Several months ago I purchased a Caller-ID modem so I could see who was calling from my computers. I had also hoped to setup a program to e-mail me whenever someone calls. It wasn’t something I needed to do. It was just something I wanted to do. Every now and then I have the urge to start some odd computer project though I rarely follow through on it.

I purchased a U.S. Robotics Data/Fax Winmodem from Wal-Mart, which was my gamble for this project. It’s been my experience that computer equipment purchased from Wal-Mart is:
(a) limited in functionality
(b) difficult to find support for
(c) the same model is never sold after I purchase one
(d) all of the above

Finding the support information for this modem is tricky. Regardless, it did work fine in Windows XP. However, since it’s a Winmodem the odds of being able to use it in Linux were remote and in the end it wouldn’t work. At the time I would have preferred to install it in the Web server I was operating from home, but it was an impulse buy so I don’t have justification for complaining about compatability (it won’t work in OS X, either). I used it for a while in my Windows XP desktop system but after awhile I took that system off-line.

When I had the modem operating in that system I used YAC (Yet Another Caller ID Program) to monitor incoming calls and broadcast the Caller-ID information to “listeners” running on my other computers. It’s a simple program that works very well. It’s also used to broadcast Caller ID data to Tivo boxes and modified X-Boxes running XBMC.

The project was shelved for a while but recently I took the server off-line since I’m now hosting this site through a third-party. I decided to put the old Web server to good use by retasking it as a multimedia center that now resides in my entertainment center. So far this new project is going well, though I have the uncertain task of finding a half-height AGP video card with S-Video that will fit the old server.

When I had the modem working the first time I was looking for a program to analyze the YAC log file and send me e-mail alerts when I someone called. I don’t know how I missed this program since it’s been out for about a year, but tonight I came across YacMon. YacMon does exactly what I was looking for. You’ll need to register with the site where it is hosted in order to download it.

Like YAC, YacMon is a relatively simple program. It’s command-line based so you’ll need to do some extra work to set it up as a service. I may attempt that tomorrow night. I have it working so now it will send me e-mail alerts when someone calls. Unfortunately, I could not get it configured to connect to my ISP’s SMTP server. I don’t have to use authentication at home so I shouldn’t have to enter anything but the SMTP server name. After quite some time of altering the configuration and calling my phone from my cellphone and not getting any results I fired up Ethereal and I think I isolated the problem though there doesn’t appear to be anything I can do about it. Apparently, YacMon stamps the sender of the e-mail as yacmon@yourmailserver.net. My ISP doesn’t seem to allow this. My best guess is that it either checks the e-mail username against existing accounts and/or it verifies whether or not that account is associated with my DSL circuit. The only way to correct this is to contact the program author and request that the ability to change the sender be added to the command-line options. In the end I fell back to the default setting, which uses HTTP to connect to a server in order to send the e-mails.

YAC: Yet Another Caller ID Program

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