Skype – talk for free around the world

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You may have heard the name “Skype” before. If you have a high-speed internet connection, it is something you might find very interesting and useful.

Skype is a free program that allows you to use your computer to communicate in several different ways.

You can use Skype to talk, for free, with anyone else that uses Skype – anywhere in the world. That means you can use audio (with your computer’s microphone and speakers), video (using an inexpensive webcam), and text chat in the Skype window. A friend of mine has a son in Iraq, and they use Skype to talk for free from one side of the world to the other.

What about your friends or relatives that don’t have Skype installed (or maybe they don’t have a high-speed connection so cannot use it for speech communication). You can get a “Skype-out” account and call any landline or cell phone number anywhere in the US – for $2.95 per month. That gives you unlimited minutes for outbound calling.

If you want to use Skype for inbound calls as well, you can get a Skype online number. If you have the outbound calling, you can add a “Skype-in” number for $4 per month.

So essentially it is like adding another phone line with unlimited inbound and outbound calling for $6.95 per month. Some other features:

– Full voice mail capability, just like on your cell phone
– Conference calling is really easy – you can have up to 24 people participating in your call
– You can send a text message from Skype to a cell phone
– You can have calls forwarded from your Skype number to another phone or your cell phone for when you are away from your computer (if you have one of the subscriptions mentioned above, the call forwarding is included free. Otherwise you would need to buy Skype credits – it works out to about 2 cents a minute in the US)

With a cordless phone you can be on Skype 24/7, and talk wherever you like – in the kitchen, by the sofa, in the bedroom, and with additional handsets you can always have one nearby. Cordless phones are really straightforward, so you don’t need to be a techno-wizz to use them. Dialing phone numbers works just like on a regular phone, except you get to choose whether to use your landline or Skype to route the call. Unlike a regular phone you can also see if your friends and family are online on Skype, and talk to them for free if they are.

I have found it to be much easier to use Skype on my computer by using a headset with a microphone. Skype actually has these available for sale on their website (along with cordless phones and other accessories). Using the headset frees up my hands to use my computer while using the phone – especially handy when I am working on someone’s computer remotely, while talking to him or her at the same time.

You can get more details, and download Skype, at

This week’s video shows some pretty funny women drivers. I know, not all bad drivers are women (so don’t send me any complaint emails πŸ™‚ but the ones in this video are pretty bad. And funny.

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March 2nd, 2009

You get a better deal with Magic Jack.

Scott Johnson
March 2nd, 2009

That depends on how you use it. If you have Skype and communicate with someone else that has Skype, there is no cost whatsoever. If you have Magic Jack, it doesn’t matter with whom you communicate – you still pay $39.95 up front (after a free trial). And Magic Jack does not include any chat or video features.