Skype Conference Calls not working?

Posted by Paul on Oct 26, 2006

If you are unable to start a Skype conference call, this may be due to add-on software or hardware drivers interfering with Skype.

One known example is the software that gets installed with the Logitech QuickCam. (See this link).

If you suspect add-on software or hardware of causing an issue such as this, try uninstalling your add-ons one by one to find out which one is causing the problem.

Thanks to Kyle Jones for making us aware of this.

VoIP

Posted by Paul on Oct 20, 2006

What is VoIP?

VoIP means making “phone” calls using the Internet to transfer your voice instead of traditional phone cables.

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol.

In layman’s terms, your Voice is converted to ones and zeros and sent over the Internet to someone else, and vice-versa. (The Protocol part makes up the commonly used term “Internet Protocol”, which means the rules and mechanisms via which data is transmitted over the Internet).

Because there’s only the Internet between you and the person you are talking to, there are often no charges over and above your Internet Service Provider fees. Once your voice is converted to data and put out on the ‘net, the ‘net doesn’t discriminate – it’s all data and so there’s no reason to charge you extra.

The term VoIP can also cover situations where only one end of the call is on the Internet and the other end is on a traditional phone. In this case there are generally charges involved as the traditional phone network has to be used to do this.

Advantages of VoIP over traditional phones

  • It’s generally free for pure VoIP calls, and cheap for international calls to traditional phones
  • On pure VoIP calls (where no traditional phone is involved), the call can sound a lot “higher-fidelity” than a traditional phone
  • Natural tie-in with many PC applications (e.g. contact managers)

Disadvantages

  • The Internet has no “Quality of service” built in, so on some calls quality can be poor (although generally if you and the callee both have good broadband connections this doesn’t tend to be a problem)
  • Messing around with a headset on your PC can be a pain
  • Generally can’t be used to make emergency calls
  • Sometimes can’t be used to call freecall numbers (e.g. 1800-).

Popular VoIP Providers

How to Record Interviews by Phone or VoIP for Podcast or Broadcast

Posted by Paul on Oct 17, 2006

This article shows you how to record phone or VoIP interviews, with high quality, for Podcasting or Broadcasting, with a standard PC, no expensive audio equipment and no prior training in audio production.

These steps assume you have Outlook installed (see Skylook prerequisites for details). They guide you through:

  • Setting up Skype so that you can make phone and PC-to-PC calls from your PC
  • Setting up recording of calls using Skylook
  • (Optional) Editing of the resulting audio using Audacity

1. Follow these instructions to set up Skype if you don’t already use it.

2. If you don’t already have Skylook, download and install it from here.

3. Start Outlook. If you are running Skylook for the first time, you will see the Skylook licensing wizard and the Skylook Welcome wizard. Follow the prompts to set up Skylook the way you want.

4. Click this button on the Skylook toolbar:
Skylook Options Button

then click the Recording option page and set the options as shown:
Skype Recording Options

The key options are: Allow call recording, Start recording automatically when each call starts and Store raw audio in addition to the audio recorded in the format above. The Raw audio folder option defaults to a folder in your “My Documents” directory.

Setting the options this way means you will get two WAV files for each call, one which is a recording of your voice and one which is a recording of the interviewee. Each WAV file is a digital recording of the actual sound that was picked up by the microphone and played through your headset during the call, and is therefore the highest quality possible for a Skype call.

If you don’t need ultra-high quality and would prefer to save disk space and/or editing time, leave the Store raw audio… option unchecked instead. This will give you a single MP3 file with you and the interviewee combined. This is sufficient for many purposes.

If you need high quality but you don’t need yourself and the interviewee split into different sound files, leave the Store raw audio… option unchecked, and instead click the Change button and in the window that appears, set Format to “PCM” and Attributes to “48 kHz, 16 Bit, Mono 93 kb/sec” then click OK.

Click OK to save your settings.

5. If the interviewee has Skype, your best option in terms of quality is to conduct the interview over a Skype-to-Skype call. However, in many cases your interviewee won’t have Skype, in which case you will need to conduct the interview by calling a standard land-line or mobile phone using Skype.

If you need to make a call to a standard phone you will need to purchase Skype Credit. You can buy SkypeOut credit here. If you need to take a call made from a standard phone line, you will need a SkypeIn number. You can purchase a SkypeIn number here if you do not already have one.

6. Start your phone call or PC-to-PC call, either from Outlook or directly from the Skype application. (Skylook will still record calls that you do not start from within Outlook). (NOTE: Recording this way also works for incoming calls, and for conference calls started directly from the Skype application).

