I admit it, I never learned to use Skype. I have tried it. At least twice a year some friend or family member wants to see if we can make it work. I’ve never made it work.
There are a lot of reasons. One is that this computer has two sets of video and sound cards. It’s a gaming computer and for reasons best known to Dell (or more accurately, Alienware), they decided to do everything twice.
All well and good but getting Skype to run, you have to figure out which microphone it can use and which video card it needs and you have to use either the two high def ones or the two low def one. Not one of each. That merely confuses the system which is often confused without any help.
Then there’s Charter (Spectrum) which has a habit of dropping you for a few seconds here and there, usually when you are trying to save something. Most of the time, it comes back on its own, but sometimes you have to reboot the router et al. Sometimes, it doesn’t come back. Then you are glad you have a rarely used mobile device so you can call Charter and explain there’s no signal. Which they will deny has anything to do with them.
Last night, my friend Cherrie sent me an email and said: “Let’s try Skype … oh and by the way, I’ve never done this before.” I answered saying I’d never done it either — not entirely true … I’d been walked through it once before. I wasn’t sure I could make it work, but I’d give it a whack. What the hell. It turns out her son was urging her to use it.
“Why?” she asked.
“You could talk to your family.”
“I never talk to my family. Why would I start now?” But luckily, I’m not a family member, so she’ll talk to me. In theory.
First, I did all the stuff to set it up. It told me I didn’t have a camera. I managed to turn on the camera. Then it told me that I couldn’t use that email (which is my only email) because I’d used it before and did I want to create a new email.
I did NOT want to create a new email. I gave in. I took out my cell phone and used that number. After which, my computer started to ring, but when Cherrie tried to answer it, she couldn’t get it to connect. Our dialogue consisted of me asking “Are you there?” (text) and her computer saying “You missed your call” (more text).
I gave up. I picked up my (non-mobile) telephone and called her. I could see a frozen picture of her on my screen, but she couldn’t see or hear me. I figured we could forget the whole microphone thing have a nice chat. But she was determined.
“We used to be good at this,” she said. “What happened?” I declined to point out that we got old and hadn’t even tried to keep up with current technology. I have always been good at software, but there are things I can’t do. I can’t run my printer or change the ink in it. I hate copy machines and they hate me right back. Since we were already on the phone, she figured she might as well give it one more try. This was the start of a lot of clanging while both our computers started ringing like mad. Still no pictures.
And suddenly, she could hear me and I could after a while, I could hear her. We laughed a lot and figured we should make this a good conversation because we doubted we would ever make it function again.
This morning I asked Owen if he knows how to use Skype. After all the explanations of what’s wrong with the technology, how they’ve oversimplified it so you have no control over anything, the answer was “No.” Meanwhile, Garry wants me — ME! — to set up Zoom for him for tomorrow. Does anyone think this is going to happen? I certainly don’t.
I find this process so utterly baffling I don’t know why it didn’t work and I don’t know why, eventually, it did work.
The telephone works fine for me because I am the idiot.