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OS X Businesses Operating Systems Software Utilities (Apple) Apple

Screening for Fax Calls with Panther? 42

Peter Brodsky asks: "Panther advertises faxing as one of its cool, new features. If you're like me, and you have one land line, which you use for DSL and voice, you don't want to hook up a fax machine that will answer after X rings, because if after X rings it picks up and starts beeeep, beeep, bleeeeping at you, you cut yourself off from voice mail... which is programmed to pick up after Y rings. Is there a way to make your Panther box 'screen' for fax calls before it picks up?"
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Screening for Fax Calls with Panther?

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  • Sort of (Score:4, Informative)

    by m0rph3us0 ( 549631 ) on Monday December 08, 2003 @06:35PM (#7663232)
    You can get some software to turn your mac into a voicemail server. Then you can screen it effectively. Otherwise you'll need to pickup a device that will screen the call and then direct it to the appropriate device.

    It would probably be more cost effective to signup for that efax service where faxes come into your email box.

    Basically, you'll end up wasting alot of time for a few buck a month.
    • I would love to hear about a software solution for OS X to turn my Mac into a voicemail/fax machine.

      As I recall it, it's not possible due to the modem that is inclued in standard in todays computer. They are not meant for that use.

      I remember a (now old) Performa 5200 that would do that using a software provided with the OS at the time ! Why did they stop that amazing piece of hardware/software ?
  • Faxes? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Who Faxes Anymore?
  • a guess (Score:2, Informative)

    by ross_winn ( 610552 ) *
    (I haven't upgraded to Panther) Find out if the Fax recognizes a distinctive ring. If it does the use the distinctive ring number for your faxes.
  • Multi-ring (Score:5, Interesting)

    by krray ( 605395 ) * on Monday December 08, 2003 @06:44PM (#7663308)
    Well ... as I'm not sure if the Apple modem's support mutli-ring service ... you could always get a second phone number (typically $5/mo from the telco) which will come in multi-ring. There are devices to route calls based on ring (Radio Shack used to carry one, not sure anymore).

    Now -- if you're smart you'll get a new number and make that your base number. Your home phone will be the multi-ring #. The benifit is that the multi-ring number is not listed or published. I did this for years (upon getting a new home number) to instantly do away with telemarketing calls. All sales people and stores get the base/fax/whatever number.

    Today -- I still do the same except my base ISDN# is just always busy (unless I am expecting a fax). The second number is for voice. Other benefits include multi-line home number, always send the busy # out on CID and give that number to store clerks or use it for fax as needed -- including the fact that since it is a digital circuit (SBC now) it is automatically non-listed/published as well. Literally no telemarketing calls for years.

    I know my parents still do the multi-ring setup with one device as the POP box. Multi-ring calls go out to the house line and straight rings are routed (silently) to the newly run fax line in the den. Telemarketing calls? Also -0-
  • by cjhuitt ( 466651 ) on Monday December 08, 2003 @06:45PM (#7663321)
    But you could do it the "old fashioned" way, which is what I'm planning on doing. If somebody needs to send me a fax, they can call me first and tell me. Then, I'll let the computer answer it.

    Unfortunately, Panther (with this feature) came out just _after_ I had finished the process of buying a home. (For anyone who's never gone through the process, there was a large amount of faxing to be done, between about 4 different parties.) It would have made some things much simpler, instead of my wife using the one at her job, and needing to hop down to the office 2 floors below her to receive an incoming fax.
  • by Mordant ( 138460 ) on Monday December 08, 2003 @06:52PM (#7663374)
    If you just set your Mac running Panther to answer all your incoming calls with its FAX-modem, won't that have the effect of screening out FAX calls, along with bill-collectors, telemarketers, annoying family-members, etc.? ;>
  • by perrin5 ( 38802 )
    not really. the options outlined below about distinctive ring of a second line is about the closest you'll get.

    There might be a way to link it up with caller id, and make a "whitelist" of fax numbers. Other than that, a fax machine can't make the phone ring differently, so you'll have to deal with it some other way.
  • by Brontojoris ( 528644 ) on Monday December 08, 2003 @07:10PM (#7663517) Homepage
    Once again, you can find the answer to this question on MacOSXHints:

    10.3: Enable Disctinctive Ring fax answering [macosxhints.com].
  • by Anonymous Freak ( 16973 ) <prius@driver.mac@com> on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:28PM (#7664325) Journal
    If you are using voice mail (phone co-provided, not a box at your house,) then you're pretty much out of luck. Because in order to detect a fax call from a voice call, you have to answer it. If you have a device (like one of those silly 'Catch-A-Call's,) pick up the line to detect what kind of call it is, then the phone company provided voice mail won't pick up.

