Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Skype Trojan Horse on the loose, but removal’s easy

Russel Shaw reports:
Yesterday Websense Security Labs reported that there was a potential Worm propagating via Skype (see: After investigation we have discovered that this is not a self propagating worm and is actually a Trojan Horse.

After discussions with the very helpful Skype security team, the behavior of this Trojan using the Skype API is as per the specifications of the API. The end-user who is running Skype does get notified that a program is attempting to access it and must acknowledge it.
*there is no vulnerability in Skype at this time that has been uncovered*
For more details on the Skype API see

At the time of this alert the websites that were used to download the Skype API code and the site that is used to download new copies of the Trojan were both down.
Websense says the original infections appear to be occuring in the Asia Pacific region, especially Korea.

According to Symantec, here's what happens when this piece o' crap launches executes:

1) Searches the registry for the location of the Skype application.

2) Displays the following message and then exits if it cannot find the registry: Error!I could not find Skype !

3) Executes the Skype application and displays the following message if it finds the registry:Warning!Allow this program in skype!

4) Queries Skype for random users every 3 minutes.

5) Starts the Skype application and sends the following message to the users:Check this! [http://][REMOVED]

All that said, this appears to be some pretty weak malware. Symantec says so.
Removal via Symantec's daily virus definition update fixes this…

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Job done

I am back. Back in my “new” office (no pictures available yet), with all equipment up and running full time.
Back at Skype’s Forum. Also back to reality.

The past week has been very hectic. I wanted to finish all building and decorating jobs at least a week before Christmas. And I reached my goal by working long hours. Sometimes even till 1.30 AM.
Mad? Crazy, Stupid? Yes, probably but I looked forward to getting the house back in order.
Spending Christmas in between half finished jobs wasn’t a nice idea.

I forwarded all incoming calls to my mobiles and carried those upstairs to work on my new room at the attic.
Most of the time it worked well but sometimes I had to wipe my painty fingers to a cloth before answering.
Bluetooth? Yes of course I have Bluetooth but unfortunately I only have two ears….

The inner wall was a lot of work. Nothing is straight at my attic and I had to saw most of the laths by hand.
It was around 3 PM on Friday that I fitted the last lath. After a quick dinner, I cleared everything from equipment, pieces of laths and saw dust and cleaned the bedroom. (Still the decorating laths but this is a job for next year.)
Apart of the chest of drawers, I put everything else in place, made the bed and fell into a deep sleep in the middle of the night. My first night in my
new room.

On Friday, my old bed moved from my bedroom to that of my neighbour who swapped it for his chicken pen. A very good deal as I needed to get rid of the bed (although it was a very nice one) where the neighbour's bed was close to giving up and neighbour needed to get rid of his chicken pen where mine wasn’t going to survive another year.

Saturday my brother and his family visited Mum. They live in Germany and are not always around when you need a pair of extra hands. Another reason why I wanted to finish the new room on Friday. Now brother and nephew could carry the chest of drawers to the attic. I manage a lot on my own but they are too heavy to carry them upstairs.
Brother also drilled a big hole for the Internet cables from the living room to the new office.

Enjoying seeing my family I spent the rest of the day with them and my Mother but moved my wardrobe upstairs during the evening.

On Sunday I dismounted the office desk, and moved it together with all printers, phones, adapters, scanners (and cables……… metres of cables……) etc. etc. to the old bedroom.
It took many hours before everything was in place and it was a relief when I switched on the laptops, to find everything working in good order. Including the WLAN connection.

Next my living room, still a huge mess with everything out of place. I planned this for the Monday but received a request for a telephone job for Monday and Tuesday so worked a bit harder to have everything in order before Monday morning.

It was not before 11 PM that the Christmas tree was up. Usually it is up right after our
Sinterklaas avondwhich is on the 5th of December. Tree stayed in my car for a few days and was happy to be released and decorated.

I also installed my fire place and by the time everything was finished it was 1) too late and 2) I was too tired to enjoy it.

Monday was a nice day for getting the rest of the house back in order because I was around my laptops again. So many little jobs like dusting, hovering, mopping, dishwashing. Things I didn’t do for a few days.

It was not until yesterday evening I was ready to relax.
I lighted the fire and the candle sticks, played a CD with Classical music, got a book and set down on my settee. My cats on my lap, my dog at my feet. And of course it didn’t take long before I dozed off.

Life is good to me. Happy holidays to all of you……
Skype Worm Breaks Out in APAC

Symantec and Websense have warned Skype users of a new worm that spreads itself via Skype text messages.

Dubbed Chatosky by Symantec, the cycle starts with a Skype user receiving a message offering a file called sp.exe. According to Websense's preliminary analysis, when that file is run it installs a password-stealing Trojan and propagates itself via Skype.

The malware also tries to connect to a now-disabled remote server to collect additional code.
Websense says the original infections appear to be in the Asia Pacific region, especially Korea.
CA's, Sophos' and McAfee's security sites had no information about this worm at the time of writing.

Source: Itwire

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How many muscles does one have?

Far more then you can think of. And much more then you usually notice when sitting behind the computer, navigating your mouse, clicking buttons in Skype, talking on Skype or typing chats, documents. Or vacuum cleaning, mopping, dish washing etc. Also more then when walking the dog!

Normally you do not notice ‘muscles for daily use’. Some are in the automatic gear, you do not even think about using them. At least I don’t. I don’t tell them “start moving” when I want to use them.
Well…. I didn’t up till now.....

Over the weekend I have been the female equivalent of Bob the Builder.
On Saturday I finished painting what needed to be painted at the attic and set up the work-bench and sawing machines.
I measured all the laths for the slope roof to which I will fit the boards and started sawing, some by hand and some with the machine. Soon they were ready and I drilled little holes for the screws of which I fitted some already in fore. This makes it easier to handle the screw-auger when holding the lath against the roof at the same time.

My cousins from Noord Holland, visiting Mum, also came to watch my building activities and offered me help moving furniture when I wouldn’t reach my goal; sleeping in my new bedroom before Christmas.
I thankfully accepted their great offer but still want to move in time (there is also an office to move before Christmas).

I finished just in time for dinner with Mum who baked pan-cakes. Gosh, was she tired but she enjoyed it so much and the pan-cakes were delicious.
Home again I left the attic for what it was and spent a quiet evening with a book and film.

The real building job started on Sunday. Up early, I started fastening the laths. Some needed to be altered as the roof of my little house is extremely oblique, nothing with the same size fits at once.
I started with the top section and slowly worked downwards. A few extra around the window and early afternoon this job was finished.

