Hack 34. Carry Skype in Your Pocket
Turn your Pocket PC PDA into a wireless VoIP phone.
You can use your WiFi-enabled Pocket PC as your personal Skype portable phone. Well, not any Pocket PC; only a Pocket PC running Windows Mobile 2003 will work. And it'll need a 400MHz processor, too. Pretty hefty specs, I know. But to do cool things, you need cool hardware, right? (The sizzling HP iPAQ hx4700 Pocket PC has an XScale processor that cruises along at a cool 624 MHz, incidentally.)
Grab PocketSkype from http://www.skype.com/products/skype/pocketpc/ and install it on your Pocket PC device using ActiveSync. Once you've installed it, you should be able to Skype people using the Pocket PC in the cradle, sharing your PC's network connection. The PocketSkype user interface, shown in Figure 3-7, is similar to the desktop versions.
Figure 3-7. Skype for Windows Mobile 2003
PocketSkype works equally well uncradled, provided you have an 802.11b or better wireless connection. This is plenty of bandwidth for Skype calling, but keep in mind a couple of things:
Pocket PCs aren't known for their stunning wireless reception, so if you plan to rely on your PocketSkype setup, invest in an extended-range base station. Try to use a channel that performs very well (try pinging over your wireless LAN and watch for jitterbig variances in the ping time; this is bad), and locate the base as close to the center of its desired range as possible. If you can't cover the entire area, connect a WLAN extender like Apple's AirPort Express in the area the base station doesn't cover. Or, use a couple of base stations.
3.8.1. Don't Forget Wireless Security
To make sure your neighbor can't inadvertently access your wireless LAN from his patio, and possibly make his own Skype calls on your dime, you'd better secure your wireless access point. This is good practice even if you don't use Skype.
There are three ways to do this. Either restrict the MAC hardware addresses allowed to connect to your base station, or use a Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP) shared key to keep your neighbor's hands off your wireless LAN. The third way is to use both techniques. This is the most secure method of all.
To find out the MAC address on your Pocket PC, power it up and tap Start. Then tap Settings, and then the System tab on the bottom of the screen. Next, tap the WLAN icon (it might say "iPAQ WLAN" depending on your brand of Pocket PC). Then tap the Status button. The MAC address will be listed near the bottom of the screen. Add it to your wireless base station's access list.