For those of you that thought we were going to live in a dirt hut when we said we were moving to China, this post is for you. I am going to tell you about the ridiculous and awesomely dorky technological thingys we have to make our lives cooler and more comfortable.
1. We live in Shanghai and have a 630 area code phone number. Yep, that's right, you can call us as if we still live in DuPage County, Illinois, USA. Just mind the time change. I get really cranky at at least one telemarketer each night that doesn't believe me when I tell them they just called China and its 3AM.
2. iPhones are awesome. Yes, I fought with Scott about this purchase before we left. I am eating my angry words now. Our iPhones can translate English to Chinese so that I can give our Ayi instructions about Timmy or ask the hairdresser to give me a trim. The phones also have an application called Shanghai Taxi Guide. This application houses the names, addresses, & phone numbers of hundreds of restaurants, hotels and attractions in the city, AND has little buttons that say "Show Taxi Card" so that it will tell the taxi driver in Mandarin where to go. So cool.
3. Witopia Open VPN breaks the stronghold that the "Great Firewall of China" has on the Internet here. This is a Virtual Private Network service that does some stuff (yes that is the technical term for it) to allow us to surf the Internet as if we were in San Francisco instead of Shanghai. Here in China they employ around 30,000 people to sit and watch the Internet to see what people are doing and block them from doing it. So even harmless things get blocked and no one knows why. Witopia creates an encrypted tunnel and we get to surf all the way from California with no communist jerks watching what we are doing. That being said, this means we can watch American TV shows through Hulu & Fancast that technically don't have licensing to be watched internationally (yeah for 24).
4. Jaadu VNC is some amazingly dorky thing that Scott discovered that allows him to combine the coolness of an iPhone with the coolness of watching US television. Basically, this technology allows him to view his MacBook on his phone. Then, when his MacBook is connected to our television, his phone acts as a remote control. So this means we can stream American TV shows to our big TV and sit on the couch and control it all through Scott's phone. I told you this one was dorky.
5. Slingbox. This isn't really something we are using on a regular basis, but the other night Scott was able to watch Mike McDermott's Dad's TV on his laptop. Basically, now that we have busted through the Great Firewall of China, if someone in the States owns a Slingbox (ie: Mike McDermott's Dad), we are able to watch their Cable TV on our laptops through the Internet. Crazy stuff.
6. Skype. I know Oprah's been using this one for a long time, but how cool is it that Timmy's great grandpa can talk to him and see him from 8,000 miles away? AND ITS FREE!!! Web cams are pretty neat.
Scott, chime in here if I have not done this stuff justice. I don't claim to understand all of it, I just love the results of your nerdy-ness.