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

Knowledge Tools

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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    Is It Really Opera’s Fault?

    (Migrated weblog post from LSR)

    I seriously doubt it, I am afraid. And I will explain why. If you go into the following news article:: REVIEW: New Opera Browser Fails at Basics, published a little while ago and which I got my hands on through a good friend of mine, you will see that Anick is mentioning that Opera 8 is just a superb web browser with some really interesting and innovative new features put together. However, at the same time he is mentioning how some of the web sites he has visited to test the browser do not seem to be working well with Opera and will provide some kind of errors.

    And I was wondering why as I was reading through the article. I was wondering why is it that Opera always gets blamed for not rendering some web sites properly, and only some particular web sites? Why is it always the web browser that gets blamed and not the developers of those web sites who have just ignored testing their web site against all the most popular web browsers or, even worse, who have not tried to follow the different web standards that are in place? Yet, Opera gets blamed for it.

    This is certainly something that I have always considered very unfair and which has forced me to still use Internet Explorer every now and then. Quite frustrating because instead of making an effort to try to follow and adapt the web standards web developers still think that Internet Explorer and FireFox are what really matters when browsing the Web. Well, think again ! That is no longer the case. Web standards are becoming increasingly more and more popular and as such most web sites are starting to pay attention to these and as well know Opera is leading in those web standards compliance at the moment.

    Take, for instance, free web mail services. In that Yahoo! news article it is mentioned how Opera does not seem to be working fine with Hotmail. But how many other web mail services do you know that do not work with it? So far, from all those I have played around with, none of them have failed (not even GMail.com). Another example, weblogging offerings. Apparently (I haven’t tried it out so can’t confirm), LiveJournal does not seem to be working fine with this web browser. However, WordPress does a superb job as can been read elsewhere. So, you see, Opera can work very well with plenty of web sites, but it needs to be let alone with them as it is supposed to.

    People should be focusing more on advising web developers to update their web sites to become more compliant with the web standards than to indicate that Opera is great but it will not work with some web sites. And then suggest another browser to do the job, when that browser may not be the best option to handle those standards. Thank goodness we have got the Help > Report a site problem… menu option in the browser itself so that we, fans of web standards and web browsers who follow them closely (or, at least, try to), need to continue telling web developers that we are there and that we should not be ignored when they get busy developing their sites. After all we are their customers and as such they should be paying more attention to their users. Otherwise we may be venturing into other greener pastures.

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