You may have heard of Skype already—
Is that the thing where you can call people with your computer?
Yeah, that’s the one! Skype is a service that allows you to use the internet to make phone calls.
Is it free?
Sorta. The basic service, calling computer to computer, is free. The more advanced services, like using Skype from your phone or TV, or making group calls, are gonna cost ya.
But what’s the deal? How does a computer call another computer?
Excellent question. The video below may provide the answers you’re looking for.
So you just use it for calls? That’s it?
You can use Skype just about any way you can use a phone. But better. For example:
Michael has been interviewing at local jobs, but he’s also applied for jobs in places as far away as Alaska. Instead of spending time and money travelling to other states, he’s been doing a lot of phone interviews. And in a couple of cases, Skype interviews! Some companies are trying out Skype as a way to do a better interview for out-of-state candidates while saving money at the same time. (If you’re wondering, both of his Skype interviews went very well; he’s hoping to hear back from the companies next week.)
Erin works with vendors and suppliers all over the world. She spends a lot of her time on her email trying to coordinate all the details for all of her projects, big and small. Waiting for emails to go back and forth can be time-consuming and sometimes confusing. Conference calls are ok, but it can be hard to manage meetings when no one can see who’s talking. Skype is the answer: with video conferencing, even large groups of people can easily talk out problems in an hour or two that might take days over email. Sweet.
When Sean spent the summer before his junior year travelling through Asia, he wanted to keep the doctor he had back home. Sean was able to have live appointments, get updates on his health, and even have prescriptions sent to him where he was. Whoa. And while he was abroad, he met a lot of really interesting people, and now he wants to stay in touch. Fortunately, Skype is again the answer to his problems. It’s easy to stay connected for pennies a minutes. It’s like living in the future, except with no flying cars or Smell-O-Vision. Yet.
So what’s the deal with Skype anyway?
What you’re about to click on is a link to a Prezi presentation. What’s a Prezi? It’s a presentation tool that allows you to follow the text as it moves, turns, and zooms. If you haven’t used it before, here’s what you do:
- Click on the Play button (in the box below) to start it.
- Once the Prezi is loaded, click again on the “Play” button each time you want to move forward through the slides.
- When you get to the end and the Play button disappears, scroll down to the “Discovery Exercise” below the Prezi to get back to the class. That’s it! No, really that’s all there is to it. Enjoy.
Not working for you? Here are some Prezi alternatives:
I Want to Try!
To get an overview of how to get started with Skype, try this video:
But if you’ve tried the other Baker’s Dozen projects, this will probably be a pretty familiar process:
- Go to skype.com. Click on the “Join Skype” button in the upper right.
- Don’t panic! Skype has probably started its download automatically. If not, it will.
- Follow the directions on the screen to download Skype for your machine.
- You’ll need to create a user name and password. Make it something you can remember—or at the very least write it down someplace.
- In order to register, you’ll need to provide a valid email address.
Why? That’s irritating.
Well, if you ever forget your user name or password, that’s the only way to get back into your account.
Oh. I guess that’s ok, then. Go ahead.
We’re almost done anyway.
- So you’ll need to provide an email address, but what you don’t have to do is agree to get lots of emails from Skype. Want the emails at a minimum? Be sure to uncheck the box that says “Yes, send me Skype news and special offers.”
- Once your account is ready, follow the instructions on the screen to make a test call to make sure everything is working right.
Ok, I think it’s working. So what now?
Now try calling someone! A major drawback of any communications device is that it’s not much good for just one person. So Skype someone. Ask around among your friends and family to find out who is already using Skype. You can also search in Skype itself by phone number, or you can search online to get a number and put that number in Skype directly.
What if nobody I know is using Skype?
This is a perfect chance to teach someone! Show off your amazing new knowledge and get someone you know on Skype, too. Then get chatting!
Skype isn’t the only game in town. If you tried Thing #5, Gmail, or Thing #6, iGoogle, or you have one of those accounts already, you can use Google Talk for voice or video chatting. Google Talk doesn’t have quite as many bells and whistles as Skype, but it is free and already integrated with Gmail, which is a big plus for some people. If you want to use Google Talk, first you’ll need a Gmail account, and then you’ll need to install the chat software.
Google+, another Google product, also integrates Google Talk, and Google Talk works the same way here as it does in Gmail or iGoogle. Google+ was just released, and as of this writing you need an invitation from a friend in order to join. But Google+ is Google’s answer to Facebook, meaning you can keep in touch with friends, share photos, chat (voice, video, or text), and find new connections, all while having immediate access to the Google line of services. Google+ is a little more than we can into in depth here, but it’s worth checking out.
Next week: online image editors! For those of you who loved our Flickr class, this will be right up your alley. But whether you’re a shutterbug or not, come on back and talk some tech with us. We look forward to it!