Tag Archives: skype

How to Communicate With Others

When was the last time you actually made a phone call for no other reason than to simply talk to someone? How long ago was it that you sat down and wrote a letter to send through the postal service? These forms of communication were the way we connected with others for many MANY years, and they are apparently a dying art form these days. I admit that I haven’t done either of these things in far longer than I can really remember. There are just too many other ways for me to get ahold of someone, do business with them or reach out to make a connection.

Why would we send a hand-written missive and pay money for a stamp, only to have it arrive several days later – if at all? We can sign into our email program of choice, type out our thoughts and have the completed message show up in the other party’s inbox within seconds… for “free” (not counting the cost you already shell out for your Internet connection).

Even though most of us have cell plans which include unlimited calling (or at least during nights and weekends), it’s still easier to use other means of speaking with others. I’m sitting at my computer working most of the day, so it’s just simpler to click that button on Skype when I need to hear another person’s voice. Heck, I’ll admit it: I don’t much like having to voice chat anyway. If there is business communication to be done, I prefer handling it via email. This allows me to keep track of the prior portions of a conversation for future reference. It also lets me be in control of when I reply.

Using voice communication can actually be a burden. As I just mentioned, you have the burden of being “on” during every moment of a conversation. Your attention shouldn’t wander… you need to focus right then and there. If you’re buried in a project, having to stop and take calls can be a huge downer. With an email, you can put off your response until you have the time to dedicate to the person trying to get your attention.

How do you talk to others? I have a feeling that social networks will actually be near the top of the list for many of you out there, along with email and VOiP services.

Will Microsoft Ruin Skype?

Good grief, people! The news officially broke less than ten minutes ago, and already the naysayers are screaming all over my Twitter stream. I counted at least fifteen “omg Microsoft will ruin it!” messages in under two minutes. I think that just may be a record. The speed with which y’all are dismissing the potential alarms me, to be honest. What happened to giving something a chance before proclaiming its imminent demise?

Over on TechCrunch, Robin Wauters reminded us that “the many tech industry pundits and analysts will look at this deal from all possible angles and then some, and still only a handful will end up being somewhat accurate when we look back in a couple of years.” In this case, “many” refers to about a kabillion people. A “handful” points to about three persons who might – sort of – get it right.

We can theorize until our fingers turn blue. We can tear this deal apart from the inside out, analyzing every possible angle. At the end of the day, we will likely all be dead wrong with our findings. We cannot predict the future any more than we can vacation on Mars. The cool thing, though, is that this deal has the potential to be pretty damned awesome. Why aren’t more of you opening your minds to that possibility? What good does focusing on the negatives do anyone?

Are you being sheep? Is your fanboy side coming out? Seriously, y’all – think for just a moment about what this could mean. Imagine a world where you can integrate Skype with your Kinect system. Take a few moments to ponder what businesses will be able to do when using Skype inside of their currently installed Windows applications. Allow your brain to realize what CAN come out of this deal instead of spreading doom and gloom from the get-go.

Skype’s current user base is six million or so registered users – which is nothing to sneeze at. The service connects people in every corner of the world every moment of every day. The growth potential is astronomical if done correctly. Can Microsoft pull it off? Only time will tell, I suppose. I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt because I can see the possibilities.

I think this deal makes sense. I predict that Microsoft may just surprise you with this one. Then again, I could be one of the masses who were proven to be wrong at some point in the future.

Skype Purchases Qik

If you’ve owned a smartphone at any point in the past few years, you’ve likely heard of Qik. This company was the first to offer live streaming video from the iPhone – and several Android devices. I remember how cool it was to be able to stream live video to a virtually unlimited number of live viewers using nothing but a jailbroken iPhone 3G in the early days of the Qik service.

Qik has come a long way since then, and Skype has taken notice of it. Earlier Today, Skype announced that they have purchased their “competetor” Qik. I don’t think anybody saw this one coming, but it could pay off for Skype depending on what exactly they plan to do with it.

Skype’s new CEO, Tony Bates, wouldn’t discuss the purchase price or any future plans for their integration. However, Bates did say that Skype is planning to “work closely with Qik.” As of now, we have no idea what this means. We’re uncertain of how – or when – Skype will integrate Qik into their service and brand.

