Month: April 2016

SIP VOIP Clients for Ubuntu for PBX for Business

So you have a business and you also want to build that business on Ubuntu.  You have this annoying need for the old school ‘phone’ and maybe even the older-school ‘fax’.  Your team is all over the place and you want it to appear as if you are a big, professional organization.  The answer is simple – Voice Over Internet Phone (VOIP) system using the SIP protocol. These systems are called “PBX” or “Hosted PBX” for those who don’t have the bananas or are too busy to try building their own phone system (like me).  If you do have both time and bananas, you could get an old computer and build an asterisk machine which essential does what these paid companies do for you.  But time is money and mucked up phone systems could be lost $$… Sup to you.

Just as a reference and a quick plug, I use this Vancouver Canada based company Peopleline because they have proven to be very solid, reasonably priced and very reliable technology running it.  Simple, works, and I don’t have to think about it.

Assuming you have chosen your PBX provider or have your own box running in your basement, now you have to put a ‘softphone’ on your computer, or even your smartphone.  You can do both of these but I will focus only on Ubuntu because Ubuntu is the future and Ubuntu is now.  The rest is just noise.  However, that said, you may have a few team members who have not fully woken up to the fact that their operating system is killing them so for this blog I will be focusing on SIP clients (soft phone software) that will work on Ubuntu and on these horrible other operating systems.  I will be making quick notes on them and giving them a quick review, however, please note that each project is open source so it could be that the day after I post they are already fixed and working.  As of today, though, these are my thoughts:

Twinkle

I should promote Twinkle because Twinkle *only* runs on Ubuntu (not on fruit or redmond, for example).  I wish that I could use Twinkle in our organization but we have a team member who is still booting fruit and so we have to let that story play out to it’s inevitable destination.  I remember using Twinkle and remembering that it was very solid, like Jitsi.  I cannot speak from recent experience about it, but I would recommend any organization that is fully Ubuntu to explore Twinkle and perhaps even add your comments below for the world to benefit from.  I will hopefully be able to switch to Twinkle one day, however… Jitsi is here…

Jitsi

The final verdict is that Jitsi is the best, the most bug-free, always working, pretty robust ‘answer’ for now. It also works cross platform, so they say, which I will have some other victims test for me since I won’t be booting up fruit or redmond.

Jitsi also can take both 555-555-5555 and 555.555.5555 formats, strip the stuff and make the call. This was the deal breaker for me because over one year it will probably save me a who day worth of clicking as some other clients cannot do this simple task

Jitsi is a bit sluggish, however, and seems to take a while to boot up.  If you have a newer machine, it should be fine.

Jitsi also provided me some initial headaches when I first got set up.  The default settings didn’t work with Peopleline, but after a while I found a blog post, copied the settings and it has been a dream ever.  It may be that these settings will work for 99% of the clients out there so I plan to blog those settings with screen shots after posting this.

Yate

Yate is more simple, nicer interface, always works, if you can work with two bugs:

Bug 1: you have to remove the – or the .  from any phone number before you call it.  Unlike Jitsi, Yate doesn’t seem smart enough to strip these away.

Bug 2: There is some audio problem where when a call comes in, you have to hit the pause button twice to engage the call.  This creates about a 2 second lag when you answer your phone which isn’t cool.  However, there is a workaround.  If you shut off your ringer in the settings (permanently) it will answer perfectly, but – you don’t have a ringer and that is kind of an important feature on an old-school phone 🙁

Yate is my second choice so far.

Ring.cx

Honestly, I was really hoping that Ring was going to work.  But there are so many major bugs I had to actually uninstall it completely.  I could make calls but no sound was there. I tried to muck with the settings like I did with Jitsi, but no go.  Ring is the coolest of the options because you can make decentralized ‘phone calls’ from it.  So, I love the project itself but it is definitely *not* a good choice for running a business phone on Ubuntu.  I definitely hope to change this report.

 

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How to Back Up SuiteCRM using Ubuntu

I discovered SuiteCRM by means of searching through my web host’s cpanel softaculous thing – that thing that allows one click installs of ‘apps’ for your server.  Over time, I became a heavy believer in and user of SuiteCRM.  Eventually, I installed an instance for my company on my shared host and the company started using it more and more. Finally, today, I realized that I better figure out how to back this bad boy up.  I thought it would be as simple as going to the SuiteCRM documentation, but I guess I’m not smart enough for that.  I also tried the SuiteCRM user guides which, for everything else, are very excellent.  However, couldn’t seem to figure it out there, either.  There is also this ‘backup feature’ in the Admin area which also I couldn’t figure out on my own or by searching.  I even posted this post in the forum and it seems as though I had asked a question that was too easy for anyone to answer.

I’m just a standard, shared host, cpanel user, not a database guy or even web host guy, although I’ve got a small server running at home.  How is it that I cannot figure out how to do a simple back up of SuiteCRM so that I can protect it as well as move it from host to host should I choose?   So, with all that background, I will now begin to find the answer and document it here for my future benefit and hopefully help a few others along the way.

