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October 2003 Archives

October 1, 2003

Duplicating Skype Friends

I've not had time to test this although it's pretty obvious that it will work. Making it difficult would enhance the chances of creating a chargeable product.

www.skype.com :: View topic - Solution: Copy Skype to another PC.

This is for XP users:

Install Skype on selected PC and fill out User settings exactly as on Original PC.

Now log on and see You're missing all your friends as they are stored locally on your original PC.

1. Make shure to shut down skype on both PC's (exit skype)
2. Browse to this location on your Orig.PC:
C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Application Data\Skype
(Replace Username with your XP username.)
3. Copy the folder(s) from inside the skype folder.
4. Paste the folder(s) to exact same dir on the other PC.
5. Start skype from other PC and you're done.

It works here for me so now I can use Skype on my laptop without re-requesting all the friends.

Goodies, Forum and Friends add to Skype Story.

It's special when you find yourself observing a small team really hustling to make something new happen. Often there's not much time. The decisions come quickly, past experience plays a role. The real successes come when the team reaches for higher levels of customer experience keeping key brand values in mind --- even when they aren't formalised and still emerging. The Skype team is quickly learning (or understands) that they are redefining communications. Their challenge will be to "embrace" the "talking community", not just the technology. They have a unique opportunity. I don't know one major telecom company that talks "phoning", they talk regulations, price plans, coverage, and have forgotten the pleasure of just using the phone. In this Skype starts with an inherent brand advantage making accessible the idea of using the phone in ways we have never comprehended it before. Concurrently, "chat" never provided the pleasure that a new "voice" call could provide.

Why this potential? Skype is quickly gaining mindshare for providing some the of the best first initial conversations amongst bloggers. Cost prohibits most from starting them with a regular phone. It's also holding up pretty well as a beta. I added China to my country calls today and gained learnings I otherwise would not have had. We used to blog for comments. Quite possibly we will soon blog for calls. Frankly it is much more engaging.

For Skype blogs are playing an unexpected role and I've found myself engaged and enjoying this process. What's different. Well I'm willing to bet that Skype is the first company to get near 1million downloads in a month with visible blogging support well in advance of all major newspapers. While working in their favor they are learning far more rapidly than any traditional "market research" program for finding and understanding users and their experiences. In the beginning they could talk to everyone. It was their friends and their friends friends. A typical beta product. Serious Play. Prototype to success. Except it only lasted 3 or 4 days before they had 5000 and then 10000 online regularly. By the end of the week we will see 1 million downloads and at least 100K people (probably more - just guessing) using Skype daily.

So I was please to find today that Skype has launched a Forum. It's positive, an excellent way to continue the dialogue acceleration with users. I expect it won't be too long before they think though how they can become the first "blog Brand success". In a way this began early. Bloggers putting Skype buttons on their sites. They've also been adding "Goodies" with Skype Me! buttons and further instructions. That's a good sign. They are adapting quickly. I still want them to provide a least a blog a day on the home page, early adopters want information, more stats, simple announcements. We added a forum today, provided a new release etc. Tell us something about your lists, your people, policies you are wrestling with. There will also be good stories and great suggestions.

That may also be a dilemma and provide an an interesting transition for the Kazaa founders. Persecuted by the RIAA from the beginning with Kazaa - it was almost an underground movement that grew much faster than they probably expected. Tainted with spyware associations they are now involved in something very different and even more challenging. In their shoes I might be reticent to follow a madman who promotes they go blogging. However, their message ---- including joy of communicating really has to be public and transparent. It's not about multiple identities, or file sharing, it's about connecting, communicating and relationships. They are real stories. The stories that Skype is enabling need to be told. The way to do it, is to let Skypers tell them and new users see them. From here on out 99% of new users won't be bloggers. Concurrently you are competing against some of the largest consumer ad budgets in the world. Skype must not only work virally (seems to) but must be infectious.

Before my rave above I took a quick journey though the "stories", "support", and "suggestions" in the new forum. It reinforced to me how easy it must remain to get Skyping. Here's an example of the positive vibes.

www.skype.com :: View topic - Great work! Here is some suggestions!

Some features to be added:
* Multiple connections of calls (able to talk to more people than one)
* Answering machine! (Able to give a short message to you're skype if you're not answering)
* An "expert mode" to change sound quality, how much bandwidth it can use, and which soundcard it should use as output (NOT PRIMARY FFS )

To compete with messenger you should add these features:
* Text chat window with a new kind of "richedit" so it changes a smiley to a Link links, etc
* Sending files to eachother
* A drawing board, so it is possible to draw what you're talking about.

If all these features are installed to Skype this will take over the messenger "marked" if there is one. I would definitly uninstall trillian, messenger, yahoo, aol and all the other lamers, you guys ROCK!


I tend to agree. However I wouldn't get overconfident. I could write both Microsoft scenarios and one's for emergent competitors that still have the potential to blow Skype out before it gets too big. However they better be quick. If one needs an illustration you only have to look at all the "social networks". After trying 2 or 3 you get burned out and as we've seen it is difficult to "enhance" the messenger business. It may soon be difficult to better the "skype" business. Others tried to follow eBay into auctions and failed. It will require more than just "one-click" calling to catch them. Becomes even more difficult if we like both the people and the community behind it.

Here is just one example of the creativity already flooding into Skype. Portability in a way I hadn't thought of before.


www.skype.com :: View topic - USB key(ondisk) installable

I'm travelling for the next 3 weeks, visiting friends and whatnot. I have a usb key (64mb memory) and a usb headset. It would be great (possibly this already can be done) to install Skype to the key, and not to my friends machines. That way my personal info is stored on the key.

There's a TV program I really hate. It's called "Friends". It may just be part of the message that can close the brand story tonight. Keep making the Skype site more approachable. Like "Friends" the TV show (before it got long in the tooth and please not assoicated with one personality) it is hip and youthful, about a group, growing together.... I'm a little wary of a "Friends" directory, (sign-up) and yet there are many "friends" of causes. There might just be a more powerful movement in there to be set up semi-autonomously. Plus this time users have both more $ in play and are more likely to understand the impact this shift to "local world" calling on the globe. Anyone want to flesh out what a "Friends of Skype" could do?

October 2, 2003

Skype Beta Update O.93

915,447 downloads and counting.


Skype announces the release of a beta 0.93, with several bugfixes and enhancements. New features include improved sound quality, improved support for USB and multiple sound cards, system tray notification for calls and the ability to send contacts to other Skype users.

Conference Mobbing? - AirCQ

A few weeks ago I was frustrated because so many conferences I've attended don't yet have WiFi and the organizers simply don't get it. At others there is a real reticence to bringing it in. As a participant I lose out. Connections not made etc. Then depending on the conference there isn't even a list of participants Even if there is an IRC channel it is seldom that I can understand all the names, so exchanging details rather than quick observations isn't enhanced. Then along comes AirCQ and I wonder if it is a product that can put conference mobbing (for the WiFi enabled)in the users hands!

After gaining a wonderful set of comments from Robert Mao and Skyping with him in more detail I downloaded AirCQ (Seek You on Air) to my two WiFi card enabled laptops, turned off the WiFi in the home. Then with the two computers began a chat session, including voice and cams. No wires, just simply peer to peer. As soon as the second PC was on the buddy list expanded to include that persons name and info. It was easy to share a simple social networking vcard. More complicated searches are possible. It would make for a pretty neat Ryze mixer (when everyone gets WiFi PDA's). It would be a great experiment at BloggerCon this weekend so I shared it with Phil Wolff who has a box seat there. Unfortunately the Mac guys don't get it yet. Still there will be enough PC's in the audience to make it an interesting test. Probably work well at a gaming convention too.

There are minor quibbles I have with the current explanations, and I did find I had to reboot before it worked. Some of the icons are questionable and the data profile too topically structured. I've got more learning to do before I can make additional comments. Again - the technology is not new. Even kids toys (Cybiko) can do elements of this. What's new is our growing awareness that these tools can be used to build and share social capital, in ways that can't be foreseen without sharing a little. The mobs that activate at conferences will get more out of them. The individuals that go seeking matches at a location improve their chances of success. On AirCQ no network connections are required.

