Can you use SKYPE on your computer?
Do you have the right equipment and connections to make this communications program work for you? Here's what is necessary for a successful Skype experience. If you have any questions or want to “practice” a Skype call, let me know and I’ll be glad to make an appointment.
The recommended system requirements for using Skype on a Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 computer are at least a 1 GHz CPU and a minimum of 512 MB of RAM.
So how do you find out this information on a Windows computer?
- Locate the icon for MY COMPUTER on your desktop or in the START menu.
- Right-click your mouse over MY COMPUTER. This opens the shortcut menu.
- Select PROPERTIES at the bottom of the menu. This opens the SYSTEM PROPERTIES window.
- The GENERAL tab will probably already be selected.
- Look for the word "Computer:" and read the lines under it.
- You should see two sets of numbers.
- The first numbers following the CPU are the speed of this processor. This number should be 1.0 GHz (GigaHertz) or higher.
- The second number is the amount of RAM (or Random Access Memory) on your computer. This number should be no less than 512 MB (Megabytes) and on newer computers maybe 1.0 GB (Gigabytes) or higher.
- If the numbers are less than these, you will have difficulties with a Skype call on that computer.
- Click either OK or Cancel to close the SYSTEM PROPERTIES window.
- Connect to this Web site (http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/)
- Click on the name of the server closest to you to start the Speed Test.
- Then just watch the screen as two tests are run.
- The first number is the download speed, the speed that you receive data from the Internet. I have a very fast connection using a Bresnan Cable Modem so my number is usually around 8400 kbps (kilobits per second).
- The second number is the one to be concerned about. This is the upload speed that you are sending data back to the Internet. Skype recommends that this number should be at least 380 kbps or higher for video calls and 256 kbps for audio calls. My download number is usually around 385 kbps.
Then the Skype software needs to be installed on your computer. It can be downloaded from this Web site (http://www.skype.com/download/skype/windows/). If you do not use Windows look on the right side for the Mac OS X or Linux versions. This software is free and it has not resulted in any SPAM or other problems for me. You will be choosing a username for yourself when you set up your Skype account.
You will also need to have a microphone and either headphones or speakers attached to your computer. I have found that most computers’ internal speakers are usually not loud enough to be satisfactory for these calls and I prefer to use headphones. After you have installed the Skype software, they have provisions for making a test call. If you can hear yourself during the test call, then you have Skype set up correctly.
Skype also seems to be more reliable if you are connected to the Internet through an Ethernet or hard-wired connection instead of using a wireless connection.
For online harp lessons and consulting, it is really helpful to have a WebCam, which may be another piece of equipment to buy or may be built into your laptop. I use a Logitech® QuickCam® Pro 9000, but there are many good brands on the market. Naturally, the more you pay for a camera, the better quality image you will transmit. Skype can be used for 1-on-1 calls or conference calls which is how the Healing Musicians' Lifelong Learning Group sessions are run. As of July 2011 Skype only allows for use of video during conference calls if at least one of the participants is paying for the Skype Premium Service.
Information courtesy of Susan Zevenbergen
According to the Skype site, the minimum system requirements for Skype 2.0 for Mac are a Mac OS X v10.3.9 Panther or newer, G4 800 MHz and above, any G5 or any Intel processor, 512MB RAM, 40 MB free disk space on your hard drive and a microphone. I use Skype on my eMac with less free disk space than that, however. You can check your computer's capacity by going to About this Mac on the Apple Menu and clicking on the "More Info" button.
I have found that my internal mic & speakers actually work better than the headset mic I bought, so if you have a Mac I suggest trying what's built in first. Also, if you have a MacBook or newer desktop Mac (like an iMac), you already have a built-in camera that will work beautifully. If not, I recommend the Ecamm Network iMage USB Webcam for Mac and Windows v 2.0.