Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Review: Advent Vega Android tablet, part two

So, "tomorrow" kind of disappeared into a fit of preparation for carol services... but here is part two of my review of the Advent Vega (part one here).

At the end of Part One, I said that installing a custom ROM (such as the one from MoDaCo that I used) was the only sensible approach to the Vega. Without the standard wave of Google functionality the Vega is essentially crippled. With Market, Gmail, and the other Mountain View offerings in place, the Vega suddenly becomes a very powerful tablet indeed.

Having Market access naturally explodes the functionality of the Vega. Of the apps I've tried so far, nearly all have had no problems working on the 10.1" screen, though one or two insisted on rendering on a phone-sized portion of the screen, making them awkward to use. The rest seemed to make good use of the extra real estate, with the games Angry Birds and Air Control being great at that size; and the onscreen keyboard is big enough for me to type at a reasonable fraction of my usual speed, albeit with slightly lower accuracy without the tactile click of physical keys.

On the subject of keyboards - there's no need to stick with the Android default. I tried a couple of options, including Smart Keyboard and SwiftKey trials, before finally opting to pay a couple of quid for the full version of the latter. I still wouldn't choose to write an essay on it if I had a laptop with me, but for reasonably quick text entry it works well.

At least, it works well when the thing isn't plugged in. When it's charging, something seems to happen to the touchscreen; it seems to register phantom touches, and it can make typing impossible (when eevverrrry kkkeyy gggeettss mmuulltttipplee prreesseeesss). I've only noticed this when the tablet is plugged in, though (and mine isn't the only one to behave like this).

That leads me nicely on to talking about the Vega's battery life. I've not got any firm figures, just anecdotes from using it for a couple of weeks, and I can say that the battery will easily last an entire day of use - I think my colleagues and I managed to get it down from 100% at 9am to about 25% by the time I tore myself away from it to sleep that evening. Recharging to full normally takes a couple of hours, though make sure you have something small and opaque to place over the charging light if you charge it overnight as I do, or the purple blinking will drive you mad.

There are a couple of other limitations the Vega has over, say, the Samsung Galaxy Tab (on paper; not having the latter I can't really perform a true comparison. Donations welcome...!). There's no 3G, so if you're not in a wifi hotspot there's no data for you. There's no vibration (ahem) so Android's haptic feedback settings are redundant - though I don't like it much on my phone anyway. And there are no hardware "Home" or "Menu" buttons - though the latter is simulated with a long press on the physical Back button, and all three have buttons on the Vega's always-present notification bar, which mercifully has been made smaller in the MoDaCo ROM (if you pay for access to the custom "ROM Kitchen" - well worth it IMO).

Further - though it has a full size USB-A socket, which might imply that you could connect USB drives and such, the device is configured as a USB guest and not a host so you can't. Someone on the Internet has found a Korean rebadged version of the same hardware with USB host support, so it's only a matter of time before this feature arrives in a custom ROM for the Vega. This also means you can't yet get clever and plug in a 3G dongle for a data connection; and you'll have varying degrees of luck if you try configuring your phone as a wireless access point, since many phones can only manage ad-hoc and not infrastructure modes, and Android so far refuses to connect to the former.

There's been a lot of discussion about the display. People have complained about limited viewing angles, especially in portrait. Personally, while you can't by any means still read the screen through a 180-degree arc, the viewing angle simply hasn't been a problem or even that noticeable in normal use. The only time it's been an issue has been when it's sat on the desk in front of me - it needs to be propped up a little to make it readable - but my desk is cluttered enough that a jury-rig solution has always been to hand!

Use Cases

The question lots of people pose about tablets - be they the Cupertino fondleslab or any of the other variants around - is what are they actually for? So here are some situations where I either have found a place for the Vega or can see it would be useful, if those situations existed in my life...

