Oovoo, Skype top tech hype

Jennifer Garrido, Lifestyles Editor

It was a typical day at work, and Athletic Director Bonnie Bettis logged on to her computer as usual. After signing in to her Oovoo account, she received an notification from her father. By accepting it, she not only got to see and communicate with him, but with her cousin from Arizona whom she hadn’t seen in years. “She was visiting my family in Illinois all the way from Arizona, and I got to see her because my dad was on Oovoo,” Bettis said. During the past decade, personal communication has moved from cell phones, to AIM, to texting, to Facebook, and now, video chatting has begun to take hold. Software programs such as Skype and Oovoo allow users to communicate by talking or “calling” via computer, through a webcam. Users log on to the program, see who’s online, and, in a matter of clicks, talk face-to-face with their contacts. “I use Skype more than Oovoo because there’s more people on Skype,” junior Vinashna Patel said. “I like it more than IM and text messaging, and it helps me with school a lot too. I do homework on it, study-group-type things, and I use it so much that it signs me in automatically when I log on to my computer.” Junior Brandon Toothaker prefers Oovoo. “Oovoo is like Skype but you can have group chats,” Toothaker said. “I like it a lot. I go on every time I use the computer.” Even the school’s administrative staff uses Oovoo. “I love Oovoo. I see it as another tool of communication that’s not just a phone, but almost resembles the new app for the iPhone,” Bettis said. “I know the administration in the office is available to it. They actually Oovoo each other when they’re right across the hall.” According to Bettis, Principal Rick Fleming initiated the use of Oovoo in the front and administrative offices. “Mr. Fleming tipped me off to it, after he started using it to talk to his daughter in college. After that, we all got it on our computers,” Bettis said. Those who work in the office also video chat from home. “I know that [bookkeeper Vanessa] Miles in the front office uses Oovoo to talk to her son in Germany, while Mr. Fleming uses it to talk to his daughter in college,” Bettis said. “I, on the other hand, use it to talk to family members that I have in Illinois that I would rarely see otherwise. It helps me not get too homesick.” Oovoo and Skype both have a limited-time, free-trial option, and recently, Facebook and Skype have joined forces on “FacebookConnect”, a feature that will enable Facebook users to call people with their Skype accounts. “I think the FacebookConnect feature would be a great tool, if used the right way,” Bettis said. Like the internet and every other form of communication, if it is put in the wrong hands, it could be bad. Invasion of privacy is a big thing now, so I hope if they do start that feature, they’ll add guidelines, so they can prevent certain security issues.”