Sunday, April 27, 2008

Skype launches new beta for feature phones, for S60 and Windows Mobile

Skype announced a beta version of its client for Java-enabled mobile phones with the current list of compatible devices from Motorola, Nokia, and Samsung. The intent of this new mobile client is to expand Skype to the mass market feature phone, but being the mobile geek that I am I decided to try it out on some other devices and was fairly pleased with the results.

While Skype is a VoIP solution that is extremely popular around the world, this current beta mobile implementation actually uses standard calls over carrier networks to make the actual call from your mobile phone. Most feature phones/mass market phones do not support WiFi or 3G networks in the U.S. so this is probably the best way to currently get the calls initiated. There are a few select countries where you can actually make calls via the Skype network directly in this current beta too, including Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The call is then routed through Skype’s network to the person you are calling and the only charges that will apply are your carrier minutes. When you initiate a call a pop-up appears to ask if you want to make the local call and my phones kept calling an 813 area code number. It still does use WiFi or 3G networks to maintain your presence and carry out chats so it is a rather seamless experience on your device.

I think U.S. carriers may actually support this type of implementation of Skype because it uses up carrier minutes and they prefer that you upgrade your plan to get more minutes rather than having you use WiFi on a supported handset and make calls without their network.

I first loaded this Skype beta client on my Nokia N95 and placed a call to fellow MobileTechRoundup podcast co-host Kevin Tofel before we recorded our latest show. He did not see me appear as my Skype user name on his end, but as a call from my mobile phone number. The call sounded quite clear on both ends. He also sent me a chat message and that appeared right on my phone and allowed me to chat back with him. This part was carried out via my 3G connection (WiFi works too). The interesting thing is that I was stilled signed into Skype on my MBP so I also saw the same chat appear on a window on that machine.

Since this is a Java application and I have a Java client on my T-Mobile Shadow, I loaded the Skype beta (without incident) on my Shadow and tried to make a connection via the T-Mobile EDGE network. This connection failed so I then tried a WiFi connection. I was able to connect via WiFi, but the call out from the phone was still made to that 813 area code number. Again, chatting was carried out via WiFi.

You can download and try out the application right from your mobile phone browser by visiting or go to the Skype page and download it to your computer first.

There is a Skype client for Windows Mobile currently available (and has been for some time), however that client only lets you talk via speakerphone or a headset. With this Java client you can hold your phone and use it without a headset or in speakerphone mode. I also really like the N800/N810 client and have used that on business trips with a WiFi connection to stay in touch with family.

I can see using this with my AT&T account since I have thousands of available roll-over minutes and think this is a great product for feature phone users. However, smartphone users have other available solutions that allow us to actually make calls over WiFi without needing to make a local call. fring is one of my favorite solutions that works with Windows Mobile and S60 devices and also integrates Skype into the program so that is my preferred solution.

Matthew Miller is an avid mobile device enthusiast who works during the day as a professional naval architect in Seattle. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Playing with bells and whistles

A virtual cacophony of sounds awaits your selection, depending on your mood and how much idle time you have to fool around and experiment with what suits your fancy. You can choose from a variety of dial tones, busy signals, connecting buzzes, on-hold tones, and many others from the sounds panel list If you wish, you can import sound files directly from your hard drive or even purchase and download sound files from the Skype Web site. Choosing Tools➪Ringtones➪Get Latest Ringtones takes you to Skype’s personalization Web site This site allows you to try different ringtones before you choose to buy them Skype can play WAV sound files. If you have an MP3 file, you can convert it to a WAV-formatted file by using programs such as Audacity and QuickTime Pro. Plenty of other programs make this conversion as well.

