Part 2: A review of Modern Technology solutions for overcoming isolation.
I discovered, but maybe you already know, that there is a whole range of technology about, apart from landline and mobile phones, that can help us gather somewhere out in the online defined space of physics where we can chat, share news and maybe a drink or two.
So if you haven’t tried out this technology yet, or you are looking to add variety to your digital presence or maybe just want to compare your ratings of the products, amazon like, with mine, I’ve put together a short review of the pros and cons of each method.
‘Skype’: This was one of the first video chat services and probably is still the most popular, being widely used throughout the world in both private and up until recently business settings. It is versatile and can support instant messages, audio and video calls over Wi-Fi and telephone calls to landline/mobile. The service can also be used for 1 to 1 calls right up to hundreds of meeting participants taking part in a conference cal0. It’s free to use for calls over Wi-Fi only. Charges apply when calling landline numbers.
‘Facetime’: An audio and video communication service provided by ‘Apple’. It can only be used when using Apple technology, like iPads and iPhones calling each other. It can take place over Wi-Fi or using mobile data. Using Wi-Fi does not affect mobile data allowances. It’s good for up to about four parties in the call.
‘Facebook Messenger’: An audio and video service provided by Facebook. It can be used on a variety of devices like Smart phones and Laptops. Both parties require to have a Facebook account. This can be used over Wi-Fi and mobile data as well. It is also good for up to about four parties in the call.
‘Zoom’: This is similar to ‘Skype’ in the service it provides. Zoom supports video and audio calls over a Wi-Fi connection. It can be used on a Smartphone or Laptop. At present, given the circumstances of the Coronavirus, it is free to use for up to forty five minutes. This is unlikely to last after ‘lockdown’ has ended. So expect a charge in the future. The ‘Banchory Singers’ have used Zoom a couple of times recently linking about thirty members.
‘WhatsApp’: This is similar to ‘Facebook Messenger’ and ‘Facetime’. The service supports audio and video calls over Wi-Fi and mobile data. A Smartphone with the ‘WhatsApp’ app downloaded to it is needed, as it is for the person being contacted.
‘IMessage’: A service for ‘texting’ between different ‘Apple’ products like ‘IPhones’, ‘IPods’ and ‘IPads. The messages are sent over Wi-Fi or mobile data, and phone service providers, (‘Tesco Mobile’, ‘Three’, ‘EE’, ‘Vodaphone’, etc.), offer packages with a data allowance on them.
And then we have good old fashioned ‘Text Messaging’: Text message, (SMS message). All you need is a mobile number to start sending or receiving texts. Phone suppliers offer different packages with different quantities of texts you can send, ranging from a couple of hundred to an unlimited number. Wi-Fi messaging ‘IMessage’, ‘Facebook Messenger’ and ‘WhatsApp’ is unlimited.
As well as the above we have also got ‘G-Suite’, a cloud-based student software solution provided by ‘Google’. This allows your children to continue their education anywhere, using software tools not available even a few years ago. This supports personalized and flexible learning across all technology platforms.
Another service which I only learned about this morning when I had to liaise with my consultant is ‘NHS Near Me’, a web-based facility, very secure and used in hospitals. An invite is sent out by e-mail and near the meeting time, once connected through the e-mail, a reality waiting room is made available. When the doctor, consultant, whoever, is available he/she chooses who she wishes to speak to from the ‘waiting room’ and that person is connected to speak with audio and video facilities.
And last on my list, which is not exhaustive, and which is last because it’s time to wind up this get together, we have ‘WebEx Meeting’; a secure web based facility which seven of us trialled a couple of times over the past few days. A good facility which gave us excellent audio and video quality. To listen to an online meeting all that is required is a phone. You can dial in to the meeting and just listen. If you wish to view as well as listen, ‘WebEx’ is required and an internet connection to a computer, tablet or Smartphone which has speakers or headphones and camera facilities. We plan to get 40 or more of the rest of the members of our Men’s ProBus Club linked up next week. There are facilities for showing, for example, a PowerPoint Presentation to everyone connected, for them to view the slides and hear the speaker
So, I hope I have given you an insight into what can be accomplished in the way of communicating with each other and brightening up someone’s day, someone who wouldn’t otherwise have had a chance to experience that, without the magic of modern technology.
Be careful out there and stay safe, which is the ‘in’ saying of the day. Pay heed to what the experts are saying to us, the experts of the ‘World Health Organisation’, ‘Parliament’ and the ‘National Health Service’. If we all do as is advised, instructed, whatever, then we will get through this Pandemic and return to normal times again.
I look forward to meeting with you all again-some day.
Stan Thomson Editor, ‘The Ronnecht’
Banchory East Church
A journal of the life of the East Church through our members and congregation.
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