May 12 2009

Skype Typing Indicator

Category: SoftwareTeknovis @ 7:39 pm

I noticed during a Skype chat today that I was able to know if the other participant was typing a response to me or not! I never knew that Skype included this functionality. Indeed, I actually thought that it could not include a typing indicator due to copyright and/or patent reasons. For example, see VOTE HERE for “typing status” indicator.

I understand from Skype 3.1 Beta for Windows – SkypeFind and typing indicators that the typing indicator has been available for some time, and this article also contains a nice animated image showing the typing indicator in action!

I am unsure of how well the typing indicator is implemented in the various versions of Skype. I was using Skype on Windows when I noticed it, and the other chat participant was using Skype on Linux.

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Apr 22 2009

Ubuntu or Kubuntu

Category: LinuxTeknovis @ 9:08 pm

The latest versions of Ubuntu and Kubuntu will be released tomorrow. These will be version 9.04, and they are known as Jaunty Jackalope.

I have never used Linux as my main desktop operating system before, but I have had limited experience of using it on servers. My main reason for wanting to try it is that I am getting tired of all the bugs, security weaknesses, and limited functionality of Windows. My reasons for choosing Ubuntu or Kubuntu are that they both come ready for use, and I know that they are configured securely! So I think that now is a great time to try them!

My initial plan is to install both operating systems on my computer using VMware. I will then start using them as my main operating systems until I can decide which I prefer. At that stage I might format my hard disk, and reinstall ;) The main applications that I will need are:

My understanding is that the main difference between Ubuntu and Kubuntu is the window managers that they use (GNOME versus KDE). However, reading the documentation they both seem to come with different application sets. This is confusing me slightly. I am also not clear why they both need to reinvent the browser!

Hopefully, all will become clear over the following weeks ;) I will keep writing about my progress here!

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Apr 16 2009

Skype to go Public

Category: BusinessTeknovis @ 6:29 pm

Yet another Skype story this week…

The founders of Skype were unable to reach a deal with eBay regarding the sale of Skype.  So instead eBay will try to float Skype. That should be interesting to watch, if it gets to that stage!

For more details about this story see eBay set to float Skype.

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Apr 14 2009

Skype Founders Consider Buying Skype back from eBay

Category: Business,TelecomsTeknovis @ 5:31 pm

Another Skype story…

Rumour has it that the founders of Skype are considering buying Skype back from eBay. The full story can be read in Four years later, Skype’s founders looking to buy it back.

I actually think that this would be a great move for both companies. I do not really see any business or technological reasons why either company is of significant interest to the other. I actually think that they are in totally different market segments – Skype is in telecoms and eBay is in online auctioneering.

Furthermore, I know that many of the Tier 1 telcos see Skype as a significant competitor. I think that independence from eBay would allow Skype to become an even bigger competitor!

I think that the challenges for Skype are to grow its customer base, and to generate more revenue from its customer base. I think that the first challenge is being addressed by increasing penetration into both the mobile market and the business market. I am less clear how the second challenge can be addressed. In my experience, the Skype users that I know have all progressed from the free voice and video calls to buying SkypeOut credit. I wonder what percentage of Skype’s users have actually gone on to make a purchase from Skype.

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Apr 13 2009

Skype Considering SIP

Category: Software,StandardsTeknovis @ 1:11 pm

I just read that Skype is considering the use of SIP in Skype Opens Up To SIP, Finally Eyes Enterprise Customers The Way It Should. (For an explanation of SIP see Session Initiation Protocol.) The main motivation of this would be to bring Skype to the business community. (Although in my experience Skype is already used extensively by both small and large businesses.)

Skype currently uses a propitiatory protocol to exchange VoIP data, and this protocol masquerades as HTTPS. SIP is a mature open standard for VoIP, and therefore there are already many compliant hardware and software solutions.

