Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Technology and communication

While there are many good things about living in Cyprus, it's not easy being thousands of miles away from our sons, most of the year. So we're very thankful for modern technology which enables us to stay in touch regularly. Tim and I often chat briefly via Google Chat (on Gmail), and we've used Yahoo! Instant messenger regularly too.

It was nearly fifteen months ago when we experimented with a game of Settlers via Skype with Tim. It was so successful that we've played several similar games since. So many, indeed, that I don't tend to blog about them any more. Last night we played another game, from 8.30 until about 9.30 (Cyprus time). We use 'Facetime' now rather than Skype, with the video camera to project the game board to Tim, but the general idea is the same as it was when we first thought of it, and it works well.

However, there are always questions, at the end, about how we might improve the quality of either the sound or the picture. We also wondered whether we could try having another computer open with a different kind of chat, so that Tim could see us as well as the game board. We did manage that the first time, but our bandwidth is not great, and it reduces the quality. So they tried Google chat... it didn't work too well on Richard's computer, so we fetched the Chromebook - wanting to give it something to do - and Richard played around with that:

Then Tim spotted that Daniel was online too. He and Becky are currently staying in Barcelona with Becky's Mum; we had a good online chat with them on Sunday evening. But Tim thought that, using the 'Google Plus Hangout' system, we might be able to have a three-way chat.

He was correct. The sound quality wasn't bad at all, and although the pictures went a bit pixellated at times, we could see small images of all three of us, and a larger one of whichever of our sons was talking at the time. So this is what we saw when Daniel or Becky was speaking:

And this is what we saw when Tim was speaking:

All very clever stuff. Dan and Becky couldn't stay for very long as they were going out, so we never did discover if we could have set it up on both the laptops here, to have a four-way chat... I couldn't quite see the point of Richard going to another room to join in, but sometimes people in my family are just curious to know what can be done in theory...


Sarah said...

all this technology must make having sons far away a lot easier to cope with :)

Lynda said...

I'm very impressed!