Random Thoughts for July 14th 2010

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/begin random thoughts

I pitched an idea to someone and they liked it so I’ll probably start something new here shortly.

More on that later…

* * *

Networking is important no matter what you do for a living.  Meeting new people, making connections – it can be the difference between something happening or not.

You are more likely to say yes to someone you’ve met face to face versus someone you’ve never even heard of before.

I was once offered a job simply beause I knew someone working for the company who said to The Boss, “Hey – you know who we need here?  Patrick.  He’d be a great fit.”

* * *

Skype really doesn’t like wireless connections.  Learned that last night.  We had Mike Resnick scheduled to be on the Functional Nerds podcast and I really didn’t want another evening full of Skype dropping calls – seriously, you one of the folks who complain about AT&T?  Skype on wifi is 100 times worse.

I sent them an email a while ago about the issues I was having.  Let me dig that out for you…

Ok – here’s what I sent to Skype Customer Support:

“Well, I went through your troubleshooting scenarios and it lead me here, where none of the choices for Topic or problem have anything to do with my problem, which is frustrating.

Once a week, I make a skype to skype  call. Sometimes I have 3 people on and we do a conference call. The call lasts between one hour and an hour and a half max.

I either have: silence from call participants every five minutes for about 30 seconds – like clockwork-

or

At exactly 55 minutes into the call, whoever initiated the call has their sound distorted and cannot be understood – we call this ‘cyloning’ because the person starts to sound like an old Cylon from BSG. Sometimes, this causes the call to drop completely and the person initiating the call has to close Skype completely and restart it before they can be part of the call again.

I’ve started the calls and had this happen to me – I’m running a dual core iMac with Leopard. I’ve also had someone running Windows Vista initiate the call and have the exact same thing happen to her, so it doesn’t seem to be platform specific.

It’s very frustrating. I’ve been considering purchasing an online number and going on a month to month plan, but as near as I can tell – these issues we’re having are related to your service and not to our hardware or connections – not if we can predict it down to the second when the problems are going to occur.

Do you have any solutions for this?”

Here is the response I got back from Skype:

“We are sorry to hear that you are experiencing difficulties with Skype.

The primary reason for robotic sound, dropouts in sentences and sound delay is poor network performance. In the context of Skype this means networks that have a high rate of packet-loss and long packet round-trip-delay.

Below is a list of suggestions which should address the problem that you are experiencing.

These steps can be carried out separately and in any order, so if you are unable to complete any one of them, just move on to the next one.

1.First, please make sure that you are running the latest version of Skype. The latest version of Skype can be found here: http://www.skype.com/download/”

(Note: I am running the latest version for Mac.)

“2. Next, ensure that the following are up-to-date:
– Windows with the latest Service Packs and updates, available from http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/
– DirectX – the main multimedia part of Windows. The newest version can be found at: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/directx/default.aspx”

(Note: I am running a MAC, not Windows.)

“3. Please follow the simple suggestions here that resolve many call quality issues: http://www.skype.com/help/guides/callquality/”

(Note: I ALREADY DID THAT – IT’S WHY I FREAKING SENT YOU AN EMAIL!)

“4. Please follow our visual sound setup guide to make sure your audio settings are correct: http://www.skype.com/help/guides/soundsetup.html”

(Note: What part of I’VE BEEN THROUGH YOUR TROUBLESHOOTING STEPS AND THEY LEAD ME TO EMAIL YOU do you have trouble understanding?)

“5. Now, check that your firewall is not interfering with Skype. You can find our firewall guides at http://www.skype.com/help/guides/firewalls/ Even if it can connect and you are able to use chat it is possible that your firewall is still blocking some connections that Skype needs for a reliable voice or video call. Please refer to your firewall manual if you are not able to find the required information on our website.”

(Note: Already done did it.)

“6. In the Skype top menu go to Tools > Options > Advanced > Connection please tick the option to ‘Use port 80 and 443 as alternatives for incoming connections’. In the ‘Incoming Connections’ box you can chose any port between 1024 and 65535. It is not necessary to change the port number though.”