Customizing Your Skype Sounds

Remember the uproar around Classic Coke? The Coca-Cola Company changed the formula, introduced a new beverage, and suddenly everyone became nostalgic for the old taste. Well, the designers of Skype wisely kept its classic, familiar ringtones when they added a snazzy new group of modern sounds for the following:
_ Busy Signal
_ Call on Hold
_ Connecting Call
_ Contact Online
_ Dial Tone
_ Hang Up
_ Incoming Chat
_ Resuming Call
_ Ringtone
Skype allows you to customize your ringtones by importing WAV files purchased on the Internet or even by importing your own digital recordings. Skype further lets you manage its behavior by controlling the sound devices on your computer. The following sections explain how to customize Skype in this regard.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Microsoft Mislabels Skype as Adware

Skype users who have been getting strange error messages from Microsoft's security products over the past week can breathe easy now. It was all a mistake.

Microsoft said Wednesday that a buggy antivirus definition update, released Friday, had mislabeled Skype as pop-up adware program called Win32/Vundo.gen!D. The issue was fixed Monday in a signature update so users who have version 1.31.9121.0 of Microsoft's malware signature file should be fine.

Microsoft's security products were not removing Skype, simply blocking it from running, so users should not have to install any new software once they've updated their antivirus definitions. "Once the signatures are updated on the user's machine, Skype will operate normally," Microsoft's public relations agency said in a statement.

The buggy update affects Forefront Client Security, Windows Live OneCare and Windows Live OneCare Safety Scanner, but not Windows Defender or the Malicious Software Removal Tool that ships with Windows.

Microsoft's gaffe was an annoyance for users, but security products often mistakenly report legitimate software as malware, called a "false positive," by security experts. Two years ago, for example, Sophos identified legitimate Mac OS X files as malware.

Receiving Notifications when Someone Skypes You

Skype provides a number of notifications that alert you, by on-screen messages or through sound effects, when someone on your Skype Contacts list comes online or does the following:
_ Calls you
_ Starts a chat with you
_ Sends you a file
_ Requests your contact details
_ Sends you contacts
_ Leaves you a Voicemail message
To choose what notifications you want Skype to provide you with, click
Notifications in the Options window to display the Notifications panel. Depending on how you like to work, any or all of these notifications

can serve you well or be an annoyance. You might want to start by enabling all the notifications (do so by clicking the box next to each option) and then see how they work out for a while. You can go back and alter your settings anytime.
Another type of notification setting, which appears at the bottom of the Notifications menu, is Display Messages for Help/Tips. Enable this setting if you want Skype to alert you to various kinds of supplementary services available from Skype such as SkypeOut, SkypeIn, or sending SMS messages, which are fee-based services.

Skype can notify you when any of your Skype contacts come online. If you start accumulating a lot of contacts, you may find this feature distracting and sometimes even downright annoying. If you happen to use a wireless network and your connection cuts in and out, then after the connection resumes, you can get alerts displaying the contacts that appear to come online all at one time. Sometimes, too much of a good thing may not be so good! For this reason, many skypers choose to keep the setting for Someone Comes Online disabled.

As you become familiar with Skype and don’t require all the helpful hints and suggestions, you may want to turn off Help/Tips because it, too, is distracting by constantly suggesting and displaying links to services that have nothing to do with what you are doing at the moment, such as SkypeOut, SkypeIn, or sending SMS text messages.

Customizing Your Sounds

Remember the uproar around Classic Coke? The Coca-Cola Company changed the formula, introduced a new beverage, and suddenly everyone became nostalgic for the old taste. Well, the designers of Skype wisely kept its classic, familiar ringtones when they added a snazzy new group of modern sounds for the following:
_ Busy Signal
_ Call on Hold
_ Connecting Call
_ Contact Online
_ Dial Tone
_ Hang Up
_ Incoming Chat
_ Resuming Call
_ Ringtone
Skype allows you to customize your ringtones by importing WAV files purchased on the Internet or even by importing your own digital recordings. Skype further lets you manage its behavior by controlling the sound devices on your computer. The following sections explain how to customize Skype in this regard.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fring brings Skype to the iPhone

Fring, the VoIP client that integrates with various VoIP networks including the ubiquitous Skype, is now available for the iPhone - providing exactly the kind of application that Steve Jobs stated wouldn't be allowed.

