Monday, February 25, 2008

Closing Skype

The close action simply closes your Skype window so that one less window takes up space view on your screen. Skype never stops running, and you can make and receive calls just the same. You just have a little less visual clutter.

Signing Out

When you are using Skype, you are logged in using a specific Skype user ID, called your Skype Name. Signing out doesn’t actually quit the Skype program — it just logs you off and allows you to log back in using a different Skype Name. Skype remembers which users you previously logged in as. If you and several of your family members are sharing a computer, this feature makes it easy for one person to log out and another to log back in quickly.
When you are signed out, some menu options are still available to you. These include your Skype Account page, language settings, specialized network proxy settings, and the general help features.

My Skype Account

There are two reasons to go to your Skype account: to revise your password and to manage your account. The latter includes tasks such as adding to your Skype credit and setting up SkypeIn and Voicemail. You can review your history of SkypeOut calls, including to whom you made the calls, what dates and times, and amounts charged, if any.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Edit My Profile

Your Skype profile contains important information about you, some of which is used only for administrative purposes. Other portions of your profile are shared only with your Skype contacts. A third portion of your profile is always publicly available for any skyper to search. Use your Skype profile to set what information you want to appear in all three categories of your profile

Change Online Status

When you view your list of Skype contacts, you can immediately see whether your buddies are available to take a call. Every skyper, yourself included, has an online status. By default, Skype announces whether you’re online and available to skypers who have you listed in their Skype Contacts list. You can override this default by changing your online status. Also, you get to control who can see whether you are online.

Understanding the Skype Menus

Just as Skype is a breeze to install, Skype is equally easy to navigate and use. The Skype menus make doing essential tasks simple. Here’s a quick summary before we get into the details: On the File menu, you establish your online presence, profile, and account information. The View menu enables you to control which elements you want visible in your main Skype window. On the Contacts menu, you manage the list of all your Skype buddies.

Use the Tools menu to make conference calls, use SkypeOut, set up SkypeIn, send SMS messages, and open previous chats. The Tools menu also enables you to configure your Skype Options, or various settings. You use the Call menu to manage your calls. Finally, the Help menu assists you in finding specific information concerning setup information, checking for updates, and buying Skype credit. Read on for details of each Skype menu.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

About Skype Interface

So, now that Skype has found a home on your PC, you need to get in gear so that you can drive Skype with precision and ease. As with a new car, the console might be seem a little confusing at first. When you know where everything is, though, you’ll find Skype to be a smooth ride. This chapter eases you into the driver’s seat.

These pages familiarize you with the six main menus and toolbar in Skype so that you know right where to go for whatever task or activity you want to engage in. Consider this chapter as your tour guide for getting around in Skype. If we don’t cover the full details of a given feature here, we tell you where in the blog to go for more details about it.

You also find out about the various status icons that Skype uses to indicate a user’s status (online, offline, and others) and how to change your status. Finally, we tell you about where to find the help you might need on occasion, steering you in the right direction both within the software and on Skype’s Web site. The creators of Skype want you to go from 0 to 60 mph in the shortest amount of time so that you can feel comfortable and productive. The menu is designed to help you become a player in the Skype global community as quickly as you can say “Skype Me!”

How to use the Skype search directory?

The ability to search Skype is a powerful feature. Although you can search for a Skype Name, full name, or email address, you can narrow your search based on a set of filters. Although this search example is contrived, the search results are filtered using a specific age group and gender.

The Skype search directory gives you a number of ways to look for fellow skypers. Sometimes it is difficult to find the person you are looking for because he or she has not entered much information in a Skype profile. But you can still perform a successful search because you have several search options. If your Search window is not open, click the Search icon (looks like a spyglass) or, in the Skype menu, choose Contacts>Search for Skype Users.
You can search by adding one or more of the following search options:
  • Use the Search for Skype User box to:
    • Enter a full name.
    • Enter an email address. This information is not revealed in a profile, but if you know someone’s email address, you can use it to find that contact if the person put it in his or her profile.
    • Enter a Skype Name. Sometimes you have a Skype Name but no other information. You can search and then open a profile to find a time zone, full name, or Web site for further contact.
  • Search by location. If you don’t have a name or an email address, you can always try searching by location. If only a few Skype Names show up in an area, you might be able to find an individual. Looking by location also gives you an opportunity to meet skypers close by. To search this way:
  • Select a country or region from a drop-down list. Enter a city, state, or both by entering the names into the boxes provided.
  • Search by language. Select your language from a drop-down list. Language searches work best in combination with other parameters unless you are looking for something very specific, such as people who speak Vighur, Volapuk, or Shona living in Manhattan, Kansas.
  • Search by gender or age range.
  • Search people in Skype Me mode. Skype lets you display your online and Skype Me mode is an online status that lets the world know you are eager to receive calls and chats from anyone. When you search for skypers, you may want to select the Search People in Skype Me Mode box. Selecting this box guarantees that the people you find are people who want to talk.
You can mix and match all the search parameters. When you have everything entered in the Search window:
  • Click Search to find skypers matching your search terms. Scroll through the results of your inquiry.
  • Click Search again after changing the search parameters if you did not see the skypers you want to contact.
You can sort the order of the search results by clicking the appropriate header bar of the search results.
If you use multiple Skype accounts and have just one email account for all of them, all the accounts will turn up in a search. Other than the email addresses you place into your profile, all the information you place into your profile is visible. People can find you by searching Skype using your email address only if they already know it.

