Category: IP-based telecommunications

Skype to work on concurrent notification annoyances

Article

Skype Just Fixed the Single Most Annoying Thing About Notifications | Gizmodo

From the horse’s mouth

Skype

Blog Post

My Comments

Skype with uncluttered Modern user interface

If you work with Skype on your Windows tablet, your Android smartphone doesn’t beep when your Skype correspondent replies

A common annoyance with instant messaging or social-networking usage is all your devices beeping and lighting up when your correspondent replies to you while you are chatting with them. This is typically because most of us want to install native client-side applications for our favourite instant-messaging services and social networks on each of our devices and have them logged in to the services at the same time.

Skype are tackling this in an application-wide manner by determine which actual Skype client you are actually interacting with at a particular time during a conversation. This then allows the service to mute all other Skype apps that are currently logged in to reduce this problem when it comes to your text messages.

The behaviour will return to normal when you aren’t interacting with Skype or when a call notification comes in so you don’t miss conversation opportunities. A question that can be raised with this functionality is what if you want to “jump” from one device to another such as to instigate your text conversation on your laptop but want to continue it on your tablet which you use while lying on the couch. Here, if you are starting a reply on the second device such as the tablet in the above situation, the app  on the second device should detect the activity and enable its audio prompts.

It may be easy to think of having platform-wide methods of detecting actual interaction so as to, for example, squelch other devices’ alert sounds when you are chatting. But this would have to be achieved on an application level with the application’s server or host knowing which device you are interacting with when you operating that device due to the requirement to work in a cross-platform environment.

At least Skype have answered a situation that ICQ and other instant-messaging systems haven’t anticipated – one owning many different devices for surfing the Internet and having them monitor instant-messaging services.

Send to Kindle

Unlimited calls to France from Australia like they have with that “box” there

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Telstra

Product Page

My Comments

Telstra T-logo courtesy of Telstra Corporation AustraliaThose of you who regularly follow HomeNetworking01.info have seen me draw attention to various “triple-play” plans being offered by Orange, Free. SFR & co in France as part of my coverage on the competitive telecommunications and Internet-service market there.

Most of these plans offer a landline telephony component with unlimited national calling and international calling to various countries, mostly Western Europe, France’s “Outre-Mer” regions and the main business hubs of the world like USA,  Depending on the plan and the carrier, these may be for landlines only or both landline and mobile numbers for some destinations.

Telstra have now provided a “bolt-on” option for home landline customers where they can have unlimited calling to various overseas destinations. Here, you could call all regular landlines and mobiles in France and the USA while you could call regular landlines only in Germany, Italy, UK and New Zealand on this plan for AUD$15 per month.

At the moment, this is targeted mainly at home users with a regular Telstra landline but could be expanded to small businesses who make regular overseas calls such as dealing with overseas suppliers. It is a service that I would see pleasing a lot of the expats out there who want to call home regularly.

Send to Kindle

Who’s missing out on the party and why? Viber, WhatsApp, OneDrive and Box.com

HP OfficeJet 6700 Premium business inkjet multifunction printer

We could see Box.com and OneDrive appear on these printers alongside Dropbox

Viber and WhatsApp are showing themselves as capable over-the-top communications systems while OneDrive and Box.com are coming up as valid cloud-hosted storage services. But there is something very common with most of these companies where they aren’t being as proactive as Skype or Dropbox.

This is more so in the concept of licensing the front-end software for their services to device manufacturers to integrate the functionality in to their devices’ software. Skype have made strong headway with integrating their software in to a large range of smart TVs and video peripherals so that people can purchase a camera kit for these devices to convert them in to group videophones. Similarly, they helped someone else pitch an IP videophone and integrated add-on universal video camera kit in order to extend this function to additional devices. Dropbox has gained extra foothold with recent Brother printers as a “print-from-Dropbox” function while allowing owners of certain WD NAS units to make these devices serve as an on-ramp to Dropbox and Olympus integrating Dropbox upload functionality in to their latest Wi-Fi-capable voice recorder.

DLNA media directory provided by server PC

A smart TV enabled for Skype could also be enabled for Viber or WhatsApp

Ways this could happen for Viber, Skype and WhatsApp could be in the form of IP phones that integrate functionality for these services or IP-based business phone systems that allow the creation of voice / video trunks, tie-lines or messaging trunks offered by these services. Here, Skype, Viber and WhatsApp could monetise their services better by offering business telephony services with high reliability at an appropriate premium.

