TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Device That Interfaces Between Phone/CallerID and Serial Port?

Re: Device That Interfaces Between Phone/CallerID and Serial Port?

Mon, 10 Oct 2005 12:53:17 -0700

> Assuming you are looking for a device that receives Caller-ID, and the
> voice menu stuff is done by something else, ..

That's a very bad assumption. It's the voice-menu touch-tone: press 1
if you are a personal acquaintance whose first name I would recognize;
press 2 if you are calling me in regard to an existing business
relationship such as a credit card or bank account; press 3 if you are
a stranger trying to call me to advertise a product or service; press
4 if you are offering me a job; press 5 if you are a stranger trying
to call for personal reasons such as you want to discuss something
interesting I posted in a newsgroup; press 6 if we met in person but I
don't yet know your name but I'd remember meeting you.) which I don't
have and am seeking.

Do you know what such a device would be called and which newsgroup
would be appropriate for asking about such devices? It would be nice
if that one device also included decoding of caller-ID, so that I can
put up different touch-tone monus depending on whether the call
provides caller-ID or not and if so then whether the call is from
somebody whose number I already know, and if a number I already know
then depending on the number: -- You have harassed me and I asked you
to stop calling. But here you go calling me to harass me again. Your
call will be reported to the police. -- Hi daddy. Phone is ringing
now. If I'm here, I'll answer shortly. -- Hi Margaret. Nice to hear
from you. If I'm here, I'll answer shortly.

> "a cheap modem". It needs Caller-ID but it doesn't need 56K or even
> 33.6k speeds. You don't want to set it up to auto-answer. The modem's
> RING response code will include caller-ID if it's set up to return it.

I already have a modem, a SupraExpress 56. When the phone rings, the
modem sends just the word RING on a line by itself, with a blank line
between consecutive RINGs. I don't know of any way to make it detect
caller-ID and report that.

> The various Digium PCI cards used by Asterisk to interface with analog
> phone lines let you do a lot more, including the voice menu stuff
> itself, but they don't do RS-232.

I don't think a mere "card" would be of any use to me. It doesn't
sound like anything I can connect up to a phone line and
program/configure in any simple manner. But just in case I'm mistaken
in rejecting your suggestion, please tell me how somebody would
program the "card" to set up the various touch-tone menus? Is there a
keypad on the "card" for entering configuration commands, and a LED or
LCD display on the "card" for getting responses to verify what I'm

> Try and check out the Whozz Calling box.

I looked on that Web site, but didn't see any description of the Whozz
Calling box nor any link to such information. The only mention was
"using our Whozz Calling? family of multi-line hardware." with no link
to info about the device. The text " Features simple viewing, logging,
and networking of both incoming and outgoing Caller ID . Setup screen,
search and find hardware routine, help screens, documentation, and
source code included." appears to refer not to the box but to some
software that wouldn't run on my Macintosh in any case, and there's no
mention of either software or hardware providing any touch-tone menu.

I did a Google search for "Whozz Calling box" and found:
Whozz Calling 2 Rear Panel
2 ports with a DB-9 Serial output to connect to a Serial Printer or
PC! Has a 250 Call Buffer, to store calls until you download them
to your PC - using any terminal program with a "Save to Disk"

OK, that would be a slight improvement on my current TPC-supplied
caller-ID box which stores only the last 25 caller-ID info and
requires me to manually view each individual record and manually
re-key the information into a text editor. But I see nothing about
supporting touch-tone menus.

* See any DTMF digits dialed ON INBOUND CALLS! Use this to verify
what mailbox was dialed along with the Caller ID number! I assume
DTMF is the technical name/abbreviation for the tones used by "touch
tone" dialing. In the absense of any outgoing message, there's no
reason anyone would key in any DTMF tones after getting a connection,
so by itself this is of no use here.

I really need something that will enforce a touch-tone (DTMF) menu,
which anonymous or other unknown/suspicious callers must traverse
before they will be allowed to ring my phone. I don't see any
indication that Whozz will provide that capability. If there's no such
device that handles both touch-tone menus and caller-ID decoding to
pick which menu to use at the start, then I'd settle for a device that
didn't have any caller-ID decoding at all, merely uses the same
touch-tone menu for all callers, and rings my phone only if the caller
passes a "Turing" test for establishing the person as a known friendly
acquaintance or relative. (I currently get ten to twenty harassing
calls per day, and maybe one or two non-harassing calls per month. I
would like the touch-tone menu to filter out everything except those
very few non-harassing calls.)

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