Although you can opt to leave much of your profile blank, you will find that populating your profile with information such as language and country is helpful because this information is displayed in the search results. As the number of users in the global Skype community grows, people trying to find you have an easier time doing so with this extra information.

How to Initiate a Call?

Now that you’ve located someone you want to call, you’re just one click away from a Skype conversation. To make a call from your Search window, follow these steps:
  1. Double-click the contact’s Skype Name to bring up your contact’s profile window.
  2. Click the green call button. This button appears as a green circle with a white telephone handset inside. When you click it, you hear the sound of a ringing telephone, and a call window appears. The call window contains:
    • The Skype Name of the person you are calling.
    • A photo, if posted, in his or her profile.
    • A red hang up button.
  3. When your contact answers the call, just talk!
Sometimes your call is not accepted because you are not an authorized contact for that person. Receiving authorization and adding names to your Contacts list is an important part of communicating on Skype.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Conducting a simple search for a fellow skyper

You can get started by searching for fellow skypers. To do that, follow these steps:
  1. Locate the Windows Start button on the lower-left corner of your desktop and choose Start>Skype to launch Skype. The Sign In to Skype window opens.
  2. Enter your Skype username (that is, your Skype Name) in the Skype Name box.
  3. Enter your Password in the Password box.
  4. Click Sign In. The Skype program window opens. The menu across the top contains File, View, Contacts, Tools, Call, and Help.
  5. From the Skype menu, choose Contacts>Search for Skype Users. Alternatively, you can click the Search icon to bring up the Search window.
  6. Enter the person’s name in the uppermost text box. In our example, the name Newbie Skyper appears in that box. You can start your search by entering a full name. If your friend has not added his or her name to a profile, you may not be able to find the person this way.
  7. Click Search. Skype searches through its directory to find the name you entered. When found, this name appears in the lower half of the Search window under “We found 1 contact.

Eliminating feedback

You may encounter some feedback problems when using Skype, but these have simple solutions, as the next sections explain.

Feedback you can hear
Even if you are prepared with the appropriate headgear for Skype calls —meaning that your headset/microphone unit is plugged into your computer —the person you are calling may not be as prepared. If you skype someone who is using his or her built-in microphone and no headset, you will hear feedback. That is, you will hear yourself a couple of seconds after you speak because your voice is coming back through the other person’s built-in microphone. Your Skype partner will think all is okay because he or she doesn’t have the same feedback problem (you have eliminated echoes by virtue of using a headset).
So, encourage people to use Skype with the proper equipment. Trying to talk through a feedback loop is no fun! If you don’t have a regular microphone, you can actually substitute it with any available set of headphones. Just plug the headphone into the microphone jack and speak into the earpiece. Of course, you need an extra headset to use as a, well, headset! Go ahead and try it. We did, and it actually works. We heard the giggles loud and clear.

Feedback you can see
Sometimes the person on the other end does not have a microphone handy or can’t talk out loud because he or she is in a meeting, for example. In such a case, you may be the only one talking while your Skype partner is using the chat window. This mode of communicating actually works more smoothly than you might think. Other uses for this alternative to voice chat is for skyping in a noisy office or with people with hearing difficulties. How many times have you wished that you could hold up a sign to a person on the other end of the telephone because the person couldn’t make out what you were saying? The chat window is like having a built-in captioning service.

