MuppetMaster is back!

For those of you who would like to see some harsh discussions about the future of Skype, including technical aspects (SIP - versus Skype closed protocol), be relieved! MuppetMaster is back on the Skype Forum!

And he made a complete face-lift! This was indeed necessary! ;-)
But don't believe the number of posts on the screenshot! On his old account he was "Poster N° 4" with almost 3400 posts, so certainly an advanced member!

Anyway: good news! We all know now that the biggest "Skype detractor" has a Skype account, otherwise he couldn't have signed in on the new Forum (grin).
UPDATE (today): my secret services informed me that Skype management gave all the previous 3400 posts back to Muppet :-)


New beta released today

Skype released beta version Strange place to put it, difficult to find! Only for geeks and experienced users still, i guess!

I suggested something in my post of August 14, and they implemented it! :-)


Frozen Skype Cloud?

I don't know if i can call it funny, but right after i published my previous post, at least 6 people of the "Skype Family", none of them Staff, chatted with me to tell me that the Users Online were dropping dramatically. Look at the red part of the curve. I have never seen a drop like that in the past!My first thought was "the counting system is flawed"!
Then Matthew Rabinowitz (USA, but living in Germany) told me:
"it looks like a supernode is getting nailed.. (or a bunch of them)... like a DDoS attack ... or something like it."
and some minutes later he said
"something happened with a few nodes that tripped and caused a bunch of users trying to find another"
Then i entered in a very long discussion with Hudson Barton (USA). We listed the following possibilities:
  1. A bug in the counter
  2. An attack on supernodes
  3. A general attack on the internet
  4. A major natural or human catastrophe (earthquake, nuclear bomb)
  5. Skype Staff resetting something in their servers
  6. Somebody blocking the IP addresses of some of the computers gathering the information from the supernodes
We ruled out 1, 3 (this would be known), 4 (the same!).

It was a very interesting discussion, while we were both watching the numbers going back to normality after a dip of about 1.000.000!

In fact, putting everything together, there are in our opinion two things left:
  • or a DDOS attack or similar
  • or Skype resetting something in their (servers / supernodes) systems
And, we think the second one is more probable then the first one! But why did they do this right after reaching the 7 million! Is that a magic number? Or is it something like the year 2000 bug?????

Finally, Hudson said (and i was authorized to publish this ;-):
"So the theory is that at 5pm, as the boys in Estonia were getting ready to go home to their spouses (or whatever) that they reset the count servers before turning out the lights."
Will we ever know?

Users Birthday Present

Ooooooh surprise: much faster than I thought, 7.000.000 concurrent users online today, see the screenshot of "Stony" from Austria taken at 15h40 GMT+2:

He was faster then me to capture it :-(

This is really a fantastic Birthday present for Skype from its users!

Some history, with the days between each “million” milestone in the third column:
It seems erratic, but it isn’t! Twice it shows 155 days (a casualty) between millions, but twice a Northern Hemisphere summer period slowdown in the middle! It is hotter, people work less, are more outside, have vacations, etc.

And now: when the 10 million concurrent users online? Could well be before the End of the Year! :-)

Happy 3th Birthday :-)


Skype Journal independence?

Skype Journal is certainly the most popular independent Skype Blog! I love to check what they write, although in my opinion some of the posts of the last year are not to the point anymore: too general or not enough related to Skype.

But what did I say? Independent Skype Blog? Apparently not anymore!

Jim Courtney wrote the following, concerning the third anniversary contest of Skype: There are prizes offered; Skype Journal editors are not eligible even if we are not Skype employees. He emphasizes the "not"!

And then in the next post Phil Wolff, editor in chief of Skype Journal says that he met Jaanus Kase, chief Skype Blogger in Oakland earlier this year to talk enterprise blogging.

Why would the Skype Journal editors not be eligible for prizes if they are not involved in the Skype business in some way? It looks like they probably made some collaboration agreements! In exchange for what?

EDITED on 2006/08/30: Phil provided a response in the comments :-)


Jaanus about the new Forum

Jaanus posted a very extensive explanation about the New Skype User Forum in his personal blog: Jaanus on the internet, and ...
an answer to my "Skype Forum Hacked" story of the previous days :-)

Skype Marketing Victims

In 2005 Skype made 4 weeks in a row a 0.20 € gift to everybody in the world who applied for it (if i remember well)!
Then Skype was bought by Ebay. The gift campaigns continued in 2006, but not for everybody, as mentioned in one of my previous posts. I looked in the 2006 “gift history” of Skype (see skype campaigns and promotions). And i ranked the countries according to the generosity of Skype*.

