Networking optimize

Skype: Telepresence for the masses

Video conferencing accounted for 28 percent of all Skype calls last year. Michael Kassner discusses why Skype should be considered a telepresence platform and how the multimedia technology of Skype has improved.

Michael KassnerLast week, I wrote an article called "Cisco's TelePresence: Not your average virtual meeting," hoping to acquaint everyone with technology that's dramatically changing business communications. After reading the article, a friend of mine (I punish him that way) mentioned that it's too bad telepresence platforms are so complicated and costly, as he'd like to use the technology himself. I found that statement somewhat surprising. I even had an "ah ha!" moment, which resulted in this article about Skype -- as that's exactly what it does -- provide a form of telepresence.

First the basics

Before describing Skype's use as a telepresence technology, it might help to explain exactly what Skype is and layout some of its history. Skype is a software emulator that allows you to use your computer, smart phone, or PDA to make telephone calls via the Internet. Skype's first beta (voice-only) came out in 2003. With Skype introducing their video conferencing application in early 2006 as Webcams were finally were becoming ubiquitous. In order to do this, Skype takes the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) standard and alters it to meet its needs. Taking the high-level view, VoIP involves three steps to prepare the traffic for network transmission and the reverse to return the traffic back to an usable analog signal:

Digitizing the audio signals, or turning analog sound waves into 0's and 1's. Compressing the digital data using audio signal processing, otherwise the amount of transmitted data would paralyze the network. Encapsulating the digital information into a usable format for transmitting over packet switched networks such as the Internet.

Since the now digitized, compressed, and encapsulated data stream travels over the Internet, security and integrity of the digital information are of utmost importance. So let's look at how Skype handles that.

Authenticate and encrypt

Fortunately, Skype has taken care of information security in a big way. In fact, there's serious debate going on as to whether Skype methodology is too secure. Meaning the .govs aren't able to crack the data streams. Bruce Schneier (hero of mine) has a blog post called "VoIP Encryption" that gives an in-depth look at the whole process.

Skype security as in most network applications is a two-part process. During initial client setup, the Skype server issues each user a digital (1536 or 2048-bit RSA) certificate which will be used to verify identity. From then on at each log on, the Skype client sends that certificate's information back to the Skype server asking for verification. This initial authentication handshake should give everyone on the call a good feeling that the other parties are who they say they are, eliminating impersonation. This is critical, especially if you're not intimately familiar with the other party. Also a good reason to use video conferencing.

Secondly, Skype uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit symmetric key encryption, allowing for a possible 1.1 x 1077 keys. That's a bunch and they're used to encrypt the data in each Skype call or Instant Message (IM). In order to securely transfer the symmetric keys between the individual Skype clients, Skype uses 1024 bit RSA public/private keys.

Skype's features (free)

Skype has all the features of a normal telco application. What makes Skype special is that it's free if the call is in-network (Skype-to-Skype). Simply put, anyone that makes international calls to friends or relatives should be using Skype. Just think no international calling charges. Other in-network features are IM, call recording, file transfer and conference calls. My favorite feature is video conferencing as it personalizes the conversation and is just plain cool.

Skype's features (cost)

For a nominal additional charge Skype offers add-on services that allow the user to transition to traditional telco networks:

SkypeIn: The feature activates a phone number that regular PSTN phones and cell phones can access. Automatically forwarding the call to the Skype client associated with the SkypeIn number. SkypeOut: Allows the user to call regular PSTN phones and cell phones anywhere in the world at very low rates, ($.02) per minute. As an aside, this feature is not needed if you're going to call toll-free numbers, that works and is free with the basic package.

So that's what Skype is, an Internet based telecommunications platform that mimics normal PSTN and cellular networks. Now back to whether Skype is a viable telepresence technology or not.

Is Skype telepresence technology?

It sure is. Surprised? Telepresence as defined by Wikipedia:

"Telepresence refers to a set of technologies which allow a person to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance that they were present, or to have an effect, at a location other than their true location.

