Thursday, November 23, 2006

Adding a SkypeCast to your Google Page

A great way to have true & direct 'Web 2.0' interaction with the web users on your 'GooglePage' is to include a 'SkypeCast'.

We will assume that you already have a GooglePage & Skype 3.0, & your willing to be a guinea-pig target for cyber-hackers.
If you don't have a Linksys WRT54G, go get one first !!
PC Security is of utmost importance !!
Unless you update your PC every week,
The first thing your going to have to do is decide if it is worth the effort that will be required of you. And, PATIENCE, lots of it. The 'coding' is relatively the easy part when compared to actually operating, moderating, & creating interesting content for your 'SkypeCast'.
Patience & Commitment are the essential ingredients to successful GooglePage SkypeCast. I suggest that you decide on a small schedule, a one hour long SkypeCast per week or month. You can always increase it later. Decreasing the amount of SkypeCasts will not help you or your GooglePage's popularity. Also, having several one hour sessions spread through a schedule is better than a six hour telethon.
The real secret of making a successful 'SkypeCast' is in creating a participant base of loyal users !! Being prejudice against things like age, geographic location, origin, or inability to speak a language perfectly will not make for a successful SkypeCast. Also, missing a scheduled session is a negative aspect. Be there for the users that made time to attend the session !!
Moderation will be a real challenge. And this is something that might require a 'technical assistant', as one person acts as the host or announcer, while another person acts as the moderator. The host's job is to act as the announcer. Good speaking skills, knowledge of the subject of discussion, & interesting subject matter are required. The moderator's job is to ensure quality, both in audio & in input. Due to the 'duplex' nature of SkypeCasts, the biggest enemies of your sessions are background noise, both on your part & that of your users.
Be aware of your quality of audio. Loud fans, cheap microphones, loud keyboards, slow processor speed, speakers too close to mic, background noise outside of the 'studio', interruptions from phones, devices, application, etc, will be heard & judged by everyone in the session. You should strive to have a measure of 'professionalism' in your SkypeCast. Institute a plan of operation. SkypeCasters who have had experience with Commercial Radio or Amateur Radio will be more familiar with 'Quality of Audio' & ways to improve it. Also, recommend that your users similarly adopt such measures as a common courtesy. The moderator will have the task of switching on and off users to improve the overall 'Quality of Audio'. But the moderator will also have to be willing to switch offenders back on periodically. This offers the best balance of quality & equity to the users of the session. Switching users off provides loyal users a level of quality in the session, as well as, ease of use & protection from abuse. A SkypeCast without moderation is a audio cacophony of just plain noise. Taking turns in roundtable fashion or requiring a text request to enter the session are also ways to limit negative effects on the session.
Video is the great extra that Skype 3.0 provides to SkypeCasting. However, you'll have to exchange 'Contact Details' with the other user & make them one of your Skype contacts. Personally, I would make this an extra for 'Loyal Users Only' !!
Pause for Station Identification. Do this often, like every 15 minutes. This not only adds to the professionalism, but it lets new users know which voice is the host. Pracitice a 5 second script. You could even pre-record a bit with some background music & a voice over. Something easily accomplished with Audacity. Playing background music continuously is a 'no-no' though. It only makes an already demanding tast of users to follow the broadcast even harder. You don't want to scare off potential future 'loyal listeners' who might add to the program.
New application. Not to worry, I'm on the blower with Skype every week trying to get them to spend a little manpower on things. Like for instance, providing a 'cut & paste' code to actually promote your SkypeCast on your GooglePage like I faked on my home page. (here) There is that feature for 'Public Chat', but as of 11-22-06, there was nothing for SkypeCast or to embed the video on your GooglePage. I'm on it... You can start emailing Skype your requests too !!
Cojoining of GooglePages with SkypeCasts. which are two separate & non-connected aspects to achieve a coherent Web2.0 experience is an easy technical execution, but it is the actual operation of the concept that requires effort. By their nature, they both attract a certain measure of both inmaturity & young users. In a cliche, "Lots of drawbacks, lots of rewards.".
Just be aware of what your loyal users have to endure to stay 'loyal users' !!

With GooglePage & Skype3.0 in place, we begin. You can initate a SkypeCast right from the application, but it will help in one of the following steps to sign-in on the actual Skype site. Once your there, log-in, then find the 'SHARE' page. On this page you will find the 'Host a Skypecast' link to begin the registration process. You'll need to log-in again regardless of your Skype application status. This will take you to the first actual registration screen. Fill out the following fields:

  1. SUBJECT - Title, Description, & Language
  2. WHEN - Start Time &/or Date, & Duration
  3. KEYWORDS - Also known as 'tags' (limit; 5)
  4. PICTURE - Several theme based selections are provided, or upload your own
  5. RELATED WEB ADDRESS - This is where you add your GooglePage URL

Then press the 'NEXT' button. This takes you to the Agreement Form. Be sure to review the Skypecasts Community Guidelines & the Skype Etiquette pages. Press the 'AGREE' button.

The next page that pops up is the Verification Page. This is a good one to put into your favorites due to the Options, Edit, & Cancel links that are provided. I've indicated to Skype that this is the prime point at which to place a 'Code Link' that would produce a HTML 'cut & paste' frame. It's also a good one to do a 'screen grab' on so you can clean it up a bit, & save as a .png or .jpeg image to post to your Google Page. I had to grab it in PowerPoint, save as a jpeg, open in a photo editing app, clean & resize, then save as a new png file, so expect to play around a bit !! At this point you can log-off Skype.

