Powering a switch via PoE

[Kajer] was doing some work with IP phones that use Power over Ethernet. While trying to get this to work with a network switch he decided to use PoE to power the switch itself. The best thing about this is he managed to shoehorn all of the necessary bits into the stock case. Those bits include a bridge rectifier, transistor, resistor, and a 5v power supply. Along the way he discovered he can now power the switch off of USB if he wishes.

SheevaPlug PBX

[Greg] has been working on a version of Debian/ FreePBX/ Asterisk for people to be able to drop onto a SheevaPlug. If you haven’t seen it, the SheevaPlug is a tiny computer housed in a wall plug. They made some waves when they were announced last year, and we’ve spoken of them several times. [Greg] is offering up the operating system in a pre configured format for SD cards so you can just download it and drop it in your SheevaPlug. Yeah, there’s a little bit of work to do before it will boot, which you can see in the video above.  Thanks for sending this in [Greg], keep up the good work.

GSM car starter

It’s just starting to warm up around here but it was very cold for a long time. We’re not fond of going anywhere when it’s way below freezing but those professional hermit opportunities never panned out so we’re stuck freezing our butts off. Fed up with his frigid auto, [Aaron] installed a remote starter to warm the car up before he got to it. This didn’t help at work because of the distance from his office to the sizable parking lot is too far for the key fob’s signal to carry. He decided to make his starter work with GSM so he could start the car with a phone call.

The first attempt involved a pre-paid cell phone for $30. The problem is that anyone who called the phone would end up starting the car. After a bit of looking he found a GSM switch that just needs an activated SIM to work. When called, it reads the incoming phone number for authentication but never picks up the phone so there’s no minutes used. He cracked open an extra key-fob and wired up the lock and start buttons to the relays in the GSM switch. Bam! A phone call starts (and locks) his car.

Maybe this isn’t as hardcore as body implants but it’s a fairly clean solution. He uses the car’s 12v system to power the switch and pays $10 every three months to keep the SIM card active. There’s an underwhelming demonstration video after the break showing a cellphone call and a car starting. [Read more...]

BT phone is much more than retrofit

[Santiago] turned his Ericfon into a Bluetooth phone. This is completely different from the handset retrofits we looked at last month. This is because he didn’t simply crack open a BT headset and cram it into his phone. He developed his own hardware for full functionality.

This is an open source project with available hardware details that he intends to turn into a kit. [Santiago] has purposed a PIC microcontroller to connect with a WT32 bluetooth module. The PIC allows for a dial tone, dialing with the original rotary dial, and produces the original sound when the phone rings. What he now has is a way to have a home phone without a landline. As seen the video after the break, the Ericfon works the same as it did when it was new, except the connection is made through Bluetooth and not via a copper phone line. [Read more...]

Does your phone have a GOOG-411 button?

While visiting family we noticed that their telephone had a dedicated GOOG-411 button. We’ve been using Google’s free 411 service for what seems like years but seeing this show up in the form of an auto-dial button is astonishing.

The question that pops to mind: how is this not an antitrust suit waiting to happen? Directory assistance is BIG MONEY that Google undercut when launching its free service. By shipping phones that have the number pre-programmed doesn’t that limit choice and competition in the same way that shipping Windows with Internet Explorer does? Perhaps the difference is that Microsoft has a near monopoly on the PC OS market while GE can’t say the same about cordless phones.

We’re not antitrust lawyers, and neither are you, but we’d still like to hear your opinions about this in the comments.

Bluetooth handset hacks

Cramming Bluetooth headset circuitry into an analog telephone body has become an extremely popular hack. With declines in the prices of these headsets, and older telephones being seen as storage-room-clutter this hack is just waiting for you to get started. Join us after the break for a look at what others have already accomplished.

[Read more...]

PhoneTag helps you read your voicemail

AnsweringMachine

Have you ever been too busy to check in with your voicemail service? PhoneTag might have the solution for you.

Some of us might have done it before, let voicemails pile up if we know nothing urgent or important is coming down the pipes. Wouldn’t it be much simpler and more convenient if those voicemails played by our rules? PhoneTag is a speech to text service that converts a voicemail into text and sends it via email or SMS which you can read through and reference at will. The accuracy on this type of service is usually pretty good, but some translation is required as spoken words can sometimes be misinterpreted depending on the clarity of the call. On the security side of things, we tend to be a little hesitant of personal and business voicemails running through an extra service. PhoneTag does state that they use some kind of “special algorithm” that will guarantee voicemails are secure and private.

While there is a free trial period, this service is going to cost you. You can sign up for anything from a per message price of $.35 to an unlimited plan of $29.95/month. You are going to have to do your own calculations here to see if this is the best way to go, but this will save you from using your monthly minutes for checking the voicemails in your mailbox. As alternatives, Google Voice offers the same service for free and SpinVox charges a fee per use.