Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pamela knows whom she’s talking to

Want something really cool and way over the top? Try making personalized greetings for any Skype contact. That’s right! You can record a different greeting message for your husband, your boss, your favorite niece, and that annoying neighbor who feels obligated to gossip about everyone on the local school board. Figure 9-16 shows the Personal Options dialog box with Enable Personalized Voice Mail for This User selected (in this example, the user is NewbieSkyper).
If you think that personalization alone is cool, wait until you combine personalization with brains. We discuss call forwarding earlier in this chapter (see the section “Forwarding calls when you can’t answer”). So what happens if NewbieSkyper calls SeasonedSkyper, who has call forwarding turned on, and the call is punted over to TheProfessionalSkyper running Pamela? Happily, Pamela is smart enough to know who is actually doing the calling and applies the personalized greeting for NewbieSkyper.
The personalization feature may be cool, but it is also practical. Suppose you are traveling and have access only to email. During your travels, Pamela may have logged plenty of messages on your home base. But also suppose that you’re expecting a very important message from one of the people calling. Wouldn’t it be nice if recorded audio message files from only that person could be forwarded to your email address? Pamela lets you set up this email notification in either of two ways: without forwarding the audio file, or with the audio file bundled with the notification.

Pamela is attentive

Imagine that during the first week of using Pamela, you record a half-dozen conversations — each about a half-hour long — with the same party. Other than by listening through each of the conversations one-by-one, how will you remember the key points and which conversation they belong to? Fear not;
Pamela to the rescue!
Pamela’s note-taking function allows you to record the date, time, and identity of the person you are speaking to, and to type in whatever notes you want. These notes are appended to the sound recordings so that, at a glance, important details and quick, on-the-spot summaries are at your fingertips. Joe Friday would be pleased with this software. Just the facts, ma’am!

Pamela has a great memory recall

Pamela records voicemail messages while you are away, and she can also record any conversation as you’re making or receiving calls. With the Professional Edition of Pamela, the number of messages you can record is limited only by the amount of available disk space. Pamela is configured to record conversations using uncompressed WAV files. And although having large amounts of hard disk space at your disposal is getting less expensive these days, you may still feel the need to conserve. If you want to cut down the disk space used by a factor of 12 or so, you can install a couple of special files that make Pamela save sound recordings as MP3 files. You can find the instructions for making this change at www.pamelasystems. com/download/mp3.php.
As download links or URLs listed in this book change, we will post updated links on our Web site www.skype4dummies.com. A couple of items about Pamela’s message recording features are worth pointing out:
  • Pamela can automatically record all Skype conversations as you have them. Auto recording all conversations, as well as voicemail messages, imposes two burdens on you. First, your hard drive could fill up very quickly, and second, you have to figure out how to manage all those recordings (and then do it!). Alternatively, Pamela can prompt you each time you make or receive a call over Skype and ask you then whether you want it recorded. If you ignore the recording prompt for 10 seconds, Pamela assumes that you are not interested (in having the conversation recorded, that is) and closes the prompt.
  • Pamela can help keep your recordings legal. To help keep you in compliance with legal rules in various countries and geographic regions, Pamela can display an alert to let people know that the conversation is being recorded.

If you want, you can set up Pamela to record calls in stereo. That is, your voice is recorded on the left channel or speaker, and the person or people on the other end of the call are recorded on the right. This type of recording is great for podcasting because editing for clarity becomes easier. For example, you can safely eliminate discernable background noise on an interviewer’s side of the call while preserving the sound on the interviewee’s side.