Mac Skype

Setting up Skype Voicemail on Mac client

[For the impatient, scroll down to see the solution]

I have used Skype for years. I work from home, and have a subscription and a Skype Online Number, to which my office phone number redirects, so that colleagues can still dial my extension and talk to me. As such, I rely on it.

I’m also a Mac user, and have witnessed so many changes to the Skype interface that I dread each time that an update alert appears. There is only so long one can ignore them. Somewhere in the current 5.x release cycle, it appears that my voicemail settings disappeared. A colleague alerted me to this today, that my number rang and rang (whilst I was making tea in the kitchen). I thought it would just be a case of re-ticking the “unanswered calls” button that I seem to remember being fairly obvious in the preferences panel of previous versions. But in their wisdom, the “Calls” panel of the current build of the Mac Skype client ( now looks like this:

Skype "Calls" options
"Calls" options in Skype

Now, forgive me for being picky, but where is the option to say “after 15 seconds go to voicemail”? Here, it seems as if I am offered four direct options. Do nothing and allow me to answer, the rather scary “answer automatically”, forward calls to another number, or just send them all to voicemail. It doesn’t seem that flexible, and I’m never going to remember to go into Skype and switch on voicemail manually.

In the “Set up Voicemail” panel, all you can do is record or play back your message; no further options are available. In “Set up Forwarding” you can set a time limit in seconds and enter numbers to which to redirect the call. No “send to voicemail” option.

The Solution

The rather unintuitive solution seems to be this. Open Skype Preferences (Skype > Preferences) then select the “Calls” tab. Next, select “Forward calls”. Then click “Set up Forwarding”. Enter the time in seconds after which you would like calls to be sent to voicemail. Don’t enter any phone numbers. Click “Done”. Back on the Calls panel switch to the fourth option, “Send to voicemail”. Your calls will now go to voicemail after the specified amount of time.

Come on Skype, that’s not obvious! Please make this process a lot more obvious in future builds, and bring back the “unanswered calls” settings.

Apple humour

For Apple users, a bit of fun from The Simpsons

“Flay him with your earbuds!”

This rather sharp parody of Apple hardware, gadget lust, ‘worship’ of Steve Jobs, and Apple fanboy behaviour, is truly brilliant!

Gadgets nokia e71 smartphones

Nokia E71 Review: Part Three – Software

There is plenty of software available for Symbian S60 3rd edition phones such as the Nokia N95, and of course, the E71. Since acquiring my E71, I have tried out a lot of software, and after a flurry of installs and uninstalls, I have settled down to a core of programs that I regularly use (or have ‘just in case’).

Downloaded Software: Web service integration

Since the S60 platform has been around for a while, there are many excellent pieces of software about. Since I use many of the social networking and cloud-based services on the internet, I’m very interested in ways that I can integrate with them via my E71.

This list includes only software that I have downloaded, not preinstalled programs. These are nearly all native S60 apps, unless stated.

  • Skype (3‘s Skype client based on iSkoot, limited to 3 network)
  • Twibble (good Twitter client, J2ME)
  • Google Maps (works well with the internal GPS and can display KML files)
  • Google Mail (Gmail on the move, J2ME)
  • Google Search (add Google search to your homescreen)
  • Mobbler (superb client, with radio)
  • Socialight (Find out what’s been tagged near you, works with internal GPS, J2ME)
  • Yahoo! Go (nice way of browsing Yahoo’s services, including Flickr)
  • Fring (Skype, Twitter, SIP, Google Talk, etc)
  • CalSyncS60 (Sync your E71’s calendar with Google Calendar)
  • Jaiku
  • Opera Mini (Superb little web browser, J2ME)
  • Qik (stream live video to the internet from your phone)
  • FE Updater (update your location to Fire Eagle using the E71’s GPS)
  • Yahoo! Zonetag (geotag photos and upload them to Flickr, and update your location to Fire Eagle!)
  • NeoReader (barcode / QR code reader – read those funny squares you sometimes see)
  • JoikuSpot Lite (share your 3G data connection on the E71 via wifi – great for using with my iPod Touch)
  • Yahoo! Go (Flickr, maps, news, mail etc. Basically if you use any of Yahoo!’s services, download this! Also does location-based searches via GPS – very handy.)
  • Skyfire (amazing browser that supports Flash on the E71 – currently in beta. I’ve used it to watch videos on Vimeo and it worked really well)
  • Nimbuzz (a multi-talented instant messenger that supports Skype)

In short, this list of software allows me to use VOIP services (Skype is my service of choice), take and upload geotagged photos to Flickr, sync my calendar, stream video, find out where I am and how to get where I’m going, and keep up to date with what’s going on in the world via email and Twitter (and let people know what I’m up to, and where I am).

