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IVR – Interactive Voice Response menus

Posted in News, Techie

We’re proud to have easy IVR menus ready for all of our subscribers.  IVR stands for “Interactive Voice Response”.  (Though the word “voice” is in there, an IVR menu typically executes actions through key presses.  In the first version of IVRs on EasyRinger, there is no voice support, but it’s coming!)

Everyone is, without doubt, familiar with IVR menus: “Thank you for calling <organization name>.  For sales, press ‘1’.  For technical support, press ‘2’” and so on.  We’ve created a simple UI that lets you build your own simple IVR system with up to ten options.

The IVR user interface

Each phone number can have its own IVR menu.  Like voicemail and other options, you can set up your IVR by using the “IVR” action to the right of your number when you log in to EasyRinger.

In the IVR user interface, the first thing to do is check the “Enable IVR” option.  This basically signals that your number will now ring straight to your IVR system.  Your destination number will be ignored.  And, your voicemail settings are ignored.

The “Greeting” text is the very first thing that your callers will hear.  You can type in the text that you want the system to read to your callers.

There must be at least one action.  Each action has a “Message” (which is typically something like, “For sales, press ‘1’.”, and so on), a digit on the keypad (which needs to sync up with what’s in the “Message”), and an action to take when the digit is pressed on the phone keypad.

Right now, we offer three actions:

  1. Call number – when the caller presses the corresponding digit, will call this number.
  2. Voicemail – goes straight to voicemail
  3. Read text – reads additional text to the caller

Available IVR actions

If you have multiple EasyRinger numbers, you can even chain IVR menus together by calling additional numbers that you own with their own IVR menu.

We are planning to add additional actions to the three above.  For example, “Play an mp3 file”.  Are there any other actions that you’d like to see?

iPhone App Tips

Posted in Techie, Tips

If you’ve had problems with the callback feature of the iPhone app, check this out.  The symptoms of the problem:  You try to either update your destination or make a call, but when you submit your request by pressing a button the wait cursor just spins and spins forever.  Or, as some users have reported, when they log in, their password fills in automatically – a wrong password.  Try this solution as well.

We’ll have this fixed in the next version of the app, but here’s how you can deal with this now:

  • With your iPhone connected to iTunes, uncheck the app and press sync (a notification will pop up say if you delete this you will lose all data) after it finishes syncing.
  • Sync your phone.
  • Re-check the app again and sync. It should start with blank data.

Android App Tips

Posted in Techie, Tips

We’ve heard some complaints about not being able to use the functionality of the Android application.  The symptoms:  You try to either update your destination or make a call, but when you submit your request by pressing a button, you get just an empty little box that appears for a while and then goes away.

We’ll have this fixed in the next version of the app, but here’s how you can deal with this now:

  1. Open your phone’s Settings.
  2. Go to “Application manager” or “Applications”.
  3. Find the “CallMeInChina” app and click on it.
  4. Press the “Clear Data” button.

Clearing the app’s data will require you to log on again, which will establish a new authentication token and allow you to use the app.

For the next version, we’ll also give you a way to log off.  That’s a popular request.

Security Tip:  On another note, check out the second arrow at the bottom of the screen.  This is where you’ll see the app’s “Permissions” or what the CallMeInChina app is requesting that it be allowed to do.  As you can see, we require the minimum set of permissions:

  1. We need to read your contacts so that when you make a callback, you can raise your contacts and pick a number.
  2. We need network access, of course, so your app can communicate with the CallMeInChina/EasyRinger service.

Be careful of other applications that are requesting more permissions than they need.  Android is generally not as safe an operating system as Apple’s iOS, so you have to pay a little more attention.  You could download an application that is actually trying to do something malicious.  The permissions help you manage this.  If you see that an app is requesting very little permissions, or just enough permissions to accomplish it’s mission, then you can likely place more trust in it.  Watch out for apps that ask for all sorts of permissions that seem to be unrelated to the app’s purpose.  When in doubt, do some online research, ask around, and try to determine the reputation of the app.

