I was whizzing down “banana road” yesterday and realised that something was missing.

“Banana Road” is the very expat name for the back road that parallels Comorro Road out the west of town. It starts from around the Vila Verde cathedral, out past Care International and hits semi-rural stuff with lots of bananas by the side of the road until it hits the Comorro River.

But I realised that one of those things that I found very quaint had gone – Mr. Download. Imagine a banana tree lined rough bitumen road with dirt verges and numerous twig huts with banana tree roofs and the sign to Mr.Download’s little computer shop.

Alas, it is no more. No shop and the sign has also gone. Burnt to the ground courtesy of recent events. I have a picture somewhere along with a number of other “computer shops” that I was going to pull together into a photo album. (Note to file : must do !)

Anyway, thats my rambling introduction into computer shops around Dili. Firstly, computer shops DO exist and you can buy computers, printers, paper, printer cartridges, hard disks, network cards, USB mice, external hard drives, cabling etc. I am not sure that it is even possible to buy legal software but you can always buy that over the internet and get it shipped to your … well, if you have an address that is.

Network gear is available with hubs and switches being no problem. Fancier routers are scarce. I imagine big hulking servers with fancy RAID disk arrays may be harder to find. But in general, it is all here. BUT, it is expensive by world standards. Apart from small items and emergencies, most people who can, will get stuff shipped in or bring it in. Bali is cheap enough (eg Rimo Bali Computer Centre in Jalan Diponegoro, Denpasar has 4 floors of computer shops) and probably a better bet than Darwin.

You do have to watch out for warranties, because most of the time, if you buy locally, warranties will not exist. And some of the stuff is clearly older stuff passed on from the rest of the world or I suspect, stuff with a dodgy reliability. I know as I bought a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) locally and it lasted 3 weeks. No warranty, no-one to repair it and no money back. (You will not survive without a UPS if you have a desktop PC and note that you probably only need a voltage regulator for laptops.) I also have my suspicions about the genuine-ness of inkjet cartridges.

In general, Lorosae Computers is said to be the most clueful, Mr. Bram may have the best range (& the surliest staff), Global Computer has often been cheaper if they have what you want and ???? (temporarily forgot) can be cheaper than the others as well. There are a few smaller shops with limited stuff and other general electrical shops that all seem to sell USB keys which must be everyone’s fashion accessory.