Wednesday, 9 October 2013

You Seem Very Patient

Fred & Sigred had some people over for dinner the other day and at one point a "newbie" to Ecuador told Sigred:  "You seem very patient."

Sigred laughed and replied:  "We've been here for over 5 years now.  It's be patient or leave."

What prompted the comment was the story Fred & Sigred were telling (quite proudly*) about their Wifi connection.  Now past stories from Fred & Sigred have dealt with their poor internet connections and the two years or so that it took to get it to the point where Fred & Sigred were "satisfied"…

*Proudly in that they were thrilled to bits about it's ending.

...But this story is not about their internet, it's about their internal Wifi system. 

One could say that their internal Wifi system has been a source of entertainment to them almost from the beginning of their residence in Ecuador.  Just not the kind of entertainment most would think of first when introduced to the subject.  You see their internet was installed after 2 long months of drifting from Carrier to Carrier, having their hopes lifted and then dashed several times until finally they were hooked up through the telephone system.  They have two phone jacks in their apartment, one between the kitchen & living room and one in the master bedroom.  Neither place was suitable to their needs but apparently it was impossible to get another jack put into their spare bedroom where they wanted their computer to reside.  A friend suggested that they buy their own internal Wifi system, which they did and had installed by a wonderful, friendly, efficient, knowledgeable Ecuadorian man (with a little English) from a computer store a few blocks away from where they lived. 

Life was good for about a year, other than the internet itself dropping out at only the most inconvenient times and some times for days on end.  At Sigred's urging, Fred spent in total, probably several weeks at the Carrier's office, explaining their difficulties and asking for solutions -- which only because of his great persistence eventually got taken care of.  At one point however, the Carrier's staff determined the latest lack of signal was due to their Carrier-provided modem, which required yet another trip to the office to purchase a new one and then another anxious morning or two waiting for the installation guys to show up for their "appointment". 

It turned out that the new modem had Wifi capabilities, so the Wifi system they'd purchased became a relic in one of their cupboards. 

Again, life was good for another year or two.  The internet became more regular, drop outs were fewer, their signal became stronger and Fred & Sigred were content and happy in their new life on the equator. 

Until…

OK… now is where this story "really" starts:

Before moving to Ecuador Sigred & Fred bought a brand new shiny MacBook to take with them.  Fred was at first reluctant to buy Apple in that he'd never used it before and had absolutely no desire to put himself through a learning curve*.  However, Sigred asked him to ask the IT people at his place of employment and they were so enthusiastic about Apple he changed his mind. 

*Fred admitted later, the learning curve was almost non-existent.

Apple no longer makes the simple MacBook (it's now MacBook Pro) but Fred & Sigred's MacBook continues to chug along, with virtually no problems*, to the point where, as Sigred tells people, the "N" is wearing off of the keyboard. 

*Because of some changes Sigred herself made to the operating system of the Mac,
there came a point where they were no longer able to download regular updates. 
They lived with this for 2 or so years, until they purchased an iPad
and their iPad required an updated operating system on their Mac in order to be compatible.

Sigred dragged her feet and hemmed and hawed for about a year until she finally got up the gumption to clean-up and back-up their MacBook before taking it into the local iStore to get a thorough cleaning, more memory installed and the operating system brought up to snuff.  They were quite lucky as well, in that at the time they took their MacBook in, the iStore happened to have an English speaking customer representative.  This in itself was a big bonus to them!  In that end, the whole process was much less onerous than Sigred had imagined it would be and both Fred & Sigred were pleased with their sparkly clean, larger capacity MacBook with the latest operating system installed.  

OK… so now their MacBook was updated and they could then updated their iPad and all was calm and well with their small (but not insignificant to them) lives until Fred discovered the world of movies & current TV on their computer.   One has to appreciate that the cable TV Sigred & Fred have, shows current news programming (in English), etc. but most of the popular TV (in English) is at least a year old and plenty is several years old.  As Sigred & Fred had lived without TV for many years previously, it was not onerous to them that they weren't getting the latest shows, as what they were watching was new to them.  DVD's generally cost $1.50 in Ecuador (no comment) so they were able to watch most newish movies as well, but Fred had discovered Craig Ferguson on YouTube and wished to watch this show, streaming from the computer into the iPad and then into the TV.  Thus bringing them, once again, to the true beginning of this particular story.  (Sorry about the false hope given above.)

In theory, the streaming as noted, should have been no problem, but as it turned out, their Wifi system did not quite reach to their television.  Wandering downtown one day, disappointed to have been thwarted in their dreams of watching Craig Ferguson on their television, they wandered into a computer store and found yet another nice young man there who spoke pretty good English.  Sigred asked about a "Booster" for their Wifi as she had seen on the internet.  The nice young man didn't know anything about boosters, advised they didn't sell them in Ecuador and instead tried to sell them a router he claimed would increase their signal. 

Although Fred was all for buying the router, Sigred wanted to go home and examine the old router Wifi system they had sitting in a drawer being useless, to see if she could join the two Wifi devices and boost their signal.  So… off they went home where Sigred spent several hours on the net looking up this and that and reading the instructions on their two systems.  Nothing she did however, made the Wifi in their apartment strong enough to reach from one end to the other. 

One of the pieces of advice the nice young man from the computer store had given them was to contact their Carrier to see if they had information or equipment that could boost their signal.  Thus, Fred got in the VW and travelled across town to their Carrier to ask tell them about their problem and ask their advice.  The Carrier told them, they had no other equipment they could provide but then wanted to send workmen to their apartment to check the equipment they did have to ensure that it was working properly.  A day and a half later 2, also very nice young men, arrived at their apartment, checked the entire system and told them, after some research on the net, that they needed to buy a Booster from a retail dealer as they didn't provide such an item. 