  • Checking details on (eg) Bugzilla during our morning stand-up meeting at work
  • Checking details on (eg) Facebook during our morning stand-up meeting at work
  • On the bus/train as an RSS feed reader (with offline sync with apps like NewsRob)
  • "Hey, Mum, read this news article, you'll find it interesting" before passing her the device
  • As an e-book reader; the screen's no e-ink but it's more than adequate. (I also have the YouVersion bible application installed, though I haven't tested this in anger yet.)
  • Using VNC to interact with another computer - this is how I controlled the lighting for the church carol services last week. I could equally have controlled the sound desk
  • Sitting on the sofa watching telly with housemates, while flicking through Facebook or Twitter or chatting to someone over messenger
I'm sure I could think of more - I haven't even covered the possibilities for media (iPlayer works great), which a lot of people would see as a major role - and, certainly, there's overlap there with what netbooks, notebooks, desktops and phones could achieve. But I'm convinced that there's a definite gap in the market for this form of device - and if you can have it for half the price of the Apple offering, and without the draconian limits that Steve Jobs puts on his device, then why not?

To sum up: the Vega isn't the perfect tablet, but for the price I'm very happy indeed with the purchase. As Android gets developed more for the larger form factor, and as the online community continues to play around unlocking more of the device's functionality, then it can only become even better.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Review: Advent Vega Android tablet, part one

So, I finally got my Advent Vega yesterday morning as I arrived at work. As there's such a buzz of interest around this budget Android tablet, I figured I'd contribute my thoughts to the blogosphere and add to the discussion!

First, some backstory.

The Saga of Getting One

Stock's been arriving in dribs and drabs for the couple of weeks since the Vega first went on sale at an insanely reasonable £249. When they first launched via the Dixons, Currys and PC World websites, the initial batch sold out in less than an hour; and subsequent batches have been even quicker (I think twelve minutes was a duration bandied around on Twitter at one point). I was lucky enough to get my order in quickly enough for the second batch, and a couple of days later it duly arrived.

Sadly, while the rather reflective screen was a very good mirror, that was about the only functionality I could eke out of the 10.1", 750g tablet. Repeated attempts to reflash the thing all ended in failure; after all the hype the Vega was DOA and I returned it to the PC World a short walk from my office that evening, where Mandie was very helpful in arranging a refund.

Back to the waiting game... and I managed to order again the next Saturday. Or, so I thought.

Apparently the DSG stock system couldn't quite cope with the sheer volume of people all trying to buy the Vega at once, and it sold about 100 more than they actually had in stock. After a few days of limbo, I got an E-mail telling me to call the customer service line otherwise my order would be cancelled. Not wanting to join the hordes of F5-induced RSI sufferers for a third time, I asked the lady I spoke to (who, again, was very helpful) if I could have my order put in a queue for the next batch, and she happily obliged. (I'd been reading on the MoDaCo forums about others in the same situation.)

All good, or so I thought... the next batch of stock came and went, and nothing was mentioned of my order. A further E-mail to DSG gave the impression that somebody had been promising so-called "forward orders" even though it was against company policy, and now management had been left with the task of fulfilling their promises. The gentleman who phoned me back was the third of three very helpful employees I'd spoken to at this stage, and he promised that the scheduling team were working out how to match up orders and Vegas as they became available.

And so eventually, one was placed in the (not-quite-so) capable hands of DHL who, after accidentally ripping the box open and repackaging it with lots of tape, managed to deliver a fully-working Vega to my office on Tuesday morning. And the fun began!

Initial Impressions

It was shiny - literally; the screen was very reflective, and is a magnet for fingerprints. They didn't seem too noticeable when the Vega was switched on and in use, even under office lights, but switch the screen off and just try and resist the urge to clean it!

Boot time was a little tardy by most standards, but for a device pretty much designed to be always left in standby I can forgive that. The initial app selection was pretty dire, and a last-minute change by Advent meant there was no central package manager (oh, OK, "app store" in your Cupertino-speak or "Marketplace" as Google would have it). Out of the box, the Vega is basically a touch-screen web browser - yes, it is possible to hunt down the Android .apk  application packages manually and install them, but it's far easier to take the brilliant efforts of Paul at MoDaCo and get the full set of Google apps - Market included - with a custom ROM image.

For part two of this review (which I plan on writing tomorrow, it's late!) I'll talk about how amazing the Vega is with that custom image, and how you should really buy one if you're looking for a tablet but can't stomach the cost of an iPad. Just so there are no surprises. :-)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Is bad sound a sin?"

That's the question that Gary Zandstra recently posted on his blog at Church Production Magazine. It's taken me a while to get the chance to write this up but the question reminded me of a conversation I'd had a few weeks previously.