Telepresence is a matter of degree. Rarely will a telepresence system provide such comprehensive and convincing stimuli that the user perceives no differences from actual presence. The user may set aside such differences, depending on the application."

I'm sure most people don't consider Skype or other video-ready IM applications a form of telepresence. They are according to Wikipedia, with Skype fast becoming the visual networking (industry-coined term for telepresence) application of choice among consumers.

Realizing that more people use video, Skype is working hard to create telepresence-quality connections. I realize that it's not remotely on par with Cisco's TelePresence suite, but with Skype's latest client software, approved webcam, and enough bandwidth the results are more than adequate. Let's look at each of these points and see what's required:

High Quality Video: Skype version 3.8 and Skype beta 4.o have incorporated what Skype calls High Quality Video (HQV). Skype's standard video offered a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels (QVGA) at 15 fps. Whereas HQV offers 640 x 480 pixels (VGA) at up to 30 fps. Simply put, video resolution is four times better and the frame rate is twice the speed, meaning a much sharper image and if so desired the ability to use a larger window, without losing image quality. HQV video Webcam: Skype has worked directly with Logitech to create optimized cameras for HQV. The specific cameras are Logitech QuickCam Pro for Notebooks, the Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000, and the Logitech QuickCam Sphere AF (Logitech QuickCam Orbit AF in the US). Bandwidth: HQV requires a symmetrical bandwidth of at least 384 Kbps. That may be a problem for some DSL users as the upload on many DSL circuits is only 256 kbps. The other challenge is that all parties have to meet this requirement, since it's symmetrical. Sorry, but that's the only way it'll work.

Skype mentions the need of a Dual-Core processor in the computer used for the Skype client. I agree that the processing requirements seem to indicate the need for Dual-Core. I've personally been impressed with computers using less powerful processors and would not hesitate to use them.

One final note, using good lighting, microphone, and speakers will go along way to add realism to the video conference aka telepresence experience. There are two more characteristics of Skype that need to be discussed. Doing so will allow you to make an informed decision on whether they're deal-breakers or not.

Possible issues

The first issue is Skype's proprietary software. This means it can't be inspected for weaknesses or back doors. Back doors are scary in that hackers or less than honest governments can exploit them to listen in on anyone's phone conversation. To quote Bruce Schneier:

"In the cryptography world, we consider open source necessary for good security; we have for decades."

My second concern is one of those double-edged swords. If you remember, most telepresence applications require significant bandwidth (5 Mbps per display) in order to provide the required realism. Skype has a requirement for 384 Kbps up and down. I realize that Skype calls are not pushing anywhere near the data that a high-end telepresence suite would, but that still doesn't quite explain the high bandwidth tolerance of Skype connections. That's until you realize Skype uses Peer to Peer (P2P) technology. P2P means that the entire network is a mesh of interconnected PCs. This does provide two important benefits for Skype users. A P2P mesh scales easily and will not run out of resources as they're shared by the individual components.

Now to the dark-side of P2P, computers are called nodes in a P2P mesh. Skype networks also use "super nodes" which are nodes chosen by the Skype servers to take on more administrative activities, controlling the P2P nodes in their immediate area. Since Skype software is proprietary, it's not publicly known how this works. One can only guess that there must be some kind of algorithm that determines if a node is a good candidate for P2P "super node". If your computer is chosen to be a "super node" it will be active if the Skype client is enabled, regardless if you're making a Skype call or not. It really boils down to whether or not you're comfortable with Skype using your Internet connection.

To understand this further I ran some tests and captured different screen shots showing firewall activity. The first image is with the Skype client disabled.

< ![endif]-->skype1.JPG

As you can see, there's very little activity. The next image depicts the activity seen by the firewall when the Skype client is enabled.

< ![endif]-->skype6.JPG

It's not a significant increase, but something people considering using Skype should know about. For more information, directly from Skype, please check out "P2P Telephony Explained-For Geeks only". The last image publishes all of the additional binaries that are affecting the firewall when Skype is enabled.

