Dropped My VPN for UNLOCATOR

Yesterday I canceled my WITopia VPN renewal in favor of UNLOCATOR. Today, I received an email from WITopia providing me the reasons for continuing my VPN service.

Here is the content of that email.

Hello,

I just wanted you to know that your account will not be charged again when your service expires on August 19th.

There are many reasons to use a VPN. I believe just about anyone who uses the Internet can benefit from a VPN.

You may want to use a VPN if:

1.You want to protect your data over the internet
2. You wish to encrypt VOIP traffic (internet voice calls)
3. You use the Internet on public networks, where other users on the same network can tap into your connection.
4. You don’t want search engines such as Google, Bing, etc. storing your every Internet search – forever
5. You wish you navigate the Internet anonymously and privately.
6. You don’t want your ISP monitoring and logging your internet activity – including every webpage you visit.
7. You wish to protect yourself from identity theft.

Just a few things to consider before discontinuing use of the VPN entirely.

Thanks for trying us out.

Regards,

First let me say that my service with WITopia was stellar and their reasons are worth considering. My primary reason for using WITopia and UNLOCATOR is to be able to utilize NetFlix and other US services that are blocked in Panama. UNLOCATOR satisfies those needs with less speed degradation than a VPN.

Still the issues listed in in WITopia’s email are worth talking about. Continue reading

Why I Write About Technology

I realize I write many posts related to technology. Every time I do, I receive comments and emails that tell me that many readers tune out when they see one of these posts.

So why do I do it? Well, for one thing, technology has always been a large part of my life, both as a hobby and as a profession. However, a bigger reason is that if you are a person moving from the US or Europe or any first world country and have most of your family ties back in your country of origin, then you will have to become more familiar with technology than had you not moved.

Even though I realize you have to be a little conversant with technology or you would not be reading this blog, and even though I have written similar posts in the past, I will do one more.

MAIL

As you can see from the recent posts, on Proof Of Life, the mail system in Panama is not very dependable. Most people use a Mail Forwarding Company to receive normal mail and packages. Not cheap, but dependable. I currently use Multiservicios International De Chiriquí.

Most of these types of services are similar. None are perfect, but if you find one you like, switching will rarely be worth the trouble.

For the amount of mail I get from the US, this has been the cheapest I have found.

To satisfy a Proof of Life address, I am now using a PO Box in David. I will use it only for Taxes and Social Security. I also will not count on it being 100% dependable. I am still waiting for my first letter from the US which was sent a month ago. Next week I will chat with the management. I hope they don’t go postal. Continue reading

Reflecting on a Rainy Day

Have you ever sat back and asked yourself if there was anything you are really missing in your life? You know that special item that would make you complete. I do that often and I am always relieved when I come to the conclusion that I have it all.

Oh, sure I could wish that my kids had more money and in my son’s case better health. However, I would never wish that they had so much money that they would lose the appreciation one gets from the simpler things in life.

I have mentioned this before. I have had more money in the past, but I have never had more happiness. As I sit on my terrace a gentle rain is making circles on the swimming pool. The air is fresh from the cleansing the rain is providing.

I have beautiful music playing on Pandora, my tummy is full and I finished reading the book I just wrote about in a previous post. I think the the book was even improved by the environment in which it was read. There is nothing like reading in a music filled stress free setting.

Even the occasional thunder added to the chemistry of making me think all is right with the world. I wish more people could feel as good as I feel today.

The biggest challenge I am facing is deciding what type of bread to bake tomorrow. I promised I would cook lunch tomorrow, and I think some fresh baked bread will be a welcome addition. I normally bake a Dill Bread recipe, but this time I want something different. Suggestions are welcome.

I will, go by El Rey in the morning and pick up a couple items I am missing. Maybe a little wine will be called for as it will have been a long time since I took on the cooking duty. The wine will will either help celebrate a success or make everyone forget how bad it is.

“…A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread – and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness – Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!”

Have I told you that it really doesn’t get better than this?

Magic Jack Final Effort

In some previous posts, I wrote about my problems in buying international time on my Magic Jack. If you are not acquainted with magic Jack, it is a product that allows you to make unlimited calls to the U.S. and Canada for a mere $30 a year. I use if frequently and it has save me a bundle.

Other than the problems mentioned above, I really have no complaint with Magic Jack, but I want this problem fixed.

I finally decided to try to resolve the problem once again. While doing some Internet searches, I stumbled upon a recent review of Magic Jack in PC World. While they gave it pretty good ratings, they did mention the difficulty of getting service via the Internet.

At the end of the article was several comments and one was from the owner of Magic Jack. It provided his email address (dan@magicJack.com) and he acknowledged that there was a problem and that he was addressing it. I took advantage of his providing his number and have written him. It will be interesting to see when or if I get a response.

However, in the same article, they mentioned another competing product called NetTalk Duo.

This appears to be an interesting product and I am going to study it more. In looking at its website, in some regards it may be slightly more expensive. However, I see another possibility. It has a plan for unlimited international calls for $120, if I am interpreting it right. Unfortunately, it doesn’t cover Costa Rica and Panama, there are 60 countries covered in the plan. Still, $10 a month might be worth it just to have unlimited calls to China for Lilliam.

