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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Jun 03 2009

Lost And Found

Category: Personal,Windows MobileChrisM @ 5:11 pm

I had thought that the cracked screen on my main phone would mean at least the loss of access to the data on there, as well as the more obvious inconvenience of losing the use of the phone for audio communications, internet access on the move, the GPS and the camera for tweets etc.
The main reason for my thinking this was that I was unable to enter the PIN when turning the phone on, and didn’t want to stab at the screen randomly, in case I ended up locking myself out completely. See below for a shot of how my phone normally looks, and then how it now looks. See the ‘Should Have Dug‘ post for info on how the screen was smashed.

How It Should Look

How It Should Look

What It Actually Looks Like

What It Actually Looks Like

However, I finally remembered I had a keyboard built into the phone D'oh
Using this method of input, I was able to get the phone to the point where I could happily remote in and use a window on the PC as the phone’s visual output. I’ve also backed up and synced all the updated contacts and calendar events, so should I not be able to replace the screen sometime, I’ve not lost all the data. Apart from a few open files, all the data from the phone’s memory is also now residing on one of the hard drives here.

So… that is one lost and found (phone data), onto the next – Anna’s photos. Whilst waiting for some downloads last night, I searched through Ira’s laptop and found quite a few photos from our camera that I had not also backed up on my hard drives. This means that over the coming weeks there will be fresh photos of Anna for family and friends back in Britain (and Israel, Australia, America, over here in Kazakhstan), and Germany can see how Anna has been growing since the last batch of photos.

Finally, I need to check why the Xbox posts are not appearing in a timely manner, and when they do arrive, sometimes out of order. For now, I’m just manually adjusting the time stamps accordingly.
xbox not picking up posts

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Oct 27 2008

He’ll Be Watching You!

Category: VideosChrisM @ 9:37 pm

Hat tip to Registan for finding this video. Just in case you have been living in a cave (and obviously recently had internet access installed), Sarah Palin was asked a few weeks back about her lack of foreign policy experience. Her answer basically seemed to revolve around the fact that she could see Russia from her home in Alaska, and oh, Putin flies over her head when he comes to visit. Nice answer Sarah, I’m guessing that wasn’t one of your much-rehearsed answers that your advisers make you repeat during training?
Anyway, here we have a message of (slightly creepy) love to Sarah.

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Feb 20 2008

Amsterdam Trip IS On

Almost all the details are now sorted… We have bought the plane tickets, paid a deposit on the Apartment, now we just need to sort out a pet-sitter again. Either that or re-unit Karra and Muska with their Mum (Dasha) and younger sister (Tishka) that they’ve never met. Ira thinks 4 cats in one house would be too much work for her parents, so perhaps Mira fancies trying out living on her own again?
Anyway, see below for a map of the general area we’ll be staying in.

View Larger Map

Sadly Alex and Mat won’t be coming this year, as was originally hoped, as their flights cost even more than ours. btw, congrats to Alex – Dryad Musings has just got an Alexa rank… around 12 million, but that is better than the dreaded ‘no data’. At one point this site almost broke into the 200k region, but since then its bounced back up to the million mark again. Which is a little odd, as my unique visitors per month have been steadily increasing, but there you go. ChrisD (who doesn’t have a blog, so doesn’t get a hyperlinked name 😉 ) can’t come either, as his new work randomly tests its employees, and he is worried about passive smoking whilst he drinks.

The apartment we are renting has internet access, but it is wired, so unless Ira’s laptop comes for the journey, we’ll in communicado for a while (my PDA/phone has WiFI and BT, but is obviously lacking an RJ45 socket LMAO)

Anyway, enough on Amsterdam for now, I’m sure I’ll be boring you with more info a lot more over the coming weeks…

