Images by John 'K'

Life as seen through my lens…

Category Archives: Tips for a geographically dispersed family

Coping with time zones and keeping in touch

Tips for a geographically dispersed family #2: Time zones can be a killer….

If you want to keep in touch in real time where there’s an 8-hour time zone difference between you and your family, picking a good time to communicate becomes very difficult, especially if the concerned parties are working or at school.

As an example, when I’m going to bed, my family is getting up and getting ready to go out. When I’m getting up, during the week my family is at work/school, and at the weekend they’re typically shopping/out with friends or doing things that they can’t do during the week because they are at work/school. Their evening is my work time during the week, and by the time I can get out of work, they are in bed. The only ‘good’ time to ‘chat’ is at the weekends late in the day for them (mid-day to mid-afternoon for me).

What this has meant is that during the week we typically have short ‘chats’ in the evening their time when I can divert myself from work for a bit (I’m lucky enough to have a job where interruptions like this don’t cause a major problem), and at the weekend we end up having longer chats during their evening, but to achieve this I end up running around like mad either first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon to do stuff that I need to get done over the weekends.

There is no easy answer to this, but it is important to keep in touch, especially if you are apart for an extended period, so do what you can to make it work as much as possible. If all else fails, make good use of e-mail, as that makes it easier to deal with time differences for non-direct communication. It’s important to have direct real-time communication on a regular basis though, so don’t just rely on e-mail.

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MSN Messenger 7 is great!

Tips for a geographically dispersed family #1: Keeping in touch!

I’m sure that most MSN users will already be aware of this, but MSN 7 rocks!

It does video (webcam) and audio chat, you can send little sketches and pictures to one another, you can share photo albums, it does all sort of stuff, and it’s FREE! Being 5000+ miles (and 8 hours) apart from my family, I’ve found it invaluable for keeping in touch and keeping the phone costs down.

The video/audio chat works really well – it’s as clear as a phone call, very quick, and on a reasonable speed broadband connection the video (webcam) response is very good!

In fact, my wife has commented that she sees more of me like this than she did when I was over in the UK with them!

If you’re not already a user, go check out http://imagine-msn.com/messenger/en-us/ – it’s really helped us keep in touch!