Funny visual chat bug

I was chatting with Ike, and i typed a non-existing flag code, and weird … see the ellipse!

The text appeared within the coloured zone with the name of the chatter and time of the message.

We played around and tried to reproduce it, see our chat history. You can even place emoticons in the coloured zone. My Skype client version is Windows beta!


Free Skype phone!

I received an e-mail today from a well known company who delivers “officeware” at location. If I buy for at least 99€ (ex VAT) I can choose between two presents. One is a USB Skype phone! No, it is NOT SPAM, i subscribed to their e-mails!

Funny, Skype free hardware used to make people buy pens, paper, ink, blank CD’s and DVD’s, printer cartridges, etc!


Copy profile text

Sometimes i discover some feature i didn’t know about.
I “right clicked” on the profile of a person hoping to copy only its picture … didn’t work. However all the text was copied on the clipboard. This is the result of copy-pasting the profile of “echo123” in this blog:
Skype Name: echo123
Full Name: Skype Test Call
Gender: Female
Language: English
Location: United Kingdom
Homepage: http://www.skype.com/help.html
About Me: "Hi, this is Skype automatic sound test service. Add me to your contact list and give me a call to test your sound setup. See http://www.skype.com/help.html for more assistance. Thank you."
Two remarks:
  • Depending where you right-click, you get two different “messages”, see the red ellipses on the screenshot.
  • Yes, if i need a screenshot, i know the “printscreen” button or the ALT+”printscreen” :-)


15M+ HAPPY users!

Skype claims it has more than 130 million users. But, as i said before (see my post some months ago in Skype Journal) the word “users” isn’t correct: it should be “usernames” or “user accounts”.
Anyway, how many regular users does Skype have now?

I found an interesting comment (with the typing mistake ;-) on the Skype Forums:

Oct 29, Gladiator:
… you should rember there are over 15M+ HAPPY users with SKYPE …

I guess the “M” stands for millions!

Forum user “Gladiator” isn’t an ordinary Skype Forum user: Adam Harris (see his profile), is forum moderator! He is also poster number 1 with almost 17.000 posts or 23 posts per day or 5.4% of total forum posts. Probably he “knows” the figure “15M+ happy users” through his regular contacts with Skype Staff!

Around October 29, the peak number of concurrent users online was about 7.8 Million. Can we therefore, as a first approximation, say that the “record number” of concurrent users online multiplied by 2 = real active users?

If this is correct, and knowing that now record peak concurrent users online is around 8.25 million, we have right now about 16.5 million happy regular Skype users.

updated at 17h20 GMT: new Skype Windows Beta version today!


Belgacom recognizes …

... implicitly that Skype is it biggest competitor in VoIP!!!

Belgacom is the former Public monopolistic PSTN provider, and still the biggest telephone company in Belgium: they offer PSTN, mobile subscriptions, ADSL lines, webhosting and webdesign, hardware, etc.

Today i received a questionnaire with as title: “Do you think you pay too much for your telephone services?”, and i can win a webcam or USB watches!

But what caught my attention was this question:Translated (from Dutch) this means:
  • Do you already use VoIP?
  • If yes, which operator?
And a list of 6 companies! The first one mentioned is Skype! If they had been placed in alphabetical order, Skype would have been on rank n°4!


I don’t understand anymore

I really don’t understand anymore the behaviour of the growth of concurrent Skype users online, or is the counting system of Skype flawed?

Today we hardly reached 8 million people online. Usually, on a Monday, we always beat the highest number of the previous week, unless there is a big Holiday in one of the major Skype User countries.

8 million today, compared to 8.150.000 last week, is about 2% less. The only country that had a day off today, was Mexico: Día de la Revolución (Revolution Anniversary). (The other 3 countries mentioned on this link havn’t a day off!).

According to some previous statistics of Ruell Consulting, Mexico represented last year 1.4% of the Skype population, therefore (unless Mexico grew a lot) it can’t be Mexico!

Strange, I really don’t understand anymore.


Feriado no Brasil?

