Skype

What's a good open source video conferencing option for Chromebooks?

Jitsi

Episode 1688

Michael from Luka, Italy

Michael wants to know how to video conference with his computer and Chromebook. Leo says that Skype will work just fine with it. They have their own plugin for Chromebooks. But Leo also recommends a new open-source utility called JITSI, which will set up an unlimited number of callers in a grid and it's very easy to set up your own JITSI server. Secure. Fast. And yours. You send your callers a web address, they go to it and they're talking. Nothing to install.

How can I change the video background while video conferencing?

Open Broadcast Software

Episode 1686

Gary from Buffalo, NY

Gary wants to know what's a good replacement for his OwlCam. Leo says that the Wirecutter likes the NextBase 522GW. Gary also wants to be able to change his background in Zoom. Leo says there are a ton of cool backgrounds here. But the key is to have a greenscreen and good lighting. Can he do it with Skype? Leo says you can by using OBS and a special plugin. eCam on the Mac will do it virtually.

Can I Record a Video Chat?

Skype

Episode 1683

Don from Dana Point, CA

How can Don record a video chat? Leo says it depends on the service. Most should have the ability to record built-in. So hunt around. Skype does, for sure. Remember though, each state has its own laws about securing permission, but it's just plain polite to ask. California, for instance, is a 2 party state, which means both have to give permission. 

How can I video chat without a webcam?

Droid Cam

Episode 1680

Irwin from The Bronx, New York

Irwin's wife is using Zoom for attending class. But suddenly, they can't get a webcam delivered. Leo says that Amazon is prioritizing important things like TP and food delivery right now, so you may have to wait. But if you have a laptop with a camera, you can still chat. Or, you can connect your DSLR to your computer with a live HDMI cable and use it as your webcam. A camcorder will work as well. But if your computer doesn't have an HDMI IN option, then you may need to get an HDMI to USB adapter.

Is there a better alternative to Skype for podcasting?

Episode 1676

Joe from Toronto, Canada

Joe is a podcaster who is looking for a more reliable alternative to Skype for doing a podcast with multiple guests. Leo says he's tried just about everything, and Skype really is the best, mostly because of their audio codec, which minimizes latency and sounds really good. Having good bandwidth on both ends is key. Good mics also helps. And make sure that you do nothing else on that computer. Have a dedicated Skype computer for that purpose. Also, reboot your computer and turn everything off. Make sure no one in the house is using the Internet either. 

How can I stop a recurring charge on a credit card?

Credit Card

Episode 1643

Harriet from Los Angeles, CA

Harriet's husband passed away recently, and Skype keeps charging their credit card and won't stop. What can she do? Rich says to dump the credit card company. If they refuse to chargeback the fees, then it's not worth having. Another thing to do is to contact Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft. He'll direct it to an assistant to address the issue.

How can I make phone calls without a cellular plan?

Verizon JetPack

Episode 1441

Bernie from Washington State

Bernie wants to know about his data. He's worried that he's going over his data caps. Leo says that cell phone companies are moving towards Voice over LTE, which will use data to do phone calls because the quality is better. Can he get a data only device and do that? Leo says he can use apps like Tango and Skype to do that, but he's still paying for data. No cell company offers a mobile phone with just data only.