Photo of the Day (07.05.10)

You don’t need fireworks to color the sky. Sometimes Mother Nature does it for you. Whether it’s an epic storm rolling through, a breathtaking sunset or just the coming apocalypse, the sky can take on all sorts of crazy hues.

Flickr user Chris Maki captured this photograph of a pretty fantastic storm heading over the Rocky Mountains that made the sky more colorful than the suits at the Player’s Ball. It’s ominous, terrifying and just plain beautiful. Fireworks are awesome, but a good thunderstorm can give you the same goosebumps. Play Neil Diamond’s “America,” and you’re in business.

Have a picture of a colorful sky? Or, even better, any great travel photos? Submit your images to Gadling’s Flickr group right now and we might use it for a future Photo of the Day.

Skype celebrates the World Cup with a month of free phone calls to one country

Are you a Skype user? If not, you may want to sign up today, because a new promotion from this Internet phone service is giving away a free month of phone calls to one of 32 different countries. In the fine print, you’ll see that “a month” actually equals 120 minutes, but if you have someone heading abroad this summer, 120 minutes could be the difference between free or a a $100 phone bill.

The free calls can be made to landlines only, and the deal is only available to the first 100,000 people that sign up, so don’t delay! You’ll find the Skype free calls football promo here.

Excellent “stay connected abroad” article from our friends at Engadget

Engadget (and Gadling) writer Darren Murph has posted an excellent overview of your options on how to stay connected when you travel. In the article, you learn about the differences between CDMA and GSM, how Google Voice and Skype can help when you travel, and just how insanely expensive international mobile data is.

Consider the article a “must read” if you plan to travel abroad and hope to be just as connected as you are back home.

Next week, we’ll have our own overview here on Gadling – but with a strong emphasis on how to pick the best travel smartphone. With so many new phones hitting stores this summer, being able to pick the one that will actually work when you are abroad is a must. In the meantime, head on over to Engadget for the article.

Skype introduces new monthly calling subscriptions to 170 countries

As summer approaches, being able to make affordable phone calls becomes more important than ever. Even though many of us rely on Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare to stay in touch, there are still plenty of situations where you need to pick up the phone.

Skype has always been a great solution for this – but their service just got even better thanks to a lineup of new subscription based calling plans. Starting tomorrow, Skype is rolling out calling plans to more than 170 countries that provide callers with a savings of up to 60 percent compared to their standard Pay As You Go rates.

With the new subscriptions, Skype offers users the flexibility to customize their calling plans in just three easy steps:

1. Select the countries you want to call
2. Decide whether you want to call mobile phones, landlines or both
3. Choose the plan that best suits your needs from 1-month to 12-months or 60 minutes to unlimited

These new subscriptions start as low as $1.09 per month and offer effective rates as low as $.01 per minute to almost any destination around the globe.

With these new plans, you’ll be able to make unlimited calls, often for less than the cost of a single minute of international mobile roaming. To make Skype even better, Verizon Wireless customers can install Skype Mobile on a variety of 3G smartphones.

Skype video call saves wedding messed up by volcanic ash

A couple stranded in Dubai by the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic ash managed to save their wedding day and share it with family and friends – all thanks to the generosity of their hotel, and Skype.

The took their vows in front of hotel guests and a webcam equipped laptop broadcast the event to friends and family back in the United Kingdom.

Best of all, the celebration was shared with other hotel guests who had been stranded for days – and since everyone loves a wedding, some guests even helped out with hair and make-up for the Bride.

I’ve been a long time fan of Skype, and always use it when I’m on the road – the video communication part of Skype is a fantastic way of staying in touch with my family and free Skype to Skype calling has saved me thousands in international calling charges.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the hotel even decorated the lobby and made a three tier wedding cake.

For those that have never used Skype – I highly recommend taking it for a spin. With Skype on your laptop, desktop or even on your mobile device, you can make free calls to other Skype users, or very cheap calls to landline and mobile numbers. In addition to voice calls, Skype also does hassle-free video calls in very high quality, without having to deal with networking issues.