How Skype does, and doesn’t work





    1. The article is built round a simple error. Skype does not rely on 'unfirewalled home PCs' as the author suggests, so all the rest is basically bollocks.


  • @intertravel said:

    1. The article is built round a simple error. Skype does not rely on 'unfirewalled home PCs' as the author suggests, so all the rest is basically bollocks.
    Even if you are correct and Skype works perfectly fine on firewalled PCs, it doesn't change all the other WTFs.

    -- Skype relies on "Super Nodes", which is just another name for your computer running Skype software, and if they get taken out by buggy software the whole system goes down, like it did last December.

    -- All of which is because Skype is trying to run a VOIP system on the cheap, using shitty P2P software instead of real servers.

    -- $8 Billion to buy a company that is only marginally profitable ($1.4 million profit for the first half of 2010) and was only worth $2.7 Billion a couple years ago.

     



  • @intertravel said:

    1. The article is built round a simple error. Skype does not rely on 'unfirewalled home PCs' as the author suggests, so all the rest is basically bollocks.

    In one sentence he says the data is 256-bit encrypted, in the very next paragraph he implies third parties can see your naughty bits. Which is it?

    Even if he has a point, it's hard to take an article seriously when it contradicts itself in the span of 2 paragraphs. Either that, or he has no fucking clue what "256-bit AES encryption" is and shouldn't be writing tech stories at all.

    Then he says Skype has bad voice quality-- WTF? Compared to *what*? It's leaps and bounds better than pretty much everything else I've tried: TeamSpeak, Ventrillo, MSN's built-in voice.

    Then he implies Microsoft is going to have a hell of a time fixing Skype, when the fix to his problem is fucking obviously: grab some servers and designate them as permanent supernodes. Let the existing Skype software take care of the rest.

    This isn't an article, it's a hit piece. What's this guy have against Skype? Look, yes, it was shitty when Skype went down-- especially since the same thing had happened a few years previous and they hadn't fixed the flaw. (Presumably Skype ran the math on how many computers need to reboot simultaneously to knock out their supernodes, and found the number was acceptably high.) But Skype is not even close to as bad as he's trying to make it.



  • SJVN is one of the resident zdnet/computerworld Microsoft haters. He didn't write any skype articles until Microsoft suddenly bought them.

    He also gets called out frequently on the FUD Tracker over at TM Repository



  • @El_Heffe said:

    -- Skype relies on "Super Nodes", which is just another name for your computer running Skype software, and if they get taken out by buggy software the whole system goes down, like it did last December.
    That's not quite what happened, as I recall it, but that's not really the point. Who cares how it works, as long as it works? One outage in however many years is on a par with my regular phone provider.


    The real story is that Skype are successfully doing things on the cheap, which is quite an achievement, and can always spend more in the form of providing their own nodes if that becomes justified. I have no idea whether or not Microsoft got good value for their money.



  • @Soviut said:

    SJVN is one of the resident zdnet/computerworld Microsoft haters. He didn't write any skype articles until Microsoft suddenly bought them.

    He also gets called out frequently on the FUD Tracker over at TM Repository

    Thanks for that link, time to spend the rest of my night reading it.



  • @delta534 said:

    @Soviut said:

    SJVN is one of the resident zdnet/computerworld Microsoft haters. He didn't write any skype articles until Microsoft suddenly bought them.

    He also gets called out frequently on the FUD Tracker over at TM Repository

    Thanks for that link, time to spend the rest of my night reading it.

    That page is awesome, but why is there no RSS feed?

    BTW, that article pissed me off so much that I'm leaving Skype on for a few days. Hopefully it'll make me a supernode and send some naughty bits through my computer.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    That page is awesome, but why is there no RSS feed?

    Because I never built an RSS feed into it. Maybe one day, but it's tough to find the time.



  • So... do I get this wrong or is this basically a scare story against P2P networks written by a guy who has obviously no clue how P2P networks work?
    2001 called, it wants its idiots back.

    Yes, that’s right. When you call someone on Skype or show your, ahem, naughty bits, to your boy-friend or girl-friend while sexting, they’re passing through any number of PCs from you call him or her. Doesn’t that make you feel good and secure?
    Good thing all other communication on the net is straightly between your PC and the server without any pesky third party devices in between. I mean, it would be a shame if anyone could eavesdrop your emails and IM conversations or keep logs of all those porn sites you visit. OH WAIT!


