Geeking Out With Gavin: Staying Connected Despite Being Down Under

In a few previous posts, I've shared some insights from "the kid next door"...who's not really a kid, but a super bright young man at Wake Forest who's now spending the semester down under. Check out his latest tips for being connected from anywhere.
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Hey everyone, from the other side of the world! I'm currently studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, but don't worry, these blog posts won't completely dry up!
Today, in the spirit of staying connected from wherever you are, I'm going to talk about using web-based tools, since they work the same way from any browser and any operating system.
My first weapon of choice in keeping track of family and friends at home would have to be Gmail. You may have seen my previous post on keeping my inbox clean (found here if you haven't), but since it's a webmail (housed entirely within the browser), it's a particularly good option for fielding emails while away from home or work.
Next up would be social networking sites. Personally, as a college student, I use more Facebook than say, GovLoop - but that's all a matter of preference and what the people you'd like to keep up with are using. Social networking sites enable me to catch snapshots of people's day-to-day lives, the things that I am normally involved in or hear about frequently, and that I often take for granted.
The final tool for today is probably my personal favorite: an RSS reader. For those of you who haven't heard of RSS before: Do you have a group of sites that you check periodically, daily or weekly? News sites, online comics, and personal blogs? What if instead of visiting those sites to see what's new, you instead had a way for the sites to push out new content to one centralized location? Enter RSS.
Each of these sites (especially news sites and blogs) generally has what's called an RSS feed. Using an RSS reader (Google Reader is free to anyone with a google account, and web-based as well.), we can subscribe to those feeds and have new news stories, comic strips, and blog posts available there. For those of you interested in learning more about RSS and Google Reader, here are a few links to get you started.
On a slightly different note: Skype, a voice and video chatting software for your computer, is invaluable for keeping track of family and friends, and speaking with them face-to-face, which is a lot more satisfying then a simple phone call, and free to boot! While it's not web-based, per se, I think it still deserves some love as the only software I use outside of the browser to keep track of people at home.
Until next time, cheers!

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