Ringing and Busy Signals

Posted in Techie, Tips

One of the most common problems that people report to our support team is that their friends, family, or customers complain that it’s difficult to connect calls; the phone just rings and rings.  Do you know what the number on cause of this is (besides not being available, of course)?

You’re already on the phone!

A system like Call Me in China, which uses a variety of different technologies to achieve a low-cost high quality connection between your home country and China.  Assembling this connection when you make a call is complex.  Each component has to basically connect to the next, which makes creating that connection sometimes fairly slow.  So, your caller may have already heard a ring or two by the time you hear your first ring.

For similar reasons, if you happen to already be on the phone, the line will simply continue to ring instead of resulting in a busy signal.  To be fair, after several rings, the service will report to the caller that the party isn’t answering the phone call.

We are working on improving this experience for our users.  In the meantime, just wait a while and try again.

If you do get non-stop and instant busy signals, this is a sign that something is wrong.  Though rare, this does happen sometimes.  Please let us know right away; it’s usually an easy fix!

Server Upgrades

Posted in News, Techie

We’re happy to hear that many customers have reported improved call quality, including better clarity and less delay.  Well, this is no coincidence.  We’ve upgraded our servers to dedicated Xeon 3400 processor machines.  The Xeon 3400 is a quad-core single-package processor and well-designed for handling a high number of simultaneous calls.  Dedicated machines with higher bandwidth will also push call data in real time.  We’ve also started working with additional partners providing high quality lines to our servers.  All of these updates should translate to improved quality for everyone.

But, do you still have problems with your family, friends, and customers actually connecting to you?  If so, don’t hesitate to let us know.  We’ll do what we can to help you out.

For new folks interested in Call Me in China, we want to remind you that you can try our service risk-free.  If you like the service, that’s great; we’re happy to have you.  If it’s not for you, thanks for at least giving it a try!

Try Call Me in China now – risk free!

Busy Signals?

Posted in News, Techie

We’ve had some reports of an increased amount of busy signals with the Call Me in China service.  We’ve noticed this too.  Why is this happening?  Well, for the second part of December 2010through January of 2011 (yep, through the holidays!), we’ve been looking into ways to improve the service – specifically, to reduce delay and echo.

Much of this effort involves testing out different providers who help to make Call Me in China work.  There are many pieces in the chain involved that we manage in order to make the service as simple to use as possible.  And, it’s our responsibility to find that sweet spot of great overall service.  Sometimes, we may switch out one service in one area, then later try another service in another area, mixing and matching and testing how well everything works together, which pieces play well together and which ones do not.  Most of the testing now involves various number providers and SIP providers.

Good news is that thanks to your support feedback, we’ve narrowed down the issue and are taking steps to fix it.  Now, that doesn’t mean you’ll never hear another busy signal again, but they should be greatly reduced.  We’ll keep you up to date on our progress here so stay tuned.

Also remember, if you do get a busy signal, sometimes just an immediate call back to the same number will allow you to connect – be sure to pass this tip on to folks on the other side of the world who are trying to call you.

Try Call Me in China now – risk free!

Why do my calls hang up sometimes?

Posted in About, Techie

Sometimes folks send support requests indicating that their calls are dropped, hangup, voices drop out, and so on.  Why is this?  Let’s see if we can shed some light on this issue.

Well, a telephone system, end-to-end, is a very complicated beast!  The Call Me in China system is only a part of the mix. In all honesty, most of the time, there’s really no way to determine what exactly happened.  The issues can be at the the point of origin, the destination, somewhere in the middle, a signal loss on one phone (or the other), small incompatibilities in equipment, digital vs. analog, and other more complex and confusing reasons.  The bottom line is that while we can check our system, it’s almost impossible to tell exactly what caused a dropped call.  The best organization at figuring this out is most likely a government agency with deep pockets, access to lots of equipment, and tons of resources!  No lie!

But, all is not lost!  We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our routes to China, upgrading our software, and equipment. Though we may not be able to tell you exactly what’s going on, we can tell if it’s something with our system.  Also, if enough people start commenting on their quality issues, we can start to get a sense of the primary annoyances that most people face. So please feel free to contact us.

Of course, hearing that all is well is even better!  If you’re happy, then we’re very happy.