Using Skype to Bridge the Gap

How do you close the gap between a Grandmother and her Granddaughter?

How do you close the gap between the Chicago suburbs and the west coast of Florida?

In a word: Skype

My Mom is a snowbird. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a snowbird typically is a person of retired age who splits their time between their hometown in the northern regions of our country and some place nice and warm. When the snow flies, so do they!

She loves to travel and golf, but she misses my daughter. Enter the new craze sweeping retirement communities; some of her friends in Florida have been using Skype for a while. One day, my mom said to me, “We’re getting a new computer with a camera built in so we can Skype.” *

Wha?

My mom has to call me twice a day to figure out how to work my TV when she is home watching my daughter. You mean to tell me this lady is going to learn how to Skype?!

“Yes, my friends use it to see their grandkids and read books to them and it’s free!”

I told my wife and we both had a good laugh. Two weeks ago, I downloaded the software. I had never used it before and didn’t know what to think. Some of my clients used it to call me and it was a lot of, “Can you hear me Alan? I want to buy another external hard drive. I’m using Skype to call -” Then…. silence.

Well, they must have improved the service over the past year, because once my mom had it up and running, we did our first video call. I was blown away.

Surely this can’t be free, but it is! If you are using it to call other Skype users, the service is completely free. To place a call to landlines and cell phones, you pay a small fee.

It was so great to talk to and see my Mom. We did a fifteen-minute video call and my daughter got to see her Grams. My mom was able to show her things and see her reaction. It was one of the best things I used my MacBook Pro for since I installed my recipe software.

Now my daughter is bridging the gap between her Grams and technology and it’s pretty amazing to witness. The other night, my wife and I were talking about our plans for the weekend over dinner. I said, “Maybe Sunday afternoon we can Skype my mom.”

Suddenly, my three year old daughter’s little voice piped up from across the table with, “Who’s gonna’ Skype us?”

*Editor’s Note: OWC Carries a number of Skype-compatible cameras and microphones, so you can continue to use the computer you already have. That way you save money on two fronts: saving on phone calls with Skype, and saving on upgrades with OWC!


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  • The ability to call land lines seems cool. As far as video chats, which is better: Skype to Skype, or iChat to iChat?




    • Hey Toby,

      Thanks for reading. If it is Mac to Mac, I would stick with iChat. With my situation my Mom and Step Father have a Toshiba running Windows. That is why we went with Skype.

      Best regards,
      Alan




  • Haha… nice article!! Skype is awesome. The only real problem with Skype is that nobody except for advanced Mac users can figure out how to install it properly! ;-) I discuss this more in my blog entry here: http://tinyurl.com/scott-install




    • Thanks Scott. I had fun writing that one. I just read your tutorial blog on installing applications, very good and you made some great points. Like one of your posters mentioned, I had no idea that many mac users found it daunting or confusing. You are right on about the Windows install!