A Reader Question About A Grandstream BT-200

Grandstream-BT-200Last week I received a question via email from reader Marshall Wilgard. It seems that he is having trouble with a Grandstream BT-200 desk phone.

For five years, I used a Grandstream BT-200 IP phone without any problems.  Six weeks ago, a loud hum appeared on the phone as soon as I picked up the handset.  About 10 days later, the hum vanished, for no apparent reason.  However, about 10 days after that, the hum came back, for no apparent reason.  Despite my rebooting the phone three times, the hum remained.  Then approximately 10 days after the hum returned, it vanished again, for no apparent reason.  My phone has had the latest firmware for more than a year, and my VoIP provider says the problem is not with it.

Hum like Marshal describes is usually an analog phenomenon, not something that I’d associate with firmware. It sounds to me like a problem with the hardware. Issues of hum tend to revolve around a problem with the power supply. Given the age of this phone I’d guess that most likely some kind of capacitor is failing.

Continue reading “A Reader Question About A Grandstream BT-200”

Ekiga v4.0 Released

Ekiga-LogoThis week saw an announcement about the release of Ekiga v4.0. This is the most significant release of the venerable open source soft phone in some time. It brings with it many improvements.

I’m especially interested in the following new capabilities:

  • New audio codecs: SILK (used by skype), G.722.1 (aka Siren 7), G.722.2 (aka GSM-AMR Wide band)
  • Video codecs changes: H.264 optimizations
  • Added RTP TOS support
  • Support for DNS SRV caching

While developed primarily on Linux Ekiga has long supported multiple platforms. I took a short while today to try the new release on an older Windows XP laptop. The Windows installer also installed the GTK libraries necessary to support the application. Installation was quick and painless.

Continue reading “Ekiga v4.0 Released”

Holiday Gift Idea III: The Nest Thermostat

nest-thermostat-300Some months ago I was doing some work around the house at the request of my wife. I can’t remember what exactly, but it involved some woodworking. The process was not going as well as I might have hoped and I was getting tired.

Somehow I managed to mash my hand, which aside from being painful brought the effort to a premature end for the day. My wife decided that we need to make a trip to our local Lowe’s anyway, and that I should take a break come along for the ride.

While at the store we stumbled upon a display for the Nest Learning Thermostat. A few days before I had mentioned to Stella that it was being rolled out nationally. I also told her a bit of the story about the company, its founder and their legal entanglement with Honeywell.

Upon seeing the device offered in the store, and with feelings of guilt stemming from my damaged digits, she bought the Nest as a thank you for undertaking her honey-do list.

The story of Nest is very appealing to her sensibilities. A small start-up shaking up a stodgy business, complete David v Goliath legal cases. Who isn’t drawn to an underdog? Especially when the product bears all the hallmarks of design by Apple .

Continue reading “Holiday Gift Idea III: The Nest Thermostat”

Holiday Gift Idea II: Power To Your People!

Hey, here’s a semi-geeky gift that they’re sure to get a charge out of…a high-current  USB charger built into a common household receptacle. You may recall that I installed a couple of the FastMac USockets some time ago. There’s one at each of our night-stands, conveniently providing power to charge phones and tablets as we sleep.

At the time these things were comparatively rare so I ordered them directly from FastMac. Given my past history in construction and renovation I was able to install these myself. However, the fitting the USocket into the outlet box wasn’t the easiest thing to do. The USockets depth made it difficult to fit the wiring back into the box. I ended up replacing the box with a deeper one in the end.

While on a visit to our local Lowe’s I recently found that they have a similar product made by Cooper. These sell for around $20 and may be more conveniently available to you.

Like the USockets, they replace the existing outlet so you’re going to need to have some facility with tools in order to get them installed. They come in the Decora style so you may need a new cover plate. I see that Amazon has them In several colors, too.

If you’re not so handy with tools around electricity you might consider this alternative from RCA , also found at Lowe’s. For only $15 this one features quick, tool-less installation. It’s designed to plug directly into the existing outlet. Once installed the device sticks out about 1/2” from the wall.

Unlike older USB chargers, all three of these devices provide enough current to satisfy a tablet or high-end smart phone.

I like the fact that these device can’t go missing simply because someone needs to charge something else at the other end of the house. I especially like the fact that I no longer need outlet strips everywhere to accommodate all the chargers.

Holiday Gift Idea: Jabra SPEAK 410 USB Speakerphone

Jabra SPEAK 410 USB SpeakerphoneOk, you’re here, so that makes you something of a geek. Perhaps you have another telephony geek in your life, or your family are asking for a Christmas list. Whatever the case, a good USB speakerphone is really handy and makes nice present.

I’ve used a number of these things over the years. For the past few months I’ve had a Jabra SPEAK 410 on the corner of my desk.

Little round-and-loud has proven to be a solid performer. I’ve used it to participate in Google Hangouts, with Skype and GotoMeeting as well as various SIP soft phones. You might have seen me show it in a recent VUC call with Logitech. Whatever the client software, in every case it worked well. It sounds great to my ear and conveys my voice clearly to the far end.

The microphone is omni-directional, effective to about one yard. That makes the SPEAK 410 ideal for desk use, even if you have a person on either side of the desk.

Continue reading “Holiday Gift Idea: Jabra SPEAK 410 USB Speakerphone”

My First Tweet-Up & The Plantronics Voyager Legend

Twitter-Bird-Voyager-LegendThis past week I’ve been travelling with a new Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth headset. This is the fourth headset in the Voyager range that I’ve used. You may recall that not so long ago I bought a Voyager Pro HD. That headset has been completely satisfactory. I was not intending to purchase a replacement. So it is that I’ll start by describing how I came to have this little beasty, which is a bit of a curious story and the tale of my first Tweet-Up, aka Twitter Party.

Back in October my wife took a business trip to Anaheim CA for a few days. This was something of a turning of the tables for I am the frequent business traveller in the family. She rarely travels on business.

It was decided (i.e. I was told) that since she had to be away I would need to be taking care of things at home that week. I found myself tending the homestead without some of the normal distractions of our daily life. I had some extra time to tinker for a few evenings.

Continue reading “My First Tweet-Up & The Plantronics Voyager Legend”