As you can see, gifts are mostly for big North American and European countries. Anyway, Japan, Korea and Brazil also got their part. Africa??? … not one (1) country: zero, void, null, empty!

Skype marketing campaigns are clearly focusing on these countries where Skype thinks to generate most revenue and where there still is growth potential!

Why did Estonia also receive (only once) a gift, you will ask? Skype developing team is located there. Remark also that Sweden and Denmark, the countries were the founders of Skype are from (respectively Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis), also dealt in the prices. And of course the UK, were the commercial team is located.

Why not Luxemburg, where the Company is officially located?

And why not all the other countries of the World? Are there no customers there?

IMHO – in my honest opinion – (this is a deliberate mistake) they should give free minutes to the UAE (United Arab Emirates): this would be THE stunt of the year!

* “my equivalent value guesses” for the “Free SkypeOut calls from the US and Canada to UK, Mexico and Japan on three weekends” (1€), for the “Free calls to all landlines and mobile phones within the US and Canada” (5€) and for “Happy Saint Patrick's Day - SkypeOut calls to Ireland at half price” (0.5€).


A line break in the Mood?

I noticed that Ike had a line break between two parts of text of her "Skype Mood"*. Normally when you use the ENTER key, you validate the text of your mood.
As i am too much a macho to ask to a woman to explain me something ;-) , i searched myself.
Remark: clickable links are only possible from the - still unstable - Skype version 2.6 on!

*The "Skype Mood" is the blueish zone next to the picture or avatar of your contacts.


For every new user a gift!

Well, i was complaining in a previous post (and will provide some more evidence in the following days) that only some countries are entitled to receive Skype Gifts, but it seems that every new user gets a gift ... This screenshot was taken 2 days ago! I was testing something and had to create a new User Account for this ... oooh surprise!!!


Forum hacked continued & end

This post is an answer to my last guess in the previous post ...

In the past, Skype forum member names mostly looked like the ones shown on the right. Names therefore were MuppetMaster, MadRaven (the guy who stopped waiting for the video feature ;-), Rocketman, etc. Quite a lot of these forum names were exactly the same as the Skype Username of the person registering.
Ooh yes, sometimes you had somebody using a real name like "Kevin Delaney", "Bill Campbell" or "Jean Mercier". But this was a real minority as you can guess from the picture.

And something else: about 40% (rough estimate) of the forum users have posted at least once!

Then, for instance on June 26, about 750 "human names" were registered, instead of the 200 daily new forum users of the past weeks. All have "zero" posts.

Quite a lot of these names (see also the screenshot of my previous post) are somehow familiar! Some examples: "Bjarne Mussolini", "Lloyd Arafat" and his relative "Yasser Nicoll", "Hillary Simon", "Menachem Lennon", "Menachem Kundera", "Antoinette Nabokov", "Indira Warren", "Nigel Tolstoy", "Shintaro Shankar", "David Nixon", "Napoleon Marconi", "Alp Goering" and his friend "Clint Hitler" and their common enemies "Jonah Lenin" and "Tory Trotsky".

I could go on hours like this. It was a funny list to see (for me at least). I again believe somebody made a script to create, from a list of "known names and surnames" a new random list of "mixed names and surnames" and he registered as many new forum users as he could.

This could explain why Skype now only accepts new Forum Users with the Skype account name and password! This way it is more difficult to create a script.

Although, i wonder ... somebody i know pretends he created a script that could allow him to create in an automated way new Skype usernames! In that case it would be possible to run two scripts one after each other: one creating the Skype username, and the second one logging in on the Skype forum with the same name!
EDITED 2006/08/27: An answer to my questions here Jaanus on the internet


Was the forum hacked?

