Makeuseof offers several very cool options for sending video messages to your friends, family, and mortal enemies. I especially like the birthday greetings idea!
Details at makeuseof – 9 Ways To Send Video Messages.
Tropical storm Debby kept things wet and blustery much of the week, and while the rain has helped ease our drought problems we are glad to say goodbye to her. There’s still lots of interesting tech news to report so let’s get started.
Apple has finally released a podcast app [iOS - free] although Lifehacker prefers Downcast [iOS - $1.99] and I can see why. Kindle Fire and other Android devices can take advantage of BeyondPod [Android - free and $6.99] which supports both audio and video podcasts and integrates Google Reader as well. TuneIn Radio fans [iOS, Android, Blackberry & Windows Phone - free and $.99] know that it supports podcasts as well as radio. Did you know that TuneIn Radio is also available on your Roku box? Love it!
More ebook-building goodness with the addition of Folium Studio. You can build beautiful ebooks yourself or let them do it – all at a very reasonable price. It’s an online platform so this solution works for all users.
While we’re discussing book projects . . . Lynn Palermo, the Armchair Genealogist, has produced a great video as part of her Blog to Book project that shows how to structure your blog to support the book.
TextExpander [Mac - $34.99] has upgraded their desktop edition with tons of new features. Unfortunately, Apple’s new restrictions has forced them out of the Mac App Store. The update from version 3 to version 4 is $15. The iOS version of TextExpander [$4.99] is still available in the app store.
Mac|Life has a great article on how to create a journal using iPhoto on the iPad/iPhone. This is my favorite feature on iPhoto and this article is a great overview on how the journal works. Unfortunately, this feature isn’t available on the desktop version.
Here’s a hands-on look at the new Facebook plugin for WordPress (self-hosted) sites via @DearMYRTLE.
Skype users should find these Mashable tips useful.
Save A Grave sends us to a very special National Geographic program on Arlington at Netflix
While you’ll always find the best genealogy reads at Moultrie Creek Books, you might also find Caroline Pointer’s Family History Book Club a fun way to find interesting books and share your thoughts on them with others.
You may already be aware that I am a big Twitter fan. I think Twitter a fabulous news source and the growing number of apps that turn tweets into gorgeous reading experiences all agree with me too. The Twitter posts you see here are totally functional. If you are a Twitter user, you can follow, retweet or respond to any of the tweets included in this post. If you’re not a Twitter user, grab a copy of The Twitter Book and go sign up today. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Keep the people of Colorado in your prayers as they battle these awful fires. A donation to The Salvation Army or Red Cross will help assist the tens of thousands who have been forced from their homes.
At work, I’ve found instant messaging a much simpler way to work with a group of people than either email or the phone. I create a private chat room and invite my co-workers. Once set up, it’s an on-going conversation right at our fingertips.
Have you finished those updates?
They’ll be done before lunch.
We’re pushing patches this weekend.
Have you fixed the style sheet yet?
Does that look okay?Perfect!
How do I . . .
Our IM system is pretty primitive compared to Skype. I can’t share files, let alone share my screen. Even so, it’s still a more relaxed, yet quite productive way to work together across distances. The chat window stays open all day and messages flow as needed. On my desktop it sits at the bottom corner of my screen so it’s always visible. I don’t have to stop and check my email just to see if something’s happening. And, I don’t have a collection of email messages to dispose of either.
At home I’m buried in round-robin emails from this group or that association trying to get work done. Often it takes days for decisions to get made because the email conversation frequently dies when it gets lost in someone’s inbox. Think how much easier it would be if the question was put out via Skype text message and the conversation was in real time? With Skype available on most mobile devices, it’s easy to connect no matter where you are. Instead of trying to get everyone at the same physical location at the same time (The scheduling alone can take more time and effort than the meeting itself.), how about a Skype workshop? It works more like an open house where you set the available time period and people wander in and out as their schedule permits. Announce the workshop ahead of time with agenda and expected results.
Here’s how to start your workshop in Skype:
The workshop won’t interfere with any other Skype conversations going on at the same time. You can have separate chat windows to text with others and even pop in/out of voice or video calls too. Any workshop attendee can have a private conversation – text, voice or video – just by clicking on a contact and starting a new session.
If your workshop will be a recurring event, you can save it by right-clicking on the icon in the sidebar and choosing Add to Favorites. You can also rename it by right-clicking on it in the sidebar, choosing Set Topic . . . and entering your new name (Board Meeting in the above example). The next time you want to have a workshop, just click on the item in your sidebar and type your first message.
You can also use the chat history as a record of your workshop’s accomplishment. Check your Skype Preferences to set how long your chat history is kept. Unfortunately, there’s no longer a facility to export that history, but you can have your preferences set to keep your history forever and you can copy/paste specific chat text to a text editor. There are Skype plugins available for recording voice and video calls.
Skype offers many easy and affordable ways to work together. And, thanks to the growing number of systems and devices that are Skype-enabled, you don’t have to “be there” to participate. Starting with a group text chat as the foundation of your workshop, members can take advantage of voice, video, file sharing and even screen sharing to accomplish the goal. Start small – maybe with a workshop just to experiment with Skype – and let your members get comfortable with the various features. You’ll find it quickly becomes second nature to have multiple text conversations going on with a voice conversation on the side. As the comfort zone increases, so does you potential for getting work done online.
Skype has just released a fabulous app for the iPad that works for both old and new models. If you are using an original iPad, you won’t be able to broadcast videos (d’uh), but you can see your callers if they have their video turned on. There are some other limitations – like no group video calls and no file sharing – but that still leaves a lot of flexibility.
