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Time for Long-Distance Lovers to Toss Their Cell Phones

Andrew Lent Executive Director
Published 1-27-05
Graphic By: Jen Hight
Everyone knows that long-distance romance can be difficult for both parties involved and that it requires hard work and good communication for the relationship to succeed. Matters of the heart can usually lead to long hours on the phone as the lovers discuss the interesting facets of their day in between drool sessions punctuated by the familiar "I love you more . . . no, I love you more."

No matter what you do, it seems the financial costs of maintaining that constant communication drain your cash increasingly with each and every month. Daytime and nighttime minutes run dry, so you upgrade the free nights and weekends plan, paying $20 more each month. When home on breaks, your cell phone cannot connect to the network, forcing you to dial that archaic "10-10-2-something" number you remembered from high school, hoping that it still works. Then you find out it does not as your parents ream you a month later to the tune of the $200 you racked up on their phone bill.

So what do you do? Here's a solution: turn that PC you are sitting in front of into a free telephone service. Forget Vonage and those other broadband-based internet phone companies; you already possess the majority of the tools necessary without getting suckered into paying an additional $25 per month (especially with Charter Communications' reliability in Radford). All you need is a PC, a headset (with microphone), an Internet connection and any of the number of programs that allow for voice-over-IP.

I use MSN Messenger, but it works through other popular messenger programs like AOL Instant Messenger and Yahoo! Instant Messenger. Just plug your headset into your speaker and microphone input on your sound card and connect with your significant other through cyberspace. Overall quality is nearly as clear as being on a telephone itself, but variables such as type of program and your bandwidth can affect clarity (again, I have, at times, run into problems of delay and echo due to Charter's less-than-impeccable service).

The obvious drawback is the limited mobility of such a feature, as it requires you to be in one static location for the duration of your conversation. Make sure that you purchase a headset with enough cord length to serve your needs. At a flea market in Florida, I found a $10 noise-canceling headset with a six-foot cord that allows me nearly full range-of-motion within my bedroom. Wal-Mart, RadioShack, Office Max or Best Buy should be able to outfit you with one that fulfills your needs.

If your computer is difficult to get behind or you have a distaste for constantly unplugging your speakers to plug in your headset and vice versa, you can purchase a splitter (RadioShack) that plugs into your speaker and microphone input on the sound card and then has inputs for the headset and your computer speakers. The splitter comes with a handy switch to alternate between the two and additional cord length to provide you a few extra feet of maneuverability.

In the last six months of my long distance relationship, I have spent next to nothing on cell-phone overages or long-distance phone charges. The benefits don't stop there. The ability to speak free of charge can be extended to frugal family members and those friends back home that you just don't want to spend any money on to speak with. With very few drawbacks, the "free" Internet telephone is the perfect way for the love-struck but pitifully poor college student to spend endless hours of what would be sleep each week on the phone.

Give yourself unto the Whim Overlord!!!

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Good lord.
Posted by Rick Snee

"Okay, you hang up first."
"No, you hang up first."
"Okay, we'll hang up together. 1, 2--"
"--Wait, on 3? or 1, 2, 3, go?"
"Which do you prefer?"
"Oh, whichever one you prefer."
"Well, which one do you want?"
"Whatever. I don't care--whatever makes you happy."
"Okay, on 3, snookums. Ready? 1, 2, 3."

Great, now I can do this on the computer.
No Subject
Posted by Adam Frazier

Snee's comment deserves an illusive "LOL"

Cool idea though, if only I had someone to call... *finds Andrew's mom's number*

No Subject
Posted by THE Blake

I second the LOL demand.
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