Sending SMS from Ubuntu Skype

Skybuntu?
Skybuntu?

I run my laptop with both Windows XP and Ubuntu dual-installed. I’m using primarily the Linux, but there are still a few apps that just can’t be replaced hence still having the old MS workhorse taking up hard drive space. One of these, until today, was an up-to-date version of Skype from which I could send SMS messages.

After having a dig, I found an excellent post on the Ubuntu forums that told me about a cobble-on called “Skysentials”. This adds a few functions, basically making use of facilities present in the Windows version of Skype, the main one of which is the ability to register a phone and send SMSs.

First off, full credit for this entire method goes to “grobar” and “ceverett” on the board who, between them, published details to get this thing going. For those who need details, I’m running Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) and my Skype is the latest from the Medibuntu repository, v2.0.0.72.

1. Go to http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=202148 and download just the “tar.gz” file. At time of writing, the current version was 1.0.31.0.

2. Find where you saved the file, right click it and “Extract to here”.

3. Open up a terminal and navigate to the new folder created. Enter the following command:

sudo python setup.py install

4. Download http://www.kolmann.at/philipp/linux/skysentials/skysentials-1.0.1.tar.gz

5. Find where you saved the file, right click it and “Extract to here”.

6. Open up a terminal and navigate to the new folder created. Enter the following command:

sudo python skysentials.py

If you have Skype running, then the last command will open the Skysentials window.

Now, navigating and running things from the command line isn’t easy, so here’s instructions on setting up an icon or having Skysentials run whenever you load Skype. The first set of instructions is the same for both.

1. Open a terminal and navigate to where you extracted Skysentials.

2. Run the following three commands:

sudo mkdir /usr/local/lib/skysentials
sudo chmod 777 /usr/local/lib/skysentials
sudo cp *.py* /usr/local/lib/skysentials

This creates a directory in a more sensible place to store the code, makes it accessible to non-root users and copies the code there.

3. Open a text editor you’re familiar with and start a new file. Enter the following code in it:

#!/bin/sh
cd /usr/local/lib/skysentials
python /usr/local/lib/skysentials/skysentials.py

Save this file as /usr/local/bin/skysentials

4. Back at the terminal, enter this last line of code to set the execute permissions of the script:

sudo chmod 4755 /usr/local/bin/skysentials

If you want to create a shortcut in your Applications menu to run this feature when required, perform the following steps:

1. Right-click on your Applications menu and select “Edit Menus”.

2. Select the sub-menu (from the left pane) that you would like your link to appear in. I went for “Internet”.

3. Click on “New Item” on the top right.

4. Your new shortcut wants the following properties:

Type: Application
Name: Skype SMS (or whatever you prefer)
Command: /usr/local/bin/skysentials

5. If you like, click on the large icon on the top left and select a new one. When done, “Close” the Launcher Properties window.

Fire up Skype and then locate and click on your shortcut to make sure it works. Skype will ask you to confirm whether you want this application to communicate with it. Make sure you say “yes”.

If you’d like the utility to start up whenever you load Skype, then perform the last set of steps:

1. In Skype, go to the Options Menu.

2. Select “Notifications” from the left, then “Skype Login” from the main window.

3. Tick the “Advanced View” box in the top right.

4. Check the box labeled “Execute the following script” towards the bottom.

5. In the box below this, enter the following line:

/usr/local/bin/skysentials

6. Click “Apply”.

Test this by closing and then re-opening Skype. The Skysentials window should open up shortly after you log in.

Personally, I’ve opted not to have it fire up at the start as I don’t always need it and it won’t minimise to the tray. Instead, I just open and close it as I need from the main Applications menu. If you use multiple workspaces (I don’t) you could always pop it in there.

It’s an excellent little add-on, but a shame it’s functionality isn’t built in to the current version of Skype for Linux. I’ve mailed Skype to ask when they’re going to bring this version up to date with all their others, but have had no reply. At least this works, and works very well!

Additional step: one thing I found when I’d finished installing it, was that I struggled to get rid of the originally downloaded files. When running “sudo python setup.py install”, files are created by root which you can’t delete normally. I managed to get these into my waste basket and then couldn’t ditch them. Awkward.

If you’ve not managed to wedge it into the wastebasket, navigate to the folder you extracted it to. If you did manage to do what I did and get it stuck in the wastebasket, go to ~/.local/share/Trash/files.

Either way, once you’re there execute the following line:

sudo rm -rf <foldername>

Another additional step: I just spotted that my shortcut icon is no longer working. On trying the command from the terminal, I saw it was failing with “segmentation fault”. On a whim, I ran it using sudo and lo – it worked. I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled to no avail.

If you’re also having this issue, then edit your shortcut (instructions above) and prefix the “Command” line with gksudo. Note: not sudo. The former works in the graphic environment and will ask you for your password when you run skysentials. Using plain sudo will achieve nothing and leave you with a seemingly non-functional shortcut.

Annoying having to do this, but I can’t find another way around it. I’m wondering if it’s because I have two versions of Python installed (2.5 and 2.6) although skysentials was configured only with 2.6. The only other change I’ve made recently is upgrading from 8.10 Hardy to 9.04 Jaunty. Could be related but it’s been a while since I used the program.

