Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Provisioning Cisco 7940, 7941, 7942, 7960, 7961, and 7962 IP Phones in 3CX

I am working on a configuration guide for the Cisco 7940, 7941, 7942, 7960, 7961, and 7962 IP Phones, including templates that work in 3CX version 14 and 15.

These Cisco phones are really just marginally supported in 3CX, which is too bad, because they are good solid phones and there is a huge inventory of them still floating around.  For those of us that are moving away from the expense of Cisco Call Manager, it saves a ton of upfront costs by repurposing these phones with 3CX.  If you are starting from scratch, I don’t necessarily recommend purchasing these phones; although they are basically a “dime a dozen” on eBay which could get a money strapped company into VoIP on the cheap.

This guide will help you implement these Cisco phones way beyond what 3CX offers out of the “box.”  In fact, you can’t even get them to work with the default installation of 3CX because there is no TFTP service and the provisioning templates are flawed.  

The biggest issues with these phones are that they need to be converted to SIP mode, they still need to get configuration files via TFTP which isn't included in 3CX, and they don't have BLF's.  In fact with the 79x0 phones you can't even program the buttons for speed dials via 3CX.

This guide will step you through the whole process and give you much more advanced provisioning templates that will allow you to configure the line buttons as alternate line appearances (like in Call Manager), and will allow you to use a Session Border Controller (SBC) proxy if needed as the phones don't support STUN.

I will be selling this guide for $49, but believe me, if you don't have a clue on what to do this will save you and your company hours and hours of time literally, and get you ahead of the game with a much more powerful provisioning template.  If you were to hire a consultant (at say $150 an  hour) it would take them a minimum of an hour to get this working for you, and that's only if they had done this before.  If they are not familiar with the process you could end up paying $1000 for them to figure it out for you.  I've done the research for you (and battle tested it with over 200 phones) and now it will be compiled in this guide which will tell you exactly what you need to do and provide you with my own custom provisioning templates that actually work.  

If you are reading this and want it NOW, comment below so I'll know if there is any demand.  Then I'll hurry up and finish it!  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Vendor warning: LOGICnow - they own MAXfocus / MAXMail

I hate posting something like this but LOGICnow spurned me as a customer and hopefully I can help out some of my IT Peers to avoid them.

I'll try to keep this review short.

Technically we were an almost 6 year customer of their anti-spam product called MAXMail.  Due to what I would consider "failure to perform" on their end, I decided we needed to find a new solution.  Issues such as long delivery delays (over an hour at times), some of our business partners could not get any email through them (to us) at all and we had to setup special email routes to bypass the service, the web interface was clunky and would error out ALL THE TIME, plus the service really didn't do a great job of filtering spam.

The construction company I work for actually acquired another construction company down south and they used MAX Mail since May of 2010.  We were unhappy with our in-house product and wanted to switch so we thought we'd try MAXMail as the company we acquired seemed happy with it.  Instead of monthly payments I negotiated a better rate with them if we paid annually, so I paid up front for 1 year.  Almost instantly I was not happy with the obvious spam they let through (even at max aggressiveness) and then the intermittent long delays would happen a few times a week.  These long delays were killers, then coupled with the other issues I already mentioned I decided we had to switch.

So we just recently went with a Barracuda appliance and so far I am much happier!!

But then when I tried to contact my LOGICnow rep to inform her to cancel our service and I would expect a refund on the remaining 6-months of service, they eventually (after days of trying to even get a response) was told... well, here is the response:

Subscriptions are non-refundable, so I will not be able to honor your request. Even on the monthly billing option, which you declined, I would not be able to refund “unused time” if, for example, a customer cancelled on the 15th of the month. Again, I am sorry to hear that you have been dissatisfied with the service, especially given that the XXXXXX domain has been with us since May 2010. 

Well, even though I figure they owe us about $1,700, I've got better things to do than squabble over this as I doubt I will get anywhere with them.  So I hope that at the very least I cost LOGICnow more that 10 times that amount in steering people away from them.  I responded to her that I was disappointed in LOGICnow's unwillingness to work on a graceful exit for a 6 year customer, especially since it wasn't like we decided to switch for no reason.

