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Expat Life: Making sense of modern technology

I don’t know about you but I can’t keep up with today’s technology. It was fine when I was living in Australia and working as a chef as I didn’t need a lot of technology in my life, a cheap mobile phone that I could make the odd phone call and read the occasional email with and a small laptop computer, and that was about it. Even they were sometimes too confusing for me, but I had four children who were all computer literate and I could always ask them if I got into any difficulty.

By Gerald Hogg

Sunday 10 October 2021, 11:00AM

Photo: Tim Gouw / Unsplash

Photo: Tim Gouw / Unsplash


When I retired to Thailand, I thought that everything would stay the same and I could breeze through life blissfully ignorant and unconcerned, about cyberspace, the world wide web, Bitcoin and social media and remain computer illiterate. Not so, as I foolishly decided to become an author which opened up a can of internet worms that I never knew existed.

I wrote my first book using Word on my laptop thinking that when the masterpiece was finished, I would just save it as a Word doc and send it to a lot of publishers and to Amazon Books. I knew that when the publishers read it, they would realise my genius as the next John Grisham or Ernest Hemmingway and they would immediately send one of their executives to Thailand to sign me up before one of their competitors beat them to it, and the book would eventually get published to rave revues.

Over the next few months, one by one the publishers returned my manuscript telling me things like I needed to use 12-point type, serif font, double space, no extra space between paragraphs, only one space between sentences and indent each paragraph half inch and with setting a tab, not using several spaces… they may as well have been speaking Swahili.

Amazon told me that to publish my book with them I would have to download the Amazon/Kindle app (Kindle Create) to transfer the Word document to. But before doing that I would need to download a spell checker to check the grammar and text, then design a front and back cover with another app and any photos had to be at least 1,600 pixels width and 72 DPI… my internet nightmare had begun.

After many sleepless nights trolling through Google and YouTube for advice, I managed to do what the publishers and Amazon asked me to do and a few months later my book was published. Not learning from my previous mistake, I decided that if I were going to be a successful author, I would need to have my own website, so figuratively speaking I reached for the tin-opener and opened up another can of internet worms.

Many more sleepless nights later and with my swear jar overflowing I finally managed to publish my website. A few weeks ago, with my ‘Retire in Thailand’ book selling well, I forgot about my previous foray into the cyber world and I decided to start my own YouTube channel on living in Thailand. I love traveling so the idea was, I would travel around Thailand and take videos of all of the beautiful towns, beaches and islands that the Land of Smiles is famous for. People who are interested in Thailand while sitting at home in towns like Wigan in Lancashire, Flint in Michigan or Wagga Wagga in New South Wales will then subscribe to view the video which would pay for my trip or even make me the next YouTube sensation. 

I set up the channel on YouTube and surprisingly I found that the process was quite easy to do. After looking at a few tutorials about the content of a YouTube channel I decided that if I was going to be the next Cecil B DeMille, my phone camera was not going to be good enough, I was going to need a decent video camera. After doing some research and asking around I decided on the GoPro7 Siver and I placed my order with Lazada. A few days later it arrived and like a kid at Christmas I eagerly opened the box. Inside was a nice sleek if somewhat small camera, as when I was looking for what was the best camera to buy, I thought the smaller the camera, the easier it would be to operate… yeah right. 

HeadStart International School Phuket

There were no instructions in the box, just a slip of paper telling me to log into the GoPro website and for me to then link up my new camera to the GoPro website and download the information…  aarrgghh… pass me my swear jar.  You sacrifice your life to raise and educate your kids but at times like this when you need them, they are nowhere to be found.  

Another sore point with technology for me is because of all of this new technology no one talks anymore. I go out for dinner and see couples with their children and each of the family are sitting staring into their mobile phones looking at Facebook, or Tik-Tok or on mini-iPad’s playing games. I order my meal and when I want another drink or another bowl of rice, I can’t get the waiters’ attention as they are glued to their phones instead of looking up occasionally to see if any of their customers need any service. I have to wave my arms like I am doing a Mexican Wave to try to get them to notice me.

Walking down the street nearly everyone who walks by me are staring into their phones, it’s like something from a zombie sci-fi movie or The Walking Dead. Then there’s the ‘Me generation’, who spend their lives taking selfies or videos of themselves preening and pouting to send to their equally self-obsessed friends or to put on Instagram, Twitter or Tik-Tok. I remember growing up in a far distant time when there were no cell phones, internet or video games. A time when my friends called for me and I went out and we put down two jumpers for goalposts and played football in the street or went fishing for tiddlers or tadpoles in the beck and laughed and joked a lot.

When I see these young kids staring at their mobile phones I feel like screaming at them: ‘Put your @!*!$?# phones down and get a life; you’re only young once.’ I guess that’s why they are called cell phones, because many people today are prisoners of their own phones.

Originally from the UK, Ged moved to Australia in 1974. After travelling the world as a chef, he retired to Thailand in 2017 where he reinvented himself as an author and whenever COVID permits he travels extensively throughout Thailand and Southeast Asia.

To keep active and to pursue his love of travel Gerald has written two books in the ’Thai Died…’ series of books, as well as five books in his ’Retirees Travel Guide Series’. All of his books are available on Amazon

Ged also features his own YouTube channel [‘Ged Hogg, Retiring Disgracefully In Thailand’] and writes a blog to help expats who may be thinking of making Thailand their home in retirement. See Ged’s Thailand Blog at

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