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Communications

John Dvorak Hypes Skype 299

Eh-Wire writes "John Dvorak gets all warm and fuzzy over Skype now that 30,000,000 users have registered for the free Internet telephony service. Dvorak extols the installation as, "smooth and elegant" and continues with, "Without any tweaking whatsoever it works immediately and works better than anything else I've used." Skype has appeared on the radar without pomp and fanfare and it doesn't look like it's going off screen any time soon."
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John Dvorak Hypes Skype

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  • by ewg ( 158266 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:02PM (#12375816)
    Backlash in 5, 4, 3, ...
    • Re:Backlash coming (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PaxTech ( 103481 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:04PM (#12375833) Homepage
      No kidding. I've never used Skype, but I've thought it sounded cool for a while..

      But now that Dvorak is touting it, it doesn't have a prayer. He's the kiss of death, has anything he's ever predicted come true?

      • I agree. If Dvorak endorses it, it must be a piece of shit.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:03PM (#12375825) Homepage Journal

    when he makes painfully, pathetically obvious statements, he gets money. I just get derision, and strange looks.

  • by grant murray ( 698896 ) <email@grantmurray.com> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:04PM (#12375832)
    If the line is noisy then desktop-to-POTS does not work. I have tried it to my parents in South Africa from USA. Desktopto-desktop works well.
  • But Skype means talking to someone! *shiver*

    The 30 million users figure appearing without any 'pomp and fanfare' does ring home when you consider that is roughly half the population of the United Kingdom.

    MSN messenger is been horrible recently, with message lag and problems with connecting. Should I use Skype?

    P.S. IRC forever.
  • Recently some clients of mine were talking about signing up with Vonage or another VOIP provider to get cheaper calls between their main office and a satellite office. I immediately told them "Skype". Why pay $30 a month per seat for Vonage business lines, and have to hook up complicated hardware (I never got Vonage to work until I got their software based service, which is a $10 a month *add-on*) when you can pay a 1-time fee for headsets/handsets, and use Skype for free. They don't want incoming phone numbers or to make general outgoing calls. They just want to cut their phone costs for the 50 times a day they're calling the satellite office or the satellite office is calling them.

    For businesses wanting to cut costs between satellite offices, families wanting to cut long distance charges when calling between family members, etc., Skype is the natural solution.

    - Greg

    • by cduffy ( 652 ) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:20PM (#12376005)
      For businesses wanting to cut long distance charges between satellite offices, families wanting to cut long distance charges when calling between family members, etc., Skype is the natural solution.

      ...whereas SIP is the standards-based solution. Particularly for businesses (where a bit of extra setup cost is managable in return for longer-term flexibility and savings), getting a proper, standard-based VoIP setup using Asterisk is The Right Thing:

      • A number of vendors' hardphones are available, almost all of which have vastly more sophisticated features than the little USB phones which are sold for use with Skype.
      • You can run your own voicemail / menu trees / custom phone-based applications / etc, and customize them as you like, without paying a thing for the privilege.
      • You have a wide array of codecs to choose from (so you can optimize for bandwidth, sound quality, resiliance against dropped packets, etc).
      • You can run your own interface into the conventional phone system, or choose the vendor through which to do so, rather than needing to pay Skype for the privilege.
      For communications between family members, Skype is fine -- but for even semi-serious business use, it's woefully inadequate.
      • Skype Privacy FAQ [skype.com] vs. Skype Privacy Policy [skype.com]:

        FAQ: Is Skype secure?
        Yes. When you call another Skype user your call is encrypted with strong encryption algorithms ensuring you privacy. In some cases your Skype communication may be routed via other users in the peer-to-peer network. Skype encryption protects you from potential eavesdropping from malicious users.

        Policy: Please be informed that, notwithstanding the abovementioned, in the event of a designated competent authority requesting Skype or Sky


        • It would be MUCH better to use software like Speak Freely rather than Skype. However, my understanding is that Speak Freely is a hassle to install when you are behind a hardware firewall. Skype just routes everything over port 80; no hassles.

          Speak Freely is not in active development: "News 01/04/2002 - Version 7.2 released!" That's the latest version.
        • If you want real privacy, use SpeakFreely with your own choice of encryption library.

