Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How (not) to use Skype

For the latest in what is fast becoming a series on How (Not) To Do Stuff, I roadtested Skype. I remember first hearing about Skype a few years ago when the earliest of my Early Adopter friends emailed her entire list extolling its joys and insisting we all sign up. Given that like attracts like, it will surprise no-one to discover that most of my friends are also Luddites and we all screeched with (cyber) laughter (it looked something like this: LOL, LOL, LOL).

Why would we want to look at each other while we talked? Isn't the whole point of the phone so that you can sit around in your pyjamas and pretend to be professional?

Or maybe that's just me.

Suffice to say that my Early Adopter friend had to make new friends, probably on Skype, just so she'd have someone to talk to.

Fast-forward a few years and the technological revolution has even touched The Fibro. Today I not only conducted my first ever Skype call, but it was recorded and will be available for the whole world to view via the Sydney Writers' Centre website in a few weeks. A situation that combined three of my least favourite things in the world:

a) Answering questions instead of asking them.
b) Being captured on camera (which I abhor, be it still or video)
c) New technology.

Pressure, much?

I did all the right things. I downloaded Skype, read the how-to manual, signed up for an account. Easy. I even tidied up the portion of my office that I thought might be visible via the computer's camera. I was ready. Ten minutes before the appointed time, I attempted to open the application, so that I could work out how I'd work out that I had a 'call' coming in.

No dice. "Your operating system does not support this version of Skype."

Cue: panic stations. It took me five mintues of Googling and faffing to work out that I'd downloaded the latest version of Skype onto my not-latest-version operating system. It took another five minutes to find a version that my not-latest-version operating system would support. Twenty seconds before the appointed time, I had something open on my computer and my fingers crossed.

It worked. I saw my interviewer, she saw me. She asked questions, I attempted to answer them in a meaningful manner whilst determinedly not looking at the image of myself in the bottom left hand corner. Of course, it wasn't until after the interview that I thought of all my best answers. You know, the succinct, witty, intelligent ones. But that's par for the course and can in no way be blamed on Skype.

In hindsight, all that panic and faffing was probably for the best. I was so busy fretting about the technology that I had no time to worry about whether my hair was frizzy or how many chins I was featuring at any given time. I remembered to look at the camera, not the screen, so hopefully people will see my eyes, and not a fab view of my eyelids (thanks Lady Estrogen!). And I didn't even have to take another friend's advice to shut down the computer if the questions got too hard and pretend it was a 'dropped line'.

So here I am. Almost fully functioning member of the 21st century.

Next step: updating the operating system.


  1. I have not gone there. I hate the phone, so a phone with a camera is my version of torture. You're a far braver woman than I.
    LOL at tidying the on-screen portion of your office. Ha!!

  2. Go, YOU!
    I grew to love Skype, dropped lines and all, when Fabio went overseas for 6 months. We were able to talk nearly every night, and the kids could show him stuff they did at school and he could show me the Armed. Guard. who stood 2 feet from him 24 hours a day. Yeah.

  3. Oh Al, I cannot wait to see your interview.

    I am still spinning out that on opposite sides of the country we were both Skype wrangling at the same time.

    (I was determined to avoid the visual bit of it. Until I realised I needed an microphone. And that the only microphone I could lay my hands on was combined with the web cam....)

    I popped my Skype cherry today. Vidoe and all. I was not under the pressure that you dare I say it was actually fun?


  4. NO WAY! Just no way. I am so not going there. My son keeps badgering me to set an account up so he can talk to his friend in Italy.

    Honestly, I salute you. And for tidying up your corner of the office that might be visible.

    But this does seem to be the way things are going. Help!

    Can you do a vlog next?

  5. NO VLOG! I am much better in writing than I am in person and, I have to confess, I hate video in blogs. Never look at it.

  6. Oh Lucy it was absolutely AWESOME fun! ;) Today was my first day using skype. We are planning on doing a truckload of travelling this year it now seems, and I figure we need to get to grips with these things so we can keep in touch with our family. I look forward to seeing the interview.

  7. Well done! I'm a Skype virgin, although I have recently downloaded it and signed up and even bought a web cam.

    Also hate telephone, so this whole video phone thing is freaking me out. But everyone seems to be doing it and one day soon I'll bet someone will demand that I Skype them...

    I'd better be prepared...

  8. I skype once a year with the family back in Australia that's enough, I feel like I can't breath in enough or have enough make up on lol

  9. If you have a partner who travels for business, Skype can be your best friend on those occasions. The lucky kids of today (mine) can get their goodnight call from Daddy and this makes life so much easier for all. Great also if you have friends or relatives o/s. Kiss those international phone bills goodbye. Magic. Admittedly, I don't use it for anything else. And remember you can always disable the camera!

  10. With family overseas, we have been Skype Early Adopters... I have a love/hate relationship with it, it's great for the kids to see Grandparents, but it also becomes a chore, "it's 6pm on Thursday, we have to skype", over and over again. Sitting around the computer, and feeling rude if you leave the room, but useless just sitting there watching the husband speak to his parents!! It's a lot less personal and informal than a phone call.

  11. Ah yes... Skype. No matter how nice I look in the mirror that morning, put me on Skype and I look like two undereye bags supported by a giant left ear.

  12. I skype =]
    But I mainly use it for the chat portion, not the video call portion. We use video calls for family members who haven't seen my son in ages because of the distance between us. It's good for that!

  13. Cannot. Wait. LOL. LOL. LOL. x

    * That was SUCH a sister comment...

  14. Trying to rush our tech editor through putting together the new website so we can share the interview soon. Allison did fabulously, despite all our tech issues!

  15. Al, there is lots of LOL going on here! OMG the chins and frizzy hair. I can feel your pain. I hate to think what's next - smell-e-vision?

  16. I only Skype my husband, he likes the jammies!! Love Posie

  17. Go Al!

    I have to Skype all the time for work, and I hate it... but it's very normal now.

    Welcome to 2011. x

  18. At least you have the benefit of knowing Skype isn't in high definition.

  19. I don't want to be seen while I talk unless I have arranged to have coffee with you...then I will promise to come reasonably clothed! Blogging is can imagine me as beautiful as you like.

  20. Hi there :)
    just stopping by to say I am excited about meeting you at the Aussie Blogger's Conference in March!

  21. Welcome to the wonderful world of skype!! We've used it so much so our boy can keep in good "21st century face to face" contact with both sets of grandparents who live five hrs away. So much so that Mr 2.5 r old often asks, "Mummy, we skype Grandma today?" when he sees the laptop open! No technology challenges ahead for him...!

    Look forward to seeing the outcome of your interview!

  22. Will keep an eye out for the interview.
    Keep meaning to get the Skype thing going but am dragging my feet. My extreme hatred of being on video camera - and worse, SPEAKING on camera - may have something to do with it.

  23. Welcome to Skype. You will never look back - well you might look over your shoulder to realise the mess sitting behind you, but you know what I mean. Feeble attempt at wit. The word verification is sotieds - which really describes how I am feeling this morning, which really explains the poor attempt at wit. xx


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