    If you use a physical answering machine in your home (digital or old-fashioned tape,) then you're in luck. You can set your fax machine to 'TAD'. (Or 'External Answer') This sets it to passively listen to the phone line, but not pick up the line ever. Then, if someone faxes in, and either you pick up and answer, or your answering machines picks up the fax machine will detect the incoming fax, and pick up. (That's how I have my multifunction machine set up.)

    Unfortunately, I can't find such a 'TAD answer' setting in Panther. Panther only seems to support having itself answer after 'x' rings.

    So, for having PANTHER do it, you're out of luck period. If you're using phone company voice mail, you're out of luck. If you're using an answering machine and a separate fax machine, use 'TAD'.
  • by stienman ( 51024 ) <.adavis. .at. .ubasics.com.> on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:40PM (#7664424) Homepage Journal
    If by 'Voice mail' you mean, "My phone company's voice mail service" then no, there is NO way for ANY home connected device to see if there's a fax machine on the other end of the line without actually answering the call - you have to use distinctive ring, or a seperate line.

    If by 'Voice mail' you mean 'Answering machine on the same line' then any intelligent faxing application will listen to the line after it's been answered for the telltale beeps and take over if necessary. This means that if you or voice mail picks up, the fax machine should recognize the beeps. The answering machine may or may not record the conversation depending on how smart it is.

    Your best bet is to use distinctive ring, OR use panther as your answering machine/fax machine, and it should take care of all of it for you.

  • My old Supra FAX Modem 288 has a feature called "silent answer". When the phone rings, it listen to the line without answering it, if it hears a fax's beep beep beep it answers the call, otherwise it doesn't. That worked pretty well, but I'm not sure if Panther supports it.
  • Every time this issues comes up, I keep thinking of Apple's canned GeoPort thing. While not a modem per say, this signal processing external device was used to emulate a voice-fax-modem. With proper software, it was used to automatically take calls and manage incoming and outgoing faxes. It also served as a 14k modem. It worked beautifully. In one demonstration Apple had made on stage in a mid 1990s World Wide Developer Conference, some guy (using a cell phone) called in a number that was monitored by a com
  • by Offwhite98 ( 101400 ) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @03:00PM (#7670968) Homepage
    I was looking into a voicemail solution for OS X when my old answering machine finally gave out. I looked and figured that with the new phone number portability in the US I will simply move to a new provider and that voicemail solution should suffice.

    But this question got me thinking. I would never need to use OS X as a voicemail/fax system if I move entirely to a cell phone, but it sure would be great if Apple could work with the cellphone providers to make my voicemail and faxes available from my broadband connected home computer. I could get faxes as a PDF and voicemail and an MP3. I do avoid listening to my voicemail on my cellphone because it is very awkward and difficult to hear. Apple should more closely integrate Apple Mail, iChat, and the Address Book with a cellphone service which would make fax and voicemails easily accessible from the desktop as a communications hub, and it could all be done over my broadband connection.
  • Perhaps it makes sense to switch between voicemail and fax on the second call? I.e. when you call your home number, fax picks up, records the caller id info. Then you hang up, and dial number again. Seeing that caller ID is the same, and last attempt to receive fax has failed, fax ignores this call completely and you get to your voicemail. At this point flag gets reset again, and next call will be picked up by fax etc...
  • by jub ( 10089 )
    just written up and posted:
    http://hivelogic.com/macfax.php [hivelogic.com]

    basically, you get a distinctive ring tone from your phone company for the fax line, and the panther fax software will distinguish.
  • Lots of businesses still use faxes for accepting resumes, etc.


  • I recently bought the Phlink telecom adapter [ovolab.com], which seems to have the functionality of the old Geoport adapter. The accompanying software can recognise DTMF codes and can sample sound (i.e. an answering machine), which it can send to you by email. I do not know if the developer Ovolab [ovolab.com] has plans for fax functionality, but maybe it can supply an Apple event structure to 'wake' the built-in fax server for Panther if it detects a fax tone. Axel

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