Skype 3.0 Out of Beta

SkypeSo Skype 3.0 is out of beta, I am yet to be impressed.

While the interface now looks a bit better and functionally easier for users to get Skype functional I was disappointed to start seeing bloat. The RAM that Skype now uses is up around 30 MB. The Skype client itself is taking 12 MB on it’s ow, the other 20 MB is an application called skypePM.exe. It is the Extras Manager. Damn if that ain’t bloat I don’t know what is. This is optional on the install. It may well explain why my computer now takes an aeon to load as well. I will be uninstalling and reinstalling with this feature out.

Then there is the recording issue. As regular readers would know I have been harping on about the ability to record Skype for ages. But since Skype is yet to build this ability in I have and used Hot Recorder, it worked beaut. Until Skype 3.0 showed up, it now successfully records silence. Sure the new Skype as the old Skype could be used with a plug-in, now “Extras” that are able to record. One hot tip; none of these applications are able to record Skype with anywhere near the quality required for podcasting. So what now Skype? It looks to me that Skype are going to rely on 3rd party applications to take up the slack in the recording department. A shame because Skype would produce the best one. These other applications are lacking the quality required.

The positives while there, are hard to find for me. The audio quality seems to have improved, so that is a good thing. The other thing that has improved that may or may not have to do with Skype is that file transfers seem faster. Nothing huge but they are no longer dismal. The integration of Skypecasts is a good one.

Speaking of Skypecasts, having them in the interface of Skype is great. I have never heard one before today. The fact that they are in the interface meant that they were easy to access and that the ones there were on then or starting soon. So I thought that I would pay one a visit. It was great fun and I was able to network with a few people and added them to my Skype contacts. I even meet up with another Australian podcaster! Small world.

The cast was a computer help one that offered people that had joined the opportunity to have their questions answered or a problem sorted. Which is a great idea and people seemed to take advantage of getting some real-time assistance with what they were trying to do. Far less formal than a podcast it offers a great forum.

I was surprised at the sound quality which was good. Although the quality of other participants was the limitation. Some “callers” I am sure were on dial-up, given how it sounded! But most people had reasonable connections. It was fun and I’ll be doing it again. The other thing is that you could easily listen to a Skypecast and do something else at the same time. Does that make me a lurker?

This is the extent of my experience with the new Skype. I hope that it improves and I feel a bit better about it in time.

So my mixed feelings on Skype continue. I sincerely hope that they keep their focus on call quality and just consider including a RECORD button for future releases (I would even pay for it). Some nice improvements. Regular users will find it a worthy upgrade, not much here for the person that has special requirements and the bloat is not necessary in my opinion. I certainly feel that this is the most corporate version to evolve so far. A sign of the times? Only that very thing will tell. But with over 7 million Skypers on-line as I write this who am I to argue?

NOTE: The Hot Recorder Homepage is broken and this product is no longer developed from my experience.

Skype 3.0 Release Screenshot

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Skype 2.5 Installed: I am Over my Hissy Fit

Skype2.5Well I was a "tad" peeved off that this release of Skype did not include a record function and I had decided that I wasn't downloading it until I got over that. But after some encouragement from Sebastian I decided to install it.

I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. The "new" Skype is not all that new, rather more functional. The install is all the same and that had no problems. The first really noticeable thing was that the audio quality is better and there is greater emphasis on that with the inclusion of a "quality monitor". Not sure how that works as I do not have that many issues related to audio quality because I have a pretty quick connection. The problems that do occur are usually related to lag or resources pressure on the other person or person's local machine. And that I am afraid is unavoidable.

I said that I did not think I would use the SMS function. But I have actually found myself using it a lot. Like today I have come online, I got a message that someone wanted to talk to me, they are online but not answering. So I have SMS'ed him and now he knows I am here: he is yet to turn up though. But I think that it is cool that I can do that. The reason that I hate SMS is the fact that it is a pain in the butt when I am used to a keyboard. Having the ability to SMS from Skype actually makes SMS more accessible to me. By the way any reply that is sent to an SMS that I send from Skype goes to my personal mobile, the recipient is none the wiser about where the SMS was sent from. Seamless; an in usual Skype fashion; "It just works".

