Following the lead of hipper, younger folk, a few years ago Peter and I canceled our land line service and now just use our cell phones. However, as we found out when I went to Germany, our cell phones can’t make international calls. But I emailed Peter to check out Skype, which I’d heard about, and now was seeing all the Europeans in all the internet cafes using. He did, and making international calls from home were an option for us again. I was too disoriented to set up a Skype account for myself while I was in Germany: I was somehow under the impression that like many technological things in Germany, it would be horridly complicated.
But as soon as I got home, I put Skype on my computer, and set up an account for myself. It was a cinch. And today, I discovered how great Skype is.
Peter called me from Germany early in the morning, and told me to try Skyping him, since he was in front of a computer. It was easier than dialing a phone: all I had to do was click on his name in my list. The program rang like a phone as it tried to connect with Peter; he agreed to the connection; and then, we were speaking internationally for only the cost of an internet connection (which was the one euro an hour Peter was paying.) And the sound quality was great: we both had headsets, and I could hear Peter more clearly than I ever hear him on a phone.
We spoke for 40 minutes. Peter’s trade show display was still in the clutches of the specter of Terminal 5, but prayers and a mysterious Italian may come to his rescue. Said Italian (or is that Vatican City resident?) agreed to go into the bowels of hell, or whatever Terminal 5 is connected to, fetch the luggage, and bring it to Peter. If it weren’t for the Italian, Peter’s trade show would be a lost cause. The Germans were making up a new holiday (let’s call it “The Feast of the Corpse”, yeah, that’s it….) in hopes Terminal 5’s minions might spit out the luggage on their own. I told Peter about Neil’s science fair project, which is nowhere near as exciting as adventures with Terminal 5 and drunken Germans on bikes.
The same phone call, even at today’s far-more-economical-than-they-used-to-be international calling rates, would have cost me $11 or $12. As it is, the whole call cost $1.60 and we could have spoken for another 20 minutes for the same price. There’s lots of features I’m not using: we could have had a video connection as well for the same price