My wife and daughter have been in Asia visiting relatives for the last couple of weeks. Fortunately, she has access to a fast Internet connection and a webcam, so I've gotten to see my girls most days. That's particularly nice when your kid is at the age where she's learning new things pretty much every day.
We've been using MSN Instant Messenger for our video conversations, and all in all I've been pretty pleased. It works well enough. My only complaint is the fairly high audio latency - that can lead to awkward conversational collisions. We've gotten pretty good at not stepping on each other, but I thought maybe I'd try a separate VOIP application, hoping that they were doing something with QoS that would get the latency down.
My first stop was Skype - I don't know much about VOIP applications, they're free, and they're a big enough name that I felt reasonably okay about installing it. Unfortunately, it completely failed to work - we'd get connected, but then something would happen on Alice's parents' computer and her connection would drop. Oh well - we just went back to the high-latency voice of MSN. She'll be back before we have a chance to try anything else out. Maybe when I start traveling to teach we can explore other options.
Well, that would have been the last I thought of it, but a few days later, as I was doing some FlexWiki work, I had some IIS problems. Specifically, I was unable to start my website. Oddly, I could still browse to the URLs I was working on, but all I got back was an empty document. By this point, you've probably figured out what I hadn't: another application was listening on port 80, preventing my website from starting, and serving up bogus documents in response to my requests. Obvious to most perhaps, but I had to google this KB article before I figured it out.
One "netstat -ano" later, and I'd discovered it was Skype that was hogging the ports. Sure enough, there was a checkbox in the options labeled "use ports 80 and 443 as alternatives". Unchecking it (and restarting Skype) fixed the problem. Good thing, because I was not looking forward to reinstalling.