I have been a user of Skype since the early days of it’s creation and have used the free audio and video call facility many times. While I have always known it was a great tool and had huge potential but it was not until this week that I realised it’s true worth.
Without going into detail, my wife has recently had some hospital treatment that has meant that she has had to avoid contact with other people. Nothing contagious or anything like that but no close contact was allowed for about two weeks. This meant that our children had to go and stay at their grandparents.
Now this was only a five minute walk around the corner but it could have been 100 miles away for what it mattered due to the avoidance of contact. As any parent can imagine, being separated from your children for any length of time is not a situation that most would relish and indeed we did not. So off they went with bags packed full with everything they needed for the duration of their stay, but with one useful tool; their laptops. I had ensured that their laptops would be connected to their grandparents’ wifi so that they were able to do all the things that children need to do these days, homework, email, school web site, iPlayer and so on but there was one application that really came into full use while they were away and that was Skype.
Most people will be aware of Skype as it’s the most well known of the communication applications. For those who are not it simply allows three main things; instant messaging, audio calls but more importantly, video calls. The latter is the most exciting. All you need to make video calls is a compatible computer and webcam and a high speed broadband connection.
So our nightly routine proceeded as follows
- Switch on laptop.
- Log into Skype.
- Commence video call to the children.
The call started and soon the children were chatting to their Mum quite happily, almost forgetting that it was via a webcam. Although not a substitute for being in the same room, being able to hear and see each other was the next best thing. I left them to it for the most part and was pleased to hear them chatting and laughing. Giving updates about their school day, asking how their Mum was feeling, even showing off their new haircut. Oh yes, and there was a couple of appearances from their guinea pig too! Most nights they were chatting for up to an hour, all of it being free over the web.
I think it’s safe to say that without being able to Skype, a difficult and stressful situation would have been unbearable. By the end of the week we were naturals. Even Grandma and Grandad were appearing on camera willingly!
None of this would have been possible without a good internet connection. Our connection is not too bad most of the time although we did notice some quality issues such as delayed video, choppy sound and the odd dropped call so I’d dread to think what it would be like on a slower connection.
This is why the B4RN project is so important. My story is just one example of how having a good quality internet connection can enhance a particular aspect of life but there are many others. Everyone deserves a fast, reliable and affordable internet connection, B4RN will provide that to our area. Please support it in whatever way you can.