By the way the cost of an SMS in Australia via Skype is 0.12 AUD and to send an SMS to the UK is 0.13 AUD. I was told today by a colleague that the cost to the UK is normally 0.35 AUD. Definatly a saving there.

I am yet to try the mass call function which can apparently support up to 100 people. I am also yet to investigate Skypecasts, not sure what that's all about but I think it has something to do with this new feature. The thing that bothers me a bit is the fact that when you want to join a Skypecast it says that it says Skype is making a SkypeOut call. Apparently, at this point in time they are not charging you for this service as reported by Andy Bramson. Andy also reports as to the origin of the SkypeOut call, interesting stuff. But I suppose that means they will have that option in the future, we will see what happens. Skypecasts are, as far as I can tell are community chats and conferencing. The scope of this is massive. Imaging a Podcast with 20 others listening, contributing and live! Awesome. Aparently there is a "virtual" microphone that can be handed out by the moderator. I am going to have to explore this as it looks exciting.

Topping up your Skype credit is much easier with 2.5. Which as I have said before is in the interest of Skype. That said it is much easier and it is secure.

There are some other minor additions like the fact that the modern ring-tone has changed yet again to something yet more nauseating! But they have included the "classic" ring-tone that we all love. That is my take on Skype 2.5.
Maybe in the final release they will just drop a record button in there…

Skype for Windows 2.5 Beta Available

Skype LogoI did not expect this so soon; but Skype have released the next beta version of Skype.

On the Share Skype Blog they have announced it as of today. The features are listed as follows:

  • Shared Groups
  • Send SMS ability
  • Easier SkypeOut calls and dialing
  • Video no longer limited to Windows XP only
  • Call Quality Helper
  • Improved conference calling with voice meters
  • Easier to buy Skype credit
  • Easier Upgrades

The BIG ommision is they have not included the ability to record calls! This is a huge disapointment in my opinion, as a podcaster it would solve a lot of problems and issues. The world would be a better place if I did not have to go through the crap I do to produce our podcast if I could record Skype. In addition the quality of the podcast would be infinitely better. I really was hoping that this was in the deal.

Apart from that the features they have included seem cool. I have never seen the advantage in SMS – I don't use it myself and think that using a keypad with three or four letters to each to be a waste of my time. But I can see the advantage for others. And I suppose that from my computer; with keyboard attached it would be easy to send an SMS now.

As far as the other stuff the improvements to conference calling and groups might be interesting but to be honest I do not think that it would make a big difference to how I use Skype. Easier to buy Skype credit, well that's in their interest!

As far as call quality assistance, my call quality is fine and I know what causes the issues, and since I have a reasonable internet connection it is not usually a problem. It might however be of assistance to people that are not savvy with computers and want to use the technology. Not much help to me though.

So all in all this release isn't that ground breaking for me and the omission of recording calls is a major let down and disappointment.

GoDaddy Brings Home the Bacon

I am posting today because I wanted to give GoDaddy a bit of a wrap.

I got sick of corresponding via email and decided to ring GoDaddy with a few issues and queries about my domains. So I decided to ring Tech Support. I fired up Skype and after struggling with the right number I rang GoDaddy with Skype. Just as a note the Dialing Wizard Skype have is excellent to get the right numbers to cal landlines with Skypeout.

I expected to be on hold for ages, but I was told via automated voice that the wait was two minutes. Thirty seconds later my call was answered; how good is that! So good on them for that. My call was answered by a polite guy in the U.S. I told him that I was new to all this and the following ten minute call had all my questions answered. They did not treat me like an idiot either, very patient and helpful.
The customer support at GoDaddy is by experience excellent, and I would encourage anyone that is considering purchasing a domain to go with GoDaddy. So two thumbs up, I was so impresed I’ve blogged it.

By the way the ten minute and thirty second phone call to a United Sates land-line cost me thirty six cents Australian, Telstra should be worried. And the call quality was excellent as well.