          Or you can do what I do -- SIP running over OpenVPN in UDP mode. There's some per-packet overhead, but using Speex as the underlying codec, bandwidth usage is still quite low.
    • Why pay $30 a month per seat for Vonage business lines, and have to hook up complicated hardware...

      To put it succinctly: Clearness of the call itself, without depending on another complicated piece of hardware - your computer.

      I would also venture to say that the current crop of hardware out there for VoIP, such as Sipura, are quite easy to set up. I brought my own devices to Broadvoice and both of them were extremely easy to set up. We're talking about three minutes each to set up.

    • I've been pretty unimpressed by Skype. True it's the only voip service that's worked out of the box behind my office firewall, and it's also free. But i've found the call quality to be a bit flaky and that it's prone to dropping calls. Quality-wise i've found freeworlddialup to be much better, although it tended to be broken a lot of the time.

      I've used vonage before and was very impressed and just signed up with lingo today since their deal is too good to be true. I know how the saying goes but $20/mo for
    • out in florida looking for a tech job in the process of relocating from the financial hell hole that is los angeles I was staying at a hostel by the everglades using their wireless internet access through their cable modem and using skype to talk to my girlfriend back home in LA while we went over pictures i uploaded to my website that i had taken of potential apartments we were looking at. it was really cool and worked really well. i even set up a three way call with my parents and my girlfriend (both in L
  • by fivel22 ( 40671 )
    Skype is amazing, I use it to play online games with my friends, and nothing else has even come close in terms of latency, clarity, and lack of audio break up.

    I love it.
  • Skype have definitely got something going on, everything you read about Skype is positive. Everything you read about their compeitors [evhead.com] is terrible! [greenspun.com]
    • It's all about the name. If the product has a catchy name, it will take off, because it is easy to market.

      Lingo (think Shockwave) never took off. Vonage sounds like 0wnage. Skype, however, sounds like hype, making it easier to conjure up catchy headlines.

      Of course, it also sounds like tripe, which is useful, just in case it ever falls flat on its face.
      • Oh, I've never actually heard Skype said out loud, or said it out loud myself, but I always pronounce it in my head as "sky pee". I don't know what about it doesn't look like other words like tripe (which I definitely say correctly, not tri-pee, the other way, like trip with a long I).

        -Jesse
  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:08PM (#12375874) Homepage Journal
    The company uses the apt catchphrase: "It just works!"

    ... and will soon be sued by Apple... and maybe Microsoft, too.
  • How? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mr100percent ( 57156 ) * on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:08PM (#12375877) Homepage Journal
    One thing I can't figure out is how Skype got so popular, when AIM Talk, Paltalk, Yahoo, and MSN all had voice chat features. Yahoo even had Karaoke rooms. Apple's iChat touted voice and video chat as one of its selling points for the OS.

    So why did Skype do so well? Was it the marketing, or the catchy name? Or simple cross-platform compatibility? Or was it just a new brand?

    • wasn't the ability to call real phones? All the times I got to hear about it was because it could call real phones (and, yes, I know there were other services that did that before).
    • Re:How? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )
      it's cross-platform and interoperates with POTS. I'm not sure if there is any other system like skype that checks both of those boxes.
      • Re:How? (Score:3, Interesting)

        Can anyone explain how their POTS system actually works? I don't mean how do they connect IP to POTS, I mean how do they work it so they can afford to offer $.02 per minute? Do they just pay for a bunch of local numbers in the most popular areas? Or something else?
        • Re:How? (Score:3, Informative)

          No, they just get a very good connection directly to 1 or more LD carriers, buy the minutes in bulk, and go.

          I can get $0.02/minute LD at the office, if I get a T1 to the LD carrier. I get $0.02/minute at home using VoIP and Asterisk.
    • Re:How? (Score:4, Informative)

      by jonfelder ( 669529 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:27PM (#12376076)
      Probably because you can use skype to call regular phones and it's very cheap. Also it doesn't matter where you're calling from, the rate is the same and for many popular areas (i.e. the us, western europe, australia) it's real cheap (only about $0.02 a minute).