Last Wednesday, Hudson Barton started a chat with me to try to find why the number of Users Online had gone down, see the graph below (screenshot from http://nyanyan.to/).Indeed, the usual “past” behaviour was a steady rise from Monday to Wednesday included (see the blue curve), a slow decrease on Thursday and Friday (weekend begins in some Muslim countries), and very significant decreases on Saturday and Sunday (weekend in most countries).

We made several guesses, but didn’t find a common explanation.

I still think it was Brazil. Indeed it was an official Holiday: “Proclamação da República”.

The number of users online at peak time went down by almost 5%! This is a huge number of course! Could it have been the Brazilians? Probably! According to Ruell Consulting, in November 2005, Brazil was number one Skype User with 8% users, and even previous information from Skype showed 6th position (5.85% users – April 2005) and 4th position (7.24% users – October 2004).
Why I do believe it could be Brazil:
  • Most Brazilians have probably broadband at work and use Skype there, so business users are (all of them) disconnected!
  • Peak time “users online” is about 16h GMT, or 14h Brazilian coastline time!
  • At that moment they are on the beaches drinking cachaça and eating shrimps :-) , not in front of a stupid computer screen
I could be wrong, but if I am right, this means Brazilian Skype users represent more than 5% of the online population at Peak Time!


Skype Folder Pollution

It has been a “very very old complaint” on the Skype Forum that Skype placed some folders in the "My Documents" folder (Windows XP version), without a gentle way to move them to another place!

And version 3.0 is even worse! I am angry too :-(

But the “My Documents” folder isn’t the only place where you find Skype folders: i noticed – excluding multiple Skype accounts – 4 main places. You can probably reduce it to 3 main places if you have only one Windows XP user account!

I counted 31 folders in total, excluding the 250 folders in the “chatsync” folder! Therefore, total number of folders in my case: 281! Pfewwww!!!!! And again: this without counting the other Skype accounts folders!

Some comments on some selected folders:

  1. This is a new folder with version 3.0 :-(
  2. An old one, i always delete the bunch of ugly Skype avatars after the installation of a new version
  3. Also an old one: i store all my Skype related stuff there
  4. A new one, that i deleted, but Skype created it again, without recreating the deleted wallpapers
  5. The first (1) folder with the name “Skype”
  6. Plugins, also new since 3.0 i guess
  7. Ooh no … i thought Skype was used mainly by business people!
  8. Second (2) folder with the name “Skype”
  9. A user account i never use
  10. my main user account
  11. I didn’t want to show the content of this folder: it contains in my case exactly 250 subfolders, i guess with my chat history in it!
  12. folders of spare accounts or folders of other people who used their Skype account on my computer (this happens!)
  13. third (3) folder with the name “Skype”
  14. ooooh, here all the ugly Skype avatars, that i usually try to delete, are stored again!
  15. and here again the wallpapers!
  16. new since 3.0
  17. new since 3.0 i guess

There have been some posts on the Skype Forum with a solution for moving the folders located in the “My Documents” folder, one of those here.

But the solutions should be implemented only by experienced people!

Please Skype, what i would like:

  • The possibility to place the folders anywhere i want
  • The possibility NOT to download avatars and wallpapers

But i am confident they will listen to the customer because it is already possible to:

  • Install the Skype program file in another folder
  • To “NOT” update the plugins!
  • To “NOT” install the plugins for Mozilla and Internet Explorer!

This option isn’t very visible, but when you tick the “YES, I have read …” (what almost nobody reads) box in the first installation screen of the SkypeSetup software, you can click on an OPTIONS button, and choose another Skype client installation location, and untick some boxes concerning the other options!


Web versus Skype

Some days ago i discovered the blog of Adrian Cockcroft.
He made some short but very interesting comparison! Herewith the title (click on it to go to the full article) and some “teasers”:
Web vs. Skype, a paradigm shift
The … web … everyone can get to everything.
Skype … the opposite of the Internet.
… some things that are easy on the Internet are difficult on Skype, and vice versa.

... This is the start of something interesting ...
I never looked at it this way, but ok, everybody knows i only look at the numbers!