Testing Your Connection

Before you talk to someone, you should test your audio equipment to make sure that you have it properly connected and the volume levels are set appropriately.
To test your connection, follow these steps:
  1. Double-click your Skype icon on the desktop or choose Start>All Programs>Skype to launch Skype. The main Skype window, which simply shows “Skype” followed by your Skype Name across the top, appears and looks similar to the one shown in Figure 2-8. If for some reason the main Skype window is obscured, repeatedly press Alt+Tab on the PC or Option+Tab on the Mac to cycle through all open applications until you navigate to the Skype application.
  2. Enter echo123 in the text entry box that contains the text “Type Skype Name or number with country code.” Normally, this box is where you would enter the Skype Name or number of the person you want to call, but entering echo123 connects you to the Skype Call Testing Service.
  3. Click the large, round green icon that appears just below the text entry. The green call button represents a handset and is the one you click to place a call. (The red hang up button next to it is for hanging up or closing calls.) Clicking the green button connects you to the Skype Call Testing Service (see Figure 2-9). When you’re connected, you hear a personable voice calmly guiding you through an audio test.
  4. Leave a short message when prompted, up to ten seconds long, and listen for your message to be repeated. If you don’t hear your message, something’s wrong!
The Skype Call Testing service allows you to hear how you sound when you call others. Perhaps your volume is too soft or too loud, or nonexistent. This is a good time to set things right before you attempt your first Skype call. Here are some quick tips and suggestions for troubleshooting your sound problems. The end of this section provides a link to a more comprehensive troubleshooting guide on the Skype Web site.
If you have sound problems when making a Skype call, try the following:
  • Make sure that your headphone and microphone jacks are plugged into the right audio in and audio out sockets on your computer. Try reversing the order.
  • Compare your Windows Sound settings with your Skype Sound settings. To locate your Skype Sound settings, choose Tools>Options> Sound Devices. To locate your Windows Sound settings, choose Start>Control Panel>Sounds and Audio Devices. (This path may differ on some computers with different operating systems and configuration setups, but your aim is to locate the Sounds and Audio Devices control panel.) Make sure that the sound devices match.
  • If your voice sounds very quiet to others over Skype, first try moving your microphone a little closer to you. If moving your microphone doesn’t work, try this: Choose Tools>Options>Sound Devices and deselect the check box next to Let Skype Adjust My Sound Device settings. Skype no longer automatically sets the volume, thereby allowing other programs, including your operating system, to set the volume for sound input and output.
  • If no one can hear you, you may have the wrong device selected in your Skype sound settings. If more than one device is listed, make sure that the device selected is the microphone you are using. For example, if you’re using a microphone that connects through a USB port, be sure that you’ve selected a Sound setting that tells your computer to find the mic in that port.
  • If you can’t hear anything, you may have the wrong audio out device selected in your Skype sound settings. If more than one device is listed, make sure that the device selected matches the headset or speakers you are using.
You can find advanced help in setting up your sound devices at com/help/guides/soundsetup.html.
You can hear the same call-testing service in Chinese if you skype echo-chinese (include the hyphen) instead of echo123. Another one is soundtestjapanese for Japanese.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Filling Out your Skype Profile (Part 3)

  • About Me: This is your chance to tell your story in 200 characters or fewer (note that it’s 200 characters, not words). Plenty can be said in a few words. You can
    • Describe your business.
    • Put in a short bio.
    • List your hobbies, collections, or favorite activities.
  • Adding a photo or artwork: You can add a 96-x-96–pixel graphic to your profile. The format for your graphic must be JPEG or BMP. You can add a picture in two ways:
    • Click the picture box in the lower-left corner of your profile window. A My Picture screen opens. Click Browse to search for a picture you have prepared in your computer.
    • Click the Change button to the right of the picture box. Doing so also brings you to the My Picture screen. Click Browse and search for a picture. Your picture is visible only to your Skype contacts, that is, only people you have in your approved contact list. People who find your Skype profile in a search will not be able to see your picture until you give them permission. You may have hundreds of approved contacts, but you may post only one picture. Pictures make your Skype profile more personal. They can identify you with a business, club, or charity. They can add humor. Some pictures on profile pages include:
      • A business logo
      • A recreation picture, such as skiing, surfing, or golfing
      • A head shot
      • A cartoon
      • A favorite landscape
  • Show My Time: Skype is available 24 hours a day in all time zones. Letting your contacts know your local time or time zone (only your contacts will see your time zone) is important. Your profile page enables you to do indicate your time zone in two ways:
    • Click in the Show My Time box. This action displays the actual time of day as shown on your watch or wall clock.
    • Select a GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) zone from the drop-down list
  • Show How Many Contacts I Have: Unless you tell it to do otherwise, Skype automatically displays how many Skype contacts you have. Although it is nice to share how many contacts you have, you may not want to convey this information. Simply deselect the Show How Many Contacts I Have check box.
  • Email: You can provide up to three email addresses. These are completely private; no one, not even your contacts, can see these on your profile. Even if no one can see them, there are two reasons to include email addresses, as follows:
    • If you forget your Skype password, you will need your email address to retrieve it.
    • People who have your email address can use it to search for your Skype Name, even if the email address does not appear in any Skype directory.
One great activity is to look up your own last name in the Skype search window and see whether you find distant family members in other countries. Some delightful surprises come out of this activity. In fact, we (Loren and Susan) recently found a cousin from England we’d never met and we spoke for the first time over Skype.

