Jul 25 2013

Automatic Fix For RoK (Kz) facebook Problems

Category: Internet Connections,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 7:18 pm

Well, automatic if you use Firefox or Chrome at least. As detailed in a recent post, there are continuing problems with accessing facebook, if you use a desktop PC/laptop in Kazakhstan. Whilst there are multiple ways of fixing this issue (Opera’s Turbo mode (effectively a proxy server), adding m. or touch. instead of www., or changing http:// to https:// at the beginning of the URL), I discovered an extension/plugin that automates the switching from http to https. This is especially useful if you click links in an e-mail from facebook, as these links start with http.

Anyway, either visit the Chrome extension page, or download the Firefox Add-On.
If you discover that some websites no longer display correctly, you can create exceptions, so that https everywhere allows the (normal, but not secure) http protocol to be used instead.

Jul 16 2013

Facebook Problems in Kazakhstan

Category: Internet Connections,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 11:15 am

I am still waiting for my renewed pink card (residency permit) to be granted, so I’ll word this carefully.

If you are having problems accessing facebook right now, and live in Astana (I’ve not checked other areas), you are not alone (apparently some people can still load the facebook site, despite being on the same network as those who have issues). You may have noticed that the facebook app on your phone still works. At first, I couldn’t work out how this occurred. I thought maybe the “technical difficulties” that will most likely be attributed to this blackout (five days and counting now) only occurred with HTTP data transfers, and that perhaps the mobile app used a funky way of transferring data.

However, if you visit http://m.facebook.com or http://touch.facebook.com on your desktop computer, you will find you can still access facebook. Because it isn’t designed for higher resolution monitors, the interface is a bit basic, and some of the photos will look jaggedy, but you if you could access something on your phone – be it a group, event or game, you will find you can still access it on your PC.

Until the fault is fixed, this will at least allow you some sort of facebook access on your computer. Either that, or we have to wait until objectionable materials/accounts are removed from fb, and then perhaps the IT glitch will astonishingly fix itself!

Oh, also, should you really need the default fb interface, download the Opera browser. Turn on the TURBO mode, which is pretty much a proxy server, based in another country. This will bypass the current issues in Kazakhstan.

Sep 08 2012

Are WordPress’ servers having …

Category: Internet Connections,TweetsChrisM @ 8:33 pm

Are WordPress’ servers having a time out, or are WordPress.com-hosted blogs blocked again, here in Kazakhstan? (Kcell connection).

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Jul 13 2012

Astana Internet Choices

Category: Internet Connections,KazakhstanChrisM @ 5:31 am

Recently a few people have asked me for advice about living in Astana, either because they are new to the area, or have not yet actually arrived. Some of the older posts (the key ones are linked to on the Kazakhstan 101 page) are still useful, but where prices have risen, or locally available technology has moved on, new advice is sometimes needed. So, without further ado, here are your choices if you want to access the internet in Astana. As ever, I’m happy to receive suggestions/corrections, so do please feel free to leave a comment below.

Megaline – The main ADSL internet company here in Astana. You will sometimes find that VISPs (virtual internet service providers) exist, where they take Megaline’s connection, and feed it out to a few blocks of flats, but I have not yet come across a true competing ISP. Compared to five years ago, the speed, price and reliability has improved greatly.

ID TV – I had originally thought this was a combined internet and TV package that was from a different company than Megaline. However, it turns out that ID TV is from Kazakhtelecom (the main telephone company here in Astana, who also provide Megaline’s ADSL services). The channel selection seems to be slightly wider than that offered by AlmaTV (assuming their website is up to date, as AlmaTV lost quite a few channels I liked recently), however there are some inconveniences, related to the delivery method. IPTV is used, so instead of a special wire (cable TV), normal aerial (standard TV, no DVB-T in Astana yet), or satellite dish (Hotbird, NTV Plus (though we are well out of the range of Astra and therefore UK Sky channels are impossible to receive conventionally here)), ID TV (the company, IPTV is the transmission method) uses your phone line. This means that you will probably see a slight dip in your internet download speeds and that changing channels apparently takes 10 seconds each time! It looks as though you choose from Megaline’s broadband packages if you don’t already have an internet connection set up, then select which TV channel package you want.

Internet TV Packages

There are other choices here in Astana, for example there was a WiMax system being trialled a few years ago, and I know of at least one business that uses this for internet access and voice over IP (telephone calls), as they have no land line. I will try and find out more about this, though it will not be for a couple of months at least.
If your internet access needs are more mobile, then a USB 3G Dongle could be what you need. You plug the device (with a SIM card in it) into your laptop, and use the mobile phone network to access the world wide web. As with Britain though (see this BBC article), coverage in Astana is not 100%, and even when 3G network coverage is displayed as available, the speeds can sometimes be closer to Edge, if not 2G!

Similar to this, but without the requirement for new hardware, is tethering your mobile phone to your laptop (basically using a USB lead, WiFi or bluetooth), and using your existing mobile phone account to access the internet on your computer. However, you do need to make sure your current choice of account does not charge a lot per Mb used, and it is probably worth checking whether your mobile phone company (KCell, Active, Beeline etc.) offers any bundles, where you pay for a fixed amount, that expires after a month.

