back to article Skype goes titsup across globe

Skype users across the globe are unable to access the popular peer-to-peer VoIP service. According to a mountain of Twitter posts and myriad emails from Register readers, the service is experiencing a worldwide outage. Skype acknowledged the outage in a blog post, saying its engineers are working to restore the service. The …

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Oh B******r

That explains a lot, teach me to check El'Reg before assuming Windows is doing something stupid AGAIN.

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Just because...

...something is going wrong elsewhere, doesn't mean Windows is not the problem.

Windows is ALWAYS the problem!

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Good..

Skype is a nightmare piece of software. It actively avoids firewalls and other preventative measures..

Sooner its gone the better...

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Flame

It avoids silly firewalls

Skype avoids stupid firewalls based around deterministic filtering.

It has about 0 chance to avoid statistics based detection. I had the opportunity to work with the person who devised the detection mechanism for this and a product around it used by Swisscom to "discover" Skype use in corporate networks. They are claiming a 99.95+% detection rate with virtually 0 false positives and I tend to believe them.

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Are you with the Indian government by any chance?

Red Article "BlackBerry to Indian gov: Ban us, you have to ban Skype too"

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/12/06/blackberry_india/

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@cornz

Skype probably does what you say because it has to work with a myriad of network configurations and has failovers where it tries various things. It's not trying to be stealthy, it's just trying to save users the grief of figuring out how to get Skype working.

Anyway if you're in an org and you don't want Skype, then I suggest you lock your PCs down and run audits on them. Chances are if you don't like Skype then there is a whole raft of other apps you don't like either - ICQ, AIM, Jabber, Twitter etc. etc.

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Grenade

@cornz1. Agree, Skype is a nightmare piece of software.

I agree, Skype is a nightmare piece of software. It causes many problems so I've ceased to use it on a day-to-day basis.

It's invasive, interferes with other programs, and has the propensity to call 'home' to Skype the moment you touch anything (and you can't fully turn that 'spyware' feature off).

It dictates the way you use it, it has no instant kill feature and you can't configure the menus for best ergonomic use. The ergonomics for controlling the program are terrible (hidden away and hard to get at quickly and they can't be reconfigured say to function keys etc. or automatically controlled by other programs). The program is dumbed-down to ensure Skype is used the way its masters want.

Others have mentioned the problematic firewall issues etc. so I'll leave that.

Occasionally, I do have to use Skype so I specifically install it for the purpose then uninstall it when finished. I do this by using *NO* version later than 2.x. The only 'advantages' of version 3 and later are fixes to the video which I don't use and Skype's control over the program (which is of no use to me--improving its 'spyware' features I don't think is worthy of a version number change).

It seems to me with the large number of thumbs-down on this post, users are confusing the Skype service with its user software, they're two separate things. The Skype service is very useful, the software just terrible.

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Anonymous Coward

grr

skype crashed earlier, restarted it and couldn't connect, left it for a while, then later went to use it, restarted and still wouldn't connect... checked their service status page which said everything working fine, so assumed a problem my end... finally gave up trying and went to find something else to do (read the reg), and there's an article about skype being down!

my guess is there's a bug in the skype client, either a malicious user or a corrupt bit of data making its way through the network has caused a cascading failure - not surprised it has serious bugs in it from the problems everyone has been reporting with skype 5 (ignoring the crap UI which appears to be universally hated) - they pushed skype 5 out to all users without even bothering to read the feedback from the beta users (either that or they ran out of excuses to not fix shit so just stopped answering at all)

but the thing i'm really annoyed about is that when i couldn't connect i checked the service status page which showed everything as fully functional and no problems! they need to add a note to the top stating "this service status page does not reflect the current status of the service, for that you'll have to read our blog"

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Badgers

The status page can never be right..

because Skype uses YOUR computer and internet connections as "supernodes". If you want to try an experiment install it on a laptop, and connect said laptop do your DSL modem. Turn the laptop firewall on and make sure there is no NAT or other firewall. Then sit back and watch the CPU/RAM usage skyrocket .. what you aren't making a call? It'll peg your connection too.

