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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Mar 07 2012

Posterous, blogspot, various h…

Category: TweetsChrisM @ 1:31 pm

Posterous, blogspot, various https based services all blocked/technical issues. Slight variation between Megaline (ADSL) & KCell (3G). :-/

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Apr 19 2008

Megaline Problems?

Category: Internet Connections,KazakhstanChrisM @ 12:12 pm

ChrisK came over this week, and when I had to edit some settings on my PC, I was reminded that I had not yet posted on a potential solution to people having problems with their Megaline ADSL connection here in Kazakhstan.
Basically, I ended up wiping my DNS server settings that day, and when I checked the internet later, I found a lot of web sites were timing out.
If you find yourself in the same situation, try changing your DNS servers to those belonging to OpenDNS. The primary Domain Name Server is 208.67.222.222 , with the secondary being 208.67.220.220 . Once I had reverted my DNS server settings, I found the previously misbehaving sites were all ok again. Hope it helps 🙂

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Jan 19 2008

What Rubs The Wrong Way…

Category: KazakhstanChrisM @ 6:37 am

I read on another blog how a person who had recently returned to Kazakhstan had found some things (points 3,4 and 5 especially) wound him up again, after his break away… this lead me to thinking what exactly gets on my nerves over here…

Driving – see the Kazakh Driving category for previous posts on this subject, however a quick summary would be the complete lack of lane discipline, seat belt wearing being seen as an oddity, not stopping for zebra crossings, expecting drivers to be halfway across a junction before the traffic light turns green etc. etc.

Foreign? You must be rich and earning a lot, we have actually had people openly admit to charging twice the going rate for a car journey because they heard English people speaking. Not all of us work for Western companies, on Western wages…

ADSL – I’m sorry, but a 128Kbit, unreliable connection, capped at just 10Gb a month (though called ‘unlimited’), after which you are throttled to just 32Kbit DOES not cut it. The infrastructure is in place, just start using more reliable equipment, proper speeds, and if you must data cap, set a more reasonable limit. You can of course go a little faster here, but you need to pay more, and no ‘unlimited’ option either – after 1 or 2 Gbs, you pay for every extra gig you down/upload.
doors are shut in your face

The staff’s lack of knowledge by in many shops, when it comes to their own products, especially in some technology based businesses. There are of course exceptions, but I hate to imagine the sort of advice some people receive, and the way their computers are setup from some of the shops here.

Anyway, to read the post that inspired this one, please check here over at KZ Blog. Don’t forget to read around the other posts there as well.

I’m sure more will come to mind, but I needed to get those off my chest at least…

Feel free to reply with what most annoys you about arrogant, know-it-all, ‘been-there, done-that’ foreigners who come to this country and try to dictate how things should be done ;)

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Dec 19 2007

Internet Reports

Category: In The Media,Internet Connections,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 4:25 am

The ISP we now have our internet connection with is called Megaline. Unfortunately, since swapping to their service, everyday sees some downtime for connectivity. Even when all is apparently working, packets are often lost, and I can no longer as open as many simultaneous pages, without time outs occurring. That said, it is a lot cheaper, and although only 1/2 the speed, I do get an allowance of 10Gb/month before they throttle me down to 32Kbit/sec, from 128Kbit/sec.
Anyway, we first have a report on the UK’s lagginess (puns will stop now, sorry), when it comes to very fast internet connection availability. This is no great surprise really, given our history with BT’s (formerly part of the GPO) previous monopoly at nearly all stages of communications. Great investment will be needed to push beyond the current 24Mbps ceiling, and even that sort of connection is only really possibly if you live on top of your local exchange. Until we drop twisted pair copper lines as acceptable, the days of fibre optics into every home are a long way off, unless someone like Richard Branson decides that it is economically viable in areas when other Cable TV operators have avoided.
Globally Maximum Advertised Speeds For The Internet

On a more positive note, here we have an article detailing how broadband internet connectivity (even if it isn’t globally breath-takingly fast) has rapidly become the preferred speed, compared to just four years ago, when most people considered dial up speeds acceptable. No pretty table to illustrate the point this time, sorry.