7. Recording will start automatically, as indicated by the Skylook call window, which will appear at the bottom right-hand corner of your screen:
Skylook Call Window

8. You can see more detail about the recording by clicking the “Show Details” button:
Skylook Call Window - Medium

9. Conduct the interview, and when finished, hang up the call. (NOTE: It is recommended that you do a small test interview to make sure everything works correctly before conducting a full-scale “real” interview).

10. In Outlook, click on the “Skylook Conversations” folder. Your conversation, with the attached MP3 or WAV file is listed as an item in the folder.
Skylook Conversations Folder

(Can’t find it? Choose “Go > Folder” from the main Outlook menu, then choose “Skylook Conversations” from the list).

11. To listen to the interview, click on the item. A “Play” button appears in the toolbar:
Play Button

Click it to hear the recording.
Call Playback

12. If you chose the Store raw audio… option above, click the “Browse” button in the Skylook toolbar:
Browse to Skype Recording

This will take you to the folder that contains the two WAV files, one for you and one for the interviewee. (The files are called “This Side.wav” and “Other Side.wav” respectively).

If you did not choose the Store raw audio… option above, just open the Outlook item and save the attachment somewhere for use in your Podcast or Broadcast. (You can skip the remaining steps as they discuss how to edit and combine the two WAV files. Your attachment already contains your voice and the interviewee combined).

13. All that remains is to edit the audio ready for podcast or broadcast. There is a free product called Audacity that allows you to do this. Download and install Audacity from here.

14. Start Audacity, choose File > Open… from the main menu, and choose the file “This Side.wav” that you browsed to above. Your Audacity window should look something like this:
Audacity 1

15. Now add the other side of the call by choosing Project > Import Audio… from the main menu, then choosing the file “Other Side.wav”. Your Audacity window should now look something like this (expand the window if you cannot see both audio files):
Audacity 2

16. You now have two “tracks” which can be edited independently or together. Usually the main editing you will need to do will be to remove superfluous parts of the interview (e.g. preliminary chat, closing goodbyes). To remove parts of the interview from both tracks, do the following:

  • Click in the top track at the point where you want to delete from.
  • Hold down the SHIFT key
  • Click in the bottom track at the point where you want to delete to. (You can also drag to adjust this point)
  • The selected range is highlighted in both tracks. Click the Play button to listen to the selected section.
  • Press the DELETE button on your keyboard, or the “Cut” icon on the Audacity toolbar

17. When you have finished editing, choose File > Export as WAV…, File > Export as MP3… or File > Export as Ogg Vorbis… to save a single audio file with both sides of the call combined, using the format of your choice. (NOTE: To export as MP3 you will need to install a separate free program called LAME – Audacity will guide you through this process).

If you have problems, refer to the troubleshooting tips here, or contact us for help.

Skype Voicemail

Posted by Jeremy Hague | Skylook Team on Oct 16, 2006

Skype Voicemail answers phone calls or PC-to-PC calls for you when you are away from your PC, when you are offline, or when you simply don’t want to take a call.

The caller can leave you a message, and you can listen to the message on your PC within the Skype application. You can also have the message sent to your Outlook inbox, in which case you can listen to it from within Outlook.

An additional use of Skype Voicemail is that you are able to send someone a voice message without actually calling them. You right-click your contact in Skype, choose the “Send Voicemail” option, then Skype records your message and sends it to the contact. This is useful if you don’t want to disturb the other person or if you don’t wish to start a conversation with the person at this time.

Skype Voicemail Prerequisites

To use Skype Voicemail:

  • You need a PC with broadband internet access.
  • You need Skype installed on the PC (this is a free download and you can see how to install it on our Skype page).
  • Either you or the other person need a Skype Voicemail subscription or a SkypeIn number. If you want to take messages from normal phones, get a SkypeIn number – Voicemail comes free with that. To see pricing for a SkypeIn number, and to buy if you wish, click here. To see pricing for a Skype Voicemail subscription, and to buy if you wish (not needed if you buy a SkypeIn number) click here.

Setting up Skype Voicemail

Once you have everything as described in the list above, follow these steps to start sending and receiving voicemail messages on your PC:

  • In Skype, go to Tools > Voicemail… on the main Skype menu.
  • Make sure the box Send unanswered calls to Skype Voicemail is checked.
  • Click the Advanced settings link to the right of the “Send unanswered calls to Skype Voicemail” checkbox to tell Skype when you want Voicemail answering to take calls for you.
  • Click OK in the Advanced Settings window and in the main Options window.
  • If you wish to have Skype Voicemail sent to your Outlook inbox, click here for further instructions.

