Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Skype It

In preparation for the Poisoned Pen Webcon this October, which I’ve registered for, I needed to put Skype on my computer and figure it out. I know some of you have thought about registering for the conference, but weren’t sure about tackling Skype.

I know exactly how you feel. I’m tired of learning new things! Okay, not tired, just frustrated.

Anyway, here’s my take on Skype. You could do Skype without a camera, I believe. Skype is basically a way to make free calls from one computer to another, so what you really need is a microphone on your computer. However, the plus about Skype, if you’ve watched any Oprah, is that you also can use a camera so you can see who you’re talking to and vice versa.

So, I went to the store and checked out the little cameras. You can get expensive ones or ones not so expensive. You can get ones with built in microphones or you can get a headset type of microphone.

I got a camera with built-in microphone that was not the top of the line, but, then, I don’t expect to use it a lot. Loading the camera on my computer was easy. Stick in the CD, do what it tells me, and I was done. Getting the little camera to balance on my laptop and focus on something besides the ceiling was a bit of a hassle. And since it sits on the top of the open lid of my laptop, I can either look into its little eye and not see the screen and the person I’m talking to, or I can look at the screen to see the caller and that person sees the top of my head. Plus, I think my image resembles a fish with eyes on the side of her head. Or maybe that’s the way I really look. I dunno.

I’m assuming I sound okay to the person I’m talking to. I’ve only made one call.

Let me rephrase that, I’ve made several calls, but they were one right after the other trying to make the connection. The wonderful Jean Henry Mead volunteered to work with me. She’s new to Skype, too, and wanted to test her equipment. So we set up a day and time. And she called me.

I could see her (she’s pretty as a picture, no fisheyes) and hear her. She could neither see me nor hear me. We could, however, text each other. We hung up. I fiddled with my software settings and called her back. If I remember right, this time she could see me, but not hear me, but we could still text. As we “talked” I kept clicking stuff until, finally, we could both see and hear each other.

I will point out here that Jean had hers all set up properly from the beginning. I was the screw-up. I will also point out that I did get it fixed. I think. I’ll need to try a few more times before the conference, for sure.

This is all to say that if you’re thinking of setting up Skype, you can do it. It’s not impossible. And when you’re ready to test it out, you can call me. I’ll fumble around and probably cause you great frustration, but, hey, what are friends for?
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  1. My laptop has a camera built in. Wonder what else I would need to Skype?

  2. I've been Skyping for phone calls/interviews for some time but haven't gotten the camera hookup yet for video conferencing. I'll be staying tuned to your adventures so I can learn from what YOU learn - thanks for blazing the trail for The Old Silly! - lol

  3. Using Skype is simplicity itself. All it takes is a little getting used to.

    Have fun experimenting.

  4. Maybe a microphone, Sylvia? And then download Skype.

    Marvin, if you've been using Skype already, you're the one doing the blazing.

    Thank you Rayna. In addition to the conference, I plan on using Skype and the camera to talk to my daughter who lives on the west Coast. It'll be so fun to get to see her.

  5. Congratulations, Helen. If I were you, I'd be pretty darned proud of myself.

  6. I haven't yet tackled the Skype monster, although I've observed from a distance. Looks pretty nifty and I can't wait to see the conference!

  7. I knew you could do it :-)

    I love skype. I rarely use a camera, but I use it daily for work. I do hook up the camera when the husband is out of town so I acn watch him sleep and/or watch TV instead of talking to me :-/

    You can add me as a contact and if you have any questions (if I am around) I will happily help you out :-)

    ID: rmstrng

  8. Tomara, I just attempted to add you as a contact. That's my first time to do that, so we'll see if I've added you or some random person.

    I assume your husband has a camera on his laptop and he just leaves it on so you can watch him? I don't think mine would do that even if he had a camera! ;-)

  9. Helen, I know just how you feel about learning new things lately. New technology seems to come at us non-stop. I married an engineer so just slip those things his way now. (hmmm...I just realized he is one of the culprits of new technology...)

