Calling all techies

What is SKYPE?  Do I need it?

I know, Use Teh Googles.  I did.  The website says something about cheaper cell phone calls, which is something I’d definitely be into since I no longer use a land line.

I’d like to see some firsthand experience:  how has Skype enriched your life?  Thanks in advance.

12 Responses to “Calling all techies”

  1. 1 Scott Tribe Monday, October 5, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Well.. you can call anyone anywhere in the world for free if they also have Skype… video calls can also be made if you have a webcam (though that’s optional).

    Calls can also be made from Skype to landlines and cellphones for competitive rates apparently; you might ask Danielle Takacs of “Galloping Around the Golden Horseshoe” blog about that, since she’s on a Skype plan (voicemail also available with Skype).

    I just use the Skype to Skype feature (though I can call toll-free numbers also for free).. but I love it.

    One caveat.. it needs highspeed internet to run – the higher the highspeed, the better the transmission.

  2. 2 QrazyQat Monday, October 5, 2009 at 10:58 am

    We’ve been using Skype for some time now. Works fine for us, with one problem — they have a SkypeIn option, which allows anyone with a regular phone to call you. This isn’t available in Canada, and Skype has promised it for several years now (“coming next quarter”) and their explanations of why they haven’t done it don’t match the facts. They are not responsive to requests for help or info.

    That’s the bad news; the good news is you almost certainly won’t need much help of info. The service works nicely. We call from anywhere and pay what we’d pay calling from here. For instance from here long distance to my mom’s it’s 2 cents a minute, so from Thailand to my mom’s it’s also 2 cents a minute. Now if I’m in Thailand and call a landline in Thailand I pay the higher payment… so it’s like 3-5 cents a minute. It’s great for when you’re on hold. 🙂 So cheap you don’t care about the money end of things.

    You can either use a mic and your speakers, a headset, or you can get a pack for a regular phone that fits into a USB port and has a RJ11 port for your phone; you can also buy a phone for use with Skype from Skype. We just use a USB headset/mic combo. Sound quality has usually fine with no problems. (I recently did an interview with a Skeptics podcast using Skype.) We’ve sometimes had disconnects but here that’s rare; I did have problems with that at a wonky connection last winter in Bali.

    Bottom line: it’s cheap and it works pretty darned well, with the caveats mentioned above.

  3. 3 Mark from Slap Monday, October 5, 2009 at 10:59 am

    One thing to consider is that Skype uses a peer-to-peer network protocol. That is, your computer’s resources will be used to route and transmit other people’s phone calls. I don’t think there’s a privacy concern here, since all packets are encrypted, but if you have bandwidth caps and limited resources this could be a major issue. (Basically, your processing power and network performance will decrease. Whether or not it’s noticeable depends on your computer habits.)

    Also, I say there’s probably no privacy concern because that’s my general hunch, but it’s worth pointing out that the Skype agreement is extremely vague about what they’re allowed to do with your computer resources, and their proprietary, encrypted data format means that there is no way to verify what they’re actually doing. So, like all things, just be aware to what you might be agreeing to in that long license agreement that everyone skips past during installation. 😉

  4. 4 J. A. Baker Monday, October 5, 2009 at 11:36 am

    I’ve mostly used Skype to instant message my dad from across the living room.

    I know. My mom always rolls her eyes when we do it.

  5. 5 SM Monday, October 5, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    It’s great. I use it instead of a long distance calling plan because 99% of the people far away from me are also Skypers. Great for my brother Australia, I use it for some business calls because its so easy to conference with. My kids and their dad use it all the time, great for the video aspect to keep in touch.

  6. 6 West End Bob Monday, October 5, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    We’ve been Skypers for about 4 years now. It’s GREAT and the call quality is extremely good. We’re on a plan that costs about $36/year and it gives us the ability to make unlimited calls to landlines/cell phones in the US and Canada. Wish there was a SkypeIn option in Canada for a number. Still waiting for that, unfortunately.

    Can’t beat the cost, and the video feature – although we don’t used it much – works well for friends of ours who use it frequently.

  7. 7 Reality Bites Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 4:00 am

    JJ, if you choose not to use Skype, there are other low-cost options for long distance using a cell phone. Typically they involve calling a local access number. The one I use ( charges 3.5 cents a minute for calls to Canada & the U.S, and about 5 cents to European land lines (mobiles are considerably more). I beleve there are other companies offering similar or lower rates – my long distance use is so minimal that I haven’t bothered to check, as I’ve only rarely hit a dollar in a month.

  8. 8 pedgehog Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 9:35 am

    My experience with it is that it is pretty awesome when someone living far away also has Skype, because then you can Skype them for free instead of calling. It is also very good for conference calls. And it’s free to download, so I suggest you just get it and try it out – nothing to lose! 🙂

  9. 9 ellroon Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I talk to my son in Austria on Skype, computer to computer, video camera and all, for free.

    He pays the very small sum a year to call from computer to landline or vice versa, something around $30 a year I think he said. It’s fantastic.

    I have no complaints.

  10. 10 JJ Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I think I will try this thing… I know a few people who have it, so it might be worth at least checking out.

    Thanks again!

  11. 11 Gen. JC Christian, patriot Friday, October 16, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Love it. I pay $25 or so a year and can call any number in North America. Use it daily. computer to computer is free anywhere.

  12. 12 JJ Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 7:54 am

    General Sir: I just installed it and it looks interesting! Now I just have to figure out how to use it…

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