Until late afternoon yesterday, I thought one had to find someone to make a call. Skype UI certainly encouraged that line of thinking, particularly since I couldn't find a way to add a friend manually. So the trouble with finding people started.
I found Scoble and Deane easily enough but they were apparently not online. Later, I read somewhere that Skype online status is unreliable currently. Several friends left me a comment saying he couldn't find me. I couldn't find them either. I tried to find myself as an experiment but couldn't. Duh!
Yesterday afternoon, I suddenly realized that I didn't have to 'find' anyone to make a call on Skype. I can just type "callto://billgates/" into IE and it would make the call. So I called James Snell. Yup! I couldn't find him but Skype happily called him somehow with "callto://jamesmsnell/". Nuts. Skype screwed up their UI IMHO by making a shortcut apppear to be the only way.
He didn't answer but he called me back a few second later. He said Hello?. Sounds great! I said Hello! Nothing. James launched into more Hellos and I started fiddling frantically with everything. Thankfully, we had Skype IM to help us along and figure out that it was microphone input gain problem or something. I then had to go to dinner so we disconnected.
Late last night, I thought about Skype. Skype is certainly a neat beta product. It still needs many more peers in it's P2P network. Sound quality was good though. But it felt weird using a computer like a telephone. Uncomfortable, in fact. Do I need Skype? Nope. I don't have a large phone bill.
My wife does, but the other end has a technology phobia so using a computer like a telephone would be awkward. It's easier and more comfortable for my wife to adjust calling time and day to take advantage of cheapest international call rate.
Skype was more of a curiosity than a necessity and it wasn't much fun trying to get it to work. So I uninstalled Skype last night. Sorry friends for all the trouble. Let's wait for a better trouble.
I am not underestimating the potential of a service like Skype. The potential is there. All I am saying is that Skype has beta problems and that it doesn't have universal appeal. If one needs it badly, their tolerance level drops. Otherwise, others may come along and do a better job. I also would like to see more detailed information about Skype and future roadmaps. So far, I haven't seen any welcome attitude toward third-party developers.
A few peopled asked for the Skype graphics I had used for my 'callto:' link. Here it is.