Franz – free cross-service messaging app


Franz is a free messaging app which currently supports Slack, WhatsApp, WeChat, HipChat, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Google Hangouts, GroupMe, Skype and many more.  Download is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. – your friendly Skype replacement

Every day some new super hyped web service is born, and every other day some old web service is decommissioned. It’s been going on for so long, that rarely do I pay much attention to these things.  I need a few recommendations. I want to hear excitement. I want to hear why and how this can be useful to me.  A mere press release doesn’t cut it.

Today, I was recommended a service that is so easy and useful that it blew my mind.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you .  Think of the all the good things Skype is, without all the bad things that come with it.  Video, voice, and text chat, screen sharing, free, multiple participants (up to 8), private and public conversations, excellent voice and video quality, and no installation of software necessary – works right out of the browser, even on the mobile.

It’s so easy and fun to use that I’ve spent most of the day chatting to my colleagues even when they were in the same room.  We had two and three way conversations with screen sharing and text messages (handy for the URLs) and it worked really well.

Come to think of it, the only thing that I didn’t see (maybe it’s there and maybe it’s not) is file transfer.  But there are so many different ways these days to send a file that I don’t worry about that too much.  A quality video chat with screen sharing is a different ball game altogether.


Upgrading to Skype 4.3 on Linux

Today Skype failed to log me in on one of my Fedora Linux laptops.  That, I guess, is a part of the force upgrade to Skype 4.3.  While doing so, I came across two issues:

  1. Download Skype page is broken in Google Chrome.  After choosing the Linux distribution nothing happens.  Switching to Firefox helps.
  2. The new, upgraded Skype crashes about 2 seconds after a successful login.  When started from the command line, a simple Aborted message is displayed.  Nothing more.  (Maybe because I have core dumps disabled).  After a bit of Googling around, all you need to do is rename your ~/.Skype/ folder into something else and restart Skype.  This will lose your history, some settings, and edited contact names.  But the Skype will work and your contacs will still show up in correct groups.

No “thank you” to you, Microsoft.  Huge thank you to you, Google.  Once again you saved the day.

Tox – secure instant messaging, video conferencing, and more

Tox – secure instant messaging, video conferencing, and more.


With the rise of government monitoring programs, Tox provides an easy to use application that allows you to connect with friends and family without anyone else listening in. While other big-name services require you to pay for features, Tox is totally free, and comes without advertising.

Useful Skype commands, roles, and emoticons

Just by accident I came across this list of Skype commands and roles.  I only knew two or three.  Apparently, there is much more.  For those of us who use Skype on multiple devices, checkout /showplaces and /remotelogout :

  • /showplaces – Lists other instances where this Skype name is currently signed in.
  • /remotelogout – Sign out all other instances except the current one. This will also stop push notifications on all other instances.

And while we are on the subject of not so well-known Skype features, have a look a the complete list of emoticons (smileys) that you can use in the chat.  These include some more additional icons and country flags.

Skype 4.0 for Linux – a present or not?

Slashdot points to the release of Skype 4.0 for Linux, a much delayed update:

Anyone who uses Skype on Linux will be happy to hear that a new version has been made available today, bringing with it a host of essential updates and new features. Skype 4.0, codenamed “Four Rooms for Improvement,” is long overdue, and Marco Cimmino makes a point of thanking Linux users for their patience on the Skype blog. The main improvements Skype is delivering include much improved audio call quality, better video support, and improved chat synchronization. For video specifically, Skype has spent time implementing support for a much wider range of webcams, so if your camera didn’t work before today you might be surprised to find it does in Skype 4.0. Visually, Skype has received a new Conversations View, which brings all chats into a single, unified window (you can revert to the old view if you prefer). There’s also a new Call View, presence and emoticons have been redesigned, and you can now store and view numbers within each Skype profile.

Until recently, Linux users were limited to Skype version 2, which, while worked, was way behind the Skype experience on Windows.  It’s been a really long time since the last release.  Even Skype got itself acquired by Microsoft in that time.  So, now, the question arises why the sudden interest?  Slashdot comments, as always, point to the right direction, to one of the earlier Skype related news:

Skype will be introducing a new ‘feature’ into calls for users don’t have subscriptions or credit. Giant ads. They are actually calling them ‘Conversation ads’ because they hope the ads (as large as the picture of the person to whom you are speaking) will ‘spark additional topics of conversation that are relevant to Skype users and highlight unique and local brand experiences.’ The ads, of course, are tailored to each individual user, though there is an opt-out for that.

All of a sudden, the news of the version 4.0 aren’t as exciting anymore.  Should I upgrade?  Or should I stick to the old version, in hopes that it won’t support the giant ads? Or should I maybe look for an alternative to Skype?

Money scam via Skype

It’s been a long while since someone tried to scam me online.  But today I got lucky.  Someone knocked at my Skype door and I opened it.  Here is the full transcript of the conversation.  Pardon me for having some fun in the process.

[2:26:57 PM EEST] micheal2455: hello
[2:27:06 PM EEST] micheal2455: how are you

Before, when most of my online friends were technical people, a username with numbers in it pretty much guaranteed that you are talking to a spammer or scammer of some sort.  But in recent years a lot of non-technical people got online and all bets are off.  So, I allowed a person in.

[2:27:09 PM EEST] micheal2455: my name is micheal ofori,a regional manager of almal bank limited i discover a domant account what of 5.6MILLION UNITED STATE DOLLARS.Iam looking for a honest person who can help me to move this money out of were i kept it in self keeping custdy.i agree to give you 20% for your mutual help.i do not want my c0-worker to raise eyebrow toward this fund.

That’s a very standard, direct, to the point, proposition.  That’s all you need to see to know with absolute certainty that you are being scammed.  You have two options from now on.  Either end the discussion immediately and block the person from every talking to you again, or try to scam them back, for fun, and see what they have to say.  I’ve chosen the scam path.

Continue reading “Money scam via Skype”

Every 60 seconds on the Web

We’ve all seen a gadzillion of statistics on how many videos are uploaded to YouTube every day or how many Google searches are performed every month.  While those are all interesting on their own, combined into a single overview they provide a really good perspective on how active and diverse the Web is.


GoDaddy is being sold to Silver Lake

According to GigaOm:

Go Daddy, the largest domain registrar and a web hosting provider, is reportedly close to being sold to a group of private equity firms including KKR and Silver Lake Partners. The purchase price is about $2 – 2.5 billion, according to several news outlets.

That’s the same Silver Lake that helped so much to screw up Skype.  If you haven’t yet found an alternative to GoDaddy, you should be looking.  That reminds me that Automattic has become a domain registrar quite some time ago and I haven’t heard any updates on that.

Unstable company of Skype

While reading this article at GigaOm about the latest adventures of Skype, I came across this quote by Yee Lee, a former employee of Skype:

You can agree or disagree with the practice of re-organization, but I personally had never been part of a restructuring that ran so deep in a company.  During the year I was at Skype, the company:

  • lost a CEO
  • hired and fired a CTO
  • hired and fired a CFO
  • gained a CEO, CMO, CIO, and CDO
  • created an entirely new product development org structure
  • eliminated every Project Manager role
  • fired, re-interviewed,  and re-hired Product Managers
  • created a two new business units
  • combined two business units into one
  • dissolved one business unit
  • opened a new office and hired several hundred people
  • the list goes on…

I mean, these are crazy changes for any company to go through over the course of years.  To have that all happen within a short number of months was staggering.

Staggering indeed.