Instant potential for proximity sensitive matching for those with similar interests. Some more work on the profiles and you realize that that they can be turned off and on at will. Multiple profiles become pretty interesting. Once we are all enabled with simple WiFi enabled gadgets and without a centralized database I could be shopping and receiving special offers. "Sense and Respond" retailing. Similarly I could be rushing through an airport when it could notify me that someone who is a friend of a friend (this friend is in common) is in my proximity. Thus the spontaneous chance to meet and chat.

With my Skype fever I'm also inclined to look at AirCQ and ask what might it enable if engineered to "voice" introduce rather than chat first. Texting on small gadgets is difficult. photos are increasingly easy to look at, quick profiles to read. In the convention halls arranging meetings or leaving voice mails in this way would be just perfect. Adding to your friends list, and later being able to Skype them.

Overall AirCQ still leaves me with questions. In this format it appears to offers me little utility unless I'm with a mob group of conference attendees or similar environment (huge bar, Disneyland etc.). Then I could use it. I'd like to know more about security, etc. Revamp some elements, add in phone attributes, and AirCQ to landline and we are getting closer to a very neat "relationship building communicator". What do others think? .

Phone Buttons for Skype? Shortcuts?

Now that the phone is in my PC I need some new buttons. You know the simple keys to answer, to ring, to switch from speakers to headphones on answer and back on hang-up. A quick key to bring up my directory. Rather than finding my mouse and clicking. Might be nice if IBM or Dell integrated "Skype" buttons on the laptop. With a PDA in the future I'll just want a press to answer and again to hang-up. At the moment I'm inevitably looking for the Skype window to "hang-up". Both of us have opened other screens. It's two clicks to hang up and there is an unnatural delay while we both struggle to "red" the phone.

In the short term.... Are shortcut keys possible? Can I put the shortcuts in my Outlook? Can I use a Cntrl -"a" to answer and switch to headphones? Or can I just assign F10 anwer, F11 hangup, F12 directory? Can I dial frommy skype directory with the digits of a persons name?

Anyone out there enhanced their keyboard yet to do this??? What's the answer?

Skype Dropped Calls

Just realized there is another shortcut I want. It is a last number redial. I know Skype is in beta, yet today on one call I got a significant number of disconnects. Now that may not have anything to do with Skype. I may have just wandered out of the zone. What I need is a sound alert --- that the signal is broken and a shortcut or quick key to confirm a redial.

Separately, I guess my disconnect during call rate is increasing. I've got no way of measuring the statistics for dropped calls. However, if I was a first time user and getting the drop call performance I had on this call then I might be less than impressed. I wonder what statistics could be contributed --- feed Skype with without breaching any privacy issues? Would it help?

October 6, 2003

Many to Many Gripes on Skype

Danah, I really enjoy your blogs ConnectedSelves and Zephoria, and your latest entry on Many to Many. I can’t find you on Skype which is a minor gripe. Thus I have no way on knowing how “DEEP” your “Skype” experience is.   However I do like the challenge you have framed:


" What is it about Skype that motivates you?  Do you think its popularity will be limited to specific communities? 

To pick up on what I've said before re better platform I’ve posted 10 points below where I think Skype may redefine some behaviors.  I don’t see why it should be limited to a specific community.  For a long time we operated with the postal system.  Then we got the telephone.  Much later we got e-mail on computers and then IM instant messenger came along.  Along the way we have had a few forums, wiki’s blogs etc.  Yet even e-mail isn’t everywhere. We all still know people that may never be on it in their lifetimes. I’m hypothesizing that Skype may enable technology to reach back and suck a new group into the computing generation.

Examples where Skype has the potential to redefine behavior. Are we seeing anything emerging? From changes in mindset to intimacy and gossip. It's not yet a case, here are some thoughts:

1.Mindset:  While Skype is connecting (I’m hearing ringing) my mind is running a thousand silent scenarios, I’m preparing to tune in to you.  This is fundamentally different from Chat.  If I send a chat note – I’m framing something you may not want, or may not provide the same meaning it does for me.  It may well fall in a lower priority.  Voice…. I know I get no answer either not there, leave a message or call later.  Compared the alternatives with the chat initiation.  It may have just been the wrong moment and yet it frames an experience, one that is more sensually deprived.  Thus we don’t use chat for things that are important unless we know the other party very very well. That may be changing in corporate environments, particularly where “knowledge” of each other already exists.  Hi Danah…(chat screen): I have the document you want.  Let me send it through. Alternatively with Skype (presume we will get the functionality) now in voice while you are waiting to receive the file I could have added a couple of comment re amendments, additional thoughts or next steps. I can add more than you can type in that same time.  When the send file is completed I know the call may also be finished.   This adds an immediacy and action to what is being done.  From my perspective this makes the exchange or transaction more personal, more social. 

2. Intimacy and Intensity: I have an IM address for you.  We have never spoken before.  I like your blog.  I can IM “I like your blog” or I can phone and your can hear my enthusiasm and interest.  I can hear whether you have time now or whether we are even likely to connect at another time.  What’s this saying?  I believe I can make a better assessment of the value of the interaction using voice. It’s more likely to create a sense of intimacy and sharing.  Potentially it’s much more intense.  That may just be why, we can handle multiple chats, but sense when someone in a voice call is “doing other things”.  Similarly if I’d like to send you an e-mail with a document attachment that I’m not 100% satisfied with.  I want to personalize my discomfort and not commit it to text.  How much time is wasted when you are striving for perfection when a quick look by another will just move it forward.  So I Skype and send the file though concurrently when I know you are online.

3. . Managing Synchronicity - Availability Management: If you are willing to make your availability known to me I may well be able to share my messages and manage my contacts with you more appropriately using both text and voice.   Good time management suggests scheduling time for calls. Similarly, a call made at the wrong moment can be equally embarrassing to the caller.  (I need my cell on for an emergency call from my kids, but I really don’t want to be disturbed by anyone else.  Whether on your cell-phone or landline I can’t currently tell if this would be a problem.  Unless the
cell-phone is turned off or the plug pulled.  So if Skype availability followed you around and you managed your family, business and personal connections, I’d stand a better chance of getting it right.  Skype is already close.  The semi-synchronous aspect already appliers to Skype. When someone is on “away” or “do not disturb” I can still send them the message.  I can currently phone them, but I usually wouldn’t.  Set some more granularities and I may know whether they will accept messages from me at certain times.   For example, I’m a member of a club; I may not want inquiries to the treasurer during my work hours.  Yet I’d be informing them… with an auto response.  Thanks for your message; it’s been delivered to my message center and I’ll take care of it before x.. 

4. Quality & Mobility:  I think your perspective and usage is tied to the current form of mobile cellular telephony.  I’ve had Skype conversations from WiFi hotspots to all over the world.  The quality has been better than any cell phone or landline.  As perspective, my cell phone (Verizon) is poor to useless at home.  It usually sucks when I’m on vacation too.  Yes SMS and Messenger services are extending to mobiles.  Skype potentially takes this convergence one step closer to the computer.  Similarly it begins to demonstrate how we can get rid of the numerical key board.  Ultimately what matters is that our communications system is there when we want it.  Personally I’d prefer to know that my Message center is everything.  I’ve also  posted a set of links that suggest hooking Skype to your home phone is not all that difficult.  What’s more this 50-$75 type gadget (currently) means that you are not tied to the computer and the person on the computer can go on working, and even playing their music.  We can expect a lot of innovation in this area
quickly. 

5. Radically Lowered Cost:  Have you even been in an environment where the cost of the call was a barrier?  I’ve effectively lived with it in someway or another since I was a child.  I still remember having to book calls for Christmas to the UK and then only having a very few minutes. Two things.  I expect “voice” to increase the number of inquiries that lead to a successful form of connection.  I also expect as cost goes to zero that calls and inquiries I could have never made will become possible.  For example there are art direct programs from South America – I could order from photos before, now I could actually talk to the local retailer or even the Artist. Alternatively, I could never have afforded to advertise on Craigslist in India and then interview Indian software engineers.  Now I can. The cost to me in time is the same regardless of where they are.  The cost of the call isn’t.    Separately, I’d really like to see that data that proves SMS is popular because it doesn’t disrupt the environment.  I think it more likely that it’s popular because it’s cheap and the “connectivity” quotient for all these teenagers goes up exponentially. 

6.Voice IRC??? Voice may be disruptive in public environments.  We all agree.  There are also times where an always on voice connection could act just like an IRC channel.  Some people may actually enjoy listening to these things.  They exist already in some Yahoo chatrooms, and yet there are also studies where receiver based communications have proven to accelerate the transfer of knowledge.  We still need Skype to provide the conferencing capability. Then we might find it really connects us up.  Now you have a virtual office where you can still here the shouts over the cubicles. Just like the kid studying at home who shuts his brothers and sisters out, to tune it just when important.  It’s another skill.  

7.Changing Desktop: I’ve adopted a second screen.  My screen in front of me is for working.  My right screen is for communications, messenger clients etc.  I’m wondering if my traditional screen is "productivity” and my new screen will emerge as “connectivity”, managing my networks etc.  What intrigues me is my Skype list is now larger / longer than
any IM list I have ever had. (It will need to columize and have alphabetical buttons before long)  Possibly in my “group” we are doing a better job of adopting it than we did with IM. Statistics like those are worth looking at.  Similarly the number of transactions we are all having..  I’d also note that not all are voice initiated.  Many are begun with a text note. 

8. Gossip Coordination: I’ve seen my daughter managing six screens and being on the phone at the same time.  That’s possible without tying up the landline or for many of her friends that are on dial-up connections, with Skype they now have a new opportunity.  Will gossip spread faster or be more accurately I don’t know.  Text helps with one form of negotiation. I also see other aspects in this.  When everyone is texting multiple buddies then no one is left out.  Everyone can be pushing their point of view.  We can listen to more than one at once.  Clearly that’s a benefit when new ideas are emerging.  It’s part of smart mobs.  I can’t see why Skype with better chat functionality can’t provide all of this and enable further enhancements.   

9. Presence Detection:  I think it is a very interesting area.  See AirCQ.  Add to this functionality that enables more detailed profiles to be exchanges and sitting in the café square becomes a whole new experience.  As I’ve written before there are also some dangers in it.  See Trepia. 

10. Oldtimers. Overcoming the PC e-mail chat barrier.  My mother has never worked with e-mail, definitely won’t engage in chat and yet is very comfortable with the telephone.  Skype’s voice centric first experiences provides a better bridge to computing than e-mail or IM for those that never made the transition.  The key here is simplicity.  Separately, I while noting above that one may not need to be tied to the pc for the phone feature  --- add video and taking calls whether with a handset or headset becomes a whole new experience.  From there to playing a song for them or sending to a map or piece of information becomes many times easier. The experienced is enhanced, the capability to interface for learning and sharing is advanced.  This is even truer if you never learned how to type very fast. 


And one for luck...
11 Quality: To repeat a phase from the comments.  You can hear the difference.  When you start from the ground up you build something that works which may follow different rules.  Microsoft can follow my providing a “voice – centric” option in MSN 7.0  and yet the quality still won’t be as effective, unless they change something in their codec.  Microsoft really can’t afford to say stuff the old regulations.  So they are likely to be stuck with poorer quality and a higher cost structure.  So if it comes to community, the one community that Skype has to really capture is those “texters”.  The way to do that is to provide enough customization, plug-in opportunities etc. so the young programmers make it cooler quicker.  They’ll skin it change icons, create supplemental profiles, new voice aps (sound like…..) etc.  Concurrently, there are business products for companies and new service providers. 

PS: Want to add that SkypeMe button.

October 7, 2003

Skype Indicators

What do the changeable indicators in Skype mean? Away, Not Available, Do Not Disturb etc? If it says Not Available, can I still send a text message or is that rude? From observations. My buddies are using them. So what do other users think Skype changeable status indicator means?.  I'd note there is some demand for providing proper advice. TDavid wrote a nice enhancement for possible later integration for bloggers running a callto tag. However this post is more to do with what do they mean and to illustrate how they may differ from the standard IM programs and behavior.  They are my interpretation really from my experience.  Not much of a sample.  Let's hear other points of view!

The key learning is:

  • provide an answer machine system in both text and voice formats integrated into a message center.
  • enable the capability to manage indicator disclosures by category - eg family, business, personal, etc.
  • allow me a custom announcement field.
  • allow announcements to be tied to a calendar.

     

    IM Programs

    Skype Now

    Skype Wants

    Offline

    Offline

    Offline

    Offline

    Online

    Online: You will probably find me at my desk, I’m not idle

    Online: I’ll probably hear the ring, and may or may not be able to take the call. 

    Voice Mail capability and to be able to sort access by categories; eg friends, businees, family etc.

    Away

    I may not answer your message right away

    Best to send me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.  If I’m on the phone I may answer the text chat straight away.

    Know when a person is in a “text” is better mode. 

    Not Available

    Not much point in sending me a chat message right now.  Unlikely to get a quick response. 

    Unlikely to get any quick response to either a call or chat message.  If you ring and I see the log I will probably call you back. May be tomorrow. Can leave a text message.  Probably sleeping. 

    Automatically to Voicemail. Possibly with call back times capability.  I’m probably away from the base station..  

    Do Not Disturb

    Not sure why I’m logged on…. Don’t disturb.

    Prefer no interruptions,

    No chat or calls.  Everything to my message / log center for later. 

    Invisible

    Available:  On IM it means you can have secret long chats with someone without the whole world knowing. 

    Available.  Hiding? All calls are on my terms. If I learn that someone uses it and I need to call them will probably call them anyways.  (Not sure what hiding on Skype accomplishes.  If someone tries to call you and you are on the phone for an hour then you were on the phone for an hour.) 

    Does this mean no calls in?

    Should I have a toggle so I don’t accept calls from “Invisible” Skypers?  Of course I’m invisible to all of those I’ve not authorized. 

    My specification

    It can be anything.  Some are quite creative, and share mood, desires, location etc. 

    Not available and we will all want it. 

    Will want to be able to turn these on by category.  For example for family I may just want the announcement to say Happy Birthday X! Whereas to my blog list I may want my latest Blog title. 

    Note potentially I want to turn these on by category.  Some of these settings may be more generic.  My Family may see me all the time.  While business contacts may find a not available on weekends.  Tie these to voice and chat mail instructions and they instantly become more relevant. 


  • Phones and Skype

    One of the things that many users hate is putting on the headset to use Skype. When will you be using a real telephone with Skype? It may not be long. I've had Skypers call me using telephone handsets. I bet it changes the experience for them. So if you are uncomfortable using a headset and losing your media player then these solutions may interest you. If you are using these already. Please leave your comments. Others will appreciate the wisdom that comes from use!

    There are different ways to attach a phone to your computer. Add a phone and the computer just becomes another gateway to the phone system. I've seen these examples on the web and have a few parts on order. In some cases the cost will have to come down. However $15-25 for a headset vs $50- $75 for a phone may just make Skype a little more natural for many.

    Connecting your Cordless Home Phone to Skype:Take a look at this product. A USB to RJ11 (phone jack) with innards by TigerJet
    usb_to_rj11.png

    The benefits of this USB connection is the additional sound card; thus you can use the phone while your child continues to use the PC for homework or playing music. I'm waiting to try this with Skype set on automatic answer and an answerphone connected which answers on the first ring. Has anyone tried this?

    Buy a USB enabled VoIP phone. If you don't have an old fax or extra cordless laying around this phone the USB phone is separate from your desktop music system. Thus the phone can ring. No need to plug in the headset which you couldn't hear ringing in the other room. Like the solution above the numerical dial pad currently means nothing with Skype. Maybe in time those "tones" will enable short code dialing to Skype friends. Simply first two or three digits. of a persons name should do it. #788 - Ring Stu...

    USB phone.jpg

    It's not alone; See this Claris i750 review. There are many more much more expensive. Most are linked to corporate VoIP applications. See this listing and take a look at this Innovative Wireless IP Phone with Integrated Voice and Internet Network through IEEE 802.

    There are other low cost solutions in the works. Similarly some bluetooth solutions with newer cellphones will enable you to answer these calls when in range. This may just be becoming a very interesting category.

