Thursday, August 31, 2006

Skype’s age display policy for minors

Sometimes people find it extremely annoying that they can’t search for users younger then 20. Skype received many requests on the Forum to lower the age limit to 14 or 12.

Unfortunately there are people out there who take advantage of minors. And not with the best intentions!!
There is a whole topic about this subject on our Forum. MuppetMaster copied and posted a
terrifying story

Still it happens. Another example is the the
12-year-old girl from the UK who started using Skype to chat to her father but inadvertently switched on a setting that displays customer details to all other Skype users: the SkypeMe mode.
She received a chat message from another Skype customer which she ignored. However, according to the girl's father, within seconds the same person started a video call via a webcam and his daughter was faced with a man exposing himself to her.

It is impossible for Skype to protect every minor but limiting the age search range to 20 is a good start.

Both articles must be read as a huge warning; as well for children as their parents. There are still big bad Wolves out there, often dressed in sheep clothes….

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Skype on a stick

Using Skype in an Internet Café can be tricky. Your Skype name remains on the computer. Of course you can delete it after logging off from Skype by copy - paste "%AppData%\Skype" into your web browser and then deleting the folder with your Skype name.

And don't panic when you suddenly realize that you kept your account running in the Café. Log on to your account page aSkype, change your password and log on to your Skype account. The other account will shut down.

Much safer is Skype on a USB stick. My colleague Beta Tester Tami blogged about how to do this in “
Skype on a Flash

But there are other solutions like the
Flashphone F4K from Mplat.
The FlashPhone F4K is a USB personal communicator for internet VoIP software, the FlashPhone has embedded the audio device, Bluetooth dongle and flash driver in small size. You can download and install softphone in the flash driver, make/receive the free internet call at FlashPhone, save your chat history and transfer files to your flash driver.Transfer the Skype call to your bluetooth headset.

A great tool!

How Good Is VoIP Call Quality? It Depends On Who You Ask

Does VoIP offer better, equal or poorer quality than traditional phone service? It definitely depends on who you ask.

Two surveys provide very different views of VoIP service acceptance. The earlier study, commissioned by Brix Networks, concluded that almost 20 percent of all VoIP calls made during the past 18 months were deemed to be unacceptably poor. Moreover, during that time the quality of VoIP calls got continually worse.

The
other survey found essentially the opposite. Commissioned by VoIP test equipment vendor Minacom, the study found that the mean opinion score (MOS) of VoIP calls has risen from 3.9 to 4.2 during the past year. MOS is a standard telephone companies use to measure perceived call quality.

Carl Weinschenk reports on IT Business Edge

Skype accounts used to conduct miscreant business?

Fraud can be a very hot item on Skype’s Support Forum.
Either users don’t understand Skype’s Anti Fraud Policy or they are furious because Skype has “stolen” their money, taken from their bank for their non existing Skype account.
Of course Skype does not steal money. No money is taken from any (bank)account without the permission of the owner. If money is taken, it is Fraud committed by someone else.

Yes, Skype’s Fraud restrictions are tight. Not without reason….

This article originally appeared on
SearchSecurity.com.
According to the keynote speaker at this year's Conference on Email and Antispam (CEAS), spam is still driven by bands of underground Internet miscreants driven by a lust for money and mischief.
Rob Thomas, CEO and research fellow with Internet security think-tank Team Cymru, opened the third annual gathering of antispam researchers and software engineers with a lively presentation on the 'underground economy.'


Thomas said in his work with clients he has come across villains who are driving a mature and robust economy that continues to expand.
"It's grown well beyond [credit] cards, warez and porn... now you can get everything; credit cards, CVV [credit card verification numbers], bots, bot code, DoS nets" and even U.S. visas, birth certificates and passports, which can go for as much as $500 each.

Thomas talked about the communication methods used by these miscreants to interact including a variety of different instant messaging, peer-to-peer and stolen Skype VoIP accounts. He said the Skype accounts used to conduct miscreant business are usually used in pairs and, once used, are disposed of..

The whole article can be read on
Computer Weekly

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Nailbiting event: 7.000.000 users on-line

My nails needed a manicure. Thanks to Skype this happened today.
Jean and I have, together with all other Skype Lovers in the world, been monitoring the users on-line. Today would be The Day of the 7.000.000 simultanious on-line users!!