  • Not to play devil's advocate here, but I still found the information that Skype originated from a file sharing program nobody knows (well, uses) anymore quite WTFy. Does KaZaA still exist, btw?



  • @derula said:

    Not to play devil's advocate here, but I still found the information that Skype originated from a file sharing program nobody knows (well, uses) anymore quite WTFy. Does KaZaA still exist, btw?

    That's not new information. Skype is how Kazaa went legit, when the record companies started going after them. Smart move on their part, because they existed far longer than any other P2P-based company of the era.

    Morally is it questionable? Eh. Skype is genuinely a good product. I don't hold Windows ME against Microsoft anymore, so I guess I wouldn't hold Kazaa against Skype.



  •  @intertravel said:

    1. The article is built round a simple error. Skype does not rely on 'unfirewalled home PCs' as the author suggests, so all the rest is basically bollocks.

    You've used quotes around that, but that phrase doesn't exist in the original article. His phrase was 'For Skype to work, it needs access to insecure PCs'. Which is backed up by his comments immediately beforehand regarding the 'supernodes' that Skype apparently relies upon. Assuming he has the technical details correct (and, if he doesn't, feel free to respond) the simple error you cite doesn't actually exist.

    That said, large parts of it do read like a Daily Mail article, especially the 'naughty bits' paragraph.



  • @adrianmw said:

    You've used quotes around that, but that phrase doesn't exist in the original article. His phrase was 'For Skype to work, it needs access to insecure PCs'. Which is backed up by his comments immediately beforehand regarding the 'supernodes' that Skype apparently relies upon. Assuming he has the technical details correct (and, if he doesn't, feel free to respond) the simple error you cite doesn't actually exist.
    Oh yeah, I couldn't be bothered to go and check his exact wording so I paraphrased. The point is that his allegation about 'insecure PCs' is actually nonsense. Skype will quite happily work as either a node or supernode through most firewalls configured as standard, just like any other P2P program. The important part is that the firewalled connection has a public IP. A brief read of the technical document he links to shows that he really hasn't a clue about anything to do with any of the things he talks about.



  • @intertravel said:

    @adrianmw said:
    You've used quotes around that, but that phrase doesn't exist in the original article. His phrase was 'For Skype to work, it needs access to insecure PCs'. Which is backed up by his comments immediately beforehand regarding the 'supernodes' that Skype apparently relies upon. Assuming he has the technical details correct (and, if he doesn't, feel free to respond) the simple error you cite doesn't actually exist.
    Oh yeah, I couldn't be bothered to go and check his exact wording so I paraphrased. The point is that his allegation about 'insecure PCs' is actually nonsense. Skype will quite happily work as either a node or supernode through most firewalls configured as standard, just like any other P2P program. The important part is that the firewalled connection has a public IP. A brief read of the technical document he links to shows that he really hasn't a clue about anything to do with any of the things he talks about.

    I never using skype in my entire life



  • @blakeyrat said:

    That's not new information.

    Was new to me. Guess I'm TRWTF, then?



  • @intertravel said:

    The point is that his allegation about 'insecure PCs' is actually nonsense. Skype will quite happily work as either a node or supernode through most firewalls configured as standard, just like any other P2P program. The important part is that the firewalled connection has a public IP. A brief read of the technical document he links to shows that he really hasn't a clue about anything to do with any of the things he talks about.
     

    Thanks for the clarification; he probably needs to read up on the difference between NAT and a firewall then before he comments further.



  • @adrianmw said:

    @intertravel said:

    The point is that his allegation about 'insecure PCs' is actually nonsense. Skype will quite happily work as either a node or supernode through most firewalls configured as standard, just like any other P2P program. The important part is that the firewalled connection has a public IP. A brief read of the technical document he links to shows that he really hasn't a clue about anything to do with any of the things he talks about.
     

    Thanks for the clarification; he probably needs to read up on the difference between NAT and a firewall then before he comments further.

