The Answering Machine

What if somebody calls you with Speak Freely when you're not at the computer? No problem! Enable the built-in answering machine, and everything will be saved for replay when you return.

The answering machine is initially disabled. To activate it, bring up the answering machine dialogue with the Connection/Answering Machine menu item and use the "Browse" button to specify a message file. This file should usually be kept on your hard disc; if you keep it on a RAM drive, all messages will be lost if you reboot the system or suffer a power outage.

After selecting a message file name, check the "Record incoming messages" box and press "Close"; all subsequent messages will be saved in the message file. You can review the messages at any time by opening the Connection/Answering Machine dialogue. The Next, Previous, and Play buttons function in the obvious fashion. Rewind returns to the start of the recorded messages. When you're done replaying messages, press "Erase All" to delete all the messages on the answering machine and reclaim the disc space used to store them. Incoming messages are stored in a .SFM format file specific to Speak Freely and cannot be played with other audio tools.

If you would like to save an important message to a .WAV file, click the "Next" or "Previous" button until the desired message shows up, and click on the "Save Message" button, browse to the directory where you want to save the message, and enter a file name in which to save it. The "Save All" button works the same way, except that it saves all of the messages in a single .WAV file.

If you'd like to send an outgoing greeting message, use Sound Recorder or an equivalent tool to record the message in a .WAV file, then use the "Browse" button to select it as your Outgoing Message File. If the tool you use to record the outgoing message gives you the choice, it's best to record the message as a monaural (one-channel) file with 8000 16-bit samples per second. Speak Freely delays sending the outgoing message until after the incoming message is recorded so that users with half-duplex audio hardware won't lose the message, as would occur were it to arrive while they were still sending. Even so, there's no guarantee a half-duplex user will receive the outgoing message.

The "Clear" buttons allow you to disable the outgoing message and/or incoming message file. Clearing the incoming message file completely disables the Answering Machine.

The three buttons below the message information box allow you to attempt to return calls in three different ways. The "Call IP Address" button opens a connection to the caller's numeric Internet Protocol (IP) address. Use this button to return calls to users with fixed addresses. Users with addresses which change every time they connect to the Internet cannot be contacted this way unless they happen to still be using the same address as they had at the time the message was left.

The "Call Host Name" button is similar, but looks up the user's host name to obtain the address for the connection. In most cases this is equivalent to contacting the IP address and will not work for users with dynamic addresses, but some users employ services which give them a fixed host name which tracks their dynamic IP address; this button permits you to contact such users even if their IP address has changed since the message was left. If the user's host name could not be determined, this button will be disabled.

The "Look Up" button launches a "Look Who's Listening" Phonebook/Search for the user's E-mail address (or other identity, as specified in the Phonebook/Edit Listing dialogue). If the Phonebook/Search dialogue is not currently displayed, it is automatically opened and the search launched. If the dialogue is already open, the E-mail address is entered in the "User" field and a new search performed. If the user is found on-line, you may use the "Connect" button in the Search dialogue to open a connection. If the user who left the message did not specify an E-mail address or equivalent identity, the "Look Up" button will be disabled.

The Options/Window Display Modes menu allows you to configure Speak Freely to automatically open and launch the answering machine dialogue when a new message arrives, and/or display an icon on the taskbar which blinks a notification when one or more new messages are waiting.