Bates also declined to discuss the failed video-chat tablet demo that was almost shown at the Nvidia press conference yesterday. Skype has made several other announcements which include: Paid group calls with up to 10 users per call, Skype on TVs and Blu-ray players made by Sony and Vizio, as well as Skype in classrooms and developing countries to help communities in need.

Skype for iPhone – Full of Win

I think everyone uses Skype these days – and half of everyone has an iPhone. My numbers could be slightly exaggerated, but I know I’m not that far off. Skype is exceedingly popular, as is the Apple phone. Having a full-featured, well-working app for iOS simply makes sense, and that’s what Skype has delivered.

The new video chat function works both over WiFi and 3G networks and two-way video calling is supported by the iPhone 4, iPod touch 4, and iPhone 3GS. The iPad and third generation iPod touch support one-way video calling. Just like on Apple’s FaceTime application Skype for iPhone will video conference in both portrait and landscape orientations.

“The new Skype app expands the number of those who have access to video-calling on their Apple devices, as Apple’s new Facetime only works on iPhone 4 and Mac computers.” Skype says there are approximately 25 million concurrent users logged into Skype at any given time.

Video chats make up a large percentage of all Skype calls. approximately 40% of all Skype-to-Skype minutes for the first six months of 2010, according to Neil Stevens, Skype’s general manager of consumer business. “By bringing video to mainstream users at their home or work via their desktops, on the go with their mobiles, or into their living room via their TV, Skype has made it possible for millions of people to share their video moments wherever they are.”

Skype Service Crashes and the World Cries

Do you have any idea how many people have been flipping out today because they could not connect to Skype? We’ve long heard the “number” – the amount of people who use the popular calling service as reported by the company. However, the actual impact of Skype truly never hit home until today. When the service went unavailable to everyone… the world began to cry.

The enormity of Skype going down is appreciated when you consider that last year it accounted for 12 percent of the world’s international calling minutes. The last major downtime experienced was just over three years ago, so having it crash in this manner today has left many people scrambling for alternatives. The problem is, though, that people may not have contact information for their Skype friends to be used on other services.

Skype isn’t a network like a conventional phone or IM network – instead, it relies on millions of individual connections between computers and phones to keep things up and running. Some of these computers are what we call ‘supernodes’ – they act a bit like phone directories for Skype. Under normal circumstances, there are a large number of supernodes available. Unfortunately, today, many of them were taken offline by a problem affecting some versions of Skype.

I’ve heard rumblings and speculations about this whole “problem affecting some versions of Skype.” Remember, folks, it was only a week ago we were talking about Skype forcing updates to their newest version. There are speculations and rumors floating everywhere regarding this, as always happens when something we rely on suddenly won’t work.

What are your thoughts? Have you been stranded today without Skype?

Skype 5 Forcing Updates

Word is trickling in that Skype has introduced a “feature” no one is going to like: forced updates. Many people have thus far opted out of upgrading to the newest version of the popular calling software, choosing to wait until the many bugs have been fixed. However, Skype doesn’t want to give you the choice of when to update your software. They are simply doing it for you, according to the community.

Even if you have told your current version not to automatically check for updates, it’s going to do it anyway. Users are reporting that while the software is updating itself, clicking the button to cancel it and exit out “does nothing to stop it.” Additionally, the option to disable auto updates or roll back is conveniently gone from this new version.

Thankfully, Jack Zhang has found a hack which will keep your Skype version where you want it. “Just set the file permissions for the “SYSTEM” and “Administrators” accounts in Windows on the Skype.exe file to deny writing. I have not gotten the forced update ever since.”

This stinks, fellow geeks. Since when should we EVER be forced to accept a software update if we don’t want it? Why has it suddenly become okay for Skype – or anyone – to make changes to my system without my authorization? If you have your program set to allow these updates, that’s all fine, well and good. However, when people have purposely turned that option OFF, there is no reason an update should be forced. Not allowing them to stop the update while it’s in progress or roll back to an older version is just bad juju.

Skype. Get with the program. Knock this crap off. Pronto!

What are your thoughts? Do you appreciate Skype so kindly updating your software for you?

Viber iPhone App – Better Than Skype?

Could the new Viber iPhone app actually work the way Skype should have? According to early reports… it’s far better than Skype mobile has ever thought of being. Viber brings free calling to your phone over 3G or WiFi to anyone anywhere in the world. The app costs as much as the actual calls do – nothing!

