Not fixed yet.

Turning on QoS at the switch port has not fixed the the audio problem on the Cisco phone when the iMac turns on. The technician has made some other changes but we still face the same problem. I had them make the same changes to the switch port that goes to my Cisco phone and I will see it solves the problem for me. So I am not sure if we have a problem limited to a particular station or if this is an office-wide problem.

Fortunately staff don't power up their Macs multiple times a day.

Lose audio on computer reboot

Last week I was working on a colleague's iMac while she was talking on her Cisco phone. The iMac suddenly shut down and she lost audio on the phone. The phone didn't lose its connection but neither party could hear the other. 

So I ran some tests. Her iMac's network connect is through her phone. To my surprise every time the iMac shut down or started up the phone would lose all audio. Was the iMac sending a storm of packets, overwhelming the phone's routing function? It was time to call my CWPS for phone support.

The tech noticed that Quality of Service (QoS) was not turned on at the switch. He suspects that the iMac creates so many packets on startup that it overwhelm's the voice traffic and that turning on QoS should solve the problem.  I will test the computer and phone this week to see if QoS solves this problem and/or results in any other changes for my colleague.

The Little Things

I don't often play music on my work iMac but today I needed to listen to some tunes. I got a phone call and Cisco Jabber automatically stopped the music when I answered the phone. The music resumed after I finished the call. Yeah, yeah, I am sure that everyone else knows that Jabber does this for you, but it is new to me.

Dear Cisco

I wish that I could block outside numbers via Jabber. Currently I can only block internal extensions. Blocking fellow workers isn't a good policy (as much as one might wish at times), but blocking annoying vendors would be wonderful.

And suddenly I know when people are using their phones

I upgraded Cisco Jabber from version 9.x to 10.5.1 last week. Since then I've been getting notifications on my Mac that someone is making a phone call or logged onto Jabber. I finally found the Events setting that told Jabber to annoy me constantly. I've since unchecked it.

Select Preferences. . . from the Jabber menu. Select the Events tab and look for the event Contact signs on. By default sound is off, Dock Bounce is off but Visual is checked. If checked you will get notified if users that you have added to your Jabber contacts log into Jabber or make phone calls. Since I don't care for this information I unchecked it.

Cisco makes account creation easier

I asked a phone support person today about the current version of Communications Manager. We are on 9.1.1 and the current version is 10.x. He said the biggest change is the ease of creating a new user account if CU is tied to Active Directory or Open Directory. No more creating a user and then individually creating new devices and changing settings. I do not know the details but it cuts down the time associated with adding new staff. This fixes my biggest complaint with Communication Manager. Now to figure out when I can schedule an upgrade.

And Something Strange

Today I was unable to sign onto Cisco's License Manager from my iMac. Safari, Firefox and Chrome all failed to log in. I was able to log in using Internet Explorer 10 using the same credentials from our Windows Server. I do not have problems logging into other Cisco apps. I am guessing either the latest security update for Mac OS X 10.8.5 or the latest version of Java 7 are causing this problem.

A Nice Touch

I was listening to music on iTunes on my iMac and needed to make a call. Cisco Jabber automatically paused iTunes when I started dialing from Address Book. The music resumed when I finished the call. I didn't know Jabber would do that for me.

DayLite and Cisco Not Talking

Either one of the DayLite or one of the Mac OS X updates killed dialing from DayLite. The communications between DayLite and Cisco Jabber is no long working.

I've updated Jabber to the current version and this has not helped this issue, nor has it made it worse.

I'm opening my bag of tricks and will work on this issue between my other — non phone related — projects.

Always Ask

Life has been very quiet with our Cisco phone system. Everything has been working well and there have been no changes.  This and general business is why I haven't posted here recently.

Someone asked if there was a way to send an incoming phone call directly to voicemail. I asked CWPS and they were able to add this functionality to our phones very quickly.

So always ask your support people or the Cisco forums if you want a feature that you do not see. There is a good chance that you have it but it hasn't been enabled. 

It’s in the Details

Cisco needs to do a better job of showing information that is important to the user. This struck me as I tried to redial an extension today.

Our Cisco systems has a neat feature, Voice Directory. Press the button, say the name of the person in your company you want to talk to, and it dials the number for you. It is great not having to look up the extension. When we bought the system I didn‘t think I would use it, I now use it every day.

But it has its limits. When I check my call log I do not see the extension I called because I called the Voice Directory which in turn transferred me to the user’s extension. And if the line was busy and I press the Redial button, the phone will dial Voice Directory rathe than the user’s extension.

The system should be smarter than that. It should know that I want to see what I wanted to reach and not that I dialed the Voice Directory.

I would also like the Voice Directory to work when I transfer a call. When I transfer a call I am back to looking up the extension on a paper phone list.

It all sees so 1990s. The phone calls some extension to do some function. The system tries to hide this from me as well as it can, but sometimes it strikes me as veneer and doesn't provide as high quality user experience as possible.

2 second pause

We still often have a 2 second pause when picking up the phone to take a call. At least CPWS and Cisco have pinpointed the problem to the new Cisco router and they are working on it. They were able to replicate the problem. So waiting for a solution.

I hate it when I can't fix things myself.

Daylite 4

We are upgrading to Daylite 4 in less than 2 weeks. We will be able to have it work with the Cisco system for creating and logging calls, but not receiving them.

