Skype Adds Feature That Users Said Would Never Happen

This week marks a new beta version for Skype. I was very interested to see that they have included in this version a “typing indicator”. In other words as you type a message in a chat the other chat parties can see that you are composing a message. This might seem as if it isn’t a big deal, but it has been said and said again in the Skype forums that this would never happen.

The reason that this was supposedly never going to happen is that Microsoft owned the patient for the feature and that Skype would never infringe upon Microsoft’s rights. It would seem that this is not the case. From Skype:

“Ever since the Skype chat feature first came out, we have heard from people who have said that their very lives and the whole earthly existence depends on the chat having a “typing indicator”, and that they won’t be happy until they have it in Skype. 😉 So… the day has finally come. There is now a typing indicator in Skype chat. Hurrah and rejoice.”

Skype 3.1 Beta for Windows – SkypeFind and typing indicators

This is in fact a lesson for those that would claim to know the mind of Skype. In addition to that it gives me hope that they will eventually include the other much asked for feature; to be able to record. Again forum contributors claim that they will never include this because of the legal ramifications. I am not saying that they will include this feature but it sure does make me think that it is a possibility.

As a podcaster being able to record Skype natively would make Skype a killer app. The current methods of recording Skype, both software and hardware are flawed on many counts. The quality, reliability and the pain in the butt factor are overwhelming obstacles for a simple task. It would seem that Skype hold the key to reliable high quality recording. All the apps and hardware solutions are a hack for what is known and Skype themselves know so much more. So how about it Skype, maybe this version?

You can download the latest beta from Skype here.


Snap Preview Additional Features on WordPress

I have just noticed that the great guys and or girls at WordPress have just added Snap Preview to the Blog Roll  and Links on the right. The other thing that has been added is Snap Preview for Commenter’s URL’s.

This is a top job and I like the addition. After all it was something that I suggested. I suggested that it be added to the comments because it is then not only a tool for visitors but also for us authors. Plus I think the Blog Roll deserves it as well, after all they are outgoing links. This place just gets better all the time, damn I love WordPress!

So don’t forget to include your URL into the space provided in the comments so that we can all have a look! See my previous entry on snap for details and information about how to turn it off if you don’t like it.

The Rooster on: Snap

Skype Notifications

If you are like a lot of other users of Skype you may have noticed some strange happenings with your notifications. For the last month or so I have had no notifications when a contact comes on-line. I put it down to a glitch in Skype. But there is more to it than that. Don’t be alarmed though if you are one of the many affected, they know of the problem.

I have all my alerts on, although I don’t get any for contacts coming on-line. For that reason I miss people and that is really starting to drive me nuts. So about a week ago I tried to reinstall Skype. No luck. So I started digging in the notifications. I tried turning them all off, saved it. Then switched them all back on again. Nope. I also tried various combinations of logging on then off in between changing settings. Absolutely no go.

In my explorations I also noticed that some of the sounds had been switched off as well. I had not made these adjustments so it looks like this might be related to the bigger problem as the sounds directly correspond to the loss of features.

These sort of problems pop up every now and then in Skype. I had an issue with my Web Cam not being available during a call. It resolved itself using one of the above measures. The other thing that can happen is that it is fixed in an upgrade of the software or just spontaneously resolves. Who knows why or how. This issue has however been persistent. So I took further measures.

Usually when you “Report a Problem” to Skype you either get nothing back or you get the standard support response: make sure you are using the latest version, ensure that you your drivers are up to date and that your operating system is updated. Very useful. This time I said that all of the above was in place, I am glad I did.

It turns out that this issue is a known problem and that the Skype team is working on the problem and that it should be fixed in a coming build. They recommended that I keep an eye on the download page and apologised. I thought that was nice of them. Keeping an eye on the download page is a good tip. As regular users of Skype may know updates have been built into the latest versions of Skype. But they are slow to remind users that there is a new version. Perhaps the two problems are related given the advice? One other thing I did not do and should have is check the forums and this has come up, although it took some digging to find it.

Since I have had this problem for a while and that I know I am not the only users affected I thought it valuable to pass on. While it still bugs me a lot, not having a program that works properly; I am glad that they are working on it. Patience I guess. It is also great that I got a response that is useful and informative.

Skype 2.6 Beta Released

Skype LogoFound out today that Skype 2.6 beta is out. Normally I would jump on it and install it with much excitement. But because there is no record button I am going to sulk a few days, maybe a week.

If you want to check it out you can download it here.

The other reason I am not going to install it straight away is that there is nothing mind blowingly outstanding or must have about it. Well maybe one feature that would be good.

