Communication in Croydon – what's all the hype about Skype?
30th May 2012
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I got the hang of mobile phones, eventually.


Then I got my head around text messaging, MSN, and more recently Facebook. Nothing old fashioned about me... I even know how to access Facetime on my mobile (possibly the most scary sight on a mobile screen ever is that of your own face, in close up, at 8.00am).  Look, I can even do this :o)  


And then last night I got a picture message (I can do those too) from my eldest child, in what looked like a very attractive dress asking my opinion. I duly replied saying, "Yes, it looks lovely." Then she said, “Can I Skype you when I get home so you can see it properly?” What?!?!


Well apparently it's been around for a while so once again I am behind the times, and need to find out about this revolutionary form of communication.


Happily the first thing I discover is that it's free*. From anywhere in the world you can make unlimited calls to anyone provided they are also using Skype. All you need is a computer with a webcam and built in mic and you're ready to go.


Well, once you get it downloaded that is. Which is surprisingly simple; just go to and download the software by following the instructions on screen.


Then, how do you make calls? First you need to find out if friends are signed up by typing their email address into the 'add contacts' box and sending a contact request. Once this is accepted you can video call each other, as long as you're both online. You can invite other people to join via the welcome email you will receive from Skype. And the sound and picture quality is remarkably good - said daughter’s dress does indeed look lovely, from all angles (which at the price she paid, it jolly well should!)


And that's it – the doors to the world are open. Skype can be used for long distance meetings with family, friends and business calls. You can use it for cheap calls when you're travelling or just to check out your daughter's new frock. Business users are finding it an invaluable tool, particularly for conference calling (in fact I'm probably preaching to the converted there). And it's not just for long distance calls. Off on a night out and can't decide what to wear... just Skype a friend to check, what do you think, the red or the blue?


It might take me a little while to get used to this form of communication. Rather like Facetime, Skype is no respecter of bad hair days, but I suppose anything that encourages me to put a bit of slap on each day can only be a good thing! 


*Some services may incur charges; full details on Skype website.

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