Looking for like-minded buddies on the Net? Look no further than Skype's built-in contact search function.
You can obtain the Skype software at http://www.skype.com/. Though it's available for the Pocket PC [Hack #34] , it is best to have your first Skype experience using a desktop operating system: Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux. The Pocket PC version is really nifty, but not entirely practical. Nor is it very customizable. So download one of the desktop OS versions from Skype's web site and install it.
Windows users will need Windows 2000, XP, or newer. Linux users will need SuSE, Fedora Core, Debian, or Mandriva (consult Skype's web site to find out precisely which kernel versions are supported). Mac OS X users will need version 10.3 (Panther) or newer. On all platforms, 256 MB of RAM is a reasonable minimum, though you might be able to get by with less.
Once you've downloaded Skype, setting it up is as simple as running its installer (Windows) or dragging its application icon to the Applications folder (Mac). On all platforms, the Skype installer is practically foolproof.
(You'll find that ease of use is Skype's middle name; for instance, you can call a person simply by double-clicking his name.) The first time you run Skype, you can set up a new Skype username, or reuse an existing one to log in. Creating a Skype account is free, though some Skype features, such as voicemail, require a paid subscription.