Fring started out as a mobile client for accessing Skype, though the application now connects to all sorts of networks including MSN, Google pTalk and AIM, thus providing an identity-aggregator for mobile use. It's been available for Series 60 and Windows Mobile for a while, though the company still has no understandable business model as such.

Skype has claimed that creating a mobile client, for anything other than Windows Mobile, is too technically challenging and that they are still working on it; though in reality it's probably more of a problem getting Skype's protocols to work over the mobile networks. Fring cheats somewhat by using its own protocol, which was designed for mobile use, and then providing a gateway into Skype and its brethren.

Fring isn't the only way to get VoIP onto the iPhone, or an iPod Touch, but it's certainly the most compatible. Mobile VoIP provider Truphone demonstrates a client for the iPhone back in September last year, though some claimed that the software was not as functional as it appeared. Quite why Fring has been able to launch its client, while Truphone hasn't, isn't clear: Truphone hasn't responded to our enquiry, but it could well be that the company is trying to avoid annoying Apple.

But annoy Apple this surely will - Steve Jobs stated explicitly, when he launched the official iPhone developer's kit, that VoIP applications would not be welcome. Apple is hoping that the vast majority of iPhone users will never unlock their handsets to install unofficial software, but something like Fring could well be the killer application that turns iPhone users to the dark side of unlocked apps and a download-from-anywhere philosophy.

Why Skype Should be Sold to Google

By Rich Tehrani
President and Editor-in-Chief

There are now rumors circulating that Google will buy Skype. these rumors are not new — I wrote about this as recently as November 20 of 2007.

But they did die down for a while and have been renewed. I have heard wild claims like the valuation of Skype is in the multibillion dollar range, etc.

I should mention that I have tremendous admiration for the people at Skype who developed software that tens of millions of people use. I am frequently blown away when I use the software myself and see over ten million people online at one time.

Having said that, Skype is a poster child for IP communications. Certainly not the only one but many think of them as a barometer for the market. Vonage too is thought of as a barometer of the communications space. Sadly, the two of these companies have done nothing to help the communications space these past few years. Quite the opposite in fact.

But Vonage (News - Alert) is not the topic of this article... Skype is. And even if free software, which sits on your PC has nothing to do with session border controllers, some in the investment community like to lump the companies together.

What this means of course is that to have the healthiest communications market — and especially an IP communications market — we need to ensure Skype does well.

Certainly this may not be possible. In other words perhaps there is no way for Skype to ever make more money than they do now. In fact, perhaps when Motley Fool writes about just how atrocious the Skype purchase was for eBay I should just accept it. Maybe the company is doing its best and still can’t make big profits.

But I am 100 percent sure that the company’s management could do a lot better. In fact I wrote an entry titled What eBay Should do with Skype where I outlined steps the company should take.

Here they are once again:

