Full update on the guide for expatriates in Budapest

11 May, 2020 08:00  EasyExpat EasyExpat

Expat guide: BudapestWe have updated our guide for Budapest. The guide has been fully reviewed and data has been updated and many links checked and amended when no longer relevant. With 94 pages (PDF) of information you will read the most complete guide to prepare your expatriation to Budapest.  (More)

   


Brexit & Coronavirus: When the UK realise that they need EU migrants

27 April, 2020 08:00  EasyExpat EasyExpat

Farmland - @Freepik

One of the major argument used by Brexit supporters was the need to stop the "invasion" of migrants coming to the EU (yes, naughty "migrants" coming in, because when we talk about British pensioners going to Portugal, they should be called nice "expats" according to the BBC).

Even mid February, while the coronavirus crisis was on all the news, showing the unprecedented measures taken in China (Italy started impose lockdown measures 20 days later), the UK government big concern was still to prevent low-skilled immigration with a new point-based post-Brexit immigration system and jobs paying at least £25,600 a year. The arc-Brexiter tabloid Daily Mail was over-joyed, writing: "Low-skilled immigration will be made virtually impossible under a points-based system as free movement rights are consigned to history."

Therefore, many saw deep irony behind the forthcoming issue that the UK is facing amid the coronavirus crisis: "Fruit and veg ‘will run out’ unless Britain charters planes to fly in farm workers from eastern Europe" reported the Observer at the end of March.

While until know UK retailers have been repeating that there is no shortage of anything and there is no need for stockpiling, that might come very soon if Britain is not able to bring in enough agricultural workers; otherwise fruit and vegetables will be left unpicked in Britain’s fields.

90,000 positions have to be filled within a few weeks and last year 98% of the workforce came from outside the UK (the vast majority from Bulgaria and Romania). With the COVID-19 crisis and most countries under strict lockdown the situation is critical, the government is being warned.  (More)

   


Google publishes location data from 131 countries to help fight COVID-19

20 April, 2020 08:00  EasyExpat EasyExpat

Google Community Mobility Report

Google is releasing aggregated, anonymized data from Google Maps showing people’s movements over time by geography, across different high-level categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential. Data is collected from billions of Android and iPhones using Google services and are published on a new website called COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports.

The reports, which contain data from two to three days earlier, are broken down by country and then by region. They intend to spot trends in how people are behaving and responding to social distancing policies, by showing what has changed in response to work from home, shelter in place, and other policies aimed at flattening the curve of this pandemic. The reports provide insights into the footfall recorded for some places such as retail and grocery stores, pharmacies, parks, workplaces and more.  (More)

   


Home-schooling and remote work for students

16 April, 2020 08:00  EasyExpat EasyExpat

Home-schooling - freepik.com

With nearly all schools closed around the world (even in countries where the lockdown is not imposed, such as Hong Kong, schools are closed) all children are experiencing home schooling nowadays. And with them parents are also learning fast the difficulty of teaching.

Funny images and videos are popping around on social media, but they are also revealing the difficulty of many parents to cope with the intensity of a school day at home during the lockdown. First of all we need to remember that many children won't have access to computer or IT tools. Getting maths exercise, spelling tests and history lessons on mobile phone is not the most practical. In some cases, parents need to go to school to get the lessons on paper.  (More)

   


With the coronavirus crisis, teleconference is booming, but concerns are spreading!

10 April, 2020 08:00  EasyExpat EasyExpat

Video-call - freepik.com

While more than 80% of the world’s population is said to be on some kind of lockdown to help limit the spread of the coronavirus, video calls have become the easy of keeping contact with work colleagues, family members and friends.

Britsh TV Channel Sky News reported that according to Professor Sophie Scott, Director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, video calling has been proven to be just as good for your brain and happiness as being in the same space. She said:

"You get the same bang for your buck - you talk for as long, you are as happy and you laugh as much whether the face to face interaction is on a computer or it's actually happening in front of you."

There are several softwares and apps to enjoy video chats, but there is one that has been booming since the covid19 crise: Zoom! The video-conferencing platform went from 10 million daily users at the end of last year, to 200 million in March and became not only a chosen tool for remote workers but also for recreation. In the last month, there was a 535% rise in daily traffic to the Zoom.us download page, according to an analysis from the analytics firm SimilarWeb.

