3-1-1 Boston Ad – August 2016

img_7922 This was taken in Boston, when I visited Fenway Park for the first time to witness a Red Sox game. This ad on a public trash can touts Boston’s 3-1-1 citizen service hotline. For many years, there was a ten-digit number – 617-435-3500 or something remotely similar. In the late 2000s, the City of Boston implemented a CRM – that is a Constituent Relations Management software package similar to Customer Relations Management in a private sector customer support line. Despite upgrades to VOIP and a CRM, Boston never switched the three-digit number until the late Thomas M. Menino didn’t run for his fifth term, and sadly passed away a year later. The hesitant to change most likely came from the very top, since Marty Walsh has been Mayor, Boston has seriously moved forward in the operations sense. Since then a similar service is delivered on smartphone apps.

Regardless of the limited fanfare of the number change; Massachusetts is known for (or to encourage) frivolous 9-1-1 calls as well as local conservative talk show hosts mocking 9-1-1 to report post election “hate crimes” which I feel is so inappropriate on so many levels. It is unsure if the mockery is a joke, or dry at least. But there are really some naive dumbos living in the Commonwealth that could follow a talk show host to call 9-1-1 for a hate crime and another hopeless citizen may be put onto another queue to report a life threatening house fire thanks to the talk show hosts being smart alecks. This is the very same reason why 3-1-1 (or other non life threatening calls) was implemented in the first place.


Phone of the Day: LEGOLAND Discovery Center | Boston, Massachusetts

Located just north of the Boston city line, in Somerville, Massachusetts, the LEGOLAND Discovery Center is located in the Assembly Row neighborhood. Unlike the LEGOLAND in California, or Florida, this place is an indoors given the climate of Boston, hazy hot summers, and very cold winters (honestly more of the former than the latter in recent years.)

Anyways these sets of pictures is a workspace of lady named Megan, whom builds little things shown in the Miniland section of the attraction. According to their Facebook page, she is a certified through Lego’s Master Builder Academy.  Things such as characters from The Lego Movie, Wally (and his galpal) from the Boston Red Sox, the four colored puzzle Autism Awareness, etc. I actually met this lady at the Red Sox game that was Lego themed on the 31st. See telephony related post. In fact I found out that this was her work space after I snapped the picture of the notorious Cisco 6921. She came up to me about a few minutes later asking if we met at Fenway. I felt somewhat flattered that someone could recognize me among thousands that come there.

As you can tell, sadly Lego is on the “dark side” of telephony…:(

I was only able to come because the indoor park is only open to adults if you have kids. On the third Wednesdays of every month, they open it to adults for only a couple of hours, despite them selling adult beverages and closing time is bedtime for a 10 year old. (Nine o’ clock.)

I had fun regardless and hope I run into these fine folks again next month. The neighborhood is a wonderful attraction with it being setup as an outdoor mall. Click below the phone to see more Lego related pictures of the workspace.

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Phone of the Day: Avaya 9608 IP Terminal – Fenway Park


I noticed this fine Avaya IP telset yesterday when I went to the historic ball park on the East Coast for the first time to see a Boston Red Sox game. I’ve been to the part a few times before for non Sox events. When I toured the place in 2005, I’ve noticed 6408s in the press box.

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Exclusive: Sidewalk view of Verizon’s CO in Boston!


After heading home from the Boston’s Museum of Science, we took the long way home (apparently) walking from the North End into Government Center to South Station. This is a once-in-a-lifetime or once-in-a-blue-moon event. The Verizon Boston Central office, just blocks away from Government Center, or Boston’s City Hall – has some parts with windows. And these windows you could see through and see wiring panels. MDFs on steroids. I got a handful of clear pictures given it was going into nightfall and I don’t do well with longer shutter speeds with DSLRs. (Not only that but not trying to be a subject by Homeland Security ether…)

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I bet after this gets posted, Verizon will shutter the curtains, but regardless I thought this was exclusive was worth posting.

Phones @ Work – Museum of Science in Boston

Living on the outskirts of the 617 area code; I believe I’ve never been to the Museum of Science in Boston. (long story, not worth going into detail.)

My mother and I wanted to see the Pixar exhibit yesterday (which is closing on January 10th) and thought we’d have the city to ourselves since Boston is like D.C. North with the top heavy government population between the city, federal and Commonwealth. And kids being in school. Well we thought going there at 9 (got there around 11 getting lost) then leaving at the rush north was a pretty dumb idea. And kids were there – apparently local school do these field trips on Thanksgiving week…because when we went to Boston, we went when the weather was warmer – like April.

