Looking for a fabulous (free) gift for the Dad who has everything? How about the gift of family? Here are five free sites that offer families a way to keep in touch across time zones, across oceans and across town. A place to post your graduation photos, your award winning artwork, your poetry and just plain keep in touch. Now instead of joining a chat room full of strangers, you can enjoy regularly scheduled family chats. Happy Father's Day!
Where does your family post party invitations, exceptionally good schoolwork and frequently used phone numbers? If you answered "refrigerator door," you'll feel right at home with the fridge door metaphor at Family Point. Family Point provides a Fridge (for posting notes), Calendar (birthdays, anniversaries, family BBQ's), private chat, bulletin boards for asynchronous communication, and a photo gallery (baby pics, anyone?) All this and more in an incredibly simple and appealing package. Created specifically for families (not for businesses or professional associations), your Family Point is password protected and not open to the public. My pick of the day!
At Family Shoebox, the whole process is a bit confusing, with many details (such as creating a URL that incorporates an easy to remember nickname) to attend to. Unlike Family Point, your Shoebox defaults to public access, but you can make some parts private. Most areas, such as the newsletter and home web page, are created with the use of templates, giving you some control over the look of your page. Shoeboxes also include chat and threaded discussions.
Click and drag your way to Web site success, with your choice of two Homestead editors: Homestead Online ("offers complete power, flexibility and ease of use") or Homestead Express ("an easy starting point for beginners.") Choices abound, but are clearly described and easy to make. In addition to family pages, Homestead can be used to create any kind of Web site (and as such competes with other free homepage sites such as GeoCities and Xoom) and is great fun! Optional features include a password for privacy, chat room, newsletter, and guest book.
"With 850,000 members in 140 days, MyFamily.com is the hottest new Internet service around." Created expressly for families, MyFamily.com comes with the usual assortment of features such as privacy, calendar, photo album, and chat. But MyFamily.com goes beyond with two unique capabilities: Family Tree and Book/Movie Reviews. As the family historian, I already had my family tree on my computer in standard genealogical format (GEDCOM), so it took only seconds to add it to my site. Presto, a graphical clickable family tree I can easily share with relatives. If anyone in your family has an interest in genealogy, this is the only collaboration site worth considering. Wow!
Although Yahoo! Club is not specifically designed for families, it has enough of the right features to be included. A Yahoo! Club is easy to create and can be either private or public (but you can't change from private back to public.) A club includes free email addresses, chat, calendar, message boards, photos, favorite family links and one-click access to news headlines.