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January 2005 Archives

January 2, 2005

Talking Skype at Yi-Tan

Talk Skype with Jerry Michalski and me at 10:30amd PST tomorrow. Jerry is a leading guru on navigating technology change. He's been hosting a series of 30 minute weekly calls.

Skype Me Yi-Tan Weekly Tech Call #14 January 3, 2005

Our guest will be Stuart Henshall, a Chuck Yeager of presence and communication technologies (and co-founder of the Yi-Tan Collective). His blog, Unbound Spiral, has become a hub for Skype information online. David Isenberg, our recent guest for Freedom to Connect, will join us again, too.

Created by the same folks that gave us KaZaA, the Napster file-sharing descendant, Skype mixes the presence and interactivity of Instant Messaging with audio quality often better than a phone call.

We will cover questions like:

  • What is Skype?
  • How is the Skype experience different from conventional telephony?
  • What are third parties building on top of Skype? Where are they all headed?
  • How might Skype change the dynamics of telecom in emerging markets such as China? Yi-Tan Collective on Skype Me
  • For more details refer "Yi-tan" for dialing-in instructions. For those wanting to try something a little different; dial in using SkypeOut and bridge others into the call using a conference link. :-).

    Traditions... blog and more

    Thank you all for so many comments and trackback recently. I'm simply overwhelmed. I didn't mean to throw away the tradition of thanks and response, nor was it a New Years resolution. I've been buried deeply in two projects reading them to kick off the New Year.

    So I promise to post a portion of my traditional blogging follow-up tomorrow. And Yes! Part of it does involve a wiki, although it's less a wiki than many might think. Behind the scenes on Yi-Tan we have been experimenting with new ways to create an emergent plastic platform. I think the solution is much more dynamic than a blog and many times more adaptable for the corporate environment. For it is not the pages that is really interesting. In the end it is the posts and the collections. Then in different places we've been adding presence and other collaboration methods. I also need to give Ken Tyler at Seedwiki just a little more time.

    On the other front, I'm planning to leverage my passion for Skype in new ways. Right now 2005 the outlook is for amazing change and new action!

    January 3, 2005

    Changing Blogging's Context

    Wow what a response to giving up on "traditional blogging". I'm forced to declare my hand early. For the last couple of months I've been working with Jerry Michalski, and Dina Mehta on creating a new kind of collaborative work space and collective business. We call it Yi-Tan and our blog is "Conversations About Change. One may never be ready for the day when you start that new blog. We're still getting the bugs out and the platform is still being changed. Yet all of us believe in prototyping to the future. I'm personally learning and creating new features as we use it.

    On Yi-Tan today you will see something that looks a lot like a traditional blog. Yet if you look under the hood you will see that it is not a blog, in fact it started as an editable page. Note at this point I am trying to eliminate the work "wiki"! It's superfluous, we are talking pages, posts and collections. Yi-Tan is a collaborative platform for accelerating change. There's some bits we're not showing today, there also remain some ugly URL's soon to disappear. The log-in functions are being worked now. Still we have a working prototype and a current RSS feed. I've written quite enough on the Yi-Tan site today. Much more here would be redundant.

    We encourage you to experiment, comment and add new pages to Yi-Tan. Please don't add them to our Yi-Tan Collection "Conversations About Change" unless invited to. You may create your own collection and we have a "Blog Sandbox" there. You will be surprised at how open our "editor" is. Don't forget that like many wiki's we have a full history.

    Yi-Tan is developing on a collaborative platform that allows us to move into a world of dynamic blogging, new forms of "tagging" collections and new ways of thinking about using RSS. This page discusses what happens when a wiki is fused with a blog context. What is different? How does it make a better product? What are the metaphors that should be used in developing a language for this emergent product?

    The posts that begin here at Yi-Tan have the potential to be very open, dynamic and more conversational. More importantly this approach is more applicable to the way we work in living sytems. When all of us own the blog, we write differently. What's more even after this page is elevated to a post it may be updated during the time someone sends you the link (by someone I don't know) before you access the post. read more... Conversations About Change (Stuart quoting Stuart :-)

    Notes from trackbacks:
    I think collections are better than "topics" although searching may uncover the depth of new topics or early warning signals that can quickly make a collection that can be built on, until too large to manage. "Author" provides some interesting aspects. Multi-Authored will become a norm.

    I see 5 major dimensions that can characterise information sharing: individuals, topics, opinions, things and time.The end of bloggin? Already? | noirExtreme

    Yes we have been experimenting with "presence" information via Skype on Yi-Tan pages. Will make it easy to work and collaborate with other authors or people that are interested. Pages can even been asigned problem solvers... and act like mini-call direction centers for free.

    I also want a way to get more of a dialogue (a la David Bohm). This blog, like many others, easily slides into conversations which are talking or reloading. It's harder to get that spirit of thinking together. Stuart is a big fan of Skype and talks a lot about presence which has much to do with what makes dialogue work. Johnnie Moore's Weblog: Blogs: connection or just "loneliness lite"

    Come and try out Yi-Tan. You don't need a permit for a test drive!. Just help us and add some value!
    So, after reading Johhnie More and then being sent to Stuart Henshall, I started to search for an ASP based implementation of a Wiki that I could start to work with.The only one I could find was JotSpot - I have requested a BETA but they are not automated sieze the day: JOTSPOT - Have you seen this?

    My motivation is less about the positive things that blogs are good at. Well listed here, rather I'm more concerned about the future of how work is shaped. I see simple tools, the cost of which is so disruptive when combined with presence and learning effectiveness, that content management systems are as endangered as telecom.
    I foresee three kinds of blogs forming. There will be the traditional online diaries. Slice of life, something made popular thanks to the Puritans pushing the biography as a form of literature. We just love to read about one another's lives. There will be the News/opinion blogs..... View from the Isle by Larix Consulting :: End of "traditional" blogging?

