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August 2011-Internet Telephony

Members Jan Fagerholm and Sally Holt presented internet telephony.

Starting with Skype, Jan connected to the internet. One has the option of leaving it on or starting it manually. By default, it loads when Windows starts. Sally called Jan, using her Skype contact list. Jan chose to answer using a Video Call, rather than an old-fashioned voice-only call. They looked at pictures of each other on their computers and dealt with the feedback from having their laptops too close together. Jan pointed out the quality of the video, which has improved in recent months. Both quality and response vary with the demands being made on Skype servers as well as the resolution of your webcam.

Member Paul Rogers talked about a call he had with his sister and her grandchildren in Australia. He was very happy with the live interaction with his sister whom he rarely sees.

Member Bud Gallagher talked about a story his wife read to their grandchild as the child held the book up to the webcam for her. He was able to record the whole interaction.

There are both free and paid versions of Skype. With the free version you can only call Skype to Skype and you cannot conduct conference calls. Overseas calls on Skype are a fraction of the cost on AT&T and other landline carriers.

Don Odle asked about Google +. David pointed out Preng gives you 8 connections for free. Both it and Oovoo can call a wide variety of devices.

Sally explained how she joined Skype. Jan demonstrated several ways of adding someone to your contact list, both people who have a Skype and those who don’t yet.

The Google Phone service is tied to a Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, you can get in through Google Voice (start at More and then go to Even More in the Google apps). Missed calls are copied to e-mail, with the option of playing back the voice message for clarity. Calls to the US and Canada, including landlines, are free.


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