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Skype spam

I’ve just encountered two instances of Skype Spam. This, basically, is someone you don’t know, randomly sending you a spam message while you’re logged on to Skype. Skype’s recommendation is to “hide” yourself to all but your contacts. There’s no method to report these freaks. The two messages I got were the same, but from different users.

[While posting this, I’ve had the same or similar messages from no less than 30 other accounts. And he’s tried to exchange contact details with me from two of them, one salled “Suzie” or something with a contact picture of a very pretty Asian girl]

Just log on, locate them and send them a ton of shit. Wanna see the conversation I just had with this prick? Here you go, slightly edited as he has a habit of just pasting the same shite over and over and over:

[17:20:25] zhangchunli says: dear friend :
I beg your pardon for disturbing you. We are the biggest Chinese foreign trade wholesalers.
If you want to do business with us, we are glad and going to offer you the most reasonable discount, which can promise you to get more profits.If you have any time, please visit our website, contact with us and we will give you a satisfying answer.
our website: [deleted]
MSN L: wto-5188@hotmail.com [go on – use it]
[17:23:06] Mosh says: Lick my rancid arsehole, you freak
[17:23:12] Mosh says: Go on – suck the shit out
[17:23:15] Mosh says: You know you like it
[17:23:50] zhangchunli says: Lick my rancid arsehole, you freak
[17:23:50] Mosh says: Swallow my chocolatey poop chunks
[17:23:53] zhangchunli says: Go on – suck the shit out
[17:23:58] zhangchunli says: Lick my rancid arsehole, you freak
[17:24:01] Mosh says: Hehe – you can cut and paste
[17:24:06] zhangchunli says: go away
[17:24:09] Mosh says: My, aren’t *you* a clever little spamming spunk -eater
[17:24:14] Mosh says: No *you* go away
[17:24:15] Mosh says: Prick
[17:25:04] zhangchunli says: My, aren’t *you* a clever little spamming spunk -eater
[22:20:09] Mosh 说: No *you* go away
[22:20:11] Mosh 说: Prick
[17:25:28] Mosh says: Amazing. Are you using a mouse or has daddy taught you the keyboard shortcuts?
[17:25:39] zhangchunli [spam message repeated about 15 times]
[17:26:06] Mosh says: On a scale of “one” to “pathetic” you make your mother look like less of a loser
[17:26:45] zhangchunli says: [spam message repeated over 30 times]
[17:27:50] Mosh says: And that’s all you can do? How much is your cunt of a father paying you for sitting there annoying people?
[17:27:52] zhangchunli says: Lick my rancid arsehole, you freak

[repeated 20 times]

[17:28:03] Mosh says: You don’t even speak English, do you?
[17:28:22] Mosh says: Ah – you’re using the keyboard shortcuts. Well done. Maybe you’re not as brain dead as you first appeared.
[17:28:41] zhangchunli says: And that’s all you can do? How much is your cunt of a father paying you for sitting there annoying people?

[20+ repetitions]

[17:28:46] Mosh says: *giggle*
[17:28:48] Mosh says: You make me laugh
[17:30:05] zhangchunli says: you are a big bad egg

[15+ repetitions]

[17:30:48] Mosh says: EGG?! EGG?! Is that the best you can do? How fucking old are you?
[17:30:58] zhangchunli says: And that’s all you can do? How much is your cunt of a father paying you for sitting there annoying people?

[repeated again]

[17:31:39] Mosh says: There are several of us round the screen here quite literally pissing ourselves laughing ay you!
[17:31:40] zhangchunli says: you are a big bad egg

[repeated]

[17:31:42] Mosh says: Hahaha!
[17:32:24] zhangchunli says: fuck your mother

[repeat]

[17:32:57] Mosh says: You wish. She’d not sink as low as someone who’s had his cock up his own’ father’s shithole
[17:33:37] zhangchunli says: fuck your mothe
[17:33:42] Mosh says: Tee hee
[17:33:45] zhangchunli says: go away
[17:33:51] Mosh says: You have no imagination at all, do you?
[17:34:18] Mosh says: No. I repeat from way back – YOU go away. YOU are the spammer. YOU are the cunt sending unwanted messages to complete strangers. So… YOU FUCK OFF.
[17:34:28] zhangchunli says: fuck your mother

[etc]

