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Posts from March 2011

Skype's Mini-Outage On March 30 - And The Need For Greater Transparency

skypelogo.jpgYesterday Skype had another outage. This one apparently was only minor and affected people logging in to Skype or using inbound phone numbers (what we used to call "SkypeIn" numbers). It didn't affect me at all - Skype worked fine for me.

Skype's recovered from the outage... but what I find a bit annoying is that there seems to be no real information about what happened.

There is a brief post on the Skype Heartbeat site which says only that things are "returning to normal" but that there might still be problems with:

  • Signing in to Skype, Skype manager, the developer site, and the forums
  • Buying Skype Credit or subscriptions
  • Making calls to landlines and mobiles
But that's it... no word that they've fully recovered and no information about what the issue was.

Tales From Twitter

The best guess is what we can glean from their Twitter stream:

Skypeoutageontwitter

So apparently per this tweet the outage was caused "by an ISP failure".

On The Need For Transparency

Here we are a day later and there is complete silence from Skype's online sites. Nothing more on Twitter. Nothing on the blogs that I could see. I poked around a bit in the Skype community forums but nothing jumped out at me.

C'mon Skype!

If you learned one thing from the last outage back in December I would have hoped it was that we all want to hear from you and more importantly want to hear details about what is happening with the service we are using.

Communication and transparency reassure us... and create loyal and happy customers.

What caused the outage? If it was with "an ISP", why did it take out the login services? Why were SkypeIn numbers affected? Was it a single point-of-failure?

More importantly, what are you doing so that this doesn't happen again? Are you looking at redundant connections? Or distributing functionality?

Help us, Skype... help us understand that you want our business/usage and that we should be reassured that you are making sure these outages don't happen again.

You are a communication company - PLEASE COMMUNICATE!

Thanks!

P.S. While I didn't experience any problems with Skype yesterday, Andy Abramson did and wrote about his issues.


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VoiceOnTheWeb Reviews Skype's Qik Video Connect

Want the scoop on Qik Video Connect for the iPhone and iPad? Shortly after it was released last week Jim Courtney (of VoiceOnTheWeb) and I made our usual calls to each other to try out new apps. Unfortunately, I was slammed with a brutal cold/flu sickness last week and haven't had the cycles to write up my own thoughts on the new app... nor do I see myself doing so anytime soon. Sooo... let me point you over to Jim's views on the subject:
Qik Video Connect: New Video Directions from Skype

I'll add to Jim's commentary that I did also use the free Qik Video Connect app on my iPad2. The app is not designed for the iPad - it's just the iPhone app running on the iPad2 - but it did work perfectly fine to make and receive video calls. In the multiple calls to Jim I spoke with him from both my iPhone and iPad2.

I did not test out the live streaming due to the fact that I was quite sick and did not honestly want people to see me on video! :-) I'm looking forward to trying live streaming, though, at the next event I attend.

At some point I will write up some more of my thoughts, but for now, head on over and read Jim's...


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Stuck With Old Nortel PeriPro Apps? Check Out This Migration Tool...

Did you spend a significant amount of time, money and energy building voice applications with the "Peri Producer" (a.k.a. "PeriPro") tool formerly owned by Nortel and now by Avaya? Would you like to move away from proprietary lock-in to a standards-based platform with a clear future? Would you like to move your PeriPro app beyond simply voice and add in communication channels like SMS/text messaging, IM, mobile web and even Twitter?

If so, do check out what my colleagues within Voxeo have come out with as the "VoiceObjects Migration Manager":

https://developers.voiceobjects.com/support-training/voiceobjects-migration-manager/

It's a tool that helps you move those PeriPro apps over onto Voxeo VoiceObjects where they can then work with either Voxeo's IVR platform or the IVR platforms of about 30 other vendors. My colleague Tobias Goebel put together this screencast that talks about what the migration tool can do:

There was also an hour-long webinar earlier in March where Tobias and Dan Evans discussed the tool at great length and answered many questions from attendees. You can view the webinar and/or download the slides at the jam session page at:

https://blogs.voxeo.com/jamsessions/2011/03/07/jam-session-march-10-2011-peripro-migration-too/

While PeriPro apps were the first type of app to be converted by the VoiceObjects Migration Manager, I know that the team has its eyes on several other legacy proprietary formats that they will be adding to the tool to help even more folks move over onto VoiceObjects. It's cool stuff they are working on!


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Summary: Links to Posts on Calling Google Voice using SIP

GooglevoiceGiven that I'll be the guest on today's VUC call in about an hour discussing this topic, here's a list of some of the posts involved in the recent saga around Google Voice and SIP.

On Saturday, March 5, 2011, Todd Vierling pointed out that you could call Google Voice Numbers via a SIP URI:

Unaware of Todd's post, but seeing mention of this SIP calling in tweets from Aswath Rao and Alok Saboo, I started what became a series of posts on Monday, March 7:

wherein the service was working... then it wasn't... then it was... etc.

At this precise moment in time, the service IS working for me, although when I just tried it took quite some time for my SIP softphone to actually start getting a ring. But the connection did work.

Also of interest, Todd Vierling put up a great post earlier on March 4 about what we really want/need for two-way Google Voice-to-SIP interconnect and what we are losing with the end of Gizmo:

I love how Todd links to the many open tickets in Google support asking for SIP support.

Additionally, Alok Saboo put up two posts with tutorials about how to configure both a Blink client and a Yate client to call into Google Voice via SIP.

The saga will of course continue... there's obviously interest... and Google's been silent on the whole matter so at the end of the day we really don't know what their plans may or may not be.


