Skype

Have you heard of Skype? If you’ve been around me lately you probably have. I’ve become a big fan of skype. They call it on their website: Skype – Free Internet telephony that just works. And it’s true! I’ve been on it about a month now and I’m hooked…I just don’t have a lot of friends on it yet…or the ones that are on it don’t have a microphone!

Skype uses a technology called VoIP (voice over internet protocol, or just voice over IP). Here’s the rundown:

  • It’s free.
  • It works like an instant messenger. In fact it is an instant messenger. You have a buddy list and all and you can text chat with other skype users (just like MSN or AIM). But what is cool about it is you can also do audio chat. It’s very clear and encrypted (if you care about that…if not, never mind).
  • What separates skype from other IM programs is that you can also call phones and not just skype people. The rates are very cheap and you can find it on the website. You can call anyone in the US for $0.02/min and International calls are cheap. But skype to skype calls are free.

The downside is that you have to be at your computer and logged into skype…but that’s no different than using other IM programs. Some friends have commented “No one calls me and I can talk for free after 9 on my cell” or “I have iChat so I’m fine.” Well, I can’t talk on iChat and I don’t want to usually talk after 9! Ha! Admittedly, sometimes the calls sound a bit “digitized”, but it’s no worse than cell reception sometimes!

You really should have broadband, but I don’t think you have to. You’ll also need to make sure you have a microphone and speakers. I bought a headset that has a boom mic on it for $25. They have them cheaper. Go to Best Buy or other places like that. Or you can get a mic that stands on your desk for $10.50 at Best Buy. However you might have them built into your computer, but there won’t be any privacy (like speakerphone).

It’s really cool, clear, and free.

Here’s some cool stories about some of my friends and I using skype:

  • In one night I talked to a friend in Budapest and a friend in Singapore. They are both on skype so it was free. I’ve also talked to a friend in Canada a couple of times for free.
  • A co-worker who uses it was in Korea and he called his wife in Orlando for $0.02/min because he had broadband in the hotel.
  • You can conference call up to 5 people I think. I haven’t done it yet, but plan to for planning a conference in Budapest because we are all on it.
  • My friend in Singapore had his office distribute headsets to all their staff throughout the country so they could talk and save money.

It’s pretty cool. You should check it out also.

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  • Dude, post your ID.

  • The Orlando-Budapest conference call went very well, considering it was free. Tom got dropped a couple times, and his signal kept getting garbled. But it was free, and it worked.

    In the distant past I’ve tried NetMeeting to accomplish the same thing, but in the end it didn’t really work.

  • Jeff

    Our family talked to friends in France for two hours on Saturday, skype to skype. It was awesome. This is a great way for our kids to keep connected to their friends without causing a financial burden through expensivie international calls. It doesn’t tie up the phone line and I was able to work on the computer while my kids talked on skype . . . too cool.

  • Anonymous