      Finally it's cross platform (does iChat work on non mac clients?) and it works very well.
    • Why did AIM do better than ICQ? It was simpler and easy to use. All the instant messaging clients try to be like general stores and do everything. its like how many single use devices are better than all-in-one printers. you tend to cut corners or the quality isnt as good when you try to spread yourself too thin.
    • Re:How? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by pr0t0 ( 216378 )
      Well, for me it was just a timing thing. I was playing EQ2 for a month or two when Skype started getting a lot of press. Then the lightbulb went off. Now my guildmates and I Skype rather than type. It makes it a whole different game. So much so that if I ever lose the ability to Skype while multi-player gaming...I'd rather not game.

      Not that this is new for gaming or anything...it's been around for ever. I haven't tried it for just simple telephony since I don't make int'l calls, and have plenty of minutes
    • Re:How? (Score:3, Insightful)

      You can connect to the regular telephone network. This is important for me, as I live in China and the international charges are outrageous.
    • Re:How? (Score:5, Informative)

      by DingerX ( 847589 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:40PM (#12376193) Journal
      First off, let's just start by saying that, reading TFA, he's just an idjit. "nobody but skype knows how skype works?" Check /. from a few months ago, and you'll find a scholarly article linked on how skype works. They ain't hiding anything. Likewise for the history lesson: a lot happened between 95 and now that didn't include Net2Phone; I remember trying to patch calls on Delta3 (which sucked).

      Okay, so why _does_ skype work?
      1) no malware/adware. Make all the Kazaa cracks you want, but the moment skype starts screwing with people's bandwidth, it's gone. (Note to self -- if I ever get a fat up pipe, choke the upload on the skype box so it doesn't get named a supernode).
      2) secure communications: encryption matters, folks. Here's a messenger and VoIP program that doesn't send stuff in the clear; it's actually useful for business comms.
      3) shady network code: by routing stuff through port 80 and NAT tricks, it bypasses the vast majority of firewalls; nobody gets a message that they can't get through. Instead, it works, but voice runs through a crappy high-latency, high-failure rate TCP connection (which, by the way, has gotten better).
      4) most importantly, simplicity of installation. Most of the time, Skype requires zero configuration. Folks, this is the most important UI lesson of our time. Unless your primary market is Asia, you want installation and UI to involve the fewest steps possible. Each step you add loses about 90% of your audience. Skype works from when you hit "install".

      Sure, there's the problem of "how do we pay for this?"; but with distributed networking their overhead right now is a website, some coding and a server in denmark. If they can make skypeout/in pay the bills, it will be good for all; if they can't, well, on the bright side, a lot of people turned on to the technology will start looking for FOSS solutions.
    • Re:How? (Score:3, Informative)

      by oblique303 ( 848812 )
      Skype has done well because it "just works". Lots of VOIP applications have significant problems tunneling through NAT firewalls, especially if both ends of the connection are hidden behind NAT. Skype always works, regardless of your NAT setup, symmetric NAT, asymmetric NAT, randomized UDP port allocation, etc.. things that normally cause significant problems with VOIP. Combine that with the cross-platform capabilities, ease of installation, simple interface, and the fact that it's free.. and no wonder t
  • If Dvorak is talking it up as the next great thing, Skype is sure to die. How often is this dude right?
  • John Dvorak (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dteichman2 ( 841599 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:09PM (#12375897) Homepage
    John Dvorak is famous for his fictitious lookout on technology.

    One of his recent articles predicts the fall of the video game industry in the near-future, which has only grown, and continues to grow.

    Skype has been around for a long time, and has been fairly popular. It was hyped when it came out a while back. This is not news. It has always had a smooth UI.
  • USB phone for Skype (Score:2, Informative)

    by smilheim ( 804292 )
    Interestingly enough just today a vendor of ours introduced a USB phone that works with Skype.

    http://www.planet.com.tw/news/productnews/UP-100.h tm [planet.com.tw]
  • *dial tone*
    "Hi honey, when are you coming home for..."
    *buzzzzz*
    "Automated voice: This service comes with bundled adware. Please listen to this ad and say 'click' at the end of it. Thank you"

    "I will be home in a couple of hour. Please make sure...."
    *buzzzzz*
    "Automated voice: This service comes bundled with spyware. All your conversations will be recorded and used for targeted advertisement"

    "byeeeeeeeeeeeeeee....."
  • We're trying to find a platform independant offering that will let us play World of Warcraft (me on my iMac, him on his PC).