Stony from Austria captured it, Jean blogged about it and Jaanus reports about celebrating!!

Happy Birthday Skype!

Today is Skype’s 3rd birthday. Jaanus mentioned this already in
Skype Blog on Friday.
Time is flying; soon it will be my personal 3rd birthday with Skype.
Jean Mercier, a Skype Nestor, designed a special
birthday card.

Varras Consultancy is proud to be part of the development of Skype’s future. For sure this will make our business grow!

Happy Birthday Skype with many innovating years to follow.

Books

I love books, they are everywhere in my house. A dream is a library with rolling stairs….
Books of all sorts: novel’s, historical, (forensic)-detectives, medical (blame my Paraveterinarian degree), antiques, cook books and much more.

Unfortunately I don’t have much time to read books. That is why they are spread through the house: where I can sit, I can read. Of course I don’t have enough time to browse bookstores which is a shame. But I ususally catch up wit this during my short brakes in the UK.

Bless the Internet where I virtually can walk into every bookstore. Browsing, reading and ordering. Can you imagine my joy when I read that soon the
Oxford Bookstore can be contated via SMS?
Mobile 365, the global leader in mobile messaging and data services, today announces a strategic initiative with Oxford Bookstore, to launch an interactive SMS service across India. Mobile 365 has
launched this unique SMS service for Oxford Bookstore to instantly update book lovers on new releases and bestsellers via their mobile phones.

Mobile 365 leads the world in the global delivery and settlement of mobile messaging and data services, including SMS, MMS, and WAP. With reach to nearly 700 mobile operators around the world, Mobile 365 is at the forefront of mobile interoperability messaging and the distribution of premium content and value-added services. Headquartered outside of Washington, D.C., Mobile 365 has offices in Beijing, Guangzhou, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, London, Madrid, Mexico City, Milan, New Delhi, Paris, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, and Taipei. Major operator customers include Verizon Wireless, Vodafone, Cingular Wireless, T-Mobile, Telcel, Orange, Telefonica, O2, China Mobile, China Unicom, Hutchison, and Airtel. Major brand customers include
Skype, Volvo, Sony Pictures, MSN, Citibank, Siemens, Ogilvy, Yahoo!, and Dunkin' Donuts. For more information, visit Mobile 365

I keep you updated about similar services in Europe!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Long before Skype was invented: another Swedish adventure

“Now why” will you ask “this story if it isn’t Skype related?”
To be honest, it was Skype who triggered my memories of my time in Sweden. Actually, it was one of my Moderator colleagues….

He logged on one day with the message: “Sorry had a power failure here, just came back online” We started a discussion about power failure and I told him I had a cottage in
Värmland - Sweden without any form of electricity for over a year. How I survived and above all, how much I loved it, feeling safe with my two big dogs the Kuvaszok Älg and Invandra.
He mentioned that wouldn’t be safe in the US anymore, you would need a gun to protect yourself.
Not in Sweden and certainly not at that time, I told him. Although…… someone pointed a gun at me and my friend once…

This was in 1998. I lived in the cottage with my two dogs, from June till November.
My friend Loes from Holland (we met during a Swedish course and had the same weird sense of humour in common) was coming to stay with me for a week. A stay I so much looked forward to. And it was fun, a true adventure, every day of that week. Maybe I will tell you a bit more another time but now I will explain why someone pointed a gun at us.

I love viewing houses, especially old, abandoned houses, preferable in the middle of nowhere. It happened often I came across Swedish cottages (stugor) where nobody lived for years and years but with still the furniture in it.
A week or so before Loes arrived; I stumbled upon a cottage like that, exploring a huge, empty barn.
Loes was of course interested and day two of her stay we went off in my old white Volvo 245 with the dogs in the back.

When we arrived at the cottage, we parked the car on the driveway, a long gravel path. I left the back of the car open, the dogs safely behind a rack. The car and of course the dogs, could be well spotted by anyone who passed by.
We wandered around in this little cottage, surprised that you could actually move right in. OK, it needed a bit of cleaning and dusting, but all to survive was there.

