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Friday, March 19, 2010

Keeping in Touch

This post is dedicated to the various ways that we keep in touch with friends and family as we live 5,270 miles away (according to United's direct flight to Dulles). I consider it extremely good luck that we moved during an age where there are so many ways to keep connected. It wasn't so long ago, when Jon and I first dated in high school that my family was transferred away to Illinois and we had to write letters to keep in touch. I can't even imagine that now. Although we love and appreciate the mail that our friends have sent us (so please, keep it up!), it does take awhile to get here. Since we are past the age of snail-mail, and since my husband is a complete technology guru, we have plenty of items that were not available until recently. So, on to the items that have made our lives easier:
  • Voltage Converters - Buenos Aires is not called the "Paris of South America" for nothing, it looks, feels and powers it's electronics just like it's European sister. Not only are the plugs themselves different, but the power is a standard 220v (strong enough to power a clothes dryer at home) compared to 110v in the USA. In come our voltage transformers, we have 4 of them. The two mega-transformers are used for our desktop computer, laptops and to charge misc. items in the office, and the TV, DVD, Wii, PSP3, etc in the living room. We have one stationed in the kitchen so that I can use all of our great wedding gifts, the KitchenAid, blender, food processor, etc and one portable transformer that I use for plugging in the iron, crock-pot and other random low power items. I know it sound like something small, but it has made the transition easier and our apartment feels much more like home since we can use all of our own stuff.
  • Vonage - I used to see commercials for Vonage services and regard them with as much attention as those old "Dial 10-10-321 for free long distance!" ads. I take it all back and if they asked me, I would voluntarily give my customer testimonial on any Vonage ad out there. Life as we know it would not be the same without Vonage. This amazing little device allows us to call the US and 40 other countries for a flat rate of $22.99 per month. It also allows people from the US to call us as if we were still in Virginia. You just buy the Vonage box, hook it up to your internet connection and then call to your heart's desire. You can even choose your area code.
  • Slingbox - As I mentioned in my South American TV Recap, we are lucky enough to have plenty of English-speaking TV shows to choose from. Unfortunately, we get very little live TV and virtually no college sports. This is simply unacceptable to the biggest sports fan I know, Jon. He has rigged up a Slingbox in his parents basement that we can control from our computer here. The idea is that you buy the Slingbox and then set it up at a TV that has the stations you desire. Through some internet magic, you can then control that TV using an internet log in, and watch through your computer screen. This is especially helpful for watching Virginia Tech games, even if they are just competing for the NIT title :).
  • Skype - I remember a time when I dreamed of a futuristic phone that had a video screen so that you could see you friends while you talked. This clearly was a shared dream that has been answered by the inventors of Skype. I was really late to join the Skype bandwagon, more because I didn't understand it than anything else. For those that are still non-believers, it is incredibly easy and best of all, it's FREE. If you want to see the people that you're talking to, you either need a freestanding web-camera or one built into your computer. It's especially great for seeing those things that can't actually talk for themselves, like new babies, new pets, household furniture and households themselves.
So that's what we do to stay current. If you know of other ways to keep connected, we're open to any and all ideas, each new development I hear of amazes me more than the last.

1 comment:

  1. I will say that it was pretty awesome to just dial the 703 number in my phone and talk to Jon like he was across the street and not across the planet!! We have come along way from pen-pals and postcards :)