Categories
Freedom and Privacy Technology Ubuntu

Free Secure Instant Reliable Skype Alternative

Update (150922): less than 24 hours after publishing this post was published confirming that the very next release of Firefox (version 41) will have the key missing ingredient of instant messanging (IM) or text chat built into the Firefox Hello! part of the browser.  This is huge news and great news.  Read on!

Skype Down.  Good.  ‘Bout time a Fire is Lit Under Our Butts

With Skype being down again and having foolishly made the mistake of relying on a product owned by Microsoft [palm smashes forehead] I decided to get busy and find a good solution to share with the world that is really an awesome alternative.

Solution

Firefox Hello! by the makers of the world famous Firefox browser and Thunderbird email client.

Download it Without Google Play

First of all, I had no idea that Hello! worked on an android device.  It does.  However, I’m not connected to anything Google (ie. Google play) so I needed to be able to download it on my isolated mobile.  Good news.  It worked although for some reason Firefox made it hard to find the link to do so (likely because they don’t want people having to manually update their browser on their phone).  Anyway, point here is that if you are wise you should download and install your apps away from google to protect your information and private life.  Here is the alternative .apk download link for the most recent Firefox browser for Android.  Otherwise, you can easily and foolishly go and connect to google and get it through ‘play’ while they play with your privacy parts.

Once Firefox browser is installed on your mobile device (or on any device you plan to use) the process is easy.  Just click the link that was sent to you (from a laptop/desktop for now) and make sure you open the link with Firefox (if you have another browser installed).  It works. And it works pretty dang awesome, too!

How to start a conversation from Firefox Android

Honestly, I don’t know how to do this.  There is probably a way but I can’t find anything built into the browser that makes this possible, or easy.  So, for now, start the conversation on a regular desktop/laptop browser and send it to the mobile device.

There you go.  You are now having a high quality video and audio chat with anyone on any kind of computer and you are doing so *much* more privately than via Skype.

Some challenges to be overcome

  1. there is currently no text chat feature (believe it or not) or file sharing, but I have seen online that it’s nearly ready.  Hang in there.  It’s worth the wait.
  2. It seems Firefox browser is not working on the ubuntu phone.  Wait… maybe it is now (I’m out of the loop).  Someone try this bad boy out and let me know if a video/audio Firefox Hello! chat works, please.   I was guessing this didn’t develop as fast because Mozilla was trying to make their own mobile OS….
Categories
Technology Ubuntu

Making Skype and your Mic Submit under the power of Ubuntu 13.10

It’s sad that we’re even using Skype on Ubuntu considering it’s owned by a company with zero interest in open source… but alas, some habits die hard and we don’t want this little program to prevent you from realizing that Ubuntu is, by far, the best thing that will happen to your computer life (and other parts as well – some of my best friends came from the Ubuntu community). Just for the records, though, we should be supporting the build of open source versions of VOIP software, or the inclusion of VOIP features in apps  such as Twinkle, Jabber, and the like.  At any point MS could pull back their API and you are SOL, PAL.

Everything in my Ubuntu life works very well – except for this non-Ubuntu annoying little foreign habit that I haven’t given up.  In particular I’ve been fighting my sound on just one laptop.  I’ve tried a myriad of tutorials and this and that, but what I’ve found to be a reliable work around is a simple change in the way I launch everything.  Here is what I do and I hope this solution is a nice easy way to fix your sound issues found within Skype in some beta releases of Ubuntu:

  1. Make sure your headset (or webcam, or whatever external device you are using for your sound) is unplugged.
  2. Start your computer and make sure everything else is up and running.
  3. Start Skype.
  4. Log in. You should hear the usual startup sound.  If not, you may have to open your sound settings and mess with the ‘alert volume’.  I didn’t find that little trick in any tutorial and it worked for me.
  5. Plug in your headset or audio device
  6. Follow this tutorial (the one with the screen shot with the red arrows). For me the solution was to unplug mic from sound card and plug it back in.  Might as well. Only takes a second.
  7. Do a Skype test call.  Hopefully everything is working well.

Although I don’t have time to research it, I think the source of my problems (besides the fact that Skype is the culprit in general) is that I have other audio-related software running and they fight for priority over the sound card.  Je ne sais pas.  All I know is this flow works for me and got me back in action while I try to find a way out of depending on Skype or Google..