Computers and Phones (Jane)

Trip Start Jun 22, 2008
Trip End Jul 04, 2013

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Flag of Philippines  , Luzon,
Saturday, August 9, 2008

I feel that today I've won a battle even if I haven't yet won the war.  I finally have a new computer at work that is 95% functional.  I arrived in Manila with my laptop from the US.  I could connect to the office network in Manila but it was excrutiatingly slow.  Every document I opened or internet connection I tried to make took an eternity to complete.  Sometimes I made matters worse by clicking again and again thinking nothing was happening only to find out it really was working on my initial click and got totally confused by the subsequent ones.  Being use to working and thinking at a frenzied pace, I would try to accomplish one task while thinking about something else I should do.  But by the time I finished the first task the second one would be lost in the cobwebs of my brain somewhere never to be seen again.  Of course my brain is not as young as it used to be and the cobwebs are pretty thick and sticky.

The first delay was in ordering my computer system.  I had sent my request in ahead of my arrival in Manila but Emerson had exceeded their credit limit with Dell and that had to be resolved before more could be ordered.  Once that got resolved it would still be a month before the system arrived which is the standard timeframe.  In the meantime I was resigned to using my very slow laptop.  I'm not sure exactly why it's so slow.  Part of it is because my login still connects to the US network which means my data has to run all the way to the US and back stopping in Hong Kong along the way.  That's a long trip and it's amazing it can travel as fast as it does when you think about it.  I'm sure my data is pretty tired by the time it gets back to Manila making it even more sluggish.  The other thing is that maybe my computer is set to run on US electric current and voltage so its not set up to run efficiently here in Asia.

Once the new computer arrived the network guys started working on it.  There was some frustration because it was my expectation that the whole thing would be a done deal with one help request.  Silly me.  Nothing is that simple even in the US.  After the initial transfer of my files to the new computer, I tried to give it a test run.  But wait!  How do I log in?  I didn't know my domain or user name.  Once we got past that important detail the next issue was where is my AS400 connection?  Where is Citrix?  Why can't I get an internet connection?  As we worked our way through all of this I migrated back and forth between my very slow old computer and my faster but unfunctional new one.  At one point I seriously thought about throwing both of them out the window but I'm on the 18th floor and somebody on the sidewalk below could get hurt.

This all started early in the week and I finally had my new computer up and running at a decent pace by Friday afternoon.  Just in time for the work week to be over.  This all happened during my busiest week of the month and while I was also short 2 people in the department.  On the positive side, I learned who to call and how to submit a help ticket when I need assistance again.  Part of the frustration was not knowing who to call or how to work the system.  The other frustration was not communicating properly.  Terminology can be different and there are language issues.  There's also the fact that Filipinos are generally soft-spoken people and I've never had good hearing.  So when you mix that with the language issues and also my lack of knowledge of computer terminology - well, you can see where this could lead.

To be fair my frustration lately is not just computer related.  Everything here is an adjustment.  Everything is a struggle the first time you do it because nothing works the way you think it should.  I couldn't figure out why I wasn't able to make an outside call from my office phone.  I thought I wasn't dialing the numbers right but nothing I did worked.  Then I found out I needed a code to make any call that is not local.  I also found I needed a code for the copier/scanner/printer.  I can't just hit the button and expect anything to happen.  I work in a shared service office so everything we do is recorded and charged back to the divisions we work for. 

Everything outside the office is different too.  Equipping Russ with a cell phone and learning how to use it has been a challenge.  The cell phones look like ours but they're not.  It's a whole different technology.  We opted for a prepaid phone instead of a monthly plan because we weren't sure what Russ's usage would be.  No sense overdoing it and being locked into a long contract.  Most people seem to use the prepaid method since texting is the preferred method of communication because calling is expensive.  We chose a cell phone store from one of the millions at the malls and bought a Nokia phone that seemed like what we wanted.  We were just winging it and hoping for the best.  We wanted to get one quickly so Russ could be in contact with the driver and be able to get out and do things.  With the phone they sold us a sim card.  The sim card is a small card that you insert into the back of the phone that connect you to the company providing the cellular service.  We purchased a 65 peso card which would get Russ started.  This was enough for texting but he couldn't make a phone call.  After lots of questions about whether we bought the right phone, how do we get a new sim, will Russ ever be able to make a phone call or will he be resigned to texting, blah, blah, blah - we found we could go to a Globe Telecom office and have the phone reloaded with plenty of pesos for calling or texting.  Then we found out we could go to any 7-Eleven or MiniStop or even an ATM to get a load.  Then we found out a girl in my office runs a side business and can get us new load by sending her a text.  In fact, if you get in a real bind you can have a friend share their load with you.  It can be transferred from phone to phone.  There is a whole world of things here that we know nothing about and we are only scratching the surface of learing it all.
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