Thursday, August 27, 2009

Commute in your Underwear

Now that schools are in full swing, many of us now have little darlings and loved ones scattered from here to Auburn or perhaps Iraq and Afghanistan. Today’s awe inspiring article deals with how to stay connected to those loved ones using a webcam. Imagine watching a movie with your spouse while separated by 8000 miles. How cool is that? The best part is that, other than the 30 bucks for a web camera, all this is free!

The importance of this kind of technology may come in handy soon if the panic coming from the news media has any truth to it at all. That little piggy flu may require than some of us work or learn from home. Having this kind of technology can almost put you in the office (or class) without even getting out of your underwear!

After acquiring a camera one of my technicians, Nick Michael, and I took a test ride with a few different video chat programs. All of the programs we tested were fairly easy to set up for average users. Those of you who struggle to remember where the power button is may have to hire someone like me to set this up for you. By the way, my company will provide free set-up for anyone in the military. Have your people call my people and I’ll fix you up.

To get started, you will need each of the following: 1.: A free instant messenger account with Yahoo, AIM or Microsoft Messenger or download Skype from 2.: A webcam with a built-in microphone (about 30 bucks from Office Depot). Please note that that both parties will need to use the same messaging software but not necessarily the same camera. AIM will not talk to Yahoo who will not talk to Gmail who won’t talk to Skype. Because I am only given about 500 words, we will stick with Skype for this article but the others have similar installation instructions.

Once each user has downloaded and installed Skype, you’ll be asked to create a free account by specifying a unique identifier (mine is “Jimexcelcs”) and an email address. The software will automatically detect your camera. After that, chatting with your friends and family (who also use Skype) is as easy as searching for their unique identifier and clicking “video call.”

Calling from computer to computer is always free but Skype stands apart from the other instant messaging programs in that it also allows you to make inexpensive calls to regular telephone numbers using your computer. To do so, you must purchase “Skype Credit” using a real credit card. One you have some credit, you can call any phone in the world for a cost ranging form 2 cents per minutes for calls within North America to 12 cents per minute to Taiwan to 37 cents to our brave ones in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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