Concerning the graph in my post from yesterday, i said i would provide an answer. Part of it will be speculation, but i accept any comment or critics!
The red curve represents the average new forum users in a particular month! There are two months that were very popular ;-) : September 2005 and June 2006. When i saw these jumps, i thought "something wrong". So i searched in that period for strange patterns in the new forum names. I also looked at March 2006.
The blue curve and peaks are the number of new forum users of particular days.
My conclusions were:
  1. 5000 new usernames on September 6, 2005 by somebody who wrote an automatic script!
  2. first days of March 2006: no explanation! Perhaps a normal increase?
  3. around June 3, some days like September 6, but a bit cleverer ;-)
  4. between June 26 and July 1, same as above!
  5. August 16 and the days after is the new forum "effect": new users plus the old users who have to create a new user account. Understandable but weird (for the old users!).
Why these conclusions? Well below you have a screenshot of some usernames registered on September 6, 2005!!!! Like i said above, there were about 5000 similar names! I don't believe Skype was playing around with its own forum!

Why are the peaks "3 and 4" cleverer? See the screenshot below! I wil give an answer in the coming days, but would love to have some people make a guess!
(I know this is a dirty trick to make you come back to my blog ;-)


Evolution of Forum Users

Skype launched a New Forum some days ago. I played around with the numbers again. The graph below show the growth of the Forum User Names. Look at the two red circles! One is very clear, something happened. The other one is less visible in this representation of the graph, but something happened in June this year too!
I think i can explain, leave me some time to prepare it!


4.7 million paying customers

Thanks to Ike:

In ComputerWeekly.com:
Point Topic has estimated that more than 4.7 million are now paying for PC-to-phone calls through the Skype service, which also offers free PC-to-PC calls between its users.

The total number of paying subscribers to VoIP via either Skype or retail providers is now more than 23 million, compared with 14.4 million a year ago, the Point Topic research shows.


You aren't invisible!

I already posted this earlier in Skype Journal with the title How to make an invisible person visible with a Webcam, but the bug persists. Today i noticed that a new friend appeared offline with a webcam. When you really are offline, Skype does not send the "webcam symbol". Here, it was shown, so i knew he was online! This is clearly not how it should be. TO BE CORRECTED!

To avoid this, you should tick the radio button "Show that i have video to no one" in the Video Options of your Skype client.

Another trick without a webcam:
when you see that a person is offline: send him/her a chat message, and if it doesn't provide a message back that it hasn't been delivered yet, you know the person is online. You can even see if the person reads your message: there is a faint glowing up of the avatar (picture) of your contact in your chat window if he opens his chat window!


Skype growth slower????

I had a chat with Hudson Barton, another American crazy Skype User like myself this afternoon. It went about numbers!

That is a “cleaned” excerpt from our chat.

Hudson: I hope you saw this article of RBC Capital Markets analyst Jordan Rohan: Skype Growth May Be Slowing . Can you refute it?

Me: concerning the number of downloads, he seems to be right! Approximate numbers:
Q1 52 Million downloads
Q2 59 M
Q3 42 M (extrapolated!)
but ... 59 M was IMHO boosted by the USA campaign and ...
there is now probably a slowdown of downloads because of “summer period – holidays”, and this temporary loss could well be compensated by the increase of download speed in September! We are only at the middle of the Quarter!

Hudson: we discussed this a few days ago, and you said, that the slowdown was about the same as last year, or actually less severe.

Me: I spoke about the slowdown of "users online", and this is about the same as last year indeed! It is much more difficult, with the data i have to take the same conclusions concerning the number of downloads.

Hudson: Yes, and the downloads data is even more irrelevant to the "growth of skype" than the users online.

Me: Well, in fact, Rohan is more optimistic than i am: he thinks there will be 51 M downloads in Q3, my extrapolation is even worse: 42 M. But i made my guess in a non-mathematical way! I think his guess of the 51 million is closer to what it will be than my guess !

Hudson: what i'm trying to say is that his conclusion that skype is slowing down is flawed.

Me: yes, IMHO, you are completely right! It is flawed!

Hudson: are you familiar with the expression "drive-by media"? It refers to the practice of analysts and reporters writing stuff just to grab a headline or to hurt an enemy without having to suffer the consequences of their irresponsibility.

Me: No, i didn't know the expression, but i am familiar with the practice!
"Rohan also writes that Skype will likely add 18 million new users during eBay's fiscal third quarter -- the same number of new users Skype reported in the second quarter."
Or he is following up what i wrote in Skype Journal about usernames, or he is following up the data himself. My number, based on the short period that Skype provided data concerning the growth of usernames, is that for each 2.8 new downloads there is one new User account ! His 18 million, that is exactly 51 Million downloads/2.8 !!!!!
If you agree, i post some of the above comments in my blog.

