We like Skype. The rather funky voice-over-IP service has found much favour with the editorial staff, mostly because it just loads, works and provides a much higher quality of voice call than you can get from the telephone. However, this has led to a run on the various microphones and headsets that have littered the office for years, usually left behind after some multimedia PC has been reviewed and returned. This time last month, there were hundreds of the things dangling their leads out of boxes and cupboards: now, you have to mug a passing teenager for his hands-free kit (curiously, exactly the opposite has happened to Laplink file transfer cables: once valuable commodities tradable for gold and jewels, they now mope around the place like spurned pythons).
For those not so quick off the Skype mark, this has led to dissatisfaction and petty crime. Graeme 'Scoop' Wearden was one such: his moping was made all the more acute because he was writing about VoIP at the time -- to be forced merely to admire the fruits that all around him were guzzling with glee was not to his taste.
Still, a job's a job. His mood was lifted slightly when BT invited him to the Tate Modern to discuss its own voice-over-IP service, which is being done in conjunction with Yahoo. "We are so clever", said BT. "Look, it links to the phone network and doesn't cost any more than your current phone charges!" "But isn't Skype cheaper and better, and didn't Yahoo IM have a voice function anyway?"
"Pish and tosh!" said BT, "now, go away."
Off sloped poor Scoop, pausing only to grab a carrier bag containing the press release and compulsory T-shirt that you always get a these events. It wasn't until he got back to the office that he peered inside: aha! A t-shirt indeed, but also a headset and Web cam!
Thanks to BT, he's now Skyped up to the nines. Microsoft, we look forward to our free Red Hat CDs at your next do.