    If you are interested in thinking further about how to share or use Skype to dial locally or internationally it may just be closer than you think. Check out this Personal Dialing Gateway product. For example if I install it in a friendly computer in New Zealand. All my calls from any Internet gateway in the world to New Zealand and that calling area are free (of course I must have internet access.)

    October 8, 2003

    What Will Tip the Old Phone System?

    What are some of the barriers Skype must overcome to tip the phone system? There are some STEEP barriers. It's by no means a home run. Skype is the most "disruptive innovation" so far targeting traditional telecom. Something like it has been on their radar for years. Like Napster and Kazaa are the worst nightmare for the RIAA --- Skype is is emerging similarly for telecommunications companies.

    Why disruptive? What makes Skype so devastatingly effective? First adopt a sound system that doesn't require any backwards compatibility. No legacy. Better sound with lower cost. Just like moving from LP records to CD's. Ignore the established telecoms centralized regulated way of thinking and build it from the ground up. Ignore the centralized model of other VoIP startups and get going. Then redefine channels and access. Art Janke in a nice Darwin article asks "When will the tipping point be reached?"

    Compared to music the barriers are different:
    There is a barrier or investment required for using Skype that didn't exist with the launch of Napster. There was no cost of equipment to tip. You simply downloaded MP-3 files and began playing them within Napster. With the learning you may have gone out and bought a bigger disk drive, better sound card etc. However you got to do that after your first experience. By then you were already hooked.

    Friends, and Initial Costs: The barrier to Skype's tipping point is higher. With free calls, that provides fun to begin, although I may need a headset and microphone ($15 - $25). Still there are no calls if you don't have friends. To really take off it will need a cost or social incentive. Recruitment isn’t for everyone. Currently the beta search function is limited. The Skype Team also won't want to clog up the P2P system with detailed profiles. Thus clip-on profiles will need to be enabled between individuals and potentially connected to Skype via Enhanced Skype Profile Exchanges. Eg I provide the database, you are a member. You can search profiles and when you are both online I will connect you. Call this the blind date call example. Thus a better socializing opportunity than the current e-mail based systems. Keen is another example of this.

    The Headshift Barrier. The computer is not a phone factor. Moving people to thinking about a new program that resides on their computer as the "glue" for integrating all their phone numbers, key contact details, communication handsets, messages, etc is too complex. Simply boxes that connect Skype to real phones will help with the learning curve. Then... video will revolutionize the experience. The glue will be social before it sets.

    The Landline - Broadband trade-off. Skype must move us off landlines, integrate personal phone numbers, and provide improved protection from unwanted disruptions (telemarketers). Enabling anyone anywhere to call me on Skype from a landline will enable me to cancel my home SBC account. Vonage demonstrates that in some instances your current number can be reassigned. This then means you must have a fulltime computer on at your house via a broadband connection for your number to be available! Packaging this with clear communications and instructions is not a simple job. Bundling with cable suppliers may provide an interesting option.

    First Experience : Connection difficulties, poor sound, learning to make it work and inadequate equipment can make a lousy first time use. We don't know very much about failed first experinces. However, knowledgeable people that say... "tried it" forget it influence others. Similarly we have comment imposters.

    The Chat Hurdle Youthful IM'ers disparage the product for poor texting capabilities without ever experiencing or understanding opportunities for voice. These text centric individuals may be the hardest to convert and could become loud critics. The upside, Skype is an underdog trying to do something different. Provide the texting solutions and keep the advertising out.

    Other possible barriers: Regulatory threats. Threatening letters from your broadband providers. Badboy or spyware associations. Spam calls, breakdowns in security or privacy.

    While these are generic it will be worth watching the reasons why individuals become advocates.

    What might signal tipping points for certain individuals. (without being able to dial a traditional phone number)

  • Their Skype buddy lists are more complete than their other IM clients. I use it as my predominant method for connecting and exchanging information.
  • When my business calls savings exceed 50% by value, rather than by number. Likely to have a large international component.
  • When the primary inquiries from my website come via the SkypeMe callto: tag.
  • Have purchased or connected permanently a VoIP telephone to an always on base computer and integrated an answerphone system.

    I'm sure there are more. Sometime in the next few days I'm also going to address the enterprise opportunity.

    In the meantime I find I am now a VoIP user watching a ridiculous debate. I don't use any of the traditional California VoIP provider services. I use Skype. I'm not a telephone operator, unless having multiple computers now makes me one.


    Techweb California to VoIP Operators: You're Regulated

    California's telecommunications division said this week that major VoIP providers, including Vonage, VoicePulse, SBC Communications, Net2Phone and Packet8, have been told to apply for telephone-operator licenses. The action is a disappointment for the VoIP companies, which had argued that they should remain unregulated because their traffic moves over the Internet.

    Where does this leave me? Next thing we know... we will have to apply for the equivalent of the old TV licenses that many countries apply.

  • Skype Supernodes Explained

    The Register discloses how Skype gets though firewalls. (Matt Mower, Peter O'Kelly, Antville, and O'Reilly Developers get it too....


    "Without being too technical, each Skype client is always connected to a SuperNode (any Skype client can become a SuperNode, the SuperNode is acting as a hub). SuperNodes are always on routable open IP addresses. When a call is set up the established TCP connection with the SuperNode is used to signal that a call is coming. Dependent on the firewall status of the client the data stream is set up either as UDP (if firewall allows) or in worse case as outgoing TCP which is almost always allowed. If both clients are only allowed to do outgoing TCP calls are routed through another peer."

    In other words you get to know there is a call for you and you make the outgoing connection to a known supernode to meet the call. Neat. The Register

    Skype and Glance

    How do you Skype in a teaching or mentoring mode and enhance the experience? I had just that experience today when introduced to Glance a simple service for instantly showing a live view of your PC screen to anyone you choose.

    I began by introducing Skype functions from sending contacts to sharing further links though text IM. Then Charles began sharing with me exactly what he was seeing on his screen after we both logged into Glance. All of a sudden I could see exactly what he was looking at on his computer. If I had been the instructor it would have been perfect for sharing a presentation or opening a document and pointing to specific points while we talked. I know you can synch what you are looking at in Groove. However, here I didn't have to install anything extra. I just keyed in the simple URL and I was looking at what he was sharing. (I then moved it to my second screen, thus retaining the flexibility to continue the chat and other searches that I was doing.)

    Had I had a Glance account then there is no reason we couldn't have had instant two-way sharing.

    Unfortunately Glance only offers a one day trial. That's not really long enough for me to work out how to commit to $20 to $40 per month. I could easily run one-on-one blog training etc with it. A two way application would be preferred. I'd see a neat opportunity to match this with TDavid's talkback broadcast approach. I'd keep it in mind if I was running an online class. If I got 25-40 to sign up tomorrow for a one hour class on Newsreaders at even $10 per head it could be an interesting proposition. It makes a conference Skype even more interesting.

    Is it too expensive? Depends on your criteria. I'd think this is the type of additional functionality that could be enabled with either a plug-in to Skype or some enterprise version. Surfing together while speaking opens many new doors. Browser to browser is better than text box, hyperlink, open, is he looking???

    ISP's Crack Down on IM - VoIP Programs

    Dina's comments on What Would You Pay For Skype? meant I caught this newsflash on Indian ISP's and VoIP. May not impact on Skype the same way. Just another way for the incumbents to drive users away. First close chatrooms, second block access, and then refuse to interconnect with programs like Trillian.


    In a related development, a large section of domestic (Indian) ISPs have decided to crack down on Internet portals such as MSN and Yahoo!, which offer voice chat facilities on their websites. According to ISPAI secretary Amitabh Singhal, "From a strictly legal point of view, if these portals do not have ISP licences, they cannot offer voice calls over the Internet.

    Either they should get an ISP licence or get into tie-ups with an ISP that has a licence for offering Internet telephony services. Therefore, there is now a move within the ISP community to bring these portals into the revenue share loop as well." Net2Phone may share revenue with local ISPs - The Economic Times

    Instant Communicator

    Don't ask Skype to add "stuart is typing" in the text window anytime soon. While all major IM's have this it isn't clear for how long. Seeing it is a big boys game Has Skype already filed their patents on IC (Instant Communicator)? Yet how enforceable will they be?