In general, I am a big fan of open standards. However, in this case I think that the biggest advantage of SIP is also its biggest disadvantage. In particular, because SIP is an open standard is is very easy to identify it on the network, and treat it differently. The advantage of this is that VoIP traffic can be given higher priority. The disadvantage is that VoIP traffic can easily be blocked :( I have experienced Internet connections in many hotels that block all outgoing traffic except HTTP and HTTPS. In these situations Skype still works perfectly :)

If Skype can successfully incorporate SIP functionality without compromising on the existing propitiatory protocol over HTTPS then I think that would be a great solution!

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Feb 16 2009

Italian Criminals Start Using Skype

Category: SecurityTeknovis @ 11:14 pm

Italian criminals are increasingly using Skype to make their business phone calls. They are not choosing Skype for the free PC-to-PC calls, or the video conferencing facilities :P They are choosing it for the security that it offers them compared to conventional phone systems (land line or mobile)!

I have no doubt that this is frustrating the authorities. However, I am a strong believer in privacy, and I would be appalled if I discovered that Skype was colluding with authorities to circumvent its security.

More details about this can be read in Italy police warn of Skype threat.

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Feb 11 2009

Irish ICT Residential Survey

Category: Internet,Mobile Computing,TelecomsTeknovis @ 11:28 pm

The Irish Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) published a report earlier this week covering the attitudes of Irish residential customers to ICT. The report is very easy to read, and it contains many interesting findings. My favourite findings are:

  • 79% have Eircom as their fixed line supplier
  • The average monthly fixed line spend is 48.04€
  • The average monthly mobile spend has decreased from 45.64€ to 41.64€
  • Vodafone‘s share continues to decline, O2‘s share has seen a marginal increase, Meteor’s share continues to grow, and Three‘s share remains relatively unchanged.
  • 56% own either a PC or laptop, and 11% own both
  • There has been a continued increase in Internet usage, and penetration now stands at 64%
  • 43% think that speed is the most important factor when using the Internet
  • 50% of home broadband users do not know their contracted downloaded speed
  • 44% have heard of VoIP, 35% of these have used it, and72% of these people use Skype
  • 82% believe that technology has improved their lives
  • Technology is used for entertainment purposes by 36% for more than 20 hours per week

The full report can be downloaded from ComReg Residential ICT Services Survey Q4 2008.

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Feb 04 2009

Say No To 1890!

Category: TelecomsTeknovis @ 8:21 pm

I have a regular land line to my house, and I buy both my voice and my broadband data services from Eircom. In general, I am happy with the price and service levels.

I subscribe to one of Eircom’s bundles that gives me free unlimited national and local calls, and this provides me with significant savings compared to paying for my calls on a per minute basis.

I rarely need to pay for any additional calls for two reasons:

  • I use my mobile phone to call other mobile phones (I rarely need to call mobile phones in other operators’ networks)
  • I use Skype for all my international calls

However, the single greatest category of phone number that I regularly need to call that results in an increase to my phone bill is 1890 numbers. These numbers are intended to be non-geographical low cost numbers. Unfortunately, Eircom charges me for calling these numbers because they are not deemed to be national numbers. It is both annoying and petty!

In order to avoid these charges I started using the national numbers for organisation that have 1890 numbers. Most organisations list these somewhere on their web pages, often as the International Number. I think that a company must have a national number in order to obtain a 1890 number.

I recently came across a very useful web site, SayNoTo1890, that provides the national numbers for all known 1890 numbers. These numbers are well categorised, and they are updated regularly.

This is a great recession beating tip in my opinion ;)

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Jan 26 2009

Skype Conference Call

Category: TelecomsTeknovis @ 8:19 pm

I was supposed to participate in a conference call today, and this conference call was hosted by a large and well known organisation. I was really surprised to see from the invite email that the call bridge was being provided by Skype!

This is the first time that I have seen Skype being used within the corporate market. There certainly was, and perhaps still is, a perception that Skype is only suitable for individuals.

Roll on Skype!

Yes, I am a big fan of it ;)

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