Saturday, July 14, 2007
Kicking and screaming into the information age (a/k/a "I just discovered the coolest thing!")
It took me several days in Amsterdam to find a calling card. I finally found one near Centraal station and bought a 10E card because that was the lowest denomination card the shop had. Then, I went in search of a payphone. Let me tell you - THEY ARE SCARCE! I found one in a noisy plaza outside Centraal station, which was fine at my old apartment, but was too far from my new one. I called Marlo this morning and watched the card disappear likety-split at nearly .50E per minute.
So, I took the advice of my younger classmates and went out this morning in search of a headset so I could use Skype, which is some sort of internet-based long distance. I cannot explain it, but you can go to www.skype.com to investigate. The first two shops I stopped at had headsets for nearly 50E. The girls had told me that they found their headsets for dirt-cheap (like 3E) so I knew I was way off. I finally found a headset in the unlikely place of a kitchen / housewares supply store for 4.99E (I don't know why they don't just say 5E as there is no such thing as a penny and they round up to the 5E anyway). All it is a normal computer headphone with a microphone attached - and two jacks, one for the speaker and one for the microphone port.
I downloaded the software, loaded 10E with my credit card onto my account and presto! I'm making calls with my computer. It is the most fantastic thing. No more noisy payphones. No more having to get dressed and go out. No more having to go back if someone isn't at home. Plus, calls to landlines and cell phones are dirt cheap. 2.1 US cents per minute according to the chart, plus a 3.9 EU cent connection fee per call.
The only thing I haven't figured out is how people can call me. Apparently skype-to-skype calls are free. I'll bet my techno-and-financial saavy sister, Shawna, knows the answer to this. Perhaps she'll post a comment here and enlighten us all.