It’s been quite a while since I’ve gotten to talk about the AA50 and its software, but that’s only because we’ve been so busy. Today, Digium announces the release of the 1.2.0 software for the AA50. Users may download the update directly from Digium’s AA50 downloads portal.
You want to know what’s new? Let’s take a tour beyond the break. Why the break? Because there’s just that much information.
Frequently Asked Questions / F.A.Q
- Where Can I download the 1.2 software for my AA50?
- Users who have registered their AA50 hardware and their subscription, as included with their AA50 purchase, at https://www.digium.com/register may visit the Asterisk Business Edition downloads portal at https://be.digium.com. Once logged in, you will see a “Downloads” link. Click it. Then, you’ll see a tab called “AA50 Files.” Click it. You will now see a 1.2 Folder. Go there. Inside of this folder, you will see a Changelog file that contains information about what’s new in the release, several bitmap image files for Polycom phone logos, and the new firmware itself – a uImage file. You may download this uImage file to your local PC.
- Once I’ve downloaded the uImage file, how do I perform an update?
- First, Reboot your AA50. Next, after it has rebooted, log into the web UI for your AA50. Once there, go to the “Updates” menu. There, you will see a form that allows you to upload to the AA50 the uImage file that you’ve downloaded to your local PC. Once you’ve uploaded the file, your AA50 will need to reboot. The reboot process when upgrading a firmware can take about 8 minutes, so go grab a cup of coffee. When you come back from your coffee, log into the web interface again and the upgrade process will be complete.
- What’s this bit about a backup being taken for me that I see when I log into the AA50 after the 1.2 upgrade?
- The changes in the 1.2 software release are pretty extensive. We’ve taken the liberty of capturing a backup of your system before we perform the upgrade. This way, if you’d like to return to a pre 1.2 system and load an earlier firmware, like 126.96.36.199, you can do that and restore your old backup to your old state. You’ll notice that you can’t apply your old backup to a 1.2 system – again, that’s because the changes are so extensive; but you could if you reverted to an older release. Your old backup is called something like “Upgrade_backup_of_V1.1.x.”
- My Polycom 3XX IP phones display acted funny in the 1.1.x firmware releases. Can I have the original, 1.0.x, behavior back?
- Yes. In 1.2, on the Options menu, there’s a setting called “Enable Idle Image Display.” Turn this setting off, Apply Changes, and reboot your phone.
- Did you fix issue xyz or add new feature abc that I reported to your Support team?
- Possibly, keep reading below for more information. We get a ton of feature requests from customers every day, and we get reports of bugs, too. We’ve done our best to address some of those requests and issues that we think will have the largest impact on the customer base. Your feature request and your issue report are important to us and we’re always interested to hear your suggestions.
- I use Bandwidth.com and my inbound and outbound calls fail in 1.2.
- Bandwidth.com requires a proper E.164 number routing scheme – that means that the calls you send them need to be prefixed with the plus character (+) and the country code, i.e. +12564286000 and that the calls they send you come in the same way. That means that when you want to send an outbound call to Bandwidth.com, you’ll need to fill in the prepend field of the Outbound Calls rule section with a +, and that your inbound calls will need to match on a pattern that begins with _+(rest of your pattern here). Prior to 1.2, we tried to take care of some of this behind the scenes; but, since Bandwidth.com has provided some customers with an account that doesn’t require the +, those customers of ours ran into issues. So, the sensible thing for us to do was allow the user, you, to configure for whatever your needs may be.
- Where are the “Reboot” and “Factory Default” buttons? They’re no longer on the Home screen.
- Correct. We’ve moved both of these buttons to the Options menu.
- I prefer the look and feel of the old GUI better. Will you continue development on it?
- No. One of our primary goals with the 1.2 development was better browser support. To get there, we needed to rewrite a non-trivial amount of code. In doing so, we had to make changes to ensure we were operational with browsers other than Firefox and those changes affected the look and feel of the newer software. Things that the new GUI does are not practical to go re-implement in the older web interface.
You’re probably also wondering what’s new. Here’s a rundown:
Support for a wider range of browsers, including, most notably, Internet Explorer 7. The interface should also be working just fine in Firefox 3, and in Safari. With this have come numerous usability improvements in the GUI itself. 1.2 brings a similar, but slightly different, look and feel. You tried to use IE7 with the AA50 prior to 1.2 and you got a nasty message about “using it at your own risk?” You won’t be seeing that anymore.
A new System Status page that shows firmware revision, information about your trunks (Did my VoIP trunks register okay? Did they fail?), and information about your extensions (what’s on your system, and where do they point?).
The Configure Hardware page now allows analog trunks to be set to either Loop Start or Kewl Start on a per-port basis, instead of globally. This page also consolidates much of the analog hardware settings into one area, instead of multiple pages and displays to what user or trunk each port is assigned.
New to the Advanced Settings is an option for MWI mode. 1.2 software provides capabilities to detect Message Waiting Indicator across trunk (FXO) ports that’s provided in either Frequency-Shift Keying (FSK) or Neon methods.