We weren’t sneaky; we didn’t hide and we chatted away. But all of a sudden the door went open, it banged against the wall and there was this tall Swede….. with a gun in his hand!!
We looked at him, he looked back, a bit shaky. We looked at his hands, his gun, his face and began to laugh. We laughed until tears were running down our cheeks. It took quite a while before Loes and I could speak a word.
I don’t have to explain it made the gunman very, very nervous. He didn’t look like someone intending to kill us.
We introduced ourselves, gave him our names and mobile numbers, explained why we were there and apologised for being in the house.

He accepted this and put his gun down. It didn’t take long before we had an animated conversation. He told us that a few weeks before, two men in a white car with foreign number plates (though my Volvo had a Swedish registration), burgled the house and had stolen medication and guns. (No excuse for burgling but why on earth was it left there in the first place???)
He now thought that they returned for more belongings of the previous owner, indeed armed.
He was also honest about how nervous he was to enter the house.
Being a hunter, he never pointed his gun at human beings, let alone two Dutch ladies!

We had a nice chat and left with a smile and a handshake…. End good all good.

Low Cost Cordless Convenience for Skype Users

Keyspan Cordless VoIP Phone lets you use Skype without being tethered to your Mac or PC. Now you can use Skype anywhere in your home or office.

Keyspan announced its new, Skype-compatible Cordless VoIP Phone. Shipping this month, the Keyspan Cordless VoIP Phone will sell for an MSRP of just $79.

“Keyspan’s Cordless VoIP Phone lets you use Skype anywhere in your home or office,” noted Mike Ridenhour, president of Keyspan. “And, you can also take the Keyspan Cordless VoIP Phone on the road, to use in hotels, airports and cafes, as long as you have an Internet connection and are within range of your laptop.”

Read more on Slash Gear

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The new Forum

One of my
previous stories is about the migration of the Forum. All from the Moderator’s point of view and light hearted.
But Jaanus posted a
very extensive explanation about the New Skype User Forum in his personal blog: Jaanus on the internet.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Special people: MicheauX

In an
earlier blog post I mentioned that I very seldom add people who ask for authorization, to my private contact list. But if I do, these people turn out to be special.
I would like to highlight some of these people and of course with their permission!

MicheauX is one of these special people.
We met not too long ago; July 2006. I received a late phone call which I missed. I replied the following day and asked how we could help.
MicheauX: “On one of your posts you said 'most' usb phones with SkypeMate only allow 1 Skype user at a time, do you know any usb phones that DO allow you to use multiple users on one PC? I travel a lot, I have multiple businesses and I don't wish to carry multiple phones. I’m currently using the XACT XVP620, which is a great phone. I have been able to setup multiple users through Windows XP, but I have tried to run multiple versions of SkypeMate to no avail. Thanks for your help!”

Unfortunately I had to reply that there is no other software like SkypeMate that can handle multiple accounts.

Frome there on our conversations were about Bluetooth headset, dongles, laptops, our services, his business and music.

MicheauX turned out to be a singer of White Soul. I visited his
website and listened to some beautiful songs: “Resti 2 tion” , “All I need”, “What you wouldn’t do”.
I learned so much more about my new contact who I authorized because he was nice, polite and intelligent.

His Soulful, funky, R&B sound carries a positive message in a language that anyone can relate to. Even I with my love for Classical and Celtic Music. There is a message in MicheauX’s songs that should be heard by all of us. He connects with today’s generation in a very personal way, sharing his own life experience and how he overcame many obstacles.


Breaking the Barriers between Soul, Funk and Gospel, “Just MicheauX” brings infectious hard driving rhythms and silky smooth vocals to deliver a message of love, peace and hope for a better future.

The mixture of modern R&B and funky 70’s Soul is comprised of 14 musicians from the Austin Texas area and is produced and recorded by MicheauX and mastered by Tom Coyne, Sterling Sound, New York, NY. (Selected credits: Maxwell, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Sade, Yolanda Adams, Beyonce and Jessica Simpson).

The Soul singer’s style is often compared to that of Maxwell, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, and The Isley Brothers.

He creates a symphony of sounds with each song and conveys a wide range of moods throughout the album. From smooth soul (All I Need), to Urban hip hop (Hey Girl, Hey Playa), to funk and R&B (Restitution); the beat, pace, and rhythm of the music has the ability to stimulate and motivate.