Finally, should you find yourself without a mobile phone, dongle, or ADSL-enabled phone line, you could always go old school and use a dial up modem. The speed will make you weep, the phoneline will be engaged should anyone try and call you, but if all else fails those screeching tones, that indicate a handshake is taking place, can be a godsend.

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May 31 2012

Stopping The Moans

Category: Internet Connections,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 7:52 pm

As long term readers of this blog may well remember, when we first moved to Astana, six and a bit years ago, dial up internet access (as in 50kbit connections at best, dropped lines, blocking voice calls) was the only viable way to connect – ADSL was theoretically feasible in some areas of the city, but it was priced for businesses. Even if I could have justified the minimum monthly cost (believe me, I did try), the data allowance was something ridiculous (perhaps 200 megabytes?), before the one and only ISP in existence would start charging you £1.50 per 10 megabytes over the limit!
Eventually, the installation cost, the feasibility (our blocks of flats are served by a VISP (Virtual ISP) another target of my ire for many months), the monthly charge (finally targeted at residential customers), the monthly allowance (I think we started off with 5 or 10Gb) and most importantly, the action taken after the limit was reached (speed throttling vs. extra charges) all came into place, and we had what was called broadband. Unfortunately, it was 256kbit/sec (that is 32 kilobytes per second btw), don’t get me wrong, I was over the moon to be off dial up, but the slow speed combined with random downtimes.

Moving on to the present day, I decided to run a couple of broadband speed tests this evening, to confirm my estimates before writing this post. See below for one result, and with a couple of others reporting a download speed of 6.98Mbit/sec, an upload speed of 0.75Mbit/sec and a 50ms ping, I’m happy.

Broadband Speed Test

Now that our monthly limit is 80Gb, I’m definitely a lot happier – originally it was 5 or 10Gb, which went down to 32 or 64kbit/sec after you breached the limit. I’m not actually sure what the new throttled speed is, mainly due to the fact that only downloads and uploads between 2pm and 11pm are counted. Whilst I do browse the internet during these hours, I try to leave utorrent’s scheduler turned on, meaning that any Linux distros, freeware applications and CC-licensed media that I download (I’ve heard rumours BitTorrent is used by some for other more naughty purposes !?!) is paused until the downloads won’t count towards my total. As the end of the month approaches, I tend to turn the scheduler off and just let everything run 24/7, but as far as I can tell, I’ve not yet hit my monthly limit in since we returned to Kazakhstan and switched packages. Would I like ADSL+/ADSL2 type speeds sometime? Of course, but in such a short time, to go from dual channel ISDN-like speeds to just under 8Mbit, and from a couple of DVDs worth to practically limitless, means that I need to be positive and, for once at least, sincerely sing the praises of the infrastructure over here!

Jan 16 2011

Forgetting Leads To Calculating

Category: Internet Connections,PersonalChrisM @ 1:01 am

I forgot to bring a copy of the list of the Windows Mobile based programs I wanted to continue writing about with us to Chubary, so that will have to wait until next week for a continuation of the series. At some point I need to consider uploading documents like that to Google Docs, so I don’t need to bring thumb drives or a portable hard drive with me when I want to work away from home. That said, I’m then relying on Megaline (the major ISP over here) to keep access to the internet working well. I wonder if anyone has done a green study to check which option actually uses more electricity? I’m guessing that a 7200 RPM external drive would draw the most power, but comparing mA drawn by a thumb drive vs. an ADSL modem (which would be on already anyway, and so perhaps just the extra juice required to resolve a few URLs and download a doc would be fairer?) might be too precise a job for my multimeter.

May 27 2009

Made Me Laugh Anyway

Category: Internet Connections,PersonalChrisM @ 1:14 am

A couple of quick links, as I realised it had been a while since I posted any. First we have the most unfortunate t-shirt slogans for police mug shots. I espcially loved the “If we get caught it’s all your fault” and “Every great idea I have, gets me in trouble” shirts. Those peoplr are really going to reconsider their wardrobe selections in the future, I guess. Unless they were aiming to be arrested (demonstrations etc.), and the humour was intentional?

From the same site, we have the 10 most bizarre gaming incidents. I just love #3 – “Boy saves his sister from a moose attack with skills learned from World of Warcraft” !

Stupid bloody Megaline, their internet connection is down again as I write this. Ho hum, will try and publish it later. Then it was up for long enough for me to check out the 20 most bizarre mugshots page. Pretty weak with some of those shots, unless I’m missing something? A lot just look like relatively normal weird people, and four just look plain average. I’d be surprised if there weren’t a lot better weird mug shots around… Internet down again, will try and post this later.


May 25 2009

Grr.No internet once more.No i…

Category: Internet Connections,TweetsChrisM @ 5:13 pm

Grr.No internet once more.No idea when it’ll be back.Also need 2 make cron job 4 Xbox feed more frequent.Hope that’ll stop out of sync posts

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May 23 2009

Triple vodka shots all round-i…

Category: Internet Connections,TweetsChrisM @ 1:55 pm

Triple vodka shots all round-internet magically working two days early & sorted bridged connections on laptop so Xbox 360 is online as well.

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May 23 2009

Megaline office we need shut 2…

Category: Internet Connections,TweetsChrisM @ 11:46 am

Megaline office we need shut 20mins b4 we called them.Internet available Monday at the earliest… so any urgent comms are best by phone/SMS

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