Telephone and video calls

Skype Logo

Skype is an Internet telephone service. Because it uses the Internet to connect two computers, Skype offers many advantages over standard telephones but you do need some computer parts. Most computers already have speakers - Skype requires them. It also requires a microphone. A fairly inexpensive addition.

With just those parts you can call other Skype users worldwide for free (560,000,000 as of 2010) or any telephone number for a small fee.

Because Skype uses computer microphones and speakers the calls are all high fidelity. If your pets know the person on the other side they will respond with Skype.

Obtaining Skype

The Skype program is free. Simply go to to download the program. Skype runs on Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Unix and most mainframes.

Installation is easy. Then, at a minimum you will need to create a Skype name and password. Additionally, you can add your picture and let Skype search your email addresses and Instant Messanger addresses for Skype users.

You can then search for other Skype users by clicking the New button and select New contact. This allows you search for other users, as shown below.

Skype Screen

Many businesses also use Skype.If you click on the Directory button (bottom left) you can search for people or businesses.

To call a telephone, for a small fee and without high fidelity click the Call phones button.

Skype Phone Calls



Skype Video


Video Camera

A video camera makes an inexpensive addition to your computer. Most cameras have a built in microphone. This one happens to be a Microsoft Life Cam Cinema. It records in HD with resolutions up to 1280x720 pixels. Certainly way more than required by Skype. It cost about $50 at Amazon in 2009.

Older non HD cameras can be found for as little as $15.

Every camera that I have seen has a light that indicated when it's ON.

Skype charges nothing to add video.With a video camera you can see and talk with Skype. Pets will also appreciate seeing friends. See Youtube for a pet Skype.

When you attach a video camera, Skype will recognize it and will offer to use it the next time Skype starts.

Many laptop and netbook computers now come with a video camera, microphone and Skype pre-installed.

Skype will simply offer video once it detects a camera on either end. I have had a video camera on Skype since 2009. If you look at the above screen shots, you will see how to initiate a voice or video call.

With Skype along with any program that uses the Internet, there is always the potential for abuse. Skype offers excellent privacy tools.

To access the Privacy controls, click on Tools Options and Privacy settings to get the screen shown. I have found that most Skype abuse comes from Instant Messaging. The options as selected below prevents this abuse.

Skype Privacy


Now go and Skype your friends and don't forget the four legged ones.