    Microsoft has won a patent for an instant messaging feature that notifies users when the person they are communicating with is typing a message.

    The patent encompasses a feature that's not only on Microsoft's IM products but also on those of its rivals America Online and Yahoo. The patent was granted on Tuesday.

    Patent No. 6,631,412 could serve as a weapon in Microsoft's battle for IM market share. Microsoft is investing heavily in IM as a springboard for selling communication software to businesses. News: Microsoft pockets an IM patent


    Can the text box change color when the other person is typing? Could we enable a light key stroke sound in voice mode? What about just using the Glance type program earlier today to simply show what they are typing - erasing - typing and then commiting to the record. Could be time for a better solution.

    Flashtalk or Skype?

    Flashtalk is a new "talking instead of typing" application. It's not Skype and potentially aimed at a different market. I've already discarded it unless someone gives me a real good reason to continue.

    Quickly compared to Skype it doesn't offer a text chat function, is less intuitive and is a little too e-mail centric re adding friends for my liking. I managed one call using their "Find a Friend" function. The voice quality was less than I've experienced on Skype. On the plus side add more search capabilities and the dating sites will have to change their execution. It demonstrates how this would work. There can't be many on it for I'm still waiting to be connected to another friend.

    home_player.jpg

    A person identifying themselves as Stuart Henshall is using an amazing new communications product called FlashTalk, that lets people speak to each other over the Internet, without any per minute or per call cost, much like instant messaging but without any typing.
    Stuart Henshall has defined this email address (xxxxxx ) as their primary email address when using FlashTalk, which allows people within the FlashTalk network to contact Stuart using this email address.


    October 11, 2003

    Comment Spam - Solution Wanted

    Who can solve the COMMENT SPAM on MT and without turning off the comments? Please share with me.

    What I really think of these comment spammers is unprintable. There were two busy with my site this am. Just used Feedster to find the "lolita" cuplrit. (see below - my IP was up one number). Then I've had the "interesting" example and the "click the name at your own risk" warning. I'm sure I could find viagra if I looked. I could spend my whole day linking to others with comment spam. Feedster provided 823 items in seconds. I have no reason to doubt the facts below.

    Reading & Writing: Comment Spamming Comment Spamming The last couple of days a robot named Lolita has been leaving the comment "Nice site!" on a number of my posts. Spam is bad & while I think pornography has been & will always be with us, comment spammers are the lowest of the low. Bottom feeders, the catfish of the internet, eaters of rotten feces . . .

    Here is some information I found about the person who has been spamming my comments:


    209.210.176.20
    Leonid@yahoo.com
    domain: video-lo.com
    status: production
    organization: Video LO
    owner: Guy McFarland
    email: video_lo@yahoo.com
    address: 4009 Dancing Cloud Ct. #42
    city: Destin
    state: Florida
    postal-code: 32541
    country: US
    admin-c: video_lo@yahoo.com#0
    tech-c: video_lo@yahoo.com#0
    billing-c: video_lo@yahoo.com#0
    nserver: ns1.smartdns.org
    nserver: ns2.smartdns.org
    registrar: JORE-1
    created: 2003-03-09 15:54:35 UTC JORE-1
    modified: 2003-08-31 16:07:25 UTC JORE-1
    expires: 2004-03-09 09:54:19 UTC
    source: joker.com
    Phone: 850-269-2814
    4009 Dancing Cloud Ct,
    Destin, FL 32541-3388

    Amazing what you can find out in fifteen minutes on the internet. I began looking around after the second set of messages from Lolita showed up. I'm actually very easy-going about porn, but pretty hard-line about trespassing, which is what I consider spam. This is my space, .......

    Update: Same guy now spamming as Preteen. Am not alone.


    Jackass Spammers

    I got hit again, this time by "Preteen," as did others. Same first parts of the ip address as last night, just the last two digits varied. Is there anyway to ban that whole string?


    October 12, 2003

    MT Comment Spam Solution

    James Seng creates a brilliant MT hack that I hope STOPS COMMENT SPAM dead! I've just installed it and it works. Take a test drive with a comment to this post. I particularly want a few fellow sufferers to know....Cal, John Cole, Teresa, Sassy Lawyer, Liz Lawley, Ton Zijlstra, Joseph, Abe, Glen, Dean, and Jay Allen Can someone please compare what Jay is doing vs James Sengs solution?

    James Seng's blog: Solution for comments spams

    "Apparently, there are some automated bots which has been spamming comments on movabletype blogs. While it is easy to ban the IP and remove the posts, it takes a lot of time and effort to play the cat and mouse game.

    To cut the story short, I wrote a plugin to MT that will verify if it is a human before it allows comments to be posted. The idea is pretty simple: Display an image with a Security Code and demand the user to enter a Security Code manually before allowing posting to go through.

    To see how it works, try posting some comments on this site.

    If you like it, you can download it here. (It is pretty rough since it skip my sleep to do this. But it should work. I hope I have covered most of edge cases...)"

    Go now and get the code and instructions from James here. Then let him know with a trackback of thanks.

    I'd note these additions to James' ReadMe instructions. You must CHMOD the cgi file and the new temp security directory to 755. If you need a text editor to open your MT/App?Comments.pm then go and get Boxer Otherwise it is a fairly simple install. If you installed MT you can do this. I'd also note it works with the Simple Comments plug-in working.

    Gee now I can think about Skype and other things again! Not the preferred way to spend a Sunday I'd add! Good luck with your installs!

    Skype Lists - Social Networks

    Nothing really new on Skype from the New York Times today. While on other fronts Ecademy was first to announce their Skype Club. This won't be the first. You can continue to track Skype Bloggers on Feedster


    To Whom May I Direct Your Free Call?

    IN a recent report on the telecommunications industry, Daiwa Securities wrote that Skype "is something to be scared of, and is probably set to become the biggest story of the year'' in the telecom sector. "We think the Skype offering (and whatever may follow it) is akin to a giant meteor hurtling on a collision course toward Earth," the report said.

    October 13, 2003

    The Desktop Phone

    Michael Robertson has the opinion that SIPphone will overrun Skype. I'm not so sure, and maybe it doesn't matter. What is emerging is the looming battle for putting the phone in your desktop. Plus in all of the scenarios I've read so far... the one card that is never mentioned is Video.

    MR "So Skype is a nice little experiment but it will get quickly run over by SIP."

    However, his comment on behaviors are more interesting. That is where the real value added opportunities are. Controlling our communications from our computers. As many note. The number is not important. What can the profile tell me? The real opportunities are cast in simple language below. There is lots more we could do and will see.

    Micheal Robertson - more:


    So I would love to see, from my computer, who's on the phone. I want to see that it's so-and-so who lives in such-and-such country. I would love my instant messenger to pop up and for me to be able to say: 'I'm in a meeting right now, send that guy to voice mail.' I'm not going to be able to do that from the phone handset. I need to be able to do that from some interactive, instant messaging type program. It would be great if I could see someone's name, click 'voice mail' and it would send the message on to voice mail.
    .....
    You're going to see a lot of things where there are intersections between the phone, instant messaging and email.
    .........
    They want to go cordless. They don't want to be tethered. And we're working on that. We'll have a cheap adaptor that we'll sell that will allow you to go to Walmart, buy a cordless phone, plug it in and use that as your SIPPPhone. That'll be before the end of the year at about the same price point. So they want cordless. They want conferencing. They want to be able to conference two or three, primarily offices. That's another big feature request that we get.

    Internet "Bad Boy" Michael Robertson on the Future of Phones :: Voxilla.com :: A user's guide to the communications revolution


    More Slashdot on Skype

    Slashdot is having fun with Sipphone and Skype.

    I found this quote lost in with the FBI.... "Having run Skype for a while now, it seems to have fairly low latency - on the order of about .4 seconds which is far better in my use, which is far better than the 1.5 - 2 seconds of many other VoIP programs I've looked at." It's not a table and isn't specific. It sounds material...

    NY Times on VoIP, Skype Profile and the FBI
    Slashdot

    There's a much better VoIP discussion here for those that care.

    MICHAEL Robertson Talks VoIP With Voxilla
    Slashdot

    At the moment I just use it. I'd happily pay something for some additional functionality. See earlier postings "What will you pay for Skype?" and "Skype Wants Functionality" For the first Slashdot on Skype link here.

