2.1. Hacks 827: Introduction
To take advantage of computerized telephony, you don't need a VoIP gateway, a fancy Internet Protocol (IP) phone, or an open source PBX (though those are certainly fun, hackworthy telephony goodies). Your desktop PC can be the nerve center of all your voice communications, replacing your telephone, your caller ID display, your answering machine or voicemail, and possibly even your phone bill (some VoIP services will bill you electronically).
Some pretty amazing software goodies are available to make your voice communication life a real joy. Programs like Gizmo Project and Skype let you make voice calls to buddies around the globefor free. Some of these programs have built-in voicemail and call recording, and most are cross-platform, offering support for Mac, Windows, and Linux.
Hardware contraptions and telephony automation software bring even more exciting capabilities to the table. With a telephone-line interface for the Mac or a voice modem in a Windows PC, all you need is the right software to tie your phone completely to your desktopbut don't forget your wireless headset. VoIPing is much cooler when you aren't physically bound to your PC.
So don't delay; dig in to this grab bag of desktop telephony ideas. They're just the tip of the iceberg.