Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Young professionals online in Havana

I've come across a video and a short post that give a sense of what it is like to get Internet access in Cuba.

The short post describes a frustrating session at an Internet access centers. It reminded me immediately of a time I tried to exchange currency in Moscow during the Soviet Union days. I stood in line for about half an hour, and when I finally got to the front of the line, the woman behind the counter placed a "gone for lunch" sign in front of her window and walked away without a word.

The video, Redes.cu, shows three Internet users. The woman shown below is a blogger at a university and has Internet access as part of her job. The two men have a hard time getting online. In all three cases, we hear the alternating static/squeal sound of a dial-up modem handshake when they connect.

I've included screen shots of their working environments below. Note that the blogger has a laptop, which is docked to a computer display. It seems that she works from home. In another shot, we see that she also has a large, SLR camera for taking pictures.

The men are also working at home, and have large monitors. The one with the guitar on the wall is driving his with a laptop that seems to be running Excel. I suspect the monitors are TV sets with low resolution connections, since what looks like a spreadsheet with only about 6 columns fills the screen, but that is speculation. Note that it looks like there is a phone and tablet on the table behind him.

The other man repairs iPhones and it looks like his monitor may be connected to an iPhone in front of it. He also has what seems to be an Apple keyboard and a tablet. He speaks of jail-breaking and spoofing Apple -- I suspect one might find novel applications running on Cuban smart phones. Again, I am reminded of the past -- of riding in old cars, kept running by innovative part repair and fabrication. (Here is an example).

What could these people be doing if they had high speed access to the Internet?



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