I hope you find this page helpful. All I ask is that if the information you find on this page leads in some way to you starting your own TalkShoe show, please list "Chris Meadows" as your referrer when you sign up for the TalkShoe Cash program. It's not too late to do it even if you already have signed up, as long as you don't have a referrer listed already; just email TalkShoe support and ask them to make the change.
If you simply want to listen to a program, it is not necessary to do anything beyond clicking the green "Live Now!" icon on the program's homepage. This will open the program in streaming audio and you can listen as long as you have the page open.
If you want to participate, you have several options. Although it is helpful to do so, you do not have to register a TalkShoe account. You can participate in the text chatroom or even phone in as a "guest" to any non-adult-only show. However, to participate fully, or to access adult-only shows, you can create a TalkShoe account by clicking the "Sign Up" link in the upper right corner of the TalkShoe.com homepage. Fill out the application completely, and when you are finished you may choose to download the Java-based "TalkShoe Live! Classic" chat client. However, you can still phone in or access the show's text chat without it thanks to a web pop-up-based chat client.
Either the web client or the "TalkShoe Live! Classic" standalone client will allow you to listen to the program by streaming audio at the same time as you type questions or responses by text. However, the standalone client will also let you phone into the show via free Voice-Over-IP as long as you have a microphone or headset connected to your computer.
There are four ways to connect to TalkShoe by phone.
The "ShoePhone" application is the easiest to use, as it automates the entire connection process so you need only click the "Connect" button and a few moments later you are talking on the show. In fact, it is just about the only method I use for my own shows anymore. However, it can still be a bit flaky sometimes, so it is good to know about the other methods as backup. Also, the other methods are what you will use if you connect via the web-based chat, since it does not have voice-over-IP capability.
Using the other methods, as soon as you connect you will be asked to enter the 4- or 5-digit show number (which TalkShoe shows you on the show's homepage, in the title bar of the client screen, and on the dialing instruction overlay that appears when you first load the client), and then your 10-digit PIN number (usually your phone number, unless you chose to use something else when you registered) and press #, or, if you did not register, to press 1 then # to log in as a guest. After that, you will join the show. If the show is already in progress, you will hear a 20-second TalkShoe promo recording before you are able to access the show. Otherwise, you will hear the recording as soon as the host starts recording.
As mentioned above, ShoePhone is the easiest to use. All you need to do is either click the ShoePhone "Connect" icon that appears when you first connect to a program, or click the icon in the lower right corner of the "TalkShoe Live! Classic" client. You should be connected to the program within about twenty seconds. If you wish to mute yourself, there is a "mute microphone" box to check.
This only works from the "TalkShoe Live! Classic" standalone client. If you do not have it, use one of the following methods.
If you are dialing in via landline or cellphone, be aware that it is a call to a Pittsburgh-area number—it is not toll-free. Be sure that you can afford the long-distance rates or cellular minutes. Also be sure that the battery on your cellular or cordless phone will not run down before you are finished chatting, and that you will be comfortable holding the phone to your ear for that long.
It is a good idea to mute yourself when you are not talking; often background noise such as computer case fans or air conditioner sounds will make their way through the phone line and could result in the host muting you manually. If your phone does not have a mute button, you can dial *6 to mute yourself manually. (This will work from an ordinary telephone or from a VoIP application.) This will also add the "mute" icon to your name on the TalkShoe chat client display, so other participants will know why you are not talking. (Note: This only works if you have already been unmuted by the host.)
With this method, you will be using a Voice Over IP application meant to connect your computer to an ordinary phone number. Some people prefer this method because it can be used for making ordinary phone calls in addition to participating in TalkShoe. At one time, Skype offered a free calling plan; however, its free calling program ceased as of January 1, 2007. Freecall.com offers a free calling program but after a certain number of calls it restricts you to five-minute calls only.
Make sure you have a decent headset, or headphones and separate microphone. I tend to favor a separate mic, such as this Logitech desktop USB microphone, so that I can use whatever headphones are comfortable or convenient at the time. The one drawback is that since the mic is positioned right next to my keyboard, it sounds like an avalanche whenever I type. I tend to use the mute function on my mic, my VoIP client, or TalkShoe itself.
It is possible to use a microphone with speakers if you have no headphones; however, this will usually lead to other participants hearing themselves echo while you are talking, which can be very distracting. If you must use speakers while participating in a TalkShoe program, then use the "mute" button on your VOIP application when you are not talking.
FreeCall is an outbound-dialing Voice Over IP client for Windows only that allows you to make calls to regular phone numbers. It offers 300 free minutes of calling per week (which does not roll over) to a number of destinations including the United States; calls beyond that are charged at 1.3 US cents per minute (1.6 cents per minute with taxes). Users may also purchase credits for 10 Euros (about US$13) which will allow them unlimited calling for 90 days.
Although you may use other SIP Voice Over IP applications (see next section) to make calls to phone numbers through the FreeCall network, you apparently cannot make calls to SIP addresses through FreeCall so you will have to dial TalkShoe using the phone system. In order to dial, just enter 1 (724) 444-7444 (with or without spaces, hyphen, and parentheses) in the dialing box and hit enter. You will then be able to enter your show ID and PIN using the keyboard or the dialpad. Preliminary testing suggests FreeCall does not suffer from the touch-tone recognition problem that Skype does (see below).