Security concerns

This rocket type growth as spread questions over security issues of conference call applications. A school in Norway has stopped using popular video conferencing service Whereby after a naked man apparently “guessed” the link to a video lesson. TechCrunch reported last year that malicious users could access and listen in to Zoom and Webex video meetings by cycling through different permutations of meeting IDs in bulk. The researchers said the flaw worked because many meetings were not protected by a passcode.

Although it is annoying on a private level, it could be disasters for Companies. Zoom is now the biggest player and therefore a great concern, but it should be noted that most of the apps providing video conferencing or video call features have also seen security-related issues in the past (including FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype and Google). Fortunately it has since been patched. Zoom-bombing is the term used to described hackers infiltrating video meetings, often shouting racial slurs or threats (on March, 30th the FBI announced it was investigating increased cases). It takes advantage of the facility to access any Zoom meeting by a short number-based URL, such as https://us04web.zoom.us/j/123456789.

Zoom has been labelled a "security disaster" by some security analysts. Unlike some counterpart (such as WhatsApp), Zoom confirmed in a blogpost on Wednesday 1st April that end-to-end encryption was not currently possible on the platform.

A second criticized feature is attention tracking. If it's on, it reports to the host if a user clicks away from the Zoom window for 30 seconds. It allows the host (i.e. your boss for example) to monitor participants' computers. Another issue is the possibility to record meetings to the cloud, so a manager not even on the Zoom meeting could later review the full transcript of that call. In addition they use personal data in your login account to provide personalised ads and other stats related services. 

Other privacy issues have been listed in an article from the British newspaper The Guardian:

"In 2019, it was revealed Zoom had quietly installed a hidden web server on user devices that could allow the user to be added to a call without their permission. And a bug discovered this week would enable hackers to take over a Zoom user’s Mac, including tapping into the webcam and hacking the microphone."

Concerns have been ackowledged by the company, as CEO Eric Yuan said that the company was freezing any new features to the service for 90 days in order to concentrate on security and bug fixing.

Securing your Zoom meeting

Although it won't solve all issues, there are several tweaks you could use to increase the security of your video-call meeting.

  1. Don't use your Personal Meeting ID for the meeting. Instead, use a per-meeting ID, exclusive to a single meeting. Zoom's support page offers a video walk-through on how to generate a random meeting ID for extra security.
  2. Enable the "Waiting Room" feature so that you can see who is attempting to join the meeting before allowing them access.
  3. Disable other options, including the ability for others to Join Before Host. Then disable screen-sharing for nonhosts, and also the remote control function. Finally, disable all file transferring, annotations and the autosave feature for chats.

Zoom has recently released guidelines in order to prevent unwanted guests to enter meetings and increase security.

   


How to organise successfully a video-meeting

08 April, 2020 08:00  EasyExpat EasyExpat

Video call for work - @Freepik.com

With most of the world required to stay at home, many companies now rely on remote working and keep connection with staff through instant messages and emails. Face-to-face meeting can no longer take place and instead managers are asked to organise video-conferences.

You might think that attending (or even organising) a video conference won't require too much efforts. However, while having sleepers to cover your feet won't be noticeable, many things need your attention to avoid turning the meeting into a total cacophony, or letting you down during a professional presentation (remember this interview that went viral on social network following a famous incident).

Those are a few tips that can help to work successfully you video-calls.

  1. Test it: make sure your microphone and camera work. Maybe call someone before in order to test it and make sure you won't have a technical issue during the meeting. It includes making sure that you have enough light so people will see you and you fit in the frame of the screen when runing the video.
  2. Be careful with sound: When participating to a meeting, it's better to be on mute when you are not talking. Thus, the more the participants, the less background noise you will get (that includes the kids shoutings, the doorbell, etc). Similarly, it's probably not a good idea to flush the toilet or run water while having your microphone open.
  3. Use headphones, so you can better concentrate on your call and other people in the house cannot hear what is the conversation.
  4. Think about your background: While it's perfectly fine to have a plain wall, some books, plants, window... showing the bathroom or untidy bedroom is not going to look good for a professional meeting. With some video-conference apps, it is possible to hide unwanted features with a virtual background.
  5. Think about what you are wearing: your dressing gown or pyjama is not recommended. You'll need to look presentable, at least from the waist up.
  6. Smaller group meetings: Always remember that if more than one person speaks at once, which is very common in normal face-to-face human interaction, it can rapidly become unintelligible by video. As simultanous conversations are difficult impossible to manage online and it's probalyy better to have smaller meetings. Therefore, make sure that participants to meetings are only those who need to be there: it will avoid most of the problems above.

