…the talk of the town this week. Why? Well, we took Lydia out in our bike trailer for the first time. I really liked it, but as we rode, Cyndi–who was riding in the back–said people were stopping, looking, pointing, laughing, etc…. I guess our “cover” and the idea of being grey have gone totally out the window. Oh well…we took some pictures and thought we would post them for everyone to see.
We had our first storm here in Serbia two nights ago. We went to bed about 22:30 (that’s how they say 10:30 pm here). I got woke up at midnight or so to what sounded like a freight train outside. Let me tell you, it poked the rain down, it was windy too boot, and we had thunder and lightning. It was something else!
This is a picture of the sunset from that evening. It certainly doesn’t look menacing, does it?
When we started thinking about going overseas, a big challenge we had was communication: we needed a way to communicate. Most of the people I knew overseas used Skype. Some people were able to just pick up the phone and call the US for fairly cheap (like I was in Thailand). Some people had vonage phones. I didn’t know too much, but I knew I wanted to be able to pick up a phone and call the US. And I didn’t want to spend a bunch.
That, in my mind, rulled out Skype. I didn’t want to have to sit at a computer to talk to people. I know, I could buy skype wifi phones, but I didn’t want to shell out that much money for a device that only worked with one thing. That kinda sorta left us only with Vonage. We signed up and got a vonage phone. We pay for the $30 unlimited/month deal and get to have unlimited calls to anywhere in the US as well as several european countries.
In the meantime, I heard about Truphone. After looking into it, I thought that it was cool…I could, with the right phone, have a VoIP phone on my cell phone. I ended up and bought a Nokia e 65 and set up Truphone. Everything seemed to work wonderfully in the US. However, when we got overseas, we ended up and ran though two NAT hops and truphone didn’t want to work. Bummer, but I really like my phone so I keep it.
Over the past several weeks, I have tried out three of four different apps. I started with fring. It would let me have a skype client thing on my phone. Well, that was pretty cool, but I didn’t want to have to have all of my friends readd yet something else to their skype lists. But, it also let me use SIP. Pretty neat….I went looking at some of the options.
I stumble on the GizmoProject (fring has them listed at the top of the SIP list. I started looking at the top and went down.). This is interesting, I think. I sign up for an account and start playing around with it. Turns out it is pretty cool. And, they have an app that will integrate the phone with Gizmo just like truphone did. The only bad part is I don’t have a real inbound phone number. Or do I?
I also happen to have a Grand Central account that I got (thanks Mike!) just to play around with. I never did too much with it before I left the US, but I wonder if I can use that number to send calls via sip. Well, it turns out that Grand Central will indeed forward calls to my gizmo number! So, I now have a way that people can call me by dialing a US phone number and have it ring my cell phone. Well, as long as I have internet access that is.
So, what do I wish I had known before? Well, Vonage service seems a tad pricey. But, it is unlimited…that is a plus. It doesn’t matter who we call in the US (or several European countries) but it is free. But not very portable (no, I’m not going to pay them more for a softphone/USB stick phone account). What happens when/if we travel?
Let me say right off that the IDEAL solution would be if my employer would offer some sort of SIP PBX that I could hook into. Take some of the inbound DIDs and give those of us overseas a number in the US people could call. We could then bring our own SIP device and have what I have right now. Then, they could give us the ability to make outbound local calls (doesn’t cost them extra). With that, we could use any of the various calling cards to call people. And if security is an issue, why not just encrypt the SIP traffic ? Actually, that sounds like a rather cool idea. Then calls from the home office overseas wouldn’t cost squat and everything would be secure.
Anyway, back to reality. Are we going to dump vonage? Probably not. However, I would have probably just gone with Gizmo and my phone had I known about it before we signed up for vonage. We’d probably end up and spend less per month on phone calls and the solution would be very portable. AND, it would still work in the US when we returned (and there, I could have an unlimited data plan too boot).
