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It's been many years since Brendan Kehoe wrote Zen and the Art of the Internet to demystify some of the key ideas behind "the Net," including how to use e-mail, share files, and create Web pages using HTML. When Zen and the Art of the Internet was published, Amazon.com was barely a year old. Can you imagine life without Amazon, Netflix, or Google?
More recently, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about the legality of file sharing and whether it promotes innovation or invites theft from movie studios and record companies. Can you imagine modern music distribution without an MP3 player or iPod?
And indeed, this is where our story begins, because file sharing using advanced peer-to-peer networking technology is finally delivering on the promise of "communicating with other nations as if it were a commonplace occurrence." In the same way that the nature of e-mail transformed how we interact on a daily basis, Skype is now changing how and when we call one another, creating new habits of communication as a result.
Traditionally, the act of placing a telephone call required specialized equipment and a dedicated circuit-switched network that callers had to pay to use. Skype uses the Internet as the network, so callers make crystal-clear calls from computer to computer to anywhere in the world free of charge, or from computer to landline (or wireless) phone for a fraction of the cost. And in countries where the telephone infrastructure is outdated or not well developed, Skype makes the experience of calling to and from these places better. The process is reliable; the quality is better; and communicating is dramatically less expensive.
Skype is thefastest-growing communication service in the world, with more than 75 million registered users and more than 150,000 new users being added each day. Like the advent of e-mail, the Skype phenomenon is changing the way we communicate. It's changing how we organize communications and how we incorporate new technology into the patterns of our personal and professional lives.
Our hope is that this book will help you understand Skype and the basics of the technology. If you're not yet using Skype, this book provides easy-to-follow steps for installing and using it effectively. If you are already using Skype, this book shows you how other people are taking advantage of it and how to optimize your own use of Skype. Target Audience for This Book
This book is both for people who are new to Skype and for existing Skype users who want to optimize their use of Skype. This book is designed to get new users up and running quickly on Skype, and for existing Skype users, this book offers a comprehensive explanation of Skype's features and functions. For network administrators and IT personnel, this book covers Skype's architecture and security model, as well as advanced configuration topics. How This Book Is Organized
Chapters 1 and 2 present the essence of what you need to know to understand, install, configure, and use Skype using Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Chapters 3 and 4 provide in-depth installation and configuration procedures for beginning computer users and for users of the Pocket PC and Linux operating systems. Chapter 5 describes how to use all of Skype's features and functions. Chapter 6 describes how Skype is being used all over the world, and Chapter 7 outlines the steps to take when Skype is not working properly. Appendixes A, B, and C cover more technical topics: the Skype architecture, security model, and advanced configuration.