Sunday, December 13, 2009

Why Skype UI OpenSource?

When legacy proprietary companies start all of a sudden OpenSourcing their software, a lot of questions are raised. Of course they have their own explanations for the facts, although frequently are not the whole true about the fact.
Since Skype announced their OpenSource UI, I received some email asking why would that happen and what are the reasons behind the curtains.
Here is a personal explanation based on some facts:

Background Story:
  • Skype started their business in a market almost empty of competition. VoIP indeed existed, but was NOT directed to end users, neither mass market.
  • OpenSource would not make sense as it usually (for big companies) takes way more time and money to build solutions on top of standards then creating your own black box with the solutions of your own problems and challenges inside. And the lack of demand for a standard format was about 99%.
  • Another reason is the "secret" factor, as the first ones, they have to create all the buzz around their holly grail and of course ensure the domination.
  • That is why(among other reasons) Skype made their business on top of proprietary routing algorithms and proprietary protocols and encryption.
Early VoIP Market:
  • In the other hand for very small VoIP services the picture is different as they started on top of OpenSource platforms, even in a time that most of them were experimental. The reason is, the target market was massively smaller than Skype targets. And of course the money to invest was way smaller as well.
  • SIP adoption was adopted in almost 99% of the rising small providers that started popping up everywhere in the world.
  • Interesting fact is that most pioneer small VoIP providers started with virtual PBX system, not even SIP routers and big platforms. Basically "grow on demand" strategy was adopted as well.
Current VoIP Market Snapshot:
  • VoIP is way more spread in the world since Skype started the massification. We have large number of companies building equipments, client soft-phones, VoIP platforms etc...
  • We have a ridiculous huge number of VoIP providers which anther ridiculous range of different prices and quality.
  • SIP is the main driver for major market. It is used on landlines in Europe and US, it is massively used in company PBX and telephony of big companies. Which are the main source of PAYED VoIP services.
  • Skype is smaller in amount of users and revenue, if compared to all SIP Providers together.
  • Google acquires Gizmo5 a medium VoIP provider fully operated over SIP. Yes it has direct relation.
Consequences to Skype:
  • Skype ubiquity is restricted by their Desktop Client or their very limited IPhone client.
  • Skype still growing the amount of Desktop users. But the amount of paying users is still and tends to get lower.
  • Skype interoperability is null, as it is based on proprietary system and specifications.
  • Competition makes more money and the migration from old Skype users to new VoIP alternatives is big. As educated users knows now how to change and why to change to cheaper and flexible services.
  • We have more SIP enabled equipment and computers than Desktops with Skype client installed.
Skype Strategy Turn:
  • OpenSource their SILK codec as already mentioned in this blog.
  • Open SIP Gateway for Business Users. In order to start competing in a very profitable market slice.
  • Bought the patent of their VoIP routing solutions. In order to prepare for an interoperability round.
  • Aim for alternative and relatively "virgin" markets like mobile, Linux, netbooks etc:
  • Release more usable mobile clients.
  • OpenSource as much as possible for Linux as current client is really crap and also Linux users in general don't use closed source applications.
The Reason in Resume:
Skype wants its ubiquity and revenue back, and for that they are investing huge resources in Openness and Standardization, as it is what their market needs and demands nowadays.

In a mash-able hyper-connected world, who is closed and not interoperable will fade.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Movies Bot and Bots website

If sometimes you are at a video rent store, or in a torrent site searching for something to watch, and you often run out of convict opinion this is your Bot. Just send a message containing the name of the movie, and it will reply with a recommendation. 
I'm sure the Movies Bot can save you some money and time regarding "trash" movies, which by the way are big majority nowadays specially in Hollywood.
Of course you won't always agree about the opinion, but I'm pretty sure it will give you wise and precise alerts before renting/downloading really BAD movies!
Just give it a try and let us know the reliability of the answers.

Now you can follow the xmppguru and its extensions, go to and check out in realtime latest questions and answers from other users.

Friday, December 4, 2009 - a Self-Help Bot (or Not)

Yet Another XMPP Bot! This time it is meant for nice quotes that should increase your "anymus" at work, in a boring day or in both at the same time as usual. After checking that more than 25% of all messages to where about personal problems and assistance requests, I decided to build something to help those poor XMPP users.
So basically the recommended usage is:

  1. Swear to the Bot! Use bad words freely. He always understand you... (This is a MUST, if you don't say anything he won't help you)
  2. Get a nice quote back that eventually will help you with motivation or pushes.

You can use the xmppguru extension by simple adding it to your GTalk's / Jabber Contacts:

Examples of general usage
To receive a quote, simple express your feeling.

Chat Message: I hate this rainy day!!! Screw it! "Sometimes water is better than snow..." - Someone from somewhere

Chat Message: what the f*** you are not helping shi*** bot! "" - "Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress." - Gandhi

It is not scientifically proved, but it might help. At least, in the worst case, will be an always online friend that is always willing to hear your complains. Always there in your roster.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

URL Shortener XMPP Bot

XMPP Provides easy and clean ways to build XMPP Bots, as I showed on the previous post, we can use Google AppEngine to create 24h online, zero-maintenance Bots. Yes, I don't need to host this. Google is doing the job for now, for free, let it be.

You can use the xmppguru extension to Short URL simply add it to your GTalk's / Jabber Contacts:

Examples of general usage
To request a Short Version of your URL just send a message containing the URL.

Chat Message: ->

Chat Message: ->

This is quite handy, avoiding all the hassle to visit one of the other URL Shorteners just to have a smaller URL.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

XMPP Bots - XMPPGuru

XMPP Provides easy and clean ways to build XMPP Bots, as I showed on the previous post, we can use Google AppEngine to create 24h online, zero-maintenance Bots.

One interesting Bot is a Guru One, the main objective of this Bot is to clarify topics, answer general knowledge questions and retrieve hints for general opinion.
You can add it to your GTalk's / Jabber Contacts:

Examples of general knowledge:
Question: What is Aerosmith?
xmppguru: Aerosmith is an American hard rock band, sometimes referred to as "The Bad Boys from Boston" and "America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band".

Question: What is an atomic bomb?
xmppguru: nuclear weapon: an explosive device whose destructive power is due to the uncontrollable release of energy from the fission of heavy nuclei, usually uranium-235 or plutonium-239, by neutrons sustaining a rapid chain reaction

Question:  Who invented the harpoon?
xmppguru: Endangered Species question: Who invented the harpoon cannon? Sven (or Svend) Foyn (1809-1894) was a whaler born in T√łnsberg in southeast Norway. In 1856, he invented the bow ... 

Examples of general opinion:
Question: What is a good song?
xmppguruWhat is a good song to "give" someone who you are …

QuestionDo you trust god?
xmppguruThe Bible tells us to have faith: (Hebrews 11:6 NIV) And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he ...

The Bot is not meant to have conscience neither deep lexical interpretation, the goal is to answer your question when possible, something directly with a straight answer, but something also vague hints.
For unknown answers the principe is the same of Horoscope, but in a scientific way. 
the best way of discovering how it works, purpose and functionality is by testing it.

Sometimes you will be surprised even asking by your full name. In the same way you will be surprised by crappy answers. Enjoy!