Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Top 10 Technologies for ex-pats

We have a lot of folks moving abroad for short or long stints, so I figured I would finally put up this blog that I had written 90% of 2 years ago…..

1)      VPN – ESSENTIAL to pretend you are still in the states – really enables a lot of the other things on this list (google voice, Netflix, hulu, SEC football game of the week, etc)
2)      Skype – One of the hardest part of this move was taking Calvin away from all of his family.  While it hasn’t been a perfect replacement obviously, we have been able to have regularly scheduled video calls with both of our parents, and have also had video calls with a number of friends, aunts/uncles, siblings and all four sets of our grandparents.  Being able to see folks regularly (and have them see Calvin and us) is great – both for us and for them (if I may make some assumptions)
3)      Google Voice – When we aren’t able to set up a full skype-date, we can randomly call our ‘merican peoples.  When I was working on a project a year ago, I had put $10 on my Gmail calling account.  Once we got out here, we realized that it was only $0.01 per minute for calling home.  So whether its surprising our grandparents with a call to their cell phone, or calling some buddies after I’ve had my drink on for a bit (and they are having a late lunch), its nice to be able to make an improvised phone call.
4)      Google Maps – We still use maps – but street signs aren’t always the most visible things in the world, and there isn’t a big blue arrow constantly updating itself like it is on my phone.   We had an off-site the other week and afterwards my boss tried to give me directions on how to get home – instead of listening to him, I just pulled up my map and started telling him what my options were.  And then when Lis and I start exploring and get completely lost – we can always find ourselves pretty quickly.
5)      Google Translate – I get forwarded a lot of emails, receive a lot of mail and look at a lot of forms – all in Swedish. 
6)      Google Chrome – translates things automatically for you!
7)      Hulu/Netflix/amazon video/HBO to go – especially with the vpn, its like you never left
8)      Viber  – once you convince folks to download it, you text like you would if you lived 5 minutes away from each other.  Just turn it to silent at night….
9)      Twitter – keeps me up to date on basic US news

10)  NFL Gamepass / MLB package / SEC game of the week – most if not all major sports have ex-pat packages now that you can ONLY access if you are out of the country.  Not exactly going to the sports bar down the street, but you don’t NEED to miss a game if you plan a head a bit

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