20 August 2006 | California
After considering how to remote our US presence we decided that a global call friendly phone solution and a US mail forwarding address were all that we really needed.
There are a few voice over IP phone solutions out there but we have determined that Skype is the service to beat. While I hate to bet against Google and Google Talk, Skpye is presently far ahead when it comes to a total phone solution. Our Skype account allows us to call other Skype users over the Internet for no charge. It is pretty easy to convince friends and family in Japan and the US to buy a $10 mic for their PC and spend 5 minutes installing a rather small application when "free" is weighing in the balance. We can call all standard US and Canada phones for free until the end of the year and the rest of the globe is about 2 cents a minute. Skype also gets us a phone number, for all of our technology challenged friends (how retro!), and free voicemail. Not bad for $38 a year. The audio quality and latency are also good (not great but acceptable for business).
Google is still our choice for email and we will be integrating our route planning and logs with Google Earth here.