  1. Enhance the social network capabilities: Skype currently is in a good position to expand into social networking via Facebook-like features. They have added some community services but not enough to be taken seriously as a real social network. Some analysts place Facebook’s value at $100 billion. This is obviously an area the company should be going after more seriously.
  2. Show some ads: Let’s see if I understand the situation. You have over five million users on your service almost every moment of every day. You need to increase revenue. Your answer? Show no ads. If I were eBay I would be flashing product listings in front of Skype users as often as possible. If this doesn’t make sense, why not show Google ads like everyone else in the world? It is tough to see where this isn’t a $100 million/year revenue opportunity — this amount may seem high but think about how long people use Skype each day and consider you can flash new ads in front of users constantly. Moreover, probably $90 million would flow to the bottom line. eBay’s P/E ratio is currently about 40 so this amount of earnings could translate into about $3.6 billion in market capitalization. Not showing ads is something I can’t conceivably understand.
  3. Enter the enterprise VoIP market: Cbeyond (News - Alert) has a market cap of over a billion dollars and provides hosted communications to just a few cities in the U.S. Zennstrom first told the world at Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO that Skype was very popular in the business space. Why was this never monetized in a formal manner?
  4. Provide paid recording capabilities: With the regulatory environment forcing so many companies to record phone calls and so many Skype users in the world, you have to offer a recording service to help those companies who need to capture Skype IM and voice calls within their organizations. My revenue estimate? $25–$100 million/year.
  5. Skype trunking: This technology is one of the most intriguing around — allowing companies to communicate with branch offices, customers and home workers at a low cost. I feel going forward every company should take advantage ofSIP trunking and Skype trunking. Skype knows this. So the question I feel compelled to ask is why would they do not work more closely with partners such as VoSKY and actually market Skype trunking products to customers in a more serious way. VoSKY is doing a good job but why is there not a multimillion dollar Skype ad budget behind VoSKY and others? Why leave the success of this massive market in the hands of partners when you can ensure the rapid success of this burgeoning new space yourself? The reason may be that Skype was built as a viral platform and they except this to be the only way to sell. Ditto for eBay. Guess what? Companies likeAvaya ( News - Alert), Cisco, Dialogic and Quintum sell telecom equipment and/or gateways and they have to market to customers. To be serious in the business space, Skype needs to start a serious partner program where they fund the marketing of companies which help their own paid services increase.
  6. Go after the PBX vendors: If I am a PBX (News - Alert) vendor I would be looking for Skype interoperability as a differentiator. Still, I have yet to see an ad touting PBX vendor’s Skype Interop. Why?
  7. Charge for something beyond just connecting to the PSTN: Charge for conferencing, enhanced video, the ability to get new features first, for the ability to use the service without having to see ads, etc.
  8. Partner with media companies: Work with content providers and stream programming via the Skype client. Make money through subscriptions and ads.
  9. Take on the world’s biggest auction houses with Skype video enabled live auctions. If eBay can pull off selling cars, it can pull this off as well.
  10. Embrace Skype: I have a weird question. Companies all over the world are integrating their customer service departments with gateways allowing callers to use Skype to call in. Isn’t it odd that PayPal doesn’t accept Skype phone calls? If you want companies to integrate with Skype — which will obviously increase revenue — doesn’t it make sense to lead by example?
  11. Embrace enterprise video: Video is enjoying resurgence and Skype has a well-known brand name and has a pretty good video solution. What about offering a video plan for businesses which will be cheaper than existing solutions on the market but priced high enough to generate real revenue?
Some of these things have been done already but for the life of me I cannot understand why I am not bombarded with ads when I use Skype. Of course eBay ads should be shown. If we approximate the number of users on Skype at any given moment to be conservatively 8 million, there should easily be 25 million people using the software each day.

There is gold in those connections. By not showing ads in fact, I believe eBay is at risk of shareholder lawsuits.

But for whatever reason, the company has not chosen to embark upon many of the ideas above. Frankly, there is no crystal ball that says these ideas will bring in a billion more in revenue but the cost of trying most of them is peanuts and not doing anything is guaranteed to produce similar results to what the company is now experiencing.

So in my opinion, I think having Skype sold to another company will be good for the entire communications space. Perhaps the company needs a fresh start and some time to try anything and everything that will get the cash register ringing.

Google is a great partner because they have the ability to show ads from the largest ad network in the business. More importantly, they have technology which can recognize spoken words and show the appropriate ads based on keyword.

In a way, we should think of Skype the same way we think of YouTube (News - Alert)... An extremely successful multimedia platform with tens of millions of users where ads can be laser targeted.

I should mention that I did reach out to Skype regarding the Google acquisition and they mentioned that they do not comment on speculation and rumors. Of course this was what we all expected.

I suppose the next time I reach out to the company I should ask them about my ideas. Am I way off base? If so perhaps the company could clue me in as I would love to see Skype continue to grow, not only in users but in revenue.

Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor in Chief at TMC. In addition he is the Chairman of the world’s best attended IP Communications event, Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO.

