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Silly question?

Discussion in 'General Tech & Gadget Forums' started by Baloo, Oct 6, 2005.

  1. Baloo

    Baloo
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    This maybe an easy question to some but I'm getting bogged down reading the endless documentation on the subject and I still can't find the answer. Well, the question is, what do I need to be able to make normal i.e. BT calls to landline through my PC?

    I have a media center setup and like the idea of adding a modem and getting the caller id function on the display as you watch tv. The only downside from what I can see is that I still have to pick up the phone to answer it. What I want is to conceal a microphone near the tv and be able to 'talk to the tv' as if I was talking on the phone. Is this possible?
     
  2. MPK

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    Why would you want to make normal BT calls using your PC? Once you have all the setup you are talking about, i.e. microphone, etc. then you'll be surely better off using Skype with the Skype out/in function, will save you tons of money and works exactly the same way as a BT line. Also, I'm sure with Skype you'll have much better integration with other applications such as caller ID, pausing programmes when phone rings, etc.

    You can have a microphone close to where you sit and get the other side's voice via your speakers. I could see a problem with feedback though. You could get a USB Skype handset instead of a microphone, so you won't have the problem of everyone overhearing your phone conversation in your flat :)
     
  3. Baloo

    Baloo
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    More reading up on Skype then I think. So by the looks of it Skype give you telephone number (Skype in - €30 a year) which other people can call and you have to buy Skype credits (which last 180 days) to make calls. But I still need a BT line so still have to pay for line rental?

    We make very little calls in our house, the line is mostly used for incoming ones. The ones we do use out are on our mobiles using the free minutes that come with our contract. Thats why I wanted the call answer feature integrated into media center.
     
  4. MPK

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    You don't need a BT line, but you'll need broadband, which whomever that may be. These days broadband firms use Local Loop Unbundling, i.e. they take over BT's line and you get only one bill.

    When you have Skype In you also get an answering machine free. You can get USB handsets that look like normal phones and now Philips even does normal cordless phones that connect via skype. If you don't use your phone often then it might be an interesting experiment. I don't know anyone who has only skype at home, but in your case it sounds like it might be worth a try.
     
  5. Baloo

    Baloo
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    I'd happy try a skype only solution but at the moment my exchange hasn't been unbundled :( Maybe something for the future.
     
  6. dejongj

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    Instead of skype, why not go for sipgate so you can get a local number for free! No €30 a year...

    But comming back to your original question, yes all of that can be done with a normal BT line and a modem. There is lots of TAPI support and free software that will display the caller-id information....That's how I did it in the olden day's ;-)

    In addition if you have a mobile phone with bluetooth, you could have that one do the same kind of thing as well...

    But dare I ask why? Have you got your telly on all day long? Isn't it easier to just use the phone with it's own display?
     
  7. Baloo

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    I'm trying to make a completely wife friendly high tech environment. The idea was keep normal BT phones around for now until our exchange gets unbundled then swap over to a voip solution and ditch BT. In the mean time as I have a windows media center server running 24/7 I would of liked the option of seeing the caller on the TV (if its on) and pressing a button to answer the phone with the windows MCE remote. Then basically talking to the tv rather than a phone. I would like to also have normal phones around the house incase the TV isn't on. I know a modem will allow call logging and caller id but can you also answer the phone with one + a microphone?
     
  8. dejongj

    dejongj
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    Ah well if that's what you want to do...I don't think my wife would like talking to a television...I would think she's has gone mad ;-) I just can't see how this is more wife friendly than a normal phone with caller-id display....But hey each to their own...

    Yes, you can answer the phone but you need the speakers to hear the caller and a microphone to be heard. That's what TAPI has made easy for you. But...as someone else mentioned before...It is not that easy as you may think to get good sound quality. You really need to balance the microphone and sound output with each other to prevent the 'singing' to happen. Now as you also use that machine for MCE I would expect that your sound get's buggered....Also unless you have several microphones in the room, it's not going to be like you can roam freely around and expect to be heard at the same level everywhere....

    Maybe you've seen those spider style handsfree conference phones at a place of work. Well the original ones are very good and have sound leveling equipment in them, meaning that everyone in a meeting room has the same sound level, whether close or far away. And at the same time is applying frequency filters to filer out the background noise....Then there are the cheap imitations, which just don't work well...That's the effect you are going to get I think....

    I do think you are mixing up a couple of things. Just because you have plans to move to VoIP when the LLU is applied, doesn't mean you have to put your telephony within MCE...If that is what you are after, I would strongly advice you to look into Asterisk and keep your normal phones...Best quality and nobody would even have to know that any computers are running the show...
     
