A while back, I talked about some homesick relievers--programs that really help me to stay in touch with my family and friends, and also to stay in touch with what's going on in the States! These programs need a device on which to operate--duh--my laptop! This has become my virtual home in many ways! I work and play on the computer every day, but I do have a life apart from this virtual home! Still, I am happy with modern technology and the ways it allows me to interact in a real way with my family and friends!
One of the programs that I use for playing is my Nintendo DS--yes...I own one at my age! My kids talked me into getting a DS before I moved here! It is fun in and of itself, and it has the capability of using WiFi to connect to other players across the Internet. In order to use the DS in this way, you must have a high-speed Internet connection, and a game that is set up for this type of gaming. Mario Kart DS is our favorite game--which is a racing game. The DS has two screens--the lower one is a touch screen, the other screen is to watch the game as you play. In Mario Kart DS, the top screen lets you view the race track as if you are driving (which you are!), while the lower screen offers an overview map of the race track and where each player is located. The kids laugh at me all the time and as where I am on the track! They are usually well ahead of me in the race...while I stumble along, driving off the track or running into things! It's a lot of fun and offers a way for the kids and I to stay connected, even though we're separated by half the world!
Another homesickness reliever is the Slingbox, by Sling Media. The Slingbox is a device that connects to a TV and the Internet, allowing you to view any programs that are on your TV in another location--in your own home, or across the world! My Dad heard about these and bought one. The Slingbox we use is connected to a TV in the US. Then, the Slingplayer program is loaded onto my laptop. Now, my husband and I can watch any program that is showing on that TV in the US--even cable TV! The Slingox works anywhere you have a high-speed Internet connection--that means in hotels, airports, etc! There is even a version of the Slingplayer program that is now available for smartphones and PDA's! I've not yet tried the Slingplayer on my PDA, but the version for my laptop works great. My husband and I can watch any movie or TV program at any time. The picture we see is not as good as it would be directly on a TV, but it is very "watchable" and the audio is crisp and in time with the action on the screen. The Slingbox does not interfere with viewing programs on the "home" TV. It's possible to switch channels and to watch something completely different from what is showing on the Slingbox! There is no setup fee, and there are no monthly fees for this service. I would highly recommend this for people who are living overseas who would like to maintain contact with the news and favorite TV programs in their home countries! My kids and I sometimes watch programs together--in real time--and have Gtalk open and talk as we watch...it's a lot of fun!
There are a couple of other tools that I use to stay connected with home, aside from my laptop--those are my PDA and my cell phone! I have a Dell Axim X51 PDA that I use almost every day. This PDA has both Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities, and can run everything from games to Skype to Windows Mobile Office programs. I mainly use the PDA for reading e-books, but also take it on short trips as it is much smaller than my laptop. I also found a Bluetooth keyboard for my Axim...and with the SD cards coming down in price and going up in memory size, it's possible to take all the files I would want for e-books, music, pictures, and blogging on the run! My unlocked cell (unlocked as in being able to use any SIM card) phone is very useful, too--it has a decent camera, can take videos, is Bluetooth capable, etc. It can "talk" to my PDA, making it very easy to transfer files from my phone to the PDA. I have three different SIM cards that I use with my cell phone--one that works in most parts of the world I would travel, one SIM card works in the US, and one SIM card for using here, in the Czech Republic/Europe. It is simple to change the cards out and it's possible to recharge them online at any time. Of course, all my SIM card calling plans are pay-as-you-go, but this greatly simplifies my phone bills--and there are no contracts! When I travel, my cell phone works in most places with no problem. It is a great asset to have to stay in touch with everyone back home when traveling--or when I'm here! I bought my SIM cards at Telestial. They are a very reputable company and are registered with the Better Business Bureau's BBB online program.
These are some great and easy ways to stay in touch with everyone back home...of course, there is also snail mail. We also use that from time-to-time. But I love gizmos, so I enjoy all of these techie ways to stay in touch. My family and I use all of these tools (and the ones mentioned in my previous Homesickness Relievers post) to stay close, in spite of the huge distances that separate us.
That's all for now...you all have a great day!
PS I am not affiliated with any of these programs, but do enjoy using them!
© 2008 by czechoffthebeatenpath