Some friends and I - some techie, some not - were having a picnic after an open-air church event a few weeks ago. I was commenting to one of the other techies that the sound mix hadn't been particularly good, and he agreed. Someone else chipped in that, from where they had been stood, all they could hear was electric guitar.

Then one of my non-techie friends said something that the three of us immediately and strongly disagreed with:
"It doesn't matter if it didn't sound good, as long as people were worshipping!"
Having had plenty of time to mull this one over, I still stand by my initial reaction. But, at the same time (and I'm not just saying this so she doesn't feel like I'm picking on her!) I think she was completely right too...

The passage that came to mind when she said it was Malachi 1. There, through the prophet Malachi, God tells of his anger at the substandard offerings presented to him by the Israelites:
"When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?" says the LORD Almighty. "Now implore God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you? Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you," says the LORD Almighty, "and I will accept no offering from your hands. (Malachi 1 v8-10)

The days of animal sacrifices are over, but that doesn't render this passage irrelevant. The point remains that God deserves the best we can offer. Christians are called to be living sacrifices (see Romans 12:1) - our very lives become our offering to God, and by Christ we can be made "holy and pleasing to God". The Christian aim of living a blameless life is not (rather, should not be) to achieve salvation - though so often it's seen that way. (How many times has someone tried to summarise all religions as "try hard to be good and hope that $deity thinks you're good enough to get to heaven"?) Rather, having been given salvation through no act of our own, as thanks to God we are called to live to honour Him.

That was a little digression; I'm supposed to be talking about AV, right? But here's the thing: if our worship is technically poor, if it's produced with an attitude of "It'll do", if the mix is being drowned out by one instrument or whatever it is - then how does it form service that is "holy and pleasing to God"?

I want to make another short digression at this point and tell the story of a friend of mine from my first church. He first started getting involved in sound production in church as the person responsible for recording services to audio cassette (remember those?). And he was very happy in that role. Over the years, though, more and more sound equipment appeared at the back of church; and recording the services became just a minor part of the tasks that were required on a Sunday. My friend and I had a conversation a few weeks before I left the church to come to university. He told me how he'd not expected the demands to pile up as they had, and that he was thinking of stopping because he didn't have the technical skill that was now required.

I don't think I'm being mean to say that my friend wasn't able to mix sound very well. In light of the above, then, does that mean his efforts behind the sound desk were "useless fires"? Far from it! Because what ultimately matters is the attitude that we come with; to continue to be willing to serve for so long when you feel unhappy, almost overwhelmed, in the role - that's sacrificial worship!

Back to the picnic, then, and the original statement: does it matter, if people are still worshipping?

I know very little about sheep. If you placed a specimen in front of me, I'd likely have great difficulty in telling if it was a prized lamb in perfect condition or if it had some form of sheep-disease that reduced its value. If the specimen, say, had only one leg and hadn't moved after several hours of intense observation, I might suspect it of not being entirely healthy. But to a shepherd, or to a vet, those subtle symptoms of sheep-disease would be glaringly obvious. I figure, the same is true of sound mixing: the three techies in the group had no hesitation in calling out the symptoms that were obvious to us, but the others had counted the legs, checked for movement, and seen nothing wrong.

But should it matter, when we're not the ones behind the sound desk? On the one hand, the only way any of us improve at anything is from receiving feedback from others (I try and always tell the sound guy at church when it sounds beautiful); on the other, who am I to judge if the "mite" of an offering from my brother or sister is the change they found down the back of the sofa or their entire savings for this month? And why should I interfere with someone else's offering?

Tough call. This blog has comments open; what do you think?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Setting Up Sound for Worship

A friend of mine who's worship minister at a church in London asked me to write down a few notes on how we set up and sound check for services at St Aldates. I figured other people might be interested in it, so I asked if she'd mind me turning my reply into a blog post; here it is!

