Skype – A Better Telephone?

Image of Skyper's Logo
Skype logo
Skype logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the ubiquitous presence of cell phones the need for traditional landlines seems to be drastically decreasing and many individuals and families are choosing to abandon landlines altogether for only cellular service. Still, cell phones aren’t a perfect solution. They generally are fairly expensive on a per minute conversation basis, have high roaming charges, and reception isn’t always amazing.

For me, Skype is and has been a service of great use – allowing me to move to cell-only, losing the landline, but at the same time keeping an inexpensive and constantly available alternative. Skype at its most basic is a free chat application – allowing users to converse via voice, video, and text. Where it passes far beyond many of its competitors is in its ability to call out to traditional phones (landlines and cells) and to receive calls from the same.

Skype offers all of this at drastically low prices. $2.95/mo. will let you call unlimited anywhere in the U.S. and Canada and $12.95/mo. will let you call unlimited to forty countries around the world. Add $60/yr. onto this and you get inbound calls with your own traditional phone number. Finally, dump on voicemail for another $20/yr. All told you are paying $116/yr. for unlimited calls within the U.S. and Canada!

And Skype will travel with you. Going on a vacation? Business trip? If you have your laptop and a internet connection you can make calls with your Skype.

Skype also offers a number of advanced features for businesses and individuals – such as normal phones that use Skype – offering traditional phone convenience without the need to use a computer (though they shouldn’t be used for emergency 911 calls). A whole ecosystem of products has grown around Skype – some of them quite advanced and feature-filled.

Take a look at Skype. Its free. If you want some of the premium features – it does cost, but they won’t trick you into buying anything and if you do buy a subscription from them its amazingly reasonable.

WinDirStat: What is Hogging All My Hard Drive?

WinDirStat Screenshot

An older software application, but a freebie and a goodie, is WinDirStat. If you ever find yourself running low on storage space on your hard drive – this application will quickly and intuitively give you a peek into what is consuming all that space.

Before you go out buying a bigger hard drive, using WinDirStat to see if there isn’t (and there probably is) some unneeded files or applications consuming major amounts of disk space. You can delete these files/applications thus freeing up space on your hard drive and save yourself the cost of a new, bigger hard drive.

Warning: You can totally ruin your computer by deleting the wrong files – so don’t go deleting files you aren’t sure about!

WinDirStat Screenshot

Mental Health Reading List (Part II) – OCD and AD(H)D.

Per my introductory post, in several upcoming posts I want to discuss briefly different mental disorders and recommend a book or two that I’ve found informative. This list isn’t just for sufferers, as I mention in my early post it is my opinion that anyone who wants to be a leader (educational, religious, political, business) should familiarize themselves with the major psychological disorders. Today we will talk about OCD and ADHD.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

According to the National Institute of Mental Health this disorder affects 2.2 million U.S. adults each year. The NIMH defines OCD as, “…an anxiety disorder and is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors such as handwashing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called ‘rituals,’ however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.”

Recommended Reading:

  • Rapoport, Judith L. The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing: The Experience and Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Signet, 1991. 304 pp. My Comments: This book is perhaps the best volume I have ever read on OCD. Unfortunately, it is nearly eighteen years old. Here’s hoping for an updated edition in the near future! Still, its case studies are priceless in helping both those who suffer and those who don’t understand the disorder. Not to mention that Rapoport is one of the definitive experts in the field.
  • Crawford, Mark.  The Obsessive-Compulsive Trap: Real Help for a Real Disorder. Regal Books, 2004. 168 pp. My Comments: This volume is much smaller and more recent than Rapoports’ but lacks the depth of case studies Rapoport’s book provides. Still, it covers most of the bases and is a quick read. It is written from a distinctly Christian perspective.

Attention Deficit (Hyperactive) Disorder:

ADHD is perhaps one of the more common disorders and a polarizing disorder. There is a significant number of individuals who challenge the existence of ADHD, believing it to be an excuse for behavioral and social issues. That said, it affects between 3-5% of children and over 4% of adults according to the NIMH and is Wikipedia describes it as, “is characterized by a persistent pattern of impulsiveness and inattention, with or without a component of hyperactivity.”

Recommended Reading:

Concluding Note:

Recognizing and dealing with what is wrong with ourselves can be huge. It can help us function at a higher level and enjoy life more. It can also be useful when we see these sorts of disorders in others. It can give us a sense of empathy that we might not otherwise be able to experience. The suffering caused by mental disorders while not visible is tremendous, and working together we can significantly increase our own and others overall health by getting the medical help we need and being there for one another.