Then I set up the laths for the side boards which was more work. I made little pieces of wood to fit the laths on the floor and used firm screws to fit them to the beams. Again I was working mostly upside down in the narrow area of the roof.
Around 4.30 PM, nearly finished, I felt so tired that I asked myself what on earth I had started. All of a sudden the electric wires entangled my feet, made me stumble, tools dropped from work-benches without a reason and little pieces of laths and beams popped out of the floor right where my knees were. Just to pester me….. But then again I could see the end result, got myself together and finished the sawing and fitting.

After clearing away all the machines and tools, I looked at the result and was quite happy with what I saw. Again less on my long “things to do” list.
I walked the dog, had a light dinner with Mum and felt less tired. So, when home again, I painted the door in the first layer of the final white paint and the doorpost in the last layer.

Sitting at my comfortable settee around 9 PM, I wondered what I was doing by trying hard to keep my eyes open and it didn’t take long before I was in bed for a long night of sleep.

Yesterday was a busy day at the office but even though I managed to continue working on my attic during the evening and finished one side of the door and put up insulation material between the laths for the side boards.

Today the boards arrive from which I have to make fitting boards. I hope I can start sawing tonight already and hope to paint them white for the first time before the weekend.
A friend is coming on Sunday to help me fitting the boards in the ridge of the attic. I don’t think it is safe to do that on my own: pushing against the boards, I will also push away my stairs. And I don’t want to hurt more muscles.

Right now I already have to tell them what to do: “Will you please move in the right direction so I can put my arm in my sleeve?” Or: “Can you do something to make my knees bend when I want to sit down? Please….???”

Friday, December 01, 2006

No Skype in the attic (no cash either!)

I am way behind with my work on my top floor (attic). I had such wonderful plans of taking one laptop with me to receive calls whilst decorating. Possible because of my Wireless Internet Connection.

But it was too busy. As soon as I logged on in the mornings, there was work to do and it glued me to my office chair for most of the day. Even the evenings were not free for building and decorating.
Shame as the paint definitely cleared my nose and head and I hardly noticed the cold.

Thinking I got rid of the cold or anything to do with it, was a dream. On Wednesday my body told me I had to calm down a bit. Gosh, did I feel sick! No fever but all other signs of what could have been called a flu. Though I never have a flu (and I keep denying this was one :-))

Too sick to do anything but taking incoming calls. I snuggled up on my comfy settee and got company from my two cosy cats who thought it was a treat to have me there all day.
I lost 3 kilo’s of weight (good start as I want to loose much more!) and felt a bit shaky at the end of the day.
In between calls I slept an awful lot which did me a world of good and yesterday I felt as healthy as one can be. Even the cold was completely gone.

What a day sleep can do, I should remember that….

Lots and lots of paperwork, telephone meetings and back on the Forum. My Avatar said: “DO NOT DISTURB disturbed already”. It is still up today but almost ready to be changed for a more friendly one.

I managed to finish my work at 7 PM, walked the dog, had a cupper with Mum who’s Heart is playing nasty tricks again (she looks terrible but says she is reasonable ok. Never complaining she is, my Mum), changed clothing and disappeared to my top floor, trying to do as much work as possible.

My wall paint arrived on Tuesday and it is of extremely good quality. Good paint is a joy to work with and in no time the miserable grey concrete wall changed into a shiny white one. I plan to do the next coat tonight after food shopping.

Then I painted all the beams in their first definite yellow. What a change already, imagine how nice it will be after the second and last coat: a little bit of sunshine in the attic.

I started late and of course finished late. My dog, too old to climb the stairs (something she was very good in, loved climbing rocks during our stay in Sweden), told me twice with a short “woof” that it was time to call it a day. No doubt she was getting hungry for her last meal of the day and of course needed a walk.

It was not before 0.30 AM I finished the last beam and felt like a dwarf in a kitchen cupboard being curled up painting the lowest beams of the slope roof for an hour or so.

The dog walk in a silent village with loads of fresh air, did me good and I fell asleep as soon as I sniffed my pillow.

Waking up though, was a different story!! Id did not even hear the alarm clock!
Still, I am behind my laptop, taking calls, sent my invoices to my client s and now feel like a light meal.
And as of tonight, two duty free decorating days, yeah!!

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Will President Bush soon be on your contact list?

The President of the United States George W. Bush visited Estonia.
Jaanus Kase at Skype blogged about the arrival yesterday, including pictures of the traffic camera’s.

President Bush did not stay long but long enough to
receive two gifts from his Estonian host prime minister Andrus Ansip: a glass sculpture and a Skype wireless phone that can be used to make calls over the Internet.

The Philips VOIP841 cordless Skype phone
handset that Bush received allows users to make Skype calls without touching a computer. Estonian programmers developed the code for the phone.

When President Bush finds out (if not already) how safe Skype calls and chats are, maybe he will get in touch with you for a social chat to promote and discuss his plans and ideas for the world.

How about receiving an authorization request “Hi, please add me to your contactlist. Love to meet ordinary people. George W. Bush, President of the United States”

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Weekend jobs

This weekend I have been working on my new bedroom.

Friday night I sandpapered all the beams, cleaned them to let them dry overnight. Then I painted the doorpost which was custom made and hand fitted by a friend in the village. A thin coat of white ground-colour made most of the plain wood disappear.

Saturday morning I was up early and after the usual little household jobs and feeding the little zoo, I painted the doorpost for the second time and it almost looked finished.

Next I coloured another tin of ground-colour slightly yellow and painted the beams: a total of 16 metres of beams on each side. They have never been looked after at all and after 25 years you could hear them suck up the paint.

Then I sandpapered the door, used quite a lot of filler for the holes (this door had a terrible life before at arrived at my house. I got it for free so you don’t hear me complaining).

I noticed I needed some more tools from the DIY shop and off I went for my shopping’s so all paint and filler could further dry. I dislike the usual shopping so much but I can spend hours in the DIY shop.

Back home the beams were dry enough to use the filler for all those numerous little nail holes in those 32 metres. It puzzled me why there were so many.
I like a rustic beam and don’t mind natural holes and bumps but a pair of nicely round holes repeated each 30 cm. is not my idea of rustic.

In the meantime it was time to go and see my mother who didn’t have the best day of her life. Her Heart beat was slow which caused some breathing problems. She said she was alright but her blood pressure and skin colour told a different story. I cooked us a nice dinner and Mum felt much better afterwards.
I am afraid I wasn’t her most entertaining guest because I fell asleep after dinner.

Round 8 PM I “dragged” myself home, spent a quite night in on my comfortable settee, covered in two lazy cats and went to bed early.

