I've gone soft!

Yes, perhaps my friends are right. Or perhaps they're just not nice people.

Oh, enough with the trying-to-suspend-the-tension thing, I'm of course talking about my desk phone (a venerable Meridian thingo) being replaced with a Catalina USB phone as part of our Sydney trial of Unified Everything (or just Unified Communications, but communications is everything, innit?).

Yes, Office Communicator 2007 is now my IM client of choice, and the phone on the desk now doesn't have a dial pad.

This initially freaked me out, but then I'm sure* DNS had much the same initial effect on people that were used to remembering their favourite IP addresses - I don't worry about the number any more, just the person I'm calling. Just like a mobile phone. That isn't mobile. That has a stonking huge library of people whose numbers I now don't need to know or care about. Excellent.

I've been pleasantly surprised with the quality (as was Test Subject 1: My Mother) - I have my good ol' "real" Nortel headset plugged in to the headphone slot on the Catalina, and other than a just-perceptible lag (I'm highly perceptive; I twitch, therefore I am), I wouldn't know I was using an IP phone. I'm not talking "oh dear there's lag it's terrible" lag here. This from a twitchy FPS abuser (isn't Bioshock good? ETQW next), to calibrate your expectations appropriately.

I retrofitted tel: protocol dialing (try it! from Start->Run! tel:+61298702132 (er, or a number of your choice in IDD format) - though without an integrated IP phone or a Communicator PABX integrated system, chances are not a lot will happen) to a couple of our case management utilities and reports previously, so despite Clarify not having dialing capabilities directly, I can dial my Clarify customers with a click.

This is cool. This saves me time, and brain stack capacity I can use to solve a problem, rather than run the "dial an unknown number" function, which is remarkably deep in brain-stack-space terms. Might not sound like a big deal, but every day, I have to deal with short-duration-not-worth-remembering numbers, and dialing by contact (or person, or object, or item, or whatever) takes no context switch other than choosing to hit the button and keep thinking about whatever it was (Kerberos, HTTP or sleep, you'll probably find on most days).

The overall Exchange Unified Messaging experience - and it's one I'll hasten to point out I know nothing about in any meaningful sense - has been very, very impressive since the upgrade.

Missed phone calls are emailed to me as voicemail that I can listen to anywhere I can do email (or I can dial in and have my email read to me, and listen to voicemail). Missed IM conversations are emailed to me (I cannot tell you how happy having automatic Conversation History in Communicator makes me. Actually, I'll try: VERY! ), I can dial people by right clicking them in Communicator or Outlook... This is good, I claim. This is the future! (Where are the robots?)