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Skype Hacks: Tips & Tools for Cheap, Fun, Innovative Phone Service Paperback – December 22, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0596101893 ISBN-10: 0596101899 Edition: 1st

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Skype Hacks: Tips & Tools for Cheap, Fun, Innovative Phone Service + Skype Me! From Single User to Small Enterprise and Beyond + Skype: The Definitive Guide
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Product Details

  • Series: Hacks
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (December 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596101899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596101893
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,476,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Overall I like the variety of hacks in this book and recommend it if you're set on using Skype. It contains lots of food for thought in possible configurations that will reduce your dependency on, and perhaps even eliminate, your fixed line voice services." - Mike Smith, news@UK, June 2006

About the Author

Andrew Sheppard develops software for the banking industry. Recently, he converted his entire house to Skype; he uses it for all his calls, personal and business, including when he's traveling.

More About the Author

Andrew Sheppard has been fascinated by technology and science since childhood, and it's an indulgence that has continued to this day.

Since discovering Skype in 2004, Andrew has been using and hacking Skype in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways - if Skype came with any sort of warranty, he voided it long ago! Although his initial foray into using Skype was to find ways to save money on his phone bill, the true potential of Skype's ability to do things that no regular phone system can do soon overtook that initial interest and replaced it with a fascination and desire to see "how deep the rabbit hole goes" (to borrow some words from the movie The Matrix). He's still burrowing!

Andrew is the publisher of a couple of online electronic magazines about Skype: Elpis's Skype Power User Magazine (ISSN 1747-8421) and Elpis's Skype API Developer Magazine (ISSN 1747-843X). The concept behind Elpis ( is that knowledge, without the tools to take advantage of that knowledge, is rather powerless, while the converse is a path to empowerment. Elpis Publishing's aim is to provide its readers with both the knowledge and the software needed to best use that knowledge: Knowledge + Tools = Empowerment.

After earning a first-class honors degree in astrophysics, Andrew made the mistake of going on to earn higher degrees: a masters in astronomical technology at Edinburgh University (UK) and a masters in business administration at the London Business School (UK). This period of time and that which followed was punctuated with work as a scientific researcher at Oxford University, as a software developer, and later, as a "Rocket Scientist" at Bankers Trust Company in the financial square mile of the city of London, as well as in New York and Tokyo. A lot of heartache and financial anguish could have been avoided throughout had he become what is clearly the optimal career choice for anyone anywhere: a master plumber. Nowhere on the planet is there a poor or unemployed master plumber! Too late to correct past follies, Andrew now makes his living writing software, and writing books and magazine articles.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Warren Kelly VINE VOICE on January 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
Skype is hot right now. Actually, you can expand that and say that VoIP is hot right now, but Skype has carved out a special niche that many VoIP companies haven't yet been able to. Skype has prompted several imitators (Gizmo Project and Google Talk are two that I use personally), and has even been verbed ("I just skyped Leo Laporte about the last TWiT podcast" or "Skype me at notarealskypename and we'll talk" are examples of this).

So how do you get the most out of Skype? By using this book.

In a lot of ways, this book could have been part of the Missing Manual series rather than the Hacks series. The first chapter steps users through making a Skype call, conference calling, and chatting. Using the pay features of Skype (SkypeIn, SkypeOut, and Skype Voicemail) are also covered, with special attention paid to showing users how to get a free trial for them. Of course, reading the Terms and Conditions would tell you much of the same information, since the refund policy for pay features is there.

The second chapter goes into the financial aspects of Skype, and shows that it may not be the most economical alternative for many people. Useful information, but pretty easy to calculate. Most people don't think about minute-rounding when they figure what their phone bill should be, though, so this section is pretty valuable.

There's really not much "hacking" in this book until chapter 4, where we start tweaking and tuning Skype (though chapter 3 does show how to build your own Skype server at home, and how to integrate Skype into your existing phone system). We learn about config.xml and what we can change to make Skype run the way we want it to. We're even told how to put Skype call shortcuts on our desktop, if we have people we call frequently.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harold McFarland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
Skype is one of the most popular VOIP applications for the individual user and small office on the market today. If you have already installed it or are considering installing it then you will want this book so you can configure it to work the way you want it to work and head off any problems before they occur. The first thing I have to say about Skype is that it is so user friendly that many of the hacks in this book are unnecessary. It is easy enough to figure out how to make conference calls, transfer calls, forward calls and do various other common tasks. On the other hand, there are a lot of useful tips including how to claim your money back if something goes wrong, avoiding additional mobile phone charges, building a Skype server, working with routers, using Skype at work, working with privacy issues, and add-on products. Because Skype is a peer-to-peer network service it is very important to understand the privacy and security issues and the author does a great job of both explaining them as well as how to work with them. Skype Hacks is highly recommended for advanced computer users or anyone responsible for administering Skype in a business environment.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dan McKinnon VINE VOICE on January 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
Skype is quickly turning the old phone network into ancient news. Put simply, Skype is an application that lets you talk over the Internet for FREE. Just like the VOIP technologies like Vonage, Skype makes communicating easier because you don't even need to sign up for a VOIP account to get talking all over the world in no time.

From the people that created Kazaa, Skype works off the same peer-to-peer architecture, bouncing your voice data over the internet, directly to the the person you are chatting with. It's am amazing technology, and it's quite clear why eBay was interested in acquiring this technology before it really takes off like it no doubt will!!

If you want to learn more about Skype or are an experienced Skype user looking to take your skills to the next level, 'Skype Hacks' is a great resource to do just that!! From learning to set up Skype to the detailed business configuration so you can replace your existing telephone system with a more cost-efficient solution, you'll become uber-good in no time with this great book from O'Reilly!!

Skype is a relatively new tech and it's great to get your feet wet with anything that you can get your hands on right now. I highly recommend this book and think that you will be very pleased if you get this book.

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Fly Guy on September 4, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A generally well-written book, but offers few nifty insights to save more money or get more service. Look, download Skype and start using it; if you want to go beyond what's obvious from simple use, google will have what few insights are out there; no book will offer a wealth of tips because Skype isn't that kind of produce/service. Secret commands or "hacks" just don't exist for Skype.

And why does the author put that bizzare tip on how to physically cut your phone lines??

The one thing I really wanted to have more info on--how to integrate Skype long distance into your existing home phones with Skype's products under Shop->Accessories--the book barely mentioned as Option 1 of several. Very little help.
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