Teleconferencing on the Cheap

As a telecommuter, I love the Internet, for obvious reasons. Strangely, though, the teleconferencing system that IEEE Spectrum editors have long been using is just one step up from a speakerphone. It only provides audio—and crummy audio at that. As a consequence, every editorial meeting I “attend” is a painful experience: Imagine trying to pick out a single voice at a noisy restaurant, in the dark, while wearing earplugs.

A partial solution is to teleport into meetings using Skype. Skype’s video capability gives you a window on what’s going on at the other end, which of course is nice. But the real advantage is that it provides much higher bandwidth audio than you get over phone lines. That makes picking out voices in a crowd much easier.

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