Listed features:

  • Skypecasts on LIVE Tab

No interest, I hope you can deselect it in the “view” options

  • Browser Plugins

Why? Not sure that I would use this at all. In my opinion this just makes you use SkypeOut and I don’t like choice being manipulated. But you never know it might be useful to some people. Glad it is an optional install.

  • Clickable Links in Mood Messages

Now this one I like. Lots of people put links in their mood messages and I am no exception. I often put a link to the podcast here or I might link to the blog or whatever. I can think of many ways that this would be useful and fun.

  • Birthday Notifications

I don’t think this is very useful at all. I presume that it is using the user details that are a part of the Skype account. Which assumes that everyone fills in these details and that they are correct. The majority of users probably do not fill it in and if they do use a bogus date. Usefulness as a result gets a 3/10 in my book. That is one for each Skype contact that I think filled in their birthday accurately!

  • Clickable Avitars in Chat Windows

Not sure what this means exactly and what it does, user information maybe? But it might be useful.

  • Avitar Drag and Drop Ability

Might be handy to add people to a chat or call. Otherwise no big deal in my opinion.

It would seem that this edition of Skype is more of a bug fix than a great new features edition. Sure I am jaded. I love Skype but it is looking more like bloat everyday. I wonder how much bandwidth the whole Skypecasts thing will steal? I hate to think. Then get 7 million users doing it at the same time! I make that assumption from the 8 “new features”, 4 “changes”, 41 bug fixes (might be off by one or two here, very hard to count that many you know) and a further and a remaining 2 “known issues”.

Well I just hope that makes Skype better because I am not thinking big here. Give us the bloody record button… please? Sorry that was uncalled for but I am getting tired of waiting and I think this is something I need more than Skypecasts. I will try not to be a cynical bastard on the next post.

Usual beta rules apply.

First Impressions of AllPeers

AllPeers LogoI have download and installed AllPeers, the much anticipated P2P file sharing extension for Firefox. While I am still excited about the possibilities I am somewhat disappointed with the application and it does need some work. I know that one of my contacts is removing the extension until it improves.

The application does tend to dominate Firefox in some undesirable ways. Such as when you close Firefox it stays open until you close Firefox from the system tray. This proved especially annoying when we were in a Skype call last night and some annoying music was playing in the background because one of the call participants did not realise Firefox was still open although they had closed it from view.

It would seem that there are some registration and logging on problems in LINUX. The long and the short of that issue is that if you use LINUX you can’t use the application. The other thing is that once you have registered, it would seem that you never have to log on again, nor do you have the ability to change your details or your password.

You are able to close the toolbar that AllPeers installs so it doesn’t take up space on your screen. I found that most of the needed functions are able to be executed via the icon in the top right of the Firefox screen. The fact that to fully interact with the AllPeers interface takes up the entire screen is annoying. Everything could be scaled down in size. The current size on a 19 inch monitor means that some crucial buttons are located a long way from the screen they are associated with. It took me a while to find the “share” key for example.

The interface itself while seeming to be easily navigated, does seem buggy. One transfer we did of a file did not open and might have been corrupted in transit as the second attempt worked.

It would be good to be able to specify a directory where the shared files end up on your computer. I had to search for the files until I found out that from your default download directory it creates a folder for each contact that you have in your AllPeers list. The files are saved in the appropriate directory associated with the user.

I do not like the fact that AllPeers is in an “always connected” state. I would like the option to “switch it off”. As other users have indicated, some of us do not have the bandwidth to spare when doing certain activities. Same goes for me. I don’t want anything else using my bandwidth when I am uploading the podcast for example.

The transfer speeds are what might be expected and better then I thought they would be. Of course the speed is somewhat restricted by your own connection. I was satisfied by the speed.

Many of these issues are known to the developers and they are working on them. The help section has also stated that there are plans for a stand-alone version, which will be nice. The issues as far as it’s integration with Firefox are also being looked at.

That said this application is a beta, it would seem that some users are expecting full-version functionality. It works and there are bugs and things that need to be assessed and modified. This is what I would have expected. Perhaps the quality of beta builds has in the past been high and people now expect a lot more from them. But I always expect the beta status to have issues and if they don’t then I am surprised. The extension and development of it looks exciting. I am sure that with further modification and design it is going to be a valued application/ extension. We just need to give it time and enjoy what we have now, as for me this is better than I had before.

UPDATE: For some reason the comments for this post were turned off. This was not intentinal and I have switched them on. Sorry to those I missed in their travels that wished to leave a comment.