Saturday, September 5, 2009

Integrating Google Voice voicemail transcripts in OC

I've been spending a lot of time lately trying to figure out what makes Google Voice so great. There's very little new here except to the extent that it takes a small subset of services available to some and makes them available to all. Microsoft OCS, Cisco UC, even Vonage offer much more but not everybody has their service. So the question is- for users that already have advanced telephony features available to them, is there anything in GV that warrants signing up? If Google opened up Voice to the appengine platform, then the sky could be the limit. In the meantime?

The answer is voicemail transcripts. Google does a pretty good job here. Not perfect, but better than anything I've seen to date.

If you are an Office Communicator user, you can replace your Exchange voicemail with Google Voice in a couple of easy steps-
  1- sign up for your GV account
  2- At Google Voice, go to Settings->Voicemail & SMS and follow the steps to add another email address.  Make this your work address. 
  3- Once confirmed, go back to Settings->Voicemail & SMS->Voicemail Notifications->Email message to and select your work email address.  Verify that the checkbox is selected.
  4- In Office Communicator 2007 R2, go to Tools->Options->Phones.  Set your GV number under 'Other Phones'
  5- Uncheck 'Publish this number' if you don't want people calling it.  In this type of usage scenario, there's really no reason to have it called.
  6- Close options and go to Call Forwarding settings 'Send unanswered calls to the following'.  It's most likely currently set to Voicemail.  Select your GV number under exit.

That's it.  Your VM now routes through Google Voice instead of Exchange and nobody will every notice.  It's bears noting that there are a couple of drawbacks to this.  First, depending on your corporate phone policy, you may lose the caller ID in the message.  My company does this and it's very annoying.  It's the same reason why simultaneously ringing my mobile is not as good as it should be.  The last problem is VM alerts.  While I never notice it, OC apparantly gives you a visual cue that a voicemail is waiting.  It's a bigger problem for CX700 phone users.  The CX700 has had visual voicemail features since it launched a couple years ago.  Obviously if your VM is now sitting on a google server, that feature in the CX700 is not going to work.  Did I mention you may be running afoul of your corporate security policy?  I'll leave it to you to decide how much you care about that one.

Suffice to say it's not without sacrafices.  But if voicemail transcripts are as big a feature to you as it is to me, you can make Google Voice your own personal OC voicemail solution and nobody will know the difference.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Click to call accelerator for IE8

In my last post I provided a link to a Firefox greasemonkey script for converting phone numbers to clickable Tel URIs.  For users of IE8, I've built an accelerator for dialing any selected phone number on a page.  More info and installation can be found below and at this link-

I'm convinced that if website authors ever get their collective acts together and provide clickable standard URIs, combining with my mobile phone usage patterns I may never touch the dialpad again (except to dial 911).  The firefox solution is great because it requires a single click.  However, the majority of corporate users aren't on firefox and those that are often don't install greasemonkey.  This solution would have been a heck of a lot more elegant if not for a bug in IE that doesn't properly support redirect to non-http URLs.  Props to the Microsoft guy who emailed me back and explained it to me.  I hope you fix it some day and users will be able to avoid that extra click.

 Web Dialer Accelerator

The web dialer accelerator allows you to call any phone number you find in your browser, whether in mail, search sites, or any web page.  Web Dialer is an IE8 Accelerator.  Install it by clicking the button below-

Check the 'Make this my default' box and then click Add.  Checking this box will minimize the number of actions required to dial a number.

Now that the accelerator is installed, go to any website with a phone number like Google Maps.  Select a phone number.  Don't worry if you miss some of the formatting in your clipboard.  Most good PC VoIP apps will correct the number for you.  Once a number is selected, the accelerator hover icon will appear.  Click it (or right click) and hover over Web Dialer.  A link will appear.  Click that link and your VoIP app will dial the number. If instead of hovering you click on the Web Dialer item, a page will load with the same link.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tel URI greasemonkey script for OC click to call

Let's get the easy stuff out of the way. I developed a greasemonkey script for converting phone numbers to tel URIs in Firefox. Developed is a relative term since the work was pretty much done for me by some other folks who developed a similar script for skype. As many Skype users already know, one of the great things about these VoIP systems is the ability to integrate the phone into your desktop experience. Since I built this script, I have literally not dialed a phone number on my deskphone in over a month. It's all dialing from contact list, directory search, and click to call.

You can find the script here-

What's this blog about?

My company deployed OCS about a year ago. Since then I've spent a lot of time looking under the hood and understanding what it does well and does not. One of the great things about most MS products is its programmability. Being a developer at heart, I've decided to start putting myself to work and sharing it out with the world. If anyone finds this blog and thinks it useful, I'm happy to share.