5 Year Anniversary

Thank you Cuenca Tech Life subscribers for challenging me to keep this blog an interesting time in my life and perhaps providing you with some interesting tech observations and predictions.

So what has changed since last year:

  • Only an educated guess but I think Cuenca now has about 7K expats
  • Smartphones continues to be the number one subject followed by photos
  • Fiber Optic is now cheaper than ever 50 mps for $60
  • The Tranvia is now 85% complete only a 23% increase since last year and predicted to open in Oct 2017 almost 2 years behind schedule
  • Ecuador will elect a new president today
  • I now am officially  a Fish Monger and you can see more of my product offering at this link
  • Google and Amazon introduced their new smart speakers (Google Home and Echo) and I predict they will be the next paradigm shift in technology. There are more than 13 million of these products in homes as of this writing.

The three most viewed posts are as follows:

Thank you again for viewing Cuenca Tech Life.

 

todos santos prisma

What Electronics Should You Bring To Ecuador ?(Part 8)

My wife and I have been living here almost 6 years and two things all expats can agree on.

  1. Electronics are  25% – 30 % more expensive in Ecuador. Even more if you lived in a state with no sales tax.
  2. This is a subjective matter. Some of us are geeks and need the latest and greatest. Others, especially on a retirement budget need the basics.

I have added some new items and subtracted some others. As always I encourage your feedback.

Computer: When we first moved here I rented space in another person’s container and brought down a desktop computer with a 24″ monitor and and oversized keyboard. I sold that computer in less than a year and that is why I am recommending a laptop or notebook computer.

  • I have a Macbook Air – Moderately priced and extremely simple to use
  • Chrome book -Inexpensive and uses mostly cloud storage
  • Microsoft Surface Pro – combines a tablet and computer and an affordable price

Tablet: When we first moved I owned an iPad . I have since sold the iPad and  my tablet of choice is an 8 inch Fire Tablet from Amazon priced at $59

Smartphone: Personally, this is my most used piece of electronics. I now own the Google Nexus 6. I have a $32 a month data plan that gives me the convenience of being connected all day but also the ability to connect via magic jack to my business contacts and family back in The States. I also use my Smartphone for:

  • Maps and Navigation
  • Free Worldwide texting via What’s Ap
  • Photos- I sold my DSLR and now use my Smartphone as my only camera
  • 4K Video
  • Podcasts – PBS, NPR and tech shows
  • HBO, Netflix
  • Social Media
  • Audio Recording
  • Skyping and Magic Jack
  • Remote Controls For TV

I highly recommend the Google Nexus but would also highly recommend the iPhone

Streaming Boxes: These hockey puck  devices will be your night time companions if you enjoy watching movies and TV series. You can’t go wrong with the ones below:

  • Apple TV Version 3 – $150 *** I have sold the Apple TV since I find the Roku and Amazon TV take care of all my needs ***
  • Roku 4 – $130
  • Amazon Fire TV $100;

Basically you can watch TV series and movies with these devices connected to your TV. They also have the added advantage of wirelessly connecting some of your devices ( computer, iphone tablet ) wirelessly  to your TV. Important note ***. To fully utilize these services you need to purchase a  IP address Blocker so you can connect to these services from Ecuador.  .

All three device have voice search and the Roku and Amazon devices have lower priced stick versions that have less power but basically give you the same services.

Printer: This is second  year I am not recommending a printer. Unless you are using the printer for business then it’s easier and cheaper to put your document on a thumb drive and bring it to and easily available copy shop.

Camera: This is the second year  I am recommending using a Smartphone instead of a point and shoot camera.

Miscellaneous recommendations:

  • Netflix subscription- $9 per month – Invaluable
  • Amazon Prime subscription $8.35 per month – (Music, Movies, Books, Unlimited Photo Storage)
  • Bluetooth keyboard for your tablet or smarthone
  • Thumb drives (32 gb) for transferring information or bringing data to be printed
  • IP Blocker   – I use Block US for about $60 per year
  • Skype subscription – Free Video Calls to other Skype users.
  • MagicJack – Practically free phone calls to any cell or landline in the U.S.
  • Wifi Extender – Invaluable for folks living in a house made of Adobe Walls or condo dwellers 30 or more feet from wifi router.

Amazon Echo, Dot or the Google Home Smart Speaker

These gadgets are cloud based devices that will be the next paradigm shift. The Amazon platform has a two year head start. But,essentially both devices accomplish the same goals.

I installed the Echo in the living room next to the T.V. The Echo will pick up our voices from the living room, hall, kitchen, dining room and sun room. So far we have used the Echo to:

  • listen to our (separate) Amazon Prime Music collections
  • Kitchen timers
  • News Updates from local and International sources
  • Calendar and todo lists
  • Manage our Capital One Account including making payments
  • Listen to Podcasts
  • Movia Trivia
  • Control the lights in our house.

