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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Skype and other phones

Is there anyone here that uses Skype?

I think I have used Skype for real calls as much as 5 times in the past 5 years. All business calls. To me it is just another phone, and I hate phones. I use a phone only if I really have to. I certainly do not use it as a socializing device. I find it very restrictive and it puts me at the mercy of the one that called me. That is why I have instituted a call-answering policy (CAP).

cellphone When using a cell phone, the number of the one that calls me is usually displayed on my phone. If your phone is set not to send that information through with your call, it displays as "Private" when that call gets through to me. Some phones display "Unknown" or "Withheld" and some display "Private." My CAP is that if a call comes through to my phone with the originating number withheld, I simply do not answer that call. So, as soon as a call comes through to my cell that displays "Private" I shut it down. The reason I do this is that at some point I started getting many spam calls, so-called marketing calls. I got tired of having to interrupt these people within the first 10 seconds and asking: "Are you trying to sell me something?" "Umm, yes?" "I am really not interested. Have a good day! Goodbye!" This became the norm for several months. So I simply stopped answering calls made from phones that do not send the originating number through. I could set my previous phone not to answer calls like this. It was great. My current phone cannot do it. Pity!

I read Joel Stein's piece in the Time magazine (January 18, 2010) today called "Call Me! But Not on Skype or Any Other Videophone."

Talking about video calls, Stein writes: "In fact, even though Skype is the only one of all the cool gadgets that cartoons promised me would exist by 2010, people don't seem nearly as excited as they should be. Only 34% of Skype calls even use video. And when Skype announced on Jan. 5 at the Consumer Electronics Show that we'll soon have videophones on our televisions, everyone went right back to talking about which booths gave out the best key-chain lights."

I remember when Skype first became the hype, I was very excited. It seemed like the answer to Telkom and cell phone hell here in South Africa. Making calls in South Africa are expensive, so Skype became a delight. However, the reality of it became apparent very quickly as we started running out of bandwidth using Skype over the internet. In South Africa we pay dearly for the internet bandwidth we use. Expensive is actually just a euphemism for we pay for our bandwidth in this country! So, beware internet prices when you come to South Africa for the 2010 soccer world cup! In the end, we do pay for that Skype call via our expensive internet rates. So, while Skype is the only gadget that lived up to the promise of the cartoons, I am certainly not excited about it at all!

I find Stein's article very funny, but also very true! He really nails it on the head for me.

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