< ![endif]-->skype51.JPG

Final thoughts

All said and done, I like Skype and its capabilities. My sister is ecstatic about Skype. She called me one day not knowing what to do. Her eldest son was off to Spain for a full semester as an exchange student. She checked out some international cell phone plans and they were way more than what she wanted to pay. I mentioned Skype and it became the perfect solution in her case, keeping mom and son happy, except when he started growing a beard; remember, Skype has video.

I'm running the beta 4.0 version now and the quality is impressive. I still can't believe that cheap notebook speakers sound so much better than my smart phone. Sorry Samsung.

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Michael Kassner has been involved with wireless communications for 40 plus years, starting with amateur radio (K0PBX), and now as a network field engineer and independent wireless consultant. Current certifications include Cisco ESTQ Field Engineer, CWNA, and CWSP.

About

Information is my field...Writing is my passion...Coupling the two is my mission.

47 comments
avlaskin
avlaskin

Skype always has been a voice over ip tool. SkypeIn and SkypeOut are things that are mostly for earning money. Why do you think that skype is going to improve video features? I doubt that skype can do that because of it's p-2-p nature. I think for video there are some better video conferencing tools like http://www.vzochat.com/ . It has not only point to point conferences, but also 6 by 6 conferenses, video recording and so on. And it's certainly for free.

seanferd
seanferd

The real new thing for me was the possibility of Skype causing a P2P traffic overload under some conditions, and that no one really knows how the Super Node thingumie works. As far as the question of whether Skype can be considered telepresence goes, I think the title says it all: Telepresence for the Masses. Anything for the masses is going to be that which is accessible to nearly everyone, hence, not of as high a quality as may be otherwise available. Also, if the vendors of high quality telepresence suites for business communications can call it such, without the availability of end-effectors for physical manipulation at a distance, then Skype can be considered telepresence as well, IMO. I also liked your firewall. I've looked at it in the past, on CNet, and possibly downloaded it. Now I believe I'll have to try it.

Latingraw
Latingraw

Skype can only handle 9 users at a time. Not good for Webinars.

BobKalk
BobKalk

Skype's failure to fix their Caller-ID problem is a serious impediment to its use in a professional environment. The problem has been ignored for years by the present ownership, bean-counters who clearly lack the "vision thing."

sub_techrep
sub_techrep

... no longer resident on any computer within my network. I got sick of having my bandwidth used up by the Skype program hosting peer-to-peer calls for other users and I become concerned about what else it might be doing. The algorithm is pretty easy to understand: pick the people with the best connection speeds (up and down) and hammer them with the calls that won't go through other users firewalls or NAT routers. If several users on your connection are all running Skype, that means that there can be (and usually are) several computers hosting calls and impacting network performance. If you want to use this software at home for cheap video or audio calls, where you're the only one impacted by it, it's a great solution, as long as you don't mind not knowing what else it's doing. For business users who should be more concerned about such things, it sucks. Oh yes, one more thing. Referencing Wikipedia really doesn't enhance credibility.

john.abrams
john.abrams

One drawback of using Skype for Video Conferencing which I have found is that there is no way to interface with standard VC systems, ie by calling into an IP and joining a conference. Skype would be more useful especially in a business environment if this were possible.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

As more of my associates start using Skype, we find ourselves in a position of preferring to use the video calling. I'd appreciate any and all comments or experiences with Skype.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that's what I get from this article.

Jaqui
Jaqui

I signed up for a skype account, once. yet I have 2 distinct logins for skype. now how did that happen? [according to skype customer support, the two logins are from two different signups, yet I know I only signed up once. ]

