Monday, June 11, 2007

But I'm a Nice Person!

Or, Why Does Technology Have It In For Me?

I’ve been neglecting the blog, I admit it. And while I have un sacco di scusa involving work projects, visiting family in town, and marketing efforts for the tour company, it actually boils down to technology. Or lack thereof.

Technology, I’ve discovered, can be an angry beast. I’ve committed some unknown sin for which I must be punished, apparently. Don’t believe me? Consider; my internet connection, which was a slow but normally reliable cell-phone dial-up, decided to halt all functioning for nearly two weeks. The back-up, an even slower cellular connection would sputter like it might connect, but then it, too, would cease and desist. It was like they had a conference on how best to annoy me.

Alright, said I, I’ll try to keep the chin up and stay chipper. I’ll take the trusty laptop down to the neighborhood coffee bar which had recently rigged itself up with wireless, I said. My saving grace, I thought. I’ll mix it up with the ragazzi and all will be well. When I arrived I watched the barista’s face turn sadly regretful. He was, bless his heart, so upset to inform me that his internet wasn’t working that he gave me a coffee for free. I tried to give him the money, but he was too distracted by his explanation of how he couldn’t figure out what the problem was and by his laments of how much it was going to cost him to call a technician out to look at the system. He was off-line for more than a week.

I discovered that I live and die by internet, as sad as that may be to admit. It’s my lifeline to my loved ones back home, my necessary link for work, and my source of news. Reading an Italian newspaper can be a comical but also frustrating exercise if one wants actual news. They have long articles that give flowery words but when sifted through boiled down actually amount to roughly one paragraph of sketchy information. I can never discover what the real bottom line is in most of these journalistic writings. Meanwhile, my emails backed up. The cell phone connection would tease me, letting me online for about five minutes, then kick me offline. It was a good joke that greatly amused me. Not.

But that wasn’t enough. My actual cell phone, the one used for phone calls and which had served me well for a year, went kaput. Well, not completely, but the battery stopped holding a charge for more than a half-hour at a time. Constantly plugging it in to charge was consuming way too much time and I'd always discover it was dead when I needed it the most. I scoured the phone stores in and around Ascoli only to discover that not a single one carries the battery for this off-brand phone and none could order it for me, either. I don’t feel I can complain; I won the phone last year in a Slow Travel contest before our departure. It came into my possession just before we left the States, so I was able to give our phone number out before we even landed on the sunny shores, and had immediate access to my family’s voices. But I find the timing of its demise just a bit odd. I’m convinced I have bad technology karma and they’ve got it in for me. I broke down and bought a new phone, but now I have to figure out how the dang thing works. All the function keys work differently from my other one. I mean, it took me nearly the entire year to figure out how that one worked, and then it decided to poop out on me just when I got the hang of it. Just a little unfair, I think.

While I was at the phone store pricing out new models we asked the owner about the Vodafone internet problems. Ah, shee-shee, he said. In Ascoli’s dialect “si” is always slurred into “shee”. He nodded knowingly and explained that the connection we have for that is UMTS (whatever the heck that means) and that the problem is with the UMTS signal and it affects the whole of the area. Aha! It’s not just me. He said we could down-shift the phone to function at the lower speed and connect. That worked for a day. Now it’s back to connecting to the server but not having enough strength to load the page. Sickly creature, it’s really sad to watch it suffer like this.

Blessedly, GianLuca got the technician out and fixed his wi-fi. Bryan was so relieved he spent two hours solid on the internet while drinking way too much caffe. We may have to give it up and try to get Telecom, the nation’s phone provider, to come out and install a line in the apartment. Trouble is, we’re told it can take 6 months for them to come, then they usually arrive without all the necessary line, equipment and tools needed for the job. For that fine service, they whack the customer 250 euros. This is what friends have told us. We couldn’t get anyone to answer the phone when I called the service line for information.

Which just sort of makes the whole circle complete…that somehow, in the technological realm, I’m being punished. I just can’t figure out why. Nor how to get back in it’s good graces.

2007 Valerie Schneider

1 comment:

J.Doe said...

Sometimes the internet is not my friend either.