What I have learned from reading most stuff online is that If I want to be sure something like SuiteCRM is backed up safely I have to do the following two things:

  • backup the SuiteCRM folder/directories/files
  • back up the mysql database

Sounds easy except that when I went into cpanel, there was no ‘download’ button to get all my directory stuff!  Although I’m shocked that there doesn’t seem to be a web-based download button, I also assume there must be a  security reason for that so I won’t kick up a storm. I now assume that I have to do it the old FTP client way.  So, I will now perform the following two steps in an attempt to download the directory parts of SuiteCRM:

  • create an FTP account from the home page area of cpanel so that I can login with FTP client and
  • download and install Filezilla on my computer

I went to the Ubuntu software centre and downloaded Filezilla successfully.

I entered in my credentials.  It turns out that I did not have to create a new FTP user since my main cpanel login credentials/passwords worked perfectly to get in.  However, if this is for someone else to login, obviously you’ll want to create a new FTP user/password for them and restrict them to the areas they are permitted to go.

Since my website wasn’t the ‘main’ website of my shared hosting, I had to go into the ‘public_html’ directory to find my SuiteCRM directory.  Found it!

I learned the hard way that I must *first* choose the local machine directory to where the files must be downloaded.  The first time I didn’t specify so it started running errors for five minutes while I sat there and drooled on my desk.  Once I figured it out, I cancelled, started again by stating the local directory (in fact, I created a new directory just in case and to help me remember where it was) and then right clicked on the ‘remote server’ folder (my SuiteCRM install folder) and clicked ‘download’ and now everything appears to be downloading successfully to my machine.

The next step will be the second step which is to download/backup the mysql database…  Of course, I’ve never done this so I am going to find this tutorial by Siteground which looks pretty solid.  Siteground (whoever they are) seem pretty cool, by the way and has killer SEO results with Duck Duck Go.  Let’s see if this tutorial works.  You will probably have lots of time to study this tutorial if your FTP download is as big as mine.  My SuiteCRM has nearly 10,000 files to download.  It appears also, that this tutorial will show how to restore this mysql database for the next part of this tutorial which I’ll probably have to write for myself…  In this tutorial, the only thing that seems ‘unknown’ to me is the ‘drop table’ option.  Good thing I didn’t choose this option, I believe, because this tutorial shows that ‘drop table’ means to delete tables.  I am quite certain that I will want to *keep* all the tables in this database so that I can import the database perfectly into the server to match the SuiteCRM stuff…. but I don’t know anything so we’ll see as we move forward 🙁

The above tutorial was good except that they claimed there was an ‘add drop table’ option in their screenshot example but it wasn’t there.  They also didn’t mention that you have to choose ‘custom’ instead of ‘quick’ in order to view those options.  And it turns out that the ‘add drop table’ option is just a recommended feature to add in while exporting which I chose to do.  Otherwise, click ‘go’ and it worked. I have an .sql file on my hard drive now.

I think I’ve now backed everything up, but now I have to try to move it onto another server to test it out.  Hopefully I will have a link to that tutorial soon but for now, stand by.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Timely Word to the Church: No Bed of Roses

Of course, many people know the gem that is Watchman Nee’s ‘the Spiritual man’ but sometimes when you are reading parts they jump out as full-on prophecy.  Like any other sceptical 21st century believer, I am very hesitant to call something prophecy but read this and tell me that God wasn’t speaking to Nee:

A Christian must be delivered from every misconception with respect to spiritual life. He often surmises, before he enters the spiritual sphere, that if only he could be as spiritual as his brother how happy he would be! He visualizes the spiritual odyssey as a most happy affair; and so he contemplates spending his days in perfect joy. Little does he know that the opposite is the truth. The spiritual path does not yield any enjoyment to the person himself; it is instead a life of daily fighting. To remove warfare from a spiritual life is to render it unspiritual. Life in the spirit is a suffering way, filled with watching and laboring, burdened by weariness and trial, punctuated by heartbreak and conflict. It is a life utterly outpoured entirely for the kingdom of God and lived in complete disregard for one’s personal happiness. When a Christian is carnal he lives towards himself and for his own 11 spiritual” enjoyment. Of little real value is he in God’s hand. Only as he dies to sin and to his personal life shall he be able to be used by God.  (http://www.worldinvisible.com/library/nee/sprtmnv2/1969c4p4.htm)

Is this not what most believers believe?  Is this not loaded with such timely truth?

I pray that God would open our eyes and remind us that we do not belong here and this is not our home.  After all… We are aliens.

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Facebook is Evil.

Dear Friend,

Facebook is evil.

There. Said it.

Now here is an actual article written by a real journalist who eloquently expands on the ‘why’ and even provides some practical solutions.  Although he’s writing to other journalists, there is nothing stopping any of you non-journalists from taking similar action.

I, however, would go one step further than Mr. Gillmor:  I recommend that you delete any accounts associated with you and leave Facebook forever and spare whatever little sliver of life and privacy (and probably that of your innocent children) you have left that you haven’t already handed them on a silver platter.

But I understand your addiction and how hard it must be for you to face it.

But I will not be the one to enable your addiction.  I love you too much.

Love Wayne Out There

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