Daylite is a CRM program from MarketCircle. It is a powerful contact manager designed for people who need to track relationships between people, companies, tasks, projects, etc. Version 4 brings a new interface and under-the-hood improvements. The client software runs on Mac OS X 10.7 and later and iOS, the server software runs on Mac OS X.

While we did a little integration with Daylite 3 and Cisco UM version 4 look better.

Daylite 4 now supports Dialectic without the need for a plug-in. We have purchased 10 licenses for Dialectic, which I wrote about in an earlier blog. It is an solid product for having your Mac dial your Cisco phone. It provides call logging and does neat tricks like converting a text phone number, such as 800-MY-PLUMBER, to a numeric value. But I’ve had problems getting it to authenticate with Cisco UM and it needs to know the Cisco phone’s IP address. It also cannot know when an incoming call is coming in under Cisco UM, it can detect incoming calls with some other phone systems.

We are testing FoneConnector with Daylite 4. Unlike Dialectic there is no visible application, it works only as a Daylite plug-in. It supports Gigaset, Skype, Starface and AppleScript. No explicit Cisco support but if you use it to dial from Daylite it will dial via Cisco Jabber. Minimal configuration was needed, just set up FoneConnector to use scripting and it will dial via Cisco Jabber. This is a big win, while Dialectic calls directly though the Cisco phone, FoneConnector does so indirectly via Jabber. So if someone is using their Mac as a phone, FoneConnector can dial for them from Daylite.

The Cisco system still falls short in terms of incoming calls, I have not found any way to get jabber to run a script that could notify FoneConnector that a call has arrived and to log it into Daylite and link the incoming call to a contact. FoneConnector does support this feature with other systems and can accept information via AppleScript if the other app, such as iLink, PhoneAmego or Dialectic, can trigger an AppleScript on incoming phone calls. Time to request Cisco to add this feature to Cisco Jabber for the Mac.

Good News for Daylite Users

We have been working on getting Dialectic to work with the Cisco phones. It has been somewhat hit and miss. We got it working on 2 iMacs but I am not sure why it wasn't working on a MacBook. Our interest in Dialectic was limited to using it to enable Daylite to dial the Cisco phones.

We are on Daylite 3.9x but our director of advertising has been exploring Daylite 4.2. He discovered today that Daylite can communicate directly with Cisco Jabber. So we don’t need Dialectic (which is a very neat program). The bonus of Daylite 4 talking to Cisco Jabber is our MacBook users will set up Jabber to be a soft phone, and Daylite can dial it for them. As far as I can tell Dialectic will only work in the office since it dials the phone directly and doesn’t work through Jabber.

2 Seconds

We are having a single problem with the BE6000. Frequently there is a 2 second delay between picking up the phone on an incoming call and being able to talk on the phone. This might be an external or internal call. The line light stays orange during this time. But it doesn't happen all of the time and some people are affected more than others. It seems to be worse when calls are transferred from the receptionist.

So we are working on the problem, calling CWPS when it happens to me or when someone lets me know it happens to them and they provide the time of the call. Unfortunately the BE6000 logs roll over after a few hours so we need to reach an engineer shortly after we have a documented case.

I do not know the problem. I am told it might be a phone firmware issue? If so, why doesn't it happen all of the time?

Added a User for the First Time

Today I did my first bit of serious Cisco CM 9.1 administration. I added a new user. Wasn't too hard and I wouldn’t have been able to do it unless I had been showed previously how to remove a user and set up a new phone.

The good news it that it all made sense. and I did have to figure out too much on my own. The bad news it that it took around 20 minutes to arrange all of the parts. Here are the steps I took.

  1. I looked for an unused extension in Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) Admin. Since I did not have an extension to recycle I copied an existing extension and made the appropriate changes in the extension entry. Select Directory Number from the Call Routing menu. 
  2. I entered the extension as the work phone number in the user’s Open Directory entry. Those with a Microsoft backend, which is most of you, would take a similar action in Active Directory.
  3. Back to CUCM and I synced LDAP. The LDAP Directory option is off of the LDAP submenu which is on the System menu.
  4. On to editing the user. Select End User from the User Management menu. The user record was created when I forced the LDAP sync. Not much to do here but to link up his physical phone to his user record. I had created this phone record last week as a guest phone.
  5. Edit the physical phone record so it uses his extension and the departmental extension, and change the name of the phone. Select Phone from the Device menu.
  6. Now to set up Cisco Unified Client Services Framework, which is treated as a phone. The easiest way to set this up is to copy an existing CUCSF entry and then modify it with the new user’s extension and name.
  7. Did the same with the iPhone and Tablet devices. This person might never run Jabber on either and iPhone or Tablet, but I find it easier to set up everything at once than to have someone come to me later and ask to do the server set up. And yes, there are many other types of phones that I can set up, including Android phones.
  8. Back to the user record and link up this record with CUCSF, iPhone and Tablet records. I could have delayed linking up the physical phone until this step and eliminated step 4.
  9. Now I just have to setup the voice mail account. I log onto the voice mail server, do an LDAP sync, import the user, and set the user to use the correct template.

So a bunch a steps, but once you learn the CUCM logic it is simple enough. Most of the time I was copying and modify records, I didn’t have to set up anything from scratch, the heavy lifting was done during the system’s initial configuration. But I would love to see an interface that could make the above quicker, simpler and easier for someone without a technical background.