Back Sigred & Fred went to the computer store where they told the first nice young man what their Carrier had said, whereupon the nice young man sold them a router he claimed would do the job.

Sigred & Fred marched home, spent several hours fiddling with this, that and the other thing, and finally ending up phoning the nice young man to tell him the router didn't work… the next day the nice young man, plus 2 of his friends, showed up to look at the entire system. 

After much discussion (mostly in Spanish) Fred & Sigred were told that they needed to hard wire the Carrier's router to the new router and then everything would be fine. 

Fred explained in halting Spanish and then in English to the nice young man (as he had explained to the nice young man in the store) that they were looking for a wireless solution and did not want to hard-wire the system.  This was bandied about for quite some time, while one of the young men showed Sigred how a lovely wire could go from their Carrier's router, up the wall, across the wall just under the ceiling, around the room, out the door, down the hallway, across another door and into the second router, all the while Sigred smiling but repeating quite clearly, "no, no, no, no, no".

In the above particular end, the 3 young men left and Fred & Sigred returned the router to the store the next day, whereupon they got a cheerful refund. 

Thereafter, for several weeks, if Fred wanted to watch Craig Ferguson, Sigred would unplug their Wifi system from the bedroom and move it into the only other place with a phone jack (their kitchen) which then caused the Wifi to work in their front room and spare room.  Then afterwards, she'd reverse the whole procedure so the Wifi would work in their bedroom & spare room. 

"You know how it is when you're constantly plugging in and unplugging something" she told Fred.  "The cord usually breaks down quite quickly.  Especially with computer stuff!"

Fred was well aware Sigred was not pleased with this compromise. 

Their daughter from Canada came and went and it annoyed Sigred to no end that their daughter's newer version iPad Mini could pick up the Wifi in their front room, but theirs couldn't. 

In any case, while (what seemed like) endless shopping with their daughter, one day they were exploring one of the Malls in town, where by happenstance Sigred saw a Wifi "Booster" in the window of a store.  Everything on the packaging was in English.  She excitedly called to Fred & their daughter and they went into the store to talk about that piece of equipment. 

A salesman came to their little group, and Sigred in halting Spanish asked to see the Wifi Booster in the window.  The young man said there was no such thing.  Stunned and take aback, Sigred & Fred struggled to explain to the young man that yes indeed, in their window right in front of where they were standing, was such a beast.  The young man still refused to believe what they were telling him until their daughter, caught him by the elbow and charmingly smiling, took him outside the store and around to the window front and showed him.

Not in the least bit taken aback, the young man returned and brought the product out for Sigred & Fred's inspection.  Their daughter warned them that in her experience Wifi Boosters did not always work (compatibility problems) and Fred then took it upon himself to ask the young man about this, whereupon the young man reassured Fred this was not the case.

Sigred grabbed Fred's elbow, but he was deep into Spanish and shook off her touch, whereupon Sigred, now fully miffed, left the store and waited for Fred & their daughter outside in the Mall. 

"Why'd you leave the store!?" Fred asked her a minute later totally unaware at that point of her miffedness. 

"Oh for goodness sakes!" Sigred replied without any patience.  "Two seconds before he had told you there was no such thing as a Wifi Booster.  He didn't know what he was talking about!"

Fred was disgruntled Sigred had walked out of the situation and Sigred was crabby about the entire thing.  The three of them left the store, went and had an ice cream cone (which makes almost everything better) and put the whole Wifi thing in abeyance until their daughter went back to Canada.

A few days later, Sigred asked Fred to go to the store and buy the Wifi Booster they had seen so they could test it and see if it worked, which Fred dutifully & lovingly did.  Sigred then spent the entire afternoon unsuccessfully trying to hook up the Wifi and the next day Fred (dutifully & lovingly) took the system back to the store.  At the store the staff was successful in making the system work but Fred, tired of just about everything that sounded like Wifi, pleaded with them to just return his money and let him go.  After a call to head office, said money was returned.

A week or so went by with Sigred unplugging and plugging in the system so Fred could watch Craig Ferguson and then one day Sigred had a thought.  (See light bulb.)

"I'm going to plug everything into the kitchen and then take the iPad into the bedroom and I want you to move the router up and down and around as far as the cord will let you and we'll see if any position gives us better Wifi.  OK?"  She then batted her eyes, touched Fred's arm and he happily agreed to help her in her experiment. 

Doing this, they discovered there was a sweet spot, albeit in a very awkward position, just outside of their kitchen.  It was noted that the position was pretty much exactly the same height as a lovely hand crafted wooden cabinet they had, so they moved the cabinet and placed the system on it.  Wifi heaven was achieved. 

Keep going, it's still not the end.

Moving the cabinet left a blank spot in their front room so they moved a metal fish sculpture from their bedroom to the blank spot leaving Sigred disgruntled once again as she missed "Franklin" in their bedroom.

"He's so happy!"  She told Fred.  "I miss waking up in the morning and seeing his friendly face." 

"Let's buy another cabinet!"  Fred (dutifully & lovingly) suggested.

So… after months and months of fiddle-faddling around, their small problem was rectified by purchasing a lovely handcrafted friendly cheerful sunflower cabinet and all was well in their domain.   Who knew? 

Such is Ecuador.