to pick up after 1 ring (so I can instantly transfer a fax or person to voicemail)
– After a user leaves a message or a fax, it runs thru a few notification filters. The first was is if a user leaves a message, I have the file emailed. The second is if the user leaves a fax, I have the PDF emailed as well. You can combine both of those, but I wanted two different subjects, so I separated them. The last notification is the message indicator lamp. After a person leaves a voicemail… longer than 3 seconds (or any user defined amount of time), it picks up the extension and dials: ,701101#. Which turns on the Message Indicator lamp on Ext. 101 (the phone in my home office). Perfect for a non-technical person to check if any messages were left. When you press the Message button, it rings the extension that turned on the message lamp… in this case, Ext. 113 – Voicemail, and the FaxTalk server picks up. Then you press # and follow the voice prompts.
For those of you that podcast… you could use Faxtalk, setup a voice mailbox with an id of, lets say 5, and then when you call your house, you press 5, wait for your greeting, then record your podcast… after you hang up, the system will email the audio file to an email account. The next part will require some custom software (or maybe there’s one out there) that will check that email account, convert the WAV file to MP3 and upload to your Blog. At most a 1-3 day software job. If anyone is interested in a program like that, I can write one, when I find some extra time (or enough requests)