Win 7 vs. Applications and Riviera Recorder for Skype Review

 

I’m beginning to miss Win XP. Windows 7 is supposedly a quantum leap above and beyond Win XP; but in my opinion only some parts of the user interface meet those goals. On a machine capable of meeting the display standard for Win 7, anyway. Even parts of the user interface fall below expectations.

But all of that is normal for Microsoft products, which, according to legend at least, just have to be good enough to meet the needs and expectations of most users. Win 7 does that, but it leaves some users disgruntled. Such as yours, truly.

My system is a Compaq Presario with 4 gig of RAM, a 500 gig hard drive and other useful bits and Windows 7 with SP1. Automatic updates for Windows products is turned on, of course, and I use a nifty product from IoBit (www.iobit.com) called Advanced System Care several times a week to keep things running smoothly. If you don’t, you owe it to yourself to check this product out. Even the Free version does more than many buy-to-use products.

I have Windows Explorer v 9 installed (though I use it only rarely) and Mozilla Firefox v 6.0.2, which I do use. I do NOT use Chrome, or any other browser.

I connect to the internet via a wireless connection with the second computer in the office. That connection has never given me any problems, and is always ‘on’. And the router for the DSL connection is working perfectly and the strength meter indicates a good connection.

But my internet access disappears at frequent and very irritating intervals. My system is dropping access to the router, even though the connection is ‘on’ and the router is working as it should. I can open a browser window, but when I click on a page the page fails to load (“Server not Found” appears all too frequently – and it does not matter which browser I use or which software application is calling for access).

Checking the network and Sharing Center in Control Panel shows a strong connection to the router, though No Internet Access.

After a few seconds, though internet access is back and the page will load. This is infuriating, and frequent.

And Skype (v 5.5.0.124), of course. which is starting to cause me some headaches with behaviour I have never before seen in any application. And I have seen a lot of bizarre behaviour from applications over the years, since I earned a very nice living in software testing for a chunk of them. But Skype has come up with something new, and I can’t figure it out.

My first gripe with Skype (though not the most serious) is that you cannot exit the program once it is loaded. You cannot shut it down, and it will add itself to your Start Menu without asking. This is not good behaviour, and that is not something any user should have to deal with.

But yesterday, things got very interesting. I was invited to take a look at a new product called Riviera for Skype, from Jiteco. (http://www.jiteco.com/skype_call_recorder.html).

I do have a very nice collection of tools and apps that I use frequently when I researching and writing, and I am constantly looking for new apps.

Riviera for Skype is a call recorder and playback tool that integrates with Skype. And that would be a very good thing for folks like me.

I do a lot of calling with Skype, to editors, bookstore owners, printers and such. I also do on-line and radio interviews and join a few on-line webinars where having the ability to record what’s said (since I hate to take notes) would be a very good thing, indeed.

So I downloaded Riviera and allowed it to access Skype, which registered it as a Skype add-on and allowed it work inside that app as it needed it to.

I came across a few small defects/issues, which I reported to the company techs and they very quickly resolved them and made a new download available for me. Apparently, issues with Win 7 are an ongoing headache for developers, but there is nothing new in this. That is far more a Microsoft problem than it is Jiteco’s or any other developer, although they are the ones who have to deal with them.

Here’s a screen shot of the Riviera application:

image

And here’s a screen shot of the Recorder during playback:

image

So all of those (mostly display) issues were quickly resolved and Riviera worked. I was able to use the Echo utility in Skype to record and play back those calls. later in the day, though, I began to see some very strange behaviour in Skype. Every time I tried to call someone in my Skype call list ( you select a name from your call list and this opens a right-hand pane with a Call button and  message text box), and then clicked on the Call button in the right-hand pane. Skype promptly shut down. Disappeared right off my desktop, leaving the Skype icon sitting there, all innocent-like.

So I reopened Skype and tried it again. Same thing. Tried the Skype Echo call service. Same thing. Uninstalled Riviera for Skype and cleaned the Registry and made sure it was no longer registered in Skype. Reinstalled. Same thing. Only then I found that clicking anywhere in the Call pane would shut Skype down faster than a revenooer at a moonshine still. Then I uninstalled Skype and cleaned the Registry again. And reinstalled it.

Same thing. I went into Skype and tried to contact their tech support. Could not do that, since it involved clicking in the right-hand pane and that shut the program down. Went to Skype on-line, but there is no way to send them an email with an issue. Just a thorough FAQ page which did not include this particular issue.

The I went to bed, and tried to sleep, thinking that I would have to come up with an alternative to Skype. I was beginning to think it would never, ever, work again on my machine. I was also thinking unpleasant thoughts about Riviera for Skype, as well..

But this morning, I opened Skype without starting my browser. Skype works.

I’m beginning to think the problem is not with Skype or Riviera at all, but stems from a problem in Win 7 and how it handles (or mis-handles) calls for internet access when there is a wireless connection involved.

Now that I have absolutely no idea why Skype behaved as it did, or why my system keeps screwing me around with my supposed ‘always on’ (but not really) internet access, I am going to reinstall Riviera for Skype and run some more tests.

At this point I tend to agree with the Jiteco developers – the problem is NOT with their product, but with Win 7 and how it fails to properly allocate internet access calls from applications.

Now that the Recorder has been released (at a very attractive price), Jiteco has a few features they will be adding in the near future. Currently the app records and plays back voice. they have plans to extend that to video & voice recording and are thinking of adding an auto responder to the app as well.

Riviera for Skype is a nifty tool, and it works. Not only that, but the Jiteco techs are on the ball, ready and willing to help. I like that, and I like their little application.

Go to: http://www.jiteco.com/skype_call_recorder.html and download their Recorder. You’ll like it, and you’ll like the way the Jiteco techs respond to questions and issues. And they plan on three new product releases in December. I’ll be keeping my eye on the folks at Jiteco. I suggest you do, as well.

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About Gary Showalter

Gary Showalter was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He lived in Aruba, Florida and the Panama Canal Zone before joining the U.S. Army during the 1960s. Following his discharge from the Army, Mr. Showalter picked cotton in East Texas, baled hay in Ardmore Oklahoma, sold light bulbs in Los Angeles, California, and built cattle pens in Fallon, Nevada (during a blizzard, of course). After settling in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Showalter worked as a professional gardener before turning his hand to furniture making. In 1981, he moved to Israel, married, and raised four children while working as a furniture maker, silversmith, goldsmith, and ornamental wood turner. He served in the Israel Defense Forces Reserves for sixteen years, and when not on active duty he worked in government and private security. He has also served in senior management positions in two software development companies in Israel. During his time in Israel, Mr. Showalter published articles dealing with international terror and the Israel-Arab conflict in the Jerusalem Post, Israel national News and several political science web sites. Mr. Showalter returned to the United States in the fall of 2003, to care for an elderly parent. He published his first novel, “The Big Bend”, in the fall of 2008. His second novel, “Hog Valley”, is now in print. Mr. Showalter's third novel, “Twisted Key”, was published in the fall of 2011, and his fourth novel, "Lonesome Cove" is now available in Kindle format and should be published in paper near the end of 2012. He currently lives in Deland, Fl, where he is co-authoring "A Silent Star" with Tony Attanasio. "A Silent Star" is the true tale (though novelized, with names changed for security reasons) about the 4-person covert action team sent into Yemen to capture Osama Bin laden immediately after the bombing of the USS Cole in the Aden harbor in Yemen in October of 2000.
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