Before Sunday
The monthly rota will have been E-mailed out with details of who's playing in the band for that service, so the sound guy knows what to expect.
The worship leader might send their proposed set list out in advance, too. Visuals guys love it when you do that :-)

Service -2 hours
Arrival and setup
In an ideal world, a small army of gnomes would ensure that all the required equipment is in place, working and connected before the band arrive. However, since gnomes have very fussy employment requirements, it falls to the lone sound guy to...
  • ...put out required number of microphones - vocal or instrument mics
  • ...put out required number of DI boxes
  • ...make sure everything is plugged in to the right place and there are enough jack-to-jack leads for everyone
  • ...put out required number of foldback monitors
  • ...make sure everyone who needs it has power sockets available
The drum kit (in its own little cave of soundproofing) is left out and miked up permanently, because it takes ages to assemble and plug in all the mics. We're fortunate at St Aldates to have a permanent AV installation, but other churches may have to also lay out multicores, connect up amps and speakers, and so on.

As I say, ideally all this setup would be done before the band arrive, but realistically the band do help out too!

Service -1.5 hours
This is the point at which the sound and visuals engineers (the visuals person has turned up by now, right? That's for another post...) leave the sound desk and head down to the band to pray together. This is important! It also helps in getting rid of any partisanship between band and AV team; both need to be working together for the glory of God in the service.

Sound check
The sound engineer runs this part of the process. The aim is to check that everything is working, plugged in correctly, and is giving enough signal to the sound desk. It's useful if the sound engineer has a microphone at the sound desk to talk to the band via their monitors, if the sound desk is a distance away from the stage.

In turn, the sound engineer asks each of the musicians to play their instrument and/or sing into the microphone. (It's nice if you note down their names from the rota, so you can address them directly!) On the desk, the standard procedure is
  1. Unmute the channel
  2. Move fader to around -10 / -5dB
  3. Adjust the gain until the sound that you're hearing is at a decent level
Some sound engineers rely exclusively on the LED meters on their sound desk at this point. They're a useful guide but ears work best! Obviously, if something is peaking at the desk then you need to turn the gain down, regardless of what your ears say. You might need to ask the musicians to adjust the volume or EQ on their instruments in order to get a decent amount of signal. You might also need to encourage them to "give it some welly" - for vocalists this can be difficult early on as their voices won't have warmed up. If the lead worshipper is a guitarist, then get them to play and sing at once - since that's more natural for them.

The sound engineer might also apply some basic EQ at this point. I tend to not do much EQing at this stage, instead waiting until the practice (see below).

If the keys player is going to be using piano sounds and pad sounds, ask them to play both (not at once). Some fancy keyboards apparently let you split these over two channels to solve the issue - pads and pianos sound very different, and the sound engineer needs to make sure that both give a suitable level without peaking. Likewise, if the electric guitar player has a fancy set of effects pedals, try a few.

Once the engineer says s/he is happy with one instrument, they will ask the musician to stop playing/singing, and move on to the next. It's important at this stage that the rest of the band don't try and play over each other. (It's also very difficult to sound check when there are people having loud conversations in the room. O hai, Late Service setup!)

This is the time I normally remember to do an initial check of foldback levels. If you're lucky, then you'll be inheriting the desk in a sane state and only a few tweaks might be needed. If you're unlucky, then a completely different set of instruments were used last time and you need to do it all from scratch! It's really down to the preference of the musicians as to what they have in their foldback. In general:
  • Worship leader: their guitar/keyboard, their vocal should be loudest. Maybe some kick/snare drum. Maybe a little backing vocals.
  • Drummer: maybe their drums (we use in-ear monitors so that's not as daft as it sounds!). Lead instrument and vocal. Bass.
  • Backing vocalists: Backing vocals loudest, leader vocals softer. Maybe some lead instrument. Maybe some kick/snare.
  • Keys: The keyboard. In my experience, keys players find it universally impossible to hear themselves in foldback even when turned up so loud you don't need front-of-house. (Any suggestions, anyone?) Lead vocal and instrument. Electric guitar if there is one.
  • Electric guitar: if they don't have their own amp they'll need to be in their foldback. Lead instrument and vocal. Bass, keys.
  • Bass: if they don't have their own amp they'll need to be in their foldback. Lead instrument and vocal. Eguitar. Maybe kick/snare drum.
Those are really rough starting points, but we'll tweak them later. You also probably don't have that many channels of foldback - we certainly don't! - so there's some compromise needed based on who is sharing a monitor with whom.

Once all musicians have sound-checked, all the appropriate channels on the desk should be on and at about -5dB. In general things will be too loud right now - which is good. If you push levels in the service higher than they were in the sound check, then you risk feedback. The mix will also probably sound a bit naff because everything's at the same level.

