GotFreeFax Online Faxing – Free, No Ads

I was recently made aware of a great service for fax troubleshooting and basic faxing called “GotFreeFax.com“. I had used another service for my troubleshooting and just basic faxing needs online, but these guys reached out to me and I’m convinced theirs is definitely better.

Here’s a rundown of their free fax features:

  • Two free faxes a day.
  • No ads or branding whatsoever on the fax.
  • Three pages per fax.

You may get a couple fewer faxes and pages per day with this service but, in my opinion that no ads or branding on the cover page so your recipient has no idea how you sent it makes up for that. Here’s a picture of the cover sheet from a free fax I sent to myself the redacted parts are just names and some information I had to fill out:

GotFreeFax Cover Sheet

See? No ads. Just a plain cover sheet.

Sending a Fax From GotFreeFax.com

So here’s how to send a fax from GotFreeFax.com. It’s simple and you have a lot of options.

Step 1 – Go to GotFreeFax.com.

Step 2 – Fill out the sender information. This is you. You’ll need to put in your name, company name if you have one, your fax number with area code and you HAVE to put in your email address.

GotFreeFax Fax Info Entry

Step 3 – Fill in the recipient information. You’ll need to put in the recipient’s name, company information if they have one, fax number and a subject. Remember to put in an area code.

Step 4 – Enter the fax content. Typically you’ll want to just upload a document. They accept PDF files, DOC files and JPG files. So yes, you can fax a family photo. I haven’t tested with JPGs so I don’t know the size limitations, if any. I have uploaded DOCX files and it works with those just fine even though it doesn’t specifically say it will.

You can uncheck the “Use No-Add Free Cover Page”. This will just remove the cover page so you can use your own. It doesn’t give you the option to specifically upload a cover page, so you’ll need to make it part of the document.

Step 5 – Click the “Send Free Fax” button.

Step 6 – You’ll get a confirmation email. Click the link in the email.

GotFreeFax Email Confirmation

Step 7 – Wait for the success or failure email to come in.

Larger Faxes – You can send larger faxes for a fee with the Premium Pay Per Fax Service. To do this, instead of clicking on the “Send Free Fax” button, click on the proper premium paid button for the number of pages you need to send.

Use an account – You can sign up for an account and pre-pay for some pages. Just click on the button for the number of pages you want to buy. You’ll be taken through a sign up process and asked for billing information. Sending faxes with an account in the future couldn’t be any easier. You just enter your email address and PIN  in the fields under “Send Prepaid Fax” and hit “Send Fax Now” and it will automatically deduct the right number of pages from your account.

Useful ShoreTel Communicator Registry Keys for Scripting

I recently did a favor for a friend of mine who wanted tie a couple of systems together that weren’t tightly integrated in his network with some scripts. Anyway, I found the idea in his case fairly novel so I adapted the idea to the ShoreTel phone system and logon scripts. I know a lot of companies out there where the user’s four digit extension is their PIN for various systems at least initially.

I’ve had similar requests before to write a program that extracted the user’s extension from the ShoreTel database and do something with it. I do have a method of doing that but it’s annoying and this is much easier since it comes from the user’s local machine with ShoreTel Communicator installed. I’m also including some other registry keys because this script is super easy to adapt to get this information too.

Script for Extracting Current User’s Extension from ShoreTel Communicator

This is a VB Script for extracting the user’s extension from their computer’s registry. It is intended to be used as a part of a logon script or just to run at any time. The plugin I use doesn’t like VB comments so I took them out, I’ve attached the fully commented script to the post.

Use this script at your own risk. It just reads a registry key, but any time you mess with the registry, ShoreTel or anything like that you assume responsibility for your own systems. Also if your environment is different for whatever reason, this is not a hard script to change to suit your needs.

Script File: extractExtension (rename this to extractExtension.vbs when you download it)


   Dim shoretelServer
   Dim objRegistry
   Dim extension

   shoretelServer = "shoretel"

   Set objSysInfo = CreateObject("ADSystemInfo")
   strUser = objSysInfo.UserName
   Set objUser = GetObject("LDAP://" & strUser)

   Set objRegistry = CreateObject("Wscript.shell")

extension = objRegistry.RegRead("HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Shoreline Teleworks\CSIS Client\"& shoretelServer & "." & objUser.sAMAccountName & "\SUserID")

Wscript.Echo extension

Registry Keys

There are a few more registry keys that can be put to good use by enterprising script users that may want to automate a few things. Use this information entirely at your own risk. I’m not taking any responsibility for anything if you change these.

