Mother Nature’s tantrum in Europe last week is putting the bite on many family reunions. The airport backlog is expected to take a week to clear, meaning many won’t make it home for the holidays.
Skype – While Skype experienced some serious problems this week, with service standing only at 30% of capacity, it’s still a great way to have the whole family together around the table or opening presents.
Simply set up your MacBook with a seat the family Christmas table and turn on Skype and Gramma, Grandpa or an overseas son is right there with everyone else, sorta. Skype is great to video chat, but you can also use it to call landlines, so it makes a good voip solution as well.
One of my favourite Canadian Geeks, Amber Mac, has some tips to make your Skype go smoothly.
FaceTime – This is the weekend that Apple’s iPhone video chat was built for. You have to be on WiFi to use FaceTime and with many people wrapped up in wrappings around the base of the tree, passing the phone around the room is an easy way to get some face to face contact as grandkids rip open presents from far away or little babies dig into their first taste of a Christmas treat.
UStream – if it’s a big party that many people can’t attend, or there’s a specific holiday tree at Nana’s house that people are missing, why not set up a UStream channel? Put the laptop in the corner, turn on the webcam and broadcast it to family and friends from around the world to watch. Perhaps its a falling snow scene, or a traditional hearth, a favourite tree or you just want to watch your Nana bake all day. Whatever it is, UStream can turn your favourite holiday moment into your own personal Yule Log Channel that’s so popular on cable this time of year.
BudPhone – If you’re on the road and away from all the video options, a great app from Budweiser is giving you the chance to make free long distance calls from your smart phone or computer. The app uses freephoneline.ca to connect you. Most major cities in Canada are covered with the app, it’s worth checking out if you need to make calls from the airport or the road when you’re criss crossing the country.
How is your family using technology to get together this weekend?