User Satisfaction Survey

I was warned by Ike that there was an independent Skype Satisfaction survey. Funny, they initiate their survey through the Skype client. Here is the start:

Skype User Satisfaction Survey
Before proceeding, be sure that Skype is installed on your machine. To download Skype please visit Skype.com.

This is a short survey interested in Skype user satisfaction. It consists of a brief Skype-based automated phone call, followed by a form with several simple multiple-choice response questions. The information gathered during this survey is for research purposes; no personal information will be sold or redistributed.

Click here to begin the survey.

After completing the phone call portion of the survey, you will receive a Skype chat message with a link directing you to the follow-up multiple-choice questions. Thank you for your participation.


Emoticons in the mood

Yesterday, wandering around on my Skype contacts, i noticed that Simon had an emoticon* in his mood**. This is a new feature of the Skype 3.0! As i am dumb, i didn’t find how to do it, so i had to ask him: very simple, just type the code of the emoticon in your mood, for instance type “(call)(without the quotes, but with brackets) to see the emoticon shown in Simon’s mood. He told me it would be bad for my reputation if i blogged that i learned this from him … but my reputation is already bad ;-)

*emoticon: the small pictures and faces you can insert in our Skype chat window
**mood: the small window next to your picture space in your Skype client window


Download speed up!!!

[Sunday, 10h30 GMT+1] Some hour ago, after my coffee, i updated my Skype stats file, and i noticed something unusual for a Sunday morning: the speed of downloads* is above 3000 downloads per minute. Due to Skype 3.0? I doubt about it, it was released on last Wednesday! And probably this is happening in (Austral)-Asia. The Europeans were still in bed when it began, the Americas are still asleep. I will update this post today if i notice more weird things.

[Sunday, 12h00 GMT+1] Everything back to normal! Download speed is now around 1250 per minute. This is anyway quite high compared to the June-October period, where it almost never went above 800 downloads/minute. I had one visitor of Singapore the minutes after publishing the post at 10h30 GMT+1: indeed Asia was still awake! But i am wondering why this sudden and very temporary increase!

*Speed of Downloads: two latest registered number of downloads of the Skype client as captured from the Skype RSS feed, divided by the time span in minutes.


Mea culpa … 3.0

My mistake (see my post below), Skype 3.0 has indeed quite some new features, as explained on the Skype website and in Skype Journal.

One of the features is the possibility to have a Wallpaper in the Skype client, but I didn’t find how to revert to the standard background!

Another feature are the Public Chats.
Jaanus, the Skype Main Blogger says: “what public chats offer are better moderation controls, letting anyone join without being “added” and letting you have a link to a chat straight on your webpage, e-mail or any other place.

And it seems they are moving towards better control of the features of Skype for IT managers! This phrase was taken from their new Skype Guide for Network Administrators : “Skype gives you control – You can turn off or configure a variety of Skype’s functionality or settings, including file transfer and the API.

Still another feature is the “Skype Extras”.Soon you will be able to play games or use other software tools through your Skype client! Aren’t they tackling too many user categories at the same time? Business users, gamers, chatrooms, callers, … ???


A contrary view ...

Herewith the very interesting updated view of Hudson Barton, see also his input in the previous post here.
He says:
The "peak" number is nice for media reporting, but it does not actually tell us much about the growth of Skype. Here is my observation based upon a different way of looking at the "concurrent online" data.Growth in the last month is showing increasing variation between Europe, America, and Asia. Whereas historically the three regions have grown at a similar pace, with Asia slightly underperforming, in more recent days American and Asian growth has picked up while European growth has faltered relatively. Here is the growth from 10/11 to 11/8 (precisely 4 weeks) as measured at the time of each continent's greatest relevance.

We'll see if this trend continues. I suspect it will.


Skype 3.0 beta released

Yesterday Skype released version I always thought they would upgrade version 2.6 to a 3.0 number, see my post here.

And indeed, the differences between the previous version and the are (from my point of view) quite small, see the change log.


8.000.000 online!

