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Buggy Polycom VVX Phone Firmware

The Polycom D60 cordless phone must be paired with a VVX desktop Phone running firmware version 5.4.3 or newer. However VVX phones with older firmware have trouble upgrading, they fail to download the new firmware even after multiple attempts. Worse, this process would sometimes erase the firmware that is in the phone, rendering the phone unusable. After hours of trial and error, we were able to upgrade a VVX500 and VVX410 phone to 5.5.3. We had to first downgrade the phones to 4.1.8, then upgrade them to 5.3.3, then to 5.4.2, and finally 5.5.3. We were not able to upgrade from 5.4.2 to 5.4.3 or 5.4.7.

Strange Problem With Opera Browser

We purchased some Blu smart phones for a project, they come with a Mini Opera Browser installed. We soon encountered a strange problem: couldn't access Gmail. Turns out there is a Data Saving mode, which was set to Extreme, probably because we had used the phones at a location with slow Internet connection. Changing it to High fixed the problem.

I don't remember seeing a warning when Opera switched to the Extreme mode. It wasted hours of my time trying to find the problem, and I was lucky to have found it. There was no warning on the browser page that it was in the Extreme mode, I only saw the warning about page not displayed properly in Extreme mode after I clicked on settings. Who would have thought an un-advertised setting in the browser would prevent one from accessing a certain website?!?

Horrible Experience With SonicWall Router

I never understood why people use SonicWall routers. It is not a well-known brand, and not cheap either. For $100, You can buy a Netopia modem or router that has all the features and works great. Even a $40 Linksys router works better than SonicWall. If you want to spend more money, then a $400 Cisco router will give you the peace of mind. You can't go wrong buying a name like Cisco. Why risk your career with an inferior product? After the experience I've had, I wouldn't use a SonicWall even if they paid me.

The problem seems to come out of nowhere. Not long after we installed some Polycom phones for a customer, they started complaining about dropped calls. In the log of the SonicWall router, we could see that it was dropping packets randomly. After spending hours on the phone with SonicWall support, their tier II engineer logged into the router and concluded that there was a problem with the router itself, and suggested that we try re-installing the firmware.

Before we could replace the router, however, we got a follow-up call from a SonicWall support rep from India. I told him that tier II support already determined that there was a problem with the router, but he insisted that he knew exactly what the problem was and could fix it. He logged into the router and added some rules. The router immediately went offline, taking down the entire network in the middle of a busy day. This is a doctor's office, they need to answer calls from patients during business hours. It is a life and death situation.

Luckily we had already ordered a Netopia modem/router, so we scrambled to get it installed. The SonicWall has been rendered useless by its own support engineer. I sent a complaint to the tier II engineer but never received any response. They refused to replace the router and simply referred me to a sales person.

Nightmare Installing Asterisk on Dell

The Vostro 200 is now Dell's entry-level system for small business. We couldn't resist the temptation and bought one to test, that was when the nightmare began. CentOS 4.4 doesn't even recognize the SATA harddrive and DVD ROM. We changed the mode from IDE to RAID in the BIOS, and was able to get through the installation. But that turned out to be a waste of time, as the installed OS was unable to mount the drive when it boot up.

We finally got Ubuntu Server 7.04 to install. It recognizes the drives in IDE mode, but we still had to modify the boot option as suggested to make it work properly. The Intel driver for the NIC card had to be copied in with a USB drive (my MP3 player :-) The version of Asterisk included with 7.04 is outdated, but compiling the most recent 1.2 release and FreePBX was a snap, after what we had gone through.

Sangoma Card's Echo Problem

Of course our trouble didn't end there. The latest stable driver for Sangoma didn't compile in the new kernel, we had to download the beta version. When we inserted the A200 FXO card with two daughter cards, Zap gave an error. After removing one of the daughter cards the system finally came up. We put the second daughter card back in, magically it worked!

We didn't have any echo problem with the Digium card, but it drops calls from time to time. Both Sangoma A200 cards we tested in two different installations have echo that could not be eliminated by Asterisk's built-in echo canceller. But the patched version of fxotune did the trick.

The next problem is fax. The stable release of spandsp and txfax/rxfax had conflict with the header files in asterisk 1.2.24. We used the old header file in spandsp to compile, but it gave an error when we tried to send or receive fax. We got around it by routing the fax to an older server. For all the problems it has, Sangoma is an expensive card. With Digium there is no driver to install.

So after all the time we spent, we are still hoping for a happy ending.


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