Supplied Software

The E71 comes with a bewildering range of software preinstalled. Picking some of the packages that I’ve found useful, here’s a brief summary:

QuickOffice 4 allows the creation of MS Office compatible documents on the move, as well as viewing existing ones. I’ve only used the Document side of this software, and it works pretty well. Basic formatting is straightforward, but to be honest I’d probably format a document later on my computer.

Nokia Maps 2.0 is installed on the 2GB MicroSD card that came with the phone, and doesn’t need network access to view maps. So finding directions etc is straightforward and quick. GPS lock is suprisingly quick if you have a good view of the sky. I haven’t yet made extensive use of it, but from a superficial play, it looks pretty good.

Dictionary is a great little app for looking up words on the move, or if you download extra language packs, makes it an excellent means for translating foreign words when you’re on holiday.

Adobe PDF reader is great for viewing PDFs, and the built-in Calendar app is reasonable enough to work out what you have to do, when, and have it remind you. The best bit about it for me, is that I can use CalSyncS60 to sync it with my Google Calendar (which in turn can sync with other calendars), so that I don’t have multiple versions and cause myself any social embarassment!

The “to do” function of the calendar is a little weak, as all to-dos have to be associated with a date, so I prefer to simply use the Notes app to jot down lists. I’m getting rather handy with the E71’s QWERTY keyboard and predictive text now 🙂

If any reader has come across some good “to do” software for S60, I’d be happy to hear from you!

I’ve had fun playing with the Nokia Sports Tracker to measure how far I have cycled or walked, and to see statistics such as average speed, maximum speed (35mph so far!), routes, graphs etc. Results can be stored locally or synced with the Nokia Sports Tracker website (I haven’t got around to doing that yet – not sure if I want to!).

Web Browsing

I’ve spent many hours surfing the web via my E71 when I have been away from home. The built in browser is based upon the Webkit engine (the same used in Apple’s Safari browser) and, since the phone comes with Flash Lite installed, I find it works very well for most of my needs. Zooming in and out of a page works well, with results being nicely anti-aliased (smoothed). I sometimes reach for Opera Mini, especially if I roam outside of the 3G network – it’s nice to have a backup that has pages compressed at the server-side.

The screen is sufficiently large enough, and especially with it’s natural landscape orientation, to browse the web for hours without becoming too cross-eyed. A combination of Nokia’s browser and Opera Mini allows most websites to be displayed correctly while you’re on the move. However, I look forward to trying out the new Skyfire browser when it becomes available.

What software is missing?

I would love to see a better “To Do” manager, and a blogging client that is compatible with WordPress. For the latter I have tried Scribe, but sadly it didn’t work on the E71. I’d also like a native S60 Twitter app, as Twibble, great as it is, does seem a little slow and clunky. The Jaiku client is wonderful, but not many of my friends use Jaiku – a Twitter equivalent would be great.

Other than that, at this point in time, it’s all there.

Mac Support

As a Mac user, connectivity with OSX is vital to me. Thankfully, Nokia have made the Nokia iSync plugin so that contacts and calendars are synchronised on my Mac, and the Nokia Multimedia Transfer program to sync photos with iPhoto and music with iTunes. In short, with these two pieces of software installed, the E71 plays very well with Macs.

Pairing the E71 via Bluetooth allows you to set up the device as a modem for your computer, and it’s pretty straightforward to do. Since the E71 supports Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) connections with newer Macs are rather nippy indeed.


Without reviewing every piece of software that came pre-installed, and every program I have downloaded in huge detail, I’ll summarise by saying that I can do pretty much everything that I want to do online, on my phone.

While S60 software seems to lack the finesse and good looks of software on the iPhone, it makes up in terms of functionality, and in my case, price. All of the software listed here either came with the phone, or is available for free online. I can type up documents, send and recieve emails, use Skype and other IM services, take photos and send them to Flickr, update and browse Twitter, surf the web, listen to internet radio, find out where I am and what’s around me. I can leave myself notes and appointments to remind me what I have to do and when. In short, the E71 is a mini computer, QWERTY keyboard included.

Oh yes, and of course, I nearly forgot – you can make phone calls on it too… 😉

Mac Software

Video on the BBC website / Installing Real Player on OSX

Warning – this one is a bit of a rant. With pictures.

I’ve just tried to watch a video on the BBC website on a new(ish) MacBook running the latest version of the Mac operating system (Leopard). But of course, I’d forgotten, you need Real Player or Windows Media Player to watch their video:

No Real Player

Grrr. Please use Flash video, as you’re using on the iPlayer, not clunky old RealPlayer. Anyway, I’ll download the wretched software and install it for the future. Or will I?

