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Staying on the general topic of PCs, I just have to say that I quite like the Skype voice-over-IP application that Lauren recommended to me. I donít know whether it works alongside an active game Ė Lauren assures me it does Ė but the overall quality for straight peer-to-peer chat is very good, better than a telephone.

Iíve set Skype up on Vickieís PC, but we seem to be having some problems with her sound setup; even on full volume her voice comes out muffled at my end. Iím hoping the issue only occurs because our PCs are in close proximity and that it wonít happen when Vickie tries to chat with Lauren or someone else. Otherwise, it might need some fiddling with Skypeís settings or even (gasp!) buying a new sound card (Vickieís audio is driven by an on-the-motherboard processor).

I must say, though, that if youíve got a broadband connection and would like to talk with us sometime without running up a huge phone bill, install Skype on your PC. It doesnít cost a thing unless you want to get voicemail or the ability to dial actual phones.

[UPDATE 12:41 PM:] Aha! Success, I think! It turns out that you need to adjust the sound settings on Skype so that it's using your actual audio device, not your "Windows default device". I changed Vickie's Skype sound settings to "Realtek AC97 audio", and it sounded much better coming out of my speakers!

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I"ll be home tonight at around half midnight if you want to try him out...
Otherwise it will have to be monday evening.