Also, some of these keys, just because you change them does not mean it actually does anything. Some of them are just flags to show the Communicator software that it has done something or not, such as uninstalled the Outlook Voicemail Plugin. Changing that key won’t uninstall the plugin if it’s messed up.

One potential use for this information is if your server crashes and you don’t have a backup. If Communicator is still installed everywhere you can recover all your user information with a simple script that goes through everyone’s machines to extract the information. If there is interest in such a thing I will write it and post it.

User Key

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Shoreline Teleworks\CSIS Client\servername.username\

This key has several values under it. The most useful are:

SUserID = Extension of User
FirstName = User’s First Name
LastName = User’s Last NameHasMailbox = Set to 1 if yes, 0 if no.
MailboxGUID = Haven’t seen this set on the versions I’ve worked with but maybe?

If you go up a level there are some values for the current server version and client version, some dynamic “ConnectedOnce” values if the client has connected to multiple servers.

Client Keys

There’s a lot here to look at. Some of this looks to be stuff it gets from the server. I fiddled with a few of these and they just reset when I loaded Communicator. Likely for features I don’t have access to.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Shoreline Teleworks\ShoreWare Client

AutoStartSoftPhone = Starts the softphone automatically when you start the program. This is set to 0 when Extension Assignment is on primary phone, 1 when on Softphone.
Outlook Voice Mail = 1 if Outlook Voicemail Integration is Installed. 0 if no.
OwnedDNs = User Extension.
Server = Server the client is logged into. Might be a good key to read to get information for the above script.
UserName = User the Client was logged in with. Again, good information for above script.
VMFoldersExpanded = This shows some dynamic keys for various Voicemail boxes that the user has access to. Not sure what the numbers mean.

Layout Keys

Under the above key is the Layouts key with a bunch of subkeys. These seem to be related to how the client looks and behaves. I won’t go through all these. I just wanted to mention that possibly deleting or modifying these might clear up weird issues that occasionally crop up with older versions of Communicator or find lost windows when users drag them off the screen, rather than reinstalling the whole product, or deleting the entire Shoreline key.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Shoreline Teleworks\ShoreWare Client\Layouts

Breaking Down VoIP Vocabulary

VoIP Phone systems are emerging as powerful and primary communication tool in the office.

They have been proven efficient-worthy and are easier to work with than traditional phones. There are a variety of VoIP Phone system service quotes to choose from and making equipment purchases can be overwhelming. Like almost any new piece of technology, unfamiliar vocabulary can certainly cause confusion and frustrating. You should take time to familiarize yourself with general and specific terms in order to communicate with phone system vendors, maintain your phone systems, and understand the rapid upgrade/changes they may encounter.

By knowing the proper language, you will have the best tailored phone and VoIP phone system for your business, beginning from the time of purchase, to years and years to come.

The Basics

AS (Autonomous System): A group of networks that share the same routing methodology.

ATA (Analogue Telephone Adapter): A device used to connect traditional telephones to a high-speed modem to allow VoIP and/or fax calls over the Internet.

Broadband: An umbrella term that describes digital technology that integrates voice, high-speed data service, video demand services, and interactive delivery services with a single switch facility.

Call Detail Records: Goes beyond Called Identification and provide detailed records about the phone calls that begin, end, or pass through the exchange.

Data: A general term for information or a collection of interrelated, unique data items/records, in one or more computer files

Data Communications: The sending and receiving of data between two locations. This requires hardware and software (phones, modems, multiplexers, etc.).

Firewall: Security software that interprets, filters, and blocks or allows network pockets to pass. It is a connection from the internet and a PC/network device that may be specifically altered to allow VoIP traffic to pass.

FoIP (Fax over Internet Protocol): The Fax counterpart to VoIP that is very reliable. This component may be free or for an additional cost depending on the service provider.

IP (Internet Protocol): The way data is sent from one computer to the internet. Each Computer has its own unique IP address that identifies it from the rest.

IP Telephony (Internet Protocol telephony): A generalized term for technologies using IP to exchange voice, fax, and other means of communication.

