[thelist] Computerized Automatic Phone Answering

Jon Molesa rjmolesa at consoltec.net
Mon Jun 15 07:55:44 CDT 2009

*On Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 11:01:54AM +0300 Fred Jones <fredthejonester at gmail.com> wrote:

> Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2009 11:01:54 +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>
> > I think your second thought is a strong one, regardless of the base OS
> > - it also gives you a pretty strong roll-back strategy for when
> > upgrades don't work as they should.
> >
> > However, unless you really rate their ability to safely and
> > effectively sysadmin the box, I'd strongly caution against encouraging
> > them to do so. Better perhaps to have them view it as a black box CTI
> > appliance.
> Definitely--if I go with a virtual machine I will discourage him from
> playing with it. Perhaps I will give him a spare to play with because
> I know he will find it hard to resist. I know this guy now. :)
> > This is one such module.  And exactly what you'd need.
> Great. Thanks.
> >> 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.
> OK, 1 full day. I posted my ideas on the Asterisk Forums and the
> responses were, well, a bit odd. One guy said it will take a week and
> the other guy thought I was posting a joke:
> http://forums.digium.com/viewtopic.php?p=131654#131654
> The two of you (Martin and Jon) clearly appear to have professional
> experience with this and seem to feel that my plan is entirely
> reasonable. 8 vs 4 hours to setup is not a problem, but a week or a
> joke is a different matter.
> If you (anyone that is) could please clarify just once more than I am
> being entirely reasonable I would appreciate it. I don't actually see
> any reason to suggest that I am not, but there is of course a small
> chance that these Asterisk forum turkeys have a point.

I think it's a reasonable amount of time if:
1) It's all that you're working on during that time.
2) You've pre-read the necessary documents and have a plan or list of

AGI can be tricky, so expect to spend some time getting that to work the
way you'd like.  Recording the audio files isn't difficult but can be
time consuming if you're particular about the outcome.  Depending on
which version of Asterisk you install, Asterisk prefers the audio to be
in either .wav or .gsm.  Newer versions I believe support the .mp3

I don't know about your PHP skills, but AGI can also be coded in PERL
and Python.  I'd allow the most time for the AGI development and making
sure you have a good understanding of the Priorities in the dialplan.

The basic script seems easy enough conceptually:
1) Answer the line
2) Ask the caller to input an order number
3) Query the database for the status
4) Play audio file with status
5) Hang up

There are plenty-o -examples out there for requesting input from the
caller, but if you get stuck I have some examples I'd be happy to send
to you off list.

Installing the base system isn't difficult if you go with something like
Debian or Ubuntu.  Then installing a working asterisk system can be as
easy as apt-get install asterisk.  The only thing that might cause you a
problem is running the Asterisk box as a VM.  I have no idea if that
would work with the Digium card on the host machine or not.  In theory
it should, but <shrugs>.

> Also, now that we come to this, if anyone would be interested to setup
> a VirtualBox machine for me (for a fee), perhaps that would be more
> cost effective. If so, let me know offline.
> Thank you.
> -- 
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Jon Molesa
rjmolesa at consoltec.net
if you're bored or curious

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