    And you need to read up on the similarities between NAT and a firewall before you comment further.  A NAT'd connection can also have a public IP, generally that of the NAT device itself.  As long as port-forwarding is correctly configured (which skype can do itself, using UPnP, STUN or other protocols) then the relevant ports of the target device appear to be open on the NAT device itself, and so it could still become a supernode.

    Other egregious errors:

    1- End-to-end encryption, assuming done properly, makes snooping and tampering by middleman nodes impossible or irrelevant.

    2- The problems of building reliable overlay networks out of intermittent, faulty and even deliberately malicious nodes are well understood in p2p software engineering.  Thinking that the network has to be flimsy because some of the individual nodes out of which it is made are flimsy is a category error, of the sort that nobody who understands how reliable TCP is built on unreliable, unordered, best-effort-only IP should ever make.

    3- (Although this is in a quote, if the author of the article knew what he was talking about, he would have edited it) There's no such thing as "non-determinant", it's non-deterministic.  "Deterministic" is an adjective, "determinant" is a noun, it's not even the right part of speech.  As for the hideous pseudo-scientific bafflegab of "must live in the isochronous time domain of delay acceptance on the part of the user", that's just using big words incorrectly in a failed attempt to impress and/or obfuscate.  Isochrony refers to protocols like USB, where you can reserve a guaranteed allocation of bandwidth, and while some of the frame relay networks at the core of the internet might support isochronous allocations of bandwidth, that's not a property of IP itself; it's a link-layer, not transport-layer behaviour in this case.  In fact, real-time streaming over the internet is the exact opposite of isochronous; what he's actually trying to say is "The end user has to accept the odd hiccup or glitch in the audio stream", but he tried to be too clever and ended up writing garbage.

    4- The fact that new supernodes were added to fix the outage caused by a bad update doesn't imply that skype relies on "insecure PC [sic] staying insecure".  It relies on them staying up, that's all; their insecurity is neither necessary, nor sufficient, nor in fact in any way relevant.

    If anyone wants really high-quality information on the internals of Skype, I recommend the BlackHat paper "Silver Needle in the Skype", which is actually based on knowledge and engineering, rather than on FUD and false inferences.




  • @Soviut said:

    SJVN is one of the resident zdnet/computerworld Microsoft haters. He didn't write any skype articles until Microsoft suddenly bought them.

    He also gets called out frequently on the FUD Tracker over at TM Repository

    wow.. the person who runs that website really is a hypocrite.  claims to be a FUD tracker then constantly writes screed against "freetards".  with friends like these who needs enemies.

    [edit]

    i see that it is you who runs the website.  my statement stands as is.



  • @Kazan said:

    @Soviut said:

    SJVN is one of the resident zdnet/computerworld Microsoft haters. He didn't write any skype articles until Microsoft suddenly bought them.

    He also gets called out frequently on the FUD Tracker over at TM Repository

    wow.. the person who runs that website really is a hypocrite.  claims to be a FUD tracker then constantly writes screed against "freetards".  with friends like these who needs enemies.

    [edit]

    i see that it is you who runs the website.  my statement stands as is.

    You should make your own website. Call it FUD FUD Tracker Tracker.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @Kazan said:
    @Soviut said:

    SJVN is one of the resident zdnet/computerworld Microsoft haters. He didn't write any skype articles until Microsoft suddenly bought them.

    He also gets called out frequently on the FUD Tracker over at TM Repository

    wow.. the person who runs that website really is a hypocrite.  claims to be a FUD tracker then constantly writes screed against "freetards".  with friends like these who needs enemies.

    [edit]

    i see that it is you who runs the website.  my statement stands as is.

    You should make your own website. Call it FUD FUD Tracker Tracker.


    i'd do that.. but i have a life.



  • @Kazan said:

    wow.. the person who runs that website really is a hypocrite.  claims to be a FUD tracker then constantly writes screed against "freetards".  with friends like these who needs enemies.

    Fair enough. But my site is intended as a satirical mirror on the overzealous open source community. I created it because I saw the community doing more harm than good and was tired of totally unrelated forums I read being polluted with their rhetoric.It isn't meant to be politically correct; Just an archive of fallacies that can be revived when history repeats itself.

    That said, the term "freetard" is just a blanket term for someone who uses ideology to excuse their extreme laziness and freeloading; Someone who demands open source, but never contributes.


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