Tag Archives | internet

Expat Tech: Slingbox

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but before I left for Buenos Aires, I decided it would be nice to watch some U.S. TV stations and shows while I was here. Watching my DVR would be great too, and I also wanted to be able to watch Michigan football games this fall. Luckily, The Slingbox comes to the rescue.

The Slingbox lets you watch your TV over the Internet on any connected PC, Mac or mobile phone. The small box plugs into your TV on one end and high-speed Internet connection on the other.  An infrared controller attaches to your cable box and controls the functions of it (including your DVR). You then simply install the SlingPlayer software on your laptop or mobile phone and connect.  You’re now watching and controlling your home TV from wherever you are. (You can check out their flash video for a better explanation.)

All right, so this tech trick requires some setup before you leave (or a friend willing to set it up for you), a working high-speed Internet connection and cable TV, but if you have some place to set it up, it works pretty well.  I have the SlingPlayer software running on my wireless laptop and connected to the TV with an S-video cable. A wireless mouse lets me control the on-screen remote from the couch.  Now, I won’t have to miss any episodes of The Daily Show even though I’m thousands of miles away and I can still skip the commercials!

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Tragedy

Yes, it is with a heavy heart that I must announce some really horrible news that befell me recently..

I have not had an Internet connection at my apartment since Thursday! Yes, it is probably one of the worst things that could happen, and I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t have been so greedy. You see, I asked my landlady to increase the Internet speed from 1.5 Mbps to 5Mbps. It was working fine, I had Internet, I had wireless, I had my Vonage phone, but it just seemed like it could be faster. So, on Thursday, I was supposed to be switched over. Obviously, that did not go as planned. Something happened that completely knocked my DSL line out!

Now, the landlady is very nice, but she does not speak English, nor has she ever used a computer, but on Friday, she and her friend spent all morning on the phone with Arnet trying to get the service back up.  No luck. She came back with her friend on Saturday. Again, no luck.  Now, I’m very technical, but not speaking Spanish has put me at a severe disadvantage since I could not explain much to her or Arnet. The other problem is that the representatives at Arnet will try a few things and when those do not work, simply say they have to call you back. Of course, they never do. There seems to be no way to get to a higher level of support, or even get a manager on the phone, and they don’t seem to be very concerned that you don’t have any Internet either. Don’t they know that this blog has to be updated?!?!?

This morning, after begging our Spanish teacher to come over, we again called Arnet – translator and me. We tried with the first rep. No luck. She said she would call back at 8pm. Right.  Marco decided to call again. This time we got someone else. Again, no luck. BUT, he did say that the problem was on Arnet’s side and it was related to a problem with the speed upgrade from last week. Aghhh! Well, at least we know knew what the problem was. When would it be fixed? Well, that seems to be another story entirely as he could not give us a date or time that it would be back up and running. We had to hang up and try again tomorrow. Marco explained to me that this is how things work in Buenos Aires. I guess I have no choice but to accept it… So, we’ll try again tomorrow.

I do have to thank my friendly neighbor (whoever they may be), I’ll just call them “Señor Dlink.”  They are the only ones with an open wireless router that has been feeding my addiction… I have my laptop set up as a router, plugged into my Vonage phone and giving my desktop PC Internet access as well. Señor Dlink, I’m trying not to use too much of your bandwidth, I promise. Please don’t decide to password protect your wireless Internet like all the other neighbors.  And, if I ever find out who you are, I owe you dinner…

Oh yeah, and to make matters worse – Gmail is down too! And Craigslist was down yesterday!  What is this world coming to?

UPDATE (8.13.08): My Internet access was finally restored today! All is once again good.

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Internet Domain Names

While I realize that this is not going to be a part of most people’s planning process, being the Internet guru, I started looking for BsAs domain names as soon as I decided to make the move. I figured, who knows what I’ll be doing or what’s going to interest me, but it might make sense to have some localized domain names. Now of course, having limited Spanish (at this time), I decided to only focus on English domain names. Also, since every possible decent combination of names in the .com space is most likely gone, I looked for expiring domain names. SnapNames is a great place to do this. They keep a list of expiring domain names and try to secure them for you once they expire and are released. They set up an auction for the domains and the highest bidder gets the name. If you do not get into a bidding war (which I did on one of them – more on that later), then you can end up with a good domain at a decent price.

I was able to register these domains so far:

buenosairesapt.com
buenosairesart.com (bidding war on this one – yow!)
buenosairesguide.co.uk
buenosairesmagazine.com
buenosairestrade.com
buenosaireszoo.com
discoverbuenosaires.com
experiencebuenosaires.com
vipbuenosaires.com

They all point to this site for now, but who knows what they may become in the future. Keep your eyes on them!

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