[CentOS] OT: wifi, phone, power in India and Malaysia

Tue May 24 14:26:34 UTC 2011
Jerry McAllister <jerrymc at msu.edu>

On Tue, May 24, 2011 at 05:48:16AM -0400, ken wrote:

> A not so technical friend in India is shopping for a laptop.  He often
> travels and stays months in Malaysia and so needs to be able to use the
> laptop there as well.  He typically connects to the internet via wifi,
> but sometimes must use a telephone line (yes, with a modem).  And of
> course there will be times when he has to plug into mains power to
> recharge the battery.  So to be able to fully use his future laptop in
> both India and Malaysia, I need to know:

Just to be radical and actually offer some response to the OP:

> Are the wifi standards the same in both India and Malaysia?  And will
> the same wifi card work in both countries?

Although WIFI standards have progressed through a number of phases
over recent years, I think most WIFI cards will handle most standards.
Look for a card that handled a bunch of them.   You should also be
able to do a few searches and find out what standards are the latest, etc.
I do not think WIFI standards are country specific, although some
countries might be a little more up-to-date than others.

> Similarly, will the modem work in both countries?

Telephone modems are more basic and as long as the dial-up handshake
signals are reasonably modern, there should be no problem - other
than the slow speed and higher tendancy to drop out.   If you want
to do anything like web searching over the modem you need to be able
to do IP over PPP.  But, that is pretty standard everywhere.

> And, too, is the mains power the same in India and Malaysia?

Most chargers/power supplies on laptops nowdays can handle any
power condition that you might encounter around the world - other
than no power at all.
Most will handle 110-240 volts and 50-60 Hz.   Just make sure you
get a charger that does that and there is no problem.  You may need
to have a couple of adapters for the plugs to make them match.
Most travel stores in any of the countries I have been in sell
those adapters for not too much.

> If there is an incompatibility in any of these, what is the simplest
> resolution?

Google is your friend.   Do some searches.

Just remember that many people - millions - travel between countries
with their laptop computers nowdays and have no serious compatibility
problems.   India is a very computer literate country - at least in
the urban areas.  Malaysia, at least in Kuala Lumpur is quite up-to-date
as well.  I don't know about outlying areas.

> I should probably get him an extended warranty also.  Is there such a
> warranty which would allow him to have the laptop fixed in either
> country, depending upon where he happens to be?

That may well exist, but probably would be quite expensive relative
to just buying a new machine.   Fixing a laptop anywhere may also
take a long time.  He might be switching countries before he got
it back.

> Am I overlooking any considerations?

Backups.   Make sure he does backups of his useful data to some 
reliable media.   Don't worry about the OS, or any standard files
from the company or other standard source.  Those can be reinstalled.

Keep the working files in a separate directory tree and back that
directory tree up frequently, maybe even daily if the data is 
important.  Depending on quantity of data, burn a CD, use a USB 
stick or an external USB hard drive.   If you use a stick or an
external drive, I would suggest at least a 3 unit rotation - maybe
even a few more so your new backup doesn't overwrite a too recent
one.   Note that backups are not infallible and it is good to
have several in case something is wrong with a couple of them.

Run a good OS on it such as FreeBSD or CentOS, at least dual-booted
with your MS-xxx.   Even if he still mostly uses MS-xxx, one of those 
can help you out of situations.   

(By 'at least dual-booted with MS-xxx' I mean even if you still keep MS 
 on the machine and don't completely turn it over to FreeBSD or CentOS.
 maybe use 1/3 or 1/2 of the disk for FreeBSD or CentOS and the rest
 for MS, or whatever.)

> Thanks in advance for your sage experience.

Sage is really good in roasted poultry such as turkey or chicken.


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