    I doubt you look like a fish :-)

  10. That's what I need, Lisa, a live-in engineer.

    I sort of do look like a fish. But it may be that I either have to put on glasses when I'm wearing contacts or go with naked eyes to see up close. So, I'm most likely squinting and leaning toward the laptop screen. :-O

  11. One little tip that might help you out, tell it to show your video in a separate window. Then you can drag that window up to the top center of your screen, just under the camera, and you will be making much better "eye contact" with whomever you are talking to.

    OK, I lied. A second tip, dealing with etiquette. If you are talking to someone on Skype, turn off the TV. Yes, people can tell that you really aren't paying attention.

  12. As one who tries to avoid learning new technology, I haven’t done the Skype thing yet, but I’m anxious to hear how the conference goes. I may have to reconsider my stance- sigh.

  13. You definitely don't look like a fish, Helen. A lovely mermaid is more like it. It was fun communicating with you on Skype and I appreciate your hanging in there until we got the bugs worked out. The picture quality isn't the greatest but at least we know we can now take part in the PPWebCon, which I really look forward to.

    I was fortunate to have my husband on hand to set the system up for me. Kudos to you for setting it up yourself!

  14. Great job, Helen!

    I'm not wild about doing webcasts, so I'm steering clear until someone tells me I have to do one!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  15. Gah, more new technology. My son has it on the computer but we don't have a camera. I haven't tried it. Haven't needed it so far.

  16. Congrats on clearing the Skype hurdle with room to spare! I'm sure I'll climb on the bandwagon at some point as my laptop has a camera built in, but haven't felt an overwhelming need as yet. I can certainly understand the draw, however. Free phone calls? Nothing wrong with that in these days of ever-increasing expenses! Free is good.


  17. I totally need to get Skype. Then I can do Skyped school visits!

  18. It sometimes takes me and my Mum a few tries to get the picture working at both ends. But it's worth it. Mum's over eighty and lives in England. When it's broken we have conversations (we can still hear each other) like "If you look at the line underneath the one that says file, then click on the word that says... and see what happens..." Debuggable across the Atlantic. Cool stuff.

  19. I tried using a similar system when my daughter was in Hawaii. She got me the camera, etc. and talked me through loading whatever software we used to communicate. It wasn't Skype, but I don't remember what it was.

    I am such a slow learner when it comes to new technology, that by the time I got comfortable using the camera to do video calls, her tour of duty was up. And now, I don't even remember how we did it all.

  20. I've never used Skype. I had a web camera once that automatically connected me using MSN, so I used that. But I've heard good things about Skype.

  21. Jon, luckily I don't have a TV in my office. I did turn down the overhead light. It seemed to be glaring.

    What an excellent idea, Christina!

    That made me laugh, Maryann. I'm just hoping I'll find enough reasons to use Skype that it'll be easy after awhile. I think I will, since my daughter has it. And I'm, for sure, hoping it'll make the conference worthwhile.

  22. Haven't needed the Skype - yet!

    Of course, I still don't text message either.

    L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”

  23. I do a little texting. Not a lot. But I know how.

  24. I was totally not interested in Skype until our granddaughter was born. Now I think it's the best invention ever. We use my husband's laptop for now, but I'm thinking of putting it back on my little Toshiba because it has a built-in camera. If I ever get the job done, Helen, I'll let you know.

  25. I have a webcam. I looked so gross on it I decided never to use it again.

    Don't know if I want to use the camera part of Skype, but it does seem to be catching on. Let us all know how you do.

    Morgan Mandel

  26. So far, I'm sort of getting the hang of it, Morgan. I made my third Skype camera call today. I couldn't see the person I was talking to, but I think their camera was turned off.

  27. I'm registered for the Poisoned Pen WebCon too, but your post makes me think I may not get around to the Skype part of it. For others' information, you can also participate by less new-fangled means, such as writing text contributions.

    I'm hoping it'll be worth it just for the exposure - they're supposed to post authors' links, bios, etc. But they haven't done so yet, so they may be a bit overwhelmed themselves! Also, they identified me as Julia rather than Julie in the list of attendees.

    Julie Lomoe's Musings Mysterioso


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