ROBOT: The day Skype died by Jesse Pizarro Boga

DAVAO CITY (03 January) — And the world was paralyzed last December 23.

I normally don’t get affected by malfunctioning websites caused by service maintenance or server and network problems. Although I use Twitter and Tumblr (a similar microblogging website) a lot, I don’t mind not being able to log in them sometimes.

But it would seem that a malfunctioning Skype is different because it involves work. “OMG, I’m so dead,” I panicked. But I wasn’t alone. When this infamous software application that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet started to experience a major outage last December 22, tons of people around the globe began to rip their hairs off.

I swear I spent over an hour trying to log in Skype; I sat in my desk, helpless.

Apparently, digital miles away from my desk, something crazy was happening in the virtual world.

“Skype isn’t a network like a conventional phone or IM network–instead, it relies on millions of individual connections between computers and phones to keep things up and running. Some of these computers are what we call ‘supernodes’–they act a bit like phone directories for Skype,” a Skype blog entry I came upon read.

The blog said that a number of these “supernodes” failed; Skype was experiencing a fault caused by a “software issue” on its network.

While I was trying to get myself online (and on time), Skype promised that they are “creating new ‘mega-supernodes’ as fast as they can, which should gradually return things to normal.”

After reading about the problem, the least I could do was to wait for updates. In other words, I should be staring at Skype’s Twitter feed.

Again, I wasn’t alone. Many Skype users were getting frustrated, but I can’t blame them: the more than 30 hours of outage caused over 8 billions of calls (business or personal) to get disrupted. That’s why some users went berserk; others sulked and pondered like this girl in UK (in her British accent, of course), “Seems hard to grumble when it’s a free service for most of us, doesn’t it?”

“Skype is one of the key applications of the modern web,” wrote website editor Om Malik. He added that it’s become an “economic fabric” and backbone of businesses around the world. Skype’s ability to cut down the cost of ordinary phone calls has made it ideal to communicate with people across the globe. To date, Skype has over 17 million users world-wide, and 25 million concurrent users per day.

In my case, I use Skype every night to teach English to my students in Japan.

Skype is working fine now. But last week’s outage was the first I’ve experienced (and it was crazy). It made me think about humanity’s current stance with the Internet: are we relying too much on it? Will we be ultimately paralyzed when it goes out?

Over 30 hours of Internet black-out would seem like a year.

What do you think? How affected were you by Skype’s outage?

I’m always online.


Twitter @jesiramoun