I’ve been a big fan and avid user of Skype. Especially since moving to the US it’s been an amazing tool to stay in touch with my friends and family at home. Not worrying about the cost of a phone call and being able to turn on the video every now and then, makes a huge difference over regular phone calls. Email is great too and I guess in a way Facebook helps me stay up to date with what’s going on back home. But it’s hard to beat the instant gratification of a quick talk with friends or hearing my parent’s or sister’s voice.
I’m still amazed by the technology behind it all. It’s pretty impressive to realize that the audio and video are rendered in real-time, broken up in to TCP/IP packets, routed halfway around the world, recompiled and played back at the other end without any delay (OK, hardly any delay). Lately however, it’s becoming more and more obvious how complicated this technology is and how hard it is to make it all work properly. We’ve all heard of the much publicized outages that have occurred the last couple of weeks. And there’s the fact that often contacts show up as ‘offline’ while they are not. Not to mention, chat messages coming through with as much as 24 hours of delay. All technical trouble, all recent issues, and all stuff that triggers obvious jokes about their recent acquisition by Microsoft.
I give Skype lots of credit, because, for years now, they have provided this amazing service to me for very little money. Today however, an entirely new issue came up. I received my first ever blatant Skype Spam call. The call came from ‘NOTIFICATIONS’ and since I recently purchased Skype Credit, I thought that maybe there was some kind of announcement regarding that. I should have known better, Skype would send me an email instead of having a robot call me. But between all the calls I get from AT&T and Time Warner robots, I’ve started to expect and accept these incredibly rude and annoying unsolicited calls. Of course, it was not Skype calling me, it was some scam to lure me into visiting a website where I can download anti-virus software. I don’t need anti-virus software on my iPhone, which is where I received this call, and that website would no doubt do much more harm than good if I decided to visit it.
I realize there is a setting in Skype that prevents anyone who’s not in my contact list from calling me. I usually have this turned on, but since I recently switched accounts it might not be properly set. In any case, these little issues and annoyances are making me reconsider my loyalty to Skype. There are many alternatives out there and it’s never a good idea to stick with anything simply because change is inconvenient. Maybe I can move some of my communication to FaceTime of Google Talk? For now, I’ll probably stick with Skype and give them another chance at addressing these issues. As long as they don’t start interrupting my calls with commercials I shouldn’t complain, right?