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Enhancing Skype

by Wei-Meng Lee

In my last article, I showed you how to set up Skype to make voice calls over the Internet. While Skype allows voice communication, it is not limited to just that. Several third-party developers have started developing extensions using Skype APIs. In this article, I am going to share two of the many extensions that I find indispensable. They are:

  • Festoon allows video conferencing using a webcam.
  • SAM (Skype Answering Machine) answers your incoming calls when you are not around to pick up the call.

You can check out a list of Skype extensions.

Note: When I wrote this article, Festoon was called Skype, but has since been renamed Festoon.


Festoon is a Skype extension that allows you to conduct video conferencing with your friends using your web cam. You can download it from the Festoon home page. While Festoon claims that you can invite up to 200 buddies to a video call, I could not verify this claim as I was not able to simultaneously get 200 of my friends for a video chat! But I did test Festoon using my local network of two PCs, both equipped with web cams (see Figure 1).

Figure 1
Figure 1. The two web cams I used to test Festoon

Once Festoon is downloaded and installed, you will see a pop up showing the message: "Another program wants to use Skype." Ensure that you grant Festoon the permission, or else Festoon will not work correctly.

The first step is to test that your web cam works correctly with Festoon. The easiest way is to test it using the network provided by Festoon. To do so, go to Start->Programs->Festoon->Make a Test Call. Figure 2 shows me making a test call.

Figure 2
Figure 2. Making a test call

Talk Is Cheap

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Switching to Internet Telephones
By James E. Gaskin

Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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