You have a number of available options for setting the time that will be displayed. Generally, it is easiest and best to set the time to match your local computer. If you are traveling for the week and will be in an entirely different time zone, you can manually set the displayed time to match a specified time zone. For example, if you reside on the east coast of the United States, the local time zone is –5:00 GMT. If you are traveling to San Francisco, which is on the west coast of the United States, you can set your time zone to –8:00 GMT, because it is three hours earlier in San Francisco. When people view your name on the Skype Contacts list, they see the time associated with where you are traveling.

Filling Out Your Skype Profile (Part 2)

  • Country/Region, State/Province, or City: Skype is international. It’s important for callers to have some idea of where they are calling. Knowing where someone lives, and letting others know where you live, can help you both prepare for cultural differences in communication. Whether used for business or social reasons, this is an essential piece of information for smooth customer relationships. In addition,
    • All locations are searchable in the Skype directory.
    • Location provides information on local time zones. If this information is not included elsewhere in the profile, at least you’ll know when to call (and when not to call).
  • Language: Choose your language from a drop-down list.
    • Indicating your native tongue lets callers know whether they share your language. If they don’t, they may choose to engage a translator in advance.
    • Language is a searchable item in the Skype directory.
  • Home Phone/Office Phone/Mobile Phone: Skype allows you to list three phone numbers, one for home, office, and cell. Some good reasons to add these numbers are the following:
    • Your Skype profile is available worldwide, so your phone numbers have a global reach. If your phone number is listed in your local phone directory or your business is listed in the Yellow Pages, you would do well to place the equivalent listing in your Skype profile.
    • You can update your telephone information on Skype instantly. This feature enables you to provide the most current contact information, even if you are in the middle of a major relocation. Updating local directories, or even Web listings, takes much longer.
    • If someone cannot contact you on Skype, your profile gives that person options in an emergency. People can SkypeOut to you from within the Skype program, or just use a cell or landline. In either case, they have instant access to your phone numbers
  • Homepage: It costs nothing to create a Skype account and list a Web page that you want all the world to see. The Homepage box has room for only one Web address, but it can be an effective contact tool for you because:
    • Web site links are active. A contact can navigate to your Web site directly from your profile.
    • Posting a Web site in your profile is free advertising for your business, product, service, or just yourself.

Filling Out Your Skype Profile (Part 1)

Every new Skype member has an opportunity to enter information into a personal profile screen. You don’t have to fill in any information; profiles are completely optional. The Skype Profile window clearly states that whatever details are included are “details that only my contacts will see”. So, don’t feel obligated to fill in the blanks!
There are some good reasons, however, to populate those empty profile
fields. The benefits of adding information are to
  • Help others find you in a Skype search if they don’t have your Skype Name
  • Give clients easy access to telephone contact numbers that you make public
  • Show new friends your photo
  • Post an image of your business logo
  • Provide contacts with a link to your Web site
  • Show your local time so that others know when to contact you Your Skype Name is not part of your profile.
A Skype Name is not optional. You need it to log on to Skype and to enable other skypers to contact you. Your profile details give more information about who you are and what you do. You can let the world know whether you are a businessperson, an artist, an author, a fiddler, or just a seasoned skyper looking for a few friends to hang out with online. As more and more people use Skype for business, special interest groups, educational venues, and social gatherings, their location, language, and other personal information may form the basis for a common interest or mutual benefit. Personalizing Skype is more than self-expression; in some cases, it is a courtesy to others reaching out to you. To open your Skype Profile screen, choose File➪Edit My Profile from the Skype menu. You have the option to fill in the following fields:
  • Full Name: The first bit of information you can publish to the world in your personal profile window is your full name. Many of us shy away from offering our real names to the virtual world; others find it liberating to invent an identity; and some prefer to be completely anonymous. However, there are advantages to adding your real name to your profile:
    • Adding your full name makes it easy for others to find you on Skype.
    • If you use Skype for business, your full name is a vital piece of information for clients to access.
    • In a conference call or chat, any member of the group can look up your profile to find your name. If many people are conferencing or chatting for the first time, forgetting a name is easy, and it’s handy to have it available.
  • Gender: Potential dates certainly want to know this fact. If your first name is slightly ambiguous, filling out your gender might just turn out to be the happiest bit of information you share with the world. Gender is another option that can help you (or others) narrow a search in the Skype directory. If gender is not included in a person’s profile, it is not searchable.
  • Birth Date: Most people are reluctant to reveal this detail. There are, however, some reasons to include your age, such as if
    • You are open to meeting people your own age.
    • You are an advocate for a specific age group, such as teens, the elderly, or baby boomers.