Friday, September 28, 2012

Woes of an International Student's Wife

When my husband decided he wanted to pursue a masters degree in the U.S, I wholeheartedly supported him and thought that not only was it a great opportunity for him but it would give me the chance to experience a new place too. Little did I know that this wonderful opportunity came at a price as it meant that as the spouse of an F1 visa holder I would hold the F2 visa as his spouse which clearly states that I would not only not be able to study further in the U.S but also unable to work.
We were fortunate enough to be in a position to fund and support ourselves during his course of study but the idea of sitting pretty and doing nothing did not particularly appeal to me. As I had a Masters degree In Design from Australia, my husband egged me on to start building up my online portfolio so when I got to the U.S I could at the very least work online through websites like odesk and vworker, which outsource work worldwide. It came as a great disappointment when we learnt that even that was not allowed due to the visa restrictions placed on an F2 dependent. 
I did a great amount of research hoping that I could find some way to work to keep myself up to date and fresh, as taking two years off from working seemed ludicrous. To my great dismay there was no such option, to the extent that some online forms went as far as to suggest that one could not even sell an item on craigslist or eBay if you happen to sell it at a greater price than it is worth.
I seemed to think that I was facing this highly frustrating situation alone and no one would understand it but after reading the Businessweek article ‘Catch F-2 for Spouses of Foreign Students’ I realized that there were many more qualified professionals out there whose careers were put on hold while they supported their partners graduate school dreams. I felt a tiny bit less helpless. Here were so many qualified and experienced people all going through the same dilemmas I was facing. They were dealing with it in their own unique way from volunteering to using the opportunity to start a family.
Some business schools and larger universities also provide great support for the partners or spouses of their students through clubs and support groups but nothing much is offered by smaller colleges or universities. And so I begin my journey to see what the next two years hold for me. I hope to start my own blog to help me record my journey and hope the little things I learn along the way help someone else too.
P.S. I started writing this guest blog before our big move to Minneapolis and so between packing up and moving writing took a backseat. It has now been two months since we arrived in Minneapolis and we have finally settled into our own place. So far I have kept myself busy settling in and the boredom hasn't completely set in. To be honest I am enjoying the little time off. :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Devices for cord-cutting

As mentioned in my earlier post, there are many people across the US who are ditching the cable companies for TV and using internet streaming. Even the Verizon CEO has admitted that this is the future for TV. To facilitate streaming on to TV, there are many devices which are being released. Many new Smart TVs come equipped with internet connectivity these days.

Google came out with its own Google TV in partnership with LG. It's a 3D TV in prices starting from $815. It has Android apps running on the TV. It includes YouTube, Pandora, Chrome, Amazon Instant, Netflix and many others. Google TV is also available on devices like Sony Internet Player and Vizio Co-star. These devices enable a regular TV to have the same features as a Google TV (except 3D!).
Other TV manufacturers have followed suit and come out with internet-equipped TVs. Leading the TV industry, Samsung has a wide variety of TVs with internet connectivity. A search on Amazon brings up a whole array of Samsung TVs in different price ranges according to screen size and functions.
Recently, many companies have started making small devices to give internet connectivity to regular TVs. Some of them are Roku, Western Digital, Boxee, Apple, and recently Netgear.

Roku has been in this industry for a long time and has been the cheapest device for internet streaming. Prices starting from $60 make it a truly worthwhile buy. It can play most of the popular internet streaming services, like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon and many others. Although it's lacking YouTube and Vudu services.

Western Digital recently launched the new version of WD TV Live. It comes equipped with many internet streaming services and other features like playback from USB and wireless streaming from your Mac or PC! The list of compatible files include FLAC, MKV, DivX and even ISOs. With prices starting at $90, this is a good deal if you want internet streaming on your TV as well as stream your collection of movies from your laptop.

Boxee TV has been an old contender against Roku for the top spot in internet streaming devices. Recently, it hasn't come out with a new device to compete with Roku, which has it displaced from the market. There has been no news coming from this company about any new releases, and it hasn't been mentioned in the blogosphere. From the information gathered on their website, it seems they have most of Roku's streaming service lineup, plus YouTube and Vudu!

Apple has had its Apple TV device in the market for a very long time. This device is aimed for iOS fans. It's biggest feature is its compatibility with iPads, iPhones and iPods. It uses iTunes, iCloud and AirPlay for this compatibility.

Netgear came out with a decent surprise this month. It launched three devices for the internet streaming fans. Their NeoTV series starts from $50 and is a very strong competitor to the Roku device. The NeoTV Max (for $70) even has the capability of playback from USB and streaming from DLNA servers.
Depending on what your usage is, any of those devices could suit you in making your regular TV internet equipped. If you (like me) would like to also be able to wirelessly stream content from your laptop as well, the NeoTV Max or WD TV Live might be your best options.