OneDrive,  Dropbox, Box.com and other cloud-storage services could work with device manufacturers to provide network upload functionality or a NAS vendor could offer “on-ramp” functionality or “store-and-forward” synchronisation functionality for their devices to cater for multiple NAS devices installed at different locations.

What really has to happen is for Viber, OneDrive and co to work with device manufacturers to build up interest in integrating their functionality in to the devices rather than leaving it to Skype and Dropbox to dominate the scene.

Send to Kindle

Assistance Journal–Using a separate network connection to troubleshoot Skype

A few weeks ago, I had visited my barber to help him out with this home IT needs as part of a “quid pro quo” arrangement. He had a few issues with Skype underperforming because with him being an Italian migrant, he relies on this videoconferencing tool to communicate with his family back in Italy.

A test I had done as part of troubleshooting Skype was to run an Internet-based videocall. This was done using my smartphone running the Android version of Skype and connected directly to the Telstra 4G network while his laptop was connected to the home network via Wi-Fi and the network was serviced by a cable-modem broadband Internet service. Here, I had started the Skype videocall further away from the laptop so as to avoid acoustic feedback or unnecessary echo while using my headphones to hear my barber on my smartphone when he was speaking in to his laptop.

Here, I hadn’t noticed any problems with the Skype conversation when the Internet connection was used, with the call not sounding stuttery or the video not being choppy. But an international VoIP connection can show up problems at different times of the day such as during peak Internet times like daytime for one of the countries.

This is similar to a Skype “dry-run” I suggested to someone else whose daughter was heading off to the UK as part of an exchange-student programme. Infact, doing a test call where both devices are on a separate Internet connection can be used to determine whether Skype, Viber or similar VoIP applications are behaving properly. In the case of Viber, there is a desktop softphone client available for this VoIP service.

Separate Internet connection

The requirement is that one device is connected to a wireless-broadband modem or another network serviced by a separate Internet connection. This can be easy for a smartphone or tablet that is associated with a wireless-broadband service, but you would have to disable the Wi-Fi network functionality so that the mobile device doesn’t associate with the home network. In the case of a laptop, you may have to connect via a wireless-broadband modem, “Mi-Fi” router or another network service by a separate Internet service. This could be your work’s network, a neighbour’s home network or a wireless hotspot at a library or café.

Acoustic isolation between the devices

Similarly, headphones or a handset like one of the “trendy old-look” handsets that you connect to a smartphone can come in handy here to avoid echo and acoustic feedback if you are in the same house. Here you would need to use this with one of the devices or use one device well away from the other device such as in another room, preferably behind a closed door.

These arrangements can he useful for either practising the use of Skype or similar VoIP software on a new device or interface; or troubleshooting a balky VoIP connection,

Send to Kindle

Viber now competes with Skype as a free desktop softphone program

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Viber – Free calls, Free text messages, photo and location sharing

My Comments

Viber 3.0 Desktop Client for WindowsPreviously, we have known of Viber as an “over-the-top” VoIP telephony program that offers a free telephony and SMS path for smartphone users. This has been of strong appeal to overseas travellers who want to escape the horrendous roaming charges that most mobile operators are charging people who use the phone out of their home country.

Now Viber have reached version 3.0 and released a desktop version of the softphone which will run on Windows or Macintosh regular computers. This has provided features like desktop-to-desktop videocalls and the ability to transfer a call between the regular computer and a mobile device. This is a sign that Viber has matured and started to approach Skype.

But for Viber to answer Skype, they have to offer IP-based videocalls on mobile clients. Similarly, they would need to provide the client software “knowhow” to enable the user interface to work on devices other than platform-based regular or mobile computing devices. This is somewhere where Skype has a considerable strength in with the Samsung and Sony smart TVs, the Panasonic Blu-Ray players, the desk phones, and the Logitech TV Cam HD Skype camera.

It can be easy to state that Viber’s free IP telephony model isn’t sustainable but they could offer services like partnership with some of the carriers like the French “n-box” carriers. They can also offer paid-for off-ramp services where a Viber customer could dial a regular phone that isn’t part of the Viber ecosystem. It can extend to a software-based “trunk” or “tie-line” for IP-based business phone systems as a subscription-driven business-to-business service.