Finally, on a semi-related matter, the BBC News site had details on how some European nation’s citizens are rejecting land lines altogether, in favour of mobile phones. Although this may sound surprising at first, if you take into account that some of the nations, that were unable to develop as quickly under USSR rule, never had high rates for phone lines into every house, and how competitive some mobile phone network companies are in these markets, to try and get, then keep loyal customers, you can begin to see why having no land line number is becoming more common in some areas. Whether these figures include those that only use phone lines for internet usage, and use mobiles for cheaper evening calls etc, I couldn’t ascertain.

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Aug 02 2007

UK ISPs Misleading Customers

Category: Internet Connections,PersonalChrisM @ 7:26 pm

According to a recent BBC article, British internet service providers are not being completely forthright when it comes to advertising realistic figures for ADSL connection speeds. Although many quote figures of up to 8Mbps (1024Kbytes/second§), unless you happen to live next door to the local exchange. In actual fact, the average connection was only rated at 2.7Mbps!
I need to check how Mum and John’s connection is behaving when I get back to Britain, though they are with Pipex, so I am not to worried about it. I’ll also need to see if Dad wants to start his ADSL some time soon, so I can sort things out for him next month.

§ Obviously this figure does not take into account protocol overheads, and would require the server or collection of peers you are downloading from to be running at full steam.

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Aug 01 2007

Tin Cans Upgraded

Category: Internet Connections,PersonalChrisM @ 7:23 pm

Ahhhhhhh, the first of the month. Not a reference to a BLACKstreet track, merely a report on our ADSL connection now being back to its awe inspiring 256KBit status. Until I have used 3 Gig of internet traffic, then it is back to 64Kbit download, 32Kbit upload once more. Last month saw 16Gig of downloaded traffic, and I did not even grab any large torrents…
The part that made us giggle is when Ira asked our ISP why the speed had not been reset at the beginning of the month… It turns out they have to go and manually re-assign my speed in their system – there is no automatic reset each month. Which makes me wonder if we can find out whether the same person is responsible for limiting the speed each month. If so, I wonder what his vices are… perhaps a bottle of vodka would enable him to forget to restrict my speed each month… I’d feel a little bad doing that in Britain, but as life is approached differently here, if you can’t beat them, join bribe them 🙂
Hopefully we will get a 1024Kbit connection soon, unfortunately you need to visit the ISP office in person, and they keep the same hours as Irina does at work.
If we do get the upgrade, it will cost the same, and the limit to 64/32Kbit kicks in at the same point, so I don’t really understand why anyone would ask for a lower speed… (They originally did not mention that prices were the same for an unlimited account at different speeds).

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Jun 13 2007

Impressive Either Way

Category: Internet Connections,Personal,VideosChrisM @ 10:07 pm

Today is a good day – our (highly localised & monopolistic) ISP has finally added a data unlimited package to their ADSL deals.
Previously, we were paying $110 for just 700 megabytes per month. We still only have a 256Kbit/sec connection, and the cost for this new package is more than before, but now there is no limit on how much I can download. Before the change over, every 10 megs I downloaded over the 700Mb limit cost another dollar seventy five!

Why the long winded explanation? Well I decided to check out a few random clips on YouTube during a break today, and came across this gem.

First time you watch it, the accuracy of the throwing is amazing. Then you start to notice a few things, that indicate the video was edited, however, even so the quality is pretty impressive and realistic. Check it out for yourself…

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Apr 24 2007

System Specifications

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 4:14 pm

When describing technical issues, I’m often called upon to supply the specifications of my IT equipment.
This post has been put together so I can easily refer people to the pertinent information…

System Specifications – PC

Intel D945 PVS Motherboard with 10/01/07 BIOS
Intel P4 660 3.6 GHz CPU
2 Gb RAM (2 X 1Gb 667MHz DDR2)
Asus 7900GT – PCIe x16 256Mb Grfx card – on Forceware 97.73
BenQ FP91V 19″ , Subini S-6811T 8″ & Sony KDL 40W2000 40″

