October 24, 2011 - Hammondsport Mac Users Group

ATTENDING: Tom B, Jack H, Gene N, Bob G, Bob S, Jerry L, Diane B, Henry B, Larry T.

 TOPIC: How to 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, both Mac and PC. 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. As of September 2011, Skype had 663 million registered users. In October 2011 Microsoft paid $8.5 billion dollars to officially own Skype.

Tom gave a step-by-step demo of how to download, install and setup a free Skype account (preview actual Skype forms here). Then each person who had a laptop, iPad or iPhone set up an account as well. We then proceeded to connect together, two at a time, to test our Skype connections, and, with some trial and error (and persistence), most of us were able to make it work. It was very helpful to have everything visible around our table to get a clear idea of how the video looks and the audio sounds.

TIP: An easy way to capture a picture while using Skype (especially of wiggly grandchildren) is by using the keyboard shortcut COMMAND-SHIFT-4 and then press SPACEBAR to change crosshairs into a hovering Camera icon over the Skype window. Just tap (or click) to capture an image.

Skype version 5.3 ((for 10.5.8 Leopard or later)

Skype version 2.8 (for 10.4.11 Tiger)

There are Skype versions for both Mac and PC, iPad, IPhone and other devices.

iceCam2 - for those who do not have a built-in iSight camera on their Macs, an inexpensive solution is this clip-on cam available from Amazon for $16. Tom used one of these on his PowerBook G4 and it worked very well, even in low light; also see MacAlly MegaCam $29 at OWC.

iGlasses - small app that gives you control over several features of image quality for built-in iSight cam and other webcams (demo download 875k) - buy for $19.95



2D Barcodes Explained
- TidBits story behind those little puzzle tags for your iPhone or iPad.

Snap it, click it, use it - more about barcodes from The Economist.

iStat Pro
- Apple widget to keep tabs on your Mac's innards such as CPU, Memory, Disks, Network, Battery, Load & Uptime, Temperatures, Fans, Processes. (download 1mb - freeware)

Apps For Autism - Gene mentioned this interesting news about the use of iPads to help autistic children.

USB Laptop Speakers - Jerry shared this nice solution for audio speakers that clip on the edge of your Mac and power via USB.

Hammondsport Mac Users Group - Hammondsport, NY 14840 -