Now that Viber has hit the stage of maturity, we could be seeing the opening of lively competition on the “over-the-top” IP-based voice and video telephony front for both consumers and small businesses.

Send to Kindle

A reasonably-priced add-on solution for integrating Skype with your TV

You have that existing flatscreen TV that isn’t enabled for Skype but want to add this function to it. It may range from a cheap-brand 32”-37” flatscreen that you have bought just to get in to digital TV or have something that fits in easily with your lounge area. On the other hand, you may have bought that European-brand unit that excels in the video-quality stakes but isn’t part of the “smart-TV” bandwagon. In some cases, you may have one of those smaller “computer monitor size” LCD TVs that are typically pitched for use in a bedroom.

But how do you enable this set for Skype videocalls on the large screen without having to rope in a computer for this purpose. This is very important if you are setting up for an older relative who isn’t sure about how to operate technology. The prices quoted here are the manufacturer’s recommended retail prices but the street prices in your area or online may be significantly cheaper.

Add Skype using a video peripheral

Before you answer this question, you would need to make sure that the area where the TV is in has access to Internet service via a regular small network like what is used at home. Here, you must be able to gain access to the Internet service without having to complete a Web-based login sequence or satisfy “enterprise-grade” login requirements, a problem that may affect users who live in retirement villages, resorts or caravan parks that provide public Wi-Fi wireless Internet.

If you have a decent functioning Blu-Ray player or home-theatre system in place, I would suggest that you go for the Logitech TV Cam HD which runs for AUD$249. This unit works as a dedicated “universal” Skype video camera that functions with any TV that has an HDMI connection.

But you don’t have a decent functioning Blu-Ray player or the DVD player just packed it in and you want to integrate this functionality in to the next Blu-Ray player you purchase.

As far as brands are concerned, Panasonic seems to be the only one who can offer a reasonably-priced entry-level solution involving a Blu-Ray player. Here, the prices I am quoting include the cost of the player and the cost of Panasonic’s TY-CC20W Webcam which sells for $130 and works with most recent Skype-enabled Panasonic video equipment.

A basic Blu-Ray option that offers Skype enablement would be the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 used along with the TY-CC20W camera. It would be the way to go if you have an AV receiver or don’t necessarily care about surround sound. This player has integrated Wi-Fi wireless connectivity

For those of you who value a home-theatre solution, Panasonic do run a systen which would cost AUD$730 This would be made up with the SC-BTT480 which is a Wi-Fi-ready Blu-Ray home theatre along with the same Panasonic camera. This would have the full surround-sound package along with FM radio, Blu-Ray playback and Viera Connect Smart TV functionality.

These units support use the Viera Connect functionality which would facilitate IPTV and video on demand functionality that is offered through this platform.

As well, most of these units use an Ethernet connection which can yield a more reliable network video connection than Wi-Fi wireless when your place is wired for Ethernet or you are using a HomePlug AV powerline segment.

Once you know what is available for a reasonable price, you can think of enabling that regular flatscreen TV set with Skype in a universal manner for an easy-to-use videocall setup.

Send to Kindle

Gigaclear to partner with Vonage in providing VoIP service to the FTTP-enabled villages

Article

thinkbroadband :: Vonage and Gigaclear in partnership deal

From the horse’s mouth

Gigaclear

Press Release

Vonage

UK company webpage

My Comments

As you may already know, Gigaclear have been known for rolling out focused fibre-to-the-premises deployments to various Oxfordshire and Berkshire villages in the UK to enable them for next-generation broadband. A lot of these services are known to provide up to a gigabyte in upload and download capacity.

Now they have partnered with Vonage, a US-based over-the-top VoIP telephony provider to exploit this bandwidth for providing VoIP telephony. One would see this as a way to eliminate dependence on British Telecom for landline voice telephony for people who sign up to Gigaclear FTTP services.

Here, the main advantage would be for the new Vonage customers who are behind the Gigaclear services to avoid having to pay the £9.99 activation fee when they set up for VoIP service and will benefit from calling anywhere in the UK for £5.99 per month. As well, Vonage do sell a VoIP analogue-telephone adaptor that is set up for these services as part of the service so you can use that existing landline phone with your VoIP service.

