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Vietnam Tech Notes

If you contemplate travel to Vietnam, you may want to brush up on how to stay connected with home. It is a lot easier than I expected.

You can make free phone calls to home. You can keep your smart-phone, computer, camera, and everything else fully charged. You can plug in.

First step, plugging in: Most modern electronics have dual-voltage power supplies. This applies to all Apple products, all the Android products I’ve checked, and the laptops I’ve checked. (You can verify the dual-voltage status by looking at the fine print on your power supply: It should say 100-220 volts (or something similar.) You may need a microscope.

Plug You won’t need a converter, but you will need a plug adapter. At Radio Shack (and other stores, including online ones), you can buy a set of adapters that should give you worldwide access. I took the whole set; then, in Vietnam, I picked out the one I needed and was good to go. Zabine’s husband, Peter, bought her just one rather than a set. But to no one’s surprise, he picked exactly the right one.

Second step, connecting to the Internet: Free and low-cost wifi is widely available in Vietnam. It works, for example, in the private home where Zabine and I are staying. I’ve already verified its availability in hotels, offices, and many businesses. If you have a smart-phone, tablet or laptop computer (iPad, Android, Windows, whatever), you can connect. As in the States or anywhere, you may need a passcode for a secure hotspot; just ask.

Third step, pick your preferred software and get to work. One of my favorites is the free MagicJack app for iPhone/iPad. I tried it from my room in Vietnam, and seconds later was talking with my wife, Cheri. For free. Absolutely perfect voice quality – like being in the same room.

Sadly, MagicJack isn’t yet available for Android phones. But you have choices:

For example, Skype works: I’ve already used it with voice and video. Everyone in Vietnam, it seems, uses Skype; you can use it too.

Blog posting works. FaceBook works. E-mail works. Vietnam is one connected country. From here, you can stay just as in-touch with your friends, family, and work as you would from your own office.

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