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ICE and Apple! Now THIS should be good!

April 8th, 2011

Many years ago in a universe far, far away, I was one of the very early Apple dealers in the US.  In fact, it was so many years ago that Apple did not even sell directly to its dealers.  It used distributors. Yeah, I am that old… ugh. I was also a dealer when Apple fired its distributors and took all dealer sales direct. Now the one thing that has not materially changed in all those many years is Apple’s position toward technical support and customer service. They do NOT screw around.  It is a huge priority at Apple and regardless of whether you by an iPad, Mac, an iPhone or any Apple branded product, you will get the best support and service available on earth.  Don’t believe me?  Try a web search for something like “Best & worst computer tech support” or “Best & worst (technical) customer service”.  You’ll see.

So you can imagine my surprise when I open Costa Rica’s major newspaper, LA NACIÓN, this morning to be greeted by a couple of articles telling me how Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), the state telephone and Internet monopoly, is telling everyone that ICE will soon be authorized to sell the iPhone 4 by Apple.

Interested in my two cents?  Read on!

Continue reading »

Stats ‘N Stuff – Who Reads The REAL Costa Rica?

June 21st, 2010

Stats interest me.

I don’t push advertising on the main web site or Blog, but I do put up a few ads to sort of cover some of the costs. It is always fun, though, to see just who visits The REAL Costa Rica during the month.

The Real Costa Rica gets a bit less than 60,000 new visitors every month making it one of the most popular Costa Rica web sites on the Internet.

Here is a summary of the basic stats!

Interested? Read on!

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ICE Pulls a Fast One and Tim Switches to 3G – Big Time!

March 26th, 2010

OK… I give up!

As many folks know, I have been a staunch proponent of the old TDMA cell phones for… well forever! They worked and worked well.  Real workhorses. I hated the GSM phones and I still do.  However, my wifey switched to the new 3G system a few weeks ago, and I was so impressed (we actually had cell phone service in my office between San Jose and the SJO airport!) that I went out and bought one for me.

Now, after testing it and playing with it, I am ready to endorse the new 3G system. I did not order the Internet option as 1. is it too expensive and 2. My Ipod Touch does a far better job and has full wireless. Still… the 3G service is far better than the old GSM system.

If this topic interest you… read on! Continue reading »

My Readers Write

March 24th, 2010

Good day faithful readers.

Here is another addition of “My Readers Write” Here you will find a few emails asking questions not covered in The REAL Costa Rica or this Blog…. or maybe they are but there is some other twist that I think might be of interest.

As some of these were sent more than 5 weeks ago, I do appreciate your patience. I am just bombarded with email, especially now that readership in The REAL Costa Rica and this Blog is exceeding 63,000 new visits per month.

If this interests you, please read on.

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Secure Wireless in Costa Rica (and Elsewhere)

December 2nd, 2009

crookI have wanted to cover this topic for some time as I get a lot of questions from people who use a wireless connection (inalámbrico(a)) to access the Internet. This post will be a bit long… be patient.  It will be worth it.

There was no wireless when I arrived here many years ago  and just a few hotspots (wireless locations) until maybe 2-3 years ago. Since then, wireless has “gone viral” and has become available in numerous locations, especially in the central valley around San Jose. Nearly every hotel offers wireless and/or direct connects in the rooms. Internet cafes offer wireless as do bagel shops and pizza parlors.  More and more people are getting familiar with wireless both for home and for “on-the-road” use and they ARE using it.  A lot!

Sadly, the vast majority of the people I deal with think wireless is is a reliable, convenient, safe and secure form of communications. Reliable and convenient? Maybe. Safe and secure? Absolutely 100% NOT.

This is one of the topics I cover in my REAL Costa Rica Tour, and it is so very important, I have decided to add it here. Also, I cannot cover it sufficiently during a tour, so this will be a reference for my tour clients.

If this topic is of interest to you, (and it should be!), read on.

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Internet & Commmunications in Costa Rica. Peace or War?

August 14th, 2009

leapFor a long time,  the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE and pronounced EEEE-SAY) has enjoyed a monopoly on a wide variety of services. The two biggies are communications (cell and home phone service) and Internet connectivity. The end began with the passage and ratification of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) then last year the Ley General de Telecommunicaciones broke monopoly on telephone and internet services in Costa Rica enjoyed by ICE.

A lot of people think that now there will be wholesale changes now that ICE will face competition.  I am not so sure… at least in the short term.  Let’s examine what has been happening. If this topic interests you, read on!

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ICE’s Latest Fiasco

August 13th, 2008

Back in June, I wrote about ICE’s plan to discontinue the TDMA cellular phone system beginning in 2009. I had my doubts that this would happen, but I wrote about it anyway.

