Skype is wonderful free software for making online phone calls. With a headset and a fast Internet connection, you can be talking to another Skype user anywhere in the world for free. Here are some notes about how it works and what’s involved to make calls to conventional phones.

By default, Skype loads an add-on for Internet Explorer that ought to be simple and useful. The add-on scans each web page to identify phone numbers and highlight them, so a Skype call can be placed to the number with a single click.

I’ve now run into several cases where Internet Explorer appeared to freeze or time out – and the Skype add-on was the culprit. Disabling it allowed the computers to resume normal operation. It doesn’t always happen but I’m on the alert for it now after two or three experiences.

Remember, Internet Explorer 7 has easy tools to deal with add-ons – look under Tools / Manage Add-Ons. I’m cautious about add-ons now after too many poor experiences.