When you install Viber, the app syncs your phone’s contact list and shows you which of your friends are also using Viber. You can begin making calls instantly without having to register for anything or hold an account. Viber Media founder Talmon Marco says:

“Skype is modeled after a buddy list – you need a user ID and password, and in order to talk to someone you need to ‘add them’, get approved, etc. Viber, on the other hand, is modeled after a phone. So your ID is your phone number (authenticated via SMS) and you can call anyone, as long as you know their number.”

The coolest part about this app is that it does not have to be running in order to work. You can close the app completely – even removing it from your background services – and still receive calls. The user is sent a notification, a ringtone will sound, and as soon as you click “Answer” on the notification, the app is launched and a connection is made automagically!

The creators are already hard at work on versions of this app goodness for both Android and Blackberry. These should be available early next year. However, the most important future update in the works is the addition of free text messaging between Viber users. This is something that Skype has never managed to accomplish within their app.

Viber simply works, and works well. Isn’t that what an app should do?

FaceTime Beta for Mac – Not Windows, Yet

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Apple recently released the first public beta of the free FaceTime Mac desktop app. It’s not without its share of flaws, but for the most part works as advertised. I’m happy enough – for now.

FaceTime for Mac makes it possible to talk, smile, wave, and laugh with anyone on an iPhone 4, iPod touch, or Mac from your Mac over Wi-Fi. So you can catch up, hang out, joke around, and stay in touch with just a click. Sure, it’s great to hear a voice. But it’s even better to see the face that goes with it.

The only thing you need to get started is an Apple id and an email address… and the beta download, of course. Your address book is already integrated, so you don’t have to worry about having to add anyone. You CAN add anyone you want to at any point in time. With a MobileMe subscription, you can have several different accounts… choose one for friends, one for family and one for business to keep things more organized.

I don’t like that it won’t work on Windows or Linux. That’s depressing, Apple. You dont want to get leap-frogged by Skype, now do you?

I hate that you cannot block someone from within FaceTime. I had to change one of my usernames due to someone guessing it and trying to call repeatedly. There’s no way to just block them from calling at will. I hate that it won’t run full-screen natively. You have to toggle it during the call itself. Having some automated features would make it much better.

Call anyone who has a FaceTime account and see the smile you put on their face.

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Skype Brings Facebook to the Table

The new version of Skype was announced today, complete with several features you’re going to love. The company announced that the new version of Skype 5.0 for Windows will include a deep Facebook integration. Additionally, you will receive a free trial of the new group video calling function. The new version of Skype also features automatic call recovery, which helps you immediately reconnect calls that are interrupted due to Internet connection problems. Add in an overhauled UI, and you have the makings of a serious VoIP client.

After logging in via Facebook Connect, you’ll be able to see your Facebook News Feed with the Skype interface, post status updates that can be synced with your Skype mood message and comment and like friends’ updates and wall posts. In terms of actual integration with the VoIP end of things, you can now call and SMS your Facebook friends on their mobile phones and landlines from Skype. You can also make a make a free Skype-to-Skype call if your Facebook friend is also a Skype contact.

As of now, Skype has about 560 million registered users. Add to that the bajillions who use Facebook, and you have the makings for a beautiful friendship. It’s a no-brainer… not everyone on FB uses Skype, and not everyone on Skype uses FB. What better way to convince them to join up than by adding in an excellent and simple interface to connect the two together? It sounds like a match made in Heaven to me.

What are your thoughts? Will you connect your Facebook to your Skype account? Do you think the new features are something people will enjoy… or come to hate?

How Do You Make International Calls?

Skype users won’t be shocked to see the numbers released in a recent report by telegeography. The findings show that Skype-to-Skype calls accounted for 13 percent of total International call minutes in 2009. The stats showed that a whopping 54 Billion (out of a total of 406 Billion) International call minutes were done through Skype. Even more interesting is the fact that while overall International telephone traffic has slowed down, Skype’s traffic has been on the rise.

The Skype minutes for last year were generated by 520 million users from 250 different countries. These kinds of numbers give even Facebook a run for its money. While some may scoff at the service, it’s quite clear that it holds a lion’s share of the VoIP users out there.

Are you a Skype aficionado? Have you ever used it to speak with someone in another country?

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