Sunday up early again and after my visit to Mum and spent the rest of my day painting. First the doorpost with a coat of the white final paint. Still one coat to go and that is off my To Do List.
During the afternoon my cousins arrived with 10 litres of wall paint, a little gift from them with which I am more then happy!
But my cousin soon discovered that his wife brought the wrong bucket. This was paint as well but slightly structured which once belonged to their son. Not what I had in mind but she had a point that putting this on an old wall, would give a nice view.

After they left I worked hard on the last beams so I could paint one wall before I was going to cook dinner for Mum and me. But when I opened the bucket, it wasn’t paint. It was a white powder for making filler.
So no wall tonight, shame but there are other nights to come although I am behind schedule already.

Instead I sandpapered the door again and gave it the first coat of ground-colour.

And now I have an early night off. Or is there something else I can do before bedtime?
Or will I be wise and relax?

First food, good healthy food, I am very, very hungry.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Tracer Systems integrated Skype

Only a few minutes ago, Jan van der Zwaag, Managing Director at Tracer Systems Heerenveen (Holland), finished the integration of Skype.

Tracer Systems has developed a single, fully integrated flexible cross platform CRM (Customer Relationship Management), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), and HRM (Human Resource Management) solution to assist customers in keeping their competitive advantage. The possibilities are endless.

Jan van der Zwaag used a plugin developed by the Swedish company “
With Tracer you can now call your contacts in Skype for free.

For external calls, the user of your database needs a SkypeOut account.
You can answer a call from Tracer and automatically search for the caller in your database.
To receive external calls, the user needs a SkypeIn account.

Features in this plugin

• Call a contact
• Answer a call
• Send voicemails
• List available voicemails
• List missed, received or made calls
• Chat inside of Tracer using Skype
• Start a conference call

Jan used me as a test-bunny and it worked just perfect. The chats and calls are saved in Tracer under the client and business relation tabs. Even recording voicemails is possible.

Great job and another proof that Skype is a useful business tool!!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A cold, verkoudheid , förkylning, Erkältung and avatars

Avatars in Skype are popular. They show the user in real, a persiflage or are an addition to the mood message.

With bad weather you see avatars with rain, snow, storm.
During a period of too much rain in Holland, I saw avatars with boots in over flown streets.
Users who are out to their favourite sports event, put up avatars wit their favourite player.
Some of my favourite avatars are those of
Antoine: he has them of all sorts of Ants (his nickname)
Birthday bunnies show party-avatars.

Skype designed special avatars called
I love to browse Google Images for matching pictures and there are loads.
I was also looking for a “Sneezy” avatar because I have a bad cold.

I should not mention my cold in public because it will spoil my cold free reputation.
I managed to maintain this reputation for 10 years and I was so proud of that.
I hardly wear coats, love cold weather, don’t mind rain and considered myself immune for viruses and bacteria’s

But, it happened. Here I am; sneezing and sniffing. Tears are running down my cheeks and tissues are at hand in all sorts and sizes. I still can speak, still have a voice but only with a low tone. With higher tones you hear a mouse-like squeak. I sound more like a man (amazingly none of my callers asked if Ike was around….)

I don’t have a flu (wouldn’t have the time for one either), just an ordinary, healthy cold.
Of course there are many pictures of sneezing and coughing people but non even looked like me.

Yesterday evening I asked in a Beta chat if someone could design a sneezing Emoticon for me.
This seemed to be an impossible task because Emo’s don’t have a nose and therefore probably never have a cold.
But, they can get the flu so my wonderful Skype SuperUser and Moderator colleague
Carola Clavo designed my own private Emo with a thermometer in it’s mouth (and Carola is an excellent designer!!).
Private means private so I am not going to share my Emo with you …. ;-)

But as a lovely bonus, she also designed an avatar! She used the standard Skype avater and coloured its forehead slightly red (the fever) and put a thermometer in its mouth.
It is a great avater and it will stay in my Skype profile for as long as I have this cold.

No, I am not ill, not in bed. Just working like I always do. Thus is my avatar visible to everybody in my contact list.
And for those without authorization? No, I am not going to change my blog rule “No pictures”….. sorry….
Skype Service Restricted in China

It are not just the UAE and Israel (see elsewhere on my blog), also China has put a hold on Skype’s services in some area’s.

Skype quickly became popular in China with over 23 million users currently online. However its Chinese partner has stated that the service is now restricted in some areas.

Skype's popularity quickly grew despite formally entering the Chinese market only two years ago when a joint venture with Chinese internet service provider was created.

The enterprise must comply with China's tight censorship policies and right now is unable to provide its "call to landline" service, because of China's monopoly on Telecom service providers.

Mr. Tu, a TOM manager, believes that use of Skype will continue to increase in China and become an important revenue generator. "In the past year, our development has been very smooth; the increase has been fast, especially in the past several seasons. Honestly, the increase in use is beyond our expectations."

TOM spokesperson Mr. Wei denied that the reduced functionality of the service would result in a loss of customers. "We are not worried, the current customer profile is quite good, and having many Skype users around the world also helps to attract domestic users."

Currently, Skype claims to have 100 million customers globally, with the number of customers in China showing the largest increase. Wei said that in China, 100,000 people register for Skype service through TOM every day. It is estimated that in the near future, China could be the major user of Skype services. is a listed company in the U.S. and Hong Kong. The company's recent financial report shows that, although its Skype-related business had a large increase, all its other internet business ventures have decreased over the past several months.

Source: “
The Epoch Times
The original article in Chinese

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mobile, another useful ‘machine’….

Laptops, sound devices and mobiles, the Heart of Varras Consultancy.
And I am always on the look for something innovating and useful like the global launch of X-Series from
3. The X-Series is a service that enables broadband Internet use from mobile devices. Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. will install Skype software on Nokia and Sony Ericsson telephones.

The X Series launch has an Israeli aspect. The Skype solution that will enable Hutchison to offer customers Skype calls is from
iSkoot Inc., a company founded and run by Israelis, which has a 35-man R&D center in Beit Shemesh. iSkoot’s software enables people to use Skype via their handsets from any location. Skype selected iSkoot’s solution, and Hutchison is the first mobile operator offering the new service to its users.

3 is a Hutchison division, and together with Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd. (NYSE:HTX; HKSE:2332), has licenses to provide communications services to 175 million people. In the past three years, 3 has developed a new mobile broadband network for 3G services.

Published by Globes: “
Israeli solution allows Hutchison to launch cellular Skype
Batwoman… or a monkey?

No, no, I don’t have the intention to fly around rescuing people in distress, dressed like the female equivalent of Batman.

