This open stuff is really taking off!
Google announced Android, their open source mobile phone platform, OpenID 2.0 has been launched and even AT&T are announcing that they are Opening their networks!
Against that backdrop I was surprised to hear today that Skype have decided to eviscerate their Skype Developer Program (SDP). The SDP is responsible for Skype’s APIs.
Paul Amery, the director, Lester Madden, Product manager, Romain Bertrand and others from marketing were all reportedly axed today. In one fell swoop Skype appears to have culled half of the developer program.
This would appear to be related to the Niklas’ departure. The new management obviously want to send out a message to developers that “We are not interested in Open dev”
Obviously Skype know something about the folly of building extensible platforms that eludes the rest of us!
UPDATE: – I see Andy Abramson has picked up on this story too.
Skype are claiming that with their outage last week was due to massive numbers of people re-starting their computers after downloading Microsoft’s monthly software update!
I am sure they are correct, despite how implausible it sounds.
I am just curious about how Skype managed to keep the service running every other month that Microsoft has released patches.
UPDATE: – Skype have published a more detailed explanation of the outage.
Along with the rest of the world, it seems, I received my invite to try out the beta of the Venice Project. This is an IPTV project set up by Kazaa and Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis (so straight away you have to start taking it seriously).
Mike Arrington has written it up on TechCrunch, Om Malik has posted some screenshots and a glowing report on its functionality and James Corbett has gloated that he had an invite long before the A-Listers!
It all looks interesting but unfortunately I can’t use it. Why? The system requirements call for a machine running Windows XP with Service Pack 2. No Mac software!
The BBC is reporting that there will very shortly be a plugin for Skype which acts as a lie detector by analysing:
audio streams over a Skype call in real time and illustrates the stress levels of the other person
Most of my PodLeaders podcasts are recorded Skype conversations – this could add a whole new dimension to the interviews!!!
Audacity is an open source, cross-platform sound editing application. It is the sound editor I use for producing the PodLeaders and it@cork podcasts.
The process I use for producing the podcasts was:
- Record the interview using Skype and Wiretap Pro (with Wiretap Pro set to save as mp3)
- Import the mp3 file to Audacity and edit
- Export as mp3 and publish
After a recent conversation with Doug Kaye, I decided to try his Levelator application to get the levels on the recordings the same. This meant I had to change Wiretap Pro to output to aiff ( a lossless format) instead of mp3.
I did this and recorded a number of interviews successfully, saving the interviews as aiff. However, yesterday, when I went to edit the first of those interviews, I was disappointed that the Levelator couldn’t work with the files (gave an error and stopped trying to level them).
However, I was horrified when I tried importing the files into Audacity only to find that the imported files had massive echo problems, echo problems (!). No matter what I tried I couldn’t get rid of the echo and it made the audio useless.
Finally, I hit on a solution:
- Import the aiff files into iTunes
- Export from iTunes as mp3
Import the mp3 file into Audacity – no echo (phew!)
I should have hit on this solution sooner but it had been a long day!
Skype have released Skype for Mac with Video Preview. You can download it here.
It is beta software so be aware that when you install it, you may have issues. Having said that, I installed it on my iMac G5 and so far so good!
This is a photo of my first video call on Skype. Don’t forget that you have to click the camera button on the screen for the other party to be able to see you. I was scratching my head for the first couple of seconds of our call wondering why I could see Scott and he couldn’t see me! D’oh!
Also, Skype have disabled the ability to take screenshots (are they worried about porn calls?). Fortunately I had my cameraphone to hand and was able to take the shot above of our call.
The audio and video quality is very good. The video is less choppy than I would have expected. The only issue I had was that my processor was maxxed out but this is a known issue.
The other big change with this version is the Mac Skype interface has been drastically cleaned up and it is way better.
Kudos to the Skype team for this preview.
[Edited to add a link to Scott’s site]
[UPDATE] – I see Ars Technica have caught up with this story now.
Skype is a cool little application. It allows you to make calls over the Internet for free to other Skype users and very cheaply to phones. Recent versions have included the ability to Skypecast (Skype with up to 100 people) and to video conference.
One of the major issues with Skype has always been that because it is a peer-to-peer program it can cause problems on networks – especially if it becomes a Supernode. Another issue with Skype is that it uses a proprietary protocol for its voip connections (as opposed to using an open protocol like SIP), thus no other programs can interact with and connect to Skype.
Now however, news is emerging from Asia that the Skype protocol has been hacked. Seemingly a Chinese company has hacked the protocol and are promising to come out with an application before the end of August which can connect to Skype and allow users to turn off Supernoding!
As Mike Arrington and Alec Saunders said:
But what they [Skype] should do is use this as an opportunity to open up the protocol and allow third party developers to build Skype compatible applications (under Skypeâ€™s terms).
What are the chances?
Skype today launched their Skype 2.0 application, complete with video calling capabilities!
I’m a little confused, though because although Skype refer to the application as Skype 2.0 in their press release, it is called Skype 1.4 on the Mac download page. Ok, just downloaded Skype 1.4 Beta for Mac OS X and I can’t find any video capabilities 😦
And me with my new iSight built in to my shiny new iMac g5 and all 😦
Yet again we find a software company releasing a product with PC only code – with even Robrt Scoble admitting that the number of influencers who own Macs is way out of proportion, this strategy is not wise.
It seems the new version of Firefox (version 1.5) has a bug in it which kills OS X on G5 Macs – if you have a G5 Mac, hold off on installing.