j.a.watson
j.a.watson

While Skype does technically qualify as a telepresence system according to the Wikipedia definition you chose, it certainly does NOT rise to the level of the other term that you used several times - teleconferencing. Skype still does not have multi-party video chat/conference capability, although several of their competitors do. ooVoo (www.oovoo.com) has three-way video chat in their free version, and up to six-way video in their subscription version. SightSpeed has four-way video in their subscription "Personal Plus" version (and in the new Dell Video Chat that is included with new Dell Studio systems), and up to 9-way video in their SightSpeed Business version. I strongly suspect that your sister would have been considerably less pleased with Skype if she had run into problems when installing it, as is all too often the case, and then tried to get help from Skype, only to discover that their so-called 'Customer Support' is absolutely useless.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Thank you for mentioning VZOchat. I wasn't aware of that application. Do you know the specifics about it? The website doesn't mention anything about encryption or video quality. As for Skype increasing quality that has to due with the following three factors: High Quality Video: Skype version 3.8 and Skype beta 4.o have incorporated what Skype calls High Quality Video (HQV). Skype?s standard video offered a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels (QVGA) at 15 fps. Whereas HQV offers 640 x 480 pixels (VGA) at up to 30 fps. Simply put, video resolution is four times better and the frame rate is twice the speed, meaning a much sharper image and if so desired the ability to use a larger window, without losing image quality. HQV video Webcam: Skype has worked directly with Logitech to create optimized cameras for HQV. The specific cameras are Logitech QuickCam Pro for Notebooks, the Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000, and the Logitech QuickCam Sphere AF (Logitech QuickCam Orbit AF in the US). Bandwidth: HQV requires a symmetrical bandwidth of at least 384 Kbps. That may be a problem for some DSL users as the upload on many DSL circuits is only 256 kbps. The other challenge is that all parties have to meet this requirement, since it?s symmetrical. Sorry, but that?s the only way it?ll work.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Thanks Sean, Also if you try the firewall, let me know what you think. I love to hear other opinions.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I was hoping for some comments about multiple Skype users on the same network. I really appreciate your insight as I've not had any experience in that regard. Perchance, do you have any reports or logs that I could use as reference? I also was wondering about Wikipedia and I'm torn about that. My goal is to try and make sure everyone is on the same page. The Wiki definitions are at least a start and IMO less confusing than most. Once again, I'd appreciate any insight as to how you feel that I might be able to better serve the TR community.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

That makes a great deal of sense and during the Cisco class we were made painfully aware of that same problem with the high end telepresence systems. None of the high-end applications would play nice. If you could, please let me know of any telepresence or VC applications that are interoperable. I would really like to know that and I am sure others would as well.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I just wanted you to know how important positive comments help. I was having a particularly tough time with this piece. I actually thought is was really lacking. I'm glad, as I appear to have been wrong.

david.scott.stokes
david.scott.stokes

Hi, we prefer to use Skype as it offers better sound quality, along with IM and file transfers. A bit more control would be good, so Michael, what app produced those firewall graphs?

2Bridgets
2Bridgets

I used Skype's audio conferencing for meetings. I found that for the first 3 or 4 people in the meeting, sound quality was decent. Once the 5th member of our group was added, loss of audio, echos and distortion occurred. Fortunately, the chat feature always worked, even in those situations. Restarting the conference call would temporarily clear up the connections. Overall, I found Skype very useful, despite its shortcomings. I should note that we were using the free Skype, version 3.2. I have used 3.8 for international video conferencing (1-1) and have had very good results. BTW, thanks for the explanation of how Skype works and enforces security.

rowdydave
rowdydave

to talk to my son and my niece from Washington state to Oklahoma, and the video, as well as the audio, are of sufficient quality to merit the term "telepresence" in my book. My niece even uses it to talk to her husband, who is currently in Iraq, thus verifying your comments about international calls. It is hearsay only, but I have heard that many soldiers often pool their money to purchase high-speed Internet connections just so they can communicate visually with their families this way.

sefc
sefc

Last week the President of Broward Personal Computer Association, Inc. (BPCA) and I experimented with using Skype, as a way to attend an Executive Board meeting via video conference. We used our personal laptops, webcams and microphones, with the library wireless access. It worked fine at the time. We also think that even without the video, this is a good option for those who can not attend in person. Liked your whole article in fact.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