    I'm not planning on giving up writing. Where I'd like to contrast the difference is that 18 months ago you could create a list of say important blog papers and it would go out and you would get lots of hits. Assembling information individually provided and generated useful dialogue. Today, check Wikipedia for "Podcasting" or "Tsunami", more powerful collections and completed more quickly than I ever could. I'd like to bring that power to what we ultimately do. It's what Guilds were also made of. Concurrently enabling anyone to create a custom RSS feed out of Yi-Tan with their own collection will perturb new systems in new ways. This post is a testament to that.
    I've found when a reader reminds me that some bloggers provide valuable services of information that betters certain parts of our techno world. Eric Rice :: What is traditional blogging?

    Ton's thoughts are a must read. He put the thoughtfulness into something that I orginally dashed of. Thank you Ton.
    One direction is to enhance value on a personal level, creating loads of more context. Not by only being an outlet channel for thoughts, but the on-line hub of my life. This could mean (more) integration with my other personal information tools (think private and public wiki, yasns), providing not only personal intellectual context (books I read etc.), but especially more social context. Ton's Interdependent Thoughts: Blogs as Personal Presence Portal Revisited

    Euan asks whether we can create better friendships. I know I've made a commitment to my colleagues. From my perspective our collective blog has to be better than anything I could write myself. And then I can also run my own blog within the collective environment. I can even run a FlamePool if I want. Our collective blog is both a commitment and the desire to create something more valuable. More value will come too when the posting frequency is closer to 3+ posts per day. Euan, I hope you will come and join us.
    Could I replicate this high level of closeness of intimate friendship online? Could I discuss the stuff that really matters in an environment where passing it on would be as easy as copy and paste? The Obvious?: Blogging as therapy

    If you got this far well done! The prediction for this year is that simple collaborative workspaces will finally catch on. The wiki with difficult editing is doomed. The wiki without an effective structured RSS is doomed. And finally I'm looking for the Google Button like Google desktop for me on Yi-Tan.

    January 5, 2005

    CES Consumer Electronics Show

    I'll be attending CES the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Thursday to Saturday. First time visit for me. In particular, have my eye out for all things that may work with Skype and Podcasting. I know there are a few other bloggers there too.

    January 9, 2005

    It's not Skype....

    I heard a rumor yesterday about a post by Andy Abramson on Skype and SAM. Frankly I believe he should print a retraction. I'll use the comments posted on Jeff Pulver's blog to add clarity. Jeff also passed on a posts without some more detailed fact checking. Tom Keating did the same. Industry leaders with their facts wrong.This is a shame. I also don't buy the slant on Andy's Skype Responds either. It's still out of context and there are no links on the post to the third party product SAM or Skype.

    This is not a security hole in Skype. It is the result of using third party beta software in development for use with Skype. His problem.. that SAM connected two calls is listed in known bugs. As for the technical issue of recording "encrypted" calls this is complete hogwash. I can record all sorts of call and it makes no matter if it is an X-Ten softphone or Glophone etc. You'd also get the same result if you ran two softphone clients at the same time on the same soundcard and answered both calls.

    Peter Macaulay comments: This is not a security flaw -- this is a feature! : - ) It is just as if you were sitting in my office and an incoming POTS call is picked up by my 20 year old answering machine. If the volume is up everyone in the secure space (my office) can hear the recording. Solution: Mute the answering machine. Remember how folks used this feature to screen calls -- "Hi it's Sally, if you are there please pick up". We just need to learn how to use these new tools. When you have a meeting you mute your answering machine -- that should be the default. Andy Abramson posted this as a Skype security flaw as if it were a programming memory leak -- no it is just the mixing of your voice on the speaker. I will leave my Skype/SAM running in my hotel room while I am at CES today -- just need to mute the speakers so I don't scare housekeeping -- and have my messages overheard! The bigger issue is that this implied flaw is from the Skype/SAM combo created by Skype publishing their API. I would hate to see Skype shut down their API which is already creating many new products such as the Siemens handset and also the Actiontec gateway just announced at CES this week. Just my thoughts on a cold night in Las Vegas

    Andrew comments:
    I was on the conference call taking place at the time Andy called and I would just point out that the version of SAM my colleague was using was Beta software (the version in use was 0.9.30, the then-current release) and that this is a documented known bug (http://www.freewebs.com/skypeansweringmachine/help.htm#33418068): "2) SAM answers incoming call even though user is in an active outgoing call. You get a audio mixture of the current call, SAM and the incoming caller." I am not diminishing the importance of Andy's point, merely adding context.

    The Jeff Pulver Blog: Andy reports major bug in Skype Voicemail!

    There is a brave new world of developers out there creating some interesting new VoIP applications. They need encouragment not a flamepool. It's obvious that Skype will launch an "Authorized by Skype" program too. Issues around new products and functionalities are important. Sometimes even bugs have become new products.

    Just think. If you run two profiles (names that will get searched!) of Skype on your PC. Set them both to auto answer... and employ SAM as it is now. Then you could connect random strangers. Even more the first caller could keep an open line and wait for another person to call the other line. Then I guess that would make the listener a voyeur. Have fun kids! Now... is that a security flaw? I doubt it. Common sense works wonders too.

    January 10, 2005

    CES Overview

    I enjoyed two days walking and walking at CES. I found some of the displays simply ridiculous. LCD overkill everywhere. Many of the most interesting products were in the innovation tent. After that my time was best spent looking in the Hilton Ballrooms at the "country" displays. Many Asian OEM manufacturers were there. It was by far the best place to find out what was in the pipeline.

    Looking around I'd say bluetooth is at a consumer tipping point. Over a year ago bluetooth was a frustration to me. For the last nine months my bluetooth headset has been indispensable. At CES bluetooth solutions are coming so fast that mobile phones without bluetooth no longer make sense. More importantly bluetooth is going to make it into the home with a new set of headsets. On this I have a separate post coming.

