You’ve probably all heard of Skype’s new SMS service, which is very cool. If you have a Skype-Out account, you can send SMS messages to cellphones and, if you register you cellphone number with Skype, the recipients can reply to you on your mobile phone. Great idea. Only problem: It doesn’t work.
Well, it does work, but not always. At least one cellular operator doesn’t seem to pass the messages on. That wouldn’t be a problem, except that Skype says that the message has been delivered, and charges you for it. Teething troubles, I guess, but still a nuisance, if you’re counting your Skype pennies. (This experiment has so far set me back €0,44. Money that has gone forever. Forever.) Other folk are reporting similar problems, although it doesn’t sound widespread.
Skype’s technical people say you should raise a help ticket if this happens to you. The only problem is: How do you know that it doesn’t get through? An interesting conundrum as Skype ventures into new waters. Consider: Cellular SMS supports a service which allows you to receive notification of the arrival of your message; Skype users can tell whether other Skype members are online and available. But now you can send an SMS to someone, unless the pending/delivered/failed notification feature works properly, all those presence/delivery indicators are out the window.
A weird disjuncture, given that Skype is best used for non-local calls. Skype is all about reaching beyond the tyranny of long distance communication costs. And the same is true of Skype SMS, I suspect, especially in those places where SMS is very cheap. Here in Indonesia, for example, cellular SMS to an Indonesian phone costs 250 rupiah, or 3 US cents. A Skype SMS costs 14 US cents. No one is going to send a Skype SMS to someone locally if that kind of price difference exists. So Skype SMS might best work if you want to communicate with someone who is not at their computer, or doesn’t have Skype (or doesn’t have a computer) but doesn’t live in your zone. Not a bad niche. But the problem still remains: If SMS via Skype is really going to kick in, reliability is going to be an issue. Who is going to use the service if they have no way of knowing whether their messages landed?
Something that Skype needs to fix.
Skype has lowered rates of its SkypeOut service to some destinations as part of its first anniversary celebrations. Here are the details:
Six major new countries have been added to the SkypeOut Global Rate, a fixed, low-cost rate of 1.7 Euro cents per minute to popular calling destinations. China, Greece, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Poland and Switzerland have joined more than 20 additional destinations in the Global Rate. Skype has also significantly lowered SkypeOut rates for calling numbers in Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bulgaria, the Cook Islands, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Korea, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland (mobile), Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka and Turkey.
I’m not quite clear from the press release, but it sounds as if this is an average reduction of 15%.
It’s not all good news: Prices for SkypeOut calls to Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea, Oman, Lichtenstein and Haiti numbers will increase slightly.
This is nothing to do with technology, but it’s such a wonderful story I have to share it. Here’s how AP reported it:
Portugal welcomes a special fan: Indonesian tsunami survivor
LISBON, Portugal (AP): When Portugal walks onto the field Saturday to play Slovakia in a World Cup qualifying match, its captain will be holding the hand of a special guest – an 8-year- old Indonesian boy who survived alone for 19 days after the December tsunami.
Martunis, whose second name was not provided, was found on a beach in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, wearing a Portugal soccer shirt – prompting Portuguese soccer officials to invite him to Lisbon. Martunis survived by drinking puddle water and eating dried noodles after his parents were swept away by the tsunami. He was later reunited with his father and grandfather at a hospital.
Martunis, who names Manchester United’s Portuguese winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, as his favorite player, met with local schoolchildren Wednesday. Portugal’s Brazilian coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, bought Martunis and family a house in Indonesia last year on behalf of the team.
Now, the Portugal soccer federation is giving them euro40,000 (US$49,000) . Martunis will hold the Portugal captain’s hand – likely to be Luis Figo if selected – when the two teams enter the 65,000-seat Stadium of Light arena for the Group 3 match.
He’s an amazing little kid. My friend Tessa related recently how
I had the pleasure of meeting the young lad at the recent launching of a book that [Radio] 68H has published – Lolos dari Maut Tsunami – containing his and other stories from people who survived the tsunami.
68H invited Martunis and his father (his mother and two sisters died in the tsunami) to Jakarta for the book launch. Like every other seven year old boy I have ever met, after about five minutes he was predictably fidgeting in his chair and looking around for better entertainment, all the while sporting his favourite shirt, a Portuguese number 10 football shirt, that of his hero, Rui Costa, the same shirt he was wearing when he was swept away.
If anyone’s interested, I have an English translation of his story from the book. It makes for an extraordinary read, even for those of us who have heard every kind of tsunami escape story.
Footnote: Here’s a picture of him. I haven’t cropped it cos I love the expensive sofa he’s sitting on:
Thanks to Martin Herfurt for this: A jacket that, via Bluetooth, doubles as an entertainment centre, complete with (1) hands-free set with microphone in the collar and voice recognition, (2) integrated headphone connection, (3) flexible keyboard embodied into the material and (4) docking station for an MP3 player with a Bluetooth headset:
The HUB-Jacket comes with 128 Megabyte memory offers enough storage capacity for two hours of music. The MP3 files are loaded into the module from a PC via a USB cable. The fabric keyboard woven into the jacket’s left-hand sleeve “can be comfortably operated even when wearing gloves”. All the electronic connections “are sewn directly into the textile material. They are thus out of sight, robust and enable total freedom of movement”. If this is not enough for you, a “helmet with integrated headphones is also available as an option”. The Bluetooth module in the player allows the user to operate a mobile phone. And, in case you’re wondering, the electronic hardware “is tough enough to withstand repeated falls and washing sessions”. The HUB is part of O’Neill’s Winter Collection and costs 500 euros.
Actually, the HUB-Jacket ain’t alone. There’s the Memswear prototype from my Singaporean neighbours up the road which senses when the owner — presumably an elderly person — has taken a fall and puts in an emergency phone call via Bluetooth. (Here’s the original CNN story). And Nike has developed a Comm-Jacket which, according to DPA, “fitted with an integrated microphone and earplugs and a plug for a walkie-talkie”.
My favourite inkjet refill machine, the Singaporean-made Inke, is going for the big time.
A release from the company says that Inke islaunching versions compatible with 305 different kinds of printers and 12 brands including HP, Lexmark, Samsung, Kodak, Compaq, Sharp, Sony, NewGen Sys, Apple, Pitney Bowes and Apollo. They are as follows:
- INKE LX-70 to refill the Lexmark 70 (12A1970) and Lexmark 75 (12A1975)
- INKE LX-50 to refill Lexmark 17G0050 and Sharp AJ0C50B
- INKE HS-29 to refill HP 29 (51629A), HP 20 (C6614DN) and HP 19 (C6628AN) cartridges.
The devices are beautifully designed, pretty unmessy, and inexpensive: Each unit costs Euro 70 before VAT and include 3 ink tanks. Each additional ink tank costs Euro 10. Inke reckons “a user can save up to Euro 350 in ink costs over a 3 year period”. I don’t think they’re exaggerating.
The old INKE HS-45 is now available in Europe, or at least in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece, Spain, Italy, Hungary and Poland. Inke says it plans nine models altogether this year. I’ve been using mine for nearly a year and it’s been great.
Here’s a new tool for folk using lots of bits of text and stuff time and time again.
AbridgeInsert uses hotkey combinations, so you can “easily insert commonly-used text into any application, such as a word processors, email programs, tables, IDEs, etc.” You can use it for:
exchange of text and graphics among applications
coding in MS Visual Studio, Borland Delphi, Borland C++ Builder, and many others
filling of forms
text templates for e-mail messages, HTML, etc.
The program costs €15.00 EUR (approx. $20) from 3SWare.