Skype, iChat and GMail – the international traveller’s best forms of communication
Right now I’m in Bangkok, in a big hotel, with wireless internet access, trouble is, we have to pay for that access, at 770 Baht per day.
Google Says that 770 Thai baht = 10.7550263 British pounds
That is a lot of money for 24 hours on the Internet. With the UK being six hours behind, Jonathan and I spend a lot of time emailing and dealing with UK work demands after we’ve done a day already in Thailand. Internet is our life blood to stay in touch and up to date with our organisation.
Jonathan and I are working for the British Council, Thailand on some Digital Creativity Workshops, and we’re in Bangkok to work out of the Thai Knowledge Park for the third week of the workshops, Jonathan heads out to New Zealand soon, I’ll be working the workshop with David from the British Council.
Contacting home has been a real challenge for us, and at Ultralab (1990-2006) we love a challenge.
Ultralab (1990-2006) is constantly looking for new ways of using technology in teaching and learning, and through this exploration we’ve experimented with some pretty cool software.
On Monday, in Phuket I joined a telephone conference hosted in Skype, the free telephone service for making voice calls over the Internet. In the conference were a project partner from Suffolk, a project partner from Wales, Director of Ultralab (1990-2006), Richard Millwood and myself in Phuket. The line was crystal clear and we were able to send and share files quickly and easily, even text chat as we held the conference, we were all very impressed.
The other cool thing experimented with Skype was a three way call between my girlfriend, myself and my parents. My parents were on a standard telephone, while Jus (using Skype too!, an avid Mac user) and I (using Skype in Phuket) were able to talk with crystal clear sound, and all of us could talk and hear each other like we were all in the same room. My parents both picked up a phone in the house, and joined in the chat.
So, big thumbs up to Skype and the SkypeOut service which allows Skype users to buy credit and call land based telephone lines (like my parents), as much of the call is routed through the Internet as possible, meaning when I call Jus or the Parents on a land line, I only pay the UK rate.
Was amazing to conduct a telephone call with two Skype users and a land line customer! Thanks Skype.
I’ve also fallen in love with GMail the free email service which is provided by Google (the search engine people).
GMail allows me to send emails with unlimited attachment sizes, and also has excellent spam filters and ways of sorting and stacking email.
One of the best features of GMail is that it does not add advertisements and links at the bottom of sent mail, and allows POP access in order to manage email through an email application such as Mail.
The coolest thing I’ve now discovered is that when I send an email from Mail using my GMail account GMail then stores a copy of the sent email within GMail on the Internet, within my online account. How cool is that? This therefore means that I am able to delete all the sent mail from my Apple computer, save space, and still know that messages are stored safely somewhere (not taking up my space) should I need to go and find them at a later date.
The other great thing about GMail is the attachment sizes is not restrictive. I’ve been able to send video home and to Jus without worrying that the video will not get through, both Andrew (my brother) and Jus have GMail accounts, so I know they are getting the pictures and video’s I’m sending.
The next great tool I’m going to rave about before going to bed today is iChat. Wow. Apart from some connectivity problems associated to the hotel I was staying in in Phuket, iChat Video rocks. Hopefully I’ll be able to use it from this hotel just fine.