Check our previous article for more tips to work remotely during the coronaviru crisis.

   


Best video call apps to use for work and socialising

06 April, 2020 12:34  EasyExpat EasyExpat

Couple waving during a video call - @Freepik.com

In a few hours, I have an "apero-time" with friends (a virtual apero, as it becomes the norm with the current corona virus lockdown). Earlier I spent 30 minutes on a video-conference meeting with colleagues at work, talking about the latest change in the delivery schedule of some projects.

Video call apps have become inevitable nowadays with the vast majority of the population in confinement and working from home. We list below some of the most popular best video conferencing tools that you could use.

Zoom

In a few months it has become the most popular application with a reported 200 million daily users in March, up 20 times from the end of last year. Is is free for up to 40 minutes (but often extend for more nowadays) but with unlimited meetings (which means you can resend a link immediately for another meeting) and allows you to start or join face-to-face video calls with up to 100 people. Probably one of the nicest feature is the possibility to see all participants in similar tiles (hilghlighting the person speaking), which is usefull as soon as you have more than 10 participants.

You have also more features for company meetings if you pay: the most expensive tier gets you meetings with up to 1,000 participants, but there are cheaper options.

However, with popularity come criticism, as Zoom has been labelled a "security disaster" by some security analysts, which could explain why many companies have preferred to use Skype or Webex. CEO Eric Yuan said that the company was freezing any new features to the service for 90 days in order to concentrate on security and bug fixing. The company has also published guidelines to improve security of video-meetings.

  • You can find the Zoom sign-up page here: Zoom

Webex

Owned by Cisco, Webex is well know from professionals and widely used by companies running video conferences and webinars.You can run webinares HD video and broadcast-quality audio for audiences up to 3,000 and virtual events for up to 100,000 participants with expertise from Cisco Webex Webcasting.

As for Zoom, their main competitor before the COVID19 crisis, they have a free version with 100 participants, unlimited time and audio call-in (in addition to existing VoIP capabilities, participants can just call a number for free in 52 countries). Problably surprised by the sudden success of Zoom (seen as a cheaper version before), they have tried to react in upgrading their free version (only up to 50 participants before, and up to40 min limit). Other prices range from £11.25/months to £22.50 for 200 participants and the possibility for international calls with another £29.75/month.

As a Cisco product, they really focus on business, providing Webex Teams collaboration features as well as video conferencing.

  • Sign up on Webex here: Webex

Skype

Skype has been around for a very long time (now owned by Microsoft). Many company have bought the professional version but it's also a great tool for personal use. Skype can be used on iOS, Android, Windows and Mac, and offers video and audio calling, as well as a messaging feature.

However it is limited if you want to use it for large group meeting as it supports up to 50 people on the same audio call. But it allowssome nice features as adding captions and subtitles.

If you buy a Phone subscription (Skype Credits), you can call phone numbers around the worl directly from your Skype software. For example you can call the United Kingdom ~500 mins for £10.00.

Google Hangout

The Google app offers high-definition video and audio meetings with up to 250 participants. An annoying feature however is the constant switch to the current person speaking on full screen and the other participants only visible in tiny boxes.

  • You can find the hangout page here: Hangout

FaceTime

Only for Apple users, FaceTime is a popular App on iPad, iPhone or Mac. You can reach the user with a phone number or Apple ID and it works on Wifi if you don't have data connection. You can organise a group FaceTime with up to 32 people at once since OS12 in 2018.

  • Download the app for iOS here: FaceTime

WhatsApp

The Facebook owned app has more than 2 billions users. You can use it both on iPhone or Android, as it works with a phone number. There is the possibility to use a desktop interface and a web interface, but this is limited to text messages then.

It has become very popular to make free phone calls (using Wifi) to anyone you are in contact with, wherever the person is. It is a great option for keeping in touch with family and friends worldwide.

With end-to-end encrypted, your messages and calls are secured so only you and the person you're communicating with can read or listen to them, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp.

