Happy Holidays!

Just in time for the holidays we released PhoneTray Dialup 2.37 and PhoneTray Free 1.37. You can download new versions from www.phonetray.com. Upgrading is simple: download and install new version into the same folder where previous version is installed. All your settings, call history and privacy manager numbers will be intact.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See you all in 2010!

Nobody told me it’s impossible, so I did it.

I just read this great post on Derek Sivers’s blog: There’s no speed limit. (The lessons that changed my life.) You should go and read it right now because what Derek says is so inspirational and so true. There is no limit to what you can achieve if you are motivated and inspired. I want to tell you how I started programming, hope you find it relevant and interesting.

I was 14 when my girlfriend at the time told me that her uncle got a home computer. It was Yamaha MSX and it was one of the first home computers in our town. Of course it had games and I started playing until my girlfriend’s patience ran out. After playing games for a couple of days I was very curious how it all works. I asked and asked, and after a while was given MSX BASIC book, I assume just to stop me from bothering everyone with all those questions 🙂 I still remember that it was a xerox copy, pages and pages of poorly translated text with some code and pictures. We didn’t study programming or computers in school, so it was all very new, strange and foreign. But I was captivated. I read the book couple of times (don’t remember if I understood much after the first reading) and after several days I started writing a game. Graphical card game. In MSX BASIC. Using pen and paper. You see, I had access to the computer only few times a week for an hour or two. I had to be ready to type in and run my code when I get to the computer.

So here I was, writing BASIC code on paper and tracing it line by line with my index finger 🙂 But it turned out it’s hard to add something in the middle of your code when you write it on paper. I started to leave every other line empty so I could put another line of code in between but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t know (or didn’t understand) about subroutines/functions but I figured out GOTO. It was great! I could put  GOTO on an empty line and execute additional code written on a separate piece of paper. I know all programmers are laughing reading this, but I was happy that I didn’t have to squeeze several lines of code into one line in the notepad anymore!

Showing playing cards on the screen was hard. You just can’t hold all those pixels and coordinates in your head. But I found the way. I got sheets of graph paper and drew X and Y axes with screen coordinates on them. I could put dots on paper so they form a picture I wanted, then check coordinates of each dot and enter them into my program. It worked! Graph paper was my video memory simulator 🙂 Later I figured out how to copy small picture from one place on the screen to another (sprite graphics) and things became much easier.

I don’t want to bore you with other details but in a month or so my game was working. It grew to 40 pages of BASIC code in my notepad and it was a mess but it worked! It was shuffling a deck using random number generator, displaying cards, making decisions how to play and even winning against human opponents from time to time! I was so thrilled! By the end of that summer (I started at the beginning of summer break) I got crafty and even programmed the game to cheat a little.

Now if you ask anyone they would say that learning programming like that is just not possible. I would say the same thing myself if it wasn’t me who started that way. But back then nobody told me it’s impossible, so I did it. I wasn’t lucky enough to have a teacher to challenge me like Derek’s teacher but I was motivated. No, I was MOTIVATED. I was INSPIRED. I wanted to make it work. It was hard and it was challenging but I loved every minute of it. And over 20 years later I still remember the thrill of seeing my program work for the first time. That’s why I became a programmer and that’s why I write code every day.

Derek Sivers is right. There’s no speed limit. You can do so much more than anyone expects if you’re passionate about it. And it doesn’t matter if everyone says that you want to do the impossible.

The Future of PhoneTray

It’s hard to believe but PhoneTray is over 6 years old. PhoneTray Free 1.0 was released on October 18th, 2003. We were working on PhoneTray Free for all those years but other things always had higher priority. A big part of the problem is that PhoneTray Free is free. We get only 3-5 donations per month and we have to work on other projects and do consulting work to make money. That’s why new versions of PhoneTray are released not very often lately.

