Summer Renewal 7: Skype

It’s a “long distance” call from my home to my office. When we actually had a land-line phone in our house, we had to pay extra for my wife to call me at work. Unbelievable.

A few nights ago, I participated in a 40 minute conference call with a man from New Hampshire, a woman from Korea, and a guy in British Columbia, Canada. None of us paid anything for the call.

SkypecastSkype makes it possible to have voice conversations with other people on the Internet for free. You download and install the software, sign up for a free account, and connect a microphone to your computer. You can call any other Skype user — anywhere in the world — for free. Talk as long as you want. If you’re willing to pay, you can also call land-line or cell phones and receive calls from these types of phones.

This doesn’t replace your existing telephone or your cell phone. I wouldn’t want to rely on it as my only source for telephone connectivity. But it’s very convenient for quick conversations, and it’s great for conference calls.

Did I mention that it does video? It also has a built-in instant messenger application.

Of course, if you’re the only one you know using Skype, it’s going to be a lonely experience. It’s kind of like Alex Bell sitting there waiting for someone else to get a phone so he could call them. If that’s your problem, let me know and you can call me.

Assignment: Download and install Skype. Sign up for a free account. If you don’t already have one, invest $10 in a headset with a microphone. Use Skype to call someone and talk to them. For extra credit, participate in a Skypecast with a group of people.