When asked where his inspiration comes from MicheauX says, “What motivates me is working with ‘at risk’ youth. I want to bring them a positive message of hope that will help keep them in school, away from drugs and a life of crime. Knowing their lives are being affected by the message in the music, is the highest achievement. In this post 9/11 age, we are focusing more on spiritual growth, an introspective look at our lifestyle, and what is truly important. The ‘me first’ attitude of the 90’s has less appeal when we look at the ‘big picture’ and ask ourselves; What really matters in this life? The record stimulates this kind of thinking. We need much more than the shallowness of ‘booty shaking’ R&B and the ‘New Age’ messages many neo-soul songs offer, but we still want to feel the rhythm, to love, move, and be stirred by the soul of great music.”

MicheauX takes a very honest approach to songwriting tackling tough issues from his personal experience that face our generation. He boldly presses forward unafraid to disturb the ‘sacred cows’ of mixing traditionally spiritual messages with a decidedly ‘secular’ medium, claiming the necessity to reach those who would otherwise not hear this message. A far cry from the ‘me too’ sounds that permeate our airwaves, ‘Just MicheauX’ brings unique innovation to the worlds of Soul, Funk, and Gospel music.

“I don’t preach or push religion,” MicheauX says in an earlier interview. “I do have convictions and values; messages about ‘real life’ issues and survival come through in my songs. You can also sing about love without being obscene or trashy. It is a beautiful thing between married couples who love each other unconditionally. Here in America we crave sex, money, power, and overindulge in everything that is self-gratifying. We need inspiration to help counteract all of this. This is what I try to provide through my music”.

Since the beginning of 2002, he has been a volunteer Chaplain for the Texas Youth Commission (A State Juvenile Corrections Agency). He used this position to birth a powerful halfway house ministry for teenage young men through weekly bible studies and monthly musical concerts with various Christian artists. He also gives the youth a chance to show their skills by hosting freestyle rap contests. The winners receive prizes such as free CDs and even recording sessions on site. This ministry has touched many lives resulting in some great success stories. The young men also receive follow up ministry and assistance with church placement when they leave the halfway house.

MicheauX’s ultimate goal is to work full time with youth in halfway houses and prisons all over the world. With so much negative music and images bombarding our youth today, he tries to provide an alternative positive message. He believes it’s never too late for them to change their lives.

MicheauX (pronounced Mishow), originally his middle name, began singing solos at the age of nine. At only twelve years of age, he began learning the art of recording and sound mixing and performed throughout his teens.

In the 90s, he began travelling with the late B.J. Phillips, a worldwide youth motivational speaker. He travelled extensively with B.J. for three years, providing music for youth and witnessed many lives changed.

MicheauX was the Director of Sound at Bastrop Christian Outreach Center (the largest church in Bastrop County) and served as a worship leader for Sunday morning services and special events.
In the late 90s, MicheauX teamed up with Rodney Walker, Youth Pastor in Austin, Texas. He led the youth praise and worship teams, and performed for youth services and special events. Presently, MicheauX is a member of St. James Missionary Baptist Church where Dr. B.W. McClendon is the Senior Pastor.

Over the years, he has had the opportunity to travel, speak, and sing at many festivals, conferences, camps, schools, churches, and correctional institutions.

In July 2003, MicheauX caught the eye of promoter, Malika Smith, of Club Praize Magazine. His unique, fresh sound prompted Malika to send him to perform for ‘Showtime at the Apollo’ in New York City. Four months later, MicheauX was opening for Stellar Award wining Gospel group, ‘Trin-i-tee 5:7’.

In the spring of 2004, MicheauX completed his self-titled album, ‘Just MichauX’. Multi-talented; he produced, arranged, performed, recorded and mixed his debut album in his own professional project recording studio. He also wrote most of the music and thought provoking lyrics you hear on the record.

MicheauX, I can only say that I am proud to have you as my contact and hope to witness a long and successful career, listening to your CD “Just MicheauX”. God bless you.

For our Scandinavian and German readers: Telenor signs partnership with The Cloud Nordic to offer WiFi access to its customers across 4 countries

Telenor and The Cloud, Europe’s leading WiFi network operator, have entered into an agreement to offer wireless broadband Internet access at more than 8000 Cloud wireless public hotspots around Europe including airports, hotels, city zones and railway stations across Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the UK.
This deal will accelerate The Cloud Nordic’s already aggressive plans to build WiFi network coverage which will enable mobile users to connect to a broadband service whenever they need it. In the first phase, The Cloud will build 800 new hotspots in Sweden and 500 hotspots in Denmark, all available for Telenor’s mobile business customers.