At this point I like to make the handover very clear: the sound check is done, the band are free to get on with their rehearsal, so I say something like "OK, Rich, all yours" (where Rich is the worship leader). The whole sound check should take about 10-15 minutes at most.

Service -1.25 hours
After the handover, the worship leader decides how things happen. It's usually useful for the band to play through one song, after which a flurry of foldback requests will be shouted at the sound engineer all at once. :-)

I use the rest of this time to work on EQ and on the front-of-house mix. My general approach with EQ is "fiddle until it sounds good" mixed with "less is more". One piece of wisdom that was passed on to me (via Dave, via Nolan) is that a fairly tight cut at 250Hz helps make vocals a bit clearer, so I normally apply that early on. I've yet to work out how to EQ the Nord to make it sound as good as our previous Triton (though I suspect all the keys players in church will want to make me suffer for that comment).

Occasionally, a member of church leadership will wander in during the sound check or rehearsal and make comments about the noise. It might be worth either the sound engineer or worship leader having a chat to them about this if it becomes a problem; particularly the point I make above about feedback. At Aldates, leadership will sometimes ask for front-of-house to be turned off once the engineer has a reasonable front-of-house mix, and although this changes how the band hear themselves and means I get less tweaking time before the service starts, I normally comply. And I always try to remind myself that I need humility in those situations where it's so easy to become annoyed at leadership!

Service -0.25 hours
Final setup
Once the band finish their rehearsal there's typically about 15 minutes before the start of the service. We normally put a worship CD on at a moderate level at this point, and I always see it as the last chance for a "bio-break" (trip to the bathroom!) before the service starts. Once done there, it's time to check battery levels in the handheld radio mics and put them at the front of church (making sure they're switched on!); prep one or more lavalier (clip-on/tie) mics depending on the speaker's preference; double check those battery levels; and pray over all the little technical details that will inevitably need to be sorted during the service.

Service +0 hours
End of the service
Have a CD cued and ready to play as the band finish. Make sure the song is appropriate to whatever's going on at the end of the service up front - if there's some intense prayer ministry happening and the band just finished on a quiet note then a loud guitar intro might not be the right thing to play!

Service +0.25 hours
This is the part that people tend to forget! It entirely depends on what other services or activities are going on in church that day - for example, if there's another service starting soon with a similar band you won't want to put cables away only to get them out again.

If there are no more services or events that day, then the goal is to leave the stage and sound desk in the state you'd have preferred them to be in when you arrived. To me, this means a relatively blank stage (though I might leave foldback monitors set up): microphones and DI boxes put away; mic and music stands folded and put to one side; cables coiled, tied and hung up on the appropriate peg. We have an M7CL, so unless I've done something outlandish like softpatching I'll generally just leave the sound desk in whatever state it is at the end of the service.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

So... that was a new experience...

Tonight I led worship at the Oxford Prayer Room. It was my first time leading worship in public (eg with people I don't know in the room). Inspired by another Oxford-based blogger, I'm going to analyse the evening here, warts and all... I probably shouldn't analyse tonight publicly, or with the probably self-critical method I'm going to employ. I almost certainly shouldn't be writing this blog post at half past midnight [Edit: It's now 1.15am...] when I need to be in work early tomorrow. I'm going to ignore both of those suspicions for now. It would make for a boring post if I didn't.

First let me say OW OW OW OW OW OW. It currently hurts using my left fingers to type, and I hope that my left arm won't be too stiff in the morning. I've never played guitar for such an extended period of time before - after about 40 minutes cramp set in and I had to let Claire take over at that point until I could grip the guitar neck again.

I'd asked Claire to help me lead, mostly because I am very aware of the limits of my musicianship and she clearly has an anointing that I simply don't have. I don't say that in a self-deprecating way; but I know that my skills don't primarily lie in playing music or singing (of which, more later). I've never played music with someone else before (well, not anything like this and certainly not for years) and I think that showed. I know the Aldates bands do spend the time practicing with one another, helping them to gel musically. Claire and I hadn't even practiced together before tonight, and things were made more difficult about ten minutes in, when we suffered a Technical Problem.