Network: A system of computers connected by communication channels, allowing data sharing between one another.

Packet: The unit of data that is routed between the beginning and end of the internet pathway or any other packet-switched networks.

Protocol: A strictly defined procedure and message format that allow transmission communication with two systems. It is a formalized set of rules computers use to communicate.

QoS (Quality of Service): The quality of a voice call over a VoIP network.

Softphone (Software Telephone): A software program that allows you to make/receive calls over the internet. It usually provides all of the benefits of a VoIP phone and has a traditional phone pad.

Switch: A device that connect two separate paths together.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol): The technology that makes phone communication Internet based. This includes a set of facilities for managing the delivery of voice information using the internet protocol.

 

The Technical

Bits per second or Bandwidth: The most commonly used measurement for data transmission. It represents the maximum data carrying of transmission for a link that can be transferred in one second.

Codec (Compression-Decompression): for VoIP, this means an algorithm that defines the rate of speed compression and quality of decompressed speech and processing power requirements. The most popular codecs is G. 7231. And G. 729. Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC): A company that is an alternative to the local telephone company and builds/operates communication networks in metropolitan areas.

Congestion: When traffic on the network goes above the network bandwidth capacity.

Customer Premises Equipment (CPE): Terminating equipment provided by the telephone company. Includes modems, phones, etc.

DiffServ (Differentiated Services): A quality of service (QoS) protocol that prioritizes IP voice and data traffic to help preserve the voice quality at any time.

DTMF (Dual-Tone Multi Frequency): The type of audio signals created when pressing buttons on a touch-tone telephone.

Dynamic Jitter Buffer: Reduces any poor quality in voice sound by collecting voice packets, storing them, and shifting them in the voice processor to be evenly distributes.

E911 (Enhanced 911): An upgrade to simply dialing 911, the technology can route your cellular call to the nearest emergency station. It is a good phone feature to have, but is limited. Some VoIP services may not even offer this feature.

Gateway: A device that device that allows interface between two or more networks to connect and to communicate. It translates and connects from the Physical layer (Level 1) up through the Application layer (Level 7) of the OSI Reference model.

H.323: The standard call protocol for voice and videoconferencing over LANs, WANs, and the Internet, allowing a live stream.

Half Duplex: Similar to a walkie-talkie where only one person can talk at a time.

IEEE 802.16: Also known as WiMAX, it is a specification for fixed broadband wireless metropolitan access networks (MANs) that use point-to-multipoint architecture. 802.16 uses high bit rates when uploading/downloading from a base station up to 30miles away, that can operate VoIP, IP connectivity and TDM voice and Data.

Jitter: A variation in packet transit delay in regard to VoIP. This typically occurs with a slow network. The faster the network, the better.  ATA can help to prevent jitter.

Kbps (Kilo-bits per second): The number of one thousand bits transferred over a one second period.

KHz (Kilo-bitsHertz): The number of one thousand cycles per second of a waveform.

LAN (Local Area Network): A group of PCs and other technological devices that share a common line or wireless link. They all usually share the same single processor or server within their surrounding area.

Latency: How much time it takes for a packet of data to get from point A to point B. In regard to telephony, the lower the latency, the better the communication.

MGCP: Another protocol that competes with H.323. It controls voice gateways through IP networks.

Packet-Switching: A Communication system that chops messages into small packets for efficient way of sending messages. Each packet can follow its own path since they are specifically codded, which prevents potential transmission segment issues. It is taken apart and put together in a fraction of a second.

PBX (Private Branch Exchange): A privately owned system for communication. It routes calls from the public telephone to the internal telecommunication system.

PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network): The Network of wires, signals, and switches that lets one telephone connect to another anywhere in the world. Some VoIP providers allow a gateway from the PSTN and vice versa.

SIP (Session Initiation Protocol): A less complex and more internet-and-Web-friendly version of the H.323.

TCP (Transmission Control Protocol): A session layer protocol that coordinates communication in a data network to ensure successful communication. It utilizes IP as the network layer protocol.

UDP (User Datagram Protocol): A high-level communication protocol that coordinates one-way transmission of data in a packet data network.

VDSL (Very High Bit Rate DSL): A Fast connection, but only works short distances.

