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The Summer Exodus – Update

Our local rental property is sold, so now we start looking at the larger items we need to populate our cave in Spain.

It appears that electrical items are pretty expensive over there, so we’re shipping stuff, like a new hot tub and we’re taking a decent bed over that was at the rental property. We have a shipping company that does quite a reasonable job of getting stuff over there cheaply so that’ll include all sorts of furniture, tools etc. Maureen is doing Spanish lessons on Wednesday nights. I’m using recordings. We’re both still very much at the holiday phrases level – I guess it’s old age but they go in one ear and out of the other for me. I guess I’ll feel differently when I’m stuck in a lawyer’s office over there sorting papers in Spanish.

Meanwhile I’m concentrating on the technology. Because the place is so new there are no phone lines and unlikely to be any for some time so I looked at 3G, satellite etc but firstly I figured I’d do some tests here. I took my Vodafone 3G dongle out into the countryside in Northumberland, along with a router, laptop and Voip phone – it was a nice weekend so it was partly an excuse to get some sunshine. The verdict.. not a chance – 3G is sketchy here as it will be in Spain and without a 100% signal there is no way to make reliable phone calls. Next off was satellite – well, that’s out – a year’s contract whether you use it or not (we’re only going there for breaks) and the monthly rates are exorbitant – not to mention setup costs.

I then revisited a suggestion about “rural broadband” initially presented to me by the guy we met in Spain – turns out this is NOT satellite but a series of transmitters scattered about all over Spain. You have a small unit that sits on your wall – that talks to the transmitters. No setup charges, fair monthly rent, 500k in both directions. Not ideal but it’ll do! 39 euros a month. Not cheap but not a bank-breaker either.

Finally there was the issue of a phone – well, keeping a laptop on all the time is not really the answer… and I also was hankering for something for the plane – as my laptop is simply too large to open up in pheasant class – the way we usually travel… and then there are the Spanish lessons – I bought a little MP3 player but it’s too small to operate in the car so that’s off to Ebay.

Anyway, I didn’t want to spend a lot and I wanted something that’s easy to update. I stumbled across this little fellow – the Nokia 800. Wifi, Bluetooth, hi-res touch screen, large pocket size – Linux based and it has SKYPE and a camera (though SKYPE doesn’t yet support the camera – that will come) – what more could you want. There is already freely available 2008 software for it, I’ve installed it and it works a treat. The only thing it doesn’t have that it’s successor does is a Satnav and I already have a pocket one of those… so it’ll do my Spanish lessons, it’ll act as a phone and photo-viewer over there – and handy for flights as it’s small but not tiny like a phone. Oh, and it does streaming media so that’s “Riviera Radio” taken care of.

With the ability to handle up to 16gig of memory cards, I should just about be able to manage my music, lessons, some podcasts (I like to listen to the SETI podcasts when travelling) and still find room for a movie or two!! 4GB in use now, 16GB on the way tomorrow.

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