On the Trunks page, the pre-configured VoIP service providers are now pulled dynamically from a Digium webservice, instead of being hardcoded into the firmware. This means that the next time one of the pre-configured providers changes something in their required configuration, we’ll be able to address it without requiring users to download a new AA50 firmware.
The “Mailbox” setting for Analog trunks allows any MWI received across that trunk to be forwarded to a local User, such as a SIP phone.
Outgoing Calling Rules
The Outgoing Calling rules page now allows outbound call pattern matches, in addition to a trunk path, to also be sent to a local destination or out via a fail-over trunk if the primary trunk is unreachable.
The Users page displays user information in a completely different, more readable, format. Users can now be edited or deleted in batch. You might want to reset everyone’s voicemail PIN code, or perhaps you want to change the dialplan of a dozen users at once. Or maybe half of your staff was let go because they spent too much time on Facebook and you’d like to get them out of your phone system as quickly as possible. Now, it’s easy.
We’ve addressed a feature request to be able to set per-user Outbound Caller ID with a new field in the User editing form.
You can also set Pickup Groups. Suppose that you’ve got a phone in another room that’s ringing and you’d like to grab that call from a phone that’s closer to you. If both phones are in the same pickup group, you can dial *8 on the phone near you, and that call will now be directed to the phone you’re using.
There are a number of Polycom IP phone related changes related to the Users page, including:
Multi-line registration for Polycom phones. Want to have two extensions map to your phone? Now, you can. Just create one extension and set it to “Line Number 1” and then a second and set it to “Line Number 2.” Need more? Keep going up to line number six.
Provisioning of the Contacts directory. Users added to the AA50 will show up as contacts in your Buddy directory.
BLF for your buddies. Those buddies that are your contacts publish their status information (on a call, unavailable) to the AA50, which then tells your Polycom phone what’s going on with your buddies.
Music on Hold
Been wanting to upload your own Hold Music? The new “Music on Hold” page allows you to upload music files and create custom Hold Music classes. Files less than 10 megabytes in 8KHz mono of ulaw, alaw, g722, or gsm formats may be uploaded. Not sure how to convert your audio to an acceptable format? Linux users try the SoX utility (sox myfile.wav -r 8000 -c 1 myfile.gsm). Windows users should look into something called Audacity.
Call Queues has new “Strict” options for Leave When Empty and Join Empty parameters. Strict means that users will be affected not only when no Agents are logged in, but also when no Agents are available (when they’re on other calls, or Paused).
So you’ve just created your own Hold Music class and want to do something with it? Use the new Music on Hold option when you’re creating a Queue.
Voicemenus has a new look and feel to its Actions and its Keypress event sections. It also has new options to set Music on Hold class (see above), and an option called Set Language (we’ll talk about that later).
One of our most requested features was the ability to allow users to route calls based upon the time. The first step in this process is the creation of Time Intervals. You can create intervals based upon the day of the week, the day of the month or an entire day, and you can set the times during those days (or all day) for your rule. On my AA50 I’ve made rules called BusinessHours (from Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm), OffHours (from Monday-Friday, 5pm-8am), and Weekends (from Saturday-Sunday, all day).
How do I apply these intervals to calls? Keep reading…
Incoming Calling Rules
Prior to 1.2, when I created a trunk, I’d set an inbound destination for it. With 1.2’s capabilities for time-based routing, that didn’t make as much sense, so we’ve moved the “what to do with my inbound calls” to the “Incoming Calling Rules” menu. Here, you’ll find a listing of all of the trunks you’ve created and you’ll have the opportunity to create incoming rules. A New Incoming Rule allows the user to choose the trunk for the rule, the time frame (as defined in “Time Intervals”), a pattern to mach on (Analog trunks don’t support DID, so you’ll only match on pattern “s” which is the catch-all pattern), and the destination for your call when that time frame is matched.
On my AA50, I have all calls, using pattern “s,” going to my phone during BusinessHours. I also have two more rules: one for OffHours, when I send my calls directly to my Voicemail inbox and bypass the ringing of my phone; and another for Weekends when send users to a voicemenu that tells the user that I’m too busy enjoying my weekend and then rings my Voicemail box..
Prior to 1.2, users of Polycom phones had their “Messages” buttons hardcoded to extension 6050. So, if you wanted a different voicemail extension than that, you’d have to hand-edit a custom.cfg file, which is not what we want users to have to do. So, we fixed this issue in 1.2. Now, the extension you set in “Extension for checking messages” will correctly configure the “Messages” button on your Polycom phone, if you’re letting the AA50 provision it.
There’s also an option to enable “Direct to Voicemail Dial.” If you enable it, then you can transfer calls to *EXTEN, that’s the Asterisk (Star) key and the Users’ extension, and those calls will go straight to that user’s voicemail. Let’s say you know Bob’s out of town, and someone’s calling for Bob and wants to leave a voicemail for him. There’s no reason for the caller to have to endure 20 seconds of ringing Bob’s phone at Bob’s empty desk, so enable this option and just transfer the call directly to Bob’s voicemail.
Prior to 1.2, the interface for marked users and conference administrators was non-intuitive. We’ve cleared that up in 1.2 by providing a separate extension for marked/admin users to dial to enter the conference bridge, and we’ve provided an option to tear down the conference when the last marked user exits.
