Life in Southern Africa

through the eyes of a Christian / American / IT Professional

OTA Internet via Wireless

Posted by on May 11, 2012 in insight | 0 comments

OTA Internet via Wireless

Eta Friends, Ninjani?

I hope you’re well, I must pause and say thanks for coming back to see what i’ve got to say this week on the blog – Siyabonga Kakhulu!

So as you may know I’m an Information Technology Professional and my lovely wife Kanique is as well, so what do you think is the first thing we wanted to secure after moving to South Africa?

Need some time to think….

…times up – the answer is Internet! We live our lives on the web for both personal and business reasons so we wanted to know what all the options are so we could make an informed decision quickly to minimize down time.  We were astonished to find the options were slim to none at least in the context that we were used to.  In the states we had Comcast Broadband for internet (because Verizon FiOS kept pushing back their installation date for our area – right Henry?) and it worked well, here is an example of how our home network was setup:

We had a Cable Modem or DSL Modem feeding your Wireless Router and everyone had access to the internet.  Worked very well for us, i’m sure all the US based readers are very familiar with this setup and probably this is still the most common home internet solution in use even today.  We searched for providers here in South Africa that could offer us what we were used to but found none – let me hassen to add that this isn’t because the providers here dont have similar services but mainly because of the area we live in, it’s a fairly new community and there was never any lines run to the houses for phone, internet, etc.  So we begun asking our neighbors what they were using and we found that most were going into the office to access the internet or used the data plan on their mobile phones – which for us was unacceptable.  We did find two neighbors who were using a 3G USB internet device so we eventually broke down and bought one but that was only good for one machine at a time which was only going to temporarily fix the problem for us.  From August to December we suffered with this solution until we accidentally came across this device – Huawei B660 – a 3G Wireless Gateway, it’s a wireless router that has a slot for a SIM Card that it uses as a source for internet.  Here are some example pictures of the device:

Couple this device with a Data Plan from a local wireless provider called 8*ta where they offer 10 GB of data per month for 200 Rand (appx 25USD) for 24 months and we finally had a solution to our home internet problem.  I have since found that this device and this solution is also available in other parts of the world just not very popular given the other options that are readily available.  It’s also interesting to note that this solution was there all the time but because of our context and what we were used to we weren’t looking for it.  This solution is one of necessity for the area we live in and you’ll also be interested to know that the device is 4G compatible and the speed allows Kanique to continue her web design work and makes it possible for me to do web-based support from home.  We also have a home phone that is also SIM Card based so we only plug it in to charge it but we can take the phone with us anywhere we go – its basically a cell phone with a full phone body, LOL.

As technology continues to progress especially in the wireless and mobile solution arena it will have interesting effects on how we live.  Countries/Companies that didn’t jump on the TechWagon say 10 years ago will have some unique choices to make when it comes to deciding what infrastructure to implement – in some cases they might even be able to skip the whole CAT5 and CAT3 installations, Network Closets with tons of cabling going all over the building, and actual phone handsets.  They can choose to go with a completely wireless setup and use soft-phone solutions like Bria which can be installed on their desktop, laptop, or SmartPhone for office use.  There can be advantages to being in countries that haven’t fully come up to the Tech standards of the States because you just might be a candidate for skipping over the older infrastructure and implementing whats current – well thats my view, what do you think?  Please leave your comments below.

Until next time friends,

Hambani Kahle!

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English, Really What kind?

Posted by on May 5, 2012 in explanation | 0 comments

English, Really What kind?

English, Really What kind?

Sanibonani Friends!

We’ve been in South Africa, specifically the Pretoria/Johannesburg Area, for the past 10 months but our experiences haven’t been limited to this one country.  The Division office where I work covers 23 countries in the Southern Africa Indian Ocean Region and the cultures vary from place to place.  In most of the areas we’ve been especially South Africa where we live English is the Lingua Franca, there are 11 official languages for our Host Country but English is the common one that everyone speaks.

This was supposed to be good news right?  Ok it was good news but what they speak is a different version of English if you will.  The title of this post gives you a small window into what I mean, “I speak English.  Really what kind?” this may seem weird but if you think about it long enough it’s really not.  Take a born and raised, true blue Bostonian drop him/her in the deep south (i.e. Alabama, Mississippi, or New Orleans) and immediately there is a bit of a problem right?  The english the Bostonian will find in the Southern Part of the US won’t be the same and in some cases although rare words will have different meanings.  When I moved from Florida to Michigan to attend Andrews University I experience this as well, one of the more memorable ones was Pop/Soda – in the south we call Sprite, Coke, Pepsi, etc… Soda but in the midwest they call it Pop – took some getting used to but after 5 years there it became second nature.

So back to present day here are is a list of words (whole words) that have a different meaning in this part of the world:

South African –  American

  • Robot – Stop Light
  • Till – Cash Register
  • Queue – Line
  • Boot – Trunk
  • Gas – Propane
  • Fuel/Petrol – Gas
  • Garage – Gas Station
  • Bakkie – Small Truck
  • Serviette – Napkin
  • Toilet – Bathroom
  • Nappy – Diaper

I’m sure there are more and when I remember them I’ll add them to the list over the next couple days.  But just from reading what I’ve listed you can see that a simple conversation could get very confusing and lets not forget both parties are speaking english but just different versions – LOL.  I’ll share one of our experiences…

Driving Directions:  We were looking for a SuperMarket to buy some groceries and we were told it wasn’t far just 5 minutes or so from the house.  As we’re driving we stop to ask for some directions here is what we are told – “Keep going straight on this road past the first Robots you’ll see a Garage on your Left keep heading straight-on you’ll pass another set of Robots then at the 3rd set you’ll take a right and the shops will be on your Right.” – to this we replied Thank you So Much and drove off very slowly looking for Robots…….

ROFL, believe me we are still laughing about this one…

Ok I’m done laughing now so let me end by just sharing this, it’s very interesting to see the far reaching influence England has had on the world it set out to discover/conquer/explore.  Some of the terms above are unique to this area, some are from the Dutch influence, but others are directly from English society which was imposed or should I say force fed to all of it’s territories.  The first time I came to South Africa I was actually physically annoyed but Tea Time because I felt we couldn’t get any progress done on the project I came to complete.  No one has to ask where that came from, but more to the point of different perspectives: the phrases and/or influence of English society when compared to the culture of the States has a lot of Pros and Cons don’t you think?  I mean as annoyed as I was by Tea Time its not just about good digestion its about taking a small break from the Rat Race and appreciating those around you.  Not saying everyone who breaks for tea has this intent at heart but it sure is an interesting perspective to consider, dont you think?

Until Next time Salani Kahle!

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