E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Skype – Free Internet Telephony That Just Works

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

How many times have you heard that sentence before ? I am sure quite a few and if that is the case you probably are, by now, one of the above 109 million people who are using Skype worldwide in order to get in touch with family, friends or work colleagues. I am sure that most of us are using one, or multiple, IM clients to just keep in touch with folks. Be it MSN, AIM, ICQ, Yahoo!, Jabber, whatever, we are mostly forced to use different IM clients in order to start chatting with one another.

And since I got tired a little bit of just using multiple IM clients or integrated IM clients like Trillian, GAIM, Miranda, etc. etc. to keep in touch with people I have decided to step over to Skype and give it a go. And ever since I have done that, a few months back now, I have been a very happy Skype user. So much so that I have managed to convert most of my friends, family members and some work colleagues into using this application.

And they all love it ! As much as I do, not only because of its ease of use, or how easy it is to set up and get it running but also because of the huge amount of $$$ they save, instead of just picking up the phone and making that phone call. Maybe at a later time I will weblog about my overall experience on Skype. However, the reason why I wanted to create this weblog entry today was basically because of a problem I have encountered quite often when trying to convert people into using Skype.

Installation and setup normally works really well and very smooth, but as soon as people start searching for me and start a conversation they can hear me very well with plenty of good quality but whenever they talk they would come to me with some very low sound, as if they were thousands of miles away. Well, after searching on the Skype Forums apparently this is a well known problem that has been documented already.

There are a couple of different instructions that people would need to carry out:

  • First, go to Skype and click on Tools > Options > Sound Devices and untick the option Enable Automating Sound Device Adjusment Settings. Then click on Save.

    After having done that people would need to follow this second set of instructions:

  • First make sure you select “Show Hidden Files” under folder options. Then go to C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\Skype\SkypeUSERNAME\ and locate the file config.xml.

    Right click on it and go to Send To… and open it up with Notepad (or your default editor). Once the document is open people will be able to find a whole bunch of different entries. Just scroll down till you locate a similar entry to the following one:

    “< MicVolume >255< / MicVolume >
    255 is max volume /// 0 AND 255 = 0 = low”

    (Notice the spaces on the first line).

    After you have found that entry make sure that there is a value there which does not match 255 but something else rather smaller. My setting, for instance, is setup on 31. After that save the changes, restart Skype, and the problem will be gone. You will be able to hear and be heard with the same quality as ever before. So from now on whenever I convert one other friend, family member or work colleague I can just refer them to this weblog entry and they can follow the instructions from here. And then they say that weblogging is not powerful, huh ? Well, this tip will prove them wrong.

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    1. Hi – I was checking another blog at zdnet.com about Skype and saw this very interesting post by Russell Shaw – If you are thinking about Skype in your enterprise, YOU MUST read this first located at http://blogs.zdnet.com/ip-telephony/?p=984. The post describes from a network and from sa systems perspective the security risks with Skype and leaves you with some conclusions that suggest operating Skype from within your enterprise would pose some serious security risks. I was also wondering if you had ideas on what was the best of the breed for SIP/VOIP phone services.

    2. Hello Dennis and welcome to elsua! Thanks very much for the feedback comments ! I really appreciate you actually shared with us the weblog post by Russell as I think it adds up some very interesting perspectives that people should be very much aware of whenever they would attempt to make use of Skype in the enterprise. Some food for thought that I will also be sure to follow up on and see what the folks from Skype say. Thus thanks again for that link !

      Regarding your second query I am not sure if they would be best of breed but the three of them which I am very fond of and which I have made extensive use of are as follows:

      • IBM Community Tools and then IBM Lotus Sametime 7.5: the latter an IBM product already on its alpha status (Not available externally just yet)  and which I will weblog about it some time over the next few weeks as it moves into a Beta release.
      • Google Talk: perhaps one of the most interesting offerings because of its extensibility with other Open source IM protocols.
      • Damaka: another worth while offering to look into specially because of its integration capabilities with other web services.
      • Gizmo Project: an Open source IM / VoIP client which is grabbing a nice momentum as well.
      • Jajah: Specially the cool web version option for which I will weblog about some time soon. Highly recommended.
      • Voipbuster: If you are interested in some very competitive rates for VoIP with some good quality VoIP capabilities.

      As you will be able to see lots of different options but certainly very worth while exploring and playing around with them. Have a look into the links themselves for some reviews I have done about them in the past. Hope that helps. Thanks again for the feedback !

    3. I am in USA – new to internet – how much
      and how do I get free anything ;mail or phone etc
      – I use a free computer at the library-thank
      you- if you can please give me some information .

    4. Hi Bob, well, if you live in the US now you actually have got a couple of good choices. Obviously, for e-mail you can always make use of GMail, or Yahoo! Mail. Whatever is easier for you. And if you can install it for your free of charge calls you can make use of Skype which offers free calls to landlines in the US and Canada. So you may want to give it a try, as long as you would be able to install it at that particular computer. Good luck !

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