    Book Writing Using Blogs

    I've had a request from a friend who is interested in developing his next book using a blog as a platform. Can anyone direct me to specific examples? I imagine some of the books on blogging have emerged in this way. This is more likely to be a "leadership" text. I can think of books that emerged from e-mail exchanges. I'm not familiar with one bookieblog production now.

    Separately, any thoughts on the following approach for using the blog to fill the book outline.

  • Set the blog up with the home page focused on the Book title and introduction. Invite some guest bloggers to comment. Index to book on left. summaries on the balance. Post oriented to be topic related rather than date oriented.
  • Open categories for each chapter. Create sub-categories that include dialogue, research, and references. Enable comments and idea submissions.
  • Use the right column (three column) to list the latest additions.
  • Set up a References index that aggretates all references and links to blog page etc.
  • Similarly create archive by chapter rather than month etc.
  • Enable core themes to emerge in additional categories.
  • Creating interest might be done by sending "snips" to an RSS feed. Rewriting chapters may become difficult. The book may also not be written in chronological order.

    So maybe what I'm looking for is a wiki-blog solution. Any recommendations? Thanks.

    October 14, 2003

    Strip The Verbage and Cautious Industry Leader Skypes

    Jeff Pulver blogs the Skype story. His view of Skype appears softer less bullish than mine. The overall post focused on the technology, and the length of time "similar" VoIP has been around. However, strip away the extra verbage and this (my bold) is what he says...

    Skype provides a freely available product that well, just works. And this is a breakthrough and is a significant step forward in the evolution of consumer VoIP services.

    The Skype team has proven to me that there are millions of people who don't mind using their PCs as a platform to communication. Until now this was an open question in my mind.

    One should thank the Skype team for an application which is helping to introduce a new generation of people to the killer app of the Internet...Voice.

    As Skype continues to evolve as an internet application, it will be real interesting to watch how extensions to Skype based presence starts to evolve and the kinds of additional connectivity which becomes available as a result of the advent of Skype.

    . [The Jeff Pulver Blog]

    Interesting how one well designed user experience can shift a whole paradigm of thinking. Skype is moving voice management to the fringe or edge of the network and beginning the integration with your desktop. If you read this blog and I've not convinced you yet to SkypeMe! (except for old computers etc.) then I should be ashamed of my persuasive powers.

    If you run a small virtual business... start using Skype as an "intercom". You can bet the Skype guys do. If you run up international phone calls it makes sense in minutes. My capability and access for collaborating globally has increased n-fold since Skype. Small business put a button on your site. You might just learn something.

    If you have any interest in the "desktop" and user behavior then get Skype. If you want me to run a research project for you on Skype I will. Similarly, if you are one of those doubters, or tried it but only have one or two names still on your list. Go out and get some more. And this is why. Because this is becoming my directory. It is more rewarding than my e-mail contact list. It also provides better information symetry. I'd prefer to know how to call someone and text than not call and only send e-mail. Plus with this why do I need Plaxo?

    Finally, with all the talk about digital identity.... I find myself with a real name on a real system, simply because it is almost always on. Skype has a lot of real names on it. Ask yourself why is that? Then start thinking about Social Networks for Spam Control. I am!


    October 17, 2003

    Evangelist Needs Strategic Advice

    I've been recognized for evangelism!


    The need to evangelize Skype to use it, also helped the products success. Also, blogs like Unbound Spiral kept the meme alive and kept pumping new information about the product. Design Media:

    I'm both pleased and concerned. I'm passionate about the changes that are emerging and frustrated I'm the "free" evangelist referred to below.


    Evangelists are needed during the design phase to put in killer features and test their "wow factor". Currently, the features the alpha users like are become more important to the success of the product. Some of the alpha users, if impressed, may turn into a free evangelist for the product. Design Media:

    This is a great article. It points out how important "evangelists" are to getting the "Wow factor". Nice to see in print. It's what I've done in many a company. This is a space where I know I will make a difference. Then one is also faced with a dilemma. How much to share? How much to just blog and give away?

    The 'Wow factor' and a products success: All products need a "Wow factor" to grab the attention of the target audience. Usability comes at a later stage, but the wow factor is what gets the user to try the product. It might be a new look, a new use or a new feature. What is important about the wow factor is that it should be completely 'new' to the user, nothing similar to any other product. Design Media:
    So what should my Skype and broader personal strategy be??? What do you recommend I do?

    SkypeRoll Signals Something New

    Yes Skype is on a roll and yet how many Bloggers on Skype are there? What is a SkypeRoll when you are tired with BlogRolls (See Jim's Comment) and want to start a new collection? How might SkypeRolls be used? What's the benefit of creating a Skype enabled posting and sending it out through an RSS feed? I think there's an angle for Classified Ads, and similar personals.

    First what have I done? I've started an experiment. It's prototyping in its crudest fashion. I'm not a programmer and don't really want to be. First I created a SkypeRoll.

    SkypeRoll borrows from the smart thinking behind using an MT Blog as a BlogRoll. I've just modified the fields to capture:

  • Skypers Name - Title
  • EntryBody - URL of Blog
  • Extended Entry - Skype Handle
  • Except - RSS Syndication Feed
  • Bloggers on Skype
    Uses the above information to read the RSS feed and thus capture the latest post in from the Skypers blog(when rebuilt). Note if you are in Bloggers on Skype you can enter your name and search for your page.

    Note it is equally simple to enable a SkypePeople. The first thing that new Skypers want is a buddy to talk to. It could take a number of forms and similarly be enabled by RSS feeds. Thus you could subscribe to categories that you are interested in. Later this could evolve. Eg I'd like to talk to someone about taking a trip to NZ... (You may just find a friendly bed n breakfast Skyper down under answering it.)

    I've used Mt's OtherBlog Plug-in to import the latest "Bloggers on Skype" entries onto this blog.

    Want to Join Up? Join here! Similarly if you want all the Skype Links they are here. This isn't the world's best method for registering people. What it needs is a log-on system so individuals can register and then confirm without human intervention. So I thoughts or RECOMMENDATIONS PLEASE. What platform might enable this quickly?

    I hope you are not thinking just another blogroll. There are reasons this could be both a good and bad idea. For me this represents a prototype to demonstrate the potential for a rapid broadcasting system (with categories) of individuals looking for conversation with possibly short lifespans for the connection. A CraigList on vocal steriods, a Match that is more synchonouse. Then approaching it another way could provide a notification system for new company leads in conjunction with both matching and profiling services.

    There are also some issues that I'm sure many of us are aware of. From Spam Calls to the need for mulitiple profiles and callerID type programs. Is it person to person or person to business? Etc. I'd like your views. What's good? What needs to be solved? Where might it go?

    Update Comment Spam

    I've been running James Seng's last solution for a week. Now he's got an even better one. I've not had time to try implementing it yet. I might just wait another week. Hope those "numbers" aren't bothering any of you.


    Bayesian filter for MT
    Many people have complained about my "Solution for comments spams" is unfriendly to disabled or those who do not have a graphic browser.

    Hearing your feedbacks, I spent the last 2 days working on a bayesian plugin. To cut the story short, the plugin will allow you to train your movabletype blog to automatically identify spam comments and pings.James Seng's blog: Bayesian filter for MT

    October 23, 2003

    Slate Notices Skype

    The articles on Skype keep rolling in. This one from Slate illustrates the impact that disruptive technologies have on incumbents. It's better late than never.

    In the less than two months it's been available, 1.6 million people have downloaded the software, setting a world record for this kind of thing. As a crude measure of buzz, after six weeks of life the word "Skype" generates more than 2.8 million pages on Google. As a point of comparison "KaZaA," which is Skype's progenitor (the two Swedes who invented KaZaA invented Skype), appears nearly 4.4 million times. You Can Hear Verizon Now - But can you hear it later? By David S. Bennahum

    October 24, 2003

    Meetup Tuesday 28th

    Dina Mehta is visiting family in the Bay Area. Many of us know her from networking via Ryze entries on research, her blog “Conversations with Dina” and more recently Skyping with her.