Some background for readers. There are two cellular systems here, TDMA being the oldest and the only one the works pretty much all of the time, and the GSM system, that should work better, but does not. In fact, it works poorly at best. Callers often get the “Try again later” message and even when there is cell service, connections are not always stable. In general, TDMA is the way to go though there are a few locations (Dominical, Nosara and Samara come to mind) where the only system that works well is a GSM phone. So you want a TDMA phone? Interestingly, there are no more new TDMA phones available in Costa Rica. Any you buy are reconditioned. Besides… there are no phones lines available anyway. Sheesh!

The plan to discontinue the TDMA system was based on ICE planned upgrading of the current GSM system to the Third Generation GSM known as 3G, a vastly superior communications system (and part of Apple’s new iPhone configuration). It is faster and offers a ton of options including Internet. Of course future success would also be based on having the towers available, etc… but that is a different story.

In any case, ICE’s plans were basically correct and once installed and the tower location issues fixed, it should have allowed for the discontinuation of TDMA and offered users a fine, though more costly, solution. Of course THAT was before ICE sent out the bids to install the new 3G system.

The bids went out and only one company bid the project, Huawei Technologies. Well that would be fine as Huawei is most certainly a capable business partner, but ICE planned a budget of $224 million and Huawei submitted a bid of $580 million. Oops! Did someone make a really big error in calculation? As ICE has a history of poor planning, this would not be a really big surprise. In fact, it appears that (though I cannot confirm this), ICE changed the bid specs in June, 2008 adding 500 terminals to the specs but expecting no increase in cost. Huh? I admit to not knowing what is a terminal… but adding 500 of anything would seem to me to be an additional expense that needed to be considered.

Of the six bidders, FIVE (like the Ericsson de Costa Rica (current provider of one of the country’s two GSM networks), Continuex S.A. (distributor of Samsung in Costa Rica, ZTE Corp. and Nokia Siemens Network) decided not to bid citing fears of not being able to deliver to ICE’s specs.

So now what? Who knows?? The $356 million difference is huge and ICE clearly will have to go back to the planning stage. It seems unlikely they will or even can accept Huawei’s bid. They do not have the funding… or maybe they do!

Just this week, ICE announced that they wish to expand services to other Central American countries. Of course those of you who are skeptics might suggest that ICE put its own house in order before planning such an expansion…. the more pragmatic might just suggest ICE forego expansion and use THAT money to get a good funcional and working GSM system.

As always… more shall be revealed!

The Change to 8 Digit Dialing draws near

February 29th, 2008

On March 20, 2008, how you dial a number in Costa Rica is going to change. This not only affects those of us IN Costa Rica, it also will affect those in foreign lands who make call TO Costa Rica.

If you fall into either of the above categories, by all means read on!

Continue reading »

Safe Internet Banking in Costa Rica

December 6th, 2007

Internet FraudLately, there have been a goodly number of news articles about people having their money stolen from their Costa Rica bank accounts.

As some of you know, several of my companies here in Costa Rica are “high tech” related, especially the web hosting business where we host thousands of customers world wide. Server and computer security are paramount issues as you might guess.

So when I got a phone call yesterday asking me my thoughts about this rash of Internet bank fraud and seeking advice, I decided rather than answer her question immediately, I would BLOG about it and maybe pass on some ideas for my readers. While this relates to the banking thing, it is really germane to ANY Internet transaction that uses passwords, bank information, credit cards or ANY confidential data.

This will not be a “techy” post. I’ll try to keep it very basic so non-techies can understand what they can do (MUST do) to avoid Internet fraud.

I am sorry, but this will be a long post, but I cannot recommend strongly enough that your read this.

If this topic interests you, read on!

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Time to Make Changes…

November 10th, 2007

… to the look and feel of this Blog.

One of the zillion neat things about using WordPress as your Blog software is the ability to change the theme (look and feel) of the Blog pretty much any time you get the urge.

The last theme, brownish in nature, was OK, but some folks found hard to read. The prior theme that I really liked (the one with the raindrops on green leaves) was excellent, but after 6 months of trying, I could never get the ‘search’ feature to work properly. Searching in a Blog this size is important as there are years of Posts on many different topics. Many people just click one of the Categories that are listed to the right, but that is dependent on the Post author correctly ticking off check marks in all the appropriate categories.

Anyway, while changing a WordPress theme talkes about 10 seconds, adding back the custom coding on this blog will take days and will most assuredly screw up the site until I fix it! So please be patient if you click here and the display is truly fouled up. Trust that I am all over it! Sadly (or happily), I am buried in work and this Blog must come behind my actual income producing labors.

Love it? Hate it? Could give a hoot? Feel free to leave a comment.

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