Monday, February 23, 2009

If you think China is a 3rd world country...

For those of you that thought we were going to live in a dirt hut when we said we were moving to China, this post is for you. I am going to tell you about the ridiculous and awesomely dorky technological thingys we have to make our lives cooler and more comfortable.

1. We live in Shanghai and have a 630 area code phone number. Yep, that's right, you can call us as if we still live in DuPage County, Illinois, USA. Just mind the time change. I get really cranky at at least one telemarketer each night that doesn't believe me when I tell them they just called China and its 3AM.

2. iPhones are awesome. Yes, I fought with Scott about this purchase before we left. I am eating my angry words now. Our iPhones can translate English to Chinese so that I can give our Ayi instructions about Timmy or ask the hairdresser to give me a trim. The phones also have an application called Shanghai Taxi Guide. This application houses the names, addresses, & phone numbers of hundreds of restaurants, hotels and attractions in the city, AND has little buttons that say "Show Taxi Card" so that it will tell the taxi driver in Mandarin where to go. So cool.

3. Witopia Open VPN breaks the stronghold that the "Great Firewall of China" has on the Internet here. This is a Virtual Private Network service that does some stuff (yes that is the technical term for it) to allow us to surf the Internet as if we were in San Francisco instead of Shanghai. Here in China they employ around 30,000 people to sit and watch the Internet to see what people are doing and block them from doing it. So even harmless things get blocked and no one knows why. Witopia creates an encrypted tunnel and we get to surf all the way from California with no communist jerks watching what we are doing. That being said, this means we can watch American TV shows through Hulu & Fancast that technically don't have licensing to be watched internationally (yeah for 24).

4. Jaadu VNC is some amazingly dorky thing that Scott discovered that allows him to combine the coolness of an iPhone with the coolness of watching US television. Basically, this technology allows him to view his MacBook on his phone. Then, when his MacBook is connected to our television, his phone acts as a remote control. So this means we can stream American TV shows to our big TV and sit on the couch and control it all through Scott's phone. I told you this one was dorky.

5. Slingbox. This isn't really something we are using on a regular basis, but the other night Scott was able to watch Mike McDermott's Dad's TV on his laptop. Basically, now that we have busted through the Great Firewall of China, if someone in the States owns a Slingbox (ie: Mike McDermott's Dad), we are able to watch their Cable TV on our laptops through the Internet. Crazy stuff.

6. Skype. I know Oprah's been using this one for a long time, but how cool is it that Timmy's great grandpa can talk to him and see him from 8,000 miles away? AND ITS FREE!!! Web cams are pretty neat.

Scott, chime in here if I have not done this stuff justice. I don't claim to understand all of it, I just love the results of your nerdy-ness.


Scott said...

So, I'm impressed.

Impressed that she actually does know about the weird junk that I do to make technology work for us. And I feel somewhat vindicated about the iPhones...go mac. Ok, I'm done being a mac fanboy now.

Stephen said...

I've never been an anti-mac guy, just a guy who likes PC's becuase he knows PC's. With that said, way to go mac, way to go iphone, way to go Scott in putting it all together to do your bidding!

So is there any delay in using your iphone as a remote or does it all happen so fast that you don't notice any lag?

Cool stuff, thanks for the update Katie.

Anonymous said...

Qingdao Witopia user here. Just curious, are you able to actually watch Hulu. We get blocked out by Hulu on most of our Witopia channels. The one it does work on is super slow. What are your settings for watching Hulu?

Scott, Katie and Timmy said...

Anonymous: We just recently, I think a few weeks ago, got blocked out of Hulu and Fancast. We were really bummed until we found a website that allows you to download entire shows using a program on Mac called Utorrent. I don't fully know what it is (my hubby figured it all out), but since the shows are readily available to watch on normal websites in the US, I am pretty sure it is not illegal.

If you google "ezrss" it will pull up a site of the same name and you download torrent files that you then open using the Utorrent program. Once they are downloaded you can watch them whenever you want as many times as you want. Good luck, email me if you have more questions!

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for the info. Actually, I signed up for the SSL product from Witopia and it works. We can watch Hulu or youtube or our Slingbox at higher speeds (usually). It's $60 for a year. So there is my assistance back at you. I hear what you are saying. We could try that too. But now we can go straight to and watch the shows because with Witopia we appear as if we are in the U.S.
Hey, do you know Lindsay Diedrichs or other people from Seattle? My wife thinks she heard about people like you moving to Shanghai. ??

Scott, Katie and Timmy said...

I don't know Lindsey. I did know the Su family from Seattle when they lived in SH, but they left in Spring '09. We're on our way out of SH and headed back to Chicago for good in a couple of weeks. Good luck, enjoy your time in China, its been fun for us!