The Skype’s the Limit

Just before the lockdown we were advised (here) to avoid unnecessary contact, which people duly ignored. Except me. I said to Age UK that I was happy to do the calls [the voluntary work I do each week is calls to about 10 clients, any subjects, just to help combat lonliness], but I wanted to do them from home rather than from their office. A phone is a phone is a phone, after all.

When the lockdown came, we embarked on reassurance calls, too, specifically as a result of the crisis. Do you have groceries? Do you have meds? in particular. So, my calls jumped to 20 per week. In an email to someone, I jokily said that rather than just picking up the phone, I should put the computer to work and make use of my always-on internet connection.

Afterwards I thought about it more seriously. Why not? So I started looking for a program to do it.

The first link I hit told me I could use Gmail. Great, I don’t really use Gmail, but I have an account, so I logged on. Sure enough, I could place a call but when I tried calling my wife (on her mobile, in the next room) she couldn’t hear me.

So I assumed that the microphone on the PC was not really clear enough, and ordered a headset off eBay. That’s a good idea anyway, because it allows me to make calls handsfree, useful when only one arm works since it allows me to type, if I need to write something down.

That headset finally arrived Saturday. Just an unbranded one – I figured that a brand like Logitech will just take an unbranded Chinese item and stamp its name, so didn’t see the point in paying more (a Logitech headset was 50% more). So I plugged this thing in and … same result! No can hear me.

I fiddled with the settings for a while. But Audacity could hear me just fine. Microsoft’s voice control software could hear me just fine. But my wife couldn’t when I tried to call her through gmail.

So I decided to explore other programs. Microsoft bought Skype a few years back and there it was, already installed on the PC. So I set it up. Hey presto, I was making calls within minutes! I had to take out a cheap subscription, just to be able to call old-fashioned landlines, but it should work out cheaper than just using my house phone.

I’m still not too familiar with the Microsoft flavour of Skype. Last time I remember it was years ago, when communication through the computer was a new thing (and poor quality). I thought I got a phone number, so internet geeks across the world could call and say Hi, but it looks like I need to pay extra for that. Hmmmm…. Microsoft Marketing at work, no doubt. No matter, I only really need the calls to go one way, anyway.

As it happens, I can claim any of my call expenses back from the charity, so I didn’t really need to do any of this, but I’m sure they have better things to spend their money on than my phone bill, so it makes sense if I can minimise everything. And I can now listen to posts without disturbing anyone else!

Author: Mister Bump UK

Designed/developed large IT systems, interrupted by a stroke in 2016, aged 48. Now mix development of health-related software with voluntary work and writing. Married, with an estranged daughter.

23 thoughts on “The Skype’s the Limit”

  1. Sounds good! I use Whatsapp (from Facebook I know🙄) to make calls, I’m not big on video chatting 🙂 I think the headphones aren’t a luxury, it seems like they are very helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never bothered with Whatsapp. I believe I can make video/voice calls with fb but I never bother. I never bother withy fb to be honest. Plus, for this, most of the clients do not use computers, so I have to be able to reach a corded telephone. It is funny because people will tell us about an event. Just visit this web site, or email there, and already it is out of reach. Did you have a good weekend? It is sunshine all the way here, apparently, I just researched it for my next post.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My weekend was calm, I slept a lot! Saturday we had some rain, which was good because we planted new flowers in the garden. Sunday was all sunny and I heard a lot of people outside as I was blogging the whole day 🙂 How was your weekend?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Mowed the lawn in the back. Need to mow the front this week. I managed to use the hedgetrimmer to cut a path so that Reuben had a clear way in and out – it had overgrown a lot. The hedgetrimmer is a two-handed thing so it was very slow. My bad hand did not wish to comply, but I got there in the end. 30s when I was good!

          Liked by 1 person

                    1. I jusat thought, if you have a moment, look at my Song Lyric Sunday post from yesterday. It is your kind of age-group, do you know the Manic Street Preachers? But, play it quietly, it is lots of guitars to start with!

                      Liked by 1 person

        1. My wife and daughter use that, they both have Apple. I won’t touch the stuff 😆 The only social media I ever used was Facebook and I’ve pretty much weaned myself off that. It’s good to keep in touch with one or two friends, but otherwise…

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Tried and tested it last night ready for calls today. The main thing is that the quality is quite good. The weirdest thing is that I have these headphones on, so cannot hear my own voice as I norma;;y do. They should make the unit so that the headphones play the mic at a small volume. But I can wear one headphone slightly off-ear, should fix that.
      It cost a whopping £2.50 to make calls to any UK landline for the next month – no wonder we get so many spam calls on the house phone!

      Liked by 1 person

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