Using Skype with its many facets...Time difference charts...

Tom's mother, shown in front row center, wrote a book, "Memories of Muggs," of the family's history.  On the date of the "book signing" the family got together to celebrate the special occasion. This family photo was taken in 1997 of Tom, his mother Mary and his siblings.  From left to right front, seated: Rita, Mary, Jerome; middle row: Mary Ellen, Margie, Patty and Sister Beth.  Back row includes Colleen, Tom and Jim.  The book is listed at the Minnesota Historical Society.
This morning, Tom called his brother Jerome, the eldest in the family to wish him a happy 87th birthday.  His birthday is today in the US, although its a day later on this side of the International Dateline.

With no answer at Jerome's home at Minnesota time of 1 pm Sunday, the 18th, Tom left a message wishing Jerry a very happy birthday.  We've been sending the daily posts to Jerome everyday via email almost since the beginning of our travels.  

We drove through the village of Naidi, another smaller sleepy town.
Jerome, a Korean war veteran, has been totally blind for the past 45 years.  Several years ago, he learned to use a computer that reads and writes text by use of voice recognition software.  This allows him the freedom and ability to "see" what going in with the world and with loved ones from afar or, even across town via email communication.

Tom edits each daily post, removing all the photos, sending Jerome an email with the verbiage only. Tom never fails to send it to him and Jerome never fails to read it, at times commenting on our topic of the day by email.

While we're in Fiji, Tom sends the latest post a few minutes after 5 pm each day when its midnight in Minnesota.  That way, Jerome can determine the correct date of the post to read them in the order they're written.   Once we eventually return to the other side of the International Dateline, he'll send the post on the same day it is written as he'd done in the past.

It was hard to see through the dense vegetation to the homes of the villagers.
It means so much to both of us that we can share our journey with Jerome and other folks around the world that may have less mobility than others.  Although, Jerome, bless his heart, is out and about all the time. 

His lovely wife Lee passed away in December, 2013.  They were happily married for 61 years.  Now he lives alone, totally able to care for his own daily needs. The family provides assistance in many ways including frequently picking him up to attend family gatherings, dining out, overnight and day trips to the casino and medical appointments.

When Tom called him today using Skype to wish him happy birthday, there was no answer. We assumed he was out with the family for a birthday brunch or lunch.  After Tom left the message, he checked his email to find a response from an email he'd sent last night wishing Jerome a happy birthday.

This house up the hill has ocean views.  Most of the larger homes are owned by foreigners who have built vacation properties for their own use or for rental.
Jerry explained he was going to the Mille Lacs casino for an overnight to celebrate his birthday.  Slot machines are the only practical games for him to play without having sight.  On occasion, he gets lucky but his stakes are modest and loses are relatively small.

Having the ability to communicate with family and friends, is part of the magic of the Internet.  With hundreds of communication options available online, we've stayed with Skype as a familiar and affordable option for communication at will.

The only drawback at this point, is the massive time difference (plus a one day difference) as shown in this chart below between Fiji and Minnesota where most of our family members reside:

Minneapolis, Minnesota time to Fiji time converter
1:00 am CDT in Minneapolis =
6:00 pm in Fiji
4:00 am CDT in Minneapolis =
9:00 pm in Fiji
7:00 am CDT in Minneapolis =
12:00 pm in Fiji
10:00 am CDT in Minneapolis =
3:00 am in Fiji
1:00 pm CDT in Minneapolis =
6:00 am in Fiji
4:00 pm CDT in Minneapolis =
9:00 am in Fiji
7:00 pm CDT in Minneapolis =
12:00 pm in Fiji
10:00 pm CDT in Minneapolis =
3:00 pm in Fiji

For communication with son Richard and sister Susan, who each live in different areas of Las Vegas, communication has been a breeze using Skype. 

At times, Richard and I communicate via his cell phone (service by contract) using his phone and my cell phone, using Skype (with a data card inserted) using our Skype phone number, as we've been able to do with other family members.  Here's the time chart from Fiji to Las Vegas which also applies to communication with my sister Julie in Los Angeles:

Las Vegas, Nevada time to Fiji time converter
1:00 am PDT in Las Vegas =
8:00 pm in Fiji
4:00 am PDT in Las Vegas =
11:00 pm in Fiji
7:00 am PDT in Las Vegas =
2:00 am in Fiji
10:00 am PDT in Las Vegas =
5:00 am in Fiji
1:00 pm PDT in Las Vegas =
8:00 am in Fiji
4:00 pm PDT in Las Vegas =
11:00 am in Fiji
7:00 pm PDT in Las Vegas =
2:00 pm in Fiji
10:00 pm PDT in Las Vegas =
5:00 pm in Fiji

Many travelers outside the US and other countries, use Skype calling (for a fee) and Skype to Skype which incurs no fees.  When we make or receive calls, not using Skype to Skype, we can use our Skype Nevada phone number for which we pay USD $5, FJD $10.59 per month.

