Apr. 5th, 2012

bobquasit: (Default)
Skype is in a war of sorts with Google Voice. And today, I discovered that Skype had taken my system hostage as a prisoner in that war.

I used to be able to use my Google Voice account to call any phone in America for free from my Gmail home page; just type in a phone number or the name of a contact and I'd be connected, with a clarity that actually stunned some of the people I spoke to. Apparently Google Voice uses some sort of astonishing new sound-processing algorithm.

And then recently I installed Skype, since several friends had urged me to try it. Today I tried to use Google Voice to call my parents in Massachusetts. I typed "Dad" in the Google Voice box...and instead of his home and mobile numbers appearing, they appeared with Skype icons surrounding them along with a dollar sign. When I hovered over the numbers, I was told I would be making a "low cost call with Skype".

Now, just to be clear: the call should have been free, via Google. Instead Skype blocked my ability to make that free call, and tried to force me to pay them for it. As far as I'm concerned, that's stealing.

I tried to find a way to make the call WITHOUT using Skype. No matter what I did, Skype wouldn't allow me to do that. I shut down Skype; when I went back and tried to call with Google Voice, Skype immediately restarted itself and invited me to pay them if I wanted to make the call.

I began to seriously consider uninstalling Skype. I have a temper, but I don't think anybody would take it well when some company takes over something on your own system and basically holds it hostage. Boiling with rage, I began to research a solution.

It wasn't easy to find, but I found it. The problem was an add-on that had apparently come bundled with Skype. So I had to go to the Windows Control Panel, choose Add/Remove Programs, and then removed the program called "Skype Click to Call". Mind you, I wasn't told that the goddamned thing would be installed when I installed Skype, and I damned well wouldn't have installed it if I'd known that it was replacing my option to make free phone calls with the requirement to pay Skype for those same calls.

But Skype, here's a message for you: I will never spend a penny on any of your services, EVER. I'll use the free stuff because my friends are on it. But otherwise, you can go screw yourselves.
bobquasit: (Default)
I haven't been pleased with Barnes & Noble's Nook Color. The book selection is relatively poor, and the prices are relatively high. Which is why I have been utterly delighted by Baen Books.

Not only do they offer a large selection of classic science fiction books for free, but they have a surprising number of books by classic and modern SF and fantasy authors for very reasonable prices. For example, they have quite a few of the Heinlein juveniles - which, I've been told, have often been out of print in recent years - for $5-$6 each. And they're well-formatted, have nice e-covers, and are available in many useful formats (including epub for the Nook and Kindle format too). What's more, they're not restricted by DRM, so you can download them to multiple devices.

I respect the hell out of a company that doesn't treat their customers as potential thieves. And so I've picked up a bunch of books from them for Sebastian, including most of the Heinlein juveniles as well as James H Schmitz's The Witches of Karres - a classic, and one of my favorites. Plus quite a few others! They can even be read online, on a computer, laptop, or tablet.

Most of their books are in the four to six-dollar range. I wish other ebook publishers had as much sense as Baen! But as it is, Baen has already gotten a lot more of my money than Barnes & Noble has. Or will, for that matter.

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