Skype Voicemail features

After you have followed the steps above, this is what Skype will now allow you to do:

  • If you don’t answer a call within the number of seconds specified in the Advanced Settings dialog above, the caller will hear a recorded message and will be able to leave a message for you.
  • If a call comes in and you click the Hang Up button, the caller will hear a recorded message (same message as above) and will be able to leave a message for you
  • If your PC is switched off, or if you are not logged into Skype when a caller tries to call you, the caller will hear a recorded message (same message as above) and will be able to leave a message for you
  • If you make a call to someone else and they are unavailable, you will be able to leave a message for them (even if they haven’t purchased a Skype Voicemail subscription themselves).
  • If you want to leave someone a message, even if they are available (i.e. you don’t want to talk to them right now but you do want to send them a voice message), you can right-click their contact details in Skype and choose the Send Voicemail option.
  • If you want to record your own message (rather than use the standard Skype recorded message), you can do so via Tools > Voicemail…. (Click the Record button near the bottom of the window).

Integration with Outlook

Skylook offers you these additional features if you use Outlook. To find out more, click on the links:

Alternatives

Skylook offers an alternative that has some advantages and disadvantages in comparison to Skype Voicemail.

This alternative is an answering machine built into Outlook. Depending on what you want to achieve, you may find that the Skylook Answering Machine is a better fit for you, or you may find that you can make use of both Skype Voicemail and the Skylook Answering Machine. To help you decide, here are the advantages and disadvantages of the Skylook Answering Machine as compared to Skype Voicemail:

Advantages of Skylook Answering Machine compared to Skype Voicemail

  • You are able to listen to the incoming caller leaving their message.
  • You are able to pick up the call while the incoming caller is leaving their message.
  • You are able to take notes about the call while the incoming caller is leaving their message.
  • Once you have purchased Skylook, there are no ongoing fees associated with the Skylook Answering Machine.

Disadvantages of Skylook Answering Machine compared to Skype Voicemail

  • You need to leave Outlook running in order to receive messages.
  • Skylook Answering Machine will not take messages for you while you are on another call.

Skylook Affiliate Program

Posted by Paul on Oct 15, 2006

COMING SOON. The information on this page is an indication only, of the Skylook affiliate program soon to be implemented. Do not follow the steps noted until further notice.

To coincide with the release of Skylook 2.0 we are launching improved facilities for affiliates who wish to earn commission through selling Skylook from their web sites.

We now offer:

  • The ability to earn commission simply by referring potential customers to our home page (see “Page Referral Commission” below).
  • A discount coupon for you to offer to your potential customers.

Page Referral Commission

If you link to our site with the URL shown below (after modifying it to include your affiliate id), you will receive commission on any sales made to customers who visit our site via that link (as long as the customer has cookies turned on in their browser).

When the customer clicks the link, they are taken to our site via a redirect page. The redirect page writes your affiliate id into a cookie on the customer’s PC. If the customer goes on to purchase Skylook at any time from that PC, the purchase page reads your affiliate id from the cookie and credits you with your commission.

Here is the URL:

NOTES:
Replace AFLnnnnnnnnnn with your affiliate id.
Replace “Skylook 2.0″ with text of your choice.

Discount Coupon

Affiliates receive a discount coupon to offer to potential customers. If you have signed up but not received your coupon please email us at skylook@skylook.biz.

How to start earning commission on Skylook 2.0

  • If you have not already signed up as an affiliate, sign up here via “eSellerate”, our e-marketing partners.
  • Within the eSellerate site, sign up to sell all Skylook 2.0 and 1.5 products. (There is no charge to sign up).
  • Link to our site as instructed in the “Page Referral Commission” section above. NOTE: This is a cookie-based referral system, and is therefore dependant on a) The user not having cookies turned off and b) The user not deleting cookies in the time between you referring them and the time they purchase. We offer page referral commission on the basis that we believe such cases are a small proportion of all cases, but please use your own judgement.
  • Optionally offer an “EST” download of Skylook. This is your own special version of the Skylook setup file, with your affiliate id embedded. This will still work if the user does not have cookies turned on, but is more complicated to set up and manage, and more difficult for you to sell as you do not have the benefit of our web site to inform the user about the benefits of Skylook. Instructions regarding EST downloads are available on the eSellerate site.
  • Optionally offer a “Buy Now” link on your site. Again, this will work in the case where the user does not have cookies turned on, but may be ineffective as you do not have the benefit of our web site to inform the user about the benefits of Skylook.

Benefits of the Page Referral Commission method

With Skylook 2.0 we are shifting emphasis from EST downloads to page referral.