What Skype does is not allowed by the policies of many businesses and government organizations. Its buried in the EULA, but basically Skype's EULA says, in so many words, that they'll use as much of your computing and bandwidth resources as they want for whatever they want. That would be to route calls, as many as your connection and computer can handle. Of course a good router or firewall makes it entirely too difficult for a bunch of connections from other NAT protected computers so most people don't notice.

Read the EULA carefully, our IT department did and had to remove it from several laptops.

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Skype crash!

Interesting ... I crawled out of bed this morning (Australian time) and found a message that Skype had encountered a problem and needed to close. Obviously, the client is affected in some way ...

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ps, ditto Dazed and Confused - the status page got me too!

immediately started fiddling with my network settings, doh

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Big Brother

maybe a good time to mention

that when it is online, skype irritates the hell out of many users (some of which complain loudly on the skype forums - to no avail) who use the program on multiple machines. im speaking about messages coming back from the dead:

http://forum.skype.com/errors/503.html?showtopic=742753

now, everytime I log onto skype using my travelling netbook, I have to shut the bloody thing off after 5 minutes. constant stream of messages that ought to be dead and forgotten. I cant stand it, every few seconds or minutes they come.

its feeding the conspiracy theorists out there that this issue is somehow linked to the US department of homeland security, and their desire to retain chat histories to keep the world safe.

not an illogical theory, and unlikely to keep me up at night since my life is too dull to attract the attention of the authorities. but one thing that does piss me off is the way skype barely acknowledge such a problem exists. some guys have even been told by skype tech support that this is a feature, not a bug.

which would be a lot more convincing as an explanation, would it not be for the fact that I (and other people compaining) deactivate chat history as a matter of routine. I would love to know which remote location(s) are storing my chat history

privacy breach?

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FAIL

That's a feature

I dont understand why you think that is a problem? It's transferring chat histories over to your copies that are 'out of date'. This feature has saved me many times, where I needed a link or a file, or needed to know part of a convo I had earlier on another machine.

As far as conspiracy theories go, all Skype chats are encrypted from end to end.

And, again, as far as wanting to know if other 'remote locations' are storing your chat history, surely you must have noticed that chat history is only transferred to PC2 when PC1 has your Skype still running and logged in, in other words, the only one storing your chat history is you.

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Unhappy

Malicious intent?

If I recall correctly, Skype is owned by eBay who own PayPal, which is being attacked the self-styled botnet 'hackers' over Wikileaks. A possible connection there? The timing is too coincidental otherwise.

This has kind of spoiled things a bit because I was looking to video call so that my parents could see their 8-month-old grandson at Christmastime - what with being an ex-pat, we can't all be together, and this is where Skype excels. Something of an inconvenience, but I suppose they'll have to settle for a quick phone call and some photos forwarded on to them later.

Yes, I know there are alternatives, but TeamSpeak doesn't support video calls yet and I can't keep it in synch with a standard webcam stream...

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Close...

Skype and Paypal are part of eBay group

http://www.ebayinc.com/who

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Big Brother

That will teach you all ...

for reading the disreputable and anti-Homeland WIkiLeaks. If you had just gnashed your teeth and screamed outrages like loyal members of the Homeland, all would have been well. But you disobeyed and must be punished.

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Pint

Yes, master.

All glory to the Hallowed Homeland!

"A spanking. A spanking. There is going to be a spanking tonight."

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Anonymous Coward

megasuperhypergiganodes? wassat?

Sounds like a wee widdle scaling problem just there. But anyhow, they of skype likes their proprietariness, they doesss, so we'll never know. Oh well.

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My Oovoo is working a treat

All the benefits and none of the downsides

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Pint

That explains

why I couldn't get it to work when I wanted to call downstairs for my wife to bring me a beer. Had to bloody walk down and get one myself.

