Sunday, July 13, 2008

How to pass notes around the virtual room

The Skype chat window serves as a virtual conference. As in a face-to-face meeting, you can place a document in front of every participant of a Skype conference — just to make sure that everyone has all the facts straight. Skype permits the transfer of files instantly to all or only selected participants. If your chat window is too narrow to fit all the toolbar buttons, you can click the double arrow to reveal hidden toolbar buttons and then click the Send File to All button. You now have access to your directory and can open a file and deliver it. What your chatters see is an alert that lets them know you are sending a file.

An easy way to transfer files to members of your chat is to drag the file from a folder in Windows Explorer, Windows desktop, or My Computer directly into the chat window. You can even drag an image that’s visible from your Web browser into the chat window.

Chat members have to agree to receive your file. If you pick a file to send and realize it is the wrong one, you can cancel the delivery. However, you have to do this quickly, before someone accepts the package. You can send files only to contacts who have authorized you (they agreed to exchange information upon first contact). So you may be in a chat with five people, but because you have formally authorized only two contacts, you can transmit and receive files only from those two contacts. Another strategy for sending information in a chat environment is to paste a Web address or an email address in the message window. These are live links that chatters can click to access Web sites. Everyone can check out the same Web page or email the same organization as the virtual conference takes place. To add to the flexibility of distributing information, you can also copy and paste prepared text into a message window, which is even faster than file transfers if you don’t care about the document format. Not every file is meant for all eyes. Fortunately, Skype enables you to send a file to one person at a time by choosing the double arrow that appears when you move the mouse into the user’s identity box. Clicking the double arrow opens a vertical menu that includes Send File. This menu enables a person-to-person file transfer. Alternatively, you can send a file to a single participant in a chat by dragging a file from your desktop or Windows Explorer directly onto the contact name in the Chat Drawer of your chat window.

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