    Next you can't miss the coat-tailing on the iPod factor. From speakers to extra devices, the iPod world remains hot. This despite the 4 in 1 and even 5 in one mp3 related mini devices that were showcased. Still dig a little deeper and you find cell phone mockups with tiny tiny diskdrives. It can't be long before these devices really merge into one. Now a mobile with a click wheel that would be cool!

    Lastly how could I go to a show and not pay attention to Skype related products. Skype was hastily stamped on to some brochures and in other places some neat new products were emerging. I'm sure the VoIP stuff is well covered elsewhere. I'll put together a few notes in the next day or so. Interest in Skype compatible products is growing.

    January 11, 2005

    Best iPod Product at CES?

    Image(293).jpg I like the off the main path alleys at trade shows. On the fringes of the Innovation tent I discovered iJet a wireless RF iPod remote. It may not sound all that special until you consider how small the remote may become.

    iJet unlike Navipod which uses an IR (infared) control can operate up to a 100ft radius and controls 9 key functions. I'm sure the simple prototype displayed will soon have a market with Belkin or someone similar. What's so exciting is the size and the potential for the remote controls this device suggests. For example there is no reason that this control can't have a micro display. I like the iPod in my pocket, couldn't I just start changing tracks from my watch?

    And with that leap I realized that a small remote device on my watch could could answer all those calls, mute the room, and really integrate switching from one application to another, whether using a headset or the room speakers. Hang-up forward, activate device all from my watch. Starts to change the dimensions of what I may consider carrying around.

    Runner Ups on the iPod? There was iCruze from Monster Cable, and iPort in wall docking system from Sonance. Nothing like paying $300 for your iPod and then many times that to use it to extend the experience. Perhaps some of the simple cable organzers and dashboard clamps are more useful.

    The Future is Voice Messaging

    The future is voice messaging, not voice mail. Voice messaging only comes into its own when matched with "presence" applications like Skype. It's an important distinction, for voice messaging will be used differently.

    Links in the forums and some recent press comment around Skype have included reference to voice mail. It's probably a natural reference as we talk about "left a" and "getting voice mail" all the time. However in Skype's case what they are soon to implement is not really voice mail. Rather it is voice messaging. It's a subtle yet significant difference and I hope their language comes to reflect it.

    Here's why.
    Voice Mail is typically a voice message that was left when there was a communications failure. The intended recipient either wasn't near the phone or didn't want to answer your phone call. You leave a voice message you have no sense of timing. We call this telephone tag.

    By contrast the "voice messaging option" on Skype doesn't require that you try calling the person first. You have their presence, you know at what level of importance you want to put the interruption. In this world the voice messaging function is different. A voice message is less invasive, less disruptive to workflow.

    As a long time user of Skype I seldom get "out of the blue" calls. If I do, these calls are from people not on my buddy list. Frankly it is better they all go direct to a voice mail preferably with a different message from the one I leave my buddies. The message for the "unknowns" is probably no soliciting, state your business etc. If you pass these hurdles etc. and it is important then text me.

    Thus for the most part my buddies text first. As they / we have a crude sense of each others presence there is no need for failed voice mail. Most dialogue starts with chat. It may or may not escalate to voice. Thus voice mail is for the most part superfluous. More importantly forcing me to leave a voice mail when I know they are there is a little silly. Messages aren't supposed to play tag by design. Thus the context changes from voice mail to voice messaging.

    I probably haven't made myself clear. Coming up. Send a Skype voice message without ringing the other person's Skype client. That is a major difference to the telephone.

    In Skype, voice messaging is for the occasions when I don't want to interrupt someone's workspace. It's perfect for update messages, invites to the weekend party etc. Messages that will benefit from a vocal / personal touch. Yet they don't have to interrupt the work flow. Let's face it... if I work with someone all the time and they aren't on Skype, then leaving a voice mail isn't the best place to try and reach them or deal with an urgent problem. I either have to now deal with it myself, postpone until we are mutually present (text can work well here) or call their cellphone.

    Voice mail implies dump it in a box. Voice messaging heralds in a new more efficient age. Voice mail shouldn't be in Skype's vocabulary. Similarly the current "test" recorded message should be re-scripted to reflect the changed paradigm. It currently refers to voice mail. However you would have to know a tester to have tried it.

    January 12, 2005

    Upgrading MT - Comment Spam

    I am completely sick of comment spam. I recently upgraded to MT 3.14. However, had had little time to develop new templates to use the newer features. Plus after 2.5 years of generally adding and subtracting bits it is time to start over. So what you see today is a stock standard MT set of templates. The comment spam is still pouring in.

    Tonight I experienced something I thought was reasonable. The Social Software Weblog now asks for a confirmation via e-mail (if you are new). Click on the link and your post is updated. That's new since the last time I left a comment there. I'll have to chase directions for installing it. Anyone else implemented this?

    So watch for new templates soon.

    January 13, 2005

    MT-Templates New

    It's easy to see why so many love Typepads relatively easy to use stylesheet system. I'm not finished messing around here. While I've now got quite a portfolio of different templates and functions created over time every change takes time. It's still a long short list that needs doing. Not sure yet what I'll do on the color front. On the upside spam is definitely down. I've installed almost all of the MT recommended spam approaches. We'll see how it goes.

    Please send me a message if you have problems with comments. Aftlodging comments too difficult defeats the purpose.

    Skype Predictions

    Some numbers are worth repeating even if they are speculation. These numbers on Skype suggest huge growth for Skype over the next three years. Implies 30-50 million Skypers by year end.

    Evalueserve predicts there will be 140 million to 245 million Skype users by 2008, compared to about 15 million total today. Those numbers exclude enterprise users who might switch to future Skype business offerings, which could reduce telcos' revenues even further. silicon.com

    From a telecom perspective I'd ask whether these numbers remain conservative. Adoption curves have a way of tipping. We've not got to that point yet.