Read more on Web Wire

Thursday, August 24, 2006

VistaPrint to Provide Free Business Cards to Skype Users

VistaPrint Limited today announced that it will provide business cards to Skype™ users at no charge. The cards are high-quality, full-color and include space for a Skype name.

VistaPrint Limited (Nasdaq:VPRT), the leading online supplier of high-quality graphic design services and customized printed products to small businesses and consumers, today announced that it will provide business cards to Skype™ users at no charge. The cards are high-quality, full-color and include space for a Skype name.
Read more on
PR Web

For our Australian and New Zealand readers: VoSKY™ Exchange enters the Australian and New Zealand Markets

"VoSKY™ Exchange - the World’s First Skype Solution for Business enters the Australian and New Zealand Markets

IW Distribution announced yesterday the signing of an exclusive representation agreement with Infoaction covering the Australia and New Zealand markets. Under the agreement, IW Distribution will represent and promote the full range of Skype certified products from VoSKY in Australia and New Zealand.

In addition to already launched Skype products (Chatterbox and USB Phone) IW Distribution will now launch additional Skype certified solutions including VoSKY Exchange, the world’s first Skype certified solution for business, and VoSKY Call Centre, a fully Skype certified ATA."

The full article can be read on Scoop

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Skype on my mobile

There are different companies offering this nice feature but up till now it was either not available for my specific mobile (I am so attached to my Ericsson Z600) or it didn’t work with my many contacts.

Although I belong behind my desk, operating Skype from my laptop, occasionally I am away from the office. Don’t worry, my wonderful co-workers take over so you don’t know I am not there.

I have the
Tiptel Cyberbox250 connected to Skype and my landline which makes it possible for me to phone my landline where ever I am, enter a code to connect to Skype and then enter the speed dial of my contact.
But Skype needs to run on my Laptop which needs to be connected of course, to the Internet.

I now pre-registered with VoxLib which is promising Skype calls from any mobile.
I can’t find out from their introduction site if your PC needs to be connected to the Internet.
We’ll see. It will be launched the 11th of September.

More info can be read
here

More about UAE blocks Skype: HUNDREDS PETITION FOR CHEAP CALLS

Hundreds of UAE residents have signed an online petition calling on telecoms regulators to allow international PC-to-phone calls at cheap rates. VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) programs such as Skype and Vonage offer customers low-rate phone calls and were widely used in the UAE, even though they are technically illegal. Sites such as Skype have been blocked in much of the UAE for months, but at the weekend were also blocked in other areas, such as free zones, which were previously unaffected by the telecoms proxy server block.
Read more at "
7 days"

For our US and Canadian readers: Turn your PC into a Skype Gateway

Televoce's PontiVoce (PonTEE VO-che) Server is an interesting piece of software that lets you create a 100% software-based Skype (
News - Alert) gateway that leverages the Skype API to turn your PC into a Skype gateway for relaying calls. It's worth pointing out that Skype has offered free phone calls within the U.S. and Canada to help acquire more Skype users.
Using TeleVoce solution, you can extend this "free offer" to friends and family outside this free calling zone. All you do is find a friend in this free calling zone who has Skype running on his or her PC -- along with the PontiVoce server piece installed. The PontiVoce server can serve any number of users, but only one at a time. When the server PC is used to relay a call, the PC cannot be used for other Skype calls and the PC audio is dedicated to the call.
Tom Keating reports on News TCM Net

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Add a sense of humour…….

The Internet is my office; my business is “out there”. Well, sort of. Of course I sit behind a real desk with a real laptop surrounded by the best quality hardware, running excellent software. I make my tea in a real kitchen, drink it sitting on a real office chair, talk to real people and live from real money.
I am not building castles in the air. No, Varras Consultancy is a serious business.

But when I started it, I couldn’t imagine how much humour there is to a business that is using Skype and therefore the Internet.

I can reveal that I live in a small house in a small village in the middle of the country side in the lovely
North of Holland. My view is fields, trees and a canal. I can see the boats passing by, birds playing in the air and watch my ‘neighbours’ the Frisian cows, grazing.
Friesland is famous for its endless panorama’s and unspoilt sunsets. All part of my view.

