Monday, July 11, 2011

Skype the vacation away

A while back, I was consulting for a start up.  Interesting situation, I helped out with some light Web Development and QA for a small group up in Philly and kept it up while I moved here.  The whole time I had a constricting 600 minutes a month on my T-Mobile contract.  The first month here, I blew that out and ended up with a $120 charge instead of my usual $40

We figured out a way to telecommute via Skype, and continued onwards. 

I used Skype to teleconference with people on Windows, Mac, and Linux on every sort of connection from Dial-Up (Yes, people use that still) to cable modem broad band.   It's an amazing piece of software and completely free to use on the web.

I can go deeper into that, but functioning as a CTO/CIO for a start up from here in Wilton Manors while the rest of the organization was around Philadelphia and NYC was amazing experience.  Too bad the organization folded.  The Republican Induced Great Depression that we're going through claimed another Small Business...

Right now, Kevin is up in Philly visiting Mom on vacation.  He's got Skype on his iPhone and an unlimited data contract.  I've got it here on my laptop with built-in web camera. 

We've always played with technology but this is a difference.  With his iPhone 4 and the two cameras on it, we decided to play and go with a video call.

So I was sending and receiving a crystal clear audio stream.  Sound was FM quality, maybe better.   I didn't have my headphones to judge, but Skype on my end blows away any cell phone call I've ever had except when I used Skype on the iPhone to chat with a friend in Key West.

What was amusing was what Kevin did next.  Video.

He was driving through the rolling green southern Pennsylvania countryside sending me "Quarter VGA" video in full speed.  It was blocky and grainy but it was utterly smooth.  We were laughing as he approached Mom's home and knocked on the door.

"Hi Mom, look, Bill's on the Phone in Video"
"Hi Mrs Mom! I bet you didn't expect to be on TV to Florida did you?"
"Hi Bill! No I didn't!"

I was then taken for a tour of a condo that I had been told so much about, saw her Orchids and the view through to the forest (or at least trees) behind the home and all the things that I had recognized from the visits to their home before I had moved to Florida.

The thing is that it's completely free to use it over the web.  They also offer services for a couple dollars a month to allow you to use your Skype Account as a phone with a phone number in the US and other countries. 

Basically we've all got some chat options, but when I find myself able to use Skype, it's what I prefer.   Doing Skype to Skype on two PCs is absolutely smooth. 

Last night I got a video Skype call from my friend in Key West, David. 

The video was full screen, and since we were on a "fast" cable modem connection, the video was better than Standard Def TV.  It may have been equivalent to 720p, I'm not sure, but it was stable as could be.

The thing is we both had older computers with web cams.  Mine is a Core2Duo processor - about 2 years old.  His was a 5 year old Mac Book on an old copy of OSX Leopard. 

You just don't need high end equipment to do something that "The Jetsons" considered normal any more.

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