There’s a new menu item for the Directory application to allow configuration of its options: its extension, whether or not to read out the extension of the matching user the directory application found, and whether or not to use First Names instead of Last Names when searching for a match.
A couple of places below the new Directory item, you’ll find “VoiceMail Groups.” This option, also a requested feature, allows you to create a mailbox that can be shared by any of the AA50’s Users.
The timezone files, previously loaded from the companion CD-ROM, are now included with the AA50 on its CompactFlash storage – making it easier to do setup since you don’t have to have the companion CD-ROM to set your timezone properly. Please be patient when you’re loading the TimeZone tab, as it takes a while to load up the lengthy list of time zones.
The Backup menu remains the same, but you’ll notice, after an upgrade to 1.2 firmware, that you’ve got an extra backup listed that you didn’t know you had. This is a backup that the upgrade process made for you, so that if you need to roll back to an earlier firmware, you can. The configuration of 1.2 is substantially different from older configurations, so you won’t be able to restore your old, pre 1.2 backup onto a running 1.2 unit, but you will be able to if you roll back to 1.1.x.
The new item on the Update menu is a section that displays your current firmware and provides a button that you can click to see if your firmware is current or not. This requires connectivity to the Internet to function.
Under General Preferences, the Options menu has a new option for Global Outbound Caller ID. If this field is populated, then all outbound calls will attempt to use this Caller ID. The first Caller ID used is the one defined in the Users tab. The second Caller ID used is the one defined for the trunk. And, the final Caller ID is this one.
You’ll also seen an option called “Enable Idle Image Display.” By default, this will be checked, and you should be seeing the lovely digium|Asterisk logo on your provisioned Polycom phones. Users of Polycom 3XX series handsets might want to uncheck this box. We discovered the using an idle image on these phones can make the phone’s UI a little odd when dialing phone numbers. Not using a Polycom 3XX? Perhaps 4XX, 5XX, or 6XX series phones? You should be just fine leaving it enabled.
Been looking for that Reboot button? It’s been moved to the “Reboot” tab. And, to its left, is a “Factory Default” tab. Both of these formerly appeared on the home login page. We’ve moved them here.
I said earlier we’d talk about that Set Languages bit that’s new in the Voice Menus menu. Well, there’s also a Languages tab here, in the Options menu. The Language option allows you to choose the default prompt language for your AA50. Users who purchase new AA50’s from Digium that come preloaded with 1.2 will have English, Spanish, and French prompts pre-loaded. If you’re upgrading from a pre-1.2 unit, then the AA50 will connect to Digium and download the soundpack if it’s not already found on your CompactFlash storage. The sound packs are fairly large (20-25 megabytes/each), so the download could take some time if your Internet connection is slow.
What is this doing? The prompts that you hear for things like the Voicemail, Conferencing, Queue, and other applications can be played back in any of three languages. What you set here is the default language for all inbound, outbound, and extension-to-extension calls. You’d like to override that? Keep reading.
Speaking more about the Set Language bit in the Voice Menus tab, let’s say you wanted present some prompts in your voice menu in one language, and other prompts in another language. The first prompt you play will be whatever the Language default set here in Options is, unless you’ve already overridden it. If you call Set Language, and specify a different language, then any prompts being played after that will be of the other language. Additional, the rest of that call’s path, whomever it talks to, will be in the Language you’ve just set.
In addition to the massive changes listed above, we’ve done a number of other things:
More and better tooltips.
A fix for outbound Voicepulse calls and for Voicepulse Caller ID.
Integration of an improved Line Calibration tool that filters out unwatend frequencies, so it can better determine the true characteristics of your analog lines.
The resolution of a GUI bug that made adding more than one conference bridge cumbersome.
We added the scp application so you can transfer files from and to the AA50.
Fixed a bug with “Say Message Duration” in the Voicemail menu.
Enabling CTI access for a User now, actually, gives that user AMI access.
More clearly spelled out in the SSH enable and the Advanced menu items enable that a users’ direct editing of configuration files (be it via CLI or via the GUI’s File Editor menu) renders their unit unsupportable should problems arise.
That’s it? Yup.
What else? Nothing worth mentioning, unless I’ve forgotten something and I amend this post later
What’s coming next? No comment
We’ll be taking a nap now, thank you. 🙂
Well, there is one more thing…
All AA50 users that purchased their AA50 and registered their subscription before August 13, 2008 will receive an additional free year of subscription. That’s an extra year of support, an extra year of hardware warranty, and an extra year of software updates (including the 1.2 software release) free.
That means that if you purchased an AA50 and you registered your subscription on September 1, 2007 that your new expiration date is August 31, 2009 – instead of August 31, 2008.
Or, if you registered your subscription on August 12, 2008, your new expiration date is August 11, 2010.
Why is Digium doing this?
We’re very excited about the 1.2 software release for this product and we want to make sure that everyone gets the opportunity to update to it. It’s been slightly more than a year past the initial release of the AA50 product, we wanted to make sure that no one was left out in the cold; and the simplest way to do this was to reward everyone who’d registered.
Thank you for your purchase.