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SkypeIn For The Rest of Us

30 Oct 2008

Since Skype launched its SkypeIn service, somewhere in 2005, I keep going back to their website, always in dismay, facing the absence of a Canadian flag on the supported countries page. Last time I went though, I kept looking a bit more, thats when I found about the DIDs...

A much better hack

DID, stands for Direct Inward Dialing. It can be seen as a way to buy yourself a phone number, which doesn't come attached to any telco with their usual lock-in contracts. DID providers usually offers this service at very low monthly fees, and they can even supplement it with many flexible routing services. The one I choosed, DIDww, charges you around 5$ a month for the number, and of course it offers support for Skype!

But wait!!! the Skype service its only beta...

I would have liked it to work at first sight... but I'll have to wait a little! I must tell though its really no good reason to stop, because there is lots of possibilities in there! Versatility!! It works with most VOIP systems, with MSN and GTalk, with traditional PSTN lines, and also allows you to mix and match them to your taste. With all those possibilities there is no way to get locked in there like in the old-telecom-days!

My cute little bug

At present, there seem to be a couple of bugs with the Skype mapping in there. The first one I noticed, gives the symptom of only sometimes sending the caller a ringtone... a long blank pause at the other end of the line. Then it gets to Skype, but cuts the line when voicemail jumps in.... ARGGHHH!!!! I take the deep breath Skype has told me to... then mmm, what can I do? I really want to stick with Skype, having a dedicated Belkin Skypephone, a beautifull wi-fi pet I like to bring everywhere with me.

What I DID

Conviced that it would work, I decided to try a few things before totally losing faith... Grouping a few mappings together seemed like the best strategy. I tried with GTalk, the voicemail did work, but then GTalk seems a bit too beta to me, and most of all only offerered a Windows client, shame on you Google! I looked at a couple of VOIP providers, most made me feel like going into yet another wanabe telecom, and the rests makes you doubt they will survive in the long run. There was also this alien, but very creative and with lots of potential PhoneGnome, very very very interesting, but not at all what I need... and Gizmo, this humble project feels very much like Skype, has clients for the 3 OSes and guess what, the voicemail not only works, it works good! You are allowed to record your own welcome message, it sends the received message as wave files to the email of your choice, all for free!!

A good starting point

What's fun getting into this DID based setup is that it will allow me to evolve my communications assets as technology grows, all while keeping the same phone number, or even to keep the same assets while moving to a different area code. The recipe which works for me now is to chain Gizmo after Skype with deactivated voicemail. What it does is it tries to call me on Skype for 15 seconds (sometimes with no rings, ARGHH!! but people get used to it), if I don't answer then it jumps to Gizmo, for which a client is not open anywhere, giving the caller a voicemail service straight away. Cheep phone service that serves you better than those from the all-encompassing you-will-never-get-away-from-us Telecoms!

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