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UNIQUE PHOTO OPP

Tender, Loving ... Contact!

tlcontact_logo.gif By MIKE PASINI
Editor
The Imaging Resource Digital Photography Newsletter

Review Date: February 2003

We've been moonlighting. After Pops was transferred to a physical rehab unit recently, we started editing a Web site for friends and family to keep up on his progress.

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TLContact.com Home Page

While he was getting comfortable in his new digs, we idly scanned the laminated brochure attached to his bedside table. On the back page we read an invitation from Chicago-based TLContact.com to set up a CarePage on their site devoted to our patient's progress -- at no charge.

THE LANGSHURS

The service was inspired by the Langshur family's use of the Web to keep their loved ones updated on the status of their first child Matthew. They used the Web to save themselves from having to phone everyone with updates on Matthew's condition and eventual release from the hospital.

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About CarePages

Now anyone can use the service to broadcast news about births, operations, you name it. The hospital itself doesn't have to participate in the program, although some institutions are taking advantage of this unique approach to care-giving by branding their own version.

Despite our penchant to publish, we had been derelict when it came to updating everyone on Pops' situation. We didn't have the time or energy to do the job justice. And, frankly, we didn't think we had the time to manage a CarePage either.

But one night, on a lark, we set one up.

SETUP

It was easy. We entered some contact information (visiting hours, phone number to the room, etc.) and posted an update on his condition in an easily-edited form like those you use to send Web-based email.

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Contact Info

But the fun part was uploading a picture of him. TLContact provides a Photo Gallery for 12 images (and they'll even help you digitize them if you can't do it yourself).

SPREADING THE WORD

So in five minutes we had a picture of Pops running alongside an update on his condition on a site of his own. We just had to tell everyone about it. TLContact.com makes that easy by sending you an email with logon instructions (including any password you assign) which you, in turn, can forward to anyone you'd like to admit to the site.

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Sample Home Page

We forwarded the email to a few friends just to see what would happen.

They visited, that's what, and left notes, too. Under the Update and Photo, the latest Messages are displayed. And, as the Manager of the CarePage, we could peek at the Guest Book to see who had visited and how many times.

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Sample Message Page

The only catch is that the hospital wasn't wired to the Web. So every day we printed out the new Messages and the Guest Book for Pops to see. If we posted new pictures, we printed the Gallery out, too.

HOSPITAL PHOTOS

Taking pictures at the hospital requires some sensitivity, of course. Pops had a private room and spent a good deal of the day in a gym, but no one likes to be seen without their hair combed. If there's any question about the appropriateness of shooting, just ask for permission.

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Sample Photo Gallery
Scrolled down a bit

Posting pictures, in contrast, was easy. We took a few shots every now and then, resized them to 640x480 and used the site's Browse button to locate them on our hard disk for automatic uploading. After they were on the site, we could add a caption, visible whenever a picture in the Gallery was clicked on for enlargement.

Everything was very, very easy to use. And performed flawlessly. A nice design. Well implemented.

APPLAUSE

As much as we enjoyed using the service, our family and friends enjoyed it even more. They were able to see pictures of the facility and Pops no matter what time zone they inhabited and to get detailed updates on his progress without trying to catch one of us on the phone. They also got his direct phone number and best times to call. And they could even send a message to him.

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Sample Update Page

Every time we updated the site, they were automatically notified and could drop by to see what was new.

And Pops really enjoyed the daily encouragement. But, then, he always did love an audience.

 

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