Now I see they’ve also cut the price on Skype Premium. If you choose the annual payment plan, its 50% off or $54. You’ll get a 25% discount is you choose quarterly payments. Skype Premium gives you all the goodies of free Skype and unlimited group video calls, unlimited calls to regular and mobile calls in the US and Canada and group screen-sharing (Mac users only).
Skype Premium is not device dependent. If you’ve got Skype Premium, you’ve got it on whatever computer or device you are using. As long as you’re logged in using your account, it’s all available to you.
Next up is Skype on Comcast. The deal’s been made to include it built into the cable box. We’re just waiting for it to be implemented. I’m looking forward to sharing Christmas – and many more special days – with our California family from the comfort of my big screen tv.
My Short Take on Managing Skype Conference Calls has just been updated to include the latest Skype features. It walks you through the process to manage a virtual meeting or conference call using Skype.
|Format:||PDF – no digital rights management|
|Download it here.|
|Download it at Scribd.|
Skype has always been an important part of my digital research toolbox, but the recent updates give it even more value – both as a research tool and for staying connected with distant family. Skype 5.0 beta has been released for Mac users giving us the ability to have group video calls too. The Windows 5.0 beta was released several weeks ago so we can all enjoy this new capability just in time for the holidays.
Both versions have an integrated interface – everything now happens in one window. Windows users can view their Facebook news feeds inside the Skype interface and even initiate calls with their Facebook friends. We Mac folks don’t have that ability, and no one has said if we ever will. Still, this new version has much to enjoy.
Moving forward, Skype is looking to become a profitable business. As a result, they are expanding their Skype Out capability where you can call land and mobile lines using Skype. For $3.00/month, U.S. users get unlimited calling anywhere in the U.S. and Canada. Now that Skype works on iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Symbian smart phones, this can be a very economical way to stay in touch. I’ve used this for some time on my desktop and found it quite handy.
It does look like they plan to make the group video calls some kind of fee-based plan. From my experience, I’m guessing it will be very affordable.
I’m waiting to see what Apple’s iOS 4.2 upgrade brings for Skype on the iPad. You can use the iPhone app now, but without multi-tasking you can’t receive calls unless the app is running. With the iOS upgrade, it will run in the background and we won’t miss calls because we’re reading the paper. And, although the iPad doesn’t have a camera, I’m looking forward to a Skype app designed just for the iPad as well as other apps – Meeting Manager Pro immediately comes to mind – that integrate Skype’s functionality.
Skype continues to innovate and this new beta shows there’s much more to enjoy with their service. Now it’s our turn to find new and fun ways to put it to good use.
Oh, did I mention that Skype is also coming to your tv? Oh, Santa . . .
If you don’t have a Skype account, WHY? Skype costs you nothing, works on Windows, Mac, Linux and a growing number of portable devices, and gives you the ability to connect to any other Skype user worldwide – for free! And now Windows users can have group video calls with up to 10 participants. You can also view your Facebook news feed inside the Skype app and even initiate calls and text messages with your Facebook friends. Now, you can easily initiate group chats too -something sorely lacking in Facebook. Mac users won’t be far behind. Group video will be in the next version (“coming soon”) and hopefully it will include the Facebook integration too. There’s a Skype app for iPad, but until iOS 4.2 is released in November, it has limited capability.
What can you do with Skype? How about talk as much as you want as often as you want with family and friends anywhere in the world? With a webcam, you can enjoy video conversations and even participate in special events like birthday parties. Skype also provides a text messaging platform that’s great for virtual collaboration – just leave the message box open and ask questions, provide updates or comment on document reviews as needed throughout the day. Should you need to add another to the conversation, it’s not a problem. Skype supports conference calls – both audio and video – and group text chats.
Add some Skype Extras and you’ve extended your capabilities even more. They offer a subscription service [about $30/year US] that lets you call any landline or mobile phone in the U.S. and Canada from Skype. With the simple Call Recorder</a/ addon (Mac, $19.95), you can record long distance interviews with family members. Windows users can use the Pamela (Win, free and pro versions) platform to record and tons of other functions like call forwarding, reminders and as a personal answering service.
All you need to start calling is a computer with speakers and microphone (or you can use a headset), a broadband connection and the free Skype software. It’s delightfully easy to use and a great way to stay in touch with those you love. Check it out my Skype Basics tutorial and see for yourself. [As soon as the Mac version is released, I plan to update this tutorial.]
Have you ever wanted to quickly check your email from a public wifi system only to discover they want $9.95/hour to connect? And, they make you pay for a full hour even if you only use a couple of minutes. Cheer up! Skype has a solution you might find handy – Skype Access. This service will allow you to connect to a huge list of public wifi systems for 19¢ a minute and you only pay for the minutes you use.
To use Skype Access, you’ll need the most current version of Skype installed on your Windows or Mac OS X computer and a credit balance in your Skype account. When you select a public wifi system, you’ll see a pop-up Skype window asking if you’d like to access using your Skype credit if that network supports Skype Access. There’s no connection fee and no minimum charge – you just pay for the minutes you use. And, those payments are made by Skype using your Skype credit – saving you from passing credit card information across unfamiliar wifi networks.
Skype Access offers a safe and easy way to connect while you’re traveling. For a quick connect, it’s a great deal but for longer access it can become costly. I’d just love to see this feature added to the mobile versions of Skype where we could really put it to good use.