Earlier today, I got an email from my friend Bob Wood in Austin, TX. He’s having a computer problem, as Windows XP fights with an application written in the ‘golden days’ of computing.
I picked up my cellphone and gave him a call. We ran through the typical trouble spots and found nothing.
As we went through a list of programs in msconfig, I looked at the cellphone and saw we were already 20+ minutes into the conversation. Hey – I’m not made of minutes!
I think it was then that Bob mentioned Skype. Skype is a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service.
VOIP isn’t a new concept. In fact, we already use a VOIP service at home as an extra phone with unlimited Connecticut calling.
What makes Skype so different is its excellent integration into your PC. It took under 5 minutes to download, install and activate my Skype account. From that point forward, I was talking to Bob PC-to-PC. In that mode, Skype is free!
There are also ways to use Skype to call an old fashioned phone. That’s what my friend Peter did while traveling through France. Calls from a PC to a telephone cost a few cents a minute – even when calling from Europe.
The voice quality was excellent. There is no noticeable lag. Bob said radio stations could conceivably use Skype for remote broadcasts. I agree.
Where Bob and I disagree is his contention that Skype is a telephone killer. It’s good, but it’s not convenient. You need to be near your computer. It’s not portable.
It’s an adjunct, not a replacement. However, it’s a pretty darn good adjunct.