Can’t Be There? Set Up A Skype Date

I like to think I discovered using the internet to make phone calls long before anyone else did. The year was 2000, and I was backpacking through Asia and had stopped in Calcutta, India to visit with my friend’s extended family. My friend’s cousin and I had gone out nightclubbing and when we returned to his apartment at two o’clock in the morning, he offered for us to call my friend back in San Francisco, for free. Calling from Asia was pricey enough for me to stick to email throughout most of my travels, and I envisioned us breaking Indian law when I watched him put on some headphones and sit down at his computer to make our phone call. The next thing I knew, I sat like a customer service representative with my headphones and talked to my friend while she shopped through Chinatown. After a quick laugh and a shock to her system to hear from her cousin and me, we noted that the connection wasn’t half-bad and marveled that we could chat for nothing while halfway across the world.

I was hooked.What followed were the developments of VoIP software, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) technology, and a series of companies that sprung up like hotcakes around the world. Out of the United Kingdom came Skype, the most popular company using P2P, which allowed someone from one computer network to call someone on another computer network over a broadband internet connection for free. Once I downloaded the free Skype software, bought a computer headset that had a microphone (as well as two separate connectors, one plugged in for the microphone, and another plugged in for the speaker), and connected over a high-speed Internet connection, I was ready to have Skype dates. Skype is free for both users (if you’re both on it), but many times I had to call my girlfriends’ cell phones or landlines, and then had to leave a message when they weren’t at home. Then I remembered that one had a new baby and the other worked night shifts, so I got smart. Instead of emailing back and forth the current stories of our lives, or calling them only to leave my life story on their voicemails, I started to make Skype dates with these friends. Read more

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