    January 14, 2005

    Skype + Bluetooth = Cordless

    Have a bluetooth headset? Using one with your mobile? At CES BT headset demos were everywhere. So I returned home determined to use my Motorola BT headset with my laptop. Part of the desire was just wanting to lose the wires that are always tangled round the headset just when I want to answer an inbound Skype call. There remains lots of discussion and desire to connect phones to Skype. I took a look at some of those at CES too (details coming). Still if you alreay have a BT headset and can secure a BT dongle for the laptop then I'd suggest you try it out.
    Just before Christmas I blogged that I wanted a Bluetooth Stereo Headset. Google didn't turn many up. At CES I counted and tried out four. These new BT Stereo Headsets allow media streaming and call answering. iTunes from the Laptop and take the Skype calls too... with no wires. I sense it will be a very attractive product. (I'll blog them separately)

    So how are Skypers doing with Bluetooth? Here's some links to the forums. The desire is for them to work with your PC just like they work on your mobile. Click the earpiece to answer the Skype call. Not yet.. let's keep asking!

  • Many Skypers are successfully using BT headsets today. Bluetooth Headset (HS01) and an X-Micro Bluetooth dongle for my PC - AND IT WORKS GREAT! How I made my Bluetooth headset work with XP SP2
  • Skypers want Bluetooth functionality that they get with their phone. Skype doesn't support so called 'headset-profiles' or anything. BT Headset & Voice Dial Support for Skype?
  • Mac users get it too with the most recent beta supporting bluetooth. New Skype for Mac OS X!
  • It's not always easy to get it paired with your laptop. I gave up 9 months ago. Then recently I had to reinstall my BT applications and low and behold it just works! Skyping without wires is even better. Now you can make that coffee and still stay on the line.

    If you are buying one you check that it can pair with more than one device. I checked mine and found it will remember up to eight different connections so this is likely to be common. Still, I find it will only work with one device at a time. Good luck going wireless!

    January 18, 2005

    Skype Voice Messaging

    I've been trying out Skype's latest voice mail beta. It demonstrates to me just how important beta testing is. It's also better than specing the product to death before trying it out. So, despite right clicking the mouse and obtaining a "send voicemail" option, after using it I'm more convinced than ever that this is "voice messaging" (See also Future of VM) under development.

    First a compliment. I keep saying that the audio quality is one of the things that differentiates Skype. Now it differentiates their VM capability too. It sounds better than what I get on my cellphone or pick up on the home answer machine etc. Skype adoption continues because the audio is better and thus conversations are ultimately more enjoyable.

    Next, Skype voice messaging may get me leaving more voice messages. There are many messages I'd like to leave that I don't write, or can't call in because it is too late at night etc. A voice message that doesn't interrupt the other person is less invasive, while at the same time not necessarily tying me to a long conversation. Unfortunately in Skype's current beta test case you are limited to one minute. Making messaging to time a little more difficult is the lack of an elapsed timer.

    This little VM feature may get many Skyper's paying a small premium for the service. By contrast a third party answerphone still rings, and unless the "recorder icon" is visible, exchanging VM rather than leaving voice mails with the person is impossible. You also have to leave your PC on for it to work.

    On playback it's easy to find the message in the call list. Push to play and similarly for delete. You can play messages back in any order. A right click and you can respond with a VM or chat etc. Playback is instantaneous, the VM's is by this time resident on your machine, there is no waiting or server delay.

    On the technical details. I only have a few observations so far. After the VM is uploaded by another party Skype appears to downloads the file as soon as you log back on again. I'm not sure to where this file is uploaded as part of the connection routine. I'd guess that Skype has a server(s) that only holds a file if the user is really offline. These messages are held in an encryped format, so whoever holds them couldn't break them open easily in anycase. Legally I'm sure Skype doesn't want to be a phone company and it's quite possilble they they never ever handle the voicemail. The software merely passes encrypted data in different file sharing formats.

    This encouraged me to look for the voice files in the Windows/Documents & Settings/User/Applications/Skype/Voicemail/. Here you will find the compressed voice mail files. They are compressed roughly 10 to 1 vs a .wav file. What's interesting is viewing this folder while sending a voice mail. You can watch these files build and then one leaves. First you get apparent encryption information (while listening to the greeting of the person you are sending to), then your VM builds and then it leaves...

    I've not tried running VM on two machines with the same profile concurrently, to learn if they synch etc. The latest chat does. I'm not sure what happens to VM.

    A few things still need sorting.

  • There is no time indicator for recording the message. With this there is no preview of the message. You blow the message it is gone! There is no getting it back.
  • There is no confirmation that the other party got the message or when. If this is to be voice messaging focused rather than voice mail that may be a useful feature.
  • Even when I look in the VM file I can't tell who I may have sent VM's to or how many may still be outstanding. There is currently no "call list" update of who VM was sent to. I sense that I should get to retain a copy. On the plus side the encrypted nature of the file means it isn't going to be playable anywhere else. At least in the original format. I could send it to sound recorder etc.. but that is different.
  • It probably makes sense to put the VM record function under File/Options. It did take me a minute to find it for the first time.
  • Fix the in-bound call crisis. When I am leaving a VM for someone else an inbound call is simply a killer. It takes over the screen, you lose verbal traction and that message is going anyways... you can't stop it.

    Dollar Impact?

    Overall the VM product intrigues me. I think it is probably a must have. As a service it is clearly chargeable. So lets make some quick notes on marketing impact.

    Price? Say 10 Euros per year. Current user base (I hesitate to use the current 17m as I have at least 10 profile names myself) Still we are seeing downloads at 80000 per day. That's up to 2 million new users per month. By the end of 2005 30 to 50 million Skypers easy.