NOTE: Although this is mentioned nowhere on their site, I have since learned that after you make a certain number of phone calls through FreeCall, your account is restricted to five-minute calls only unless you buy credit. Given that this seems like a rather cheap and shoddy trick to me, I am no longer able to recommend this software as I once did.
For a while, Skype was free to use for outbound calling to ordinary phone numbers; now, however, it requires buying a plan to make these calls. To call in with Skype, you must make the call to the phone number, which requires a paid account. You cannot Skype in directly.
When using Skype, simply dial the phone number as usual. Shortly afterward you should be asked to enter your information. Note that due to known issues with Skype's touch-tone generator, you may receive the dreaded "Your password is incorrect" message, in which case you will need to hang up and dial again.
A number of superstitions have grown up around the use of Skype, claiming that you should "just use the keypad buttons" or "click # on the screen, don't press it on the keyboard" in order to avoid the invalid password rejection. To the best of my knowledge, none of these are valid. It just depends on the quality of the connection you get whether or not Skype will accept your tones.
I have not used Raketu, so cannot provide instructions as to dialing. It should be just as straightforward as Skype. I have heard in some places that they have a free outbound calling plan like Skype once did, but haven't found any proof of this on their website.
Gizmo Project is not free to dial outbound phone numbers; you must purchase calling minutes at a rate of 1 cent per minute. Instead, Gizmo Project should be used as a SIP phone; see below.
This is the method that is recommended for use by callers outside of the United States and Canada. It routes the call completely through the Internet, and will usually provide a much higher-quality audio stream than a connection that goes partly or entirely through the telephone system. Also, the tone generation systems of these programs are of higher quality than Skype's, leading to much less frustration trying to log in.
A future version of the text chat client will incorporate VOIP directly into the client, so eventually you will no longer need to use a separate SIP Voice over IP application unless you wish to call in without text chatting.
Connecting with SIP is currently free; however, at some point TalkShoe will begin charging non-hosts $4.95 per month for its use (to offset lost revenue from ordinary phone dial-ins). Hosts will continue to get it free no matter whose show they call, and they will also be able to pay to let even non-host callers call their shows for free.
For more information on this dialing method beyond what is given here, see this TalkShoe forum thread. Note that you can use any VOIP client even if it is not listed here as long as it accepts a SIP dialing address.
As with outward-dialing VOIP, make sure you have good headphones and a mic.
The Gizmo Project instant-messenger can also act as a SIP phone, and is of all the SIP phone apps probably the easiest to install and configure. Note that if you have a LiveJournal account, you should download Gizmo Project for LJ Talk and log into it with your LiveJournal userID and password. To dial TalkShoe with Gizmo Project, you need to enter into the address bar
and hit return. (It actually does not matter what comes before the @ sign; it can be 123@, abc@, blahblablah@, and so on; Gizmo just doesn't recognize dialing addresses that do not use the x@y formation.) After you connect, you must then use the on-screen dialpad to enter the numbers; Gizmo does not accept keyboard entry.
X-Lite is another popular client among Australian and European users. However, to use it you must also create a free account at the VOIP provider VoxAlot (or any other such provider, such as ekiga.net). Simply create the account, configure X-Lite with your VoxAlot account settings as instructed by the VoxAlot configuration guides, then click on the address bar at the top of the screen and type the SIP address as given above. (You will have to type it because X-Lite will not let you paste it in.) You can then enter ID and PIN using the keyboard or mouse clicking.
Note: The following instructions refer to an older version of SJPhone. More recently, I discovered they had gone to a new version which was changed considerably from the old, and I can't figure out how to make the new version work with TalkShoe. Thus, I can no longer recommend it as the primary SIP VOIP means of connecting.
This is the most straightforward of the SIP VOIP applications. Simply download it, install it, and check the instructions found in this configuration guide. To connect, click on the address bar at the top of the SJPhone window and enter
You may then enter your show ID and PIN by either using your keyboard or clicking the on-screen display with the mouse. (Note: SJPhone for Mac users have reported being unable to find a dialpad in their version of this client. If anyone Mac-side can clear this up, I would appreciate it.)
The Free World Dialup Communicator is another SIP-dialing-capable client. It seems to have a slight problem dialing TalkShoe, but should still be usable. To use it, dial SIP:firstname.lastname@example.org as above. The call window will open, and you will hear a beep. About ten seconds of silence will pass, then the loud TalkShoe voice will say "Your passcode is not valid: 7." You will then hear the "Welcome to TalkShoe" message and can enter your show ID and PIN as usual by clicking on "Open Dialpad"—the crossed-lines icon right underneath the "Call" menu. Once the dialpad is open, you can dial by either clicking on it or using your keyboard.
A TalkShoe employee who has experimented with multiple VoIP apps claims that this is the best SIP VOIP app for Macintosh users to dial into TalkShoe. As I do not have a Macintosh capable of running this program to try it out, you are more or less on your own.
A Linux VOIP client that, like X-Lite, needs an external VOIP service provider (like VoxAlot or ekiga.net). A Windows version can be found here (warning: still in beta). I have not used it myself.
If you need further help getting set up, please feel free to email me and I will be happy to assist you.Back to R_M's Homepage