Tech Mami: The Skype's The Limit

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I almost lost my eyesight recently. I'm really not even sure how I didn't.  Probably because I prayed a lot. Last weekend papi called me using Skype.  But he couldn't get his video camera working. And try as I might, I could not get him to click on the damn icon for the camera.  How do you tell someone that doesn't know what an icon is to click on it? You don't. You merely sit there and try hard not to poke your eyes out with the sharp pencils you are trying hard not to break in the palm of your hand. The good news: I realized I needed to do a post about Skype so, while I almost poked my own right eye with my bookworm pencil, you win by getting this post.

Let's start with the basics.

What is Skype?

My first instinct is to tell you to just not even bother with it but, I'm growing into a more tolerant person these days (it's the praying, I tell ya). So here is the non-sarcastic response (directly from wikipedia): Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free, while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones can be made for a fee using a debit-based user account system.

You also get to use Skype as an instant messenger and can incorporate several people into one chat. Why does this matter? Say you have siblings and you are not all in the same city/country/planet. You can set up a group chat where you can all type in questions/comments/concerns/jokes/grievances and everyone else can be informed. Ditto for your girlfriends, tribes and old schoolmates.  It's private and if you need to, you can always do a conference/video call.  There are charges for doing that, though but I won't bore you with the details of prices but here's the link to find out more.

How do I use Skype?

Simply put? You can set yourself up with a user name and password, download the program and voila! You're in!  You can do searches to find people (first and last name OR if you know their Skype user name, you can use that). You then send them a request to connect with you.  This will add them to your contacts list within Skype and you'll be able to see when they're online so that you can chat with them.  With the new version (5.0) you can even link your FB account with it (but if you don't know what you're doing, let's just keep that separate).

When you are on a call, you have the option of having the video off. If you simply hover in the Skype window where the call is taking place, you'll see your options: video, full screen, mute, etc. This is what I couldn't get my dad to see.  As you may or may not know, in order to make the video experience better, those controls go away so that all you see is the person on the other side.  This is a hinderance when I try to get something working on dad's computer.  Which reminds me, when I see his laptop again, I'm totally going to enable remote access.

Why should I use Skype?

If you are interested in IM that can turn into a phone call that can turn into a video chat, then this is what I recommend. I can (painstakingly) chat with my dad and he can see the frog princess and interact with her via video.  I can also do screen shares with Lynne over at Visual Serendipity when we are working on a project (which is nice and means we don't have to keep emailing images to one another thereby minimizing email clutter).  And I can chat with my tribes or ask a question or answer a question and always feel connected with them.

You can use Skype on Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone and iPad! I'm sure this sucks up some of the battery from your portable devices.  So, how about you get a brand new Zagg Portable Charger?! You will have to thank our friends over at Radio Shack.  Again, they think about you (a lot).

This time around you can get more entries! Check out the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck!

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Must be a US Resident 18 and over to participate. No purchase necessary to win. Giveaway closes 5/18/12.