UPDATE - Nov 13, 2012: The interest in Google Voice and SIP addresses seems to continue, as I noted in a post about the large number of visits still coming to the site for this series of articles.


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Join Today's VUC Call at Noon US Eastern To Talk About Google Voice and SIP

VucWant to join a discussion about the whole issue with Google Voice and SIP? And what we might want to really have in terms of SIP interconnect with Google Voice? And, while we're there, want to talk about the latest changes in the mobile carrier space?

If so, join the VUC conf call happening in 90 minutes at 12 noon US Eastern. Randy, the host of VUC, asked me if I would come on as the guest and I did agree. Of course, that was before I was hit with a brutal cold this week... but I'm getting better to the point where I should be able to talk fine (if a bit funny-sounding) on the call.

You can join the live call via SIP, Skype or the regular old PSTN. There is also an IRC backchannel that gets heavy usage during the call. It will be recorded so you can always listen later.


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Microsoft Infographic on Mobile Market Shows Compelling Numbers

Everybody loves an infographic, right? Earlier today Mashable ran a Microsoft infographic about the state of the mobile market. The numbers are quite powerful (click the image to see the full version):

Mobileinfographic

I had a huge personal disconnect with one of the stats showing that so many people use their mobile phones for games, simply because I almost never use my phone that way...

Microsoftinfographic

Yet I know that many people do and I see that when I'm out and about.

All in all some interesting stats, even if they do have the inevitable promotion of Microsoft Tags, since that was the sponsor of the infographic. (Microsoft Tags being their proprietary mobile tag solution versus the QR codes you see in many places.) Not a bad technique for Microsoft really... create a great infographic with lots of compelling data... and then insert a few little tidbits and links that promote your story.. and then...

... people like me will write about it. :-)

Regardless, there are some good stats there... kudos to the MS team who put it together.


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Skype Releases 5.1 for Mac OSX - Mostly Fixes

Skype51macFor those Mac users brave enough to step into the world of Skype 5.0 (or who inadvertently accepted the upgrade box that popped up), Skype has come out with Skype 5.1 for Mac OS X today. As Beom Soo Park notes on the Skype Garage blog, this release contains:
  • Focus on active speakers in group calls
  • Dial recently called numbers from dial pad
  • Contact groups shown in on the right hand side, allowing more space in the side bar
  • Call Quality Feedback
  • Several minor bug fixes

All of it pretty much pointing it to being the minor "dot release" that it is. The Mac release notes have also been updated with the same information.

I will say that the removal of the Contact groups from the left sidebar is a huge benefit to me. The result is a MUCH more compact sidebar:

Skype

The contact groups have now been moved over to the top of the right window area (the "main" section), which works nicely.

Unfortunately once I clicked on a group, I could find no way to return to the full set of contacts (and I've raised a bug ticket with Skype on this).

UPDATE - 3/25/11: It turns out that to return to the full list of contacts, you simply have to click on the "group" named "Skype." My response in the ticket was that this is NOT intuitive (consider, for example, that I might have a group myself named "Skype"), but it is apparently how they have set it up.

The "Focus on active speakers in group calls" sounds like a useful feature/fix... but I don't honestly find myself using Skype for all that many group calls. Still, I'm looking forward to seeing this in action at some point.

In any event, those of you using Skype 5.x on the Mac can upgrade now... or will soon see an update notice.

P.S. Find anything else of value in the release?


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Combined Coverage Map: AT&T and T-Mobile - Montana is Still A Blank Spot

Want to know what the combined coverage of AT&T and T-Mobile would look like on a map? By way of a tweet from Todd Carothers I learned of a post at Fierce Mobile Content that uses maps from AmericanRoamer.com to show what the combined coverage map of the United States would look like. Click on the link or image to see all the various comparison maps:

Att tmobile

Interesting to see the spectrum holdings of the two companies as well.

Alas, my little pocket of southwestern New Hampshire doesn't stand to gain much out the merger... we're still stuck with the limited AT&T coverage we have. At least, though, we're not up in Montana, where it would appear coverage is close to nonexistent... (and yes, I know that population is minimal up there, too).

Interesting charts...


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VoiceOnTheWeb Reviews Skype 5.2 For Windows

Over on his VoiceOnTheWeb site, Jim Courtney wrote up a good review of Skype 5.2 for Windows that was recently released. Jim's summary: subtle window dressings.

It's interesting to read... consider the subtle shift of moving the "Video call" button over to the left so that is the first button:

No longer having any Windows systems in my home office, I'm not running Skype 5.2 so I appreciate Jim's review. Do check it out!


UPDATE: - Shortly after I published this, Jim Courtney came out with a second post about Skype 5.2 explaining some changes to dialing PSTN numbers.


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The Media Frenzy About The AT&T Acquisition of T-Mobile USA - Is There Anything More To Be Said Right Now?

Multiple people have pinged me asking if I was going to weigh in on the news last night that AT&T is acquiring T-Mobile USA.

Seriously?

It's been ages since I've seen this kind of online and offline media feeding frenzy[1] ... I mean, look at Techmeme this morning:

Techmeme 1

Pretty much everybody and anybody who writes online with anything remotely to do with communications has generated posts on the topic.

I think at this point all we can really do is watch what the regulators say... and realize that this will take a year or more to actually happen. I'll perhaps have more to say at some future time, but right now I'm just reading Om and all the many other comments out there...


[1] Well, okay, maybe we haven't seen this kind of media feeding frency since, oh, the iPad2 launch ;-)


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