From the training I received and my research the only difference is the degree of realism. Skype is not going to present the amount of realism that the Cisco TelePresence suite will. Telepresence tries to get the person to be life-size, realistic eye contact, and directional audio that will focus your attention on the person who's speaking. You must also realize that a Cisco Telepresence suite costs 300,000. Skype with a good web cam, speakers, microphone, and a quiet room will do quite nicely for considerably less. Most people when they first try Skype are impressed with the sound quality as compared to the more normal phone systems. The goal of my article was to try and raise awareness of the capabilities of Skype and that video calling is something that's possible for everyone.

heads-up
heads-up

A while back, Dec 2006, I needed to attend a series of webinars that required me to have a web connection for the visuals, plus call in by phone for the 2-way audio. Rather than run up my long-distance bill, I set up Skype and bought Skype-out. I think it was about $30 for a year of unlimited calls. It all ran ok on my 2.8 GHz Celeron PC. One major bug was that the built-in DTMF (Touch-tone) generator did not work well. I needed to enter a conference code to complete the connection but it almost never worked. On that system it would revert to an operator who would then take the code verbally, but if it had been fully automated I would have been stuck. That was with v2.5 of the client software so it MIGHT be fixed by now, but the help forums showed that it had been a known problem for a long, long time. One user-suggested work-around was to put a phone handset up to your microphone while pressing its keys to generate good tones. Since you would probably use a live phone for that, watch out that you don't enter enough numbers, all on one dial tone, to actually make a call on the phone. Dave B.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Outside the login problem, did you feel that Skype was of any help or interest to you?

gadgetgirl
gadgetgirl

because I've just realised who he is! This person is one of the most knowledgeable I've come across re webcams, audio and tweaking. Also one of the THE most helpful people on the skype forums, especially on the video side. I agree with absolutely everything he says. I've seen him try to step in and sort out skypes own problems which occur purely because they don't try to "fix" things properly; they add another line into the program instead of going back and doing some problem solving of the original. This (mostly) explains the fact that skype is a bloatware program, nearly as bad as windoze. The OP also tried to help ME with a problem - brave fella! - with my golden oldie lappie, but to no avail. The updated skype program wouldn't run on the old machine, no matter what I tried. That's the other problem - they try to get everything whizbang slamuptodate without taking the "common" user into consideration: not everyone upgrades their system every 6 or so months. I accidentally followed j.a.watson to SightSpeed (I'm not stalking him - honest! :) ) and only downloaded and used that program after reading a lot on their forum. They seem to be far more "user aware" and also don't bloat the program (has a much smaller and smoother footprint than skype IMHO) Customer support - although I haven't tried it personally - looks good, pretty fast and very efficient. I also like the fact you can send a video message to an email address (FREE!) which can be viewed even if you're not on SightSpeed. Clarity of video seems better, and audio quality is good. I primarily use these programs to keep in touch with others all over the world. If these weren't around, I'd be totally reliant on email. I don't pay for anything I don't have to so have tried a number of free programs like this - up to now, SightSpeed is winning. I'm on both skype and SS if you want to have a tester/comparison/chat, Mike - just pm me for my credentials and we can arrange it. Just remember the time difference, and the fact that I'm chronologically challenged most days! :D GG

david.scott.stokes
david.scott.stokes

Hi, subject to a USD 25 per month subscription, we enjoy unlimited free Skype to Skype teleconferencing with http://www.hidefconferencing.com/ It works for us, at better then phone quality for those on Skype. The web controls are also very handy for facilitating the meeting.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

As usual the difference of opinion comes from not defining the terms correctly. I apologize for that. Teleconferencing and telepresence from my understanding are further divided into single and multipath links. Whether you define teleconferencing as just multipath links or multiple people at just two endpoints is where I should have made the distinction. As for setting up the software, I'm sorry that you had problems with that, but I don't feel setup problems are something that's exclusive to Skype.