Establishing who can call or chat with you

Privacy options let you allow or deny calls and chats. You can also put some callers in the virtual doghouse by blocking contact altogether. Be aware that privacy is something you must choose. Skype’s default setting allows anyone to initiate a call or chat with you. Skype calls this process “Authorization,” meaning that when someone requests your Contact Details, you have authorized him or her to know both your full Skype identity particulars (except your email address) and your online status in real time. Authorization is usually what you want to choose in order to keep connected to your new circle of friends. This setting is probably not your first choice, however, when it comes to the world at large.

The Skype community is large and growing daily. This means that possibly thousands of people, organizations, or interest groups might want to contact you — or you them. Although this is a welcome opportunity, you need to be aware that you may be sharing a bit more than “hello” when you share contact details or accept a call or chat.
When a person contacts you for the first time, a Skype window pops up on your screen . You might be tempted to hastily click OK so that you can get back to what you were doing. Wait! Before you prematurely send all your information, you can click the Show Options button and look over your other choices, as follows:
  • Send Your Contact Details with This Person: Choosing this option allows the person to freely communicate with you whenever he or she wants.
  • Do Not Send Your Contact Details with This Person: Choosing this option ignores the person’s request. That person can’t tell whether you simply didn’t respond or actually declined his or her request.
  • Block This Person from Contacting You in the Future: This option means that you will always appear as Offline anytime that person views you in his or her Contacts list.
By deselecting the Add This Person to My Contacts option, you can share your contact details with a person without adding that person to your own list of Skype contacts.
Even if you set your privacy settings so that only authorized people can contact you or see when you are online, you can still receive “Hello from” requests from new visitors.

Editing your Skype profile

Your Skype profile contains three kinds of information:
  • Information that all Skype users can see: Includes information such as
    • Your full name.
    • Your vital statistics: Gender and date of birth.
    • Geographic location: You can specify the Country/Region,
    • State/Province, and City.
    • Your preferred language.
    • Your telephone numbers: Can include home, office, and mobile.
    • Your Home page: You may have a Web site that you want the world to visit.
    • A description about yourself: If you want to tell your life’s story, you must do it in 200 characters or fewer.
  • Information that only your Skype contacts can see: Only your Skype buddies get the exclusive and revealing picture of you, as well as some limited information about your Skype account.
    • Your Skype picture.
    • Your time: It can be your computer’s local time or a Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
    • The number of Skype contacts you have: You can choose not to reveal this information to anyone.
  • Information known only to you:
    • Your email address: You can list more than one email address.
The information in the public portion of your profile is available literally to any Skype user. The semi-private information is reserved for your Skype contacts, and no one gets to directly view your email address.
From a privacy perspective, a few points are worth mentioning:
  • Even if you don’t want to reveal much information, you’ll probably find that listing your preferred language and country is useful. Adding identifying information such as a country can be helpful to someone who searches for your name and finds several people with the same first and last name as yours. Additional information can help to narrow the list.
  • Many people are unaware that the number of Skype contacts a person has is listed unless they deselect this option. You may not want the world to know that you have only three contacts, especially if you portray yourself as being experienced in VoIP and Skype.
  • You can choose to fill in all the items in your profile, or none of them. You should have your email address in your profile so that you can take advantage of features such as SkypeOut, SkypeIn, and Voicemail. Also, if you ever forget your password, you’ll need your email account to reset your password.
  • Although your password is never directly displayed, a Skype user who generally knows your email address can find you by searching Skype.
The last item may prove to be very helpful. You can use, for example, a or email address for your company. People can then easily search for and find the right party, such as sales or support, if your company has many Skype user accounts.

Protecting Your Privacy

Skype gives you two mechanisms for protecting your privacy:
  • Your Skype profile: Information about yourself that you allow anyone on Skype to see. It can be jam-packed with information or contain barely anything.
  • Your Privacy setting: This setting enables you to set who can directly call or chat with you.
In real life, anyone can find out where you live. All anyone needs to do is to look you up in a phone book, buy a mailing list, or find you through some publicly available information source. The fact that people happen to know you means that they can show up at your doorstep whenever they please. But if you live in a building with a doorman, visitors have to be announced, and you can give instructions to the doorman as to who is allowed to visit and who isn’t. Skype, through its profile and privacy settings, parallels this latter arrangement closely. The next two sections show how you can make it easy or difficult for people to find you based on your Skype profile, and how to assert control over who can start a call or chat with you based on your privacy settings.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Falling asleep at the keyboard? Set Skype to cover for you while you snooze.