Sitting behind my desk, watching the bleu sky or the clouds passing by, I think of my clients and point to the horizon. “Company so and so is out there and such and such is there”. No borders, from where I sit, I can work for everyone who needs our services.

Likewise for my team of wonderful people. They live spread all over the world but virtually we walk in and out of each others office in seconds. No matter where they are based, the Internet is our office building.

A while ago, being away from my office, I met a friend who asked me how we are doing. Loving my job, I replied enthusiastic. Next question was: “Any new clients in Friesland?” Why Friesland? My clients are in Ireland, Australia, London, the US….
“Yes of course, funny though! But who is looking after them and your office now?”
Ah… today my colleague in Florida, next week my colleague in South Africa…
My friend gave me a big smile.

Yes, it is definitely a business with a sense of humour.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Belkin WiFi phone

Does this mean
Varras Consultancy will loose clients?

No, definitely not. The Belkin WiFi phone makes it even more possible for you as our client to forward your Skype(In) calls to us.


You do not even have to sit behind your laptop. With WiFi more common all over the world, you can now forward your calls to us only minutes before your plane is leaving or before your meeting starts.
And you can log on as soon as possible again for our update on the received calls.

Read more in the
Exclusive Belkin WiFi Skype Phone Review

Skype and Global IP Sound

"Global IP Sound (GIPS), the leading provider of embedded voice processing technology for the Voice over IP (VOIP) market, today announced it has extended its relationship with Skype.
This relationship will enable hardware manufacturers the ability to offer Skype-compatible IP phones. These hardware solutions will utilize GIPS technology, specifically, GIPS Voice Engine(TM) Embedded."
The full article is published at PR Newswire.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Dubai, UAE: solution for blocked Skype users

A hot item on Skype’s Support Forum.

"Due to blocking of Skype.com in Dubai, UAE, many Skype users are unable to download Skype, upgrade Skype to the latest version, or add credit to make SkypeOut calls.

One company "HeyU" has provided some solutions to help the Skype Users in Dubai or the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to use Skype and get around the blocks." The full article is published at
Mathaba Net

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Alexander Graham Bell

I started my career as an International Multilingual Telephonist in 1974 with
Massey Ferguson.

We operated a switchboard with 20 incoming lines, forwarded the calls to all together 350 colleagues and handled between to the two of us, 1000 calls per day. Incoming and outgoing.

Compared to the modern “switchboards” ours would now be very old fashioned but back in the 70's modern and extremely functional. Not that old fashioned that we had to swing a handle! Although, calling Canada or the Us, we phoned the intercontinental telephonist who connected us to the wanted number.

Gosh, I am getting old…….

Jim Courtney of Skype Journal wrote an
article about Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

Friday, August 18, 2006

Varras Consultancy à la Crème

Usually recipes are passed on from mother to daughter and date way back.
Each generation adds their own “little touch” to bake a unique product.
Not with “
Varras Consultancy à la crème”: a complete new recipe.

Needed:

Reliable Electricity Network
Reliable Internet Connection with sufficient bandwidth
PC or Laptop with enough Memory
Genuine software
Program called Skype
Excellent knowledge of the program Skype
Reliable sound devices of your choice (I recommend USB headsets such as
Bluetooth or adapters for landline- and Skype calls, VoIP phones of the brand Tiptel).
Foreign languages (English is a must!)
Co-workers
Clients

Note: different brands of clients require differing quantities of language skills to produce a good service.

Mix Electricity and Internet Connection into a spacious and good quality Laptop or PC.
Add a certified OS and mix well to produce a good smooth working Tool.
Do not stir too long, this might cause crashes. Also do not place in a hot and moist environment.
Download Skype and add your knowledge (this is VERY important, do not leave out!!)

Make a choice of the available hardware. When you prepared the Tool well, you can use different devices at the same time.
Add the software of your device(s) to your Tool and follow the instructions of the Manufacturer.
Last but not least add only the best quality of co-workers otherwise it might not rise well.

When your product is finished, connect to the Internet and decorate with the finest quality of clients.

Keeps well and improves over the years. Tip: do not keep in a Tin, this will deteriorate the sound quality!

