Thursday, November 17, 2011

Some bits and bobs - Skype updates, Android growth, and some handy software...

Hi everyone,

Well it's been a while since the last post and we've been very busy at Zenbu HQ.  We now have over 870 Zenbu Wi-Fi hotspots throughout New Zealand and the Cook Islands.  That is over 120 new locations that have joined the Zenbu network since back in July.  We also had our 3 millionth connection on the 15th September 2011 and are already close to 3.5 million only a couple of months later!

Now I'd like to quickly bring up something that has annoyed me for a while - automatic, forced, Skype updates (have there recently been more updates than usual?).  There is no longer any way to disable automatic updates within the Skype software itself and Skype forces updates on their users at fairly regular intervals.  And it apparently isn't only me this annoys.  There seems to be an ever growing chorus of discontent out there.  Not only do the automatic updates use bandwidth but I don't like any programs running on my computer to download or install updates without my explicit approval (at the time of the specific update).  For Skype in particular I preferred the user interface of some of the earlier versions and would like to continue using them.

So what can you do about it?  Sadly the solution is a bit geeky but apparently blocking access to ( in your firewall will stop Skype from being able to automatically update itself [see the link above].  I have only recently implemented this myself (after the most recent forced automatic Skype update - the straw that broke the camel's back!) so I cannot yet confirm that it works, but Skype still apparently works fine after making the change and if future automatic updates are blocked I'll be a happy camper.  Fingers crossed.  I also wonder if putting a '' in the 'hosts' file would be sufficient?  [Note that '' and '' also resolve to '']

While on the topic of software, a handy little program for sharing a single internet connection between multiple devices that I have used a bit recently is Connectify.  Basically it allows a (Windows) computer to act as a Wi-Fi hotspot.  So, for example, you could connect to Zenbu on the computer running Connectify then connect your other devices to the signal coming from the computer.  This is a handy way to use more than one device simultaneously with a single user account.  This method also allows devices that can't login to the Zenbu system on their own (eg. they don't have a web browser etc) to access the internet and can also be used to share a mobile broadband (cellular) data connection with devices (such as iPads) that don't have USB ports to which you could connect a USB mobile broadband data stick.

Before I sign off I'd also like to mention the continued growth of Android.  In the last month Android has comprised 5.8% of total visits to our website (and 39% of mobile visits).  Mobile devices now account for 14.2% of visits to our website up from 9.5% in July 2011.  Google certainly seems to be onto a winner with Android!

Nice that daylight savings is well underway and the long warm evenings of summer are with us.  Enjoy.


The Zenbu Team.

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