Tag Archives: skype

Cell-Phones: An Easy-to-Use Evil

I read a blog post recently on Planet Larry, which describes only one facet of how cell-phones are disgusting. It reminded me that I’ll have to get one soon. All the same, it’s nice to see I’m not the only one who hates it.

It feels like the cell-phone world is moving at a snails pace. Sure, the iPhone stepped it up a notch. It introduced a certain amount of flexibility never before seen in cell-phones. However, the price for it is unbelievable, it’s still using the ancient idea of calling numbers, which are hardly memorable, it’s still locked down so that you can’t do anything creative with it, and the service itself won’t work with any device except the phones provided.

Why can’t cell-phone companies open their API’s so that more hardware can be produced which can log into and use the cell-phone system? Why can’t the cell-phone system either take on more features, or back off and start over with a better foundation for generic data (like mobile broadband already does) so that more information than just calls can be sent over the network? It seems like a no-brainer, and a way to make your network very, very popular.

I wonder if the iPhone is such a success because people feel the limitations of their phones. I think more can be done to break us free of a locked down system that is rigid and hardly feature-rich anymore. Unfortunately, people find it hard to get out of certain ruts when it comes to technology and move on to better systems. The current system is easy enough to use and can do just enough to stay useful. That’s going to make it hard to move on, and harder for companies to see the point.

OSS VoIP software (Skype, TeamSpeak) via PulseAudio

ESD/GNOME via PulseAudio was easy to figure out: just make sure your login/logout/etc. sounds are no bigger than 1 MiB, not 1MB as some claim. You could use “pactl upload-sample ” to test and make sure PulseAudio’d like the sound.

That was easy enough to figure out. Then Skype came along and showed me the weaknesses of PulseAudio and its padsp script.

The issue was that Skype’s sounds would be very choppy, and my voice would be difficult to understand. I knew that PulseAudio had a way of building up a cache of audio before playing it, and that it would auto-adjust, but I figured that that was messing it up somehow. How I would fix an automatically-adjusted system I knew not. Continue reading