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Skype shortens distance between loved ones

Is your significant other at a different college than you? Do you have a cousin you’re close with who lives all the way across the country? Or maybe your sibling lives in another state?Wouldn’t it be neat if there was some way that you could see that oh-so-special person in your life? Not just see them, that’s what pictures and Facebook are for, but to actually have a conversation with them, while being able to see them, while they’re in a different state.

Sound like space age stuff to you? Well, A) it’s 2010, and B) it’s actually possible… and has been for a few years now.

It’s called Skype, and if you haven’t heard of it yet, you’re in the minority. But just in case some of you are a little less than tech-savvy and happen to have the dilemmas mentioned above, your knight-in-shining-armor comes in the form of a computer application.

And he rides on your Internet instead of a horse.

With Skype, you can video or voice chat with any other Skype user for free.

“It’s a nice, free way to keep in touch with people,” says Emily Littler, senior at Castleton State College, who first got Skype the summer of 2008. It was right before she set off to London for a semester abroad.

“I’d use it to talk to my parents, a couple friends. I actually made more phone calls on it than video calls because a lot of people didn’t have web-cams … I don’t use it so much anymore, except for a couple times this summer with my friend Abby … And I have a cousin that lives in California who I talk to sometimes,” Littler said.

Others use it far more frequently though.

“I use it about once a day, I’d say,” said UVM student Zack Zerbe, during a Skype-conducted interview. “I talk to some friends and I have an uncle in Chicago and my brother lives in Maryland that I talk to.”

But while Zerbe said Skype has always been dependable for him, other like Littler say it is sometimes is less than dependable.

“The video would freeze, and the call would be dropped and I’d have to like re-call them three or four times,” Littler said.

When it comes to a relationship, though, can a computer program effectively fill a country-wide gap?

CSC senior Ty Robinson used Skype while also studying abroad in London.

“It was nice to be able to see her face … the audio was kind of choppy though,” said Robinson. “Not the best quality … but if there’s a way you can actually see their face, it’s better than just hearing a voice or reading a text. It definitely helped out.”

Caitlin Lawlor, a junior at CSC, knows how Robinson feels.

“My boyfriend is Canadian so it’s pretty long-distance. Skype helps keep the phone bills down,” she said. “If we’re both on the computer than we try to use it every night, but since the connection isn’t very good, we use it once a week if we’re lucky,” she said. “It has its flaws, but it really just depends on the Internet.