Saturday, 15 January 2011

Notes from Hong Kong 4 - the technology one

I have moved country a few times in my life; I am pretty experienced at it. Relatively speaking, I am an expert.  I haven't, however, moved in the last 10 years, during which a whole new dimension of complexity has entered into the process. Technology. That thing that is supposed to make our lives simpler. That thing that this week has driven me to the edge of a nervous breakdown. Actually, truth be told, I may have actually fallen over that edge tonight when I was completely stymied by my inability to access this blog in anything other than Chinese. I actually threw a bowl of ice cream across the room in sheer frustration. It must have been pretty bad for me to waste ice cream.

Anyway...I'd say we are a pretty normal modern family (well, in the technology sense at least - I'm not sure most people would consider us normal by any other standard). We have the following technology portfolio:
  • Sadie's PC
  • Sadie's new school PC
  • Lisa's personal PC (just in case you are interested, the one I am using now)
  • Lisa's work PC (the UK one; I will soon get a HK one too)
  • David's PC with super duper fancy magnification software
  • Lisa's personal  iphone
  • Lisa's UK work blackberry
  • Lisa's HK work blackberry
  • David's phone with super duper talking software
  • Sadie's personal phone (my old work blackberry that she uses in lieu of the 2 previous phones she lost, then found, then lost again)
  • Home phone (with encrypted answering machine!)
  • Lisa's office phone
  • Cable TV  and Internet
As I write this I realised that there are at least 194 ways to communicate with us, if you also include facebook, skype, windows live messenger,Scrabble chat, telegram and smoke signals.  This depresses me. Firstly because so few people have contacted me and secondly because so many people could.

I haven't even mentioned the technology involved in door entry codes, programming dishwashers, microwaves, washing machines, hot water heaters, and the building's intercom system all of which are new to us and mostly in Chinese (I think- to be fair it may just seem that way). EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THESE THINGS HAS CAUSED US SOME SORT OF PROBLEM OVER THE PAST THREE WEEKS.  Can you see why the ice cream had to die?

I will share with you one of the many technology stories as my PC would probably run out of ink if I tried to describe them all.

The Internet
Because we are all terrified that there may only be 77 ways to contact us, getting the Internet up and running was a top priority on arrival.  You may remember Ivan the cable guy from NFHK2.  The one who seemed ready to propose?  Well, in Hong Kong, cable and Internet are intrinsically linked into the virtual monopoly that is the monster telecomms company known as PCCW (this stands for pathetic company can't wire). I can't decide if Ivan is a pitiful victim of the this evil conglomerate or if he is actually a willing participant. Anyway, the engineer showed up right on time to install the whiz bang fibre optic thingamajig that will deliver our emails so quickly that they arrive before they are even sent. David supervised as Mr. Engineer poked around the wall for a few minutes before declaring "too fool no loom" David said "what?".  "Too fool no loom" he said again. After a few minutes of Q&A (hand gestures are not much use to David), he ascertained that the conduit behind the wall was too full and that there was no room for our fibre optic thingamajig. In order to fix this, the building would have to be razed to the ground and re-built with a bigger conduit. Not really, but the engineer indicated that it would involve significant building work. At least we think he did.

Anyway, we called Ivan who spoke to the engineer who confirmed what we feared. Too fool no loom. No cable TV. No internet and  the neighbour who had foolishly not password protected his wireless system would soon be on to us. So, we called EC Harris, the contractors hired by HSBC to manage bank owned and rented properties.  Their engineer came to visit, stuck his finger in the wall and declared "lotsa loom". David says "typical man - sticks his finger in a hole and declares it big enough". So, we had a few days caught in a Kafka-esque hell with both parties declaring (in Chinese) it was the other person's fault.  David, bless him, was finally able to deny his Britsh roots and start yelling at people.  He finally got the woman from E C Harris (whose name, Man Kei, always makes me giggle) to talk to Ivan and sort it out. So, last Sunday(!) a new PCCW engineer arrived with the engineer from EC Harris. After lots of poking wires in walls, he finally ripped the side off the conduit, declared us lucky and installed the bloody fibre optic thingamajig.

Hurrah! Ivan and David were now best friends and we had cable.  David, however, says "never let a woman choose your sports package".  It seems it includes something called Man U TV.

1 comment:

  1. Hahaha!!

    My computer crashed... or threatened too... so I backed everything the hell up, Dell came over and installed a new hard drive and software, I reinstalled the lot... but forgot to re-follow your blog - and look! 2 new posts! fab.