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Feb 13 2008

Sparse Posting

Category: Amsterdam,Books,Eating Out,Friends,Personal,WordPressChrisM @ 9:44 am

Quick explanation for those of you who thought I had given up on posting here, or had no internet access – I am currently still deep in the process of setting up my other 18 sites. They were originally created as static (well almost, too long a story to recount here) pages, and whenever I needed to make amendments, it tended to take a long time. Deciding to swap hosts, I took the opportunity to also use WordPress as a CMS system for these sites. This has meant a fair amount of preparatory work; I am now manually importing each old article into individual blog posts, tidying up the strange snippets of code that snuck in here and there, and then finally tweaking the theme for each to get what I need. I’ve completed this process on about 1/3 of the sites, however in terms of work, I am only 1/5 done at max – some of the sites only have 50 or so articles to import, whilst the ones left are closer to 200 🙁
Anyway, once this process is complete, I’m hoping to start earning some money from them again (the reason they were originally created), and any future amendments will be a lot easier to carry out, be it on an individual page, or site-wide. Until then, this blog will continue to be updated less frequently. Sorry.
I still have a large back log of posts to write here, ranging from the ‘missing’ book reviews, last year’s Amsterdam trip reports, and a lot of Eating Out posts, since meeting Oz Dave, Chris2 and Eric.
Finally, although not as concrete as I originally hoped, a trip to Amsterdam and short time in Britain is still a possibility around my birthday (4/20 for any American schmokers reading this 🙂 20th April for anyone else). Since the ACD (Amsterdam Coffeeshop Directory) forums are still down, and Channels.nl is getting ever more full of trolls, I decided to source a new site for reliable information…
Virtual 'Dam website and forums - Everything Amsterdam, virtually
Virtual ‘Dam is looking good so far 🙂 (Nope, not another sponsored post, just happy to recommend the site to others interested in all things related to Amsterdam.)

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Nov 29 2007

France Gets Innovative

Category: Aware Or Conspiracy Nut...,In The MediaChrisM @ 2:26 am

Whilst I am against the punishing of Peer To Peer users in general, it is interesting to see that France has tried a (slightly) different route in persuading people to stay legal when it comes to music, movies, games and applications. Check out the BBC’s article on it here. Monsieur Sarkozy has announced a scheme where ‘casual’ pirates will receive warnings, and eventually have their internet access removed if they continue to download copyrighted materials. The manner in which they catch these people is a little worrying though, making the ISP’s role a lot more pro-active, rather than simply serving them with requests to trace IP address and date/time combinations to customers, the companies will be expected to actively monitor what people are doing, and report the customers.
No financial or prison sentences is a move in the right direction, but the method of getting there is what worries me greatly. If ISPs accept this new policing role, who knows where it will end. Although different companies definitely have differing policies on this sort of matter, I can’t help wondering if it is the beginning of a slippery slope into an oppressive future.

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Aug 31 2007

Another Power Cut

Category: Internet Connections,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 7:20 pm

Last night, we had another power cut in the flat around our area. Although a little frustrating, the part that really has begun to annoy is the fact that our ISP, or to be more precise, upstream of them, where Kazakh Telecom’s hardware comes into play, is unable to automatically enable internet access following suck black outs.
Normally, this would mean Irina waiting until 9am, phoning our ISP’s technical staff, and them then contacting Kazakh telecom to go and kick their server until it admits that the internet exists, and clients are wanting to connect.
However, as I previously noted on this blog, yesterday, today AND tomorrow are all public holidays. This means there are NO staff at the ISP, and no other contact methods are available. So it looks as though I will have no internet at home for a few days. I’m just hoping they and Kazakh Telecom both decide to do some work this Sunday, else it will be another day before I can get online.
In case any smart arses want to leave a comment, I am currently at the in laws, using their PC, as we came round for the day.
I really need to get on with my work over the next few days, to ensure I have some money available when I go to Britain, but it looks like I will just have to recalculate my spending money again.
It could have been worse, at least the power cut was in the middle of the night, so was not so frustrating as usual. That said my new UPS seems incapable of shutting down the PC properly, and so unless I catch it in time, the computer is just turned off; this is what caused the last hard drive to fail. I’ll hopefully trace what is causing the issue, and get it sorted soon.

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