Using Skype leads me to wish for Outlook feature

Last week I took Skype to the next level and bought €10-worth of call time for SkypeOut. This allows me to make calls, from my PC that is connected to the internet to landline telephones anywhere in the world for a fraction of the cost of a normal international call.

The reason the calls are cheaper is because the call is routed via the internet to a gateway near the destination call, and all that is paid for is the short hop from the internet, via the gateway, to the landline. Last week I called my cousin Zack Anderson in San Francisco; we chatted for 26 minutes, it cost me 31p.

The world has suddenly become a much smaller place, with such accessible communications now available. Last week I called family in California a couple of times, and my friend Andrew Bukenya in Japan once.

It was only while I was trying to work out what time it was in these far flung places of the globe that I realised that there seems to be no feature in Microsoft Outlook 2003 to determine what time it currently is in the countries of my contacts.

It seems odd that while I can enter my friends’ details into Contacts, and can assign which country they are currently living in, this Personal Information Manager will not then tell me what time it is in that country. It would seem logical that this information is displayed near their telephone numbers, allowing me to look up their telephone number and immediately determine how antisocial I wanted to be by calling them at 03:00!

Surely that kind of feature doesn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility. After all, Windows XP knows from settings in Control Panel which country I live in, it knows my time zone and it’s able to automatically syncronize with an internet time server, and Outlook knows which countries my contacts live in.

I’ve searched the web for a 3rd party plug-in but so far have uncovered nothing. I guess in the meantime I’ll have to continue to use my trust Psion 5mx or 7. Even my 3mx has a world clock feature!

Do you, the people of the Internet, know of any Outlook plug-ins that would offer this feature? Would you like to write one?

Guest bedroom

This August we have a number of guests staying over during the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival, including friend Steve Lawson, and his girlfriend. (Maybe I shouldn’t be writing that, just in case there is an onslaught of journalists and fans at the door every morning, like that scene from Notting Hill.)

This afternoon, Jane and I reorganised our guest bedroom. That’s right, it’s now “Morose budget.” (That’s an anagram of ‘guest bedroom’ if you’re not quite as quick witted as James ‘Conundrum’ Frost, who understood that immediately.)

I can’t believe how much space we now have. And the room now looks like it has a purpose, rather than simply a depository for random pieces of furniture. Here, have a look:

Guest Bedroom - double bed
We’ve moved the double bed from behind the door, in a dark corner, to be the focus of the room. We still need to paint the wall behind it.

Guest Bedroom - desk
A light and roomy … er, room. Wall-hugging furniture all round! The door leads to the water tank, in case you were wondering.

Guest Bedroom - single bed and computer
Count the beds. Single bed, and orange Ikea futon/sofa. And Jane’s PC. That’s the one I want to install Linux on to.

I hope that scary American lady from House Doctor isn’t reading this blog.