I think Skype is great and as a messaging client and its pretty damned reliable. Well at least within Europe and most of the time in the initial stages when calling Asia. But if you find that the performances gets to the point where:

- There are long delays in instant message delivery, i.e. You constantly see the timer next to your message(s) that you send to have to wait from anything between two minutes to half an hour before they're delivered to the actual person you're trying to send them to.

- The online status of particular members of family or friends do not update when others do without issue. That is Skype will tell you somebody isn't actually online when they actually are.

- Video performance is a lot worse compared to how it was originally when you first started using Skype with the person that you video chat with despite none of the equipment or settings having changed.

For me personally it became a little frustrating as I was trying to video chat with my wife who is basically on the other side of the world. As far as I'm aware she uses a 3.5G mobile broadband service via a cellphone that's hooked up to her comp via cable for better data transfer speeds then using it with a Bluetooth connection.  From first hand testing whilst I was there I know 3G reception where she is good. So it was strange that we were getting such choppy performances with all the afore mentioned issues also resulting in blurred artifacted video and calls constantly being dropped  when using Skype. Even stranger from what I'd seen it was perfectly possible to hold a Skype video chat session over a GPRS EGDE service with none of the afore mentioned issues at all there. 

As some may know Skype allows for multiple logins for a single user account from as many different computers as you like. However it won't tell you how many computers that single user account has been logged into from at any one given time to still register it as if only one person is logged on provided all the Skype credentials are correct and match on each of the machines.


First I tried...

One solution is to get the person you are trying to video chat with to create a new Skype account but tell them not to name it or include any obvious details that could link it to them. You also do the same thing and then get their new Skype ID and add it. Sure enough doing this allowed for a few hours of error free Skype use but it wasn't too long before it started screwing up again with all the above mentioned issues to return. If the issue does return then you might want to try this instead...


Then I tried...

I'll probably get lynched for this, but I highly recommend you use MSN messenger if only for instant messaging alone and not video chat. For some reason we weren't able to get the video chat streaming to work in MSN in this instance.

With MSN messenger the only time it shows you someone is offline is if the person you are trying to contact intentionally sets their status as being offline because they don't actually want to speak to you and not because of some kind of multi-login/monitoring/interference glitch. MSN messenger also reports how many different locations a single account is being signed in from including Computer and network name if you set it to allow for multiple logins of the same account. Its also possible to set it to only allow for a single login of an account at a time too. That is whenever and where ever you sign in it will instantly automatically sign you out of all other locations. Messages were also delivered instantly with no delays.

After moving to MSN messenger to text chat the video streaming in Skype for cam streaming suddenly improved and became a little better. So now we text chat via MSN messenger and do the cam stream via Skype.



ACTUAL TESTING - Ok, this the part where I may have had too much time on my hands but there is a point to it. The problem was pretty much solved above so Just skip over this part if you're not interested.

I tested the multiple login thing for myself. First I logged into a single machine with my Skype credential. I initiated a Skype video call to this a Skype account from a another Skype account I had on a different machine. It connected with no issue and there were no issues with the call at all.

Next I logged into the same Skype account from two different machines at the same time. We'll call one of them the target computer and we'll call the second one the secondary computer. I placed a video call to that Skype account from another separate Skype account on another separate machine which we'll call the caller computer. As expected the video call was routed to both the target computer and the secondary computer at the same time for Skype to ring on both machines when placing a call from the caller machine. So depending which machine picked up first that machine would receive the video call. But even though the video can only be received on one of the machines instant messages that are sent and received are reflected on all the machines that are signed into the same account at the same time.

However, in repeating the process the video call routing wasn't so consistent. Instead of being routed to the to the target computer first it would now ring on the secondary computer first with no sign of a call being placed on the target computer from the caller computer. It was also the case that instant messages would arrive at the secondary computer first for the target computer to not receive any instant messages at all for a good two to three minutes. Also when sending instant messages from the caller computer I was also getting that timer delay icon appearing next to my sent messages despite the messages already arriving on the secondary machine but not the target machine. With a little more testing it also got to the point where the target machine wasn't showing up as being online despite the target machine being signed in on Skype. Now try this with 3 machines all signed into the same account and it get even more unreliable.  Even worse with 3 different locations and a Skype cellphone location. If you don't have enough physical computers you could use VM's to test this out. But really you don't need to since I've just done it and documented it here.  The bottom line is if its screwing up like it is as described above its because someone is probably monitoring your video/text conversation via lower level means. That is it could be possible to monitor it without causing such annoying service disruption for the users being monitored but that's generally higher grade stuff for people with better means and greater expertise.

I was also running msn messenger on the caller computer and the target computer. Despite the online status of the target computer not being reported correctly on the caller computer in Skype, msn messenger was still able to determine whether the user on the target computer was still online provided they were still connected and logged with their status set as being online for messages to arrive instantly whether using multiple logins of a single account or a single login.
 
I can't explain why the video performance was being  affected so badly since at the general consumer end video can only be streamed to one machine at a time. I reckon it might be something to do with multiple observers but with no way of testing for it I can't assert that for sure.

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