Friday, October 29, 2010 : 5:16 PM

Using Skype without a webcam; using ManyCam

It is not true that you need a webcam to use Skype. (Why Skype says on their web page that you need a webcam--that confuses me.)

It is not true that you need to show video of yourself to use Skype (in case you assumed that that is a requirement).

It is not true that you need to have a microphone to use Skype (in case you assumed that you needed to).

(Hey, you can simply type messages to others, if you want. Most of my use of Skype is simply typing messages to others. With that said, it IS great to have a simple mic/headphones set (such as "headset 33-1187" which you can find on Google for around $20.) You can talk for free with an individual or with a group of friends regardless of the distance between all of you in the country.)

Is it a pain to install Skype? No. I think the two most challenging parts of getting started with Skype are (1) deciding what your nickname will be and (2) initiating your first text-only contact with someone else on Skype. And even those are not very difficult. I'd say the easy up-front part is downloading and installing Skype.

So, even if you do NOT have a microphone yet, you can still be up and running with Skype in just a few minutes. It's free. So, go here and get started!

You might also like ManyCam. It's free, too. ManyCam acts like a webcam substitute or a webcam middleman. You tell ManyCam whether you want ManyCam to show your webcam (if you have one) or show some part of your computer Desktop, or show a movie clip, etc. ManyCam is a switching mechanism. You decide at any instant what it should display.

This is nice! I can use ManyCam, then, to broadcast a card game I am playing on my computer--I can broadcast it over Skype video or on Ustream. And if I am currently displaying my Desktop over Skype or Ustream and want to show my actual webcam instead, I just bring up ManyCam and click the appropriate button in ManyCam to switch from Desktop to Camera.

Here is another use for ManyCam: if you need help on your computer, you can turn on ManyCam so your friend can see your computer screen (they cannot actually control anything on your computer, though; it is simply a picture of your screen), and your friend can ask you to click here, click there, while watching your screen via your Skype call with your friend. I have used this approach many times to help friends find solutions to their computer issues.

Want ManyCam?