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Hi Lobsters!

This is the project I’ve been working on for the last two years. Last week we opened it for a few friends, and after checking that nothing has exploded, I think it’s ready to show it to our fellow internet friends.

Puput is service that lets you listen to your emails (and more) for free when you have no internet, with a missed call. We’ve spent some time doing R+D in the telephony field and we saw that the “tone” that plays before a phone pickup can be changed from the server, so that’s what we did.

The product is basically an email inbox, where you can forward important emails using filters. Postfix is connected to Asterisk, and it will misscall you when there is a new message. You don’t pick up that call, but misscall back. Then the server will play a TTS (or a voice memo, if attached) with the email contents, and hang up… without picking up. That way it’s free, internationally.

Our business model is to go for custom integrations, for businesses. We have more complex products which we think aren’t very attractive to end users, but can be interesting for teams: slack integration (call everyone to make sure a message is received), broadcast audio messages with a single call, alert escalation like pagerduty, package tracking using GPS without a data plan… Business don’t care about the residual costs of a phone call, so Puput can also work with regular calls. However, for end users, being free is a good value proposition.

It’s difficult to find which uses are the best fit for a “new” technology, so we are doing a soft launch – data with missed calls is actually new, but it seems we are the first ones to use it in production.

Please share your feedback!

Carlos

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    Hey Carlos!

    I’m also quite involved in the telephony world, I’m the creator of OpenCNAM: http://www.opencnam.com/

    I’m quite familiar with playing data before the call is Answered using Asterisk, but my understanding of the US law is that doing that is technically considered ‘toll fraud’ by the big phone companies. You might want to make sure you’re safe from prosecution by the big US telcos (wouldn’t want ya to get into trouble).

    Looks like a very cool service otherwise though! All the best

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      Thanks for the advice. This is definitely a gray area; some providers have specific ToS against missed calls, others are happy with them but charge for missed calls, and we’re in a partnership with a local SIP provider who knows about the project and has reached an agreement with us.

      Currently our major problem is the lack of interoperability between networks – especially caller ID, of which I’m sure you know the pain. I’m astonished that calling from one network in one country to another abroad even works. Many of them ignore basic SIP commands or just do the opposite (603 vs 486, you know)

      Anyway, I could ramble about this all day. Telco trouble is one of our major worries, for sure.

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        Welp, best of luck to ya! Tis a very cool project, I hope things work out well.

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      Have you considered leaving voicemails directly on someone’s phone without a missed call? It’s possible to dial into voice mailboxes directly (eg. SlyDial).

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        Hm, that’s a possibility we haven’t explored yet, thanks for the idea!

        However, accessing your voice mail while on roaming costs money, doesn’t it?

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          However, accessing your voice mail while on roaming costs money, doesn’t it?

          Can cost money even when not roaming depending on your contact, it’s only been the last few years in the last 15 I’ve had a contract that hasn’t charged extra for voicemail access. (Although I guess if I’m in my residential country I could just get emails over data, so that’s less of a concern.)

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        By the way, we’re also doing an international phone testing. If for some reason you try it out and find that it’s not working for you, please let me know! I'l greatly appreciate any feedback on that regard since we don’t have the resources to test this by ourselves in every country in the world :)

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          Very cute! I’m in Australia; I dialled the test number, heard the message — I appreciated hearing from the robot itself, hehe — and then got ‘Line busy’ as expected (Android).

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            I tried calling from Google Voice and just got a busy signal after several rings. (The 415 number timestamped about 5 minutes before this post.)

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              Hi Greg, that’s weird, since the call got through and there are no errors. If that’s not much of a bother, could you please try again sometime? Thanks!

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              Calling the number worked as expected (I heard your message and then the robot) from my mobile here in Malaysia. I then received an immediate callback from my network provider here (Celcom) which connected me to their general service line (“press 1 to check your balance…” etc.).

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                We’ve seen weird behaviors from telcos, but you’re the first to report this. Does this happen when doing regular missed calls or international calls? Thanks for your feedback!

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                  Apologies for the delay replying, I missed your message. No, this doesn’t happen with other international calls or missed calls (Celcom usually send me an SMS if I have a missed call).

                  I’ve just tested again now, and I got your message + the robot, as expected… and then no callback from Celcom! Perhaps something has changed in their system in the last month?