The next step is creating a Google Calendar. Log-in to Google. From any area such as Gmail, Account, or your personal Google Home Page, Find the 'Calendar' link in the upper left area. After redirect & log-in, find the 'Calendars' box on the left sidebar. Just under the title frame is 'My Calendars with a blue & white square with a plus sign. Click on the blue square. This brings up the Calendar Creation Page. You'll need to fill out the following fields:
  1. CALENDAR NAME - The Title of Your Google Calendar
  2. DESCRIPTION - A Short Explaniation About Your Calendar
  3. LOCATION - This Can Be Ignored, Normally for Public Events To Appear in Google Public Search Results That Incorporate Google Maps
  4. CALENDAR TIME ZONE - Country & Time Zone Are Based By Default On Your IP Address. (This is important for users to get their local time of when your skypecast begins)
  5. SHARE WITH EVERYONE - You Need To Select the Middle Option (Share all information)

You can now click the 'Create a Calendar' button at the bottom of the page. This will then add your newly created calendar on the original Calendar Page. Clicking the colored box with the downward pointing arrow will bring up 4 options. Find the 'Share this calendar' link. This will bring up the 'DETAILS' page. The tab labled 'Calendar Details' should be selected. At the bottom of the page in the Calendar Address section is a blue button labeled 'HTML'. This will provide a box with two options. Select the 'configuration tool'.

The Google Embeddable Calendar Helper page. Fill out all the information & press the 'Update URL' button. In a field box, the 'Google Calendar ID Number is displayed. Copy the "src=" statement. You'll need that to post identifying code on your Google Page.

And Now, the part you've all been waiting for... The code !!
<p class="separator" style="CLEAR: both; TEXT-ALIGN: center">
<strong><img style="BORDER-TOP-WIDTH: 0px; PADDING-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 0px; BORDER-LEFT-WIDTH: 0px;


km=1234"></strong></p><p class="separator" style="CLEAR: both; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: center">
<strong> <a href="
<font color="#555555">Your SkypeCast Title</font></a>
<font color="#555555"
>Your Broadcast Schedule</font></strong></p><p class="separator" style="CLEAR: both; TEXT-ALIGN: center"> <iframe style="BORDER-RIGHT: #777 1px solid; BORDER-TOP: #777 1px solid; BORDER-LEFT: #777 1px solid; WIDTH: 416px; BORDER-BOTTOM: #777 1px solid; HEIGHT: 224px" src="
title=YOUR GOOGLE CALENDAR TITLE&height=220&hl=en&bgcolor=%23FF0000&"
frameborder="0" width="320" height="220"></iframe>

YOUR PICTURE NAME.FILE TYPE/YOUR PICTURE NAME = The file that you screen captured from the SkypeCast Listing
You will also need to determine your "km number"
Example - (http://Your GooglepageURL/SkypeCastPicture.jpeg/SkypeCastPicture) & (km=1234).

ID_TALK=XXXXX = The user number that is assigned by Skype for your account.
This is found in the browser when viewing the listing while logged-in to Skype
Example - ("id_talk=1234567890").

YOUR GOOGLE CALENDAR ID NUMBER = The number that is generated by Google when you creat a calendar. This ID is supplied after you click the HTML button after selecting your calendar.
You are instructed to place the created link in your browser to access the configuration page
Example - (src="").

Thanks for Visiting !!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


GPCDG, Updates, & New Features

Wow, what a busy month!
With the holidays right around the corner, things have been real busy for me. Working, freelancing, decorating the house, sales at stores, dinners for guests, climbing through storage, dealing with traffic, stocking the bar; You get the picture.

I had a flash based navigation bar on the home page for a while, but I've decided to go back to the old dependable HTML. Don't forget: You need both FLASH & JavaScript enabled to really enjoy all the site has to offer. See my instruction here. There were some indications from the stats that a small number of first time visitors were not using the bar, or had flash disabled and were stranded there. We're talking about less then ten visitors over the past month, but when you only average 50 visits per month, limited resources require that you make those kinds of decisions based on the results of just two or three visits. And remember: There's a whole site here, not just this boring blog.

The 'cloud tag' on the picture page was updated to reflect what is available on my Flickr page. To be honest, that particular feature is highly modified in order to display the way I want it to on the picture page. If you see something that intrest you & you use it, just give a credit to the site. There has been one instance where a typo in the code for one of my pages, was copied and is displayed as an instructional example (& yes, I do insert typos to catch this sort of thing !!). The internet is supposed to be free & educational. I try alot of approaches to mash things into a page in order to arrive at what the goal is, a lot of playing around with the code. Often, I'll leave part of a failed attempt in the code, as a reminder to myself. GPC will reorder code, but dosen't clean it up too much. Since I primarly use notepad to form code, it's not a big deal to change the encoding for a single, particular character, as I have done here.  The site exists as an educational example. If you use it, just give me credit.

If your using Google Page Creator, & looking for a somewhat mature group, GPCDG is a good resource for pointers, both basic & advanced. Be sure to review the charter first. There have been a record number of OS & browser updates. It looks like things on the internet are beginning to stablize as IT's update servers & associated support systems around the globe. This has affected both Linux, as well as, Microsoft. This process will continue over the next few months. One issue, on how GPC was changing display characterstics, may have finally been fixed this week. Running a XP machine with IE6 is the equivelent of running a Commodor64 in 1993. At least, update your browser to IE7 or FireFox2.

Finally, I've introduced a new feature to the site. I will be hosting a SkypeCast at 1200hrs GMT every Monday, Wednesday, & Friday. This feature was started the day Skype 3.0 beta came out. A schedule is available on the home page. Skype is pulling 3.0 for a little while due to a few bad people. Good Job Guys, Skype is only second to Google & Microsoft in databasing bad IPs for hacking, spam, & virus injection. Hop, Spoof & Mod all you want, read your Skype Agreement over a little closer this time.

And hi to my new friend 'SLI' in Ohio !!
Talk to everyone then...