Bon Business!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Your Skype call “broadcasted”…

…… on someone’s radio.

Mind you, you are in the kitchen, preparing your breakfast. A lazy morning away from your computer still you do not want to miss your Skype calls.

You turn on the radio, sit down, enjoy your breakfast and then your friend calls you. On your radio. Is this possible? Yes it is! Read more
here
.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A brand new Skype Support Forum

The regular visitor and especially the Volunteers already noticed at times that the old Forum got crowded and small. Occasionally we had to wait for our submitted post to appear after 1-2 minutes. A long time if you know there is still much to do for you.

IM’s with: “Is it my browser or is it the Forum speed again” or “Admin, can someone check the server?” were quite common.
But I shouldn’t complain too much as lately the speed was doing well.

Months ago a brand new Forum was discussed by the Admin’s and Mod’s. Beta testing had to be done but still it took a while before we could start the final testing.
It was fun, meaningful announcements and stupid test posts (“Yummy, Estonian blood sausages” “Yuk”) were submitted to read and to play with.

The different set-up caused different views, ideas and above all questions.
“I am qualified as a Newbie…” “Can I please have my old name back” “Where do I find the Mod tools?” etc. etc.
Our Admin Terminus remained patient but I am 99% certain he must have run his fingers through his hair in deep despair reading our IM’s in the Moderator chat.
The best thing about chats is that you can’t hear desperate yell’s… I never dared to ask if he ever did yell.

Comments and bugs were posted on a special Wiki page and looked after within 24 hours.
Hurry, hurry because the migration date was set to August 16 – 2006.

And Skype managed the migration…. A big Hurray and even bigger Thank You to our Admin and those who worked together with him to design this user friendly and workable Support Tool. Believe me, it has been a hell of a job!

The
new Forum requires registering and logging on with your Skype User name and password. This alone will prevent the Forum from being Spammed as frequently as before (and boy, do we like this!).

And? Job done? Can we sit back and relax? No, I shouldn’t think so.
We had time to play and to get used to the forum: the ‘my account’ page, preferences, editing, but our visitors are going to explore from today on.

Being more recognizable by our new badges (Super Users will have their very own, like the Mod’s and Staff) we will without doubt, receive PM’s. Please do, we are here to help.

We are all standby, replying to personal requests like getting the
old Forum name back, as soon as possible. Our job isn’t done yet but working is going to be fun, we know the majority of members will enjoy the new Forum as much as we do.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Authorization Requests

All Skypers know them, those little pop-ups in which others ask you to add them to your contact list.
My private account is set to only receive chat messages from the people in my list. The only option for others to contact me is to ask for authorization.
These requests come in all sorts. 80% of the people is not creative, the rest is.

We western ladies seem to be popular with men from Turkey, Pakistan and Egypt, age range 20 – 35. Often I think they did not even read my profile, let’s be honest, why would a 20 year old “love to talk” to a 51 year old…
Before I changed my privacy settings, I once received a message from a 25 year old from Australia who acted like a lucky man who was finally going to meet his date during his trip to Holland. “How far are you from Amsterdam, can we go out for dinner, a walk, holding hands” He kept sending IM’s until I asked him to take the effort to view my profile. Needless to say I didn’t receive a message in return!
But my favourite request came from someone from Africa, male, age 34: “I love old woman
Thank you very much!! :-)


If they know you as Skype’s Mod, they truly believe you give 24/7 support. Requests like: “Please add me to your contacts for when I have a support question for myself and my friends” are frequent.
No Sweetie, I have a business to run.

I designed an ‘automatic reply’ in which I direct the ‘contact to be’ to Skype’s Support e-mail address or the forum where many know more then one.
Most reply nice and understanding with a polite: “Thank you and I apologize for contacting you” They receive a smile in return.
Bu not everybody is happy with my message. I receive replies from “F*** you! Bad Service!@#@” to “Go to Hell Bitch!!!!” This last one received my reply “You just tried to phone to Hell….

‘Business’ wise, requests are wrapped in words like: “I want to do business with you, please lets talk about signing contracts now” Or: “I need you for business, please add me immediately as I need a Visum to come and stay with you.”
To be honest, I prefer the one “I love old woman”……..

