Dear friends, there are various ways of getting in touch with me or my brother in Germany. I will split this into four categories: phone, skype (voice and instant messenger), email and snail mail.
Quick list: with a tele: home (011-49-341-6810-858), at the institute (011-49-341-9959-536);with skype: home (+493416810858), at the institute (+493419959536) and my username is uncabeez; email: albers at cse dot ucdavis dot edu.
Options: In general, the most expensive (but still on the order of a a single to a few cents a minute) way to contact me is via the telephone. If you have fast internet, skype is likely the cheapest way to call me --- it is free if you skype to my computer (using my username) and it is 2 cents a minute to call me on a land line in Germany (for those who know Marin - it is 9 cents a minute to call him and 2 cents a minute for him to call anyone back in the states). Skype also has an instant messanger, so there is also that option. Then there is of course email and snail mail --- both of which are greatly appreciated.
Time changes: so here is the deal, in Germany I am 7 hours ahead of Chicago (and Madison) and 9 hours ahead of San Francisco (or Sacramento). This has to be the first time I am "ahead" of time. Here are some examples: 7am cst (central standard time) = 2 pm German time; 12 pm cst = 7 pm German time, 10 am cst = 5 pm German time; 3 pm cst = 10 pm German time; 7 pm cst = 2 am German time; 9 pm cst = 4 am German time and so on. Exciting huh? don't hesitate to wake me up, but realize that I currently only have access to the internet between the hours of 7 am (12 am cst) (but more realistically 9 am 2 am cst) and 11 pm German time (4 pm cst, 2 pm pacific time). Germans don't work late and my building goes into lock-down. Of course, I am usually up until 1 or 2 am, so after that a phone card is necessary if you want to talk.
Phone: I currently have two telephone numbers in Germany --- at the Max Planck Institute and at the Max Planck guest house (my current apartment). There are several international phone calling cards available for a meager fee. For simple and cheap, go to a U.S. postal office and get an international phone card (for instance, the Middleton (Wisconsin) post office on Hubbard has phone cards that is about 2.? cents a minute to Germany). Also, Walgreens, Sams (I know, it is evil), probably any other of 1000 places you look --- it should be between 1 and 9 cents a minute, so not too bad. Frau Cate Griebel recommends going to pin plan which has easy, great deals starting at about 2 cents a minute (thanks Cate). I will check my voice mail on my old cell phone in the U.S. from time to time for the next few months yet (608-469-3047) but don't expect a quick response. When using a calling card, follow the instructions, but basically here is the algorithm. First dial 011, this gets you out of the U. S. system. Then dial the country code for Germany, that is 49, then the city (Leizpig) 341, then my numbers either 9959-536 or 6810-858. Get it? So, using a calling card purchased from the post office, use: 1800 blah blah blah, enter the pin, then dial: 011-49-341-9959-536 for my office and 011-49-341-6810-858 for my apartment.
Skype: This is the best and cheapest (free to 2 cents a minute) way of contacting (with your voice or with an instant messenger) me when I am online or near a telephone. If I am online and you are online, you can use skype to "skype me" (talk to me for free) over the internet. If you are on the internet and I am near a phone for which you know the number, you can call me (2 cents American, 1.7 cent Euro from anywhere on the planet) at whatever phone I am sitting near (just dial the number on skype). Lastly you can use the instant massager --- if I'm not sitting at my computer, I'll still get it when I get back to my computer. To use skype you simply go to www.skype.com, download skype for your operating system (windows, mac or linux), install it on your computer, invent a username and begin to call or message me. My username is uncabeez (so that is what you call me --- the big Lebewski). If you wish to talk to me in a room with various folks around, you will probably want to get a headset (headphones with a mic). In my experience, if you have a mac, you want to get a USB headset for about 30 bucks (let me know if you want some recommendations). If you are using a windows box, then I think nearly any headset will do --- I know the 10 dollar one from radio shack works ok but not amazing. If you are using linux and you don't know which headset to use, let me know and I'll ask some of my friends who do. If you are in a room alone and your computer is a mac you can just use the mic built into the computer --- you still need headphones or everything I say will be picked up by the mic and I'll have a loud and clear echo in my headphones --- which is annoying and makes it difficult to talk (however, skype's new echo reduction feature fixes this problem considerably). If you use a windows or linux type box, you will likely need a mic since the built in mic will likely be overwhelmed by the noise of your hard drive for whatever reason.
To call my land lines with skype, just dial +493419959536 or 00493419959536 for my office and +493416810858 or 00493416810858 for my apartment.
Email: my email will work just like it always has --- the most recent email that I use is albers (at) cse (dot) ucdavis (dot) edu. If you know I am away from Leipzig, you can try my gmail account --- albersster is my g-mail account name. I use this when I can only use webmail. Of course the cow and santafe account will also work although cow is getting pretty old (so you might want to update your files *grin*).
Snail mail: I am sure that I will always like to get packages (except "ticking" packages), and despite how far we have advanced, the only way to actually get a physical thing to me is to use mail. I would say the US postal service is the best way (read - by far the cheapest). If you want to know what the rates are, check here for international postal rates to Germany. Currently I can't receive mail at the Max Planck guest house where Cat and I are staying, however, you can send any mail to me (or Cat --- just address it to me) at:
Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften