Can you hear me?

By Richard Churchill – First Published August/September 2010

If you think about international calls, I’ll bet you think of long numbers and high bills. If you have relatives that live abroad, it is a real pain, especially if you also have to think about time differences.

While it has been possible to talk to someone over the internet for at least 10 years, until recently it wasn’t easy. Slow connections meant call quality was poor, even getting a connection seemed to require a degree in computing, certainly not for the general user. What we want is a service that is easy to use, tells us when our friends and relatives are available, it would even be nice if we could see the person we are talking to.

Funnily enough as I’m writing about it, now you can. Broadband has inspired a sudden advance in technology. Skype was the first service to allow everyone to make free calls over the internet easily and at very hight quality. There are now may services competing with skype from the likes of Microsoft and Yahoo, they work in a very similar way, although of course they don’t work with each other (when is technology ever that easy?).

In general these services are worked in a similar way, you add friends and colleagues to a contacts list. The contacts list allows you to see who is available, then all you have to do to make a call is click on the contacts name and press call. By clicking on additional names you can start a second call or a conference call. You can open text chat windows, useful for leaving messages or sharing website links. You can also send files to the person/people you are talking to.

There is one obvious snag in that you’re stuck at your computer. So the more recent innovations have been phone sized hand sets, and software for mobile phones. The ability to call standard land line number (world wide) at very good rates, and finally to get a real phone number for your PC so you can be called from a normal phone.

While calling from your computer is not for every one, it can be invaluable if you need to talk to some one is a different country, or collaborate with one or more people over the internet.

Going further

If you are fortunate enought to live in Bristol or South Gloucestershire and wold like help with your computer why not give us a call? You can call us on 01454 616365 or use our contact form and we will call you back.