Hack 35. Degunk International SkypeOut Calls
With SkypeOut, you can easily make international long-distance calls, but keeping track of international country codes isn't so easy. Neither is keeping track of calling rates, which vary from one country to the next.
The SkypeOut service is one of several paid services (SkypeIn, Voicemail, etc.) that Skype provides for its users. The service lets you place calls to regular phone numbers on the PSTNthat's the telephony network still used by everybody who isn't as cool as you are.
SkypeOut minutes are purchased in advance, and, at least for international calls, their rate is quite competitive. You can SkypeOut to any existing phone numberyour buddy's cell phone in Uruguay or dear old mom in Kalamazoo. The trick isn't merely calling folks; it's remembering how to dial their numbers. If you already do a lot of international calling, you're probably familiar with the system of country codes that exists to route calls around the globe. Country codes are dialed before area codes as a part of the receiving party's phone number. But there are almost as many country codes as there are countries, so you might appreciate this shortcut to help you remember how to dial international numbers on Skype.
At http://www.skype.com/products/skypeout/rates/, Skype maintains a nifty script that allows you to enter the local phone number (including area code) and select the country. Then, the script shows you exactly how to dial it using Skype, as in Figure 3-8. Just follow the steps on the page: enter the phone number and pick a country. Besides learning how to dial the number, you'll also get a handy SkypeOut rate quote for calls to this number (in euros).
Figure 3-8. The SkypeOut Dialing Wizard
To convert from euros to the currency of your choice, you've got a couple of options. You can go the web-based route, using a site like http://www.xe.com/ucc/, the Universal Currency Converter. Or, if you're a Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) user, you can launch the handy Unit Converter widget in the Dashboard. For more information about the Dashboard and other cool Mac goodies, pick up a copy of Mac OS X Tiger: The Missing Manual (O'Reilly). Whether it's currency conversion for SkypeOut or just checking the weather forecast, widgets are really nifty. Windows and Mac users alike should take a look at Yahoo!'s really cool widget framework (formerly known as Konfabulator) at http://widgets.yahoo.com/.