    However, I could barely hear him. I had to crank my volume up really, really loud to hear him and tweaked all the settings I could find. Tonight I'm going to try my bluetooth headset to see if that makes a difference but is there any settings on the windows side to increase the gain? He couldn't seem to find it, and well he's a gamer, not a computer person so he may be missing so
  • But for communications between two machines behind "unfriendly" NAT Firewalls then things did not work so well (because if one of the machines cannot act as a server then all communications must be routed through one or more "supernodes" which are really other user's machines, can you spell "unreliable"???). Here's what I'd like: to only allow skype to act as a server for conections to my friends and relatives. In other words (call me egoistic): I DO NOT WANT other people traffic through my machine! (a
  • But here I am.... agreeing with him.

    I started using Skype late last year - the Mac OS X version came out behind the Windows, and possibly the Linux version. But its just so convenient to use. If I do have a bone to pick with it, its lack of integration with other programs - I know skype has a built-in IM client, but does anybody SERIOUSLY expect me to WANT another one of those? What I'd like to see is a way of just clicking on an online contact in other IM programs and asking to skype through that - or,
    • The one nice thing about Skype's IM client is that you can send text strings to the person you're on the phone with. For example, instead of saying "Go to our web site at aitch tee tee pee colon slash slash double-you double-you ..." you can just paste a URL to them by IM and say "Go to the URL I just sent."

      It would be nice if Skype were integrated with other IM networks, but I'm not complaining. It works very well and even works in a very Mac-like way on Mac OS X.
  • Well, the installation went fine, but I can barely hear myself on a test call. (I can hear the voice from Skype fine.) I've been through all the settings and the help pages, all the rest of it, it's a Skype-approved headset, no joy. I can hear myself fine in Sound Recorder (deafened myself, in fact), so it's not the mic.

    Tried to submit a support request, and was presented with "we've not submitted this because there are pages that would help" - all of which showed up as visited links. Fortunately they let
  • How Skype Works (Score:5, Informative)

    by shadowmatter ( 734276 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:17PM (#12375977)
    The only problem is that the protocol is proprietary and only Skype knows how it works. This seems to offend a lot of people.

    There's a good paper investigating how it all works here [arxiv.org]. Interesting stuff.

    - shadowmatter
    • So what are the legal ramifications of reverse-engineering the protocol based on docs like these? If someone where to implement a reverse-engineered client, could the Skype folks come after developers with the DMCA?
    • Re:How Skype Works (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sosume ( 680416 )
      Skype is very open: you can just send it text based commands. They even have a developer zone [skype.com], so it looks like the parent was just trolling.

      The voice protocol is provided by GIPS [globalipsound.com], they are quite open too about how their codec works with dynamic buffering.
  • by ozric99 ( 162412 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:17PM (#12375978) Journal
    Netcr^H^H^H^H^HDvorak confirms it - Skype is dying.
  • If he thinks Skype is amazing, just wait until he discovers *.

    That'll give him a coronary[sp].
  • by Johnno74 ( 252399 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:28PM (#12376091)
    How it chooses the proxy to use if you're behind a firewall and can't accept incoming connections.

    I'm in New Zealand, and when me & a friend in another part of NZ tried out skype, the connection was routed via another skype user in germany.

    Some background: NZ is pretty much at the arse-end of the world, and national network traffic is very fast and reliable, but if you go out to the rest of the world you add in about 150 ms latency, each way.

    Connections to europe are even worse, as the connection typically goes from NZ to the US west coast, then to the east coast, and then to europe. And back.
    Although our network infrastructure here is very good, international bandwidth is expensive, so broadband connections have a monthly traffic limit, of 1-10gb per month, depending on your provider and plan. One bonus of the provider I use is only 1/10th of your national traffic counts towards your bandwidth allowance.

    So here I was, thinking the voice quality is pretty good, but there were a few glitches (probably dropped packets etc), but there was a latency of close to one second, and this local call was using my precious international bandwidth. Other calls had similar results - the quality is basically hamstrung into the worst case scenario.

    Skype is very good in that It Just Works, but its almost completely devoid of any configuration or logging that tells you what its doing behind the scenes. My router supports uPNP, but sykye didn't even seem to be making use of that to route calls directly to me.

    Has anyone in NZ had similar results? Have these problems been improved since I last looked?

