Skype goodbye and Skype hello
Today is a sad day and a happy day.
Sad because Jaanus Kase is leaving Skype. Jaanus has contributed so much to Skype over the years – from project managing the Linux client to product managing group chats, to launching the Skype blogs and writing the main one while maintaining the forums. And probably much more.
My first contact with Jaanus was in October 2005 when he gave me the SuperUser badge. I was the first female SuperUser and no other reward could have made me so proud as that badge.
In December 2005 he gave me the Moderator badge which was again a huge honour. Here too I was the first female and I was added to a wonderful existing group of experienced Mod’s.
Being part of this Team is a great privilege.
But I am happy because Jaanus is moving forward by going back to University. I already got to know him as someone who loves developing his knowledge and wisdom. He is a grand example for going your way in life and IT land by learning, listening, discussing and doing.
Therefore, I wish Jaanus all possible luck and much, much more wisdom for the future.
I met two people in my life, two men, who contributed patience, overview and respect to my personal development. Men who triggered my grey “thinking cells”.
The first one, Wilco, Managing Director Aquaverium, was a very special person I worked for from 2003 till 2006.
The second one was Jaanus. Both men differ in age. Wilco is 62 and Jaanus 26 but the way both move through life and handle people and business is very similar. Jaanus once said “Wisdom comes with age”. Yes, but with some people Wisdom is a natural born gift. As well Wilco as Jaanus, have these gifts and I was so fortunate to work with both and to learn from them. Isn’t this wonderful? Special?
Also very special and ever so valuable to me is that Jaanus handed over his Forum duties to me.
Where Jaanus is leaving, I am joining Skype. Again sad and happy feelings. I am not joining as a Skype employee but as a Consultant. I am going to fulfil pleasant and more serious duties as Skype’s Head of Communities and Forum Operations. My task will be to maintain and develop the Forum together with the valuable and energetic input of my colleague Moderators, as well developing the feedback channels to Skype together with the PR department.
I am very much looking forward to this job and will find a balance in what Jaanus already achieved and what I am going to do. A job with no boundaries when it comes to future developments within the Skype Community.
Communication has always played a very important role in my life. I could talk long before I could walk and I started spelling the newspaper from the day I learned the alphabet. I have read thousands of books, worked for large international companies, travelled, listened and talked.
I experience the gifts of reading, listening and talking with endless joy.
I was born in a non computer era and bought my own first computer only 7 years ago. Although I was not known to be a computer Wiz kid, the Internet widened my horizon and opened numerous doors to knowing more, asking more and more amazement. My world got bigger and bigger.
And today I start working for Skype. A company and job I couldn’t have thought of in my wildest dreams.
So the biggest “Thank you” to Jaanus, is still not big enough to express what I really feel.
Yes, I am sad to see Jaanus leaving but I am certain although he is not my Skype based tutor anymore, I will keep learning from him. That makes me happy.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Skype goodbye and Skype hello
Sunday, May 27, 2007
London 1973 – 2007
Friday evening I returned from a short stay in London. My first visit since 1978 when I drove my little Fiat right through London.
Mind you, I passed my driver test just a few months before and everyone told me I was mad with no experience in left hand driving at all, challenging the traffic in Central London.
But I was determined to go to Somerset by car and definitely wanted the see some of London on my way to the West.
I survived and enjoyed it!!
My first time in London was May 1973 and the second and more memorable, in September 1973 at the very same day there were two bomb attacks. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out the attacks. At 1.00pm a small bomb exploded at King's Cross Railway Station, London. At 1.05pm the Press Association received a phone call warning of a bomb at Euston Railway Station. At 1.15pm another small bomb (estimated at 2-5 pounds of explosives) exploded outside the Rail Bar at Euston Station, London. There were no deaths but 12 people were injured in the blast.
I was going by Cab from one station to another and it was chaos everywhere. Not something you forget for the rest of your life.
During my third visit the year after, safety was still high on the list of the UK and you could not enter a public building without handbags and pockets thoroughly searched.
And now it is 2007 and again visitors of the UK are searched for explosives.
You are not allowed to take any liquids in containers above 100 ml. I had a little bit of hair gel left in a container of 125 ml you could see right through but had to hand it over to customs.
Custom control at Schiphol Airport is strict but leaving the UK even much more.