The other choices on the General options relate to automatic changes to your online status — your visibility to others on the Skype network. Click the box next to Show Me As ‘Away’ When I Am Inactive For to set how long you want Skype to wait before automatically signifying that you’ve stepped away from the computer. When your mouse movement halts, Skype senses this mouse inactivity after the amount of time you set and automatically displays an Away icon next to your contact name. You control how long Skype waits to trigger a change in status; you may choose to have an Away sign posted after five minutes, and a Not Available sign posted after 20 minutes. To change these settings, choose Tools➪Options, click General, and adjust the number of minutes listed; then, click Save.

Express yourself

Emoticons, an array of symbols that express emotions, play an important role in a Skype chat. Meeting a new person over Skype by using the chat mode means that you see only the written words, not the person’s facial expressions. You can’t hear the eagerness, sincerity, kindness, or humor in his or her voice. Sometimes a chat mode is an introductory meeting, which, if all goes well, leads to a conversation, a file transfer, or other privileges we extend to people we trust. The addition of an emoticon can break the ice between new Skype contacts.

Although Skype emoticons are generally animated, such as a “(dance)” emoticon that displays an icon-sized person dancing, you can change the behavior of your emoticons to be static images in your chat windows. To do so, deselect the Show Animated Emoticons option in your General options. If you want to eliminate the graphic representation of emoticons altogether and instead show text that represents the emoticon, deselect the Show Emoticons option. The dancing person emoticon appears as “(dance),” with the parentheses, in your chat window.

In addition to placing emoticons by clicking icons in the pop-up panel, you can enter the text representation in your text chat window. For example, to show the image of the emoticon with sunglasses, you enter (cool). Some undocumented emoticons that you might enjoy are also available. One of our favorites, especially after laborious hours of writing and editing, is the “(headbang)” emoticon. When you see this animation, you will know that emoticons can be very expressive.
(Try finding some you like at
http:// html.)

In your chat window, you can display emoticons representing the flags for various countries. To display a flag for the United States, enter (flag:us); for Canada, enter (flag:ca). The choice of country flags is extensive and is based on the two-letter designation set by the International Standards Organization standard ISO-3166. You can find the full list of two-letter country abbreviations at

To speak or not to speak

Maybe you’re a little shy when you first meet someone, or you just don’t feel like talking sometimes. You can tell Skype that you always want to start in chat mode (which really means writing mode) rather than audio mode whenever you double-click the name of a person in your Contacts list. To have Skype start in chat mode, click the Start a Chat button under the When I Double-Click on Contact or Use the Address Field option. In chat mode, you can exchange written messages with another user, send files from your hard drive, and paste links of Internet addresses from any Web browser.

The alternative is to set Skype to start in audio mode by clicking the Start a Call button. In this mode, when you double-click the name of a contact, you hear a ringing tone just as you do when you dial a person on a regular telephone. Assuming that your recipient is available, you are in a direct conversation with the person you called. Regardless of whether you set your General options to start a chat or start an audio call when you double-click a contact, you are always free to directly call the selected contact and click the green call button. You are also free to start a chat with that selected contact.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Why Customizing Skype Options?

