This is not a writing related post, unless you want to be very liberal in your definition of writing-related.
I’m running late in making my daily post because I just completed two hours of phone calls with my boss, my brother, and my mom. All thanks to the wonders of Skype. And probably not Skype the way most people who know anything about Skype think of it. (Wow, that was an awful sentence…)
As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to spend a lot of my time overseas, so I’m currently halfway around the world from everyone I actually speak to on the phone. The reason I can actually do this is Skype.
Now, most people who know about Skype know about the free video calling feature. You sign up for an account, your significant other who lives far, far away signs up for an account, you call each other on your computers (or fancy, schmancy phone) and visual hijinks ensue.
I actually hate to use the video calling feature on Skype. The last thing I need to do is spend an entire call seeing a little image of myself looking like an idiot on the screen. And, even if I had a significant other far, far away, I’m just not ooey gooey like that. Even when I call someone’s Skype account, my video shows a hazy orange screen from the back of the post-it note I have plastered over my computer’s camera. (Thanks Criminal Minds or whatever serial killer show I saw where the tech guy hacked people’s computers and cyber-stalked them. Because, really, I needed to be more paranoid than I already am.)
Anyway, getting back to the point. Skype has made working from another country possible for me in two ways.
First, I was able to buy phone numbers in both the United States and in my chosen foreign country that ring through to my Skype account. So, my 80-something-year-old grandma who wouldn’t touch a computer if you paid her money can just pick up her phone and call a local number and reach me on my computer halfway around the world. Same for my boss. She calls a U.S. number and I answer it on my computer. I forget how much this costs me a month, but it’s cheap. It’s an amazing service and I love it.
Second, I have some sort of international calling package with Skype that lets me call any phone number in the United States and landlines in most foreign countries for one very low flat fee. Again, I can’t remember what it costs, but I can tell you it is much cheaper than my cell phone.
Now, Skype is not perfect. I’ve had work calls where I had to resort to the cellphone because Skype wasn’t maintaining a good connection that day and I’ve annoyed my mother and my boss more than once when the connection went fuzzy. But, 95% of the time I’d say it’s amazing.
Without Skype, I could not do my current job from where I am.
Compare this to the first trip I ever took to Europe fifteen years ago. My friend and I had to buy calling cards (no cell phones back then) and call from payphones to check in every couple of days. It’s amazing how far we’ve come in such a short period of time.
So, not a writing post, but I felt compelled to share the Skype love today and to help get the word out to anyone who’s thinking about working from some sort of non-traditional location and is trying to figure out how it might be possible.
(Bonus random comment. Spellcheck was ok with “gooey” but not “ooey.” Also, most creative spelling of the day was a Facebook post that spelled torrential, “terenchal.” I can’t really throw stones, because my ability to pronounce things correctly sucks. Too much book learning and not enough hearing certain words. That’s the nice thing about being in a foreign country, people expect me to mispronounce things.)