Regardless, I’m going to assume MOS previously used some Centrex type of service. If you follow other sites, some cities are very vendor heavy, down in North Carolina, almost every business has a Cisco, if you live in Chicago, it’s a pretty heavily Avaya Blue town, and New York is pretty diverse if you take Cisco out of the equation. (Remember me spotting a Comdial in April?)

So from my travels in Boston, many places seemed to be a Centrex town, except for the large for profits, the Massachusetts state government, etc.

So the Museum of Science appears to have been the early adopters of Cisco IPT, because many of their sets seemed to be the first or second generation. I am going to assume that this set is a Cisco 7912 (because it came before the 7911) because many of the multilines are 79x0s…My gawd, are those sets antiques!


As you can tell in this picture, the phone is about 6 and a half to 7 feet above the floor so no kid prank calls 911 or something stupid like that. If you’re a petite 5’1 woman, well good luck to you, hopefully your WiFi Cisco phone will save you to make a call!

I haven’t been to the MFA, I’ve been to the Children’s (and Computer) Museum and the New England Aquarium, I can confirm the latter had adopted Cisco from a Centrex (or a system that just hosted only 2500 sets) a while back too.

Cisco is pretty much a prettified Centrex or Analog Telephony service. And if you understood the Pixar exhibit of the needing to understand coding, well you will need to know IOS inside out; and of course telephony skills aren’t required because you know moving forward with “new solutions” often equates to falling backwards to the 1800s all over again, just it transmits on IP instead of copper electricity!

Phones @ Work – Avaya 6408 – WGBH-TV Boston, Mass

This photo was taken by Abby_Ballou on Twitter. WGBH apparently did their 50th annual auction on air I believe for the first time in many years. Apparently it was on last week (late May as opposed to early June.)  The auction is drastically different than in previous years when it was done at their Allston studios. The old set used to update prices and items on the various tables using whiteboards, and I think they went all digital.

I wasn’t sure if the on air auction still existed or not, because I don’t watch PBS that often anymore, and always had it in my mental calendar they would do their auction on the first calendar week of June.

Since this is a phone blog, the set has mixed labels of both Lucent and Avaya 6408 sets. These used to be in their old Allston studios, right next door to “Havhard” University. When they moved to Brighton, they literally moved at least the telsets over, and probably the PBX unit as well, whether its a CMC, MCC switching with a PPN processor;  an 8700 on G650 gateways – I have no idea. As with many legacy studios that need to be in tapeless HD first, and VOIP second, it’s not surprising to see tons of DCP sets here.

You can’t tell in this picture, but when I volunteered in 2006, the 6408’s desi strip basically used the three call appearances to instruct the volunteer manager to log the call takers in (they use an ACD setup, probably the basic with call vectoring too perhaps.) Other spaces on the strip also instructs the person to do additional things. This shows the creativity of helping non technical people, and the case for desi strips in a digital world of screen based phones. Want more reasons? Read the comments on the 8434 set.

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Private Systems – WGBH, Boston, MA

This posting today comes from a Tweet from the account of Beat the Press, one of the handful of local (non national) programs produced by the giant of public broadcasting here in the states known as WGBH in Boston. The said program has since been aired on other stations outside the Boston or WGBH’s coverage area such as Springfield, New Hampshire and others since technology has shrunk and WGBH’s responsibilities have been added to serve as a master control to several PBS stations/networks around Central, Western and Northern New England. Yup, WGBH is one of the many stations just like everyone else who has used a Definity-class PBX.

This control room picture shows two Lucent labeled 6408s, which could be as old as 16 years. These telephones once were in their old facility. WGBH literally moved their phones over, and by no pictorial evidence had they ever gone to IPT at all. Now for large non profit entity, you’d only see such moving old phones and cutovers for smaller, true non profits. But for WGBH it was surprising to see.

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Private Systems: Boston Medical Center (2010)

5 years ago on Thursday, I had a major life event occurring at the Boston Medical Center. I had jaw surgery and this wasn’t the typical outpatient type of procedure, it required an overnight stay and being wired shut for a couple of weeks. My mother treated me to a Bruins game before and staying at the beautiful Boston Harbor Hotel (pictures are here)  and I stayed overnight at BMC.

