What is Skype?

To my grandson, Skype is this cool electronic thingie that his dad has. All he has to say is “Skype Gamma” and his dad will pick it up and call his “gamma”. He can then talk to me, and hear my voice.

Skype does more than that. Think of it as an instant message program with all the extras.

I can login, put on my headphones and call another Skype user from my laptop, holding a free conversation from around the world.

Some users have a webcam set up so they can see the person they are talking too.

Of course you can always use the chat feature.

But what if you want to call someone who doesn’t have Skype? For a small fee, there is a way to do that.

Of course you don’t even have to be connected to a computer. There are devices you can buy such as smart phones, which you can use with Skype. Think of it as another way to make phone calls, almost like a cell phone.

I don’t use Skype and other IM programs that much. Nothing to do with Skype, but time management for me. I get distracted too easily when interrupted when working on a project.

Of course, my grandson can “Skype Gamma” anytime, just has to call my home phone, as I’m not logged into Skype all day.

Skype Gramma

Skype Gramma

“Skype Gamma!”

Skype gramma is not a word you’d expect a 2 year old to be using. That is my grandson. He wasn’t in a hurry to talk, preferred to use sign language. But once he learned how communicating to others his wants got results, he is quickly adding to his vocabulary every day.









Skype is not a word you’d expect a 2 year old to know, but technology is very much a part of his life. He knows when his grandma is online, there is my picture in gmail’s chat. Christmas time he had great fun using his dad’s touch screen ipod, finding pictures, songs, etc. He loved watching a video of his little cousin, better yet, watching videos of himself.

Times change. I remember when I first took a Basic programming course. I had to go to the computer lab, save my program on a ticker tape looking thing. Feed it back each time I used it. If I made any changes, I had to save and print out another one of those ticker tape things. And if it tore, back to square one. My dad just took his first retirement and was working on his master’s. The computer he used was huge, and we feed it key punch cards.

Think of key punch cards as rectanglar pieces of card stock with holes punched in it to represent one line of code. My dad paid someone to keypunch his program, drove to the college (an hour away), feed the cards to the computer. Error, typo’s and syntax errors would spit out. Those cards would have to be redone. He’d call the lady back, have her type more cards, then hour drive back to school. Repeat. Repeat. Until he got the program right.

My dad was very happy when I took a break from school, as he knew I could key punch cards. (An obsolete skill, one I’ve long forgotten.) I’d go with him, he’d work on his next program while I feed cards to the huge room size computer. Correct any errors, put the cards back in order, and refeed the computer until we got it right.

Today, my little laptop probably does as much as those room size computers. Many choices of ways to save my information. Edit on screen, save. Look where we are today, things my grandson takes for granted. Who else would say “Skype Gamma!”

SunRocket Closes Their Doors

Sunrocket VOIP customers found themselves without service. Phones no longer working. Calls to Sunrocket wouldn’t go through. Sunrocket’s website is still up, not a peep to their clients.

Savy customers logged into the internet, searching for Sunrocket news and found headlines such as:

  • SunRocket Reportedly Closes Shop
  • SunRocket disappoints workers, customers
  • SunRocket crashes

Sunrocket is history, not a word to their customers. Their phones just quit working, one sunrocket subscriber told me about 1 in every 4 calls would make it through the last couple days until it quit altogether. Many Sunrocket customers had bought a years worth of service in advance, enticed by the much lower fees.

Meanwhile, other VOIP providers such as Packet 8 are scrambling to pick those lost VOIP subscribers, offering special deals to SunRocket Clients.


VOIP Voice over IP is another kind of phone service. I like my VOIP phone service. Instead of plugging my phone into the local phone company’s line, it plugs into my cable internet. I didn’t even have to buy a new phone to be able to use the service.

You need a quality high speed internet for this to work well. DSL or cable. Satellite does not work as well for voice. Your computer does not have to be turned on for VOIP to work. You can talk on the VOIP phone and surf the net at the same time, if you so wish.

If you disconnect your local service, your regular in house phone lines will be dead unless you hook them up to something else such as a VOIP line. It is possible to tie VOIP into your home’s phone lines, but you must disconnect your connection outside your home to the local phone service. You shouldn’t have to, but if they decide to run some random tests through your lines, it could mess things up. So you should disconnect to be safe. I recommend that you only do this if you know what you are doing.

Another option so that you can have several phones in your house tied to your VOIP service is to get one of those phones which comes in sets. One main phone you connect to your VOIP device, with one or more phone wirelessly tied in.

If your internet goes down, so does your VOIP phone. How dependable is your internet? If you go VOIP only, I advise trying the service for a month before cancelling your local phone service, then if your are pleased, but want only one, cancel your local service and see about porting your phone number over.

If your power goes out, your land line phone (local phone company) will also go out if your phones are the cordless ones requiring power. Tip to everyone, keep an old phone around that doesn’t need power if you don’t have a cell phone around. Several years back we had a massive ice storm Christmas day, many were without power for weeks, others were without phone service. Many who were without power only, still couldn’t make phone calls until they found an old fashioned phone that didn’t need power to work.

VOIP lines need power too, but because my cable modem and VOIP phone are both plugged into a UPS, they run on battery power during a power outage.

2 years ago I had 2 phone lines, dial up internet, 3 computers in the home along with 5 of my 7 kids. Our local service runs about $35 for basic service each line. I had a good dialup for $10 a month, total $80 a month plus long distance fees. My 2 oldest live out of town as do my brothers, sisters, parents.

I switched to cable internet and traded one land line phone for VOIP. I use the VOIP line for my business phone along with an 800 number. Faster internet throughout the house, unlimited long distance for about the same as I was paying before, works for me. I have a wireless router so all the computers in my home can now be online at the same time, and at a much faster speed. College kids are in and their laptops pick up the internet too.

I use Packet 8. Sometimes better than my regular phone line, other times I pick up faint echoes. My Packet 8 phone has some great features along with voice mail, and I’ve chosen to have my VOIP calls also ring to my cell. Both ring when someone calls my business line. If home I usually pick up my VOIP phone, but running errands, pick up my cell, when I don’t answer, it gets routed to voice mail.

My oldest son uses VOIP and cable, no land line phone. He had Packet 8 until he moved, Sunrocket was availble there, more features less money. He tried both for one month, Sunrocket service was much better for him. He also has a Cingular Go phone.

Lots of options, but which is right for you
? Unlike cell phones, most VOIP providers don’t require a long drawn out contract with cancellation fees. Try VOIP out and see if it works for you.


2006 Phone Tax Rebate from IRS

We’ve all been paying that 3% surcharge on our phone bill through last August. Now that the feds have determined it shouldn’t have been charged, there is a one time refund on your US 2006 income tax. Read about it on Snopes or check out IRS’s telephone tax rebate.

Yes, Virgina, not only is there a Santa Claus, but there really is a phone tax rebate.

Snopes is a great place to check out Urban Legends, sometimes they are true.