  9. Baloo

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    Asterisk was exactly what I was looking at but I got lost in the docs. Most people seem to use it within a business rather than at home and I wondering whether it actually worth putting it in a home.

    On the grand scale of things I'm actually wanting to move over to a a plutohome style solution (http://www.plutohome.com) which uses asterisk but their setup docs, especially for a newbie like myself, leave a lot to be desired. I just want to see a HOWTO style doc on it all. Buy this, install this e.t.c. Hey, maybe I'll do one if I can figure it all out.

    Thanks for the help so far guys.
     
  10. dejongj

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    Interesting stuff Baloo! I've not come across the plutohome project! Very interesting...

    I hear what you say about Asterisk, but if you look at the asterisk@home project, it makes it incredibly simple to start. All get's installed automatically and considering you considered pluto that is a lot more simple to establish...

    But then again, I think I probably would go for a modem link onto the MCE box, so you can have you call-id, plus photo!?, available on-screen...Yet use a normal DECT phone setup with callerid for the actual sound....

    Have fun...
     
  11. Baloo

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    It is exactly what I'm looking for with my advanced home project. Have you seen their flash demo? Brilliant concepts if it all works but I'm yet to try it.
     
  12. MPK

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    Looks amazing. But the big question is: How much..?
     
  13. Baloo

    Baloo
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    The software is free (its based on Linux) so you can effectively do it yourself. Uses standard PC equipment. I'll be doing it but it would be nice to talk to people who have also done it here in the UK. They have their own forums but noone in the UK as far as I can see.
     
  14. dpoulson

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    Er, it seems it free, at least the software is. They basically use a lot of good open source apps, and then write a 'glue' to stick them all together seamlessly...

    I'd not heard of it before, but after looking at their web pages I might have to see about replacing my current mythtv/asterisk/101 other apps with Pluto. Seems to offer everything I want.

    Darren.
     
  15. MPK

    MPK
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    Sounds good, but I fear the software would be the least of my worries. How much will all the controllable appliances be, e.g. lighting, security, etc. And most of all, how is everything linked together? Would you need, say, a 50m component cable for each of your TVs to link it all to the server, which would need about 3 video cards, etc...

    I wouldn't even know where to start! Or do you simply go out there and buy a lighting system that's IP controllable (do these things exist?) and everything is simply linked via ethernet?
     
  16. dapex

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    that pluto looks amazing....
     
  17. Baloo

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    Ok, I'll try to explain from what I've read.

    A 'Core' (file server) is installed housing all archived dvd's, music, photo's e.t.c.

    In each room where you want to view the aforementioned stuff you need a 'media director', basically a stand alone computer, probably lower spec and quite, with a tv tuner card. Everything but live TV is streamed across the network to each media director. Live tv is handled locally although I'm sure you could stream that too.

    As for the home automation side of things, pluto uses x10 I belive which you can buy a computer module for which sends codes through your mains wiring to anything that can understand x10.
     
  18. Baloo

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    It would be interesting to see how you get on Darren. I'm a computer programmer by trade and have been using Linux for a decade now but integrating all this stuff into my house is a little daunting at first. You say you have a mythtv style settup at the moment, does this work well? And what hardware do you have for your asterisk setup?
     
  19. dpoulson

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    I'm just having a mess around with Pluto now. My MythTV setup uses a couple of freeview cards in my fileserver (mythbackend) and a couple of diskless/fanless (silent) epia frontends. I'm setting the frontends up with Pluto now. Good thing about network boot, if I don't like pluto, it'll take about 2 seconds and a reboot to turn them back into mythtv boxes! MythTV was working very well, frontends still need tweaking to stop some stutters, but nothing major.

    My Asterisk setup is running on a really old PIII 600Mhz with 96Mb ram. Performs well for a simple house setup (2 Zap phones, 2 SIP phones, Sipura 3000 for incoming line). Got it set up with VoIP to FWD and voiptalk. All chugs along quite nicely!

    Anyway, I'll let you know how I get along with Pluto. It all looks very promising, and from the forums it seems that the guys coding it are friendly and helpful. Still looks a bit rough round the edges for setting up and documentation, but its early days yet.

    Might be worth moving this thread over to the home automation section, going a little off-topic for VoIP!
     
  20. Baloo

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    Great to hear, let us know how you get on. I've got a thread in HALSE asking about pluto, maybe a good place to post.
     
  21. normies

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    we currently have pluto running in two locations, playing mainly at the moment - but also designing a custom media director for it - any help with pluto or any questions would be appreciated
     

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