But one could easily ask whether Gigaclear could resell the VoIP service on behalf of Vonage so that customers could buy the telephony and Internet as a package. Similarly, another question could be asked whether Gigaclear could also partner with an IPTV provider to resell pay-TV to the customers.

Send to Kindle

Assistance Journal–Getting the hang of Skype before your overseas-travelling child flies out

Just last night, I received a Facebook message from a close friend of mine regarding practising with Skype. Here daughter was about to fly out to the UK as part of an exchange-student programme that she enrolled in and she knew that I was able to provide her with computer assistance as required.

Here, I recommended that this close friend and her daughter set up for Skype so they can communicate with each other for free using this tool while she was in the UK. This included using the video-telephony feature so that they can see each other and see the overseas environment that they are in from afar.

This friend had completed Skype sessions with other relatives after setting up this program. Then I exchanged the contact details and integrated her details in my Skype contact list. After a long chat session, I was able to get her familiar with the user interface and have her practise the basic tasks. One of the test runs that was done was for the mother to have her laptop connected to the home network and the daughter’s laptop connected to a 3G modem so as to simulate the arrangement that would be used in the UK.

It is infact a good idea to do a “dry-run” with Skype if someone is heading overseas for a significant amount of time. This is more important if you are not confident with this program or with computers at all or you have set up a new computer or home network.

Similarly if you purchase a Smart TV or video peripheral that has Skype integrated and you then buy the camera accessory, you could use these “dry runs” to get yourself familiar with the Skype implementation in the equipment.

Send to Kindle

Orange to set up Facebook-based voice calling in France

Articles

French wireless carrier lets you call friends through Facebook | Internet & Media – CNET News

Facebook Is Launching A Numberless ‘Social Calling’ Service | Gizmodo

My Comments

The French are at it again with their online technology. Orange (France Télécom) have provided a Facebook-based “social calling” feature as part of their Livebox service for their subscribers.

The service, sold under the marketing name of “Party Call” is not a VoIP service but uses Orange’s mobile and landline voice infrastructure. But how does it exploit Facebook? Instead, it works as a Facebook app for the call management process, using your “Friends” list as the phone book if your Friends have listed their phone numbers, typically their mobile numbers, in to Facebook. Effectively it is as though you don’t have to remember their phone numbers.

I would improve on this through the ability to manage whether you can receive calls made on this setup or not. Here, this could prevent people from “stalking” you with your Facebook identity especially if you have tied a phone number to it.

Similarly, I would like to see a warning if you are calling someone who has an overseas mobile number or is roaming mainly to avoid bill shock for either party. This could be augmented through the the call routed through Skype, Viber or similar over-the-top VoIP services when the caller is roaming or overseas.

Of course, for people who use regular computers or tablets that don’t support cellular voice calling, I would want to be sure whether this function ties in with Orange-supplied telephone equipment like the Livebox and its DECT handsets or whether it simply uses a “softphone” setup that uses a VoIP setup.

It can also relate to issues like highly-strung DECT cordless handsets being able to import Facebook “friend lists” in to their contact lists and, eventually, Facebook turning in to an Internet-driven contact directory.

Send to Kindle

An add-on Skype videophone for the existing flatscreen TV

Article

Logitech TV Cam HD brings Skype video calls to your television | TechGuide

From the horse’s mouth – Logitech

Product Page

My comments

An increasing number of newer flatscreen “smart TVs” have Skype capability when equipped with an optional camera. But there are an increasing number of flatscreen TVs and TV-optical-disc-player combos sold at very affordable prices that don’t support this network ability. Add to this the number of flatscreen TVs currently in use that don’t have integrated network functionality.

Logitech have answered this situation by offering the TV Cam HD which is an add-on network videophone that plugs in to a regular flatscreen TV via its HDMI input. This videophone connects to your home network using Ethernet or 802.11g/n Wi-Fi wireless connection and uses the Skype IP-telephony service.

The camera can work at 720p resolution and uses a noise-cancelling microphone array in order to allow for use in a larger area. It also has a ringer which works whether the TV is on or off so you can quickly turn on the set and select the right input to answer that incoming videocall.

What I personally like of this camera is that there has been a lot of thought going into this product so it can be a videophone even if you focus on your TV’s picture and sound quality when buying that TV or allowing you to enable a cheaper set to work as a Skype video terminal. As well, it would be an ideal Skype solution for older people who need to keep in contact with distant relatives using this medium.

Send to Kindle