I was more thinking about the Bat as an animal. I am very fond of these little creatures. We have quite a few of them in my village. They live in the old vicarage and come out during the evening.

My view from my little backyard is fields and of course Friesian cows. There is a ditch in between the field and my garden and this combination attracts mosquitos. And they attract Bats. And they attract me.
I like to view them on their hunt for food. They come quite close to catch the insects and seem not be bother by my presence.

During the Summer in Sweden, being in the Lake with my ears just above the surface, I can hear the sound they make to locate the insects.

Right now it is too cold for the Bats although you can still see them occasionally on a warmer evening.
But over the weekend, I have been acting like a Bat. No… I don’t eat insects (and they don’t eat me). Let me explain.

I have spent most of the weekend insulating the last part of my top floor and this is a slope roof all the way to the floorboards.
I am gluing the insulation tiles and need to hold them in place for a few minutes before I can move on to the next one. The best way to do this is pushing them against the roof lying on your back, using hands and feet.
A 'serious' business and with nothing on my mind for a few minutes, I suddenly pictured myself and thought I must look like a Bat hanging upside down. Waiting for the twilight to go out hunting, my wings nicely folded around my body, my toenails holding on to the roof.

Or did I look more like a Monkey? Or just a hardworking woman…. or maybe someone in the middle of the evolution process?

Anyway, the transformation of my top floor into a bedroom is progressing nicely and steadily. The first beams will be painted tonight and the side boards for the storage area need to be ready at the end of the week.

Anyone reading this feeling bored, ready for a building job? Volunteers welcome…

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Adapters for landlines and Skype

Most of my blog visitors know that apart from being a distributor for
TipTel Holland, I am also more or less addicted to their products. The software for Holland is especially developed for our telephone systems and their Support is fantastic.

When the
TipTel Cyberbox250 arrived on the market (February 2006), they sent me one for free and I am more then happy with it. It is very functional and switches seamless between my landline and Skype calls.
I can also call my Skype contacts from any landline or mobile phone by calling my home number, dialling a code number which connects me to Skype and then dialling the speed dial of my contact.
Of course Skype needs to be running on my computer.
The Tiptel Cyberbox costs € 50 ex VAT and P&P. For a complete overview of all TipTel's VoIp products, click

TipTel was one of the very first with this box but not the only one anymore. This morning I received an e-mail with a link to similar products: the Intenet Adapter SIPTalk, the TeleVoIP stick and the PointVoce (only US and Canada). I like to highlight the PointVoce.

PontiVoce is the new TeleVoce software-only product that is the start of a platform that creates new utility for Skype users. This first version sets up a mini-app that uses a Skype API to allow remote callers--who you select, to make calls through your PC. This is of particular interest with the current free calling promotion, but it will become much more.

Right now this is very useful to extend call options beyond a simple call forward. From anywhere in the world I can use your Skype to call you or family members at work, home or cell. This sets a new relationship with PontiVoce buddies who have special rights to contact you. You can appear to be away and not available to others on Skype, but those with PontiVoce can still reach you at any phone.

For more info visit “

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Skype User Satisfaction Survey

A while ago there was this post on the Forum:

A group of students and myself from the University of South Florida are conducting a simple survey on Skype user satisfaction.
It consists of a short automated Skype call, followed by a brief questionnaire. The entire process should take less than three minutes.
If you would like to help us with our research please visit:
We appreciate your participation, and feel free to suggest the survey to any friends or family that use Skype.
Rodrigo Gutierrez

Indeed a simple survey but done in a very clever way! You need to have Skype downloaded on your computer and when you click the link, you get connected to a voice that asks you to leave a short message. After 20 seconds, a chat message pops with the instructions for the short survey.

I am impressed; they made use of Skype in an intelligent way. Please visit the link and join the survey. It is worthwhile.

Monday, November 13, 2006

How Human is Polystyrene?

Like a human being, Polystyrene has a character of it’s own. Not something to mess about with.

It is present in bulk form, so are people.

It even has backbones but each of the '
chiral' backbone carbons lies at the center of a 'tetrahedron' - Mmmm, sounds more like a Dinosaur though.

It is tough - like some humans. “Pure polystyrene is brittle, but hard”

Expanded polystyrene is very easily shaped and cut - Ah, wished this with some stubborn people I know…

It plays a critical role in pharmaceutical research - So do people.

In the United States, environmental protection regulations prohibit the use of solvents on polystyrene - Doesn’t have the US environmental protection regulation for human polluters too? The fees are high!

Do we have more in common with Polystyrene then we thought we would have??

Here some
real facts about Polystyrene, it changed my view on those “white plaques” that are insolating my little house…

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Skype, Marktplaats, paint, polystyrene, dust

Throw it all in a bowl and you have the perfect mix for my daily doses of “entertainment”.

It is Autumn. The typical smell, the turning of the leaves, the rain, it is all providing me with an enormous boost of energy. This happens every year and I am used to it.
I am a child of the North, a forest “animal” and like all those animals; I am extremely active getting ready for the winter.

Of course I don’t hide in my cave to do my winter sleep (although I am going to feel like it soon). Still I am working on my cave: my new bedroom.
I bought my fist Polystyrene to insolate. I am doing the lower part of the slope roof first to organize the belongings that will be stored there. Out of the way means space.

I have put 2 packages up and vacuumed in between the packages; cutting Polystyrene is a dusty job: it flies and sticks everywhere!

I also painted the first beam: “Summer Yellow” the label says. My cousin visited me today and says she knows a cheap address for quality paint. I ordered 10 litres of white for the walls and roof.

The fun is that I have a very tight budget. A challenge I love.
I have put up quite a few ad’s on
Marktplaats to subsidise the decorating and I am not doing too bad.
At the same time I browsed Marktplaats for items I want to use for the interior. And it looks like that I found the lamps I want, the Grand Foulard for the bed and some deco items all fitting in with what I have in mind, like pieces of a puzzle called “bedroom”

I have to admit that it is a huge job for one person but I know already how the end result will look like and I am slowly but steady, working towards it.
I only wished I could live a double life: 18 hours of work and Skype and 24 hours for decorating.

Work of course is still no. 1. It is possible to answer (Skype)calls in a dusty outfit but it is not recommendable to hit the keyboard with sticky paint fingers!!

Tomorrow I am having a meeting with my client in Heerenveen but Ike wouldn’t be Ike if she hadn’t found the elegant white / brass lamps for her new room on her way to the meeting and the “Grand Foulards” on her way back.

Back home, there is a lot of work on the Forum waiting for me. Usually I am also active during the weekend but yesterday and today I have been dedicated to the top floor.