[17:34:36] Mosh says: You don’t even know how to block me do you?
[17:34:44] Mosh says: How old are you? Ten?
[17:34:55] zhangchunli says: How old are you
[17:34:57] zhangchunli says: ?
[17:36:12] Mosh says: The last time I saw a conversation with so much repetition, it was a small boy trying to annoy his mother. You’re truly pathetic
[17:36:45] zhangchunli says: what ?
[17:36:48] zhangchunli says: why
[17:36:49] zhangchunli says: ?
[17:37:29] zhangchunli says: you scold me first
[17:37:32] Mosh says: Because you have no imagination, no idea how to respond to an outburst, no idea how irritating it is to send message to people you don’t know.
[17:37:36] Mosh says: No – you fucked me off first.
[17:37:40] Mosh says: You sent me a spam.
[17:38:15] Mosh says: I don’t know you. Fuck knows I really don’t *want* to know you. You’ve done it from three separate account on Skype so far. You’re a spammer. Spamming = BAD. People hate spammers. Or are you so out of touch you can’t figure that out?
[17:38:36] zhangchunli says: do you a businessman
[17:38:39] zhangchunli says: ]?
[17:38:48] Mosh says: So take your 1010 account, your wwweee159, this one and the gazillion others and shove them up your arse
[17:38:50] zhangchunli says: why scold me
[17:38:59] Mosh says: How stupid are you?
[17:39:00] Mosh says: Really?
[17:39:10] Mosh says: Read this carefully:
[17:39:30] Mosh says: Sending people unsolicited messages (that is – messages they did not ask to be sent) is SPAM. It is RUDE.
[17:39:54] Mosh says: To do so from 20-30 different accounts is *harassment*. That is VERY RUDE.
[17:40:04] Mosh says: Am I keeping this simple enough for you? Or should I use shorter words?
[17:40:59] zhangchunli says: the messageshas been send ?
[17:41:12] Mosh says: *sigh*
[17:41:18] Mosh says: You don’t even speak English very well, do you?
[17:41:31] zhangchunli says: no
[17:41:34] Mosh says: If your company is so good, you’d not have to resort to this kind of invasive marketing
[17:41:41] Mosh says: What you are doing is WRONG.
[17:41:43] Mosh says: Is it BAD
[17:42:00] Mosh says: It is rude, ignorant, unthinking, selfish, annoying and not going to get you any customers
[17:42:21] Mosh says: Do what real companies do. Advertise in newspapers, on the radio, on TV. Get posters. Just don’t send random messages on Skype.
[17:42:32] Mosh says: Skype is for friends to talk on. Not for idiots like you to advertise on.

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Skype? Useless bunch of cunts, more like

Long story short:

Set up Skype account. Added credit using credit/debit card. Worked just fine and dandt. Great service.

Credit ran low. Went to top it up. Two attempts ended in seeming success… using Bank Transfer (credit card no longer allowed for some reason never adequately explained) but no conformation. Third attempt, payment is “pending” and a 30-minute dig through the FAQ tells me that I have to initiate payment from my bank – they will not take the payment themselves. This is not apparent from the web pages provided.

Next option: set up a PayPal link. Duly done. Then option not provided, so despite all the work done to get that up and going I still can’t use it.

Net result – it takes up to 2 weeks to add credit to my account every time it runs out. Which, frankly, is fucking useless. Especially when the credit’s run out as I’ve had to make several very urgent and very long calls and now need to make more. Waiting 2 weeks to make those called (up to 10 working day) is simply fucking useless.

Letter sent to Skype:

Merje,

I appreciate that Skype has limits as regards overuse of credit cards and so forth, but I find it hard to believe that the card I used to initially put credit on the account cannot be used to top it up after more than a month.

Also, why offer me the facility of PayPal payment if it is not available in the UK? As it stands, setting the account up is very easy leading me to think this will be the case from then on. I have discovered that getting credit onto my Skype account after I have created it is an absolute nightmate and could take up to two weeks. This simply is not good enough.

While I understand you are attempting to prevent fraud, you’re making it utterly useless for people who have a genuine use for the system and I think I’ll find myself ditching Skype as an option and using the Post Office to make long distance calls unless your company can actually figure out what it is trying to do. The whole “top up” system is a complicated mess, lacking instructions and information.

I attempted to set up a bank transfer option and the first *TWO* times I did this, I recieved no email notification of the details. On the third attempt, an email was received, but your bank details were not included, thus making it impossible to start a transfer from my end. In *all* cases, no indication was made that *I* had to initiate the transfer – that was buried in an FAQ somewhere. Completely and wholly inadequate. I waited two days before realising there was absolutely *nothing* happening.

I am in a situation in a foreing country where I *NEED* to get in contact with the UK. I have very quickly realised that I cannot rely on Skype to offer a useful and reliable service for my needs. When I have credit, it’s great. But you seem to be hell bent on making it as hard and tedious as possible to add credit to my account.

I am in a foreign country with no money. I need to phone home. I cannot as I am out of credit. The only option you will give me to add credit is Bank Transfer which takes up to 2 weeks. I don’t understand this as I loaded the account using a credit card within *minutes*. You tell me to set up a PayPal account, which I’ve done, and then don’t let me use it.

Seriously. Do you have *any* idea how utterly, mindbogglingly inept you look as an organisation at a result of this conflicting information and continual supply of dead ends?

Next time I go abroad, I’m investing in two tin cans and a very long length of string. I feel it would be of more use and certainly more reliable than your red-tape enshrouded organisation.

Thanks (ha ha ha – as if)

Mosh

(P.S. This message posted to my blog and several discussion groups to highlight exactly how useless your organisation is. Buck your ideas up and study the term “customer satisfaction” and I may repeal it)

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