Telephones and other Gizmos

August 17th, 2005

I’ve been playing with Gizmo. For those who haven’t come across it, the Gizmo Project is like Skype, but uses open, standard VoIP protocols. Why would you want to do this, when the software’s still in beta and there are millions of people using Skype? Well, because Skype users can only connect to other Skype users (unless they pay money to be routed over the standard phone system). Gizmo can connect to things which are not Gizmo, like standard VoIP phones and IP-capable exchanges.

I have both of these. I’ve been experimenting with Asterisk, the open source PBX, and I’ll write more about that soon. But for now, suffice it to say that my office phone line is now connected to a computer, instead of to a phone. I have a motley collection of phones around the house which are also connected to it, either via conventional phone wiring or via the network. And I have complete control over this… but more about that in a later post.

When you get a Gizmo ID, which is just like registering for AIM or Skype, you get something which works just like those systems, but can also be dialled by a standard VoIP system (using a SIP call to <gizmoname>@proxy01.sipphone.com, for those interested). So I now have phones around the house on which I can dial a four-digit extension number and it will call my friend Robert on his Gizmo session, wherever he is in the world. And he can choose which phones in my house to ring, because I’ve assigned them different names, or whether to ring all of them at once, and he can do it when he doesn’t have a phone handy! And get this: it’s all free!.

Now, there are quite a few rough edges here still, and configuring some of this is not for the faint-hearted, but trust me, this is the way of the future. You can now either call my phone here using either using a phone number (and pay for the privilege) or call, say, my study using study@home.quentin.org. (Actually, I’ve changed the address here, but it’s very similar to that; let me know if you’d like to try it). The second one is more flexible, easier to remember, and it won’t cost you a penny.