LOSING SKYPE

Our 96-year-old friend Ida uses the free Skype service to have video-chats with her friends in Australia. One day, her account was wiped out. Could this happen to you? (Think of that question as having been asked in scary monster movie title type.) You might think this had something to do with her age, and she must have hit the wrong button or spilled something on the keyboard. But no, we found dozens of similar complaints on the web. One guy wrote: “Where has my account gone? I do business all over Europe and today you just trashed my account with the credit I had as well?  You idiots.  If somebody within Microsoft made the decision to do this – […]

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GLIDE ON

“Glide” is like Skype video calling but with a twist. When you tap “record,” you’re streaming live video, whether or not there’s anyone waiting at the other end. Videos can be up to five minutes and the service is free.

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FREE GROUP CALLS ON SKYPE

Engaging in a Skype video chat with a group, where each person is in a different location, used to be part of their premium service. Now it’s free. To start, locate one of your friends on Skype. Then click the plus sign next to their name and choose “add people.” Start adding them and when you’re finished, click the call icon. For now, it works with PC, Mac and the Xbox One. Depending on the device, you can call people in three to 10 locations.

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LEAVING A VIDEO MESSAGE

We’re not into video calling, but somebody must be. So we liked the idea of Skype’s new video messaging service. Rather than interrupt someone with a phone call, you can leave a video message. This service just came out of testing and is now available on computers and smart phones. To leave a video message, you and the other person have to be Skype users, which is free. Just click the plus sign next to their name in your contacts list to send a video message.

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SKYPE ON THE PLAYSTATION

Good news for chatty Chucks and Cathys: Sony’s PlayStation Vita does free Skype video chats. It also takes incoming calls during a game. Studies show that gamers use their machines as much for social reasons as for games. Owners of the older Playstation and the “PSP” (PlayStation Portable), can’t do video calls because the PSP has no built-in camera.

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FREE WIFI IN THE AIRPORT

Here’s how to call your friends from the airport without using any cellphone minutes or searching for a payphone. Skype is offering an hour of free WiFi connectivity from December 21 through the 27th.

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JUST HANGING OUT

GPhangouts.com has public places where you can hang out with others on Google Plus in a group video chat. We met a travel writer there, some business types and a guy speaking German. Some chats will have started by the time you get there, others are scheduled for the next day or a few hours later. Requires a Google Plus account to hang out. (You can request an invite at plus.google.com.)

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SKYPE CALLS ON THE IPAD 2

Face to face video calling on the iPad 2 just got a whole lot easier with the new Skype app for the iPad. Play the video or go here for more details.

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CHOOSING CHEAP CHAT

Skype is the most well-known service for making cheap or free phone calls over the Internet. But Line2, a $10-$15 a month service from Line2.com, made us feel like big shots.

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NEW SKYPE FOR MAC

Making free video conferencing calls on Skype used to be annoying, because you couldn’t include Mac users in your group. Now Skype has released a version that corrects that. Get everybody in the picture. The new version, Skype for Mac 5.0, has a mini toolbar that sits atop any photos, web pages or documents you have open. It lets you do instant messaging offline. Finally, Skype has a new contest: The prize is a $1,500 gift certificate at the Apple store. Visit bit.ly/dm6AAe to enter. More info on video conference calls at the Skype blog.

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