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Gizmo Project 2.0* (That's the GOOD kind of Asterisk)

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the Gizmo Project

This week, SIPphone is releasing Gizmo Project 2.0* (note the asterisk), our popular free VoIP software for high-quality, easy-to-use PC calls. Usually, the star-shaped character means there's an exception such as "supply limited", "annual contract required", or some other tiny-print qualifier that makes the offer seem not as good as it initially appears. This time, however, the asterisk symbol stands for something positive - Asterisk support.

If you've never heard of Asterisk, you're not alone because it's one of the best-kept open source secrets. Asterisk is PBX software that turns an ordinary PC into a powerful inter-company phone system ("Press 1 for sales, press 2 for customer support, etc"). To get a professional phone, companies normally have to buy or lease expensive digitals service and phones. The systems take weeks to install and as the company grows, you have to buy more extensions, expansion modules, and upgrades - all of which make it very expensive.

With Asterisk, a simple Linux PC can be transformed into a customizable phone system for a school, business or even an advanced home system. I spoke with the original author Mark Spencer and he estimates there are more than 250,000 installations of Asterisk. Asterisk can be complex to set up, so companies have sprung up that provide point-and-click setups such as Switchvox (which was founded by former personnel).

Gizmo Project 2.0 now has support for Asterisk, making it possible to easily configure it to remotely receive and dial calls from from an Asterisk system on any net-connected PC. It's nothing new to use software to accept Asterisk calls. What IS new is to be able to do it reliably. Oftentimes, Asterisk calls get blocked by routers, NATs and firewalls using other SIP software, so the phone rings but one or both parties can't hear each other.

Using the experience garnered by successfully connecting millions of calls through any type of network configuration, Gizmo Project smartly works with Asterisk to ensure calls connect with high reliability. For each call, Gizmo 2.0 quickly and automatically checks to see if an incoming or outgoing call is blocked by a router, NAT, or firewall and invisibly connects the call through a more reliable path. This ensures that Asterisk users can successfully receive and dial calls from anywhere on the net - even if they are outside their company headquarters. It also makes Gizmo Project the ideal software companion for Asterisk users - superior in reliability to even some software programs that charge $50 per copy.

Gizmo Project available on the Nokia 770
Internet Tablet

Gizmo Project 2.0* is available immediately for Macintosh and Microsoft Windows computers and you can read the official release here. The Linux version is not yet available, but there's a good reason. The SIPphone Linux experts have been creating a version of Gizmo Project for Nokia's brilliant 770 Internet tablet. This Linux-based Wi-Fi device will shortly ship with Gizmo Project, making it possible for the first time to send and receive call SIP calls and calls to/from any traditional phone. The initial version of the 770 did not ship with any voice software. Many people assumed there was no microphone, but in fact there is a tiny hole in the front. SIPphone has been working closely with Nokia to bring standards-based SIP calling to this device.

- Michael
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