Our reasons are as follows:

  • Skylook is a unique product that does not have a natural “tag” that allows people to say instantly “Oh, I know what that is”. Probably the closest tag is “Unified Messaging”, but this means little to most people and is probably too broad a term anyway. In the future this situation may change as Skylook gets more competitors and a better-known market “space” develops, but for the moment there is no single word or phrase that allows us, or you as affiliates, to instantly communicate what Skylook is. This makes it difficult to sell Skylook with a simple text or banner link to a download file.
  • For Skylook 2.0 we have put a lot of effort into developing rich content that shows visitors how Skylook can benefit them. We want you, as an affiliate, to also be able to use this rich content to help inform potential customers. We think this will lead to more effective affiliate sales performance.
  • The reason we put so much effort into developing rich web site content is that it is really the only way we can do the product justice. The new site has lots of screenshots and “how to” pages so that visitors can quickly get a feel for the product. We believe that your customers are no different to ours – they need to be able to quickly get a feel for the product too. We know that most affiliates have a range of products and can’t afford to spend too much time on each one, so the best way to allow customers to quickly get a feel for the product is to refer them on to our site.

Questions?

If you have any questions about the Skylook affiliate program, please email us at skylook@skylook.biz.

Summary of Skylook 2.0 Product

Posted by Jeremy Hague | Skylook Team on Oct 05, 2006

Summary of Skylook 2.0 Product

This section gives a complete picture of the Skylook 2.0 product, including features introduced in 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0.

Skylook 2.0 performs the following services. Features new to 2.0 are shown in italics:

Communicate with Outlook contacts on Skype:

  • Call Outlook contacts or PCs using Skype.
  • Send SMS messages to Outlook contacts.
  • Send instant messages to Outlook contacts.
  • Answer incoming calls directly from Outlook.
  • Reply to instant messages with email and vice-versa.
  • Reply to voice mails with a call, email, instant message or SMS.
  • Click an email message then click a button to call or IM the email sender.
  • Click an appointment then click a button to call or IM an attendee.

Record Skype Calls:

  • Record Skype calls to MP3 or other audio formats.
  • Record incoming and outgoing calls.
  • Record Skype-to-Skype, SkypeOut, SkypeIn and conference calls.
  • Choose to record just your side or both sides of the call.
  • Configurable bitrate to trade off quality for file size.
  • Optionally record calls to high quality 48kHz PCM, with each side of the call in a separate WAV file for professional podcasting.
  • Automatically record all calls, or choose to manually record individual calls.
  • Choose to store recordings in any Outlook folder, or store them in a directory on your hard disk.
  • Pause recording mid-call.

Alerts:

Forwarding:

  • Get Skype IMs forwarded to SMS or your phone when you are away from your PC.
  • Have important emails read to you over your phone when you are away from your PC.
  • Get important emails forwarded to SMS when you are away from your desk.
  • Get Skype voice mail messages or Skylook Answering Machine messages forwarded to your phone when you are away from your desk.
  • Optionally press “1″ on your phone to call the sender of any forwarded message, via Skype.

Answering Machine / Voice Mail:

Extended inbox:

Follow-up Management:

Annotate and archive Skype Calls:

Archive all communications:

Contact Management:

Skype In (or SkypeIn)

Posted by Paul on Oct 05, 2006

SkypeIn is Skype terminology for being able to take calls from normal phones using Skype.

Obviously for people to be able to call you on Skype using a plain old traditional phone or mobile/cell phone, they need a number to call. So when you sign up for SkypeIn, the people at Skype give you your very own number. When people dial that number from any phone, your Skype application (or Skype phone if you have one) will ring.

(One of the interesting things about this number is that you can ask the people at Skype to give you a number in your own country, or in a number of overseas countries. So, you could be living in London but answering calls made to a Los Angeles number for instance).

The following steps show you how to get a SkypeIn number (or multiple SkypeIn numbers if you want). The steps assume that you already have Skype installed and set up. (If you don’t, click here to see how to do that).

1. A SkypeIn number needs to be purchased. Unfortunately at present this is a separate process to purchasing SkypeOut credit – hopefully the people at Skype will streamline this in the future. In the meantime, it’s basically a separate deal. You can purchase your unique SkypeIn number here.

2. After completing the purchase process, wait to receive a confirmation email from Skype. Once it’s all confirmed, your number will be active and ready to take calls.

3. If you would like calls automatically answered and placed in your Outlook inbox, click here for instructions. With Skype and Skylook you also have lots of other services available to you – click here for more details.

In a nutshell, SkypeIn is basically the opposite of SkypeOut. If you want to call normal phones and have them be able to call you, you need both SkypeIn and SkypeOut.