I know that many of you like PhoneTray and a lot of people find it useful: PhoneTray Free was downloaded over 2 million times and has (as far as I can tell) at least 50,000 active users. I want to assure you that we are committed to PhoneTray and want to continue development. I believe it’s our mission to save the world from telemarketers or run out of money trying 🙂 We are working on the new, designed from scratch PhoneTray software that will be much better than PhoneTray Free. Here is what we are planning for the future:

PhoneTray Pro

PhoneTray Pro is a direct successor to PhoneTray Free. It will do everything that PhoneTray Free does and will have improved interface and many new features. Below is the list of major improvements over current PhoneTray:

  • Automatic blocking of thousands of known telemarketers and phone scammers. Phone Pro will use our www.phonetray.net online database to block calls from phone numbers that telemarketers and phone scammers use. You will get automatic protection right away without manually adding numbers that you want to block.
  • Built-in answering machine. PhoneTray Pro will have built-in voice mail system that you can use instead of your answering machine. PhoneTray Pro will protect its voice mail from robocalls, so you won’t get recorded messages left by computer autodialers.
  • Network support. PhoneTray Pro will run on the computer that has dial-up modem connected to the phone line, but you will be able to get call notifications on any other computer on your local network.
  • Call recording. You will be able to record phone conversation when needed or automatically record all calls from selected numbers.
  • Direct modem access. PhoneTray Pro will work with modems directly without using Windows TAPI driver. This will improve caller id decoding and solve many problems with incompatible modem drivers.

We are planning to sell PhoneTray Pro packaged with the Hiro USB voice modem for $45-$55 or software only for $25-$35.

PhoneTray Web

PhoneTray Web will use the same core software as PhoneTray Pro but with the web-based interface. Small client software that uses your dial-up modem to monitor incoming calls will have to be installed on your computer, but everything else will be done on the web. Your data will be safely stored on our server, encrypted and password-protected. You will be able to access call log, voice mail, contacts etc. using your login/password from any computer connected to the internet. PhoneTray Web will automatically block telemarketers and phone scammers like PhoneTray Pro but will offer some additional features:

  • Voice mail with web access. As PhoneTray Pro, PhoneTray Web will have built-in voice mail system plus you can check your messages from any computer.
  • Web-based phone book/contact list. You can add your contacts to the web-based phone book and the contact info will show up on incoming calls. You will be able to synchronize your contact list with other services like Google Contacts, Yahoo! Contacts and (eventually) with your iPhone, Blackberry or Android phone.
  • Web-based privacy management. Like PhoneTray Pro, PhoneTray Web will automatically block thousands of known telemarketers and phone scammers. In addition, you will be able to change all privacy settings, create your own blacklists and whitelists, select zap messages etc. on the web.
  • Email and instant messenger notifications. You will be able to get incoming call notifications on your MSN Messenger, ICQ, AIM, Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk. Also PhoneTray Web will be able to send you an email when a call comes in or when a caller leaves voice mail.

We are planning to offer PhoneTray Web service for $3-$5 per month. We will also offer a starter package with Hiro USB voice modem, client software and 3 months of  service for $30-$35.

We need your feedback!

There are only 2 of us who develop PhoneTray and we need to concentrate on one of those projects. What do you want more, PhoneTray Pro or PhoneTray Web? Eventually we want to have both but we have to finish one of them first.

[poll id=”1″]

Please vote and leave your comments. Tell us what you think about PhoneTray Pro and PhoneTray Web. Tell us what you want to get from PhoneTray in the future. Your comments are always welcome!

AddTapi.NET updated to v2.0.2

We released new version of AddTapi.NET build This is a small update with only 2 changes.

1. TapiCall.GatherDigits() now stops playback when first digit is entered. This works better when user starts entering digits while voice prompt is still playing. In previous versions the prompt was playing until all digits are entered, and on some telephony hardware the prompt sounded choppy in this case.

2. The following problem with AddTapi.NET on Panasonic PBX was fixed: When extension is open for monitoring in AddTapi.NET, the call from this extension to a busy number disconnects automatically, so the user can’t take actions on her phone, for example, to wait for a callback.

The latest build is avaiable at www.traysoft.com. If you want to update your purchased version please send an email to devtools@traysoft.com.

Welcome to our blog!

Hi! My name is Michael Rakita and I am the founder and CEO of Traysoft Inc. After 6 years of running Traysoft I decided it’s time to start a blog. Well, better late than never 🙂

I will post news and announcements about Traysoft and our software, discuss new features we are planning to add and our ideas for new projects. I will also write about technologies that we use and about software business in general.

Welcome to our blog! I hope you will find it interesting and useful.