This phone number has a 702 Las Vegas area code requiring we log into Skype and select, "CALL PHONES."  In doing so, we are able to call any phone number anywhere in the world.  Each country has its own particular per minute rate.  For Fiji to the US, its USD $.30, FJD $.64 per minute.

However, we have a VPN, a virtual private network, Hotspot Shield for which we pay USD $39, FJD $82.57 per year that provides us with a US web presence, enabling us to Skype through the servers provided by Hotspot Shield. 

Home along the highway.
Using this app we're able to maintain our entry to various websites through the US, enabling us to stream Amazon video, other streams and live feeds from the US.  In essence, we're able to bypass blocked sites that prevent access from outside the US.  There is a free version of Hotspot Shield for those who'd like to try it but it includes annoying advertising at the top of each web page which isn't acceptable for our use.  Thus, we pay the annual fee for the ad free version.

In addition Hotspot Shield provides added  firewall security above and beyond virus software which we also use along with it.  You can click on the link to the site for more information, if this is an app that appeals to your Internet needs, as it does for us.

Back to Skype which we're attempting to simplify.  By using our Skype phone number, for which we add "credit" on occasion, we can easily call phones anywhere in the world with our 702 area code appearing in the receiver's caller ID.  Our cost per minute, in calling any US phone number is a mere USD $.023, FJD $.05 per minute.

A beach is never too far away from any of the villages.
If the receiver of our Skype call is also using Skype, we can call for free from Skype to Skype, instead of calling using our phone number.  However, not all family members download Skype on their computers, tablets and phones.  In those cases, we call using our phone number as we've done in calling Jerome today to wish him a happy birthday.

We realize this may be confusing.  It was for us as we attempted to figure this out many moons ago with the intention of ease of use and affordability.  Now for us, its a breeze.  Feel free to contact us by a "comment" at the end of each post or via email with questions. 

(We'd like to clarify that Skype uses data whether its Skype to Skype or, using phone to phone which incurs the additional per minute charges, plus the monthly phone number fee of USD $5, FJD $10.59.  These costs are considerably less than the monthly fees incurred by most cell phone and landline providers.  If we had a cell phone contract in the US, which we don't, and used the cell phone for calling the US, we'd incur $1000's in roaming fees each year which attributed to our desire to figure this out long ago).

So, once more, we say Happy Birthday, Jerome!  We hope you won at the casino and we hope to speak to you soon, calling your home phone, via our Skype phone number.

Photo from one year ago today, October 19, 2014:

A pristine beach along the road to Kihei, Maui, as Hurricane Ana became a category one hurricane, according to news reports.  Later it was downgraded to a tropical storm.  For details, please click here.


Thomas Lyman said...

Tom here. Jessica would never toot her own horn! So I am writing this. Today, she wrote about my brother Jerome. A few years ago, he sent a email about being blind and that to him, her words are so important and in his mind's eye being able to visualize everything she writes. He said this about Jess's writing abilities:
"If Jessica's words were music, she would be a brass band!"

Jessica said...

Thanks, my dear hubby. You are so sweet to say this. I thought about not posting your comment but our readers may like to hear from you!

Much love,

Elizabeth Banks said...

What is it they say? Behind every woman is a smart husband- or is it behind every man there is a smart woman? ! he he!
Jess, you lost me as soon as data, numbers and charges per minute were mentioned. I am very numerically challenged and make no effort to change this! All I know is that like you I am grateful for the amazing Internet, meeting fantastic people like you guys, learning about the world through your travels and observations from my frugal and comfortable arm chair here in the UK. I too love Skype being able to see and keep in touch with friends and family across the world. Love to you both and extended families. Liz

Jessica said...

Liz, you make me laugh! I assumed that many, if not most, of our readers would be snoozing about the data, gigs and numbers. Its certainly not for everyone except for the few geeks like me out there who's pulse quickens at such talk.

Thank you, Liz, for being such an inspiration to us both in your travels and your observations along with your faithful armchair reading.

Lots of love to you both,
Jess & Tom

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