Friday, February 27, 2009

Organizing messages

When you install the Skylook plugin, the program automatically creates a Skylook Conversations folder that you can access within Outlook. The Skylook Conversations folder functions just like the folders that store your email, but it contains voicemail, chats, and recorded sessions, as well.
Consider these ideas for keeping the contents of your Skylook Conversations folder organized:
  • Treat the files as though they were emails. Move conversations to another folder, flag them, mark them as unread, or delete them.
  • Organize your archived conversations by date, category, from, for, size, subject, type, flag, email, importance, and even by conversation.
  • Review all communication in a particular thread, or with a particular individual, to get a snapshot of an ongoing project. Go through your messages by listening, reading, and printing chats.
  • Share your messages by forwarding them to friends and colleagues through email or by collecting and putting them in a public folder.
When your messages are properly sorted, you can follow up on each one more easily. You can return a Skype call, send a reply to that chat, or listen once again to a voice message or recorded conversation. You know which contacts are online because the Skype status system (the feature that shows your online Skype availability) works within Skylook. If someone’s status is Online, Available, or better yet, in Skype Me mode, by all means, make that call!

Making WAVs or, better yet, MP3s

Another new productivity tool Skylook brings to Outlook is conversation recording and archiving. Suppose that you set up an Outlook appointment to skype Bob and discuss the details of an upcoming workshop. Rather than take notes during your conversation, you can use Skylook’s tools to record, preserve, and store the conversation.
To the right of the orange Skylook Tools icon on the Skylook toolbar is a small triangular “notch” for Skylook Options and Other Functions. Clicking this icon opens a menu. Select Options and click the Recording tab; from there, you can set the recording conversations features with the following choices:
  • To automatically record all calls. When automatic recording is active, the recording starts as soon as you make or receive a Skype call.
  • To record only your side or both sides of the conversation. Select either Record My Voice Only or Record All Voices. You can set this option to apply separately to Skype-to-Skype calls or to SkypeIn and SkypeOut calls.
Recording the voices of other parties may be subject to legal limitations in some jurisdictions. These limitations may require you to notify the other party that the conversation is being recorded. In some cases, recording the other party, even with notice, may not be legal. Please verify the limitations for your jurisdiction. Even though you may be recording a conversation for your own internal use, it is always good to be considerate and courteous and inform the other party that you are recording the conversation. The Skype Call Monitor is a floating window that pops up to let you know a call is being recorded. When you expand the Skype Call Monitor, it becomes a larger window that displays real-time information about the recording in progress. The information that is monitored includes the length of the recording (in minutes and seconds) as it happens and the size of the recorded file (in KB) as it grows. If you capture every Skype conversation, you may need a lot more hard drive space (and tons of free time to listen to all those conversations again).

Suppose that you schedule a meeting (that is, a Skype conversation) with your good friend Bob in Outlook. When the meeting is about to start, a screen pops up as a reminder to make your Skype call. Click the reminder icon to open your appointment window. You then select Bob’s name in the Contacts box, click the Skype Voice Call button, and you are connected over Skype to good old Bob. If you have call recording enabled, the conversation is automatically recorded and saved as an MP3 file when you log off the call. Skylook then parks the MP3 file in a Skylook Conversations folder. Voice call recording is a full-productivity-mode feature of Skylook. This feature is available in the business, home, or academic versions of Skylook. Basic Skylook, which is free, does not offer any recording tools. In addition to recording conversations, this full productivity mode adds contacts to your Skylook Toolbar, saves your voicemail messages to your Outlook Inbox, and creates a Skype Conversations folder to gather and organize Skype conversations.

When you have full-productivity mode enabled, Skylook presents you with choices in the Skylook Recorded the Conversation For You dialog box. For example, you have the option of emailing the MP3 of your just-recorded conversation to Bob. This handy option saves you from rummaging around trying to find the recording. Simply click the Email a Copy To button, and the recording is on its way.
If you don’t want to record a call, just click the Stop button in the Call Monitor toolbar. If you stop a recording during a Skylook call, the entire recording is deleted. If you want a portion of a conversation preserved, hang up and then reconnect to finish the part you don’t want recorded. The MP3 file of your recorded portion will be tucked away in the Skylook Conversations folder.
Try using Skylook’s recording feature to produce podcasts or online presentations. You can set Skylook options to make sure that you record both sides of the conversation for interviews or conferences. And if you use Skylook calling to coach, mentor, or present to a group, you can choose to record only your lecture so that you avoid capturing any noise from the others on the call.

Please leave a message . . .

Outlook users tend to keep their Inbox open all the time, expecting little alert beeps when emails come in. A system that is always open like this needs to also handle messages delivered when the intended recipient is away from the desk. Outlook archives and organizes email messages, but it has limited capacity to respond automatically. Usually, the only option is a general automated email reply that answers for you when you’re on vacation or at a conference. But because Skype adds voice capabilities to the mix, Skylook adds voicemail through the Skylook Answering Machine. The Skylook Answering Machine records calls and stores voicemail messages in your Inbox, handling them just like Outlook handles emails. You control when the answering machine responds according to your choice of availability options that you find in your Skype program.
Following are some options you have for controlling the Skylook Answering Machine:
  • When and how to answer: If you choose, the answering machine activates when your Skype status displays Away, Not Available, or Do not Disturb. You can also choose how long to let the Skype caller ring before the answering machine picks up, even if your Web status shows you are available.
  • See who’s calling before you answer: Sometimes you just don’t feel like talking. Of course, because it’s a Skype call, you can see who is calling, glance at the caller’s profile, do a quick search for archived messages, and then decide whether you want to pick up.
  • Listen (or not) to messages coming in: If you decide not to pick up a call, you can hear the message as it’s being recorded, or you can mute the sound if you don’t want to be disturbed.
  • Work in conjunction with Skype Voicemail: Skylook Answering Machine works even if you have Skype Voicemail service. The two don’t fight each other to answer calls. Whichever picks up first takes the message. Whether a call comes in from Skype Voicemail or through Skylook, all incoming messages are stored in the Outlook Inbox if the program is open. If Skylook is not active, Skype Voicemail takes the messages.
  • Record a personal greeting for callers to hear: Skylook has a built-in voice recorder, so a simple wizard screen offers the choice to record a personalized greeting.
On the surface, the Skylook voicemail system works just like ordinary voicemail. Someone calls, hears a greeting, and leaves a message. But because these messages are digital and show up in the Outlook Inbox, you can sort, save, and even email them. And voice messages aren’t the only kind saved;
Skylook will also store missed text chat messages in your Inbox. Using Outlook with the Skylook plugin gives your clients, friends, and family even more ways to communicate with you. Direct calls, emails, text chats, and voice messages are all available — and you are no longer unreachable.