Thursday, March 06, 2008

Skype Tools

Living overseas means lots of Skype time.  I think I've spent over $50 in Skype credit calling to the US in the past three months - that is a lot, considering that computer-to-computer calls are free.  

Recently, what I wanted to do is to call up our home in the US in the middle of the night, get Skype to automatically answer, and get it to automatically transmit video back.

Sorta like the "DIY Home Security System" hack from these 25 Tips to Improve Your Skype Experience from VoIP News.  Of course, it is pretty easy to set up a new Skype user, put yourself in the contact list, set to auto answer and auto video out in the Skype Preferences. 

But the trick really is to have two Skype accounts running concurrently on one computer - that way, on your "normal" account, you do not auto answer with a video out.  

Some Googling led to this Applescript (OS X) called Peek-O-Matic.  This script, by Andreas Schuderer - allows for two concurrent Skype sessions for different users.  One can be the "home security user" and the other the "normal" user.  Handy little tool, it is.  The version on the site, v0.4 is for Leopard.  Ask for v0.3 if you are running OS X 10.4.

Finally, if you have the bandwidth and the hardware, here is how to improve Skype's video quality on OS X.