Houseparty

Houseparty is a video chat app owned by Fortnite developer Epic Games. Popular for aperitif and playing games,  Houseparty is a face to face social network. When you join the"house", your friends will be alerted and have the possibility to join too.The app is available for iOS, Android, MacOS and Chrome.

The app has seen massive growth in downloads since the start of March, according to data from Sensor Tower: it recorded 2m downloads worldwide in the last week of March, compared to 130,000 the same time in February.

Whereby

Whereby is a flexible tool providing you with video meetings in the browser – no downloads & no logins for guests. However the free version is limited to 4 participants per meeting.

Professional offers range from$9.99 to $59.99 for multiple users and up to 10 meeting rooms.

Marco Polo

This app dedicated to friends and family combines texting, social media and video chats - all in one private, easy to use app.The main difference with others is that it allows to send video messages to individuals or group chats, which the other parties can watch and respond to at their leisure.

Microsoft Teams

As advertised on their home page, the COVID19 crisis is an opportunity for Microsoft to promote their Office 365 tool to companies and schools around the world. They offer sign up for free for the entire school resquesting. Otherwise, Office 365 business plans that include Teams start at $5/user/month.

However for personal use they redirect to Skype (see above).

Information page: Microsoft Teams

Messengers

For Facebook addicte, you have the popular Messenger. It's primarily used for sending messages, but also includes a video chat option.

Jitsi

Jitsi is a multi-platform open-source video conferencing. It can be used for large multi-user video conference client and all tools are 100% free, open source, and WebRTC compatible. You can use their multi-user conference client, called Jitsi Meet, or build your own.

It's a fully encrypted video conference solution that you can use without creating an account and allows you to share desktops and share messages while you chat.

Depending on your needs (and the requirements from your company) choose the best app as we have now plenty of choice... just imagine a few seconds if the same crisis would have happened 20 years ago...

   


Tips to work remotely during the COVID19 crisis

03 April, 2020 09:00  EasyExpat EasyExpat

Working from home - freepik.com

With the lock-down measures imposed on more than 3 billions people, most of the office workers were forced to work from home. While the flexible working habits have still to spread through most of the companies (see ou previous article on that issue), staff was suddenly urged to adapt to the new conditions in confinement.

Even with the modern technologies using emails and shared documents, with remote connection to the companies IT infrastructure, certain things need to change: you won't have so many face-to-face meetings anymore and rely on instant messaging tools instead of popping out to your colleague's desk to ask for some information.

Here are 4 tips that could help you work from home during the confinement period (and even after, as your company might decide to move to flexible working):  (More)

   


How COVID19 is forcing many companies to move to remote working

02 April, 2020 09:00  EasyExpat EasyExpat

Working from home - freepik.com

The world crisis created by the current COVID19 pandemic has forced many companies to undergo fierce changes and adapt to flexible working.

First of all, we need to remember that for a lot of companies, working from home is not an option. The vast majority of the work includes physical interaction and manual actions: while drones are only an aspiration for your online shoping delivery, you still need someone for the parcels to come to your door; take-away and food shopping requires staff to prepare food and stock up supermarket shelves; emergency work involves ingeniors or technicians to repair and maintain plenty of appliances; and of course all the health sector will need to be working in hospital and surgeries.

Working from home has been part of the work-culture for a long time in some country, especially northern Europe. In the recent years, lead by office space reduction more than a sudden consideration for the well-being of their staff or environmental concern commuting reduction, more companies have moved from a full-time office based location to flexible working (meaning partial remote working, one or two days per week for example).  (More)

   


COVID19 - An overview of the world situation

31 March, 2020 15:30  EasyExpat EasyExpat

Pandemic status in the world31/03/2020

Only 3 months done in 2020 and we already know that year 2020 will enter in History books as one of the major event in the 21st century! The pandemic that has spread around the world rapidly started in December 2019 in the Wuhan area, at the heart of China (although some say it might have been even as early as September - and many think that the Chinese government is still hiding the real amount of deaths, that might go up to 40,000).

As of today, end of March, up to 3 billions people are in lockdown and the planet is more or less at a stand still with more than 170 countries affected... But while it is now agreed that the rapid reaction to the situation is critical in the fight against the pandemic, many countries are still adapting. (More)

   


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