    So what's the deal here. You give it to everyone free for three months. You get a 20-30% "desired" must have conversion rate. On 40 million Skypers that 10 million who must have VM. You offer them the deal of three years VM for Euros 20. A thirty percent discount. You raise $200 million just like that.

    Just makes me think about Skype with half a billion dollars in the bank! As a competitor what would you do? How far away is that day?

  • January 20, 2005

    BlogWalkChicago Saturday.

    BlogWalk USA in Chicago on Saturday. A group of wonderful people will be there. I'm looking forward to it. Rather than introduce it I thought I'd just tell a short story from today.

    We have all had the experience of meeting an old friend in the street and then guiding them off to the place where you were headed for conversation and fun. Well, it happens now in the online world too. This morning I pinged Martin (usually in the UK)with an offer to try Skype voice mail. He came back with an I'm in Chicago and it is freezing. To keep it short I said... ah.. I'm there tomorrow what are you doing? Why not come along to BlogWalk? A few more exchanges and Jack found himself in a three way Skype Chat. Martin will be there on Saturday. Simply brilliant. I'll only say... this connection would never have happened without Blogs, Skype and the willingness to share. I think it is pretty neat.

    Straight from the Wiki!

    http://www.zylstra.org/blog/images/jackvinson.jpg Jack Vinson - http://jackvinson.com
    http://static.cognitivearchitects.com/images/Seblogging/LiliaEfimova.jpg Lilia Efimova - http://blog.mathemagenic.com
    http://static.cognitivearchitects.com/images/Seblogging/JimMcGee.jpg Jim McGee http://www.mcgeesmusings.net/index.html
    http://static.cognitivearchitects.com/images/Seblogging/dummy.gif David Burn http://adpulp.com
    http://static.cognitivearchitects.com/images/Seblogging/dummy.gif Steve Dembo http://teach42.com
    http://photos1.flickr.com/425220_c8cdf2b1bd_s.jpg AKMA http://akma.disseminary.org/
    {{image url="./images/ChristinaPikas.jpg"}} Christina Pikas http://christinaslibraryrant.blogspot.com
    http://www.zylstra.org/blog/images/denhamgrey.gif Denham Grey http://denham.typepad.com/
    http://campus.belmont.edu/chenowit/paul_4040.jpg Paul Chenoweth http://forum.belmont.edu/dragonstale/
    http://underscorebleach.net/content/misc/hotlinking-allowed/bleh_40x40.jpg Tom Sherman http://underscorebleach.net/content/jotsheet/
    http://static.cognitivearchitects.com/images/Seblogging/dummy.gif Azzari Jarrett http://viper.cs.northwestern.edu/b2/
    http://jackvinson.com/images/MH_1_backdrop-web-thumb.jpg Matt Homann http://thenonbillablehour.typepad.com/
    http://jackvinson.com/images/DennisKennedyWebPhoto.jpg Dennis Kennedy http://www.denniskennedy.com/
    http://www.zylstra.org/blog/images/kristakennedy.jpg Krista Kennedy http://slimcoincidence.com/blog
    http://static.cognitivearchitects.com/images/Seblogging/dummy.gif Al Delgado http://educational.blogs.com
    http://static.cognitivearchitects.com/images/Seblogging/StuartHenshall.jpg Stuart Henshall http://www.henshall.com/blog/
    http://www.zylstra.demon.nl/images/RickKlau.jpg Rick Klau http://www.rklau.com/tins/
    http://static.cognitivearchitects.com/images/Seblogging/dummy.gif Mark Bernstein http://markbernstein.org
    http://static.cognitivearchitects.com/images/Seblogging/dummy.gif George Nemeth http://www.brewedfreshdaily.com/
    http://static.cognitivearchitects.com/images/Seblogging/dummy.gif Shannon Clark http://searchingforthemoon.blogspot.com/
    http://static.cognitivearchitects.com/images/Seblogging/dummy.gif Martin Geddes http://www.telepocalypse.net/

    Taking Action

    I simply had to post this link to Howard's comments on Smartmobbing Disaster Relief. I heard similar stories first hand from Dina who I'm sure just wants to be part of what is a very successful effort. What is too easy to miss in this activity is "none" of the founders / originators / instigators were super techies. At least as far as I can tell. They simply grabbed what was available and learned an incredible amount in a very short time. Their activities had an impact on WikiNews and Blogger. The tools weren't necessarily the best, they did get a lot done and self organized in ways that got real results.

    It's exciting. It's also a concern. I may have missed it, I don't think I've seen anything from major relief agencies talking about revised strategies for future disaster relief. The efforts around TsunamiHelp and others should force all these organizations to revisit how they are organized, and funded. Strategically, the "communications" portion of their operations are no longer tuned or effective in an instantaneous response world. Even mobilizing resources are reinvented by what has happened in the last few weeks. The real risk now is these major organizations try and organize for it, employ consultants to evaluate it and fail to focus on what enabled such beautfiul contributions to swarm.

    Dina told me, "A few hours after the tsunamis struck, I started by posting at the blog ... then as more folk started contributing with posts, I looked into setting up and coordinating efforts around the wiki, as I felt resources were getting lost in blog posts -- so I got the domain and bandwidth and we built the wiki pages and got volunteers to build the collections. The other activity was coordinating efforts of this group of over 150 volunteers and contributors -- which was done by a few people, including me. We have now gathered a tremendous resource on aid, relief, donations and volunteers for the disaster. That works to bridge those who are suffering with those that can help." Smartmobbing Disaster Relief

    SkypeCasting for Mac

    Steve Gilmore shares a recipe for SkypeCasting on a Mac. It's a little more expensive than adding a few virtual cables to a Win PC. Still you purchase a fancy little mixer and a few cables in the bargain so it will set you back a few bucks. Then if you are in to podcasting, why not go for a star performance. As a set up it looks pretty straightforward and will enable you to become a podcast professional. I can't see any reason why this approach won't work for a PC too. So just to be hip I purchased the mixer which appeared good value. So I'll gain a little more control over the audio in future podcasts.