gadgetgirl
gadgetgirl

feel free to put VZO on our test list if you like! (I can talk again! Sadly, Ma has hijacked my headset - I'll get there eventually!) GG

sub_techrep
sub_techrep

Hi Michael. I can't give you the hard data that you would probably find useful but you can get it for yourself. Firstly, identify the PID of the Skype program in the task manager. If the PID isn't displayed in the processes tab, select View/Select Columns and tick PID. Armed with the PID, check to see what's connecting to that process. Open a command prompt and type NETSTAT -ao | find "PID" where | is the pipe character and PID is actually the numeric value you got earlier. This should display all the connections in use by that process. The foreign address should give a clue as to where the connection is going. Do this on each machine. The next part can be a bit tricky, depending on what kind of router you have. Capturing the bandwidth utilisation on a per process basis at the desktop is tricky (I haven't found a good utility to do this, yet. Anyone who knows of one, please speak up!) so I've resorted to logging all connections, dumping the data into a datafile and then filtering it based on IP (use netstat -ano for just the ip addresses). Our connection is 2Mb symmetric and the upstream speed has quite an impact on whether Skype targets the connection for use and abuse. My initial analysis indicates that each Skype connection takes about 25 kbits/s for a voice call and much more for a video call. Four voice calls on your network and you've just lost 100kbits/s and it's not even for you. So far as Wikipedia is concerned, I'm sure that a lot of its content is accurate but I'm equally sure that some of it is not. Telling the difference isn't always so easy. Maybe TR ought to start a glossary/definitions micro-site so that we can all be using the same definitions.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Thanks David, I would sincerely appreciate hearing about your experiences with Skype. It's appears to be somewhat of a dichotomy to most, in that you either love it or hate it. Promise not to laugh. The application is called Online Armour Firewall and it's free. I am so impressed with it. It has a significant amount of intelligence and did I say it was free. http://www.download.com/Online-Armor/3000-10435_4-10426782.html CNET, our parent company did a review of it, but I was already hooked on it before then. If you try it let me know about any concerns, I"ve been chatting with them about a few tweaks.

Jaqui
Jaqui

Show Me Do website contributors have a monthly conference call to discuss direction of the content and ideas, they stopped with skype because of the same issues you have had and switched to gizmo5. http://gizmo5.com/ They have found it handles large number of users better than skype does.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

You are going to love 4.0. My friends and I are using 4.0 beta already and it's a significant improvement over 3.8 . Especially if you consider video important. It's stable enough to try IMHO. Let me know what you think. I really appreciate any input as it makes the product that much better.

JCitizen
JCitizen

some of them are combat IT personnel who have an amazing ability to hack uses for their personal whims from the IT communication system, when commanders allow it. I don't push my luck and ask my bud out in Iraq just what he does with his personal time "borrowing" this network. I'm sure his parents would love him to use video phone communication; I'll have to ask ArmyMom and see if he's tried it before. He definitely has access to ordinary email, and he assures that his remote unit has it also. When you're flying Jet Rangers out in the desert it is pretty hard to find an ISP laying around.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I personally didn't have any information as to if the DoD was letting service personnel use Skype. It just has to help the families and service members. Thank you very much for sharing that. I've had the honor of helping (via email and IM) some service members setup Wi-Fi systems over seas. I see how excited they are to have the capability and I was very glad to be of any help.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I guess I'm as surprised as anyone about the quality of a Skype call. I sense that once people use it more it, they will find unique uses for it.

JCitizen
JCitizen

and I commend you for it. Although I really haven't played with Skype, I intend to; and the encryption/compression traits were a surprise to me. It definitely makes it a more interesting feature to pass on to my clients.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Thanks Dave, I certainly will pass this along to the appropriate parties.