If you have ever shared a sound desk with me, you'll know that I don't do technical problems. If I have to leap into the power room mid-service and repatch half the system to work around a problem, I will; if I had to kneel on the floor holding a loose cable in place while operating the visuals computer keyboard with my face and the DVD player with my left foot, I would. Probably. It comes with the territory of being an A/V engineer and programmer. But in this new arena, I simply didn't have the tools and skills to deal with the fact that, ten minutes in to what turned out to be a 90-odd minute session, my guitar strap broke.

"That's hardly the end of the world," you've probably just thought to yourself, and you're right. A quick requisition of a chair to sit on and I could carry on just fine; except it made things just that little bit more difficult. Trying to look around at Claire to signal a chorus or a repeat was awkward; she wouldn't have seen the usual leg signals even if I'd had the spare mental capacity to remember to give them. And as for trying to work out what chords she was playing during the times when she improvised was (especially for a non-keys player) impossible. Mostly, Claire was able to follow what I did just fine, but then she has the advantage of knowing both instruments well!

The high probability that anything I played to Claire's lead would be in the wrong key, then, meant I mostly didn't play while she was leading. But what I did try to do is improvise with my voice, rather than the guitar. Now, I don't have a spectacular voice. My parents always tried to discourage me from singing - though in their defence, this was through those teenage years when male voices become difficult tools to wield! Still, it really touched me when, a few weeks ago at church, someone standing next to me told me that I had a wonderful voice and it was so nice to worship next to me. Without that, I probably wouldn't have volunteered to lead tonight, although I'm still not sure I understand all the reasons why I did!

I was quite pleased with how well my voice managed on some of the songs, but - and I think this is a confidence thing - I'm well aware that for probably 40% of the time, I was horribly out of key. Again with the lack of tools thing - how do I fix that mid-song? I noticed a tendency that I had of trying to sing songs an octave lower than I'd practiced, for fear of not hitting the right notes; all that resulted was that I hit the same wrong notes, just an octave lower. When I managed an octave jump for the third verse of David Crowder's "Alleluia, Sing" I was actually really surprised with how my voice sounded - to me, at least, much better than the lower first two verses.

I also liked being able to use the prayer room in worship. There's a wall in the room on which people have written the names of people they know and prayers that they would come to know Jesus. As part of the worship I read out each of the names that were up there, asking God to break in to their lives. I don't know any of them (save one), but God does. I hope that that prayer can be used in some way.

Much like this post, the session went on a little longer than I'd expected. I'd only really prepared enough for the 40 minutes my wrist lasted before cramp set in, but Claire and I were there for another 45 minutes on top of that. (While my memory for song lyrics is necessarily quite extensive, the same is not true of their chords!) I am truly grateful that Claire was there. She certainly helped me to enter into God's presence this evening - and after all, that's what worship is about. Not that we can make our own ways into the presence of God, but that Jesus has made it possible at all, and somehow we can commune with God as we sing and pray. It becomes not about the singing, the praying, the words, the chords, the visuals or the sound mix; it becomes about Jesus, and Jesus alone.

So Jesus, take those songs and prayers; you deserve so much more than the little I was able to give, but every beautiful chord and every bum note are yours.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Oxford bans Spotify?

So the Cherwell reports, and IT website The Register has picked up, on a story the latter headlines simply "Oxford bans Spotify"... which isn't necessarily the most accurate title for a story released today.

Reading between the lines (banks?) of the Cherwell, it seems that OUCS have placed a block on the music-sharing application, which was already banned under Oxford University network rules.

The reason is simple: OUCS houses a connection to JANET, which happens to be one of the faster Internet backbones of the country. Peer-to-peer applications are designed to use the bandwidth of their peers to spread the load away from the single server of the standard client/server model.... and that means that P2P software tends to saturate JANET as much as it can.

That's a bad thing. So it's sensible to prevent its use.

So, Oxford have not recently banned Spotify; rather, they've imposed technical restrictions preventing its use, to replace the logical ones that apparently people weren't following. It was banned all along, people! As was the original BBC iPlayer Downloader and Channel 4's equivalent, until they moved away from the peer-to-peer model. And in fact Skype was included in that list for a while, before a special relaxation was granted with certain configuration options.

But I guess they had to save a story for Fifth Week...