Here is a feature comparison with its competitors, including Magic Jack.

That is the problem with providing poor customer service. People start shopping around and they may find a reason to switch providers. Oh, did I mention that I can transfer my existing Magic Number to NetTalk? If I don’t hear something soon, I may make the switch.

Magic Jack Latest Chat Session

The following is the chat sessions from this evening related to the problem I posted in November. The post in November was about two weeks after I first contacted magic Jack. Here is today’s chat sessions.

Chat Session 1.

Please wait for a site operator to respond.

You are now chatting with ‘Roy’

Your Issue ID for this chat is LTK554021089837X

Roy: Hello, how may I help you?

Don Williams: Hi Roy I have a problem that has been outstanding for close to a month with no progress from you.

Roy: Please hold   while I check your previous chat/s.

Don Williams: ??

Roy: Thank you for waiting.

Roy: I am transferring you to one of our top 10% agents as rated by our customers. Please hold while I transfer you.

Please wait while I transfer the chat to the best suited site operator.

You are not currently in a chat session.

 

Chat 2 after being dropped. Continue reading

Problems with Magic Jack Service

One of the tools I use a lot in Panama to talk to family, friends, and businesses, in the U.S., is Magic Jack. It is a slick little device that connects to the USB port on your PC and allows you to talk VOIP using a real telephone.

All calls to the U.S. and Canada are covered by their annual fee of $20. We also use it to call Costa Rica and it is cheaper than buying phone cards. When Natalie was in China, we called her for just 2 cents a minute. To call other than the U.S. and Canada just required buying time using a credit card.

I have used it for several years with no real problem until about three weeks ago. I had called Lilliam in Costa Rica and used all of my purchased time. I tried to purchase more time, which had always been simple, only to find that my credit card was not being accepted.

Contacting Magic Jack about problems took some time. Finally I was able to talk to a “Live Person” in a chat session. Everything was cordial but nothing was resolved. The attendant submitted my case for review.

Most companies will send you email conformations related to problem calls. Not Magic Jack. Over the last three weeks, I have contacted them several times. Each time I am told my problem is under review. Now I understand that problems such as this can take a couple days to resolve, but several weeks is too much. I still have receive no email about the problem.

You cannot talk to a real person on the phone to discuss your problem, You can only chat on the Internet. Since the problem has gone on this long, I thought it might be worth posting. Luckily, now that Natalie is no longer in China and Lilliam has returned from Costa Rica, all calls are to the U.S. and Canada. Those still work fine, but if my current contract expires, purchasing a renewal wont work as it used the same mechanism as buying International time.

New Technology for the Blog

I am always looking for new ways to potentially improve the blog and if technology comes into the picture, then so much the better. In this case, “picture” is an appropriate word.

Last year, I upgraded my personal camera to the Panasonic GH1 and have been extremely happy with it. The 4/3 lens capability keeps the camera to a decent size even with my 14-140mm lens. However, when I bought the Panasonic, I gave my old camera away.

Soon thereafter, I realized that the new Panasonic was just easy enough to tote around every time I left the house. That prevented me from capturing many photos for the blog. I decided I needed to look for a second camera that I could always have with me.

My first research had me considering another Panasonic as I wrote about HERE.  I continued to read reviews and consider my wants and needs and finally settled in on the Casio EX-H20GBK Hybrid-GPS.  I had a friend that was going to the US and she brought it back to me.

The camera has a hybrid GPS feature. That means, it you walk in a building and out of line of site of the GPS satellites, it keeps tract of where you are walking and estimates the location. Here is a video showing some of its features.

As with any hand held, there are tradeoffs. Normally low light is not one of their strong points. Another is the lag between the time you press the button and the time the camera focuses and actually takes the picture. However, if you want something to carry around 100% of the time, you have to accept those flaws. Continue reading

CloakBox Update

I think it is about time to give some more feedback on my WiTopia CloakBox that I wrote about June 24.  This is the new technology I installed to provide VPN to all of my Internet connected devices. The types of devices I have connected are my primary PC, a Mac Mini connected to my TV for video streaming, a PS3, an iPad, and a wireless laptop.

I am happy to report as of today it is running very stable and I am a happy camper.

The router did not perform as I wanted right out of the box. It seemed to have freeze-ups that would occur and the only way to remove them was to reboot the box by unplugging it and replugging it.

However, the problems once again pointed out another thing I have repeatedly found in dealing with WiTopia. Their customer service has been topnotch. They have an online chat capability and have always been available to work with me.

Now that I am running stable, let me take you through more of the process since I received the box.

WiTopia is now shipping a different router than they originally used. They now use a Buffalo router and it is a sleek looking box as pictured above. As far as I can tell most of the online documentation that WiTopia sent me while making configuration changes were for a previous manufacturer other than Buffalo. While most routers work similar, the differences in the routers made the instructions confusing. Continue reading

Are You Having MagicJack Problems

Recently, I started having a problem with one number I call in the US. I get a “Your call can’t be completed as dialed” message and told to try again. Apparently this is a problem between the MJ company and some other telephone companies. To this point I have a problem with one number and it used to work.

I can call it from my land line and my cell, but not from MJ.

Just curious if others are having individual number problems with their MJ.