Saturday, February 9, 2008

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.

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