So I head off to to download the latest version. I click the big shiny “Download FREE RealPlayer” button. And a Windows .exe begins to download. Hello? I’m on a Mac! So the download is cancelled. I spot under the button in tiny writing “Other versions / languages”. It seems like the much touted version 11 of RealPlayer isn’t available for OSX, so I’ll have to use version 10 instead. Stupidly, I click the first link for OSX, and the download is offered in Spanish…

So I return to the previous page, and find the English version at the bottom. Most websites these days are able to tell your OS and your language automatically – can’t Real do that? Anyway, I select the rather old-fashioned link to the copy hosted by Demon Internet which downloads rather swiftly (Demon are my ISP).

The RealPlayer icon extracts itself from a dmg (disk image) into my downloads folder. Great! I can just drag it into my Applications folder like a normal Mac program!

Real Player icon

…well actually that’s not how it’s done, as I find out by double-clicking the icon…

RealPlayer setup

Another dialogue between me and the video (it’s just the weather forecast for heaven’s sake!). So I follow the necessary steps, agree to sell my soul by agreeing to the license without reading it, save this draft, let it close my browser, and (cue fanfare):

RealPlayer10Gold for the Mac

So I eagerly open my Safari web browser, and head off to the BBC Weather homepage to watch that all-important weather forecast (snow tomorrow, apparently, and we don’t get it that often here).

The fanfare rapidly turns into a parping sound:

No Real Player

I give up.

Please BBC, please fix your videos to use Flash video or something that will work with a modern slimline, cross-platform plugin.

This is now 2008. The process I’ve just been through feels like 1998, and I have deja vu…


After posting this, I had another close look and it seemed that the BBC site had decided that I chose Windows Media Player as my preference (which I hadn’t).

BBC video preferences

Just clicking on OK set my preference to RealPlayer, and lo, the holy Weather Forecast was watched:

BBC Weather forecast


Mac WordPress

WordPress Dashboard Widgets

Does anyone know of a decent OSX dashboard widget for posting to a WordPress blog? I’ve been using WordPressDash on and off for over two years now, and in Leopard some strange things have happened to its appearance. One that supports WP2.3’s tags would be nice.


Ideas, anyone?

Apple Software

iMovie ’08 on a 1.8GHz single processor G5

According to the system requirements for Apple’s newest incarnation of iLife (iLife ’08), iMovie ’08 shouldn’t work on my machine (an ‘original’ 2003 1.8GHz SP G5 with 1GB RAM).

The installer runs a system check before it installs iLife (as it did on my G4 laptop) to see if your system meets the minimum requirements (a dual 2GHz G5 PowerMac or a 1.9GHz iMac). If you don’t meet them, it won’t install iMovie, and you’re stuck with the old (but oddly, better featured) iMovie HD.

That is, unless you own on the of the original 1.8GHz single processor G5s from 2003. I installed iLife ’08 last week, just for the upgrades to Garageband and iPhoto, but miraculously, iMovie ’08 installed as well.

And it works rather well. Playback is smooth enough for me, scrubbing through frames works well, as do the transitions and titles. And I didn’t even need to perform any of the dodgy hacks that have been going round to make it work on my system.

Since my system was only around for a few months before being discontinued back in 2003, maybe they’ve forgotten to put it in the ‘exclude’ list, who knows?

Mac Software

On NewsFire an other feed readers

My feedreader of choice is, and has been for some 2 years, the excellent NetNewsWire Lite on a Mac. It handles my 244 feeds very well, and they’re all nicely categorised into groups.

But I’ve had a bit of trouble recently in that NetNewsWire Lite has begun to randomly jumble up individual posts. Rather than sorting them by arrival order, it’s just mixing them together. I’ve checked “View > Sort By > Arrival Order” and it’s checked. I’ve clicked everything and double-checked settings, and it should all be OK.

Just out of curiosity, I thought that I would try out NewsFireRSS. Its interface looks very clean, and I do actually have a license bought through the recent MacHeist promotion (I bought the MacHeist bundle primarily for Delicious Library and Rapidweaver). So I thought that I would give it a whirl.

NetNewsWire allows you to export your RSS subscriptions to an OPML file with two options: first, as a flat file, and second, preserving your subscription groups. I opted for the second option, as I’ve got them all nicely grouped, and it would takes ages to sort them again by hand.

Sadly, when I imported the OPML file into NewsFire, none of the groups were preserved. I had one huge list of subscriptions. Not good!

Just to test the exported OPML file, I imported it into the open source feed reader, Vienna. My groups were preserved, thankfully, so the OPML file did export correctly from NetNewsWire. It seems that NewsFire just can’t cope with OPML groups – a big shame! I might have to relent and re-group by hand – or just stick with NNW or Vienna.