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another Skype idea

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Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 79
Location: Bethesda, MD

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 2:20 pm    Post subject: another Skype idea Reply with quote

OK, I'm not the first one with the idea of connecting Skype with Clicker:

but I have a slightly different angle on it. There's a tool (apparently soon-to-be-commercial) called EQO:
which lets you use your cell phone to call anywhere in the world using your always-on computer and SkypeOut. It's a clever idea, but it doesn't presently work on my Sprint Treo 650 because Sprint doesn't allow incoming calls when you're connected to their data network, so when my computer uses SkypeOut to call my Treo, it encounters the Treo's voicemail. Furthermore I'm not too crazy about EQO because it requires Java on my Treo and also at some point they're likely to start charging for it.

Now, there's a (free) ActiveX interface available for Skype:
so it looks pretty easy to fetch contact names and/or place a Skype call via Clicker. Furthermore since we could control things rather than relying upon EQO, it seems that there would be an opportunity to disconnect from the Internet under Clicker control, and then wait for the callback from SkypeOut. Or in the worst case, the script could instruct the Treo user to disconnect, and then have the smarts to wait a requisite number of seconds before trying to place the call to the Treo and the other Skype (or SkypeOut) party.

Questions for Jonas et al:
(1) does the Clicker API provide a way to disconnect the phone from the Internet? This seems unlikely but I thought I would ask.
(2) Can the Clicker API detect that the phone user no longer has a data connection to Clicker? This seems possible, e.g., by trying to send something to the user and then catching an exception if that attempt fails.

One of the tricky things is ending the SkypeOut call when either the phone user or the called party hangs up. I guess that the Clicker script can sort of "hang in there" and detect using Skype's API when one of the parties has hung up, and then actively hang up the other call.

I encourage someone else to play with this idea ... I really should be doing other things :-) I'll post back here if I do start to experiment, so there won't be too much duplicated effort.
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Location: Bethesda, MD

PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2006 4:14 pm    Post subject: SkypeSample script Reply with quote

OK, this is a proof-of-concept of communicating with Skype. I really can't do any more work on this until June.

To run this, in addition to Clicker & Skype, you'll need to install 'ActiveS':

I also recommend that you get a SkypeOut account for experimentation, so you can do things like call your local weather forecast. Alternatively, you can try calling the Skype test user 'echo123':

This sample just lets you view your Skype contacts via Clicker and then call one of them. The call goes through but some of the error handling isn't quite right.


 Filename:  SkypeSample.zip
 Filesize:  2.11 KB
 Downloaded:  1286 Time(s)

Last edited by jae_63 on Mon Apr 24, 2006 9:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Location: Bethesda, MD

PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2006 4:16 pm    Post subject: Skype design ideas/implementation plans Reply with quote

Here are some design ideas for a Skype interface from Clicker, based around the SkypeSample that I just posted. I won't have time to work on any of this until June, so I'm throwing out some ideas for someone else to try, or you can get a taste of what I plan to implement in June. Note that I haven't addressed the issue of receiving Skype calls, only placing calls.

There should be two programs callable from a top-level "Skype" interface, analogous to how there are multiple programs callable from the Clicker iTunes interface. These two programs, "SkypeRemote" and "SkypeUsingMobile" could be as follows:

(A) SkypeRemote is a remote-control, suitable for using in the same home or office where Skype is running, and accessible either using Skype as a speakerphone or, more likely, using a wireless headset (e.g., a Bluetooth headset) which communicates with the computer running Skype. SkypeRemote's menu contains the following four items:

1. Current status: Away (change)
2. Online skype buddies (count)
3. skypeout #s (count)
4. Browse address book

If you click on item #1, it gives you the option to change your Skype status, e.g., to "Online".

If you click in item #2 (available count is in parentheses), you get a list of online buddies, and you can place a call to one of them. While a call is in progress, the window title should include the contact name. During the call it should show you the elapsed time of the call, and offer two-way controls for adjusting call volume, as well as possibly microphone volume. You can also hangup your call.

If you click on item #3 (count of listed SkypeOut numbers is in parentheses), you can place a call to one of them. Other details are like #2, although perhaps a running SkypeOut balance should be displayed.

If you click on item #4, you can browse a list of your contacts and view details about them, but without being able to place a call.


(B) SkypeUsingMobile is the EQO-like functionality that I described in my original post. Its interface would be similar to SkypeRemote's, but SkypeUsingMobile is intended to be used when you're "on the road", far away from your computer, with just your Clicker-capable cell phone in-hand. Your computer will place a conference call to your phone and the callee, which can be either a SkypeOut contact or a regular Skype contact. In either case, you'll consume SkypeOut minutes.

For some phones (especially CDMA), it is necessary to hang-up your Internet connection prior to placing the conference call. On my Sprint Treo 650, this can be done for example using "Reset-Netlib." You can tie this application to a button on your phone, so that while running Clicker and the SkypeUsingMobile script, I can (for example) press-and-hold the Q button to hangup my Internet connection. SkypeUsingMobile will detect this loss of connectivity and then initiate the conference call.

The SkypeUsingMobile menus are similar to the SkypeRemote menus, except the former also contains one or two configuration menus, for the following items:
1. Wait for loss of network contact before dialing (boolean)
2. Test for connectivity intervals (seconds) ... how often the PC should check to see if the phone's Internet connectivity is gone
3. Max interval count (how many times to test for loss of connectivity before giving up)
4. Wait to dial Skype after connectivity loss (seconds)
5. Skype callback number (a phone number in Skype format, usually for this cell phone)

Technical notes for implementer:
1. Using PlaceConferenceCall instead of PlaceCall to place a call
2. Must mute Skype's microphone on PC and also silence call-volume on the PC
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Joined: 25 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2006 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks! I'll check it out. :D
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 22, 2006 8:34 pm    Post subject: cancelling plans to work on Skype project Reply with quote

It's almost the end of June, and I haven't had time to work on this, and I can see that I won't have enough time to do this in the forseeable future. I just wanted to let you folks know so that someone else can take a shot at it if they want without fear of duplicated effort. Sorry for any inconvenience (or false hopes) which I've created to date due to my previously stated intentions.

A few parting remarks:
(1) Rather than ActiveS, it now makes more sense to use Skype's own ActiveX API 'Skype4COM':
(2) projects like this would be easier if Jonas could provide some clear advice on how to handle external programs which could be externally spawned from a Clicker Jscript script and continue to run on the Windows PC asynchronously while returning control to Clicker, so that the custom Jscript code can exit gracefully. For example, it's not clear to me whether one can just fire off the Run method of WScript.Shell asynchronously, or whether a Clicker script will hang until that command completes.[color=green]
[Edit: sorry, after reviewing the generic "Launch Program" script:
I now see that the answer to my question is "yes", such a program is indeed run asynchronously ... this is good news for future developers][/color]

BTW, I've just ordered myself a Roku M500, so I'm somewhat likely to experiment with Salling Clicker scripts for related software, such as SlimServer.
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