Technology – staying connected

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Keeping in touch is more important than ever when you’re living in the middle of nowhere or your partner is away for weeks at a time. Luckily, technology is advancing at such a rate that we’re always finding news ways to make contact. Sure, an email will never replace a good hug when you need one, but it can be the next best thing.


Take it from me: Kathryn in Kalgoorlie on how to conquer long-distance family relationships


Here are a few ideas from Mining Family Matters on how to get you better connected:

Emails 

You don’t need to stress on massive emails to friends and family. Just keep them short and lively to ensure you’re always touching base. To save time and energy with your inbox, tackle emails with the three Ds of time management: deal with it; delegate or delete.

Mobile phones

There are heaps of great deals on offer these days, so shop around before you commit to a long-term plan. Many plans include free talk time (including STD calls) at your preferred hour of the day, or a few minutes of free talk to a nominated number.  Check out the best deals online before you buy.

Internet phone and webcam calls 

"My husband works FIFO in PNG. I don't know how we would have survived without seeing and talking to him every night on skype. Don't laugh, but we take our wireless laptop into our pool area and sit it on the dinner table while we have tea so he can sit with us while we have our dinner and then we go for a swim - it is very funny but it works for us. A lot of my o/s friends haven't used skype before but it is fantastic and great for the kids to talk to Dad about their day. The best bit is getting to see him on skype without waiting three weeks." - Clare Doyle, Wattle Park

National and international phone calls are as cheap as chips if you’ve got internet access. It’s also a great way to stay in touch via webcam (internet camera).  One of our favourite options here is Skype (www.skype.com) a really user-friendly website with free downloads and free usage. You can also use Skype as your home phone, with cheap local, STD and international calls available.

Another good free internet option is Yahoo Messenger (http://au.messenger.yahoo.com/)

If you don’t have a web camera, they are readily available online. You’ll spend anywhere from $30 to $600, with about $100 buying a half-decent model that allows you to actually see your mates without the images being all blurry. (Remember to wear clothing when online – this can be a trap for newcomers).  Most laptops now feature inbuilt cameras, so check before you spend the extra cash.

MSN Messaging

If you don’t have a camera but like the idea of shooting off little messages that pop up on the recipient’s screen, try msn messaging (http://messenger.msn.com/download/getstarted.aspx). It’s easy to download and free to use.  It’s quick and it’s fun, but be warned: it can be a huge time waster.

Facebook

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably already know about Facebook (www.facebook.com).  It touts itself as “a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them”.  The online community helps you to search for long-lost friends, like mates you met in a particular mining town way back when. Facebook offers a series of security options and we’d strongly suggest thoroughly investigating these to ensure your privacy is protected.