What is Skype?
And why would I want to use it?
First: Skype is FREE. You heard me. It's a video phone call using your laptop's web cam. If you don't have a web cam you can still make free voice only calls. But believe me it rocks to talk to friends and family using a video feed!
Soon after my two daughters had their holiday piano recital.
This brag-occasion I was determined to help my parents figure out how to use Skype. Instead of listening to the piano music and not being able to SEE the girls play their songs... I wanted everyone to be able to use Skype's video feature to see and HEAR the show!
Easy as 1.2. Skype!
I spent about 10 minutes total talking my dad through the sign up process, downloading and installing the software onto his laptop. The only real confusing part is right at the beginning of the first time you open the program you do need to run the sound test and microphone check. If your computer already has a web cam that's usually all there is to it.
Create your account and then 'find' other people in the Skype directory. You have to 'add' them to your contacts list, but once you do that (and they accept from their side) you are up and running!
Simply click the person's name from your contacts and then click either Call or Call with Video. The other person's computer has to be on and Skype open, and then it sounds like a phone call is coming through! Answer the call with video and DUDE! You are Skyping!
- We shared the girls' piano music and my sister's little boy showed us how to fold his super duper fabulous paper airplane... try doing that over the phone!
- I still wanted to get my mom's computer up and running, but she didn't have a web cam on her older laptop. There are $20 Buddy Web Cams (with earphones and microphones) avaliable directly from the Skype.com website. She reported back to me that it was terribly easy to set it up on her computer. She plugged in the USB cord and voilá! Her slightly older computer was Skypable!!
- A perfect opportunity to use Skype was on Christmas morning, opening the grandparent gifts while utilizing a Skype video chat. How cool is that?! We live nearly 12 hours away so it was precious for us to be able to share those things real time, real video speed! Plus several of my siblings were at my parent's house and we were able to chat with them and see what the guy in the big red suit brought to all the various grandkids! LOVE THAT!
Other Features of Skype I Particularly Love:
1) Text Chatting: it's basically live, real time You can treat it more like email though and answer as needed, leaving the chat 'window' open as long as needed. Plus as many as 24 people can be 'added' to the chat creating a group chat when needed. Conveniently these chats are 'recorded' so you can see a history of a session to remind yourself of notes, and action items. Hyper links work as well so you can share links and click back and forth as needed.
2) Share Desktop: I totally just feature out! Wow this really amazed me. You basically right click and choose share desktop, effectively turning off your web cam, and the person on the other end of the call call now see your computer screen nearly real time.
Reasons to Use Share Desktop:
- My mom needs help figuring out a few features on Microsoft Word, now I can turn on Skype, click Share Desktop, and then show her how I solve the Word processing problem, while she watches and can still hear me talking and explaining.
- Next I open my family album photo viewer and I slowly scroll through the last few months of photos of the grandkids and vacations while explaining it to her! (So much better than emailing a few pics to her eh?) And believe me what grandma isn't going to LOVE that??
- Plus my sister is getting ahead of me with her mad skillz on Photoshop, I'm dying to see some of her new tips and tricks after a class she took, and now she can show me live while describing it to me... we used to spend time on the phone talking Photoshop, and it was hard to duplicate was she was telling me.
No computer needed...
There is a new stand-alone video phone called ASUS. Skip the computer, skip the fuss, if you think it might be too much for your parents.... I promise they can do this! $200 on Amazon.
Thanks to Skype I get to 'Test Drive' the ASUS Videophone touch next week... I'll let you know if it's really as easy as they say it is!