Saturday, February 26, 2011

Staying connected

It is not true that our extended family gets seriously ill whenever we're far away. But it is true that because we never manage to live close to them, we're always far away when they get sick.

So when my brother got very, very sick earlier this week, I found myself thinking a lot about the ways we stay connected to far-away family while we're here in Bosnia. Luckily, my husband figures all of this out for us, because I wouldn't have a clue. Here is my primer on wouldn't-live-without resources when we're far away:

1) Internet connection. Nine years ago, it was rare in Sarajevo to have internet connection in homes. We used to use David's office connection after-hours to send and read emails. Today, thankfully, home Internet connections are the standard.

2) Magic Jack. This snazzy little connector let us connect an actual telephone with a US phone number to our computer. When people called that US number, the telephone would ring in Bosnia. BUT...our computers are all laptops which we carry around from room to room, and this connector broke after only four months. (Takeaway lesson: these should be used with desktop computers, not laptops.)

3) Magic Talk. When our telephone connector broke, we switched to an online telephone program. Theoretically, any program would work. In practice, we can't get Skype to work part of the time (perhaps a problem with our connection?). GoogleTalk is not yet operational in Bosnia. And we had the Magic Jack phone number already. So people can still call our US number and our computer instead of our telephone rings. Which means we need...

4) Good headset. We tried using cheap headsets. It has been totally worth it to have a good headset when this is our only contact with family. We are using a Plantronics headset.  And...

5) Speaker. So that we can all hear the news at the same time. Our iLuv speaker has met our needs perfectly.

In the case of my brother all the news we're hearing now is good. Thank goodness his heart is behaving itself again since we sending our hearts is the one thing we can't do very well over the Internet. But we would if we could, Jim.


ZfromMostar said...

Skype is working out great for us. I wonder what kind of problem you have. I talk and video chat with my family in Mostar and Sarajevo almost daily (I'm in Florida). You should contact your local Internet provider and upgrade your connection ( Skype will not work with dial up connection, if that's what you currently have)

Annette said...

It's just the visuals part of Skype we have problems with. And since we're only here temporarily, it's not feasible to redo our entire Internet access. I'm glad it works for you.

It sounds like our lives are, at the moment, the reverse of each other's. We'll be going back to our home Florida in July!

Nathan said...

I'm so glad that you have those connections, too. It makes it seem like Sarajevo is only as far away as, say Portland OR.