I am going to be interviewed for PaulDotCom tomorrow. One of the conditions of the interview was setting up and using Skype. Paul recommended I buy a headset, so I bought the Plantronics .Audio 90 Analog Headset from Buy.com for less than $25, including shipping.
Next I downloaded the latest Skype software from Skype.com onto my Windows 2000 laptop. I saw there was a net/skype FreeBSD port, but I decided to see how easy the Windows installation was. The process took only a few minutes, including creation of an account. When I started Skype as a non-administrator user I saw the following:
I decided to try the test call. This puts you in touch with an automated user that lets you record a 10 second message. If you can hear your own recording, everything works fine.
Finally I decided to try calling a landline phone user. While Skype-to-Skype calls are free, Skype-to-landline calls require a SkypeOut account and buying Skype Credit. I bought the minimum, $10, and then called my parents.
I chatted with my dad for a few minutes. As an amateur radio operator, he thought Skype was cool. I told him I was calling from my laptop, which was connected to the Internet via 802.11g wireless. The call quality was good. I am impressed by Skype!
If you're interested in how the protocol works, this paper (.pdf) is helpful.