Skype, Remote Mail & "The Grid"
It's pretty amazing in my opinion to be able to call the US from Europe so cheaply with skype. Inexpensive phone calls, along with the unprecedented scope & power of the internet, are helping us big-time with our efforts to live internationally.
In the last few days from here in Budapest we: reserved a rental car, found a good dentist in Portland and set up an appointment, reserved a Uhaul truck, called Tech Support for our website a couple times and of course emailed friends and family. Also, Agi's boss simply calls her on the "skype in" number we've set up (a Portland number that is forwarded to her cell phone here) when they need to talk. Overall, the sound quality is pretty good with skype.
Something else that I recently signed up for--and am excited about--is "Earth Class Mail." It's basically a high-tech address and mailbox, perfect for Agi and me. We've been having my wonderful parents and sister check our mail when it comes in. This is kind of cumbersome for them and we can't see the important mail ourselves (e.g. those nasty tax forms). With this new "Earth Class Mail" service, all our mail is now being sent to an address in Oregon and it's scanned for us. I can now view it all online, have it recycled or shredded or forwarded if necessary. The founders of the company are robotics experts so that explains how they do it efficiently.
Finally, I read last week on the BBC website about "The Grid." I hadn't heard of this before--it's basically a bunch of high-powered computers connected with fiber-optic cables that is much faster than the internet. Apparently The Grid may one day actually replace the internet. Scientists at universities are already using it a lot. The article said it takes 1.5 seconds to download a movie over The Grid. Amazing.