NoName 550 Watt Twin Fan PSU
APC ES 525 Uninterruptable Power Supply – battery knackered
other UPS must update details here
Innovision EIO AP1680 PCI ATA133 RAID Controller (ITE IT8211 based)
Seagate Barracuda ST3320620AS 320Gb 7200rpm 16Mb Cache SATAII
Seagate Barracuda ST3160023A 160Gb 7200 rpm 8Mb Cache PATA-100
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus8 40 Gb PATA-133
Buffalo External 80Gb PATA/USB
WD External 250Gb PATA/USB
2 x Lite-On SHW-16H5S DVD-RR
EIO USB2 & Firewire PCI card

NetGear router – UPDATE
SafeCom IC+ 56K Ext. Modem (SEMT-5600)
TDK Bluetooth v1.2 Adapter (TRBLU03)

Logitech USB Cordless Trackman Trackball
Genius Keyboard – KKB-2050HS
XFX Executioner Dual Impact USB Gamepad (PSX-like force feedback controller)
Logitech Formula Force GP Force Feedback Steering Wheel & Pedals

Sony Ericssion K700i (used as a Bluetooth Remote Control/Phone for UK SIM card)
PC Line PC-100 TV Card – TV tuner/RCA/S-Video/InfraRed input (Based on Phillips 7134 chipset)
Genius VideoCAM Look WebCam
Canon DC080W (3Mp Digital Camera)
Microsoft Fingerprint Reader (Model 1033)
HP 1513 MFD
Various USB Thumbdrives

Redundant Spares
SafeCom SWAMR-54108 ADSL Modem/Router/AP – Now with Mother-in-law
D-Link 604T ADSL Modem/Router/AP – Now with Mum
Origo ASU-8000 USB ADSL modem
D-Link DWL-G122 USB2 Wi-Fi 802.11g Dongle
D-Link DGE-528T 1GBps PCI LAN Card
SafeCom USB 11Mbps WLAN Dongle – Now with brother
Nisis DV Cam 2 (Rev.1) – Photo, Video & Webcam

Software & Services Used :
Win XP Pro SP2 – All updates applied
No-Ip (Dynamic IP pointing)
TightVNC/WinVNC
ShoutCast
WebCamXP

System Specifications – PDA/PPC

iPaq 2210
240×320 Display
Intel PXA255 CPU
64Mb RAM
OS – Windows 2003 Mobile Edition (WinCE 4.20)
1Gb SD Card
11Mbps CF Wireless Card
GPS – 16 Sat
Bluetooth
Broken D-Pad – 4 hardware buttons re-assigned to navigational duties

System Specifications – SmartPhone

Orange SPV C550 (HTC Hurricane rebadged by Orange UK)
OS – Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphones (2nd Edition)
GSM & GPRS, triband 900/1800/1900 MHz
2.2 inch screen 240×320 pixels TFT transflective LCD, 64k colours
Camera 1.3 Mp
TI OMAP 750 Processor
64Mb ROM, 32Mb RAM
2 Gb Mini-SD Card
GPS – 16 Satellite
TomTom Mobile5, Battery Monitor, CellTrack, TCPMP, SmartVNC, GPRS Traffic Monitor, Smurf, Doom, GNUBoy, PicoDrive, NES Emulator, Worms World Party

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Apr 05 2007

Almaty Violence

Category: In The Media,PersonalChrisM @ 5:05 am

A little late, but I’ve just come across a couple of entries on an incident in Almaty. The exact cause is not abundantly clear, but these two posts (here and here) should give you a little background information. It appears there was a fight, which grew into an all-out brawl, involving weapons. You can read more about previous incidents, last year, here. There is a fuller summary of the more recent event here, which appears to give both sides/versions of events.
Due to the laws in this country, I do not feel able to pass any comment on these incidents, I leave it to the reader to make their own minds up.
The reason these links are a little late in forthcoming is that I had to wait for a new month to begin, as I was way over my 700 Megabytes limit for March on our ADSL connection.

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