Skype Gripe

Until late afternoon yesterday, I thought one had to find someone to make a call.  Skype UI certainly encouraged that line of thinking, particularly since I couldn't find a way to add a friend manually.  So the trouble with finding people started.

I found Scoble and Deane easily enough but they were apparently not online.  Later, I read somewhere that Skype online status is unreliable currently.  Several friends left me a comment saying he couldn't find me.  I couldn't find them either.  I tried to find myself as an experiment but couldn't.  Duh!

Yesterday afternoon, I suddenly realized that I didn't have to 'find' anyone to make a call on Skype.  I can just type "callto://billgates/" into IE and it would make the call.  So I called James Snell.  Yup!  I couldn't find him but Skype happily called him somehow with "callto://jamesmsnell/".  Nuts.  Skype screwed up their UI IMHO by making a shortcut apppear to be the only way.

He didn't answer but he called me back a few second later.  He said Hello?.  Sounds great!  I said Hello!  Nothing.  James launched into more Hellos and I started fiddling frantically with everything.  Thankfully, we had Skype IM to help us along and figure out that it was microphone input gain problem or something.  I then had to go to dinner so we disconnected.

Late last night, I thought about Skype.  Skype is certainly a neat beta product.  It still needs many more peers in it's P2P network.  Sound quality was good though.  But it felt weird using a computer like a telephone.  Uncomfortable, in fact.  Do I need Skype?  Nope.  I don't have a large phone bill.

My wife does, but the other end has a technology phobia so using a computer like a telephone would be awkward.  It's easier and more comfortable for my wife to adjust calling time and day to take advantage of cheapest international call rate.

Skype was more of a curiosity than a necessity and it wasn't much fun trying to get it to work.  So I uninstalled Skype last night.  Sorry friends for all the trouble.  Let's wait for a better trouble.


I am not underestimating the potential of a service like Skype.  The potential is there.  All I am saying is that Skype has beta problems and that it doesn't have universal appeal.  If one needs it badly, their tolerance level drops.  Otherwise, others may come along and do a better job.  I also would like to see more detailed information about Skype and future roadmaps.  So far, I haven't seen any welcome attitude toward third-party developers.

Update #2:

A few peopled asked for the Skype graphics I had used for my 'callto:' link.  Here it is.