To preface, my home and lab phone systems are driven by Asterisk -- technically an aging TrixBox installation running under VMware ESX 3. It runs two SIP trunks and two analog lines, handles all voicemail, routes calls through the cheapest service for any given destination, and even irons my shirts.
I've found a new way that it can brighten my life, however. I live in New Hampshire. That means that early January in an election year becomes a whirlwind of phonecalls, doorbells, and half a dozen poster-sized glossy mailers in the mailbox every day, hawking all the candidates you've ever heard of, and those you've never heard of. Today's primary will cause this nonsense to throttle down somewhat, but the past week has been really rough. My Asterisk system has logged roughly 20 phone calls per day from all the candidates. Fortunately, only a few of those actually made the phones ring -- the rest were shunted directly to a recording I made where I thanked the caller to never, ever call back, and that while I support the democratic process, I've chosen not to accept any phone calls from any candidates. It's proven exceptionally useful, especially when looking through the logs. It's not perfect, however, since I have to get a call from a number before I can match on that to shunt the call, but that means that all the calls from 000-000-0000 go unnoticed, as do the staggering number of calls from JOHN EDWARDS FOR AMERICA. I didn't vote for him.
Score one for the geek, I guess. In the next few weeks, I'll be transitioning my Asterisk installation to TrixBox Pro for a test -- no more VM, it'll run on real hardware, and use real FXO/FXS linecards rather than the Sipura/LinkSys ATAs I'm using now. Hopefully it'll be a simple process, since at this point, I don't think I can do without it. It's just too darn useful.