Thursday, January 26, 2006

Japan: Hiroshima 29 - How we stay in touch with America

Lance and I enjoy living in Japan. We try to get involved in the culture in many ways. However, there are times we are homesick and thru the latest technologies we're able to stay in touch with our friends and know exactly what's going on in the U.S. I am so thankful we moved during a time when all these things are available! Here's what we use so if you ever move out of the country, you're aware of them too:

Vonage: Voice Over IP phone service - We signed up for it in the US and brought the adapter to Japan. It is clear as a bell. If it wasn't for Vonage I would not be able to talk to my friends and family as much as I do. For $24.99/mo. we get a U.S. phone number that we can dial and receive calls to and from America, without international rates charged to us or the people who call us. And no strange international dialing. The only requirement is a high speed internet connection for the calls to transport thru. The best part is people can reach you at the same number anywhere you travel in the world.

Japan TV - One of the few channels that come in English is CNN World News and BBC. It's great to still be able to know what's going on in the world. I also started watching Fox channel here. However, the shows are somewhat dated and are dubbed in Japanese: The Simpsons, Roswell, Ali McBeal... It's a great way to learn Japanese. I also watch the Japanese Karaoke channel to help with my reading. Other than that Japan TV is filled with a ton of game shows. I'm disappointed that they don't air the MXC show from Spike TV. I always said I'm not leaving Japan til I can go to a taping or be a contestant.

iTunes: Music and TV shows - Thank God for iTunes! I get to keep up with my weekly shows - Desperate Housewives and Lost! For $1.99/episode Lance and I download them and project it onto our TV just as if we were in the U.S. It is amazing picture quality. The shows are posted about 2 days after they're on in the U.S. We also try to keep up with the latest music thru iTunes.

Slingbox and Tivo - When we left the US, Lance gave our Tivo to his Dad. Then he bought a Slingbox to install with the Tivo. Basically we are able to control our Tivo remote control from Japan and we can stream anything we want to our laptops and hook it up to our TV. I can still watch my Today Show and Katie Couric every evening (morning there). Problem with this so far is that it is not that clear. Kinda like a pixelized picture blown really depends on the streaming rate. Lance is hoping he'll be able to watch Superbowl!