Skype…. Much happened the past week like the introduction of 3.0 Public Beta.
I did not mention it because the Press published about it world wide. What other news could I add?
Though it was fun. One of my contacts, knowing I am a Beta Tester, tried to get info from me by asking intelligent tricky question.
But a signed NDA sealed my lips and causes red warning lights flashing all over whenever someone starts asking about new features.
Though hours after 3.0 Beta was launched, my contact sent me an IM: “Ike, I think I can now predict when the new Beta version will be launched!!”
I felt almost sorry to tell him that happened hours before. Maybe I should have sent him the
link as soon as it was on line…… sorry, I forgot.

Skype also reached the 8.000.000 users on line simultaneously. Two days later then predicted by
Jean Mercier who is always very accurate. He has a nose for it.

I love 3.0, Skype made a huge step forwards and much to the benefit of
Varras Consultancy!

Monday, November 06, 2006

“Mmmmmmmmm…… what am I going to do today…….”

I can’t remember when I said that for the last time. IF I ever said that…

I need a bigger office and don’t have enough space in my living room to extend it.
Renting another place is simply not an option. Well, not yet. Maybe when my neighbour will move to another place, but she is so nice. I don't want her to move.

Not enough garden to extend the living room but I do have a top floor which is currently in use for unwanted items or those without an immediate need for use.

Although I am not a horder, over the past years I gathered more items then I wished to. It is time for a clean out. I know, most people feel this need during Spring. Not me, I am an Autumn cleaner. I definitely feel a need to nestle when the days get shorter. I would thrive in the Scandinavian countries with their long dark winters.
Time to get my top floor in order, to insolate it (a very old fashioned little house), to paint the beams in a sunny yellow, the slope roof in white and the wooden floor in mahogany.

I am going to divide the top floor in two parts and the back part is going to be my new bedroom. It will even be bigger then my current bedroom which is on the ground floor.

I have promised myself to finish it before Christmas. In January I am going to change my “old” bedroom into an office. 3 Times more space then I have now and I can shut the door behind me when I take time off work!

Moving the office is less work then “building” a bedroom so somewhere half way January I am updating my blogs from a real office :-)

At the end of January my living room will be redecorated and back to normal. It is nice to start from “scratch” but it is even nicer to have a separate office!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

eBay is trying to catch up with Marktplaats

Yesterday Don Albert, vice president and general manager, Skype North America announced that
Skype can now be added to listings in the following categories: Motorcycles, Special Vehicles, Cell Phones & Portable Electronics, Camera & Photo, Baby, Travel and additional areas of Collectibles. Using Skype buttons on eBay listings allows eBay buyers to instantly connect with the seller to send messages.

ay introduced this feature some months ago and it was World News.
This surprised me. In Holland we have our own site
MarktplaatsDe advertentie Site van Nederland”. And not only for Holland. We can visit ad’s in 20 countries world wide.

Marktplaats became part of eBay for over a year ago. But even when Marktplaats was still owned by a private company, it offered their clients a Skype Button to allow buyers to get in touch with the sellers.

Like millions of other Dutch people, I visit and use Marktplaats and the option of the Skype button frequently. And for a long, long time already.

So eBay was not the first one although they would like us to believe so, but Marktplaats who had the skill to integrate the button into their website.

Holland, such a small country uh? Still…..

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Dutch VoIP Phone directory “Samen Gratis Bellen”

Are we unique in the world with a VoIP telephone book especially for one country?

Wouter van den Berg, Economy student at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, is much aware of the fact that you can only spend your money once.
When all his friends moved to other locations in Holland, he was more then happy to sign up for free internet calls and reduced his costs to almost zero.

Phoning via the Internet is not unknown, neither is phoning via your computer though it is cost effective and a good replacement for your landline (note that it is still not possible to call emergency numbers! Keep your mobile at hand when you want to unsubscribe from your landline).

Wouter thought that it was the right moment to start the first Dutch VoIP telephone directory “
Samen Gratis Bellen
He developed a “grown up” telephone directory with an easy to navigate and good looking lay-out.
Although I was not one of the very first to sign up, I was definitely one of the earlier ones.

In the meantime many other private and business users found their way to Wouter’s on-line directory.

If you know similar directories in other countries, feel free to list them here in your comment.
Otherwise: may more countries follow Wouter’s great initiative!
Phishing and Vishing

Spammers and Spitters, Phishing and Vishing. The Internet is developing it’s own dictionary.
And Phishing and Vishing has nothing to do with Fishing.
Well, nothing……….. ok, sort off.

With Phishing swindlers are fishing for e.g. creditcard information by e-mail. Not because they love you but because they love to use your money for their own benefit.

Great example are the fake e-mails from PayPal. I tried it out with ridiculous names like username “PietjePuk”, password “Flabberdewatsky” and Creditcard number 0123456789 . Of course I was able to log on to a fake PayPal webpage and received a reply that my account was updated and active again.
Know that these fake e-mails can be reported to PayPal via Those for eBay at

Vishing is the name given to the use of Voice-Over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone calls to obtain credit card information from unsuspecting consumers.
Using VoIP technology, criminals are now relying on the trust people place in telephone messages to extract the information needed to steal money or buy goods.
One key element to Vishing attacks is the ability of VoIP technology systems to recognize telephone keystrokes.

A Vishing attack might happen like this:
- The person receiving a call is told by a recorded voice that their credit card information has been compromised and to call the identified number immediately.
- When the person calls that number another recorded message would identify the service as the account verification service and request the caller enter their 16-digit account number.
The person has now become a victim of the scam.

We do not only need to get used to a whole new language, but also to a whole new type of Swindlers.
The only way to be safe is never and I repeat NEVER, give out your credit card information.
If the company you bought your products is asking for your credit card or bank information, they often only need the first and last 4 digits, not the whole number.

Read more about
UAE and Skype, still no joy

It is not the fist time I blogged about the UAE banning Skype. You can find my previous posts here:
12 3.

It keeps everybody busy: the press, the bloggers and last but not least and most important of all: the users.

How disappointed it must be that after it had been reported by one national English language newspaper that: “The UAE is to lift a ban on internet telephony from December.”
7DAYS spoke to a source at the TRA who told them: “These reports are not accurate. The lifting of the VoIP ban has not been decided in any way at all. When such an announcement is ready to be made, then the TRA will let everyone know”

Read the whole article
Don’t tell me it is the end of the week again….

I don’t know about you, but running your own business is often a 24/7 job. And especially when it is busy with numerous little jobs, I easily forget which day I live.
I don’t mean the date. No, I am much aware of that: billing time!
I mean the days of the week. On Tuesday I was almost certain it was Friday. And now with a few minutes to go before it is indeed Friday, I just can’t believe the week went that fast.

