After you've installed the appropriate Internet telephony hardware and software on your computer, you need to configure the software to make calls. Let's use Net2Phone's YapGear Yap Phone, an Internet telephony product, as an example of how to configure Internet tele-phony software. The process for configuring other Internet telephony software is similar.

First, install YapGear's software from the CD-ROM bundled with Yap Phone (or download the latest drivers from http://www.yapgear.com). Most YapGear products come with a calling card for $10 of calls. You can use Net2Phone's Web site to add funds to your account. Regardless of which Internet telephony service you use, you'll need to establish an account, after which you'll receive an account number and PIN. After you install the Yap Phone software, you need to restart your computer.

After you restart your computer, the setup program will prompt you to enter your YapGear account number and PIN. Plug the Yap Phone into the USB port of the PC. Run the software setup wizard to configure the software and hardware. Then, remove the Yap Phone from its base and enter the number you want to dial. You might want to call your home's conventional telephone to make sure everything's working properly on the Yap Phone. To make a PC-to-PC call, enter the other party's "virtual number" on the keyboard or Yap Phone's telephone keypad, which Figure A shows. The "virtual number" is the number that Net2Phone issues with each Yap phone. The person you're calling needs to give you his virtual number before you can call him unless you're using an Instant Messaging (IM) program with an Internet telephony feature.

Directory Assistance
Net2Phone's YapGear hardware also works with Yahoo!'s Address Book (http://address.yahoo.com). This feature is handy for anyone on a dial-up connection with only one phone line available because the computer can dial out for a voice call on the same line it's using to surf the Internet. You simply click a phone number in the Yahoo! Address Book, and the Net2Phone applet will load, letting you call the number you selected.

ICQ's ICQphone (http://www.icq.com/icqphone) Internet messaging program also lets you easily make PC-to-PC calls. ICQphone will detect an Internet telephony program and present a small yellow telephone icon next to the name of each user who has Internet telephony equipment. To make a computer-to-computer call, select a name from the ICQ Contact List, select ICQphone from the user menu, then click Send PC-to-PC Call. The Send Online PC to PC Call Request dialog will open. If you want, you can enter the reason for your call in this window. Click Send. After the person you're calling accepts the call request, an ICQphone window opens, as Figure B shows, with icons that resemble a telephone touchpad, a volume control, and various other configuration options.

Taking Telephony to the Max
Most Internet telephony products let you make only voice calls. But you can use Internet telephony products with Microsoft NetMeeting software for even more functions to create an especially powerful home office solution. NetMeeting 3.0 comes with Windows XP and Windows 2000. You can also download NetMeeting for use with Windows 95 and later by clicking Downloads at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/netmeeting.

NetMeeting combines Internet telephony, video (if your PC has a Web camera), chat, and other features that anyone who telecommutes will appreciate. You can use NetMeeting to share files, such as Microsoft Word files, with all users in a session, and any user can make changes to the file.