Offering a number of welcome improvements, the Microsoft-owned Skype video and audio telephony client has been updated to version 18.104.22.168 for Mac OS X. At the top of the list is the addition of automatic software updates, which should both alleviate the need to check for updates manually and fix the less-than-reliable Check for Updates menu item. The release also adds a “dynamic mode” to the group calling user interface, which moves the currently talking participant to the top of the screen. This should play nicely with another addition — support for full screen mode in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. The update also enables you to delete messages from a conversation as well as your history, plus disable automatic adjustment of the microphone setting to help reduce background noise. While these additions should make for a more-pleasant Skype experience, The Verge points out that the Mac release still lags behind Skype 5.8 for Windows in some features, including push-to-talk shortcuts and 1080p video calls. If Skype’s auto-update feature doesn’t see the new release (which, again, should be fixed by this update), you can download it from the company’s blog. (Free, 22.7 MB)
Improve Apple Services with AirPort Base Stations
You can make iChat file transfers, iDisk, and Back to My Mac work better by turning on a setting with Apple AirPort base stations released starting in 2003. Launch AirPort Utility, select your base station, click Manual Setup, choose the Internet view, and click the NAT tab. Check the Enable NAT Port Mapping Protocol (NAT-PMP) box, and click Update. NAT-PMP lets your Mac OS X computer give Apple information to connect back into a network that's otherwise unreachable from the rest of the Internet. This speeds updates and makes connections work better for services run by Apple.
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