When you’ve started to get used to Skype, you may want to fine-tune some of the details regarding how it works in your digital world. The more you know about making your Skype settings suit your daily needs, the better Skype will serve you.
These pages guide you through choosing your general settings, privacy options, notifications and alerts, sound effects and sound devices, hotkeys, connection options, and advanced features. We cover these option groups in the same sequence as they appear in the menu pane of the General options menu.
Use this chapter to help you define how you interact with the Skype community and what you will (and won’t) let the software do. To get started, choose Tools➪Options to open the Skype Options menu, which contains all the options covered in this chapter. You can see the option groups listed in the pane on the left side of the screen. Click the top one, General, to open the General menu.
General options are grouped into three categories:
  • Telling Skype to start a chat or start a call when you double-click a contact
  • Emoticon behavior
  • Online status timeouts

Displaying your Skype online status

Online status icons signify how you want the world to view you on Skype.
  • Offline: Select this when you don’t want to take or make any calls. The green call button for making calls is dimmed, indicating that you cannot make calls. However, you can look up profile information about any Skype contact while in this mode.
  • Online: This is the status you have (the default setting) when you log on.
  • Skype Me: This mode lets everyone else on Skype know that you are interested in talking or chatting with other folks even if they do not know you. By choosing this option, you temporarily disable your privacy settings. In this way, someone can reach you without having to request that you share your contact details. When you return from Skype Me status, your privacy settings are automatically restored.
  • Away or Not Available: If your computer has been idle for a while, your status changes from Online to Away or Not Available automatically until you do something, such as move the mouse on your screen. Then it returns to Online status automatically.
    • An Away icon (a Skype icon with a small watch next to it) appears next to your Skype Name if there is no activity after a few minutes. Skype sets this time to five minutes, but you can change the settings to a different amount of time.
    • A Not Available icon (a Skype icon with a lunar crescent — a kind of “gone to sleep” mode) appears next to your Skype Name after your computer is idle for a longer period of time. Skype sets the amount to 20 minutes, but you can change the settings to a different amount of time.
  • The Away or Not Available mode tells other Skype users that you have Skype running but may have actually stepped away from the computer and are unable to respond to a call or chat. Actually, you could be snoozing at the keyboard, but nobody can tell the difference!
  • Do Not Disturb: You can indicate that you don’t want to be interrupted by choosing this status. In this mode, you won’t receive any incoming calls or messages, but you can make outgoing calls.
  • Invisible: This is sort of a stealth mode by which you can function as you regularly do in Online mode, making and receiving calls, participating on chats, and so on. When others on Skype look at your status, it appears that you are Offline, even though you’re not.
You can change your status anytime, with a choice of ways to do that:
  • Choose File➪Change Online Status: This method makes a drop-down list of status icons appear.
  • Click the Status icon at the bottom-right corner of the window: Clicking this icon brings up a drop-down list with Change Status as the first option. Click that option to open the same drop-down list that opens by clicking File➪Change Online Status.

How to use the Skype toolbar?

Although you can access many of Skype’s features from the main menu, the Skype toolbar displays many of these essential features on toolbar icons. The base set of icons includes the following:
  • Add Contacts.
  • Search: Find registered Skype users.
  • Call Phones: SkypeOut from the Dial tab.
  • Conference: Start a Skype conference.
  • Chat: Open a chat with the selected Skype contacts.
  • Send SMS: Send an SMS text message to an SMS-enabled mobile device.
  • Send File: Transfer a file to one or more Skype contacts.
  • Profile: Look up the profile of a selected Skype contact.
  • Hold/Resume: While you are actively talking to someone on Skype, this Hold icon appears. Choosing Hold holds the call and the icon changes from Hold to Resume. It continues to stay that way until you either click Resume to resume the call or the call is ended, possibly by the other person’s hanging up. You don’t want to keep someone waiting on hold forever, do you?
When you are not actively on a call, the Hold and Resume toolbar icons are hidden altogether.
  • Mute/Unmute: While you are on a call, you can mute your microphone. The icon changes from mute to unmute and stays that way until you unmute the connection or the call is ended. When you are not actively on a call, the Mute and Unmute toolbar icons are hidden altogether. We need to mention some other important features of the Skype toolbar, as follows:
  • If your Skype window is narrower than the space available to display the toolbar icons, some of them are hidden. In their place on the right side of the visible toolbar is a double-arrow icon. Click the icon to display the hidden toolbar icons and then click the icons that you need.