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Paris Hilton

You let your wife out of the kitchen?

My goodness man. You'll be saying you bought her a dishwasher next. A woman's place is in the kitchen, not running errands to keep hubby in beer (that's a job for the au pair).

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Not necessarily client problems

These Supernodes are probably servers, so are running different software to the clients. I'd assume there's a distributed network of Supernodes, so depending on how Skype allocate connections to Supernodes, a DDoS may be unlikely.

As for all the fuss about version 5 of the client, I'm using 2.1 (beta)...

...but then again, I am running Linux...

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Flame

Bloody Wonderful l!!!!

So now; I have lost daily contact with most of my family spread out around the globe, it's back to shitty emails just like at sodding work, bloody wonderful!!!

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Re: Bloody wonderful

Me too. I'm going to kick up a hell of a fuss on the forums and ask for my money back.

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Grenade

@Beau What the hell did you do before the Internet?

What the hell did you do before the Internet?

Seems Internet addiction is a bit out of control.

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Paris Hilton

Status page - pah, try the homepage

From the Skype homepage, finally an admission of the problem:

"0 people online right now

Every minute of every day, millions of people around the world use Skype to keep in touch – for free."

Paris, because the poor homepage is obviously confised ;-)

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incidentally..

i've never understood why the way in which skype displays conversations in their entirety, in real-time, on both (or however many) PCs that are logged into a particular account hasn't caused more uproar

eg if i log in to Skype with the same account on PC1 and PC2, and then start a conversation with 'Dave' on PC1, that conversation is displayed & updated in real-time on PC2 as if I was using it. coupled with it not telling you when you're logged in at multiple locations, I'd have thought that would be a massive security concern.

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FAIL

Real Story = Cloud App Failure

The real story is that Skype is a cloud application used by millions, and it failed. It serves as a good reminder of the risks of moving critical IT services to cloud-based providers.

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Grenade

@A. Coward. Correct.

The Cloud is mind-bogglingly stupid idea if you have real concerns about your data.

Frankly, everyone I talk to thinks the same. Perhaps its existence owes more to the fact the marketing departments of big vendors can't think of anything better for the next on-line killer app.

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WTF?

an odd feature

salada2k, a number of points.

in my experience, PC1 and PC2 do not have to be logged on at the same time. A number of others have reported the same. messages arrive seemingly out of the ether

not storing data in the first place is not the same as employing encryption. cryptography is not infallable. if I chose not to deactivate the history in my skype preferences, then why would I welcome the entire hidden bloody invisible cache of them being blurted back at me everytime I switch computers? it compromises productivity, I for one dont have the time to stop what im writing / reading to interact with the skype UI every other minute. give me a break

assume for a moment that this count be classed as a feature for the forgetful, its not the sort of feature that should be constitutively on.

in the absence of melodrama I reckon its a shitty bug at least, but its a potential privacy breach at worse.

nevertheless I hope the fucker starts working again sooner rather than later

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Up, down, up, down...

Wondered what was happening. Thought the Android client was playing silly buggers, but nope.

<strike>And literally just this minute, in the middle of prepping this reply, it flicks to "online". Trouble over, I guess!</strike>

Scratch that. Down again. I guess it's going to yo-yo a bit before becoming stable, but at least they're working on it.

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FAIL

@ volvic

"'ve never understood why the way in which skype displays conversations in their entirety, in real-time, on both (or however many) PCs that are logged into a particular account hasn't caused more uproar"

Then you're lacking in common sense. Skype sends a message to a client with the UID 'volvic'. You have signed on multiple clients all identifying with the same UID - therefore, Skype will forward the message to any and all that match. Sheesh. Please outline the system by which you would code Skype to magically keep track of which particular copy of the logged-in client the user is currently sitting in front of.