Hudson: Feel free to post anything I say, unless of course what I say is stupid :)

Me: :D I think we both often say stupid things ;) We do not belong to Skype ... so we are only guessing!

Skype Gifts not for everybody

Matthew, one of my contacts warned me (through the chat) that it is Skype Gift Day today: 20 ct!
Waw ... the equivalent of one spoon of beer! (I didn't check however).
But, not for every country, only for Germany and France today, see the Skype Blog.
Matthew is from the USA, but lives in Germany, so he is entitled to!

You only have to login into your Skype account!


Birthday screenshot

In the post below Nafcom asked a screenshot. OK, here comes the second Birthday notification i got :-)

If you have a lot of contacts, this becomes indeed a nuisance. Another nice feature would be to be able to set the notifications according to the Skype Group they belong to.

I have a "Family" group: sure i want to be notified of their birthdays! For my "Professional" group contacts i usually don't mind!


Birthday notification

I am using the "preview" Skype version 2.6. Today i noticed that Skype warned me about the birthday of a Norwegian friend. He pointed out that this nice feature already exists in Pamela*! When you have more than 1500 Skype contacts like my crazy friend Jan, the notifications are a real nuisance. It would therefore be nice if you could "untick" this feature, but this isn't possible yet.
*Pamela is a very nice add-on for Skype: answering machine, call recording and 100 other features.


Skype will beat Kazaa soon!

To obtain a degree in Industrial Engineering at the University of Brussels, Jonathan Verhaeghe wrote a dissertation about the VoIP and Skype market in the World and in Belgium (June 2006)*. I could “preview” it and made some suggestions for improvement. He wrote that Kazaa was the most downloaded internet software of the World. I pointed out that Skype is about to break that record before the end of the year, and somewhere before both reach 400 million downloads (my guess: 398 million!).

Kazaa launched its Software in March 2001. They broke the world record somewhere end of May of 2003, with 230 million downloads, beating ICQ! It took them therefore about 26 months to reach that number and a new world record.

It took Skype about 28 months to reach 230 million downloads, see the graph.

Within three months counting from now Skype will have been downloaded more times than Kazaa. Indeed, Kazaa has now about 390 million downloads, and the download speed is about 800.000 times per week. For Skype it is about 3.5 million downloads per week!

So what? Is this an indicator of the popularity of Skype? Certainly it is!

But, some comments can be made however to temper the enthusiasm:

  • Not every download means a new user of course (some new users try it and abandon, some upgrade the software) but this is true for Kazaa too.
  • Skype releases quite often new versions of its software, boosting each time the number of downloads.
  • A lot of users download Skype on several computers (desktop, laptop, computer at working place). Most Kazaa users don’t do this!

Anyway, these are quite spectacular numbers.

Thanks to Jonathan, who “indirectly” gave me the idea for this blog.
And congratulations: he obtained his degree!

Voice over IP, Analyse du marché et du potentiel en Belgique, étude du cas Skype
Année académique 2005-2006
Université Libre de Bruxelles – Solvay Business School


Why "Skype Numerology"?

Some months ago i published some numbers and graphs concerning Skype in Skype Journal. Then some weeks later Bill Campbell of the same Skype Journal called me Skype Journal's numerologist in his post:
Numbers, Community and Brand
Thanks for the compliment Bill, i stole your idea ;-)

Funny also, i started my blog yesterday, and TODAY, on the first page of my Financial Newspaper (De Tijd) there was a small article with as title: Each second more then two new blogs. The scale of the graph on the left is in millions!

Next time i publish some recent Skype numbers in my blog, this is a promise!


Why i started to use Skype ...

Why i started to use Skype?
Well, i received the weekly e-mail of my ISP (Internet Service Provider) somewhere at the beginning of September 2003, mentioning that the Kazaa people had launched a P2P (Peer-to-Peer) telephone software.

I was immediately interested and told my brother in law in Brazil - i am located in Belgium - to download the application and test it with me: it worked!

I would have liked to be the first Belgian user and he the first Brazilian. I am sure we were not, but ... close to ;-)

My wife could from that moment on talk as long as she wanted with him! This was really fantastic ... for my wallet!