Skype Out (or SkypeOut)

Posted by Paul on Oct 04, 2006

SkypeOut is Skype terminology for making calls to standard phone lines. This includes land lines and mobile/cell phones – i.e. any number you can call from a standard phone except emergency numbers (e.g. 000, 999) and, in some cases, toll-free numbers.

SkypeOut calls are charged per minute. The rates are cheap (comparable to calling card rates). Quality can vary, from nearly equivalent to a normal phone, to very patchy, depending on a variety of factors. Calls to mobile phones can be problematic, as the glitches on the mobile network compound with glitches on the Skype network and internet, making some calls unworkable. However Skype are working to improve this and you can expect quality to improve over time.

The following steps show you how to make a SkypeOut call. They assume that you already have Skype installed and set up. (If you don’t, click here to see how to do that).

To make a SkypeOut call:

1. Click here to add some Skype Credit to your account.

2. Wait for a confirmation email from Skype and for your new Skype Credits to appear added to your Skype balance.

3. Click on the “Dial” tab within Skype. Make sure the selected country is correct,

4. Dial the number by clicking the numbers on the keypad. You will need to include an area code, even for numbers that are within the same area code as you. Don’t worry, you won’t be charged long distance rates (Skype charge you the same low rate regardless from where in the world you are calling), however keep in mind that the charging is time-based, so on longer calls you may be charged more than for a local call using your normal phone, if your phone service provider provides fixed price local calls.

5. Click on the green call button and wait for the person you are calling to answer.

If you would like to be able to call contacts directly from Outlook, using the phone numbers stored in Outlook, read about our product Skylook, here.

In a nutshell, SkypeOut is basically the opposite of SkypeIn. If you want to call normal phones and have them be able to call you, you need both SkypeOut and SkypeIn. You can purchase your unique SkypeIn number here.

How to forward IM chat messages to your mobile phone

Posted by Paul on Oct 03, 2006

Follow the steps below to get Skype IMs (also known as text chat messages, or chat messages) forwarded to your mobile phone (i.e. read to you) when you are away from your desk, or optionally via SMS. (These steps assume you have Outlook installed – see Skylook prerequisites for details)

1. Follow these instructions to set up Skype if you don’t already use it.

2. To have email forwarded to your phone, you will need to purchase some Skype Credit if you don’t already have some. You can buy Skype Credit here.

3. If you don’t already have Skylook, download and install it from here.

4. Start Outlook. If you are running Skylook for the first time, you will see the Skylook licensing wizard and the Skylook Welcome wizard. Follow the prompts to set Skylook up according to your preferences.

5. Click the “Alerts>Advanced Alerts…” button in the Skylook toolbar:
Skylook Advanced Alerts

6. Choose “Skype Text Messages” as shown below, then click “Next”.
Alerts Wizard

7. Click “Next” to accept the default settings on this page:
Alerts Wizard Contacts

8. Fill in the following page as shown (using your mobile phone number instead of the one shown), then click “Next”. (NOTE: This will set Skylook up to forward each IM to you via Voice – i.e. the message will be read to you over the phone. If you would prefer to receive an SMS instead, choose the “SMS” option below).
Alerts Wizard Phone Number

9. Click “Next” to accept the following defaults, or alter the settings according to your preference:
Alerts Wizard Content

10. Click “Next” to accept the following defaults, or alter the settings according to your preference
Alerts Wizard Content

11. Enter a name for this alert like the one shown below, then click “Finish”.
Alerts Wizard Content

12. To test IM forwarding, set your Skype status to “Away” by clicking the bottom left hand corner of the Skype application as shown below, so that Skylook thinks you are away from your PC:
Switch to Away Status

13. Now have someone send you an instant message via Skype.

14. Soon after the message appears on your screen, your mobile phone will ring. Answer it to listen to the IM.

15. If you did not receive the phone call, check the Outlook inbox. If Skylook had problems calling your mobile phone (e.g. if the number is invalid), the details of the problem are placed in a new inbox item for you to review.

16. Once you’ve finished trying this, don’t forget to set your Skype status back to “Online”. By default, Skype switches your status to “Away” automatically if your computer is left idle for more than five minutes. (Note: You may wonder what happens with instant messages that come in during the five minute gap – don’t worry, Skylook forwards these messages also, as soon as Skype switches your status to “Away”).

If you need additional help, just email us at skylook@skylook.biz for assistance.

Skype Info

Posted by Paul on Oct 02, 2006

For introductory information on Skype and how to use it, click here.

For information on how to make the most out of Skype if you use Microsoft Outlook, click here.

To learn more about Skype, how it works and its history, click here.

Visit the Skype website.