    Join the group getting together for a Bay Area Welcome on Tuesday Evening 28th of October

    Details: Tuesday 28th October
    Meetup: 6:00 Dinner: 7:00

    Buca di Becco
    855 Howard Street
    San Francisco CA 94103
    415.543.7673

    Let's make Dina feel right at home with huge American plates, large family servings and a big round table. Add to that plenty of Italian fare, good food, funky and fun atmosphere, etc.

    Know someone else who would like to come along. Please ask them or message Dina at her blog.

    Friends and the Identity Circle

    A very nicely put article from Robert Cringely on privacy and identity. He suggests we use our friend of a friend networks to control spam, and provide a degree of verification. This is just the sort of enablement I need for my Skype Caller ID processing. I want a listed number and yet I don't want to be open to abuse. I wrote something similar on these pages some months back. I called it "Identity Circles" which build on "Identity Trust Circles".

    Make it one article to read!


    At one extreme, we have identity zealots who would plant microchips in our kids. At the other extreme, we have privacy zealots who don't want anyone anywhere to know anything about them or about what they do. Somewhere in the middle, we can probably place most of the rest of us. It is doubtful that we can fully satisfy both extremes at the same time, so the real question is what path will give us the most identity for the least loss of privacy or the most privacy with the least amount of identity?

    These concepts of identity and privacy are not polar opposites, though we treat them as such from a public policy standpoint.....PBS | I, Cringely . Archived Column


    October 25, 2003

    Lunching at Kokkari

    I left the Canter's yesterday after an interesting lunch with Marc, Lisa, and Dina. I'm not sure who told the bigger Indian stories, just know that visiting India remains on my travel agenda wish list. Interesting to hear why Dina's view on Ryze and why Indians won't pay. She has a great story round Avi Das via Ryze. Hope she will blog it one day. The stories element is missing from too many of these sites, whether Linked-In, Ryze, Tribe. The more testimonials the better. People learn how to use them through stories.

    As the Marc Canter show returned to home base, we meet Mimi and were blogged. It wouldn't have been such a big thing except Marc is using K-Collector, something not available "YET" to us mere mortal MT users. Lilia has also been posting on it. K-Collector is Matt Mower and Paolo Valdemarin. This time it made sense. I want to try it out! I'm going to Skype Matt!

    Also asked Marc if he'd been Skyping with them? He's not yet bought my suggestion re trying out Skype - not open source. Still, the headset arrived for him while we were there. Concurrently I think Dina thought she was in India as Marc's ADSL connection became sporadic during our visit.

    As for all this networking. Face to face still beats all the virtual stuff.


    October 26, 2003

    Welcome to Skype Country

    How big is Skype Country? How quickly are the settlers moving in? It is time to start thinking about Skypers like we think about country statistics. Already it is a group too small to ignore. As we approach 2 million downloads and 120000 Skypers online we are looking at an interesting group of people.

    Let's introduce some numbers from the 2001 New Zealand Census. At that time they had 1.24 million housholds with access to a phone and 482K with access to the internet. It's a real country. Is Skype already bigger?

    In Skype Country everyone has Internet even if only 50% completed the install and began using it. We are still approaching ONE MILLION SKYPEPHONES.

    Skype Mini Downloads.jpg

    View Large Graph

    Statistics like these raise more questions than answers. I'm still not sure how Skype counts entries into the cloud (or exits). So let's just stick with the idea that Skype Country is a very habitable place, rapidy growing.

    I'd also spend a moment to think about how people are spending their time in Skype country. Some are working hard, using Skype as a new work tool. Others are using it for more personal connections. In the end... Skypers are likely to be spending more time in front of their computers, away from traditional phones and possibly more away from the TV.

    That means there are marketing implications for Skype Country. Take a tour, immigrate, see what you think. Some early settlers are already putting down stakes and claims.

    Perspective Note:
    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) publishes an annual report which gives an overview of telephone usage in the United States. The most recent data were for 1997. Since US local calls are unmetered, the call cost being included in a flat-rate monthly tariff, the FCC gave an estimate that 2,683 billion local dial equipment minutes were used in 1997. This was based on a complete two week measurement of all local, intrastate and interstate phone traffic which the FCC requires every telephone service provider in the US to perform each year. When this two-week data set is expanded to a full year, the FCC considers the yearly figure to be accurate to within 10%. Because dial equipment minute data counts double for each phone call minute, and because it also includes the dialing and ring time, the FCC advises that it should be divided by 2.07 in order to convert it to phone call minutes. On this basis, 2,683 billion dial equipment minutes equates to 1,296 billion phone minutes or 20.3 minutes per day of local phone calls per local loop. Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications - Features

    Skype Stories

    There's a place in the Skype forums for stories. For me even one story a week would make Skyping worthwhile. My latest --- I said I was going to Skype with Matt Mower and yesterday we did for over an hour. Think it was 1:00am in England when we finished. Still it was a neat call, and it covered more than just K-Collector.

    A good story has a twist or an unexpected connection. That what calling other SkypeBloggers provides. It's so often the unintended consequences of ones actions that are likely to pay the biggest dividends. Matt and I brokered a Marc Canter / K-Collector intro, a Phil Wolff Skype link in to something that potentially means much more than just reading another blog. On the K-Collector front, I'm keen to see his MT solution. Matt describes their Real-Time KM solution that will further accelerate conversations and learning. Matt used a phrase in our conversation "Bubbles to the Surface", it one we used in KCI many years ago round the Knowledge Capital Engine, an approach to spiraling value creation. Great ideas just bubble up just like a great champagne. Good conversations flow like Champagne.

    It's no mystery. Putting a real voice to a blog makes it much more personal, the words more important.

    While exchanging names he also mentioned Martin Hall, well known for his Systemic Values approach. Just happens that when I meet with Charles Savage - in the Bay Area later this week that he too is hoping to meet with Martin. As you can see from Martin's post, values analysis just provide another twist on how K-Collector may be stretched and I learn that he's been connecting with Terry Frazier too. Without Skype I would have missed all this.

    With this little twist (thanks Matt) Martin and I now just need to complete this new Skype connection. I'm sure we will tomorrow. Now that's what is neat about the combination of blogs and Skype. There's a lot more exchanging taking place. Take K-Collector and create power topics, get Skype to give us Conferencing capability and that may just rachet up another notch. Blogging alone was merely publishing. SkypeBlogging is more about networking and accelerating ideas. That certainly suits me just fine.

    October 27, 2003

    Skype Next Gen Caller ID Opp.

    Here's a small request for my readers at SKYPE. What I want is a version of the client that enables me to start playing with Next Generation CallerID. It's not a big ask.

    It goes like this. Next Gen Caller ID is where Skypephony really takes off. It's the point that enables all sorts of new social capital exchanges to happen. Similarly it enables the market for smart directories and other anonymous matching services. It's will also mandatory if we are to solve longer term "Caller Spam". Skype must enable smarter connections, Skype can't manage or even foresee all the filters we might each personally want. While companies and enterprises will have other requirements. So this says create the market. Facilitate the growth of next generation Caller ID services.

    For all purposes the traditional phone is limited to dumb or obvious connections. Augmented directories and friends of friends will enable a telephone system to revolve around social connectivity rather than electronic switches. Connections we want will lead to higher call rates and increase usage. More calls make Skype more valuable. Making the desktop part of the phone/communication management solution further changes the phone paradigm. It will also create other new products I'm not even going to speculate on here.

    So? What do I want? Skype should provide the client with the capability to turn on or off a Caller ID plug-in capability. Plug-ins may only work with premium versions. When activated my super Caller ID will be able to handle incoming call detection, putting it on hold, or post check... enabling it to resume and connect. It may link to various profiling services. They will be specified by me. It means I'll get a lot more than just a phone number when you call. It also means... those ID providers that fail me will simply lose my business.

    Do this right and it pays. There's a positive business model here. When can I have it? Thanks Skype?

    Now while I believe that communication management is a good thing. I'm not sure that a Skype plug-in is the only solution here. I'd appreciate any info on how to sniff out incoming callers, ID them and potentially relate them to other databases or information requests. Seems I ought to be able to do this on my desktop!