The Dot which is the smaller and less expensive version of the Echo is paired with a bluetooth Speaker and is upstairs in Sharon’s Office. She mainly uses the Dot to listen to her music but she likes the “Good Morning Command” which is has an interesting fact of a synopsis of some famous person’s life usually when it is their birthday.

Ok, do you need all these devices. Of course not. But, I think these devices make life much more enjoyable in Ecuador.

My three favorite devices are:

  • Google Nexus Smartphone
  • Amazon Dot
  • Roku Streaming Device

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Favorite Smartphone Apps – December 2016

Last year, I posted my favorite apps Of course smartphone technology changes everyday. Here are some more favorites.

  • Instagram – I enjoy seeing great photos from friends and great photographers. One of my favs. is “jaw dropping_dropping_shots
  • Prisma – superb artsy photo editing
  • Feedly – all my RSS feeds in one place
  • Capital One – best user interface to control your CO account- and now it works with the Amazon Echo
  • Merlin – Interesting facts and trivia from around the world
  • Google Translate – Invaluable
  • Yahoo News Digest – Delivered twice daily. Great graphics and easily digestible news info
  • Alexa – Controls my Amazon devices (Echo, Dot, Fire TV)
  • Kayak – Easily make airline and hotel reservations
  • Pocket – Last year’s favorite but easily my most used app for saving and reading web site information

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What’s Your Favorite App (2016)

I have 209 apps on my Nexus 6 smartphone but according to my memory stats I only use on average about 35 of these apps daily. So here is a quick list of my 7 favorite apps. I have intentionally skipped apps like email, facebook, maps, photos, calendar etc. because they are in everyone’s daily usage. All these apps run on the iPhone too.

  • Pocket – a fantastic “read later” way of saving important data
  • Feedly – a superb “News Feed” App.
  • Merlin – Daily Esoteric news
  • Moves – a great pedometer
  • Prisma – My absolute favorite photo editing app
  • IMDB – great info on movies and tv shows
  • Flickr – Connecting with my photo buddies around the world

What are your favorite apps?

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Prisma Photo App

WARNING!,  WARNING! Do not load Prisma Photo App if you have an immediate appointment because you’re going to be immediately addicted to this great photo filter editor. This app could not be simpler.

  • Load your photo
  • Choose your filter
  • Adjust the intensity
  • Save
  • Share

Here are is the Prisma App link (runs on IOS and Android) Here are some great results. Learn more at the iPad Users Group Meeting Thursday

tranvia art

prisma street

priisma sm

 

Watching TV in Cuenca 2016

Last year at this time I wrote on article on this subject. So what has changed in a year? There are now 4 main legal streaming boxes:

  • Apple TV – Now in its 4th edition with voice control
  • Roku – Now in its 4th edition also with voice control
  • Amazon Fire TV – Now in its second edition with Alexa voice control
  • Android TV – The Google version with limited apps

There is a 5th alternative and its called KODI . First let me say that I don’t object to the non legal status of KODI since I often purchase bootleg DVD’s in Cuenca. Let me also state that I have limited knowledge of KODI. I do know in Cuenca there are KODI groups and some individuals that will handle the installation and support.  There are some safety concerns using KODI and this article does a good job of explaining it

The following are some paid subscriptions that are available to stream on the above boxes.

  • Netflix – Note the North American version is not longer available
  • Amazon Prime – No available on Apple TV
  • HBO Now
  • STARZ
  • Showtime
  • HULU

There is also DirecTV. 5 years ago I tried the service for 6 months. My experience was that it was expensive $40 + per month was limited in the quality of English programming.

My costs:

  • Puntonet 50 mb fiber optic service $60 per month +
  • Amazon Prime – $8 per month *
  • HBO – $15 per month
  • Strong VPN  $7 per month*

Note: * denotes other uses besides watching TV

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Snapseed – My favorite mobile photo editing app

Pop Quiz CTL subscribers. You take a photo with your smartphone and you need to tune it up. What app do you use?  There are some very easy and powerful apps. My favorite is Snapseed that is available on both Android and IOS.  Snapseed has all the usual tools

  • Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Highlights, Shadows
  • Crop, Rotate, Sharpening,

Snapseed also contains several powerful tools

  • Healing – taking out blemishes and objects
  • Transform – Vertical and horizontal perspective
  • Filters – Changing the mood of your photo

Below are three photos. The first is untouched.  The second is a change in the perspective and the removal of the graffiti. The third is the addition of a mood changing filter.

Run, don’t walk and get your free copy of Snapseed.

untouched

perspective

filter