I had to get there for 6:15 in the morning and go through preop. Due to my sensitivity to needles, they had to use laughing gas, which in turn my anxiety went through the roof. So in fact I was awake as I was wheeled from the pre op to the OR. The last couple of telephones before I finally went to sleep (and thankfully I had great people who made it painless as possible) where 2 Avaya 8410 telephone sets (one the OR and one in the hallway.)


a picture of an 8410 telephone from Avaya

(Not the exact phone that I would see, but this is one taken in one of my many visits there.)


In the post op, the rooms were noisy and heard the various Avaya phones ring in the area. I vaguely remember a 6408 where I was staying.

I was put into a recovery room from Friday night into Saturday afternoon, in the pediatrics wing, in the Menino Pavilion. The interesting setup there was the paging, they would page staff or doctors if they needed to take calls on “Line A” or “Line B”. This setup is much like the old Key systems, where each outside line would be associated on a button individually. You’d ask why did they choose letters? Well the Definity/CM/Aura system, line buttons are in letter form, even though in the system programming you set up buttons by its numeral position. For the end user its easier to tell what’s a feature and what’s a telephone line. Avaya setups vary from customer to customer, some will use “Call a”, “Line a” or repeat the extension/phone number 3 times on the designation strip, as many phones are by default handle up to 3 concurrent calls, theoretically supporting 64 call appearances, virtually infinite because the maximum of physical buttons can go up to just 48 on most Avaya sets. If a user gets a lot of calls, that’s where the “Menu” function comes in handy, features that can be accessed through the LCD and when a feature is activated, a down arrow appears and act as the green LED.


Boston Medical from the best of my knowledge was once the municipal hospital before it went to a private/non profit. It’s also the teaching hospital for Boston University’s Medical schooling. The facilities are at least more than a dozen buildings scattered around South Boston.  In every BMC/BUMC building I was in, I’ve ran into the various Definity telephones from the 7400s, to the 8400s and 6400s, and analogs here and here. They may have gone to some VOIP implementation since.

Avaya 8410 Digital Voice Terminal

This was taken in April of 2010, after a surgery done at Boston Medical Center. This place appears to have been users dating from the System 75 or System 85 PBX systems because I had seen 7410s, 8410s and 6400s and everything in between. This complex also houses the Boston University Medical School, which uses the Boston Medical’s network. I don’t know how many ports this place has – but its a big hospital compared to what I have seen where I live. Could be in the low tens of thousands.

a picture of an 8410 telephone from Avaya


the phone appears to not be working. You may ask why? Well other than the screen now showing any information, the second sign, is the first left hand button should have a red light indicating that line (or “call appearance”) is ready to be used and is in idle state.

[Really] Private Systems: Massachusetts State House

These sets of pictures were taken in 2009 at the Massachusetts State House. The government of Commonwealth of Massachusetts have been long time Avaya users dating back to the late 1980s.  If you are a native to that state, you should be proud that your tax dollars were at work from upgrading to the latest and greatest office telephones. However, as of these exposures, I would highly assume they are still use the 6400 series telephones.

An Avaya 6424 and a 6408 Digital telephone at the House Chambers of the Massachusetts State House.

I do not have any clue what is in the backend of the Boston area telephone network. Its a Definity based system but that’s all I know. I don’t know how many nodes, how many unique PBX systems that are located throughout the Boston area. Unlike the state that borders far west,  the Commonwealth is often tight lipped about telling anyone anything about the government. I do know Massachusetts has a headcount of maybe just north of 50,000 employees – yeah that’s a lot for a government sector.

This news footage shows a lady making a phone call on ether an AT&T/Avaya 7405 or a 7434 terminal with a florescent screen adjunct in 1991. From  YouTube user: MSTS1

Another unknown is how their dialing plan works. I remember going into one of the elevators was a 7 digit telephone number to reach the campus security. The  Commonwealth does not publish a government directory, nor do they have an online directory. Nor their western counterpart  publishes even a  guide to learn their telephones. They are very secretive in that state, and there is no such thing as public knowledge (don’t say its a security issue – that’s an excuse!)

Some pictures taken in 2010 when I visited there in October with some better quality of images of their super-private of private systems.

Another shot of the press office with very dated key telephones.

That’s all for now!