I could go on and on about the issues, such as having to setup local rules to catch the spam they let through, technical support actually trying to convince me that the long delays were not them and must be our senders (like the whole world) and there was nothing they could do, etc.... but I think this is long enough.  If anyone sees this and has any questions or comments please add them and I'll try my best to respond.

I didn't try these other products, but as the parent company is LOGICnow I would think twice about them as well.

MAX RemoteManagement
MAX Mail
MAX ServiceDesk

BTW - I wrote the above a few weeks ago but figured before posting it I would contact Mr. Alistair Forbes, LogicNow's General Manager.  I sent two emails and got no reply, even though in an email he wrote below he gave his info to contact him.  So judge for yourself if this is a company you want to do business with.  Obviously they finally acknowledged an issue, but were not willing to make it right by me.

The email ---

December 01, 2015

At LogicNow, we are passionate about helping our customers win through technology. It’s a mission we take seriously and recent issues with our mail services are not in alignment with this objective. We understand that businesses rely on timely delivery of their email, and we understand the very significant impact that message delays can have on our partners and customers. We sincerely apologize to those who were affected by these issues and we have restored the level of reliability that our partners and customers are accustomed to and deserve.
We have been working diligently to quickly remediate and understand the causes of any service disruptions, and have resolved three primary causes. First, we have deployed additional servers to handle the increased load of emails. Second, we have resolved Office 365 delivery snags which arose from changes made by Microsoft and impacted a small subset of customers, and have secured a commitment from Microsoft for improved communications going forward to help avoid future potential issues. Finally, we experienced an unforeseen issue with the Cyren malware detection tool when they released an updated anti-virus engine that proved to be slow in its response times, impacting service delivery; we have since removed the problem sub-component from our mix while we work to resolve this with Cyren. In the meantime, we maintain robust antivirus support that will help us continue to effectively protect our customers against email-borne threats; as part of this we recently introduced file-based attachment blocking as an additional technique to ensure our malware protection is at the highest level.

We hope that these details are helpful but realize that in our customers’ eyes, no matter how quickly we resolve these issues, your overall satisfaction is determined by your experience of using our services and we clearly need to do better going forward. We have put in place specific measures to help ensure that we do not experience these types of disruptions in the future, and are committed to delivering the level of service excellence you have come to expect from LogicNow.  
If you have any questions regarding these issues, please let me know. You may reach me directly at Alistair.Forbes@logicnow.com.  

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to continually improve our service.
Again, our apologies.


Alistair Forbes
General Manager, LogicNow

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Lifesize Room / Team 220 Video Snapshots

If you have a Lifesize video conference unit, specifically the Lifesize Room 220 or the Lifesize Team 220, then you may know that in the Call Manager tab you can see a video snapshot preview from the camera.  I honestly don't know how often it grabs a frame but it is around every 15 - 30 seconds, whether or not a conference is active.  As an IT administrator this is helpful for maintenance and even troubleshooting!

For maintenance, it is nice to be able to pop into the web interface and just make sure no one is in the room before running up or down stairs.  It's no fun to run up to a meeting room only to find someone using it. I suppose it may help out your FitBit stats but sometimes you don't have time to waste.

For troubleshooting, it is nice to be able to see at least a glimpse of what they see on their screen(s), especially if they are in a different city.  While you don't see the live video stream, you can at least see what's there every 15 or so seconds.

This should be on by default.  If not, the setting is in Preferences -> Video -> Video Control.  Enable "Video Snapshots."  This will then show the little preview and actually even let you save the frame to a JPG.

Also, this seems to be undocumented issue, but this feature does not work if you have recording enabled (Preferences -> Video -> Record and Stream).  I enabled it once while just playing around and it took me months to figure out why I lost the ability to view the video snapshots.  I suppose it does this because in the call manager screen you also have the option to enable or disable Video Snapshots there (see the camera icon below).  However, when recording is enabled they use this screen space for a record button.  Who knew?  Not many, and this is actually the reason for this quick blog post; an undocumented "thingy."

This may also apply to the Lifesize Room 200 and the Lifesize Team 200, I'm not sure as I don't have those older units.  This feature does not exist in the Lifesize Passport units or the newer Lifesize Icon 400 or Icon 600 units.

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Science Fiction Author / Vice President of Technology for The Christman Company