Video Conferencing

and Remote Assistance


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Video Conferencing

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There is now a plethora of video conferencing programs.  But you need to use one that other people are using.

2017 Amazon has now introduced a method of chatting to people or seeing them called Amazon Chime.  It may develop but, at present, Bob Rankin doesn't rate it as high as Skype

Most of the following programs can be used on various type of hardware and can communicate with other type of hardware.  So, if you use Skype on a PC or Mac you can communicate with people using a tiny Android pad, costing around 50.  The one exception is Apple's Facetime, for which you need an iPad, iPhone or other Apple product with a forward facing camera. The programs are Skype, Viber, Tango, Zoom and Hangouts.  In addition there are professional programs such as Webex which enable companies to conduct international meetings.  Even free Google program, Hangouts, enables you to talk to several people, their faces appearing in small windows on your screen.

N.B Microsoft bought Skype from Ebay in 2011.  As it does all of what MSN/Live Messenger can do, Microsoft has decided to retire MSN/Live Messenger, transferring users to Skype. So ALL references to MSN Messenger on this page are now redundant, especially as many people now communicate (more publicly) with Twitter and Facebook or similar programs

SKYPE : Chat3072 x 2304 to people with text, video and sound.  Excellent if you are deaf. You can even record what is seen and said or record you own message. It is used with people who have the same set up, anywhere in the world, at no additional cost.  Just broadband. With 2Mb broadband there appears to be little delay in the speech or picture drop outs or feedback even using a webcam with internal microphone and separate speakers. So this really does score highly. There are 3 picture sizes from full screen to tiny.  With full screen there was no way to see and type text (And as a deaf person it is essential for me to have this displayed. Click the small screen icon bottom right. .  But the picture would certainly help deaf people who lip read.
I have found that Skype is the BEST of all the messaging services I have tried. The sound quality is good, using speakers and there is no echo. I have even used the text portion of Skype while talking to someone on the telephone at the same time. If you get feedback (whistling) while on Skype, try using earphones or even a telephone at the same time.
Note that if you want to see the people on the other end full screen just move the cursor towards the bottom and click the full screen item. You will not be able to see the text items.  To shrink the picture again, move the cursor to the top and click the appropriate text.

Webcam using Skype with text or sound

Here is another example of using Skype.  In this case I am answering audibly but the other person is typing when I missed a few things due to deafness


Skype

In this, more recent, example my daughter is chatting from South Africa, using an Apple computer. You can see us in the small picture below
Skype example

Skype keeps changing and improving.  Here is a later incarnation  

Latest Skype screen

Making a conference call with Skype.  Several people can be invited to a call, though I find it confusing.  But there are3072 x 2304 details found in Skype help at https://www.skype.com/en/features/  In this respect I think Google's Hangouts add-on is better

MsnMessenger (now called Live Messenger) has been retired in favour of Skype, which can be used in a text only fashion.  

So, Get :

Do :

3072 x 2304 Skype has taken the communications industry by storm. Whilst you really need Broadband for a decent conversation on all such programs, if you just want to talk or send instant messages to your relatives in far away places for NOTHING, you should try this. The quality is excellent. Even I can hear it! Skype even has a facility for phoning ordinary telephones (at a cost). Obviously for PC to PC calls you both need a microphone and speakers or a headset, and you need to have at least Windows 2000 or XP.

Friend Dave reports that using Skype it is even possible to have a conference call with up to nine people ! Using SkypeOut it is possible to conference with up to five on ordinary land lines. To quote him "First I called Julie in Oz from my computer to her land line, then I called my daughter and my son on their land lines and invited them to the conference. The connection was as clear as a bell and it cost only 1.02 pence per minute.3072 x 2304  Only the host has to have a PC."

You can also take snapshots with Skype.  Go to Options at the top, then video.  If your camera is working OK you should see a picture of yourself and can take a snapshot. If you are in a call, move the cursor to the top of the screen, where you should see "take a snapshot" and "view in full screen". When you take a snap you are asked if you want to save it.  It appears in a gallery of snaps.  But where are they on the computer ?  I eventually tracked them down to (Yourname), appdata, roaming, skype, pictures.... but you may just find them in th Pictures folder.

N.B. To prevent unwanted contacts (including sex calls) I suggest that you click Tools, Options, Privacy Settings, Allow calls from.. only people in my contacts list.3072 x 2304

Don't underestimate the use of the internet for phone calls. There are two advantages for hard of hearing people.  First you will be able to hear calls via your speakers at a level of amplification set by yourself, so you can hear with BOTH ears and with hearing aids in place.  Secondly, Skype reckons their calls are better than via a standard telephones, which have a very narrow frequency range.  This means that high frequency sounds, such as the letters S and F at the beginning of words, are lost to the hard of hearing.  Skype technology gives a much wider range of frequency, which is why I was able to hear a conversation from folks in Australia better than I could a phone call from next door.  

Using the Internet for telephoning. It is now possible to buy equipment that connects to your Broadband Modem or Router and enables you to connect an ordinary telephone.  This makes it possible to use the Internet for phone calls even when the PC is not on.  But it is usual to connect via an Ethernet port rather than a USB port for this direct connect system. This is not required for the Skype type program, where one can either use a headset or even a USB telephone. Another relevant service is at www.callserve.com
Another brilliant service can be found at www.jajah.com.  In this case you can use your own telephone but still make a call via you computer line either free or very cheaply.  You can even try it without registering.  Basically you just type in your friends number and click call.  Because the program has you own number it phones you back and you can then pick up the phone and talk as normally.

Another service, which enables to get very cheap calls using the ordinary telephone can be found at http://www.call18866.co.uk/rates.php and also http://www.1899.com. After a small connection charge many calls are free or very cheap.- even for mobiles. e.g. Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico and USA calls ON A MOBILE are only 1p a minute, though if you call via a mobile you have to dial a number and wait to hear a follow on number first.  

However, I would stress that to get good audio/video conferencing you really both need to be on Broadband


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