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March 3, 2013

Skype: the George Jetson phone arrives

(Continued)

NORMAN —

While you can make voice-only Skype calls using a simple microphone/earphone headset, it’s way more fun to make video phone calls. As such, you’ll need a webcam, preferably one that has a built-in microphone. Alternately, many computers have these items built-in, negating the need to buy anything extra.

If you need to, installing a webcam is fairly straightforward; just put the CD that comes with the webcam in your computer and follow the instructions. Next, go to skype.com and download and install the Skype program. The program will ask you to create a Skype account, and make up a password. Use a strong password; you don’t want anyone hijacking your Skype account. Follow the instructions and setup the program to your liking.

Making Skype calls couldn’t be easier. There is even a “Skype Test Call” function where you can test your connection and setup. Once everything is in place, you’ll need to know the Skype Name, full name or email address of who you want to contact. Click the Add Contact link, enter the required information and Skype will find your contact. Click the button to call, and, if your contact is on line, you’ll be connected. Click the Full Screen button for even more fun.

Don’t expect Hollywood-quality video or audio. After all, it’s not unusual for a video production company to spend $50,000 on a camera and $2,000 on a microphone. Internet dropouts and routing will also affect performance. Still, I think that it’s amazing that we can even make video phone calls in the first place. Skype is super-easy to use and loads of fun; I recommend it.

Dave Moore has been performing computer consulting, repairs, security and networking in Oklahoma since 1984. He also teaches computer safety workshops for public and private organizations. He can be reached at 405-919-9901 or www.davemoorecomputers.com

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