I’m beginning to feel like I’m a joiner?not the woodworking type joiner, but the type who joins groups for the sake of joining groups. I joined the Facebook community because my cousin said it was time I joined the 21st century. I was unaware at the time that you could join a century; I thought you were just in it, but obviously I was wrong. Then I joined the Windows 7 herd because Vista gave me a headache and taught my dog totally inappropriate language for a two-year-old. Now I’ve joined the Skype community.
Skype, for those of you who are almost as ignorant of these things as I am, is a VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) that allows you to phone a long-lost childhood friend three thousand miles away and see her via a video connection in her curlers and dressing gown at any time of the day or night for free.
I don’t have any long-lost childhood friends; the friends I had as a child are lost for a reason: they were part of the decision to emigrate, and I have no intention of finding them. So I Skyped my brother in England.
My brother has two teenage children and is heavily into Internet marketing with his own business, so he’s up on these things. He courteously agreed to accept my call and I was able to see him in all his early Sunday evening glory, lounging on the couch, arms crossed over a recently acquired pot-belly, eyes red from the excesses of the night before, and looking for all the world like our dear departed father.
Our father would have found Skype an interesting experience. He bought three little video cameras for the computer when they first became popular back in the mid 1990s. There was no VoIP back then, but that didn’t stop our 70-something-year-old father from encouraging my brother and me to make little video clips of ourselves and attach them to an email. It was fun for a while, but I soon got bored of having to make sure I wasn’t having a bad hair day before ?talking? to my Dad.
During my Skype video conversation with my brother and his herd, I was able to fully appreciate my 17-year-old nephew yawning while not covering his mouth, my brother rolling his eyes while I was talking, and my 12-year-old niece applying blue eye shadow. This last fact in itself was distressing as one of the first fashion laws I learnt at the Wirral County Grammar School for Girls was that under no circumstances was one to wear blue eye shadow, even if your eyes or garments were blue. Miss Winifred Ashton, she who also taught us that the ugliest part of a woman’s body is the back of her knees, would have been horrified and is surely now turning in her grave.
But back to Skype. It’s easy to join (it has to be or I wouldn’t have been bothered). A two-minute software download, some sort of microphone capability, and the optional video webcam, and You’re all set. Call all your friends for free. Especially if You’re a pensioner.
Why does it make a difference if You’re a pensioner, I hear you query? Well, did you know that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CCPIB) paid $300 million for a stake in Skype Technologies back in late 2009? Who knew that our government-run pension plan was so cool?
Given that CPP recipients have a vested interest in the investments of the fund, it behooves them to make sure the venture is successful. Not that this will be difficult: Skype was valued at US$2.75 billion in November 2009 with the potential for huge positive returns. Just like futures and derivatives used to have.
They may actually be on to a good thing. Last time I logged on to Skype, there were 21,434,149 people worldwide also actively using the system. Now That’s a lot of people.
Apparently you can Skype anybody?whether you know them not. So, if You’re wondering what to do with all the spare time now that You’re fed up with the inane comments people put on their Facebook pages, you can just type a name into a box, press search, pick someone and call them. For free.
Just remember two things: get dressed before you call so that you stay onside with the indecency laws, and cover your mouth when you yawn.
Oh, and don’t use Skype to call for help from the fire or police departments. With 21,434,149 residences to check out worldwide, they’ll never find you in time.