  • ...if Skype would release a GTK version of their client, so it wouldn't clash so horribly with my GNOME desktop.
  • How is this useful? Services like Yahoo have had this for a while now, and it's cute and all, but not really functional unless you *live* in front of your PC, and the people you're calling do, too. We just signed up with Vonage, and based on other people & businesses I know using it, it sounds like they've got it right. This Skype thing sounds like yet another toy for geeks, which is fine if that's what it's being billed as. But as long as you're tied to a PC, it's in no way a replacement for a real
  • Oh no! (Score:3, Funny)

    by rbanffy ( 584143 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:35PM (#12376160) Homepage Journal
    Since John Dvorak is always wrong, Skype must suck somehow.

    I only hope he doesn't praise all VoIP solutions. This could bring dire consequencies to the whole market...
  • Yeah, this guy has been right about things about .02% of the time. He has almost no credibility with me. Why his "work" still makes it into print is a mystery.

  • OMG!!!!1111!!!!! 5kyp3 4 L1|\|ux r0x0rz!!!
  • The skype protocol is a serious contender for IP telephony. While the others crave expensive hardware skype "just works". I think its just a matter of time before some of the big players swallows their pride and start using the skype protocol.

    Best of all is that Skype works on multiple platforms and has full in/out routes to POTS in many countries.
  • Oh Great (Score:3, Funny)

    by ToasterofDOOM ( 878240 ) <d.murphy.davis@gmail.com> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:44PM (#12376233)
    Now we're gonna have to quit using Skype for fear of losing respect for agreeing with him. Sheesh, the guy needs to keep his nose in his own business.
  • by bitspotter ( 455598 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:44PM (#12376236) Journal
    SALT! [r30.net]

    Not to mention the protocol. ...and the fact the vendor is currently being sued into oblivion [zdnet.com.au] over their other product, Kazaa, in Australia.

    Nothing says stable technology like a wonderful closed-source product whose vendor might just soon evaporate.
    • by cbiltcliffe ( 186293 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @06:01PM (#12377747) Homepage Journal
      That's not a zombie. That's a peer-to-peer node. Huge difference.

      Remember that whole thing about how you can't shut down a P2P filesharing service when there's no central server? Well, there's no central server for Skype, either. That's how it can be a free service. If you use the service, you provide resources for managing the service. You don't pay for it in money....you pay for it in infrastructure.

      I'd never even really thought of it like that before, either. Pretty simple concept, really....
  • SkypeOut (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SilicaiMan ( 856076 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @03:53PM (#12376352)
    I started using Skype over a year ago, and I find it awesome. Most of the time (not always, mind you) it is crystal clear. There are times when there is a lag, but that usually lasts for a minute and then resolves itself. Overall, I think it's the best VoIP software out there.

    I had one problem with it though, and that is a recent one. To use SkypeOut, you have to buy credits. Now, I used to be able to simply charge credit to my credit card and it will virtually instantly appear in my account. Recently, though, Skype switched to using some English company to handle this (Moneybookers London, or something like that), and this shows up on my credit card as a cash withdrawal, which triggers another $10 charge. With the abundance of alternatives, this might drive me away from Skype.

  • I've been using Skype while playing mutliplayer games with my friends, and I'm very happy with it.
    However, I'm not impressed with SkypeOut so far. Mind you, I've only used it to make calls within the Greater Toronto Area. I'm sure it's much better in other locales, but in Toronto it sounds like you're calling from an extremely bad mobile.
  • by jbltgz ( 549512 )
    Skype is doing phenominal. They are doing so well, in fact, that their competitors are exercising unfair business practices to deny Skype business. In one of my blog posts I wrote about how Telmex Blocks VoIP Traffic and Skype.com Web Traffic [subterrain.net], and it should also be noted that teh United Arab Emirates is blocking Skype.com as well. I suppose these people are pissed that Skype is offering a service for free which they were hoping to charge customers for.. It's true that Skype is changing the way people commun
  • I'm in a long distance relationship, and after a lot of research we still can't find another voice chat system that works between Macs and PCs.

    Thanks, Skype :~
  • This is an add! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mr Europe ( 657225 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @11:37PM (#12380134)
    "To read more of this FREE archived story please sign in to MarketWatch."

    No, I don't.

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