It will also be a week ago that my Mother arrived home from the hospital by ambulance.
We got her settled with a special bed, extra help from a nurse (also during the night but this wasn’t of much help as Mum woke up as soon as the nurse arrived and couldn’t sleep for hours after the nurse left! So we cancelled that). I now know how to listen to Mum’s lungs and are allowed to give her extra medication when she starts filling up with fluid again.
Morphine is also on the “menue” for breathing problems. Hopefully we don’t need it but it is a comfortable thought it is there. This way I hope to keep Mum out of hospital for a while.

I spent much time with my Mother during the weekend, promising myself to catch up with the work on Monday and so I did. Unfortunately I had to take Mum’s little dog to the Vet. Diagnosed with a paralyzed bowl, the only human way to handle this, was to put her to sleep. Not necessary to mention Mum and I had a little cry.

This past week was one of little jobs: answering forwarded landline calls, Skype calls, phoning clients of my client, my Moderator work on the Forum, minor Beta testing, more volunteering translations, billing (best part of my administration ;-) ) , the design of new forms to list the little job overviews, replying to the odd questions on Skype,
networking, reading Skype related articles for my blog (it is all about new hardware for Skype these days) and the occasional private chat.

Yesterday late night I had a conversation with my client
Opvion who is currently in New Zealand, planning to come back to Holland early next year instead of next week. Apart from talking about business, we also had a good laugh and I logged off at 1.30 AM with a big smile.

I don’t think I have to mention that I had difficulties waking up this morning….

As a brake from the office work, the building cooperation I rent my little house from arrived with a new heater for my bathroom. This reminded me of which day it was and I was surprised.
Do all days look like one another then? No, no boring days in my life it is just that the 24 hours seem to fly. Any suggestion how to make 48 hours of 24?

Today ended with a Skype call of my London client
Matter Solutions who is going to move to Australia tomorrow. Varras Consultancy stays put and is going to answer all Uk calls.

And, last but not least, this blog post.

Friday, for many the last day of the week. For others day 5 of 7. I am looking forward to a brake on Saturday afternoon and hopefully a longer brake on Sunday, weather permitted. Although I don’t mind rain (after all Autumn is my favourite season), today it was an icy rain, like little frozen needles.
I ordered sunshine for Sunday and a lot of wind. Dog and I are planning a walk along the
Waddenzee near our favourite village “Moddergat” Feel like joining us?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Spammers and Spitters

Where are the days that only the odd fool phoned people for “fun”?
I lived in a village where telephone numbers had only 3 digits after the area code. Our former number was 249.

The famous Dutch stand-up comedian
Herman Finkers told his devoted listeneres he lived in a village where only 5 people had a phone connection: the Mayor had telephone number 1, the Doctor no. 2, the Baroness a secret number, the Solicitor no, 4…….

SPAM”, a meat product in the UK got adopted in a Monty Python skit in which S
PAM was featured.
In this skit, a group of Vikings sang a chorus of "spam, spam, spam . . . " in an increasing crescendo, drowning out other conversation. Hence, the analogy applied because UCE was drowning out normal discourse on the Internet.

Nowadays, everyone who has been and still is connected to the Internet, at least received one Spam message in his / her e-mail box.
Fortunately there are great anti Spam programs. My favourite one is definitely
Mailwasher which I am using successfully for over 4 years now.

On Skype’s Forum we do read the occasional complain about being Spammed via Skype; “companies” sending ad’s as a chat messages. Something I dislike. Skype is an ad-free program, one (there are many more!) of the reasons I prefer Skype. If someone is sending me unwanted information about their product or telling me they want my bank account for a temporary deposit of 16.000.000 Dollars of a lonely soul who died in a plain crash two years ago (can you believe that the senders, 99% from Nigeria, still think we believe this story???), I am annoyed.

But there is a new phenomenon: Spam via VoIP, also called SPIT, Spamming over Internet Telephony.
This means that Spitters can now send annoying, repetitious advertisements similar to the Spam choking our e-mail inboxes but in pre-recorded voice format. Not only can they send you voice messages, but they can also take over your VoIP network and send messages to other users that appear to originate from you.

It isn’t only VoIP that’s under siege, also Skype if you can believe the media. But Skype isn’t VoIP, it’s Net telephony—Skype uses the public Internet, VoIP works over a closed user group (CUG). Also Skype is a P2P (Peer-to-peer) application while VoIP applications follow the client-server model.

We know of Skype users being under attack, receiving Spit voicemail messages but this is via a SkypeIn number. If it is a Skype to Skype voicemail message, the name of the other Spitter is visible as a caller and action can be taken. You can report this as abuse because Skype takes this very seriously. Send as many as possible details to

Spitters are going to be a new genration of annoying VoIP bulliers. How are we going to deal with them?

Read more about SPIT.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Using your “car” to navigate your PC, to call your Skype contacts and to listen to music?

Cars, I like them very much. My most favourite brand is Volvo. I drive and own Volvo’s since 1982 and will until I am not fit enough anymore to drive any car. Or maybe Volvo will have designed a 40 Km vehicle by then.

I rather talk about cars on birthday parties then about make-up, designer cloths or holidays in Spain.
I have been driving Volvo 444, 544, Duett, P1800 ES, Amazone, 245, 745, 850, V70, V50 and currently I own a V40. Volvo mad… or is it an illness??

Although not a Volvo, there is a “car” which is a mouse that can also be used to make calls over the internet:
Street Mouse VOIP, in the shape of the famous Beetle.

Street Mouse VOIP comes sporting its infamous sexy lines and sports car style, not to mention fully working LEDs in the car's headlights. While a glance under the bonnet will reveal a high quality ergonomically designed 800dpi optical mouse with two buttons and one scroll for easy desktop navigation.

But of course all that's just for starters. The feature which catapults this terrific novelty mouse to the daddy of all is its fully integrated mic and speaker which makes it perfect for making those low-cost VOIP calls that all the cool kids are talking about. Just connect your mouse via its USB adapter and you've got all the equipment you need to make phonecalls over the internet.

There's also some good quality headphones included which you can plug into the 3.5mm jack plug if you want to listen in private, while the speaker will also blast out your MP3s if you'd rather listen to music. All in all, the Internet Phone and Speaker VOIP Street Mouse is one sexy beast, but don't be deceived, it's much more than just a pretty face.