    With Skype OS/X beta now supporting conference calls and GarageBand II shipping on Saturday, the time is nigh. Herea's Berlinda's Recipe, graciously assembled by David at my request because I'm too damned lazy to write it down: | Steve Gillmore>

    Oh and if you had missed it Mac fans, Skype now supports conference calling on Mac's! Brilliant.

    January 23, 2005

    Skype Voice Messaging Fast Forward

    I was granted 10 opportunities to share Skype VM with others. I shared it with Buzz and I have this wonderful message back from him asking for 100 invites more. I know he actually wants 1000! Of course, I wanted to share this news and send it back to Skype. It's the sort of voice message people get a kick from. In fact in my life I find I don't forward many messages. In the cell phone world I have a feeling that it costs me money and then I just don't have the feature set on my landlines. This seemed the perfect message to forward.

    So, I tried to record it to a .wav file a couple of different ways and was unsuccessful. As I've already sent a voice mail while in a conversation with another... I thought I'd see if I could play it back in a conference call. That failed.I also tried Windows Sound Recorder with Virtual Cables etc. Didn't work at least not yet. In the end my solution was to send it to my iPod with iTalk recorder out the headphone jack and then iTunes copy it back to my PC. Clipped in Sound Recorder and convert to mp3. A little too hard. Still I have an mp-3 and now can provide the feedback. So, here it is. A short snip of Buzz's message to me on Skype Voice Mail. It's not the same Skype quality; it does deliver the message. Here is it... SkypeVMBuzz PodCast!

    This is another example of capturing the audio stream and turning it into a broadcast. I'm not even sure if the laws for this are different to the "recording" laws, after all he not only left it on my recorder, he sent it purposely. He had to know I would listen to it, and that others could listen to it in all sorts of ways. Maybe this means.. that each VM should have the bloggers "tick"... eg message private, shareable, etc. Perhaps with Skype's encryption these messages can have an automatic expiry date, or a single play capability. These features would all add additional value to Skype VM. I did ask Buzz for approval!

    My key learning on SkypeVM today was I want a record of whether or not I answered a VM. I've not looked yet although I don't think they are logged in the archive. Eg There was a VM between these text messages. Similarly I don't know when the other party listens although that may be worthy of a chat update. The minimum I'd like to see is a list of the VM sent. I'm not sure how I feel about the diskspace they would consume, however it may be nice to have my own copy and the capability to give it a topic name for the archive record. At least that would show in my archive and record when I sent it. From a delivery point of view Skype could confirm when all my VM's have been delivered even if they are not played. You could do some neat stuff with invisible etc so the delivered confirmation isn't provided until the person is "online" again.

    I also had another plus experience with VM. Played "conversation exchange" over my GPRS, (GSM -T-Mobile cell phone connection to my laptop) having no trouble at all in sending quality VM over the slow connection. I'd still like to know when that minute is up. The one minute message like the one minute manager is also good discipline. It also means the messaging is still manageable and relatively quick on my GPRS. Even when I've had multiple messages. Now it's also an area that Skype could mess with. Over a certain length I think VM becomes less useful. However some may could set the time for 30 sec to 3 minutes messages. When you go to send a voice mail and the other persons message is downloading setting up the session and playing it could tell you the length of the message allowed, and then start running the clock. Later on you could even personalize it.

    For me it was another case where messaging updates for road warriers are perfect in this format. Now I presume it is an aspect of how Skype encrypts the voice mail that you must get the download and listen to the other persons greeting everytime. I really would like to be able to create VM when offline. Even text messages would be helpful. Then for people on my buddylist I don't want to hear their greeting each time I leave a VM. I only want to hear the greeting when the greeting has changed. Thus changed greetings may be give more purpose. They can form a daily briefing, or update. It can even provide further information on the "presence" that you are already sharing. In that case VM vs chat may also be affected. This also suggests that the greeting for buddies should be different to the greetings for unknowns not on your buddylist.

    SkypeCasting Rants and Raves?

    Are rants and raves a good idea? This post could be both. Are they necessary, helpful, etc. We all do it in some way. Could RnR's empower change if captured easily and offered free distribution? I started this post thinking about customer complaints. Once you wrote a letter and you had to be really mad and it took a lot of time. It went to a corporate black hole and disappeared. it you did it well you get a refund or some type of action. Still unhappy? Then you tell your friends. Word of mouth. What if we gave word of mouth a fast forward function? What if we gave individual word of mouth a megaphone. Some blogs are sort of like that. Yet they aren't nearly as powerful as the personal storytelling, speaking the words.

    What happens when you cross a free telephone / communication system with a free distribution system, turn it over to you and me and apply it to customer rant and raves. (This will be even more interesting when Skype enables Video Messaging!)

    What happens if you use Skype to record a one minute VM rant or rave? Simply Skype it in. You can even set up a site with different SkypeMe tags and then automate the playback conversion. To make it work more efficient you can also ask them to rank some previous rants and raves as their contribution. You may even find there are people that want to collect rants and raves on certain products. It just needs a central directory! This creates a new genre and venue for providing customer feedback. Hate a product you want to call it in! You have a powerful story and you want to tell it. We want to hear the passion and understand the details. In the end a stream of expletives won't make the Hot or Not Rant n Rave meter.

    It's not much good if you can't distribute them and find them. So we need PodTorrent or RantnRaveTorrent or something like it. So the site captures one-minute VM's and turns them into Podcasts that are rated and possibly managed by a Slashdot / Kuro5hin type site. The best rants on products (these could be positive and negative) simply bubble up. Then anyone who wants to hear the latest feedback on a product can enter a quick search and spend 10 minutes listening to the best rants or raves.

