Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Do you Skype?

Skype is a tool that I think many people are unaware of or just haven't explored. I can see LOTS of ways it could be used to save LOTS of $$$ and time.

Why use Skype?

  • FREE long distance calls
  • Video calls - see who you are talking to
  • Avoid 'voice mail hell' by knowing if someone is available before calling
  • Voice mail is available free with any subscriptions or just $20/year
  • Text chat for quick messages or questions
  • Free conference calls (up to 24 people)
  • Why not augment a web conference by using Skype for the audio. This would allow people to participate from a land line if they can't be at a computer. Personal observation: I noticed that the Skype audio quality was better than the audio in an Elluminate Live! session (and I've been pretty happy with the audio in Elluminate sessions).
  • Record calls with http://www.powergramo.com/ (Pete and I recorded our podcast using this tool)
  • If you frequently receive calls from a long distance friend or family (or work), for $6/mo or less get a local number at their end, so they can call you for free - from a land line or cell phone
  • Get those calls forwarded to any other phone when you are not online ($0.021/minute)
  • Dial land lines (or cell phones) anywhere in the US/Canada (aka unlimited long distance) for less than $3 per month
So, before you pick up the phone to make a long distance call, why not look to see if the party you are calling is online? You might save yourself some time and money.

Of course, this assumes that you will be using voice to communicate. Often, there are much better ways to communicate, but that's another post.

Disclosure: I have no financial or other interest in Skype other than as a satisfied user.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

My first podcast

With the help of my good friend, Pete Flores from Texas, I've created a podcast. Actually, Pete did most of the heavy lifting - creating and editing the audio file - I just contributed the content. But, that's a step. You can find it at: http://techknowtalk.tamu.edu/

In the past, I haven't been a big fan of podcasts - not seeing them as real useful, but since I've started listening to more of them I'm changing my mind. I'm still trying to figure out how/where/when they'll work for me and teaching the people I'm responsible for teaching...

Earlier this year, I got an iPod and used it to listen to some podcasts, but I just never found a good time to listen. I can't pay attention to what I'm listening to and read or write at the same time, so I have to stop working in order to listen. Since I can read faster than most people talk, I would prefer to get the information in text format - usually via an news/RSS feed. What changed my mind is I got a device that lets me listen to my iPod through my radio. In many newer cars and my '72 VW bug (which is for sale by the way) there is a jack to plug it in - just requires a cheap audio cable.

Now, I keep learning and stay up-to-date in my field while I drive. Not all of my listening is work related. I catch a lot of the NPR broadcasts that I miss over the weekend like Car Talk. I also like listening to Old Time Radio shows. I don't listen to much music on it, but Kevin Gamble tweeted something that made me think - "The housekeepers left the radio on in my hotel bedroom. Remember radio? Feels very weird listening to a total stranger's playlist."

For technology information, I've been listening to: Apple Quick Tips, Geekspeak, The World Technology Podcast, and several podcasts from CNET.

I'm beginning to change my mind on the usefulness and popularity of podcasts. I'd like to hear what others think? Is podcasting a good way to educate? Are there podcasts you'd recommend?