long-distance update

Joe and I have been long-distance for a month now, and it’s been a process figuring out how to communicate across 3 time zones and an international boundary.

boundary

At first we used the method we’ve been used to– our cell phones. But those calls between Canada and the US add up! My cell phone plan charges 15 cents per minute for calls to Canada, and Joe’s plan charges 10 cents per minute for calls to the States. If we were to talk for an hour every day using this method, that’s a whopping $450 a month!

So then my roommate suggested calling cards. I still have the calling card I used back in college (before cell phones were popular!) to call my parents– 5.9 cents per minute to call Canada. That brings our $450 down to $286.20. Better, but doesn’t pass. We’re frugal Chinese.

Plan C. Joe has a GrandCentral account which provides you with a free phone number that can be forwarded to all your phones. The GrandCentral number has a US area code, and we got it to forward to Joe’s cell! So I can use my US cell to call a US number (at no additional charge to my cell plan) which forwards to Joe’s Canada cell number. Now we’re down to $180.

Still not good enough, because meanwhile, I’m racking up way too many peak hour minutes and going over my monthly usage limit. :-o It’s hard to restrict calls till after 9pm and weekends. We need to use the internet!

But my roommate and I are frugal and don’t pay for internet– we’ve been relying on unsecured wireless in the neighborhood, which is weak and unreliable, but works for things like e-mail and IM. So Joe uses his Skype out account ($3/month) to call my cell phone. This is fine, but it means that he always has to call me and I can’t call him, and often the reception is unclear. Lame.

Finally, I break down and decide to pay for cable internet so we can use iChat, which IMHO is way cooler (and more reliable) than Skype. This is our method of choice now because iChat, in all its awesomeness, has video chat!

joe laughing as i eat a cracker

…and even a screensharing feature!

screenshare

So not only can we see each other when we communicate, we can share web projects we’ve been working on via screensharing! This past week I showed Joe the new Serials Solutions ERM I’ve been working in and Joe (tried to) show me some CSS stuff. We can also have Hulu dates and watch “The Office” together– iChat lets us do voice chat while we watch, so it *almost* feels like we’re in the same room as we chuckle and banter about the show.

Geeky, I know. But we’re making it work.

2 Responses

  1. Why is the Canadian flag so much bigger in that first image?? :P I’m glad you and Joe are able to find a way to make it work though ^_^

    jen - January 31st, 2009 at 11:44 am
  2. yay for ichat :)

    joe - February 3rd, 2009 at 7:21 pm

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