Friday, 05 August 2005

Skylook marries Skype - the uber-popular voice and text communication app - with Outlook, the ubiquitous mail and personal organizer app from Microsoft.

UPDATE:  After using this program for a day or so and speaking with a couple others who have also used it, I have a few additional thoughts:

  • I'd like to be able to increase/decrease the MP3 sampling bit-rate - right now it's fixed at a fixed setting of mediocre audio quality
  • I'd like to be able to specify which chats and voice calls are recorded - right now it records them all, which is cumbersome
  • Generally, I'd prefer being able to tweak all the little details across the board - give me control while keeping it simple
  • There's a real need for a complete, solid, Skype/VoIP recorder that builds in and doesn't have to be rigged together with bubble gum and duct tape.

Another UPDATE: Jeremy Hague of the Skylook team sent along this information (Aug 8):

"I thought that you would be interested to know that we are planning on introducing some new features in response to the customer feedback (mostly from podcasters, which is really cool) we have received in the first week.  We are planning on introducing some advanced configuration options to enhance the MP3 recording that Skylook produces.   In a future version, the user will be able to control the bitrate of the MP3 file, information that Skylook can populate into the ID3 tags… along with support for other audio file formats."

Skylook builds right into Outlook - in the form of a toolbar - and enables you to record your Skype conversations as high so-so quality MP3 files for playback later. This makes it a potentially useful tool for Podcasters, who often use Skype in combination with a spaghetti mess of piping and recording apps to conduct collaborative conversations and interviews over the Internet (NOTE: The audio quality may not be high enough for many podcasters, so allowing users to tweak these settings would be important). Obviously, the major benefit of recording this way is that it enables an easy way to speak with people that would otherwise often not happen. It removes the need to sit in the same room with the other participants while still providing reasonable-quality audio.

It allows you to make Skype calls and start Skype text chats directly from your Outlook contacts and emails. It shows you which of your contacts in on-line in the Outlook toolbar and provides options to review contact details and review previous communications with the contact. Skylook not only records all your voice calls, it also records your text chats to a special Outlook folder.

I did a quick voice chat this evening with Eric Rice to try it out. We were not using headsets, so we had the inevitable echo, but the Skylook app did a great job. It just did its thing in the background without any problem, and when we hung up, I "magically" saw a dialog on the screen:


I clicked the "Show me" button, and it took me straight to my filed recording:


And it files the text chats right there with the audio, filed all neat and clean just like an email would be. It's really very slick in that regard.

I'll have to give it a shot maybe this weekend, when apparently I will be guest-hosting on a podcast I really like a lot. More on that after it happens. :-)

You can download Skylook here and try it for a couple weeks. After that some functions are disabled, do you can buy it here for $29.95.

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AudioBlogging | Tech
Friday, 05 August 2005 21:51:01 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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