[Update 06-04-2008 08:09:56] Truphone v. 4 seems to have fixed the connection problems I was having. It is back to my preferred VoIP solution on my phone now. I’ll continue to test and let you know what happens. For more information, read this post .
[Update 2012-12-26 06:50:05] Removed a link to http://www.mobilevoipforum.org/showthread.php?t=1895. It was dead.
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
This also points to the fall. By their own admission, evolutionists say that ancient man was smart (they built stonehenge). They did things we couldn’t do today (like build the pyramids). Interestingly enough, while they don’t have the answers, my Biblical worldview does. The closer to creation one is, the smarter, in general, one would be. Why? The effects of the fall and curse would have less of an affect on their bodies. Proof? Well, stonehenge is one (if we get smarter and smarter, why don’t we know how it was done?). People’s ages are another. Look in the Bible…the closer to creation people were, the longer they lived (measured in hundreds of years…not tens of years like post flood)
1And it came to pass after this, that the king of the children of Ammon died, and Hanun his son reigned in his stead.
2 Then said David, I will shew kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father shewed kindness unto me. And David sent to comfort him by the hand of his servants for his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the children of Ammon.
3 And the princes of the children of Ammon said unto Hanun their lord, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? hath not David rather sent his servants unto thee, to search the city, and to spy it out, and to overthrow it?
4 Wherefore Hanun took David’s servants, and shaved off the one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away.
5 When they told it unto David, he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed: and the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, and then return.
I thought this was a good example of the importance of how important culture is in communicating with people. It isn’t just about learning a language…you have to say things the right way too. Look at what happened:
David wanted to honor Hanun when he became king because the former king was good to David. David sends his servants with gifts Hanun’s advisers and friends tell him that David is really trying to dishonor him by not coming himself. Hanun agrees and shaves off 1/2 the hair on David’s servant’s heads.
David wanted to do good but did it in a way that wasn’t “right.” (Right in the eyes of those he is trying to reach. I’d like to note that this is not a right/wrong truth thing but a perception/cultural right/wrong). The king ends up and doesn’t like it and so the gift doesn’t have the effect that David wanted/hoped for.
I just got done reading a good book on this topic several weeks ago. It is called Cross Cultural Servanthood and I would highly reccommend this book to anyone who wants to work cross culturally. The basic idea is that “help” and “serving” needs to look like those two things to the people who are being “helped” and “served” or it isn’t “help” or “service.”
Well, this evening we went to meet some of our neighbors. We had met her in the hallway and so we said…let’s go there. We took our gift of a chocolate bar (you always take a small gift the first time you come to someone’s house in Serbia) and went down.
Her husband answered the door. I had to pull out my cheatsheet, but I managed to say something along the lines of:
Good Evening (Dobro Vece) We are Matt and Cyndi (Mi smo Matt & Cyndi) This is our daughter Lydia (Ovo je nasa cerka Lydia)
They invited us in. We tried to say hi, thank you, etc… After lots of nodding and smiling, we sat down to some orange (I think) marmalade, water, and spoons (you take a spoon of marmalade–VERY GOOD–eat it, then drink the water). We made some pointy talky, found out they had a daughter living in Belgrade who would be in on Saturday (and she teaches English at a university there!). They made some phone calls and had a neighbor come over who speaks some english. We did more pointy talky. Eventually, right as we were getting ready to leave, the neighbor’s son came over. He speaks english very well, and through him, we confirmed what we thought we knew about the daughter, said thanks, and that we needed to leave because it was Lydia’s bed time. Overall, we were there about an hour or so.
Eventually (once google video gets on the ball), I’ll have a video to show you of the man playing with Lydia and singing a tune. It was neat.
In the meantime, we will be going back sometime Saturday to meet with them and their daughter. Pray that we are sensitive to them and their situation. Pray for opportunities to share our witness with them.
[Update 05-14-2008 08:42:04] Google Video finally has the video posted. Here it is: