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    Webpages upset by skype. was: skype was: Lewis and Clark
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2010 Sep 20, 20:47 +0100

    Navlist is a wonderfully helpful resource. Thanks for the response from
    several knowledgeable members to my request for help about a webpage I had
    written that was being interfered with (by Skype, as it turned out).
    
    Here's the background, for anyone interested. I should make it clear that I
    am no expert in such matters.
    
    Anyone making a standard installation of Skype will find that without
    asking, it will have intruded a blue "Skype" button on to the toolbar of
    his browser. And with that, goes an extension that is designed to examine
    any website that's been called up, to detect whether it includes any
    phone-numbers. If it detects anything that seems to look as though it (or
    some part of it) might possibly be a phone number, it reformats it,
    highlighted in a blue cartouche, with a little telephone symbol. Presumably
    (though I haven't tested this aspect), if you clicked on that, it would try
    dialling that number via the Skype network, at your expense. You might even
    find a surprised party at the other end...
    
    Skype claims that this is OK because that toolbar button leads to a
    dialogue in which you can opt out of that phone-highlighting option.
    However, this isn't publicised and by default its customers are all
    opted-in, not opted-out. Presumably most of the browsers of the millions of
    Skype users now operate that way.
    
    As you can imagine, this plays hell with a website from anyone who chooses,
    for any reason, to list phone numbers in a table. But also for anyone who
    chooses to list non-phone numbers, also. Technical suppliers, who produce
    lists of part numbers, find that odd items, which look like they might be
    interpreted as a phone number, are reformatted (for those customers with
    Skype). I've produced, in a Lewis and Clark website, a table of times and
    lunar distances, across multiple columns, and the odd observation from that
    list has instead been misinterpreted as a phone number in Chad! Anyone
    creating a website which contains numbers (and that may include several
    Navlisters) will find it to be vulnerable.
    
    Skype acknowledged that this was a bug, some time ago, and issued a hack
    that webpage writers could insert into the page-headers, which effectively
    turned off the skype extension from attempting to search numbers in that
    page; this may have placated some web designers. However, others didn't see
    why it had to be up to them to defend their own pages. And older websites,
    without a current designer involved, remain quite unprotected.
    
    But more recently, after the latest Skype upgrade to version 4.2, even that
    hack no longer works. Having that version myself, I've just tried it, and
    confirm that it doesn't work. Skype seems unperturbed, promising a solution
    with the next upgrade, whenever that may be. Information can be found in
    discussion under the heading-
    "How do I remove the Skype link from phone numbers displayed in my emails?"
    which can be found on the Skype Community Forum, pointed out to us by Mike
    Dorl, at http://forum.skype.com/index.php?showtopic=96959&st=40
    
    The only way I have found to defeat Skype's actions  was suggested in that
    Skype forum. This calls for inserting the following characters into the
    middle of EVERY string of digits that might possibly be taken as a phone
    number, if necessary at more than one point-
    _
    This will not affect the display of the numbers, but the intruding (and
    invisible) underlined-space appears to upset the Skype search-engine. I can
    confirm that (for me) it seems to work. But for anyone putting together a
    website with a lot of numbers, it could call for a lot of effort.
    
    It also brings up some deeper questions. If a third-party can already,
    unasked, instal stuff on your browser that interferes with its display of
    information coming in (such as, say, a bank statement), what else could be
    done by another such intruder, with evil intent? It's a worrying portent.
    
    George.
    
    contact George Huxtable, at  george@hux.me.uk
    or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
    or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.
    
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Michael Dorl" 
    To: 
    Sent: Monday, September 20, 2010 2:07 PM
    Subject: [NavList] skype
    
    
    | The Skype problem George referred to is causing a great deal of problems
    for many people.  A sense of the consternation this is causing can be seen
    here for those interested.
    |
    | http://forum.skype.com/index.php?showtopic=96959&st=40
    |
    | I have been unable to find any way of turning this off for the entire
    site, the only cure seems to be adding some non-visible stuff to the site
    between every separate number on the site.  There supposedly is some markup
    that one can use to turn it off BUT it doesn't work in the current version
    Skype 4.2.  Of course any one user can solve the problem by turning of the
    Skype tool bar.
    |
    
    
    
    
    

       
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