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Posts from November 2012

Skype 4.2.1 for iPad/iPhone Brings Microsoft Integration, Chat Interop, Better IM Features

Skype for ipadSkype today brought its increased integration with Microsoft services to the iPhone and iPad with the new release 4.2.1 available in the iOS AppStore. As you can already do in the Windows, Mac and Android versions of Skype, the big feature is that you can now sign in with your "Microsoft account" and merge our Skype contacts with those from Windows Live Messenger (WLM) and You will now be able to chat back and forth with your WLM contacts directly from within Skype.

This is very cool from the point-of-view that Skype has always been a "walled garden" of instant messaging (IM) that did not interoperate with any other service. Many of us long ago wound up having to use two IM clients on our system: 1) Skype; and 2) a multi-service client (like Adium or Pidgin) for all the other IM networks. This doesn't quite solve that problem because it is now really just expanding the Skype client to work with two IM networks, but it is at least a step toward greater interop.

In a post on Skype's "Garage" blog, Beom Soo Park indicates these new features:

  • Sign in with your Microsoft Account to merge your Windows Live Messenger, and Skype accounts - then IM those contacts direct from Skype. 
  • Ability to edit and delete instant messages 
  • Choose an emoticon while typing an instant message via a new emoticon picker 
  • Animated emoticons for devices with a Retina display
  • Edit phone numbers from the dial pad
  • Create a new Skype account when you download the app 
  • UI improvements

Skype's post on their "Big Blog" has a bit more detail and mentions that Skype for iOS has now been downloaded over 120 million times.  The improvements to the chat interface, particularly the editing, will definitely be useful.  I personally don't really care about the improved emoticons, but I know some people do like those and will be pleased.

My only criticism is that in order to make use of the Microsoft integration you have to log out of your Skype account and then login with your Microsoft account, at which point you presumably can merge the accounts.  It's not a big deal to me, as I don't use a "Microsoft account" these days.  I certainly did have a WLM login that I used to use years ago, but I haven't used it in years and don't really feel any compelling need to do so.  Still, it would be nice if the Microsoft account could just be added to your existing Skype login as you can do in so many other IM clients.

Anyway, Skype 4.2.1 for iOS/iPad/iPhone is now out there and ready for download from the AppStore.

P.S. If you installed Skype 4.2 yesterday, you'll need to go back to the AppStore today to get Skype 4.2.1 as there were some critical bugs that were fixed in 4.2.1.

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The Fascinating Interest in Using Google Voice With SIP Addresses

Why are so many people interested in using Google Voice with SIP? Is this a sign that people really want to use SIP-based services for VoIP? Is this all hobbyists or people looking to play around with Google Voice? Or is it people trying to solve real interconnection issues? What are people trying to do with Google Voice and SIP?

All these questions came to my mind today when I dipped into Google Analytics and noticed that for the month to date in November 2012, my old (March 2011) post about Google Voice and SIP addresses continues to receive a large amount of traffic:

Ga googlevoiceandsip

Slightly over 3,000 pageviews in the first 13 days of November - and if I go back a bit I see over 71,000 pageviews since January 1, 2012. In fact, it's had about 232K pageviews since I wrote it over 1.5 years ago, and has accounted for almost 25% of all traffic to this site in that time.

And this particular article was just one in a series of articles I wound up writing about Google Voice and SIP as we all collectively tried to figure out what was going on.

Digging into the traffic sources to the page, almost all of it this month comes (somewhat predictably) from search. The search terms, at least the ones we can see (since Google now shows "Not Provided" for all searches done over SSL), show a range of interest in SIP:

Ga googlevoiceandsip search

And all of this for a service from Google Voice which seemed to be a temporary service and subsequently stopped working... kinda, sorta... and then did work... and then didn't work. (And I just checked... and it doesn't work for me right now.)

I find all this interest fascinating. I hope it's a good sign that people out there do want to see more usage of SIP addresses.

And I do hope that at some point Google will open up the connection again and let us connect in to Google Voice numbers using SIP URIs. It would be a great move.

Meanwhile, I'll continue to be fascinating by all the traffic still coming to those old articles...

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Oops - Post Published On Wrong Site

Oops... this post was published on the wrong site - please see the article over on my Disruptive Conversations site at:

When Facebook Starts To Become More Useless - Irrelevant In-Feed Ads

Thank you!

Sadly, The Big "C" Curtails My Participation Next Week At IETF 85

IetflogoSadly, the Big "C", the current unwelcome guest in our family, has claimed another activity that I enjoy. Next week is the 85th meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Some 1,200+ engineers will gather in Atlanta, Georgia, to discuss/debate/argue/evolve the open standards that make up the Internet. Things like TCP, HTTP, DNS, SIP, IPv6... all those protocols and their many, many offspring.

For people who enjoy the process that creates these standards - and who enjoy the people that make up the IETF - these three-times-yearly face-to-face meetings are amazing places to be. One of the many aspects I enjoy of my work with the Internet Society is that I get to go to the IETF meetings and be part of all that is going on.

Unfortunately, I won't be in Atlanta.

As I've mentioned in the past and written about publicly, my wife is in the second year of treatment for breast cancer. Every three weeks she goes in for an infusion of a drug called Herceptin, which is an antibody that goes after the HER2 protein. She has the treatment on a Monday and then is usually extremely fatigued for the next few days. Generally by Wednesday afternoon or Thursday she's feeling a bit better, but still fatigued. Unfortunately it seems that she's perhaps experiencing more of a "cumulative fatigue," as the recent treatments seem to have had more of an effect - it seems like they are getting harder instead of easier. As a spouse, it's rather painful to watch what these treatments do to her. We can only hope that these are in fact helping fight her cancer.[1]

Next week happens to line up with one of those treatment weeks. I was away for a couple days during the last treatment week and while we have truly incredible friends and family around to help (and they have been helping), the reality is that they can't be there all the time. And so with me away my wife is single-parenting two very active children while feeling like she is moving through molasses.

So I need to be here. The good news is that we only have a few more of these treatments and she'll be free of them by mid-January. Hopefully after that our lives can start to return to a bit more of a normal routine, albeit our "new normal" of a post-chemo-and-still-taking-Tamoxifen world.

The other good news is that the IETF provides multiple ways for people to participate remotely in the meetings. With thousands of engineers all around the globe participating in IETF activities, I'm obviously not the only person who can't attend a given meeting face-to-face. Some people can't travel for family or work reasons... some can't for financial reasons... some can't because they can't get visas to visit the country where the meeting is taking place. Many folks need to participate remotely.

The great aspect for me is that Atlanta is in the same time zone as I am so I won't need to be up in the middle of the night to participate. I can just work "regular" hours and be listening to the audio streams and participating in the jabber chat rooms.

No, it's not as good as being there. You miss out on all the hallway conversations, side meetings, meals, etc., and you can't be there at the microphones to make your points in your own voice. But it is at least possible to participate.

To all the folks I know who will be there in Atlanta, I hope you have a great and productive event! I'll look forward to seeing you all at IETF 86 in March... meanwhile, I'll see you all online during IETF 85. :-)

[1] And yes, sometime I need to write a rant in my series of cancer columns about the fact that the current research regarding Herceptin has so far only shown that "52 weeks" of treatment is effective. It might, in fact, be equally effective in a much shorter timeframe... but the studies have apparently not yet been done to show that.

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