Today we reached, two days later than my prediction of September 9, 8 million concurrent users online.

(screenshot taken from www.nyanyan.to)
I am disappointed, not only because of my wrong prediction ;-) , but much more because i had hoped that we would reach the 8 million much earlier.

Herewith the updated table with “million milestones” and in the third column the number of days between each milestone:
Prediction for the 9 million concurrent users online: January 9! But i hope we will reach it before Christmas!


Not today :-(

My prediction (see my previous post) was wrong!
Quite close though: the RSS feed of Skype showed 7.955.862 million people online at 16h00 GMT.
It will be tomorrow ... i hope!


Ta(l)ke off for Britain?

Around October 25 Skype released its Talk for Britain campaign.
Although the number and the speed of downloads isn’t a good indicator of the growth of the user base, it still indicates “something”. The last months the speed fluctuated between 200 and 800 downloads per minute, depending on day – night fluctuations. On October 25 i noticed (unaware of the Britain campaign – i am not British!) a speed of 1000 downloads per minute between 16h and 20 h GMT!
And since October 31 the speed has fluctuated between 400 and 2000 downloads per minute, more than double the previous speeds! This is also visible on the graph below.Could it be the British campaign is successful? The French campaign in September didn’t show such an increase in downloads, although there was probably a positive effect. It was probably quite unsuccessful and masked by the end of the summer slowdown, see my explanation about this phenomenon here.
In this post i made a guess that we would reach 8 million concurrent users online on November 6. I "guess my guess" was right: watch your screen on Monday around 14h GMT!


SMS problem (2)

Two Skype friends pointed out that the SMS problem, mentioned in my blog here, isn’t due to Skype.

One told me that his mobile did the same as the Skype client: “ç” stole some 90 character places. But when i tried with my mobile, this didn’t happen.

Another one pointed me to an interesting Skype Forum post here (yes, i know, i should have looked myself ;-).

In fact, i agree, this problem isn’t entirely due to Skype:

Some older mobiles don’t reassemble split messages correctly, so, ok, i recognise that i was wrong to blame Skype for this.

Concerning the special characters, Raul Liive, from Skype Staff answered a question related to it in the forum post mentioned above like this: “(SMS split in two) because € sign is not part of default character set and therefore SMS will be sent in UNICODE which has lower limit for message length.”

I agree this has to do with SMS encoding. But Skype could put some code in their client to circumvent this problem: why not detect those special characters provoking the UNICODE problem and replace them with other characters: “ç” with “c”, or “€” with euro? Or any other trick. IMHO this isn’t too difficult to program. And people will not get angry anymore! No, i don’t want to blush for this!


USA grows faster!

Hudson Barton likes to chat with me about the growth of Skype. I mentioned some weeks ago a slowdown of the growth of users online.

He tried to refute it, and made some own analysis of the data.

He began to register data concerning concurrent users online on October 7, till the end of last week. Here follows his explanation:

  • Current # = Average of three measurements in past week (Sunday and two "normal" weekdays)
  • Growth # = Average of weekly growth for past 3 weeks (difference between weeks at same hour of same day)
  • Growth % = ratio of initial average and the growth.

The red row is my “peak time registration” of the same weeks as those of Hudson’s data (in the meantime peak has reached a maximum of more then 7.9 million).

The numbers are “proxies” for geographical areas, and not measurements of the users in each area.

His calculation is based on the fact that Skype is used mainly by Business users, and that they have their computers (with Skype) on at the following hours, and business users of the other regions have switched it off at the same moments:

  • Americas = 19 or 20 GMT
  • Europe = 11 or 12 GMT
  • Asia = 2 or 3 GMT

Obviously, there is some group (in all continents) that leaves their computers on all the time, and there are also quite a lot of non-business users.

But, the interesting fact is, that the numbers seem to show that the America’s (therefore probably the USA) is growing faster than the other regions: 3.26%.

Hudson says: Because these three continents are separated by 8 hours, these numbers are proxies for the growth of business Skypers, but not necessarily for the growth of non-business Skypers. He could be right: non-business users use their computers more outside business hours.