Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Grease was the “Word” – Now the Word is Skype® & IT’S FREE!

In 1978 we all wanted to be cool like Sandy & Danny – Grease WAS the word.
At the end of the Noughties, Skype® is the word!

With Christmas less than a few days away, Skype® will be working overtime allowing people to connect with friends and relatives across the country and the world to call each other for FREE!

What is Skype®?
It’s a FREE piece of software that when downloaded to your computer allows you to voice and video call ANY computer in the world running Skype® for $0.  No more massive phone bills when family and friends are overseas, with Skype® you can call them and talk for as long as you like.  All you need is a computer with a headset and microphone [pick one up for around $40 at many office supplies or department stores] and an internet connection.

So How Does it Work?
Skype® uses VoIP [Voice over Internet Protocol – this is the computer “language” it uses] to process your voice and transmit it over the internet.  Unlike standard landline or mobile calls, Skype® utilises the internet, so there are no call costs.  Simply download the software from www.skype.com plug in your headset and microphone, test it with Skype® and you can be calling AND SEEING your friends and family on their computer around the corner or around the world.

Can I call a mobile or landline in another country?
Buying Skype® credits – generally in US$ enables you to call any landline or mobile number in the world.  When in the US recently, from the comfort of my hotel room, I made a calls to Australia for just US$0.02 per minute, if the people I wanted to call were on Skype® I could call them Skype® to Skype® for FREE.  I didn’t have to purchase a phone card that I may never use again, nor did I have to find a working pay phone from which to make my call. 

So what’s the catch?
There really aren’t any “catches” just a few points to note.  The quality of your calls, voice delay or slow video update may be unpredictable depending on internet traffic and the speed of your internet connection.  For most users, this is fine as you can always hang up your call and dial again hopefully getting a better line - just like you would with a  crossed telephone line. 

By default when you download Skype® it sets up to start automatically when you start your computer.  I recommend switching feature off and then when you want to use Skype® simply open it the same way you would any other program.

NOTE: Switch it off by going to Skype® -> Tools -> Options -> Advanced -> and untick "Start Skype® when I start Windows®". 

I’ve got Skype® on my mobile phone, can I use it to make free calls to other Skype® users?
If you have Skype® on your mobile phone BE AWARE that the ONLY time you will be able to make free Skype® to Skype® calls is when you are connected to the internet. 

This means your mobile is picking up internet access from your home/office computer network or you are in a free WiFi zone such as McDonalds, some shopping centre food courts or some airport lounges. 

If you are connected to the internet via your mobile and you see 3G displaying, it means you are connected to the internet VIA YOUR MOBILE and cost associated with that is being charged [or may be part of] your mobile phone bill. 

If it has a symbol looks like a wave, it means you are wirelessly connected and if you are in a free WiFi hotspot like McDonalds etc, you can call Skype® to Skype® at no cost.  If you aren’t sure how to wirelessly connect your mobile or where to find the symbol, chat with your mobile phone company or ask a teenager……after all, they know EVERYTHING [insert a cheeky grin here]!

I know on every trip I make in Australia and overseas, my laptop with it’s built in camera and my headset are the first things packed in my hand luggage.  As a wife, mother, daughter and friend, I want to make sure I can always connect and share my travels with everyone back home.

Hope you and your family have a safe and happy Christmas period

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