    May change the nature of advertising, afterall who are you going to believe? The customers and users delivering it with passion or a 30 second ad? I know what works for me. Perhaps something can be done to the iPodder so when we hear a rant or rave, it asks us NetFlix style how you liked the last rants or raves. Now that would be powerful marketing information! Maybe our responses to rants and raves could be something that we could collect and share --- call it "experience capital" a subset of the social capital we share already. Gives a new meaning to audio feedback.

    BTW I had an idea in this realm a few years ago. I called it Antiport. Antiport was a market for customer feedback. It used urls and wasn't nearly as friendly as just lodging a SkypeVM. Still merge these types of ideas. What I find rather appealing in the above is:

  • The cost of registering a rant is less than five minutes and costs not even a postage stamp.
  • Your voice has impact and the "news" on critical rants potentially goes public in minutes.
  • It's captured in a medium that is more persuasive and easier for most people to do.
  • Rant and raves could be tagged back to the blogosphere, thus providing reference links etc. Presume this would also help distribution.
  • Set the tools up right and it becomes a self-managing and powerful force. An automated watchdog?

  • January 25, 2005

    iPod Radio and Skype

    This post provides a "how to" on creating a personal iPod Radio that you can use in your Skype calls or simply leave running for your friends to call. The implications are disruptive, and the "ease of use" likely to further Skype's adoption when solutions are available for effectively using Skype as a broadcast service. It's perfect for low volume delivery of recorded messages off websites. Perhaps another zone for convergence between music, media and voice?

    (UPDATE: 02/01/05 I've taken iPodRadio offline. It's been a fun experiment and hundreds of people have participated. In the last week they have had more use of my iPod than I have. Thus I'm taking it back. If you want more info please contact me. Thanks)

    iPod Radio came out of a desire to play music in a Skype call. Something I've wanted to make work for a long time. While I've tried before it was the iPod that made it relatively simple. So now I can add background music to a Skype call. I felt it would shift perceptions and the ebb and flow of what one shares in a call. So far I've learned that music closes the distance gap even more. With Skype it was already like being in the same room. Now I can concurrently listen to the same music. It's best when Skype is running the ISAC codec. The result is the music helps to synch the two spaces making it easier to drift in and out of conversation. However, the real learning is the implications go way beyond everyone being able to listen to the same music and hold a concurrent conversation. Music over VoIP wasn't supposed to be a big deal. No one talked of PodCasts over VoIP or using VoIP as the communications mechanism. We should. Skype + iPod Radio may provide another option for the PodCast world.

    This Skype experiment confirms a number of possibilities.:

  • Add background music (radio) to your Skype calls, personalizing the experience.
  • Run a second Skype line so your friends can hear what's playing on your iPod, even when you aren't home.
  • Broadcast podcast audio using Skype saving bandwidth, and eliminating buffering and streaming issues.
  • Demonstrate infomercials. Examples: snow report, customer update, daily briefing, etc. Access direct from website via callto: tags.
  • Note when we automate the recording selection from a website you will listen to Skype playback your request. This will be HUGE!
  • What are the implications for Streaming Media models? Why wait for the buffering? What is tomorrow's transit mechanism?

    From a Podcast perspective distributing podcasts via SkypeCalls provides the the opportunity for the Podcaster to know who's listening and even whether they listened to the whole thing. Statistics are a big deal! Further automation could enable one to listen and then via a text message to request a full file download. Bye Bye bandwidth problems and hello Podcast communications transport mechanism. No ports to open, no special FTP. Sounds perfect for when you get 30 people listening for a podcast if you are lucky!

    Document pdf Creating an iPod Radio on Skype

    Click the picture above or this link iPod Radio on Skype to connect with iPod radio. I've set it up so if it is busy you will get a short Skype VM message. and you will have to try again. It's just playing tunes off my iPod and I have no idea what it may be playing when you ring. I will try and leave it on. It's running on my laptop which isn't going anywhere in the next couple of days. Clearly this is very narrowcast radio, not quite what the Pirates thought. Still I bet there are some uses that the above could be put to that we've not even begun to consider.

    Other links that may be of interest:
    SkypeCasting: How to Record Skype Conversations
    Telephony and Music
    Jeff Pulver on Ringtones: This could be extended.
    VoIP Predictions for 2005. Music and VoIP don't seem to be in the picture. Perhaps it should be!
    iPod Pirate Radio

    iPod Radio on Wi-Fi?
    The Pirate Radio Station
    iPod-FM 95.9 Great Picture... now what is the SkypeRadio tag?
    Engadget's take on Pirate Radio
    Why VoIP is music to Kazaa's ear

    Is radio really the right metaphor for this? Perhaps not, although you could plug a radio station in just as easily as I plugged in the ipod. However it does make it easy to broadcast audio content and even extend it to a multiparty conference. Then it may create a new Skype option for "Music" on hold.

    So ultimately! How disruptive could this be? Think this way and there are some new opportunities. Engineer out a few little things and use a proper recorder and it becomes very interesting. I hope the sound quality holds up. It has been very good.

  • January 27, 2005

    The Intimate Planet - Barlow

    Skype and emotional ties from voice. I've been learning a bit about music and Skype too. Read John's last line. Often there are real surprises when one engages with strangers. I had two quite different ones today as a result of iPodRadio. One finished by pointing me to "The Intimate Planet".

    The bottom line is this: they reached at random out into the Datacloud and found a real friend. And I feel like I have been graced with a real friend in both of them. Given the fact that I've been getting interesting messages from distant strangers since 1985, why do I think the big deal? Why is this different? Because these strangers have voices. There's a lot more emotional bandwidth in the human voice. I'm always surprised by the Meatspace version of someone I've only encountered in ASCII. I'm rarely surprised by someone I've only met on the phone. But one doesn't get random phone calls from Viet Nam or China, or at least one never could before.Skype changes all that. Now anybody can talk to anybody, anywhere. At zero cost. This changes everything. When we can talk, really talk, to one another, we can connect at the heart.

