Friends In Foreign Places

Yesterday Sharon and I had the privilege of attending the launch party of the Kindle Anthology – Friends In Foreign Places. All the proceeds for this book go to the Ecuador Earthquake Relief Fund.  Sharon and I have stories in the 5 volume anthology.

  • Sharon: “I Never Met A Stranger”
  • Lenny: “My Teacher, My Friend”

So for $5.99 you get to help the Earthquake victims and read 36 great short stories. Such a deal.

Here is the link to purchase the book.

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New Year – Old Things Disappear

Last night, the batteries for my T.V. remote control died. I had no replacements in the house. I quickly realized that I could control my T.V., Roku and Amazon Fire TV streaming devices with my Nexus 6 Smartphone.

I started thinking what other parts of my life would be disappearing.

Checks– I haven’t written a physical check in over a year. Everything is paid for by cash, debit card or online payment

CD, DVD USB Sticks– My Macbook does not even contain an optical drive and I rarely purchase a DVD since most of my media is consumed via a streaming service (i.e. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video)

Books (Physical)  Ok. this is a sad one since I enjoy browsing in Book Stores. But, the truth is that everything I read is on a Kindle or in one of the cloud services.

TechCrunch has a powerful article on what they think will be gone in 5 years. You can find the article here

What do you think will be gone?

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Online Friends Appear in Ecuador

I met Len Edgerly six years ago when I stumbled across his now famous website – The Kindle Chronicles. This is a must read/listen if you are a fan of ebooks in general and the Kindle specifically. TheKindleChronicles podcast comes out every Friday. Each Friday I look forward to Len’s topic and interesting guest.

We became friends on Facebook and Instagram, exchanging emails. Two weeks ago, I saw on Instagram that Len was in Quito. I contacted him and  Len changed travel plans so our online friendship became an “in person” friendship when he, his wife Darlene and sister-in-law Deb came to Cuenca.  My wife, Sharon, and I really enjoyed meeting them and “hanging out” for awhile.

Len interviewed me about my 4.5 years in Cuenca.  You can listen to the complete interview here.  Take 30 minutes and browse The Kindle Chronicles for other stories about Ecuador and become a subscriber and enjoy Len Edgerly’s tech expertise.

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What Electronics Should You Bring To Ecuador ( Part 6 )

It’s now a year since I wrote Part 5 and my wife and I have lived in Ecuador for 3.5 years.  This post is largely subjective based on my usage and mistakes in Cuenca.

This advice is meant for those on a limited budget and not bringing a container to Ecuador. I am going to start with the most important device and work by way down to the small items that you can’t find or that are expensive in Ecuador.

Smartphone: Invest in an unlocked Nexus 6 or iPhone 6+. These are relatively large phones sometimes called Phablets but they will be your best techonology friend in Ecuador. I also suggest you buy a data plan. In Cuneca I pay $32 a month for minutes and data and never run out of either one.  Below are some uses other than voice and texting.

  • Maps and directions
  • Photo and video ( I haven’t used my expensive Canon in 4 months)
  • Easy Taxi – requesting taxis at night and in bad weather
  • Learning Spanish (Translate, SpanishDict, Duolingo)
  • Music listening ( Amazon complete music library)
  • Netflix (watching movies)
  • Playing Bridge

Tablet: I have the iPad Mini w/ retina screen but I can highly recommend the Nexus 7. I recommend the larger tablets ( The iPad Air is an excellent choice) if you are not going to bring your computer.  I’m sticking to my recommendation of not bringing a computer if you don’t need it for business or serious photo/video editing. A large tablet with a bluetooth keyboard will be powerful and very portable.

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
  • Roku 3
  • Amazon Fire TV

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 ) wirellessly to your TV. Important note ***. To fully utilize these services you need to purchase a VPN (virtual private network) Router. I use the Sabai Cisco router because of the excellent technical support. I go to great lengths to describe the challenges of watching TV/Movies in Ecuador. I recommend using the search facility on this blog and typing in “VPN” and you will see several posts with recommendations.

Google just came out with their own streaming box called Nexus Player but I haven’t seen enough reviews to recommend buying that device.

Miscellaneous recommendations:

  • Netflix subscription- $9 per month – Invaluable
  • Amazon Prime subscription $8.25 per month – (Music, Movies, Books, Unlimited Photo Storage(
  • Bluetooth keyboard for your tablet or smarthone
  • Thumb drives (32 gb) for transferring information or bring data to be printed
  • VPN subscription  – I use Strong VPN and it’s about $8 a month
  • Skype subscription – Free Video Calls to other Skype users.
  • MagicJack – Practically free phone calls to any cell or landline in the U.S.

Some of the subscribers of this blog have great success with Ooma. It’s  worth a look for cheap and dependable calls back to the U.S.

Again this are my recommendations based on my experience. I haven’t used my DVD player in 2 months and my camera in 4 months.  Save the room in your suitcases for good sheets and towels  🙂

 

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Need A Tablet?

Now why would the founder of the Cuenca iPad Users Group suggest that you purchase a Amazon Tablet? I have committed this blog to being platform agnostic. Amazon is going through some blips in their stock price. They are one of tech titans but for a limited time they are offering a great price on two of their tablets. Don’t get me wrong I think that any of the iPads are top of the line and you could do no wrong buying any of the iPad models, but the iPads are pricey.

 

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ Tablet is $179

 

Fire HD 6″ Tablet is $99

 

Below are some trusted video reviews. If I was buying another table I would spend the extra $79 ang get the Fire HDX for the Mayday feature. Amazon guarantees 15 second live video help with any problem.

Fire HDX review

Fire  HD 6 review

 

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Kindle Unlimited – Netflix for E-Books

Amazon just took another step in being your GoTo media service by offering Kindle Unlimted.

Essentially Kindle Unlimited is a $9.99 charge per month that allows you unlimited access to a select group of E-Books and Audio Books. Amazon says that their selection numbers over 600,00 books and thousands of audio books.  You have a 30 day free trial.  For my wife and I this is a no brainer. I just looked at my E-book charges for the year and it was close to $200.

I’ll report back in a month after the free trial but if two people can order books than $2.50 cents a week is just a windfall for prolific readers

On a separate note. A quick reminder that I do Skype consulting for those of you that are permanently moving to Ecuador. The charge is $25 and last night a happy future expat said that after the call she saved $150 by planning to bring certain electronics and eliminating others.

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