You know I am not a big fan of the social media apps., Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. It’s not that I don’t waste time on the Internet, I do, according to She Who Must Be Obeyed far too much, but I’ve never found anything I wanted to say in twenty words or less. You may have noticed, I tend to go on and on and on and that is not the way with little apps who like kiddy speak.
No I say way too much, in far too many sentences, for far too long for the social media thingies.
And truth be told I am something of a snob, I can’t carry on a conversation with people who think Sidney Greenstreet was Captain Kangaroo’s second banana.
So I don’t use them.
Now there is a whole new world of Internet whiz bangs who get out there and market themselves day and night with Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. Our own S.L. Donaldson has links to Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit and I’m not even sure what the last three are. But there you have it, an artist using all sorts of Internet tools to get the word out.
There is one app, which can be used for colossal time wasting and (Gasp!) actual business! It’s Skype.
Yeah, I know, me speaking well of a social networking app. But it is useful and you should know about it.
Years ago, no not back when the earth’s crust was still cooling but before I moved from Texas to paradise, I had a murder mystery theater troop. We did dinner-theater plays on site for anyone with the money to pay for them. Now as you may imagine, it was a hard scrabble existence, writing the plays, directing the plays, hiring the actors, finding the locations, arranging the catering, dealing with the newspapers and keeping the boos from killing me because she had to fill-in for whatever disaster happened this week.
I learned a lot. I learned to listen to people who know more than I do about stuff that I haven’t had to deal with, like accounting. My hard bitten, long suffering bookkeeper told me one day, “You make more money selling the performance rights than you do by putting on the plays.”
That wasn’t had to understand; what with doing all of the things I was doing and putting in all of the hours I was putting I was making about thirteen cents and hour. I quit producing the plays that day.
But I still had to market the plays and not everyone who wanted to put one on lived in Dallas, so I had to have a website and I had to love the USPS and I had to make Ma Bell soooooo happy with all of the long distance calls to finalize the arrangements, make adjustments in the scripts and brainstorm location problems.
Once again it seemed like everyone was making money, but me.
Then I found out about Skype.
We live in a very fluid society, with the economy in tatters and the people we love are on the move, you can’t count on your friends being neighbors any more. I have pals in Dallas, my sister is in Port O’Conner, so small it makes Charleton look like the Big Apple, a cartoonist friend in Germany, a cousin in Florida and then there are the Bosses friends, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida and coming soon to a beach in Hawaii.
We never get to see anyone, except on Skype.
Skype is a Voip. That’s Voice over Internet protocol. It means with this nifty bit of software you can talk to your pals everywhere and even see their shiny little faces on the screen of your computer.
First things first, it’s free. Yeah, I know free is good. You can buy a version for money, but the free one is so good that I’ve never felt the urge to upgrade. Okay, okay so my rogue friends claim my name should be MacMirandastein, ninety-nine parts Scotch by absorption and one part banker by inclination. Probably true, but I like free.
So, first you have to get it.
Yes, I said you could get one that you have to pay for, but the free one will do.
Now download it and follow the instructions. Even I with no patience for software was able to set it up on my machine, (The Boss had hers set up weeks before I did).
Now you’ll need a microphone and a webcam. Sure the app is free, but now you want me to spend money to use the damn thing. Yes, I do because it is worth it. Just play along and see if you don’t agree.
Being a guy type person my hearing is shot, too may years of loud cars and even louder guns. I have good directional hearing, but no ability to filter out background noise, so, (You wondered where all of this extra text was leading), I use a headset with earphones and microphone in one piece, but you don’t have to.
My webcam came from the Goodwill store on Broadway and cost three bucks. And I have one that I used for a coupla years that I got from the old Bay Area Enterprises computer salvage store for a buck, so don’t whine about coast. Besides you are a wealthy and successful artist and want the latest and finest equipment for your business, which is, so long as you use it exclusively for business, is a tax write-off.
Try Radio Shack if you want to go the new route or you can save a buck or two on Amazon if you think you can order it without trying it on.
And why in the world would you do all of this?
Because when you are through talking to Bud your high school pal and star wide-out on the state championship football team from 1976, you can use Skype to talk to a customer in Poughkeepsie or Bugtussel or Gunbarrel City or where ever.
Face to face and belly to belly there is no substitute for facetime when a commission hangs in the balance.
So wanna make Charter or Verizon or ole Ma Bell a little bit richer or would you like to reach out and touch someone half a world away?