For how awesome Google Voice is, we’re surprised we haven’t seen this before. [Steve] is using Google Voice to run commands on just about any Linux box.
Google Voice doesn’t have an official API, and existing unofficial APIs weren’t up to snuff for [Steve]’s project. He ended up writing his own that checks his unread message inbox every minute and looks for new text messages beginning with the phrase, ‘Cmd’. If a series of checks pass – the text coming from a known phone number and a proper terminal command – the command runs and sends the a text back indicating success or failure.
While [Steve] probably won’t be playing nethack or Zork via SMS anytime soon, we can see this being very useful for a Raspi home automation task. Just send a text message and a properly configured Linux box can open your garage door, turn on the lights, or even start a webcam.
We’re not sure why this use didn’t immediately come to mind when we got our hands on a Raspberry Pi board, but the hardware is almost perfect as a PBX system. PBX, or Private Branch Exchange, is basically an in-house phone system. This guide which [Ward] put together shows you how to do some interesting things with it.
When talking about PBX setups the most common software package is Asterisk. That’s what’s at work here, rolled up with a bunch of other helpful software in an RPi targeted distro called Incredible PBX. All it takes to get up and running is to partition and burn the image to an SD like any other RPi distro. The configuration ends up being most of the work, starting with changing the default password, and moving on to customizing the environment to match your phone numbers and your needs. As with PBX setups on other embedded Linux devices, Google Voice is your best friend. The service will set you up with a free phone number.
This guide doesn’t delve into hardware connected hand sets. You’ll need to use a SIP phone. But that’s easy enough as there are free apps for most smart phones that will do the trick.
[Headsheez] found a way to get his home phone service for free. He’s using a set of tools that we’re familiar with to route service from a typical analog phone system (which involves the extensions wired into your home) through a server to the Internet. On the hardware side of things this starts out with an Analog Telephone Adapter which translates the analog signal for use in a PBX system. He uses a copy of the open source PBX project called Asterisk which we’ve also seen used on devices like routers and the SheevaPlug. The actual telephone number comes from a Google voice account which for now is a free service but there’s no guarantee that it will remain that way in the future.
This should provide seamless service just like you’re used to with a traditional home phone line. There’s even caller ID for the number – but not the name – for incoming calls. The one big feature that is missing from this setup is the ability to call 911 for emergencies.
Maybe you don’t want that one person that has barged into your life to know your private phone number? Could be a salesperson or a co-worker who you aren’t that impressed with, but have to get in contact with. Check out inumbr.
inumbr is a free online service that gives US users the ability to set up a unique phone number, have it forwarded to any number within the US and then have it set to expire without a trace when finished with it. The unique inumbr’s are never reused, and can be extended if longer terms are required. Users choose from a list of 22 area codes from major US cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, select an expiry date and set a number that it should be forwarded to. When the term is up, the number is expired from the system, and never used again for any other user. If you wish to use the number at a later date, you can log into the inumbr system and reactivate it.
As we are becoming more and more mobile and security conscious, the desire for these types of services grows. A phone number can now be given out at will, with security and privacy remaining intact. Google Voice is a major player in this arena. A somewhat similar service, they allow for a unique number with voice mail to forward to other numbers at will, creating a masked or unidentified private number that can be used to give out to 3rd parties. inumbr makes this process simpler with the ability to cut off and reactivate numbers as desired.