If a friend or relative has a birthday coming up, you can send an e-card in minutes, and that card can be personalized with an audio message, photograph or text message. Better yet, card sites like 123Greetings offer their services free or for a low monthly fee. It's true you might have sent a card to your brother in Kansas anyway, but now you can send one to your great uncle and those third cousins, too -- if you can remember all their names.
Sites like 123People and Wink will locate friends and relatives you've lost touch with. If you want to take a more subtle approach, maintain your Facebook wall and they may find you using services like Spokeo that rely heavily on social networking databases in their people searches.
If you want to make a real time connection with a family member far away, Skype is a telephony service that provides instant messaging, phone and video conferencing services. You can talk to mom and dad in real time over the computer -- and once you teach dad how to use the webcam on his new laptop -- you can see them, too.