(Note: That’s how you get there from Windows. I’m on a Mac, remember? Did you even read my email?)

“7. The problem that you are experiencing might also be related to the connection type that you are using or the connection speed availability. Please ensure that when making a call there are no additional programs running that can be taking a lot of bandwidth and also that the internet connection speed is fast enough to support a call. We cannot guarantee that Skype will be working at 100% when there are other programs running which might be interfering with Skype. Sometimes you might also experience this type of problem during a Skype2Skype call when calling a destination where there are known network problems or the connection speed on the other end is insufficient.”

(Note: Tried that. Closed every other internet accessing program on the machine – no difference.)

“8. If the above does not help, please try a clean installation of Skype. Please completely remove Skype via Add/Remove programs and then install again.”

(Note: That’s Friggin WINDOWS! Sigh. You are stupid, aren’t you? please don’t breed…)

“9. For this step showing hidden folders and files has to be turned on. Please navigate to My Computer > Tools > Folder Options > View. Once there, please make sure that the option ‘Show Hidden Files and Folders ‘ is enabled.”

(Note: See the note under #6 – same applies here and I’m tired of retyping it over and over…)

“* Close Skype with a right click on the systray icon (next to the Windows clock) and selecting ‘Quit’
* Locate the shared.xml file found in C:\Documents and Settings\your_windows_username\ApplicationData\Skype\
* Delete shared.xml
* Start Skype (shared.xml will be recreated)”

(Note: Mac! I’m on a Mac! I told you – hey, I’m on a Mac – and you didn’t friggin listen, did you?!  No!  because you’re stupid and you don’t have any trouble shooting guides for Mac, do you?  Please, for the love of God and the good of the gene pool, tell me that you have been fixed!  That you can never spread your seed on an unsuspecting world!!!)

“Last, if you are using a wireless connection, please try connecting your computer to your modem or router using a standard cable.”

(Note: Huh.  Okay, might as well give that a shot.)

Which I did.  I ran a 50ft cat 5 cable from the corner of my living room where Comcast installed the freaking thing, along the wall, passed the front door, up the stairs, around the corner and into my bedroom where my computer and desk are currently setup.  I taped the wire down along the way so it wasn’t a trip hazard.

And we had the best Skype call in the history of the Functional Nerds podcast.

Sigh.

Guess I’m gonna have to make that a permanent thing.

/end random thoughts

~P

3 comments for “Random Thoughts for July 14th 2010

  1. July 14, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Huh. I’ve made a couple off-net (i.e. Skype-to-phone or vice versa) and on-net (i.e. Skype-to-Skype) calls using my wifi & haven’t had a problem. Now I was on a conference call yesterday over an hour where I had horrible audio, but I think my MacBook needed a reboot (it definitely needs more RAM) — and the audio issues mostly cleared up after about 30 minutes.

    As a test when I first set up Skype, I did a video call with one of the boarders in the next room over, I think we were both using the wifi & she was on a dozebox. You got a form letter from the tech support people — I betcha no human read your email (beyond verifying you had a Skype problem) before sending the boilerplate.

    Let me guess: Comcast put your cable modem on a splitter with your set-top box? Is it an all-in-one CM+router or do you have your own router attached? Anyway, if you have a CATV wall jack in your bedroom, you can probably move the box in there & save yourself a lot of grief. ‘Cause even though it’s your house, if your mom is anything like mine, she’ll be making noises about the unsightly cable before too long. You might want to just poke a couple holes in the floor & route some Cat5 into your bedroom & the basement… if you move your computer into the basement, you’ll have to do that anyway.

    Rotsa-ruck, as we used to say…

  2. July 14, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    P.S. DM me your Skype name & I’ll add you.

  3. July 14, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Ah, too funny. Hope the cats don’t like to chew on cabling.

Comments are closed.