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Old 06-25-2007, 02:06 AM   #1
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We have a friend who lives on his boat in St. Martin, and he calls us sometimes using Skype. I've been intrigued by it, but hadn't had a burning need to try it until this upcoming flotilla cruise through the Baltic.

So I bit the bullet and took time out today to download the program, talked my brother into downloading it, too, so we could try it. For whatever reason I had to troubleshoot my computer settings because I could hear the internet connection but couldn't send over the microphone connection. I finally got it working, and it is doing well!

Computer to computer connections are free, and you can also do computer to a regular telephone at a significantly reduced rate. My brother has better gear than I do, I think, because he said the sound was clearer than his phone.

I am doing most of this for my family, since I prefer emails to talking on a telephone. But I think it is a usable tool.

During our trip to the Baltic I'll see how this works. Right now I'm not even sure if I'll have internet access much of the time.

So, who has some insights to share?

In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".

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Old 06-26-2007, 06:37 PM   #2
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Skype works great even with cheap equipment as long as you have a decent hi-speed connection...not dial up. We do skype via wifi with family in Grenada and bought a small laptop cam along with the headset for under $50 box and we now have FREE real time video conferencing across the caribbean. Just amazing to me!

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Old 06-28-2007, 08:51 PM   #3
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I'm in US as an exchange student and use Skype all the time to call my family at home in Poland. In my opinion it is the best software of this kind. Much better then Microsoft stuff. I use small headphones with microphone and free wireless we have in our apartament. It works great. If you buy cheap internet camera you'll have video too. Personally I call land phones in Poland paying some radiculous low price like 2cents per minute.

As long as you can get connection I see no reasons why you couldn't use it.

Btw. have fun on Baltic sea. It's my home sea and I feel very sentimental about it. Check Christianso Island. It's very cool.
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Old 06-29-2007, 05:47 AM   #4
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We also bought a cheapie Skype Phone to plug in via USB port this year and find it great value even when calling land or mibile phones, provided one can access wi-fi to get reasonable speeds.

Highly recommended for any cruiser who wants cheap voice comms with family and friends.

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Old 06-29-2007, 12:09 PM   #5
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agree Skype works well as long as you are on wi-fi on cellular it's iffy for voice but chat works fine.
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Old 06-30-2007, 06:25 AM   #6
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Before this post, I never heard of Skype. Since I have learned some.

Jon D,

I do not understand your post; the differance between voice and chat. Was that a mis-type? To me the word chat means by voice. Thanks for any clarification.

In the dark, on this topic,

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Old 06-30-2007, 09:02 AM   #7
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In the world of instant messaging, 'chat' means typed or written conversation. As technology improves the speed of our computers, chat is being replaced by voice communication and in many cases with an overlay of real-time video.

This means that by downloading a simple programme, and buying a $10 camera to plug into a USB port, and a microphone or headset for another $10, you can have live video calling across the world for no cost.

The advantage of skype is you can use it to easily call landlines and mobile (cell) phones for just a couple of cents per 10 minutes. MSN's Messenger and Yahoo's Messenger are also totally free and mean you can call your friend in ,say, London and see his live, moving video image on your computer free of charge for hour after hour if you wish.

My main reason for living, Kyoko, calls her sister and parents in Japan on a daily basis and will sometimes spend an hour talking with her sister and it costs me NOT ONE CENT .Not so long ago, my ISD phone bill was excessive. It is brilliant!
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Old 06-30-2007, 01:36 PM   #8
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Skype, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger all do pretty much the same thing. All three now permit video and audio. A simple $3.50 headset with microphone give you clear communications and block background noise. For those who's computers are in a quiet environment a webcam with a mic is the best choice - for instance the Logitech Communicator STX, $43 at Amazon.com.

All three permit you to call from your computer to someone else's computer (computer2computer) for free and from your computer to any phone at far cheaper rates than phone2phone calls. Skype's rates are slightly cheaper.

Only Skype has an all-North America annual computer2phone rate of $29 - unlimited calls from anywhere in the world to phones in North America (quite unbelievable) .

Quality of service at the same bandwidth seems to vary by country. Gov't interference also does. For some reason Skype works very poorly from the UAE. Yahoo is preferred in China and Indonesia. Best to download and try all three - or at minimum, Yahoo Messenger and Skype.

Yahoo Messenger and Skype permit you to hide the fact that you are online to everyone. Only Yahoo permits you to hide it from specific individuals on your contacts list.

Skype gives you a phone number in your choice of several countries for an annual fee which anyone can call that routes to your computer (SkypeIn). For a US number it's around $36.

All three are only good for chatting (typing) with a dial-up connection, but work well for audio and video with 100KB+ bandwidth.

Only Skype permits you to forward all calls, whether to your computer or your SkypeIn number to any other phone. YOu can also forward to another Skype username. When my computer is shut down or the Skype application is not active I forward any calls to my cell phone.

Jump in and try them!
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Old 06-30-2007, 01:39 PM   #9
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We were just in Seychelles and had purchased a Netgear SKYPPE phone and had a problem connecting. First of all the wifis were all secured and copuld not get to findout how to connect to some. Then I had a problemwith my account. I came home to the US and found out I was using the wrong account name and the wrong password. Worked it out here and now it works in the states.

We will be trying it in Turkey this Sept and I hope it works. I know that in the BVI most of the hotela and marinas have free wifi and the lap top works fine; but slow since it is dial up.

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Old 06-30-2007, 04:29 PM   #10
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Thanks for the explanations. I ask the question, late last night, after a very looong hot day of physical work (cement project). I started chatting on line in the late 90's. When I ask the question, I was thinking in terms of a cell phone, or using Skype to provide voice communication. I was not thinking clearly. Off topic, my exhaustion relates to other posts concerning sleep deprivation, single handing, and solo sailing. Simple things become difficult, difficult things become impossible.

I watched a news show about our changing world of communications. The host interviewed William Shatner, whom played Capt James T. Kirk in the original TV series Star Wars. He said some of what was Star Wars science fiction is now reality. He made several correlations, for example, the communicators from Star Wars and todayís' cell phones. A main point of the news show was how communication technologies are blending into one system, audio, visual, and data. An observation was to the effect of: I don't think Marconi, Bell, Eastman (Kodak), Edison, and several other major inventors, ever envisioned their inventions becoming so intertwined; taking photos with your phone, the phone transmission being carried by radio waves, and so on.

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