We even had to take our shoes off and walk barefoot through the alarm system. Due to my two hip replacements, the alarm goes always off and apart from the usual search by hand by a female custom employee, they also used a small detector that screened every inch of my body and yes, it beeped at the appropriate places. (I am afraid I wait for the beeps with a wicked sense of humour…..)
The technique changed but the fear for bombing attacks has not.
Well, what did change over all those years?
Still businessmen with news papers but without the bowler and now well equipped with laptops and mobile phones.
Newer cars but still traffic jams. Newer buildings but still flocked by visitors., The famous cabs but with better payment systems. Newer trains but the same drafty Underground. Modern girls but still wearing Hot Pants and Boots. Newer Police cars but still in the same hurry on their way to whatever needs assistance.
And above all, the same noise and the same smell of all fuel.
Amazing, everything in a new coat, occupied with new generations but deep down, unchanged.
I plan to grow old, staying as fit as possible so be ready for my next London update around 2036, I might blog with the same “back to the future” feeling.
Posted by Helen Varras at 4:51 pm
Monday, May 21, 2007
Last week was one with many connection problems.
My Internet Provider managed to disconnect the whole village at the most inconvenient working hours you can think of. We received the error message “IP Conflict” too often and it became very frustrating.
But it looks like all is working well again.
Then I “disconnected” myself by getting one of the worst colds ever. And it was only 6 months ago I had the previous cold. OK, I should not complain as the one before that was 10 years earlier.
First I thought a sick pigeon caused it. It landed in my Mum’s garden and although penicilline and lots of TLC it unfortunately died that same day.
The medication wasn’t of any help anymore.
But no, I got my cold from my neighbours nephew. We were both visiting her at the same time to celebrate her 84th birthday. Nephew looked alright but confessed a few days later he had a flu.
Well thank you….
No time to be ill, I kept working but Thursday, a Bank Holiday, I spent most time sleeping. It helped and I am definitely on the mend again.
The only thing that did not disconnect was my WiFi. It had it’s problems in the beginning but it is doing fine now.
I know WiFi can be a hot item on forums, it is not always easy to run it. But did you know that you can now, with great thanks to Infinite Solutions, increase your WiFi signal? It works like charme!
Just click the video for manual instruction. Good luck!!
Posted by Helen Varras at 12:59 pm
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
IM+ for Skype Software
Cost effective phone calls around the globe
Skype for BlackBerry is a hot item on the forum. Now there is good news for the BlackBerry owners.
SHAPE Services announced today the release of a new version of its IM+ for Skype Software for BlackBerry® smartphones from Research In Motion (RIM) (Nasdaq: RIMM; TSX: RIM).
IM+ for Skype Software by SHAPE Services is a mobile client for Skype Software. It enables voice and text communication with other Skype users as well as cost-effective calling to landline or mobile connections.
IM+ for Skype Software uses SkypeOut credits for voice communication ensuring cost-effective calls to any number around the globe. For users of Skype Unlimited plan (only USD 29.95 per year) IM+ enables almost free calling from a BlackBerry smartphone to any PC with Skype or any landline/mobile number. All you need is a BlackBerry smartphone and IM+ for Skype Software installed.
Providing desktop-like access to a familiar Skype experience from any mobile device is the plan of SHAPE Services. In the nearest future the company is going to release versions for Windows Mobile Pocket PC, Windows Mobile Smartphone, Palm OS, Symbian OS and J2ME devices. A WAP version for universal access from low-end devices is also in the company’s plans for the upcoming months.
Posted by Helen Varras at 4:13 pm
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Finally………… and much to my delight my SkypeIn numbers (Sweden and UK) are now my SkypeOut caller ID!!
Jaanus Kase posted today on Skype’s Blog: “Yesterday, we finally quietly rolled out an update to our systems that’s been among the most anticipated ones for the past, oh, two years or so.
If you have a SkypeIn number in one of the permitted countries, you can now choose to show this number as your “Caller ID” when calling other people with SkypeOut.
Posted by Helen Varras at 1:36 pm
At Skype’s Users Forum we do receive many requests for Joost Invitations.
Although it is understandable that people link Joost with Skype (they have the co-founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis in common), Joost is not related to Skype.
OK, some Skype Beta Testers are also Joost Beta Testers but this has more to do with their love for testing Peer to Peer software.
So, no Joost Beta section in Skype’s Users Forum. However, there is a very good site called JoostFan with an excellent JoostFan Forum.
