[thelist] Computerized Automatic Phone Answering

Jon Molesa rjmolesa at consoltec.net
Sun Jun 14 23:03:55 CDT 2009

*On Sun, Jun 14, 2009 at 08:54:38PM +0300 Fred Jones <fredthejonester at gmail.com> wrote:

> Date: Sun, 14 Jun 2009 20:54:38 +0300
> From: Fred Jones <fredthejonester at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [thelist] Computerized Automatic Phone Answering
> To: "thelist at lists.evolt.org" <thelist at lists.evolt.org>
> > Asterisk can most certainly do this.  If the number that people will
> > dial is a POT then you'll need an analog-to-digital interface.  Some of
> > the old Digium cards can be had for cheap on Ebay these days.
> Yes, it's either POT or a POT-type of line provided by the switchboard
> company--I called the switchboard provider and he said all he can
> provide me with is a regular old phone line. :)
> > OTOH, if the statuses are a small set then you can have a lovely sounded
> > lady record them.  AGI scripts are what you'd use to retrieve the
> > information from MySQL and play the status audio file to the user.
> Yes, we would for sure record our responses--they are multi lingual as well. :)
> AGI, right. I got the docs now:
> http://astbook.asteriskdocs.org/en/2nd_Edition/asterisk-book-html/asterisk-book.html#asterisk-CHP-9
That's the right place to start.

> > Just be careful though - expectations for what can be done through a
> > phone UI are *incredibly* high, and many people are very, very unhappy
> > about using 1st generation touch tone interaction (which ain't IVR
> > btw). Yes, it's all possible, but doing it *well* isn't cheap, either
> > in software, or in tuning, which is what can make the difference
> > between a sweet, natural phone system and a very clunky one, even with
> > the same SW.
> >
> > Also, I would imagine that the client may doing this as a cost takeout
> > exercise; customers don't like that kind of thing, especially if
> > they're forced that way (rather than it being an extra service).
> The client in question is a digital photo developer. The firm I work
> for has developed for him web software as well as POS software which
> powers his stores. Part of his success is development speed--simple
> prints are generally ready within a matter of minutes. Sublimation of
> course takes more time. So all he wants is a dedicated phone number
> that clients can call, probably from their cell phone, to see if their
> order is finished, while they continue to shop in the mall. I think
> it's a nice idea. I don't have any data, but I don't think people
> would be unhappy to call the number and then type in their order
> number in order to receive their status.
> So the plan I am presenting to the boss is:
> 1. Purchase hardware--the PC can be a simple one--any modern machine
> will do. The card issue I must clarify still. It seems I either need
> "real" card which can be had for no less than $500 (new):
> http://store.digium.com/productview.php?product_code=1TDM411EF or if
That's the newer version of the TDM400 which can be had much cheaper on
EBAY.  There is also a company called OpenVox that manufactures
compatible yet less expensive cards

Both typically offer 4 module ports that allow you to connect up to 4 of
any combination FXO/FXS modules. IIRC FXO is what you need to connect to
the phone company and FXS if you're connecting to analog phones.

> this simple card for $50 will work:
> http://store.digium.com/productview.php?product_code=1X100MF I will

This is one such module.  And exactly what you'd need.

> discuss this with Digium I guess.
> 2. Install Linux and Asterisk on the machine
> 3. Develop a small PHP script to receive the information from the
> caller and return to him the correct sound file, using AGI, as noted
> above.
> Overall this seems fairly straightforward. I presume that for a
> complete beginner to Asterisk, however, it could easily take 4 hours
> to setup the machine. :)
It is fairly straight forward.  But for a beginner I'd allow for a full
day.  If you get done sooner then all the better.

> Thanks,
> Fred
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Jon Molesa
rjmolesa at consoltec.net
if you're bored or curious

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