WAN (Wide Area Network): A communication network serving separate geographical areas. This can be created by linking together two different area networks, thus exchanging information with one another.

While these is only the start of telephony related terminology, it is a great start for comprehending the foreign land of the VoIP internet world. To learn more, there are numerous blogs, videos, articles, etc. online that will inform you about other gray areas in this topic. Get educated before you shop around for a VoIP service provider so you know what you are getting and get the best out of it.

Author Bio : Tom Heppard is an innovative sales and marketing leader for Broadview Networks with expertise launching and supporting profitable product lines across all channels. Proven B2B experience in domestic and international markets. Creative thinker with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a passion employing technology to solve customers’ business objectives.

Resources:

http://www.score.org/resources/resource-nation/voip-terms-and-vocabulary

http://www.whichvoip.com/voip/voip_dictionary.htm

http://www.voip-phone-service-solutions.com/voip-definitions.html

Dock Your iPhone to Your ShoreTel Phone? Coming Soon! Sort of…

ShoreTel Dock with iPad - This image copyright ShoreTel. Not used with PermissionI saw a press release for ShoreTel Dock this morning. Heard about it through the grapevine a few months ago but wasn’t sure what it was. Here’s the ShoreTel announcement page for it.

http://www.shoretel.com/dockit.html

I looked over the specs for the Dock phone and I have to say, that as big a fanboy as I am of ShoreTel and their products, I’m completely unimpressed with this.

The biggest problem is compatibility. The system will work with iPhone 4/4S, the iPad 2/3rd Generation (The first New iPad), as well as the fourth generation iPod touch. This is a problem and a huge lack of foresight on ShoreTel’s part. Sure there are plenty of these Apple devices out there but they are being quickly replaced by the iPhone 5, iPad “4”, and the 5th Generation iPod touches. People are buying the iPad Mini, which the phone isn’t compatible with either.

Basically it will work with the last two generations of iOS devices with the larger 30 pin connector, but nothing with the lightning connector. So if you get this thing you are essentially limiting yourself to an old iOS device.

That being said, I hope ShoreTel has used a modular design with this phone so that in some point in the future you can swap out the dock connector for the lightning port without having to buy another $600 phone. There are adapters for Apple 30 pin to Lightning connections so that you don’t have to replace all your stuff. Maybe one of these would work but I somehow doubt it.

This is doubly aggravating because if this device works like all of ShoreTel’s other devices, the iPad doesn’t communicate with the phone through the connector anyway. I would guess it actually ‘talks to the phone’ over the network through the server. The dock is probably just a charging station that tells the phone to launch the app. It will magically work whether the device is plugged in or not. Maybe it reads digits, but everything else is probably ‘faked’ through the server. I could be wrong, but this seems to be how ShoreTel does things in general. If it does work like this, there is no reason at all that ShoreTel could not offer a kit with this phone to make it work with an iPhone 5. Hopefully we’ll see that soon.

I’d like to see an Android compatible device like this for those of us into Samsung devices. That one could made to work just as well with Blackberry and some Windows phones with the micro-USB connectors.

Fixing ShoreTel No Messages May Be Taken For This Mailbox Voicemail Error

Another quick fix today. Occasionally you’ll get a voicemail error message from a user’s voice mail box that says, “No Messages My Be Taken For This Mailbox”. It’s vague and gives no indication why this is happening. The user’s voice mail box might not even be full when this happens.

Unfortunately I’ve seen this happen seemingly at random without the user changing anything and it’s not always obvious what is causing the issue when you look at their settings.

So here’s the Fix.

 

Server Side Fix

Step 1 – Open the user up in Director under Users -> Individual Users

Step 2 – Click on Personal Options

Step 3 – Edit their Standard Call Handling Mode and Uncheck the box labeled “Enable Voice Mail ‘Greeting Only’ Mode” and click save. You will probably need to check all the other call handling modes and make sure this isn’t checked there.

Server Side Call Handling Mode
Click to Enlarge

 

At Their Desk Fix

Here’s how to fix the same problem through Communicator at the user’s desk.

Step 1 – Go into the Options menu and select their current call handling mode.

Step 2 – Uncheck the “Enable Voice Mail ‘Greeting Only’ Mode” box and click Apply and OK buttons.

ShoreTel Voicemail - No Messages May Be Taken
Click to enlarge