And if you prefer a TVR, please view the details
here. I wait for a Volvo ;-)

Main features Beetle:

· Unique ergonomic design and style
· Accurate 800 dpi optical mouse
· Internet phone for making VOIP calls - works with Skype
· Built-in mic - headphones included
· USB and PS2 adaptors included
· Suitable for PC and Laptop
· 2 buttons with scroll wheel
· Rear taillights and working LED headlights
· Available in cherry red and silver
· No mouse pad required

“Coolest Gadgets”

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My days….

…….start at 7 Am and end… well… if I am lucky, between 11 PM and 1 AM.

I start my day with making myself presentable enough to be allowed outdoors. Then it is feeding time for my animals. As a former Para Veterinarian nurse, I have a few, recently extended with my mother’s little dog “Cindy” Then breakfast and a walk with Cindy and my own dog Invandra.

On my way home a stop at Mum’s house. Not for the usual hot coco but to look after her house because Mum is in Hospital again. Unfortunately her health is worse. Her Heart failure causes a lot of fluid in her body and last Saturday her lungs filled up very quickly. She was rushed off to Hospital early evening.
It was heart braking to see her suffer so much, she nearly drowned in her own fluid.

Although they can’t get rid of all the fluid in her lungs anymore, right now breathing is easier.
We expect her home again on Friday. The Hospital and I are arranging a special bed and an extra nurse to look after Mum more often.

I live in a small community but the professional help for elderly and sick people is excellent.
Heads up for ‘our’ hospital "
Nij Smellinghe" and “Thuiszorg De Friese Wouden” who know how to treat every patient and their families with dignity. There are not enough words to express my feelings about the way they surround especially Mum, with all possible care.
I know Mum will not be with us for long anymore. The fluid problem will get worse and we all hope that her Heart will give up before she has to suffer more. And knowing there are professional people to help and to support, is so comfortable.

After I made sure that everything is alright at Mum’s home, the cat well looked after, I start my working day at my office with connecting to the Skype accounts of my clients so I can take their calls and reply to the chats.
Then I log on to Skype’s forum to do my Moderator job.

The administration of Varras is a returning daily job, unfortunately my Client file broke and we seem unable to repair it. I received new software and are busy updating with my old information.

My co-worker Stephanie and “
Tallstugan” are and have been working on a translation for “SDS Medical” and I just finished the translation of two Skype Plug-ins (“SkyDates” from Datalyrics and a new program of which I am also one of the Beta testers) . Waiting for me is checking another translation.

Skype’s closed Beta testing is also part of my day although I am less active as some of my Beta colleagues.

My contacts are very supportive and ask me regularly how Mum is doing. I appreciate this so much and are more then happy to reply to their chat messages.

In between I try to update my business and personal webpage as both need a new layout.

I also need to look after myself with the occasional meal and after my little house with housekeeping.
Before I know, it is 6 PM, time to walk the dogs and to go to the Hospital to hug Mum.
It is only a 30 minutes drive and although no visitors allowed after 7.30 PM, no-one ever asked me to leave.
It is so good to visit Mum in a relaxing atmosphere.

When returning home again, I first look after Mum’s cat and make sure the house is ready for the night.
Then back to the office (read home), ready for the calls from friends and family.

Soon it is 10 PM and time to finish the office work and a last visit to Skype’s forum.

Yes, I am tired when finally going to bed but thankful that I am able to manage the care for Mum and doing my work.
Soon Mum will be home again so I can spend more time with her. Not knowing how much longer she will be with us, I am going to make the best of our time together. With the help of all those loving people.
T-Mobile Pilots WiFi/Cell Service - news from Seattle

With little fanfare,
T-Mobile USA has launched its long-anticipated dual-mode WiFi-cellular service, known as "HotSpot@Home," in a pilot program aimed at residential customers in Seattle. The pilot, which got underway yesterday, marks a milestone in the company's drive to make good on CEO Robert Dotson's pledge to make traditional landline phones obsolete.

It also puts the Big Three U.S. carriers --
Cingular Wireless LLC , Verizon Wireless , and Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S - message board) -- that T-Mobile is willing to risk losing paid cellular minutes to unlimited, flat-rate calls over WiFi connections, in a bid to deliver seamless roaming over different sorts of networks with different types of service plans.

T-Mobile customers in greater Seattle can purchase T-Mobile HotSpot@Home products and services at the two dozen Seattle-area T-Mobile retail stores. Based on Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology, the service allows calls to transferred to and from T-Mobile’s cellular (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) network and Wi-Fi hotspots, either at home (with WiFi routers provided for free after a rebate) or in T-Mobile's extensive network of paid WiFi zones. The new service costs $19.99 per month on top of the customers' existing rate plans, as long as those plans cost $39.99 or more, and allows unlimited calling over WiFi connections.

Read more

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Tallinn? Oh….Estonia!

This still happens when people ask me where Skype’s offices are based.
Tallinn?” Yes, in Estonia. “Ah, yes. It once belonged to Russia

I blogged briefly about Tallin after
my short visit there, impressed by their new office and shop buildings. About Tallinn catching up with modern times.

As one of the the three Baltic republics who regained their independence in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Estonia has managed to put itself on the edge of far more than just geography. The tiny nation of 1.36 million was the first former Soviet republic to introduce its own currency, and the first European country to adopt a flat tax system, now widely copied in the rest of Eastern Europe. It has also become one of the most technologically advanced places on the planet. You can use your mobile phone to pay for parking your car, buy bus tickets and check your children's school grades. More than 80% of taxpayers file their declarations online, wi-fi hot spots are ubiquitous — and free — and Skype which was acquired last year by eBay for $2.6 billion. That amount is slightly more than the annual output of the entire Estonian economy 15 years ago.The economy, once a basket case, is now one of Europe's most dynamic, racing along at a 12% growth clip — faster than China. Estonia is one of only two new European Union members to have a budget surplus, and its national debt will have all but disappeared by the end of the decade.

The country’s true innovative edge is believed to have more to do with the willingness of the public to use technology than with any particular national skill at developing it. Estonians are fast early adopters and very good at getting innovation to work. For example, the whole financial system leapfrogged into electronic banking in the mid-1990s, bypassing all messy dealings with checks and other paper transactions. And the government has done its best to boost computer literacy, including running free two-day classes that have been attended by 100,000 people.

Read more

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Skypers can Talk for Britain!

Free Skype UK to UK landline calls for next 6 months.

Skype is offering its UK subscribers free calls to UK landlines for the next six months, provided they buy a minimum of £10 Skype Credit.

“This “giving stuff away” lark must be addictive, because Skype just can’t seem to shake the habit.
Their latest freebie promotion for UK Skypers,
Talk for Britain, gives you six months of free calls to UK landlines if you buy some Skype credit.