But very occasionally a request arrives of which you think it is ok to accept. And they always turn out to be nice, educating and a bonus to the already wonderful people in my list.
People who do not only ask but who also give, each in their own way.
People with a Heart, a good sense of humour and from whom I can learn. People who turn out to live almost next door but also at the other end of the world. Special people!!
A hug to all of you!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Moderators and Spammers

What is a Moderator?
A moderator is someone who has access to the tools to maintain certain aspects of a Community Forum. Only an Admin has access to all the tools.

The Moderators at Skype can move, delete, edit, split and lock posts. We can also check IP’s and ban spammers.
We are with 6 Mod’s: 1 in Canada, 1 in the US, 1 in Spain, 1 in Germany, 1 in Romania and 1 in Holland. All together we are 24 hours per day active. Very needed because Spammers don’t sleep!

What is a Spammer? (in my opinion)
A Spammer at Skype's Forum is someone who is posting non Skype related nonsense; advertisements for watches, cars, PC’s, mobile phones, Med’s and yes of course the well known Viagra.
I think we all agree they do not belong at Skype’s Support Forum.

But also people who post for the sake of posting non Skype related nonsense without advertising any product, can be called Spammers.
Some are Spammers without realizing it. They are just friendly people who are happy to be on a Forum where 100.000 other members post their Support requests.
They browse the posts that nobody replied to and start answering. Often these are posts from 2003! And not even always support requests. These Spammers are very quick and manage to post 30+ replies overnight.
If you send them a friendly PM in which you ask not to reply to old posts from 2003, you receive a very friendly PM in return with the question: “Please tell me, what is 2003?” And believe me, they aren’t joking!

Other Spammers are bored and have chosen the Forum to entertain them selves. Messages like “Hello :-)” are common. We try to move them to the Skype Me forum hoping for others to reply and who knows Mr. / Mrs. Hello finds a new friend.

The worst Spammers are those who posted a problem but who go on and on about it after the problem is solved.
Although the volunteers try to offer support as soon as possible, often with the needed help of Skype’s Support department, it can unfortunately take a while before the problem is 100% solved. Fortunately these Spammers are of a rare breed.

But…. and this happened to me, forum members can experience a Moderator as a Spammer.
6800 replies to support requests and one member who just joined the forum, used his 3rd post to ask who Ike was. “
Who is Ike, is Ike a Spammer?

Now I am confused: should my header have been: “Modespammers and Spammerators” ???

When and Why Skype?

Year 1964, age 9, location somewhere in Friesland, home alone with a just bought Intercom set. My father was going to put that up in the house we just moved in.

Intrigued by the technology of this intercom system, I unpacked it, measured the wires, drilled holes in various walls, connected the right coloured wires to the right plugholes and soon it worked. When my parents arrived home, I could talk to them from my little room at the top floor.

Year 2003, age 48, location again somewhere in Friesland, tucked away in my little office and curious what other chat programs had to offer, I browsed the Net and read an article about Skype. Amazing, you could make clear phone calls from one computer to another.
Once downloaded, I explored the possibilities and fell in love with it immediately.
This was and would be ‘my’ program! With my very little knowledge of computers and programs and of course running on Windows 98, Skype was easy to download and run.

I can’t remember who my very first contact was but I do remember that I had to put quite a lot of energy in convincing him/her to download Skype.
Slowly but surely, other contacts arrived and only those I knew. SkypeOut got introduced in 2004, mind you, calling from your computer to landlines! I surprised family and friends with cheap phone calls. “Are you really calling from your computer? How on earth is this possible?” Ah, and the look of my telephone bill, lovely!

Time went on, my life changed, Windows 98 became Windows XP and my PC a Laptop. Skype changed, but my phone bills didn’t! Sorry
UPC: I have chosen your lowest subscription and receive the odd call though never use it for outgoing calls.
With a cheap
mobile subscription (€ 2.50/month and 500 free minutes), Skype is my main contact to the outside world. Plus my business tool…..

It couldn't take long or even I had to blog.

I have never been good in keeping diaries, maybe one or two pages but most of them remained empty, the little key left in the locket.
Though my life around Skype and the Internet Blog Technology are very inviting and I can't resist talking / writing about it any longer.
This is my first post as the founder and owner of Varras Consultancy, Skype SuperUser and Forum Community Moderator.
No doubt this blogspot will be a mix of my personal-, business- and Skype life as all are happily united.