    The potential of establishing a real emotional connection is exponentially advantaged. And I honestly don't think it would have been any different had they been guys. In the days since, I've received another random call from a guy in Australia. We talked, very entertainingly, for awhile. I'm glad to know him too. (He wasn't trying to practice his English. He actually seems to prefer his version. He was just doing it because he could.)

    ..................Anyway, I feel as if the Global Village became real to me that night, and, indeed, it has become the Global Dinner Party. All at once. The small world has become the intimate world.

    I'm beginning to think this Internet thing may turn out to be emotionally important after all.

    BarlowFriendz: The Intimate Planet

    January 30, 2005

    Making Exchanges more Personal - Hanging out Online

    In the last few days I've found myself thinking about the exchanges we have and what facilitates them. As coincidence would have it, I also blogged Barlow's post on The Intimate Planet. I've had some similar experiences recently. I created a monocast radio using my iPodRadio and Skype. From a personal point of view this seems pretty pointless at first. One does lose their iPod! However, the calls have kept coming in, regularly round the clock. For the most part it delivers something close to FM quality, although when many programs are running or I'm on the other Skype I have had the odd complaint.

    I've had about 200 people experimenting and now have a long list of "buddy" requests and had repeat callers. Some callers have listened for an hour, and even those that have been back many times. It is more calls than I can count or evalute easily. I've had lots from Italy, and Asia, all over the globe really. As a few have returned a couple of times I've made contact with a chat message. These connections have been fun, like many I've made on Skype. I've had positive comments and users saying it is neat to hear music chosen by other people that is not commerical. In some of the youthful responses, I feel the curiosity about what others listen to, as a way to transport themselves to think about another place or land. I've not really uncovered how they found it, via Skype Forum posts or via my blog. For the most part it appears to be word of mouth.

    Then there is another aspect that I'm only just beginning to think about. I've been online in various forms for a long time. However, I've never had on online music personality before. I sort of cheated setting up the iPod. I just instructed it to play all songs with the "Genre Rock". That captured 900 tracks and it just keeps playing. So today, I thought I'd shift the music genre to Jazz. It's not an intentional move to upset listeners just pointing out that I listen to more than "Rock".

    Via the Skype forums I was also pointed to Peercast and Mercora as peer based radio sharing systems. I'll take a deeper look at them later. Still they miss the part that my callers seem to want to know. That there is a real person playing the music. Playing music in social groups is probably more interesting than just tuning in to the net. And that brings me to the other part of my learning.

    Try making calls while music is playing. It changes the whole dimension of the call. I've had some very good quality music calls running iPodRadio in conference mode and it simply changes the shared space. The music brings the callers closer together. I know people spend hours listening to music together. Even Yahoo Messenger added a radio feature to their latest version. However it doesn't enable you to synch the music and you can't listen while in a lower quality yahoo call. More importantly you can't listen collectively to a personal collection of songs.

    I have a sense that the more I get the feel for this "radio" thing the more I believe that there is social potential behind it. It's a great way to get the kids to adopt. Imagine just 3-4 kids hooked via Skype with Bluetooth Stereo Headset and they are set. Music synched, text enabled and still minimal talking required. Yet now the space they share is closer to hanging out. The music player doesn't have to be on anyone's PC, or even their own. It can be like mine, an extra somewhere that they find interesting. It does have to be part of the "connection", thus talking and listening to the same radio station is not the same. In that example it doesn't provide the same sense of proximity.

    So what may seem really silly, plugging an iPod into Skype may actually have more impact. There's also one other benefit. It fits in with what I've observed my young teenage daughter doing. Skype is looking for a hook for the "youth". Letting them connect their mp3's to Skype would create quite a stir. Then there will be other groups that just form. These groups will determine what they want to listen to.

    Then on the intimacy gradient, we will see Skype Video introduced. Having combined Skype with iPod Radio and "Yahoo Video" (sucky slow)... I think adding in the music will create even more powerful shared experiences. That's where I think all the phone plays have it wrong. From picture phones to handhelds they remain locked in a watching game. It's like looking though a window, it is somehow disconnnected. We've learned with Skype that a better audio platform significally improves presence and a sense of presence makes for better shared moments.

    When Barlow talked about the intimate planet, he explained it in terms of sharing and conversation. When I think about it tomorrow, all it may be missing is touch.

    SMS to Skype

    Connectotel has launched an SMS to Skype beta service for GSM mobile phones. Say you have a buddy on Skype and you want them to call you on your mobile. Connectotel has the answer. Your Skype friend can now call you back from anywhere at SkypeOut rates. So if you want to receive SMS messages on Skype then add the Skype contact "smsgateway" to your contact list right now.

    Setting up your mobile phone
  • Select the option on your mobile phone to add a new entry to the phone book sms to skype illustration
  • Type the name SMS To Skype
  • Type the number 447747782320
  • Save the entry to the phone book

    Setting up Skype:

  • Add the Skypename smsgateway to your Skype contacts. Anyone who wants to receive SMS to Skype messages must have this Skypename in their contacts list.

    Sending a Skype message from your GSM mobile phone
  • Select the option on your phone to send an SMS text message
  • Type the word skype followed by a space
  • Type the Skypename of the recipient followed by a space
  • Type the text of your message
  • When asked to type the number, select the SMS to Skype phone number from your phone book
  • Select the option to send the message

    You would like to send a Skype message to johndoe from your mobile phone asking him to call you. Here is an example showing the how the message would be written:

    skype johndoe Please call me
    Connectotel - products - sms - sms to skype

  • About January 2005

    This page contains all entries posted to Unbound Spiral in January 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

    December 2004 is the previous archive.

    February 2005 is the next archive.

    Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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