Barnaby in the cloud

Advocate | Ally | Mentor | Challenger | Technologist

10 Feb 2009

Life, Death, and Technology

The past few weeks have been a roller coaster of emotion as my Mother-in-law (Bernice) was flown home from her winter RV’ing in the US southwest and in Mexico only to find out that the health problem she was having was lung cancer and she only had months to live.  Unfortunately the timing wasn’t nearly correct and she passed away early last week.  The full write up and timeline is posted on my in-laws’ blog at  Once you have read that, continue on with this post as I want to share the role technology has played over the past few months.

As I mentioned, my in-laws spend their winters RV’ing somewhere much warmer than Southern Ontario, so they spend a significant amount of time away from us.  One of the main ways that we stayed in contact, and maintained a connection was to webcam with them.  The tool of choice – Windows Live Messenger – quick, easy to use, and great video quality.

Now skip forward to early January, after flying home and being admitted to hospital, Bernice was transferred from Cambridge Memorial Hospital to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton.  One of the first things we did was get her setup with a phone in her room, however, with her being in Hamilton and us being in Cambridge, she was going to have to pay long distance for every call to us.  Fortunately we use Vonage for our home phone service and in a matter of minutes I was able to get on the website and add a virtual number to our account to provide a local Hamilton number for her to call.  As you can imagine, sitting in a hospital room in Hamilton with the family living in Cambridge, having a convenient, and free (for her), way to get in touch was crucial.

Unfortunately Bernice’s battle with cancer was short-lived and she passed away on February 2nd, 2009.  While there is lots of grieving to be done, there were also the details of the memorial service and celebration of life to take care of as well as sharing the news of her passing to friends and acquaintances.  As you have already read the blog post, you know that they blogged about all their travels, so this was the easiest place to share the news broadly.  In the past it had been Bernice who wrote the blog posts, so we needed a quick way to put together the announcement.  As I use Windows Live Writer to author my blog, it was a simple matter to point it to and get setup to post over there.  With the blog posted it was time to focus on the memorial service.

After meeting with the minister, one of the things my father-in-law was looking for was a version of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes.  As I didn’t have it in my CD collection the quickest way to (legally) get a copy was to purchase one from iTunes, and after a quick search I was able to provide him with a version by Ian McGregor & Scottish Pipe Band.

One of the other things that we needed was a good photo of Bernice that we could position at the front of the chapel as well as use in the blog post.  Trying to find photos of specific people can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, however, I had just finished tagging my most recent photos with [Windows Live Photo Gallery](  In doing so, I could quickly find all the photos that had Bernice in them.  The photo that we finally selected is actually a crop from a much larger photo.  In order to print it at the size we wanted, it was going to need to be resized.  The tool of choice – Genuine Fractals.  I was able to take a crop that was about 1000 pixels wide and blow it up to print a beautiful 10x14” print.  Thanks to the folks at Print Three in Cambridge getting the printing done last minute after my Canon S9000 stopped working.

With the memorial service was taken care of, we turned our attention to the celebration of life luncheon that followed.  The family wanted to have a slide show to share photos of Bernice’s life.  After scanning all of the old photos, putting the slideshow together was quickly accomplished using the Slide Show feature of Windows Live Photo Gallery (specifically the Travel theme).  Lastly, we needed to make sure everyone new how to get from the memorial service to the luncheon and a map and directions was quickly created using info from

While this has been a very difficult time for the family, there have been the little bits of software and the services they connect to that have helped to accomplish what needed to be done quickly and easily and allowed us to focus on mourning the loss of a great woman.

Bernice White

1942 - 2009

Bernice White

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