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Polycom’s VVX-500 Finds A Home On My Desk

polycom-vvx500-300px At long last I’ve purchased a Polycom VVX-500 for my desk. A year ago I participated in the beta program for this outstanding desk phone. A such I’ve had one to use well before they launched in October 2011.

However, Polycom devices involved in a beta program ship with a boot loader that will only load beta firmware. Once the device was officially shipping and release firmware available I could not longer update the VVX in my possession. This wasn’t initially an issue, but when OnSIP started to support Polycom UC v4.0+ firmware with their provisioning server I thought it would be good to more completely integrate my desk phone with our OnSIP account.

I might like to review the VVX-500, but that seems a little weird. As I was involved in the beta program I was bound by the companies standard non-disclosure agreement during the period of the beta. Once the device launched various other people reviewed it. I’m not sure that it’s worth my time to commit to a full length review, but there are some items worth noting about the VVX-500. I can certainly point these out from time to time.

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Solving A Cellular Signal Problem

Wilson Electronics zBoostMy wife’s family is from Thorndale, TX. Bert, her oldest brother, lives at the family’s homestead. In his late 60’s Bert recently got his first cell phone. It’s as pretty basic flip-phone. It’s exactly what he needs. However, he’s having trouble receiving calls when he’s in the house.

The rear portion of the old house has a steel roof. That’s also where Bert’s bedroom is located. As far as I know the cellular signal is ok in the yard, and even in the front portion of the house. But if Bert is in the rear of the house his cell phone loses it’s connection to the nearest tower.

Bert’s cell service is a prepaid account. I don’t know what company provides the service, but Googling for the phone number I see it belongs to Cingular. That suggests that the service provider is using AT&T’s network. This tells us what kind of network it uses (GSM) and the frequencies involved.

A week ago I tweeted an inquiry about cellular signal boosters. Rakesh Agrawal replied, telling of a good experience with Wilson Electronics Wi-Ex signal boosters. Apparently Rakesh’s company, Snapstream, had cellular connectivity issues in their former location. He described that building as a metal box.

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Working From Home vs A Home Office

A few weeks back Mashable ran a post entitled “Can Employees Be Trusted to Work From Home.” The post was really just a wrapper around an infographic created by OnlineDegrees.com. I must say that some of what they present I find at least mildly offensive. Perhaps “offensive” isn’t quite the right term. Let’s just say that it doesn’t apply in my case, and probably doesn’t in yours either.

They report as follows:

“One recent study found that more than 40% of employees who work from home pull double-duty watching TV or a movie. More than a quarter nap or cook dinner while on the clock, and 20% play video games on the company dime…”

Wow. This certainly doesn’t describe my working life. But then again, over many years I have constantly been reminded that I’m not normal.

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The Questionable Economics Of EHS Cables & Lifters

If you spend a lot of time on the phone then I believe that you need a proper headset. Many headsets require some form of interface hardware to connect to a desk phone. Many IP phones, like my Polycom Soundpoint IP series, require the use of an “Electronic Hook-Switch” (aka EHS) cable or a mechanical lifter.

A mechanical lifter is a Flintstone-like approach to hook switch control by purely mechanical means. It literally lifts the handset to take the phone off-hook, replacing it down again to hang up the call. To me this is essentially a kind of telephony steam punk.

Moving to 21st century methods, an EHS cable allows some aspect of the headset to control the hook state of the phone electrically. That is, it allows you to answer or hang up a call using switching that’s built into the headset. This may be true with both wired and wireless headsets.

To be blunt, lifters and EHS cables just aren’t cheap. The few times that I’ve had to buy an EHS cable it cost in the $50 – $80 range. That’s a considerable price when compared to the cost of the headset or the desk phone itself.

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Tip For Adding An Expansion Handset To A Gigaset C610A IP SIP/DECT System

In recent weeks there has been a long running thread over at the DSL Reports VoIP forum. It revolves around differences in the menus on the handsets the ship as part of a Gigaset C610A IP SIP/DECT phone system vs C610H expansion handset.

The menus on the handset show or hide certain options depending upon how the handset was intended to be delivered. It might deliver as part of a C610A IP system, in which case the menu option to “Select Services” is shown. The handset may be configured to deliver as part of a Gigaset C610A-L410 combination. Since that system is not IP-capable the “Select Services” menu is not shown on the handset.

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