Jaqui
Jaqui

I only have 4 people in the contacts on it. and I almost never turn it on. but then, I almost never turn on any im software. Skype video is useless on Linux, even when you have a cam installed and working Skype won't use it. The calling features, voice, I have rarely used. The few times I did, I noticed more of a lag than doing voic and video chats with yahoo or icq. [ gotta like kopete / gaim, one app, all systems but Skype :p ] for live communications I find I prefer to use irc, the text is less likely to be misunderstood, and everyone can save a permanent record of the discussion. [ plain text log file option ] I'm actually currently working on getting inspire ircd running on one system, in conjunction with cgiirc, then use it as a live support chat system. cgiirc creates an almost complete irc client app, in a web page. [ it's missing the menu bar and tool bars, but it has the important tools. ] This makes it so that no-one has to install any additional software to use the system. [ and I know that for a number of people, that is an important benefit ]

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I don't understand Skype fully, so I sincerely appreciate comments. Also if someone takes the time to comment that tells me I'd better listen as it's important to them. I will certainly check out SightSpeed and I may take you up on the offer to help. As I usually test by myself using my computer and another at a remote sight. Both of you may have given me another topic as well. Edit: I wanted to make sure about a couple of things with SightSpeed. 1. Multiple endpoint (up to 9) video teleconferencing is only available in the business "for pay" version? 2. SightSpeed doesn't encrypt the data stream, other than using "change frame" technology?

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I hope you don't think that I've forgotten our testing. It's just that I've been way too busy trying to keep ahead of all the work. Lots of router problems this summer, can't explain why though. I'll add VZO to the list, make sure to nudge me in awhile about the testing.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Thank you for posting that process. It does make sense. I'll have to run a few experiments.

david.scott.stokes
david.scott.stokes

Hi Michael, Online Armor looks good and I will try it when they have a Vista version. Skype is very useful in itself, but Skype Pro with SkypeOut, SkypeIn, ToGo and audio messages make it far more flexible and interchangeable with normal phone lines. especially when used as a platform to support other business activities. So we run Skype calls while debugging with say CrossLoop, or web conferencing with GoToMeeting, as well as audio conferencing with HiDef. Skype is so versatile it is a great backup. The other day I was in a major SI that could dropped the call and could not dial internationally. I was Skype connected to run chat with my team, so we just moved straight into using my Thinkpad as a hands free conference phone. The people at the SI were impressed with the quality and how easy it all made communications. I live in Australia, with my mother in Holland and my sister in the US, so we often just use Skype's videoconferencing features for family catch ups. It is free and my mother is very visual, so the High Quality Video helps her greatly. In fact, I have just got off a call with the US. In summary, Skype agility and price and has changed both our business model and our family networking. It truly is a winner for us users.

JCitizen
JCitizen

with the information. Sorry, but I still have a good although inactive security clearance and I don't want to get him or anyone else in trouble. The information I have supplied is well known on sources like Military.com. So there is no problem relating that. HA! Maybe the Army ought to be using Skype! I'm sure the military has excellent end-point security anyway.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

JCitizen, you are always on top of it. Kudos my friend.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I certainly appreciate the information and value your opinion. I'm not a "nix guy" so I'm at a disadvantage in that regard. I have enough to keep up with Cisco IOS.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

OK GG, I hope everything goes well. I'd never say anything like that. I enjoy your posts and comments as they are informative and spot on. I did a bit more research, funny the SightSpeed website doesn't mention anything about encryption. Through other reading, I found out that SightSpeed use a rather strange methodology called "change frame". It requires the whole data stream to be in house before it can be decompressed. That could be compromised by a MitM if the attacker retrieves the entire data stream. I also read that there's some sort of plugin available that will provide AES encryption, but wasn't able to find that. I'll have to download the application and research it later today.

gadgetgirl
gadgetgirl

I've only used SS with one person so far, so that would be good. re edit: 1. Yep, that's a paid option only. 2. Not sure, actually, but I don't *think* it's encrypted. If I remember from when I first looked at this, it was to ensure that it was more open for all users, than restricting due to encryption settings, especially on an extremely wide range of equipment. Again, from what I remember of my research without looking, the original remit was to make this available for all at either zero or minimal cost, with a multiple option way of accessing/running the program on a range of varying ages, styles and types of kit. Just do me one favour, Mike - leave the test till after this week; about to have a little minor surgery that means I won't be able to speak properly for a few days. (Now stop saying hooray!) GG