Tuesday, August 19, 2008

VOIP : The good thing about Skype

While a lot of the different VoIP services out there have similar features, there's one that really stands out with the number of interesting ways that it (and its users) have found to take advantage of the technology. This service is called Skype. Skype has all of the normal features like caller id, call forwarding, voice mail and the like. But some people have found ways to make it do a lot more. For example, there are ways to make is so that a Skype account can coordinate conference calls among up to fifteen people. While that may not be particularly impressive at first glance, it's downright amazing when you learn that that the conference call includes fifteen different video feeds and allows them to collaborate on a document that's on their computers all in real time!

The fact that Skype also has a video phone feature opens up a lot of interesting possibilities. For example, if you have two Skype accounts, you can set up your home Skype account to answer automatically when you call from the second Skype account and give you a view of what's going on at your own home through the computer's web cam! If you're going to talk to someone who expects you to use the video phone options, but you want to conceal your present appearance, or that of your surroundings, it's possible to use an avatar of yourself. An avatar can be taken from any digital photo, and once it's set up it will even lip sync with what you're saying.

Skype will even let you do unsavory things like concealing your identity while talking to people and recording conversations. For instance, you can alter your voice so that other people can't recognize you. You can even take that subterfuge a step further by creating a different avatar to go with your altered voice for a video call. There are also several add ons that will allow you to record calls either automatically or manually. As well as being useful for holding customer service representatives to their word, recordings of phone conversations can be turned into podcasts to share with people on the Internet. That makes this a great feature for journalists.

There are also a number of features that you can get with Skype that give you an unfair psychological advantage over the people who you're talking to. For example, there's one add on you can install that will provide you with an analysis of the emotional state of the person you're talking to. Another add on will tell measure the tension or nervousness in the other voice and tell you whether or not the person is lying.

All of this flexibility largely comes with the fact that unlike most other major VoIP services, Skype is centered much more on an actual computer than the others. This provides the flexibility of video conferencing, as well as being able to run all of these applications described above. While all of these options may make Skype unwieldly to the casual user, it can be a huge benefit to someone who knows what he or she is doing.

I'm not promoting for Skype, but I really find it good and better than YM calls. ^_^

Download the latest version of SKYPE here.

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