The MacAir has been running 24/7 for nearly three months now. It has not skipped a beat and we are regularly reminded of how much a part of our lives it is. It is our phone (Skype), T’s TV, our respective diaries, T’s socialisation network (Skype again), the publisher of the blog, our newspaper (when we manage to snatch a moment of catch up on what is happening in the world) and our source of email.
We continue to appreciate the fact that modern technology provides us with the ability to remain connected and in contact with our friends and family while we are away. The boys look forward to a couple of regular calls that they have each week (it is an impressive effort from those callers in Australia given they are usually dealing with the end of the day/dinner/bedtime conflicts) and Jo and I love the random calls that make us still feel like we are sitting in your various lounge rooms. We also relish all of your comments and feedback on the blog as it gives us the sense that we are sharing this adventure with you rather than just talking to ourselves.
A post about Skype/Viber/HeyTell is a little left of centre for Counting to Dieci (and there aren’t any photos to accompany this post), but we wanted to publicly thank you for your efforts and to share some of the humour that the technology has generated from this end. We note that names have been changed (or not used) to protect the (not quite so) innocent.
Here are our top three Skype moments thus far:
1. How does this thing work?
Early on in our adventure a couple of our regular callers were struggling with the new technology. Usually on the back of a change of computer, a software upgrade, power failure or such…but not always…the settings would mysteriously change. This would invariably mean that during a Skype call, the caller could (a) see themselves but not us; (b) see us but as a small stamp-sized box; (c) see us but couldn’t hear us; (d) hear us but couldn’t see us – you get the idea…
Our challenge was that because we are running a Mac, our useful instructions didn’t always directly translate to PC so our attempts at providing a helpdesk service weren’t necessarily beneficial. Usually we would conclude with a “have you switched it off and on again…?”.
However, the highlight for us was one particular call where the caller could see and hear us but we couldn’t hear them. We suggested that they might have muted their mic. Testing this theory descended pretty quickly into high farce. Whilst most, in this day and age, would resort to text messaging, our fearless caller took to scrawling handwritten signs and holding them up to their camera. The standouts were: “Our Mic is not working”; “How to Unmute Mic?”; “Will call back” (this was used a few times), as the best minds were set to work…
2. Is there an Echo?
We are often speaking to callers that don’t necessarily have the greatest internet connections. Whilst no fault of theirs (the joys of a telco monopoly in country Australia), there are delays and echoes that do somewhat interrupt the flow of the conversation. As an example, one the other day went something like:
Caller: “hello”, “hello, its….ah hello…
Caller: “hello, hello…is this worki…ah hello…I don’t think they can hear us…oh you can”
…and so on! It was reminiscent of the good old days when long distance dialling had a 3 to 5 second delay. Or when Eurovision called the Eastern Bloc countries for their votes – we would wait with delicious anticipation for the subsequent five minute comedy skit that began with the immortal exchange (usually shouted into the tv)
“ah hello, welcome Riga”
“hello? hel…oh hello, yes this is Riga, can you hear us? Hello…?”
“Welcome Riga, we can hear you… etc
3. Yes Skype is a Video Call…
Finally, our favourite (and most recent). Late at night here (6.30am in…..Oz!), one of our parents popped up on the screen as being online so a quick call was put through. One of the parents was up checking the weather before starting the day and was in the office. After five minutes or so of chatting he announced “I’ll get Mum, she will want a chat” – all pretty normal so far from this end.
The (unnamed) Parent managed (fortunately) to get up and turn in one motion (or the satellite pixilated at just the right time), and then sauntered off down the passage. Naked.
Halfway to the door there was a pause, half-turn (thank god it was only a half turn) and a look back as the penny dropped that the call was a video call rather than the usual telephone call… Two hours later we are still in fits of laughter thinking about it.
In short, we love your calls, emails and blog comments and we love the effort that all of you make to stay in touch with us. The only thing that we would ask is that for each call, please wear some pants.