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Why Asterisk Has Merit In The Home

This is arising from the VOIP Users Conference call of Nov 9 where someone commented to the effect that “Asterisk may not have much use in a typical home environment.”

I can’t completely agree or disagree. It’s not that simple. There are atypical people who will always undertake cutting edge things. They are few. But the uptake of Asterisk in general points to a broader group of people who are willing & able to do, or have done, interesting technological things in their home.

I’m not saying that I’ve done all these things. They are things I’ve read about, done or considered implementing around le maison du Graves.

  • Separate, private VM for each of the kids*
  • After hours filtering of calls from “friends” with known sleep disorders**
  • IVR based home automation
  • CRM-like caller-id pop-up on TV screen when the phone rings (a Tivo plugin)
  • Automatically duck the stereo volume when the phone rings (a Squeezebox plug-in)
  • Track your kids calling patterns through CDRs
  • Block calls to certain numbers
  • Provide for multiple simultaneous calls, without resorting to multiple analog lines
  • Conferencing beyond the three way calls found on most small two or four line phones (ala Panasonic KX-TG 4500)
  • Call recording
  • Hold & music on hold, using music from your private stash (presuming your have the rights)
  • Video phone, I’ve wanted to try this ever since we bought a new HD LCD TV last year

This is by no means a comprehensive list. But if that’s what I can recall of the top of my head then you know there are some really great ideas out there. We just have to sit and brainstorm a while.

Why expose your home network to another possible attack vector when you can access your home automation via IVR & DTMF? If you still use a land line (I don’t) you could keep it completely off network if you wanted. Not everything needs to be web-based.

*I once joked to my wife that, not having children, we should setup extensions and voice mail for each of our cats (2) & dogs (2).

**I once had a customer who fought with insomnia constantly. Each day I’d get to my desk and find a dozen emails from him overnight. It was impossible to keep up with his productivity. At least I was able to send his overnight calls to a custom voice message box with greeting that eased his frustration about not actually reaching me after 11pm.

And none of the above gives any consideration to the needs presented by my home office, which is why I switched to voip/Asterisk in the first place.


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