If you really want to run multiple clients on multiple systems and have them all be separate, then by all means create separate user accounts for each: volvic_a, volvic_b, volvic_c, volvic_desktop, volvic_pda_in_toilet, volvic_laptop, etc.

'Uproar' indeed.

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Dries

"We saw earlier today"..... Goodness they are quick, the problem has only been there for exactly ten days!

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Big Brother

Don't worry...

... It will be back up in no time. I heard from a reliable source that helpful engineers from AT&T and the NSA are working all night on the servers to restore service in time for the holidays.

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maybe

some firewalls got updated ......

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OK here now

In Queensland

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Anonymous Coward

Question

Sorry for being ignorant on this, but, why can't you use an IRC program with video capabilities? Theres loads out there.

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Because you'd have to arrange that in advance too.

I'm not sure why you are suggesting this really -- I'll admit I've not used MSN or anything like for voice but, say I did, what would I do when that went down? Or are you advocating I, and anyone I may want to talk to, install every voice capable piece of software possible? Or should we just install the ones that work cross-platform? Or, should we wait until Skype dies then call each other on a normal phone and decide which other system to use, then I can talk the non-techies through it?

That said if anyone knows of a comparable app to Skype that works on Windows XP/Vista/7 and Linux which is more reliable I'd like to hear about it.

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test client

I'm a little surprised that they don't have a mechanism to autodetect this type of problem.

If they have a home-grade ADSL line in each office, that comes to a normal PC (no other network card). These PCs have a slightly-tweaked client that automatically sends IM messages and makes phone calls to other test clients (both ADSL and on their network), and generally behaves like a user-controlled test client. If its test fails then it will raise an alert.

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Anonymous Coward

It's a free country

if you like skype and you agree with its terms and you're happy with its reliability, use it; if not, don't. If you want a free voip product that's as widely used and more reliable than skype, good luck with that.

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Bronze badge

sip

Glad I generally use sip (x-lite usually) to talk to friends and family.

Skype's big advantage is that it is so simple to set up.

If they fixed that for sip (a standard config file for accounts between different software< perhaps.) then Skype's big advantage is gone.

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Happy

SIP is pants...

... over a pants connection.

SIP chooses a voice codec when you first register, and never changes it. The usual ones used degrade badly if the bandwidth is constrained.

Skype's codec is much better at pushing comprehensible speech over dodgy connections - dynamically adapting the coding scheme to maintain some sort of audio.

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Go

Hmmmm

Isn't Skype sort of a "cloud" thing?

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Big Brother

@salada2k

Actually, the chat is stored by all participants in the chat. You might have noticed that the chat *only* gets updated when one of the other partners in an old chat comes online.

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Anonymous Coward

Works for me

I haven't noticed any down time. Thinking about it I mostly use Skype out so.....

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

FAIL

Cryptoexpress.com not a good example

Thought I would check it out and basically got this response... http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/rotP5_a0WjTREI6L41UvMg?feat=directlink

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Why I use skype

As evil as closed protocols can be, I'm yet to find an application that can do video on some and audio on even more platforms with so little fiddling (if any) with one's firewall being involved.

Eg. I don't even need UPnP (*shudder*) enabled on the router for it to work.

I've heard various people telling me to use program X, but it's only available on platform A...

Or program Y, but it works poorly over NAT and needs helper module B...

Or Program Z, but it needs grandma to forward a port in her router C..

With IPv4 stuff running out, IPv6 still not quite rolled out to everyone, private networks generally not being assigned public addresses etc. why do people continue to invent protocols that traverse NAT so poorly or require specific assistance/identification by a router/firewall?

I can call between Symbian, Android, iOS, Windows, Linux and OS X in Skype without any firewall chicanery in the majority of situations and make cheapish calls (some of their mobile rates suck) all without having ever touched a firewall config. If someone else can make an app that can do this, I'd be happy to use it and suggest it to others, but I haven't seen one yet (please, someone feel free to guide me elsewhere).

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