You can also find the links in the right hand menu of this blog under “Joost related links”
Posted by Helen Varras at 1:03 pm
Monday, May 07, 2007
Skype for all ages
“Jong geleerd, oud gedaan” in Dutch. Or in English “As the twig is bent, the tree is inclined”.
One of our forum visitors Joe Garde, Director of Online Meetingrooms is the very proud father of Anna who will turn 2 next August.
Joe wrote: “….and she loves skype too! Not even two years old and stands on daddy's lap to talk to my colleagues around the world... very funny how children adopt the technology - what will it be like when she is an adult”
Normally video is running says Joe, but not during the call on this picture, which I couldn’t resist blogging.
Anna shows for certain great interest in Skype. Who knows she will be the director of “Online Kindergardens” soon….
Posted by Helen Varras at 3:49 pm
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Back to the Skype reality
I can’t believe it, I am back and up and running for 24 hours already.
Yesterday I arrived home from a lovely brake in the UK. Yorkshire to be precise.
I left last week Thursday, it took me 4 hours to arrive in Europoort instead of the usual 2,5 hours.
3 Traffic Jams in almost tropical weather. I had to collect my ticket at the Ferry Terminal which is closing at 7.30 PM.
I arrived at 7.28……. Of course they were informed about the delays due to the busy traffic so even the passengers after me would be served.
The first thing I did was taking a shower, I felt sticky and warn out. Foster Brother David arrived simultaneously. Very rare this happens because I am always early and he is always late.
We had dinner together and relaxed with a glass of wine. I had a very good night and felt refreshed when I left the boat again. David went to the south to show his motor bikes and I headed North for a cup of tea at Mum’s.
She is 91 and looks so frail. It was so good to hug her again! We chatted away, I showed pictures from home and after lunch I did my shopping’s and went to the cottage.
The weather was beautiful, just the right temperature for a long walk. I put on my walking shoes and went for a stroll near the river. I spent a few hours enjoying the scenery and taking pictures. All those lovely spring colours, the little lambs and the early green.
Saturday I went to see my friend Michael who invited me for a train ride through the Dales. We started in Leyburn where volunteers keep the trains running. I was hoping to take many pictures but this late 50’s diesel train was very wobbly. I loved the ride.
Afterwards we had dinner in a wonderful Indian restaurant, recently opened and serving excellent food for a reasonable price, at the Market Place in Leyburn. Followed by a visit to the local Pub.
I went home early evening after we discussed a walk from Muker to Crackpot Hall in Swaledale the next day.
Next morning I arrived at 9.45 Am at Michaels doorstep, properly dressed for a Dales walk. Food and drinks and all. And of course my digital camera!
For someone who spends an awful lot of time behind her laptop, with daily walks with an old dog in the flat country side of Friesland, climbing a hill in Yorkshire is a completely different cup of tea!
But with occasional stops I managed and enjoyed the view from Crackpot Hall. Including all photo’s I took, we spent 4 hours walking. At 3 PM we had a cup of tea in Muker and said goodbye till my next visit which hopefully, won’t last another year.
I drove from Muker to Hawes and passed the Butter Tubs. Hawes was as usually, packed with bikers who meet there on a regular base. I did not stop until I was close to home. I had a little walk before I headed back to the cottage.
Home again I uploaded my many photo’s to my laptop to upload them to my web album as soon as I would have an Internet connection again.
David arrived home around 9 from his Motor bike Exhibition, we talked for a while but were both to tired to make it a late night.
I had a sleep in the next day, read my book sitting in the sun, packed the car at 3 PM for my last visit to Mum.
Foster Sister Glenys was there as well and we had a lovely conversation with some good laughs. At 5.30 I left for the Ferry in Hull, expecting a lot of traffic but it was not too busy at all so I arrived at 6.30.
I did my “on board shopping’s” (of course another book to read as I almost finished the one I bought the way up), had a good meal, did some reading, watched the Ferry leaving Hull and went to bed early.
Unfortunately I ended up in our famous Dutch traffic jams and arrived 4,5 hours later in a very peaceful Friesland. My Mother and all my animals were very happy to see me. A warm “welcome home”.
After the First busy day back in the office, it still feels unreal. I think I left (again) part of my Heart and mind in the Dales behind. Sigh…..
But this time I promised myself to return much sooner then last time!
Feel free to view my photo’s. I created a Black and White Album and an Album with Colour photo’s.
Posted by Helen Varras at 9:55 pm