Past Meetings

January 19, 2009 - Hammondsport Mac Users Group

TOPIC: SKYPE (Free phone calls and video conferencing via your Mac)

ATTENDING: Tom B, Nancy C, Jerry L, Bob G, Don H, Mrs. H

About Skype: Skype is a little program for making free calls over the internet to anyone else who also has Skype. It’s free and easy to download and use, and works with most computers running MacOS, Windows or Linux. Now it also supports video conferencing over the net. Skype is a proprietary peer-to-peer Internet telephony (VoIP) network, founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, the creators of KaZaA and competing against established open VoIP protocols like SIP, IAX, or H.323. The Skype Group is headquartered in Luxembourg with offices also in London and Tallinn. The system has a reputation for working across different types of network connections (including firewalls and NAT) because voice packets are routed by the combined users of the free desktop software application. Skype users can speak to other Skype users for free. Skype also has paid services allowing users to call traditional telephone numbers (SkypeOut), receive calls from traditional phones (SkypeIn), and receive voicemail messages.

How to Set Up Skype on your Mac - Tom gave a step-by-step demo of how to download and install the latest version of Skype for Mac (34mb), create a Skype account (see screenshots), and set it up to begin using it on a MacBook with built-in iSight camera.

After test-calling ourselves to check out connection, we rang up our friend Don in Florida to see how the weather was there - it was much warmer (70's) - compared to the sub-freezing temps in Hammondsport. If no image appears, be sure to click small camera icon at bottom of call window.

On a 2nd computer (PowerBook Titanium G4/400) using an inexpensive IceCam2, we experimented with conferencing three computers but didn't quite get it all figured out. Another possible cam with much higher resolution is an external Apple iSight Cam (Firewire) currently selling on eBay for @ $100-125. Another possibility is to use a digital Video cam with Firewire as your input camera.

IceCam2 - inexpensive USB webcam/mic ($28 from OWC) - see more pictures.

Tip: During Skype transmission, still images can be captured from the video window by using the mac keyboard shortcut Command Shift 4 + Spacebar - hover the camera over window to be captured & click.

Older versions of SKYPE can be found here. These may work better on older computers or earlier OS systems, at least for audio transmission.

Direct Links to Skype
How to make free calls skype-to-skype
Getting started with Skype for Mac OSX - system requirements
How to use Skype with Mac OSX
How to make a call with Mac OSX
How to answer a call with Mac OSX
FAQ_ Skype with Mac OSX
Skype Terms of Agreement

Other Helpful Stuff
Command+Shift+A - keyboard shortcut instantly opens Applications folder on your Mac

MacFixit - keep up to date with latest Mac issues, solutions & workarounds


Next meeting: Monday, February 23, 2009
Topic: Internet FM Radio


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Hammondsport Mac Users Group - Hammondsport, NY 14840 -