My desk

My desk

Technology can be a challenge for many of us, with smart phones and tablets, lap tops and smart TV’s just trying to keep up to date with what you already have can be a minefield. Then you add a little bit of overseas magic and it becomes more like a jungle you have to hack your way through.

Buying a mobile phone should be and is a relatively simple process. You hand over the money and have a nice new shiny phone. I remember getting very excited by my first smart phone, then I got it home and it wasn’t very smart. It was Arabic! Purchased in Qatar, I think it was a Sony and the first thing I had to work out was how to get it into English. I spent hours searching the internet for the solutions, it turned out that to use any of the smart features and actually get on line with it I had to do something called a ‘jailbreak’. It was quite scary one of two things could happen either the phone would be smart and great or it would be permanently broken. It worked and became smart’ish those early smart phones weren’t all that good. In Greece so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised, dad got a new mobile the other day and the lady in the shop made sure it was all in English for him.

Sometimes even getting hold of help for electronics can be a challenge, we all get frustrated by the messages press 1 for x and 2 for xx, try working it out in Greek or Arabic, there is usually an option for English you just have to press the button quick enough. It turns topping up your credit into a game of chance, hoping you haven’t accidentally spent your 20 euros on the latest scheme of minutes for calls to Azerbaijan!

We all get a little frustrated with the internet, now that’s an understatement I get very frustrated with the internet at times. There are I believe places in the world where it really does work well, I just haven’t manage to live in any of those yet. . For most of the time my internet is appalling, yet it’s something we rely on so heavily. As an expat it’s the main source of communication, emails, What’s App, Skype and this blog only exist because of this thing that we have no control over. I complain constantly about the internet here on the island and then remind myself it’s the best internet we’ve ever had.

There’s even technology in the washing machine, fridge freezer and cooker these days. With of course the instructions in several languages other than English. For the expat it’s Google to the rescue as we can download the instructions to just about anything now. Some brands have stopped printing instructions completely and I guess the rest will follow soon.

The main problem with technology is the fact that we can’t control it. With constant updates that make changes we don’t understand. I own an original iPad 1 and can’t remember the last time I let it update for fear that it will actually stop working completely. I have this idea that the update will be too sophisticated for it as the newer versions are different. I also think that the updates will make them break so I’m forced to buy newer ones. I have no idea if that’s true or just my mad mind? What do you think?

TV's used to look good

TV’s used to look good

Then there’s television. Now for most of the time we’ve lived overseas this hasn’t been too much of an issue. We would use a combination of satellite stuff and the free to air services. Most of the programmes were aimed at the Middle East market so there was lots of violence but no kissing! With the hours we worked and the travel we did, we really didn’t watch that much. Then we got here and found out that everyone was watching UK TV. It turns out there are many different ways to get it, all through the wonderful reliable internet! The expats here have the television thing totally sorted, from watching their favourite soaps, downloading the latest movies or catching the sport live in the bar. At first it’s a very surreal experience to walk into someone’s home and hear British accents coming out of that black box on wall.

How to they do it? Well here’s the ways I’ve found out so far:

  1. There’s the VPN route, where you have a system on your computer that tells the other end you are in another country, then you just watch on the iplayer or something similar. There are many different providers of VPN’s today the costs can vary. The computer can then be connected to the TV, it’s not unusual to walk into a living room here and see the laptop on a little table next to the television. Here’s a list of Free VPN’s.
  2. If you don’t want a VPN there are websites that will simply let you watch through your computer one of the popular ones here is Film On, though judging by the statuses on Facebook it’s not completely reliable.
  3. There’s a piggy back system with a British satellite system, where you have a box in the UK and a box here and can watch through that. I’m not entirely sure how that works and what happens if the person in the UK changes the channel?
  4. Then there’s the system we’ve gone for, we have a DNS server thingy which is on the smart TV, you pay monthly to a company that provides the DNS. There are many out there.
  5. You can get Kodi box or dongle to access so many movies and series you’d never be able to watch it all. The sale of Kodi boxes has now been banned in Europe.

It all seems complicated but when faced with our first winter we went ahead and after some searching around worked out how to get the smart TV working. It’s been quite amusing to watch a few different programmes and catch up with movies on Netflix. Then something went wrong, for the last 3 days there was no way of accessing the BBC iplayer to catch up with the musketeers. So it was 3 days of emails and screen shots and photographs of the TV until last night it was working again. There had been an update and now it’s got all a bit more complicated and involves the old iPad. I wonder sometimes if I should explain how it all works to my husband but I have a feeling that by the time I’ve explained it there will be another update!

My garden chair

My garden chair

This is most definitely a post about first world problems, the ones that we as expats take with us around the globe. So now I’ll go and sit in the garden with a physical book. leave the electronics inside and enjoy the sound of the birds singing. Later I’ll be back on What’s App to talk to my husband in Lagos and Googling before I watch something daft on British TV after supper…

Oh and I guess this post is the time to admit it I’m an Apple junkie 🙂


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