That means you’ll be able to keep your Skype credit for other things: calls to mobiles, calls to overseas landlines, that kind of thing.
The offer starts today and ends on December 31.”

Skype Blog UK

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Off the Skype Record

I have been updating my blog with pure Skype related issues and hardware posts recently.
Nah, not because I am lazy. But more because there was so little time to continue e.g. my “gallery of special people” or to post about my Consultancy and my life.

Life is hectic, as you read in an
earlier blog post, my mother has been in Hospital. She is at home again (with a big thank you to all who were and still are so supportive) but not at all well. Her heart attack made her vulnerable and she is in a worse physical condition ever.

My mother is 78 but lived an intense and full life. Now her heart is worn out leaving her so very tired.
I spend as much as possible time with her outside my office hours. I live only 65 metres away so can be there in seconds when needed.
A nurse is now looking after her during the mornings and evenings, friends are visiting her (making their own coffee and doing there own dishes, HUG!!) and yesterday the whole family was together to discuss the necessary bits around her eventual death.
Mum likes to be prepared, wants to choose her own text and music and who will receive an announcement of her death.
It wasn’t as easy as it sounds but that is how we all are: we love to look after are own business until it is impossible :-)

For Mum the day was extra special as she could hold her great grandson who celebrated his 1st birthday last Friday.
But she was so tired after everyone left. I spent some extra time and left her shortly before the nurse arrived.

Varras Consultancy and my work as member of the Skype Community Team, takes time as well. Up till now I manage to combine this with many other little related jobs but skip any personal life for some time.
I am not complaining, my mother is a wonderful person and it is a joy to be there for her.

Varras Consultancy is growing, there are new future plans of which I will keep you updated when they are more concrete. I never imagined the wonderful “consequences” of starting my business but
as mentioned before, it is a business with a great sense of humour and I am so curious for the future.

I am blessed. Blessed in many, many ways; a very special and loving Mum, special family, friends and clients.
I think it is about time you ALL deserve a BIG thank you. You are part of my wonderful world.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Good news for the Jordan Skypers: Skype services back on track

AMMAN — The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission has decided to allow Skype services to resume a month after they were blocked.

Director of the commission's regulatory department, Al Ansari Al Mashaqbah, confirmed yesterday that the recent decision to block Skype had been reversed. The official told The Jordan Times that the security issues, cited as the reason for the block, had been resolved.

The commission had sent a fax to all Internet service providers in the Kingdom on September 13 to notifiy them of the decision to block the use of Skype.Technical support representatives at Batelco and Wanadoo confirmed that they had received word from the commission ordering them to block the Skype website and that all Internet service providers in the country had been asked to abide by this new policy.

The fax said Skype had been blocked because of security reasons. The popular software programme uses an encryption method that came under attack recently. Technical support representatives at Wanado said the reasons Skype was being targeted was because of possible terrorist activity, and the inability to monitor Skype conversations.

A similar instance in China's Shenzhen Province saw Skype services blocked for a short time until it abided by local laws. China Telecom, which ordered it blocked, reversed its decision after security issues were resolved. Meanwhile, Skype users in the country reacted to the order to block VoIP services with dismay. David DeBartolo uses Skype to communicate with colleagues around the world while living in Amman.

DeBartolo, a Fulbright researcher with the Binational Fulbright Commission, was one of the first to discover that Skype services had been suspended. Upon contacting the commission, he received a response that Skype services had been blocked for security reasons.
"Justification that it was blocked for security reasons is unfounded and absolute nonsense," said Omar Qawas, a professional in the IT business, who has been using Skype for two years to stay in contact with friends and colleagues around the world. Qawas told The Jordan Times that Skype was "a reliable alternative to using regular phones or mobiles, and much more cost-effective."

The Jordan Times

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Keyboard with integrated Skype phone

In an earlier blog I reported about the
Buffalo Skype-tafied Keyboard.

One of my UK contacts recently bought a similar product, the
IP-Talky Keyboard which allows him to call anywhere for free with Skype™. "I just plugged in the IP-Talky keyboard and dialed/connected to my contacts. Here are the details:

Free Calls to Anywhere
Compatible with telephony services
Compatible with telephony services such as MSN™, AOL™, Yahoo™, and Skype™
Compatible with telephony services
An easy and familiar device
It’s just like a regular house phone. Pick it up and start chatting.
An easy and familiar device
designed an a-shape look layout
Enhanced to prevent Repetitive strain injury caused from typing
designed an a-shape look layout
USB Digital Audio In / out ports
Replaced the normal AC97 sound card & ensures superior quality of digital voice transmission, integrated echo cancellation and noise reduction technology delivers life like sound quality
USB Digital Audio In / out ports
Excellent Voice Quality
Integrated echo cancellation and noise reduction technology delivers life like conversation quality
Excellent Voice Quality
Never miss a call again
Familiar built-in ringer when there is incoming calls
Never miss a call again
Multi Functional Internet Hot Keys
Support Multimedia Type Design, 17 Multi-functional Hot Keys can support Sleep, Volume Regulate , E-mail and Internet
Multi Functional Internet Hot Keys
13 Multimedia/internet hot keys
Powerful one-touch controls for instant access to your favorite music files and Internet destination
13 Multimedia/internet hot keys
Earphone/Telephone Switch button
On the bottom of phone, there is a switch button between the telephone and earphone for users’ personal preferences
Earphone/Telephone Switch button
Ultra-Slim Keycaps with laser printing alphabets
Reduces the common typing noise, enhances stability, and finest quality
Ultra-Slim Keycaps with laser printing alphabets
Perfect match with slim LCD monitors
Sleek / Slim / Stylish

Bought at
webplus.silicon-group for 23 Uk Pound Sterling."

(It is obvious he his happy with his new "toy"... :-))
Skype lands deal for Wi-Fi access in Europe

Skype's Internet calling service will soon be accessible at The Cloud's Wi-Fi hot spots across Europe, the two companies announced on Tuesday.

Although normal online access to Skype's voice over Internet Protocol services is free to those connecting via PC, access to The Cloud's Wi-Fi network
will require the use of a Skype-enabled phone from SMC Networks and payment of a 6.99-pound monthly service fee (about $13).
"We are delighted to partner with SMC Networks and extend the service we provide today with Skype to Wi-Fi-enabled handsets," Niall Murphy, The Cloud's chief technology officer, said on Tuesday.

"This agreement delivers on our commitment to provide the widest range of Wi-Fi services to customers across Europe," Murphy continued, adding that the deal "marks the start of a real low-cost alternative to traditional telecoms services."

Read more