Georgia Southern University Professor Offers High-Tech Tips on How to Stay In Touch During the Holidays
Not everyone can be home for the holidays, but Georgia Southern University Assistant Professor of Information Technology Timur Mirzoev, a native of Nalchik, Russia, knows first-hand the next-best way to spend time with family.
Since 2000, Mirzoev has used a pair of free Internet tools to creatively stay connected with his parents and sister in Russia. Mirzoev uses video chatting software and a cloud-storage service to bridge the gap. The services can be used by anyone with an Internet connection and a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet as long as it has a web camera. Most of the software is compatible over all platforms.
“It’s as close as you can get without being in the same room — until they come up with 3D holograms of people,” laughed Mirzoev. “Of course, they already make 3D projectors, so even that may not be far off.”
When Mirzoev started communicating with his family with the Internet more than a decade ago, his parents had a dialup connection and the resolution rendered video chat nearly useless, limiting him primarily to voice chat. Now, the wide-spread availability of high-speed Internet has made both video chat and the transferring of vacation photos and videos through cloud storage nearly instantaneous. The nine-hour time difference has the family on a strict schedule for its weekly chats, but Mirzoev’s children, ages six and nine, use their tablets to record videos for their grandparents between chats. The videos, along with family photos, can be accessed at any time through the cloud service, which is simple to set up and instantly available to whomever you allow access. Mirzoev also ran his computer’s display to his living room entertainment center, so the live video chats now take place on his family’s widescreen television.
“We set up the video chat on Christmas, so when the kids are running around and ripping open their gifts, they can ask questions and their grandparents can explain the new toys,” said Mirzoev. “They show off their toys to their grandparents and show them what they’ve built with their blocks. They show off all their latest achievements. Without it, they wouldn’t have any sense of who their grandparents are. If we miss a chat, we always reschedule. It’s extremely important for our family.”