Archive for February, 2015

Skype randomly zooming during video calls

First, a little background. I was on a Skype call a short time ago and noticed that Skype would randomly zoom in and zoom out during the call. It seemed to happen at random, and I couldn’t figure out why, nor could I find any way of controlling it.

My Asus T100’s camera does have a user-controllable zoom, but it is zoomed all the way out when this is happening. It does not have face-following, a feature commonly blamed for this issue in Skype.

Here’s a shot of the Video Settings dialog in Skype, for anyone interested.


After some digging around the web, I’ve found a logical chain of forum posts that seem to indicate what the issue is, and point to a potential fix.

First, this blog post from another user who had the same issue, and he worked around it by installing and using ManyCam. This did work to resolve the issue, but requires ManyCam be running and adds the extra resources that it requires. If you decide to go this route, I strongly recommend areful reading during the ManyCam installer. It’s full of add-ons.

Second, this thread on yCombinator suggests a few things: 1) That lack of bandwidth is causing Skype to switch the camera to a lower resolution, resulting in the zoom; and that 2) lack of movement in portions of the cameras image is causing it to zoom. Theory 1 seems more plausible.

Third, this post on the Skype forums suggests that Skype’s video resolution can be forced by editing an xml file. Quoted with edits:

It’s impossible to change either the capture or stream video resolution in the Skype GUI. But the capture resolution can be changed by adding for example this:


directly under the <Lib> tag in %AppData%\Skype\shared.xml. The other supported resolutions also work. Check that it works from Call -> Call Technical Info.

Of course, make sure that you are forcing a resolution that your camera supports, that your PC has enough processing power to support, and that you have sufficient bandwidth for. Otherwise, you will experience undesirable effects. 640×480 is a good choice for many. 1280×720 would require a webcam capable of 720p HD capture. A 1.2 MP camera could give a resolution of 1280×960.

I used 1280×960 above as my camera is 1.2 megapixel. However, in my Call Technical Info, my camera is capturing at 1280×720, and zoom is correct. In one instance the camera zoomed in, and the Call Technical Info showed that it was capturing at 240×360. The zoom is definitely connected to the capture resolution, but changing the xml settings does not guarantee that Skype will force the resolution under all (or any) circumstances.

I’m also going to add that this is directly targeted at Skype for Desktop, not the Windows 8 app. If you are able to try this, please let me know your results. 

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How to save browser link URLs to disk

(I realize this is far from being a new thing, but I also know that some people don’t know how to do this, so I’m going to explain this for today’s lucky 10,000.)

I have a lot of very useful bookmarks, as I’m sure many of you readers do as well. I also tend to use more than one web browser. It’s a huge pain to constantly export/import bookmarks across browsers, back up favorites before re-installing an OS, etc. What if you could just have your favorites saved to disk, and use them however and whenever you wanted? That would be great.

Firefox and Chrome both have features where you can sync your bookmarks to their cloud services, but that only works with that one browser.

So, actually, you can save them to disk. And I’m not talking about saving the page to disk (via file > save). No. Not that. That saves the whole page and all of the content to your disk. No. I’m talking about saving just the link. Not in a text file, but in a simple file you can double-click to open in your web browser.

Sounds awesome, right? It is.

So here’s how you do it. In your favorite web browser, just locate the page favicon (that’s what that little icon next to the web address is called. It’s a favicon.) and drag it to your desktop, or other such folder. Screenshots below for Internet Explorer and Chrome:

Now you can save those files anywhere you want, even such places such as Dropbox, OneCloud, etc. Even a USB stick.

OneDrive users: If your link does something unexpected when you double-click on it (like trying to print), make sure it’s an Offline file. Right-click your link and select Make available offline. You can select multiple files and do this to many at once, or even an entire folder.

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XBox 360 popping crackling sounds over HDMI solved

If you have an XBox 360 hooked up to your TV over HDMI, you very well may experience popping, crackling, or static sounds while playing games.

It took me a bit of Googling to find the solution to this problem. Most people think it’s bad HDMI ports, cables, interference, or other. When in fact, I found the simplest solution (and the correct one) was to go into the console settings, under sound, and notice that the XBox by default is configured for Dolby 5.1 surround sound. On a 2-speaker system, this is not correct and will result in distorted sound. Change this setting to digital stereo and that will solve the issue.


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