The PhoneBoy Blog


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The Gnome Strikes Again!

When I got this, I felt like gloating about the fact I had something I couldn’t talk about. Then I realized I had chastised Tom Keating for doing exactly that. Pot, kettle, black.

What I got an advanced look at was SoftGnome. SoftGnome extends the PhoneGnome so you can use it elsewhere. I wrote about it on voxilla.com: PhoneGnome Hits The Road.

To refresh on what PhoneGnome is: it’s a device that you plug into your existing PSTN line that will give you the ability to make free calls to other PhoneGnome owners and a number of other SIP networks. It also gives your PSTN line a SIP URL that can be called from any SIP client as well as a number of SIP networks. Long distance calls can be transparently routed via VoIP. The cool thing is: you don’t do anything different. You just dial. PhoneGnome’s servers determine the best route for the call and the call is routed. The route fail? The PhoneGnome will try your PSTN line.

SoftGnome allows you to utilize the PhoneGnome functionality from anywhere. A Windows softphone called Express Talk will allow you to make and receive calls from your PSTN line no matter where you are. It can be configured so that a call that comes in on your PSTN line will ring your SoftGnome. Your landline is now mobile! Don’t have Windows or want to use an ATA instead? No problem, the SIP credentials are provided so you can use any device. Because all PhoneGnome features are present in SoftGnome, you can dial as if you were at home.

PhoneGnome was a pretty awesome product before. I did use the device for a little bit when the device first came out. I started using it again about two weeks ago and found it to be an indepsensable tool. The security screen option and call logs alone make it worth the money.

Anyway, this SoftGnome thing is way cool. I’ve been playing with it a couple of days and I have to say it really leverages the PhoneGnome, powered by a Linksys/Sipura SPA-3000, quite well. And it’s easy–much easier than doing it yourself. I can configure much of what PhoneGnome and SoftGnome do with my own SPA-3000 and Asterisk. But then again, I’m a geek, I have that stuff set up. and I know what I am doing. Most people aren’t me or if they were, may not want to go thru the hassle or don’t have the resources.

The key thing that SoftGnome does is gives your PSTN line VoIP. Let’s say you have an unlimited long distance plan with your local telephone company and don’t use VoIP at home. When you’re travelling, you’d like to utilize the “unlimited long distance” on your PSTN line from somewhere else. SoftGnome can do that. Don’t want to miss a call while travelling? Fire up your SoftGnome and it will ring. And you don’t need another VoIP service to make this happen.

A stock SPA-3000 can handle some of these functions. But as someone who knows a bit about how to configure the SPA-3000, I can tell you that it’s not exactly a walk in the park to get it all working. The folks at Televolution have actually done a lot of the heavy lifting for you, making the core functionality of the SPA-3000 available in an easily digestable form. It’s well worth the $4.95 a month in my book.


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