SkypeKit: The Next Step In Skype Everywhere

Earlier today Skype announced the pending launch of a beta program for an SDK called SkypeKit. SkypeKit is intended to allow hardware developers to embed Skype client functionality into their devices.

SkypeKit seems to be a logical next step after having recently partnered with LG, Samsung and Panasonic to build embedded Skype clients for their newest HDTVs. I mentioned this previously.

There’s a bunch of coverage of the SkypeKit launch available at various places online. Engadget has their say and some nice pics of the Grandstream GXV-3140 Media Phone running Skype. Also a Litl webbook that looks like it’s running Skype with video.

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Video Calling Comes Home: Skype On TV?

Modern HDTVs are essentially small embedded computer systems. I was reminded of this fact when I recently purchased a TV for our bedroom. It’s a 32″ Samsung LCD-TV, and it makes little boot-up chimes just like a computer. TV’s are computers…that’s worth remembering.

Recently several large consumer electronics companies have launched new LCD HDTVs in partnership with Skype. This partnership leverages the fact that TVs are computers.

These new model LCD-TVs run an embedded version of the Skype client. When equipped with suitable media handling support (camera, microphone & possibly speakers) these TVs are purported to allow large screen point-to-point video calling via the Skype network.

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Comcast Trouble Resolved With Help From Their Tweeple

I was incensed as a result of the past weeks trouble with the cable card swap that Comcast imposed. After considerable time spent on the phone in the afternoon I detailed the situation in a blog post early last evening. At the point when I wrote that post we had no clear path to solution, just the promise that someone would call us back.

Shortly after the blog post went live a twitter message was automatically sent to highlight that post. This caught the attention of @comcastcares, which is Frank Eliason, Director Of Digital Care at Comcast.

Frank & his staff are based in Philadelphia PA. The fact that Comcast has been using Twitter to stay on top of customer service has been known for some time. I had some cursory interaction with them during the long service outage in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.

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Comcast Service In Houston: FAIL!

Nothing makes my blood boil like dealing with Comcast. I have never encountered a company with such complete disregard for their customers.

First A little Background: Chapter 1

Until early in 2007 Houston was Time-Warner Cable market. Houston, much of Texas and parts of Missouri were run by a partnership between Comcast and Time-Warner, but it was branded with the Time-Warner name. Early in 2007 that ended with Comcast assuming Houston operations and Time-Warner taking the rest.

Now no-one loves their cable company just as no-one has warm fuzzies for an ILEC. We had no great love of Time-Warner, but since then our experience with Comcast makes us long for the good ‘ole days of Time-Warner Cable.

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Searching For Tivo & HDMI Cable Insanity

tivohd_wremote_rf_300rgb440I hate to admit this, but on December 24th my wife and I went to Best Buy looking for a last minute gift. We decided that her younger brother needed a Tivo. Ours is a three Tivo household, although only TivoHD sees any real use these days. One you get used to having a DVR you want one on every TV, and radio too for that matter.

Though we’d had two SD Tivo units for years when we bought or HDTV we initially got the Time Warner HD-DVR instead of Tivo Series 3. The Tivo Series 3 units were $800 at the time, more than we were willing to pay. That experience was enlightening, like stepping back into the dark ages. What crappy menus, and basically no intelligence at all in the software. The CableCo DVR was simply dreadful.

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Amazon Unboxed Goes HD: Eventually

Just poking around this afternoon I found this which says that Amazon is definitely working on an HD version of their Unbox movie download service. This service is operated in partnership with Tivo. The user interface is very nicely integrated into the Tivo menus. My wife likes it a lot.

They suspect that the new service will be based upon H.264 compression. That’s about the only real option around.

Neither the company nor its customers will have unlimited bandwidth so older compression schemes would be impractical. Newer compression schemes would require that Amazon encode the content themselves. Better that they settle on H.264 which is what Apple’s iTunes uses amongst others.

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