When Friday evening arrives, Rusty Lutz knows it’s going to be a great night. With his iPad in hand, he waits for a virtual tradition to begin: a video chat with his granddaughters, who live twelve time zones away.
“Their Saturday morning is pancake weekend, so they make the pancakes and throw in lots of chocolate chips,” he said. “We get to watch them put the ingredients in a bowl and stir them.”
That weekly connection means a lot to Rusty and his wife, because they live in Maryland and their granddaughters live almost 10,000 miles away in Singapore. They only get to visit each other once a year, twice if they are lucky. But technology helps them keep in touch, never missing an important moment.
That includes being able to witness a big milestone for their new grandbaby in Illinois. “I watched my granddaughter take her first steps,” Rusty said. “It’s just wonderful to be able to do that.”
Tips for staying connected
During the holidays, staying connected with family and friends is a top priority for many. And as loved ones spread out, it’s typical for gatherings to include a time when the phone is passed around or folks take turns getting in front of the laptop.
While today’s technology has made it easier than ever to stay in touch, Geek Squad Agent Derek Meister has some tips for getting the most out of your experience. He says you’ll want to make sure:
- your device is connected to a high-speed internet service. (Test your broadband service using an Internet Speed Test. If the test results don’t match the level of service you’re paying for, contact your Internet Service Provider.)
- your router that can handle connecting all of your devices.
- to update your devices
- your device is fully charged
“A bad connection or being cut off by a dead battery really spoils the fun,” Derek said.
He also recommends using earbuds or headphones for video chats and setting up in a well-lit location because front-facing cameras don’t always pick up clear images in darker areas.
Innovation helps communication
The instant access to family and friends is a welcome one for Rusty, whose personal network now spans the globe. He still can’t fathom the changes he’s seen through the years, from rotary dial phones to now receiving pictures of his grandkids, right in the palm of his hand.
“I can’t believe you can send pictures through the air,” he said. “Think of how much the internet has changed our lives and how we communicate. It’s remarkable.”
Soon, Rusty will be using the internet and his iPad for a very, merry Christmas chat with his family. And they’ll be a world away.