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Thread: Skype

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    23

    Default Skype

    Hi All,

    When it comes to anything IT ish I have to admit to being a real numpty. I have heard about Skype and that you can use a webcam to view relatives in UK if they obviously have one. Is this true or am I completely on another planet? Could you do this with other providers? Is Skype part of Sky? I am unable to access their website as my company IT system blocks it!!

    Basically, I would like my children to be able to now and again see their Grandparents whilst communicating with them as they won't be seeing them for nearly 18 months if our NZ move goes to plan - any help would be greatly appreciated.


    Many Thanks,

    Craig

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    That works with Skype. It also works with Windows Live Messenger, and AIM (which can be downloaded free even if you're nothing to do with AOL). All of those work, from my personal knowledge, and it's wonderful. So - yes, really worth your while finding out how to work it.

    (This is Granny in England talking, and my son tells us that the children spontaneously say they want us 'on', and he has to get over the concept of us being in bed in the middle of their day! Since they were aware at all, they've been bringing things to the computer to show us, and singing what they've learnt at music group, etc. And when grandson was only just walking, they turned the webcam round so it pointed out of the door, and we were able to 'be there' for his first splosh through puddles in new tiny wellingtons.)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Australia
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    357

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    Skype is the largest, best known, but only one of several VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) providers. At it's most basic, you can download from their website, for free, an application which allows to talk with someone else on another computer that also has the same application - all at zero cost, anywhere in the world (nearly, but I'll come to that later).

    As the products have become more sophisticated, video has been introduced. As you say, now you can have a video conference with someone running the same application as yourself (for instance Skype). Typically a webcam is as low as 5 in the UK. The person on the other will of course also need one if you want 2-way video. You can use the inbuilt microphone and speakers on your computer but that is less than ideal. Most get a simple headset, though you can get a plug in phone that you just put into the USB port on your computer.

    What this all takes is bandwidth. If you're on dial-up don't even bother. Even ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) which is what most domestic broadband customers are on in the UK it can be difficult (you'll find you can hear but they can't hear you because of the low upload speeds).

    Depending on the provider you chose, you can pay to have your own phone number (some provide them for free) so that people on land lines or mobiles can phone that number and it will come across on your VoIP application (as long as your computer and your application of course are up and running!!). You can also set up an account and phone land lines or mobiles - this can be far cheaper than conventional phones, especially when dialing abroad, typically you'll be phoning them at a local rate (eg 2p a minute to the UK).

    When it's working it's fantastic - can be clearer than a conventional phone line - when it's not its pants. Some countries also block it such as Dubai.

    There's lots of information out there on the net - google VoIP for more info. A list of NZ VoIP providers is here - http://voipusers.org.nz/wiki/NZ_VoIP_Providers

    As a private consumer only accept something that's free - Skype maybe the best for you.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2008
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    Rangiora, North Canterbury
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    ... can highly recommend Skype, we used it whilst living in France last year and is great for communicating with friends and relatives free of charge

  5. #5
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    Feb 2008
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    Croft, thanks very much for all the detailed information.

  6. #6
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    Oct 2007
    Location
    Auckland
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    It's pretty easy to set up - in fact I used it to talk to my future employer in Auckland. Not as good as face-to-face, but still pretty good. Quality of both audio and video is pretty good, provided you have decent bandwidth.

    I've tried a few of the various options, and Skype does seem to be the best of the mainstream options. It's also a great way of generally keeping in touch with people, since it shows when they're online, and allows you to textually 'chat' with them, so does tend to have the effect of keeping people more available to you (time-zone differences notwithstanding).

    Plus it's free! Well apart from the hardware and the internet account, of course

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Wow - thanks very much to everyone, particularly Croft who I think must be the direct opposite to a 'Numpty'!! Have to say though that I still only understand half of what was said but get the general gist.

    Thank you also 'Granny' - that is exactly why we want to get something sorted as we feel guilty enough dragging the children away from their Grandparents and hope that this might make it that bit easier for them all.

    Thanks again

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    U.K -Red Beach, Auckland
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    I am also a Numpty when it comes to computer and IT, however once my Mum who livs in France gave me the details of Skype I managed to download it and install a webcam without any problems.

    K x

  9. #9
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    Nov 2006
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    Hastings, Hawkes Bay, NZ
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    Highly recommend Skype!

    It has solved a lot of issues and heartbreak in this house!

    I talk to my dad twice a week on it, with webcam. We use it to phone other family members just as a phone and its so much cheaper, you are talking peanuts really.

    Mostly, it has eased the heartache caused between us and parents in law. They were dead against our mover, and it was bitter!! They wer stubborn for best part of 8mths, we left them with a computer that sat in the corner of their room for all that time untouched.

    Suddenly, christmas time, they both had the urge (more a reality i think!) that the only way they would see our son and us was to 'pull their finger out' and get it sorted (pls dont think i am blunt!).

    They did this, got it sorted and now talk to us 2/3 times a week, see their grandson and are so much happier.

    It has turned things around for us bigtime!

    Sharon
    x

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    UK>Welly>Boonies>where next?
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    3,756

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    Quote Originally Posted by JandM View Post
    And when grandson was only just walking, they turned the webcam round so it pointed out of the door, and we were able to 'be there' for his first splosh through puddles in new tiny wellingtons.)
    That brought a lump to my throat, how nice that you could share that.

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