Samoan IT&C

I have just returned from a holiday in the beautiful South Pacific nation of Western Samoa. The holiday was relaxing and I did my best to avoid even thinking about technology but as we all know, it’s pretty hard to avoid at times. Here’s a short an incomplete review of IT in Samoa.

First thing I noticed (other than the airport transport van running over a pig as we raced across the Island to our accommodation along a windy, narrow and potholed road) was that Samoa has a modern GSM cellphone network and almost every Samoan you meet has one, two or even three cellphones with them at all times. I even saw one guy with a Blackberry Bold in hand, crossing a busy street in Apia (the capital) with a hand woven basket full of coconuts in the other. Unfortunately my Vodafone Palm Treo connected painlessly but I made sure email sync was disabled!

Internet is very expensive, a 5GB broadband plan costs around $US400 per month, according to a poster in the local ISP’s window. The only internet cafe outside the capital I saw had 5 PC’s with dialup and a charge of around $US2 for 5 minutes. I avoided temptation, but I overheard a guy saying the baud rate was around 19200. So that explains the total lack of Samoan’s using Facebook!

The next major issue is the digital camera running out of memory, battery or both! I found myself helping a tourist copy photos from his camera to a USB stick on a PC that was handed down from Moses or perhaps Noah. The good news is if you find a PC they generally have power, the bad news is the often they have neither. Remember of course that the digital camera is the one piece of technology that can be taken on holiday without guilt.

A tropical down pour on my last day caused me to stumble across a poor soul trying to connect his laptop to a wireless network. I suspect from his accent that he thought the entire world drove Chevy Pickup trucks with gun racks. His mate said to him “I think you need to run a registry cleaner to fix it”, I thought to myself, “perhaps you should find a country with wireless internet”…I had a cold beer and successfully overcame the urge to help.

The lovely flight attendant on the way home announced “our new inflight entertainment system is better than ever, and available right now”. Cool, found a movie and started to watch. A few minutes before the end and everything froze. To fix the issue, the device had to be rebooted. I sat for 10 minutes as Redhat Linux booted complete with several file not found errors. Suddenly I starting thinking about work. The system froze again with a message saying “please wait”. I never did see the end of the movie. So Linux can crash too! Perhaps I won’t grow that ponytail I was dreaming about between snorkling and cocktails…

Home again, download the camera, upload photos to Facebook, email my mum to say I’m alive and suntanned, login to Online banking to check the damage on my VISA, send a couple of tweets and check the back log of work emails. Perhaps the Samoan’s have it right, they don’t need technology to survive, unlike me.

Today is my last day off before returning to work. Back to serious stuff next post!

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