If the Internet has accomplished one thing, it’s bringing people around the world together faster and easier than ever before. You can send an email message in seconds compared to the days or weeks it takes to mail information on paper. But even email has given way to more immediate forms of online communication: instant messaging, voice chat, and video conferencing. And when you buy a netbook, you already have the hardware (computer, webcam) and often the software to do it all for no more than the cost of the Internet connection that you probably also already have.
That’s right—your netbook can make long-distance phone calls or let you say goodnight to the kids when you’re stuck in a hotel room a couple continents away. It also lets you see who’s online right this moment with an instant messaging program.
This chapter shows you how to set up your netbook to connect with the people in your life in real time. If the colleague you’re working with isn’t always online when you are, this chapter also takes a look at sites designed for long-distance collaboration. You can work together on a document, file, or project even when one of you is in Sydney and the other is in San Antonio.
Online collaboration can be as simple as shooting a lunch invitation to your coworker in the next cubicle via instant message. It can be a video chat with your boss that jumps 12 different time zones. Or it can be three college buddies all working on ...