    October 29, 2003

    F2F Blogs and More

    Last nights Small World Meetup was a brilliant way to connect face-to-face with people who share similar thoughts and interests. We found out we are all doing our bit towards building something around blogging. It was fun and I'd do it again.

    This is the second time in a few weeks that I've found myself experimenting with using blogs and topics to arrange a meetup. There's a little trepidation with these things --- "will anyone turn up?". You need at least one willing partner and an excuse for a good meal. So thanks Dina for being both a willing participant and from coming far enough away that "here now" meant let's do it!!!

    When a "plot comes together" there's a neat little story line. I think more deeply we met out of curiosity and the recognition that others are working and using new and emerging tools to both express themselves and get their work done. It's happening around the world as Dina so well illustrates. When bloggers connect in person they are further empowered. I'm envious she has meetups planned in Philidephia and London too.

    It's also easy to find things in common. Phil, Dina, Clynton, Denise, Danah, Michelle, we just jumped into conversation. Blog Dinner 102803.jpg

    The other story is I introduced Dina to blogging. Somehow (pre Skype) I set Dina up to use Radio via an IM exchange. It took a couple of hours while working on other things. (Even sending early templates through). Yesterday she reminded me that I wrote the title to her first post. Now we know it didn't take her long to get going. Dina's story is neat, probably not unique. Like me and others last night, she's found blogging is letting her meetup with others around the world wonderfully brokering new connections. There was also lots of laughing. Thanks particularly go to Danah!

    Blog Dinner 102803 2.jpg
    This was a great reminder, for after promoting blogging to Clynton for part of the afternoon (I expect you to blog soon!) I realized again that the best approach is the simple instruction. Download this. write this, and repeat. Keep it really simple. I've also learned that opening blogs for others on my site doesn't provide enough ownership --- it's still an experiment --- rather than a commitment. There are better tools today than just IM --- Skype and Glance. Until they make that first post there is no point in discussing much more.

    Blog Dinner 102803 3.jpg

    Then it is nice to find others have a discomfort of the public and private issues of blog life, or are simply wresting with how to integrate blogs and social networking tools into their companies. I'm beginning to learn what happens when you meet-up, add-in IM, Skype and all the other tools. Things can and do happen!

    The voices of others, the collective thoughts, the willingness to "sense" out or let things emerge. The second wave of bloggers may just be better than the first. The first built a platform for publish publish, tell tell tell, the second wave will not embrace blogging in the same way. They are exploring the collective, they are connecting having never met before, they are designing and integrating blogging into work and life. Thus like a small world meetup it is not the blog but the conversations that matter. Not all are blogged.

    I think we will find more value in connecting further. The common bond now is not just text, but sounds, images, laughter. Yet it just fuels a desire for more meetups, more variety, not for entertainment rather because it it puts a more human face on who we are and what we do.

    October 30, 2003

    Private Global Intercom

    Will Skype have an enterprise play? When does it make sense to try it out? If I'm a small professional services company does it make sense to start using it? Examples. PR firms, Patent Attorneys, Systems Developers, Trade Advisors. Any firm with global alliances and a large number of international calls.

    When to start? Certain businesses will depend on understanding Skype. However most IT security departments would probably suggest that I am getting ahead of myself. Skype is still in beta. However I know a few businesses that are semi-virtual and operate around the world. Some of these have VoIP services although not all. Most aren't particularly sophisticated about tech, and have either a hard time managing it or find themselves paying big bills to keep things going. Frankly Skype is less likely in in current format to create holes or crash systems than anyone of the many other "venerabilities" they are likely to have.

    Consider Costs: For many small businesses upgrading their phone exchanges is an expensive business. For the more international practices communication costs are a key budget item. It is one the company doesn't like to think about. It is a cost of doing business. However, substantial reductions in cost and wasted time in terms of telephone tag suggest it may be an effective solution.

    Simple maths. At $20 per person this represents at 20cents per call it represents 100 calls with a duration of 10 minutes. At 1 dollar per call it is less than 20. Call India and the payback is probably one call.

    Is there a Trial Solution? However there's a simple solution you can create and populate immediately. Here's my 50 person dispersed office solution for today! We know Skype will come out with a corporate solution eventually. Give every employee Skype now. In the fifty person firm your investment will be about $1000 for the headsets assuming the computing equipment is less than three years old and are not a Mac shop. There are a few other pieces you need dependent on equipment available. The question is... what's the payout period?

    Short-term using two computers side by side you open accounts for everyone. Create a name that matches the e-mail name before the @. You create one master directory account for the company where you authorize all the accounts you just set up. Then when ready to go you issue the "memo" including the benefits. You may choose a couple of helpers. You send the e-mail with the download and install Skype instruction along with their log-in details and password. When installed they are to call your master directory account. You answer and using "tools" right click on their incoming call and "share all member directory contacts".... As the rest of the company gears up... each will be authorized. Time for 50 accounts? Less than 2 hours for the initial account definitions. Probably then fifteen minutes per person for their e-mail response. With a little help from some helpers... all done in a day.

    Benefits:

  • Lower costs
  • Enhanced understanding of availability,
  • Less telephone tag

    Make sure to have your employees go through the "File" - "Options" with you. Complete their profiles, make sure they tick the "privacy" settings!


    A Private Intercom: Now you have a private corporate Intercom system. From a security standpoint it is better than the current telephone systems. The IM function currently doesn't allow send files. So unless I'm told otherwise the risk looks to be close to "zero" here.

    I'd expect in time employees will add some other "buddies" at the moment you can't monitor this. The employee instruction is they are to treat Skype like an additional phone on their desk. Thus they can't turn it off, just like they wouldn't think of pulling the cord out of the wall.

    So in the future what with the small to medium enterprise version provide?

  • It will adopt the e-mail address as the Skype address, enabling easy migration and corporate authentication that this really is an employee. NOTE the @ is not currently available in Skype.
  • It will provide additional security for "sent" files over the IM system.
  • It will provide degrees of access so profiles for teams, clients, etc.. can be managed separately.
  • Will enable you to manage a global directory of corporate contacts. etc.

    Willing to test? For companies in the useability and design industry I'd see this as a simple trial. I'm looking for a fifty person test! I'll help you put the case! I'd like to get the statistics one month later on the savings! Plus run a small survey. Any takers?

  • Contact Center Skyping

    Have you been wondering what the impact of Skype might be on Content Center Practice Management. Skype provide both potential opportunities and may also make short term marketing perspectives more difficult to manage.

    When I bought my new IBM recently I wish I could have just Skyped with the operator. Instead I had to hold a phone, dial a number and wait. I couldn't send the URL of the page... With Skype you can reduce the cost of the calls and begin to integrate screen, IM and voice connections when received. I know I can connect immediately. Simply illustrated by the "SkypeMe" button on my website. Similarly if I miss the call then it's logged. They can call me back.

    Clearly, there is no Skype "call center" capability yet, although TDavid illustrated how Various reps might be online / engaged etc with a simple system. I'd imagine a "next available" agent could work from a list that is periodically checked or notified when the agent is again free.

    However a Skype strategy may lose the capability to do things like reverse address look-up, telephone number searches and providing quick demographic profiling data dependent on the callers location. Then in certain situations, a smart operator may find ways to run Google searches, Ryze checks etc. The real determinant will be... what degree of anonymity is the contact using. We'll use less if we learn we get better service. Similarly if the contact center has some "privacy" and reputation criteria, I may allow a more detailed "inquiry profile" through.

    Then there is the contact center opportunity to press better profiles into the customers hand. When I get the rep on the phone "they aren't personalized" when I get one in Skype I may demand a more detailed profile in return. It helps to know who I am talking to. Humanize the connection. Enable me to rate the calls on completion etc. Now both parties are empowered to better connections.

    No matter how you look at it... this can't be done with the phone. The potential for a richer contact environment is here. What's your strategy for success?

    October 31, 2003

    New Skype Beta 0.94

    Skype

    Skype launched Beta version 0.94 today with several enhancements, including language support for Spanish, Finnish, Polish and Romanian. There are also several improvements to text messaging, call-quality, network reliability, and support for USB phones. Please see our release notes for a complete list of enhancements.

    About October 2003

    This page contains all entries posted to Unbound Spiral in October 2003. They are listed from oldest to newest.

    September 2003 is the previous archive.

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