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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Completely Sidetracked

I was planning on getting some good programming work done tonight on Parrot, but that's flown out the window now. Geoff is down in Mexico and decided that the most economical way to keep in touch is through Skype. So, he dutifully set out to buy himself a headset and a webcam so he can have videochats with his friends and family.

The problem is, of course, that his family doesn' t have Skype, a webcam, or a headset. That isn't the problem so much as it is a symptom of the general level of computing incompetence around here. Not just the people, but the computer itself is incompetent: One of those lousy spur-of-the-moment purchases-gone-wrong that my Father seems to specialize in. If corporations hired consultants for impulse shopping, my Father would be a millionare. I don't need to list out all the specs here, but suffice it to say that the computer (which is about 6 years old now) is not going to represent the USA in the computer olympics.

So I install Skype, and I have to say that the process was quick and painless. Skype's website was friendly and easy to navigate, the software installed painlessly, and I was up and running in an instant. Gave Geoff my number, he called me, and we started chatting. He had a webcam--I hadn't installed ours yet--so we could see him but he could not see us. This much should have been obvious. Here's the conversation, more or less as it happened:
  • (Mom, standing behind me. I was wearing the headset and had the unplugged webcam in my hands) Hey Geoffrey! *waves* *Waves HARDER* Can you see me?!?!
  • (Me) He can't see you, the camera isn't installed yet.
  • (Mom) Oh okay Geoff, Andrew says he hasn't installed the webcam yet
  • (Me, to geoff) Mom says hi, she says I haven't installed the webcam yet.
  • (Mom, leans in closer to the computer monitor and starts yelling) GEOFF, HOW'S MEXICO? Andrew, Where's the webcam?
  • (Me, I hold the webcam up) Right here, I haven't installed it yet.
  • (Mom, Looks into the webcam that is unplugged and in my hands) Hi Geoff, Can you see me? Can you hear me? I can't hear you!
  • (I put the webcam down on the floor where mom can stop yelling at it, unplug the headphones from the computer but keep the mouthpiece plugged in, and plug in the computer's speakers so everybody can hear).
  • (Me, to geoff) I plugged in the speakers, everybody can hear you now
  • (Geoff) Hey everybody!
  • (Mom, leaning in to the monitor and yelling) HI GEOFF, CAN YOU HEAR ME!?!
  • (Me, to mom) No, the microphone is right here. Hold on.
  • (I hand the headset to mom, she puts it on and adjusts the mouthpiece)
  • (Mom, into the mouthpiece) CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
  • (Geoff) Yeah, too loud. You don't need to yell I'm right here.
  • (Mom) Oh, you couldn't hear me before.
  • (Me) That's because you didn't have the microphone
  • (Dad) Where's the webcam, is it installed yet?
  • (Dad, leaning into the monitor) Hi Geoff, can you see me?
  • (Me, pointing to where the webcam lays on the floor, unplugged) It's not hooked up yet, I haven't had a chance to install it.
  • (Dad) Can you install it now? I want to talk to geoff
  • (Me, pointing to mom who's engrossed in conversation with Geoff) I can't right now, I would need to shut down skype, and I would need to get onto the computer to install it.
  • (Dad, yelling at the monitor) Okay Geoff, we can't install the webcam right now, Andrew will do it by tomorrow. Can you hear me?
  • (Me) Dad, you have to talk into the microphone
  • (Dad) Where's the microphone?
  • (Me) It's on the headset that mom's wearing.
  • (Dad, yelling at mom) Geoff, can you hear me?!?!
Seriously, I can't make this kind of shit up. I got the webcam installed soon after and, lo and behold, our computer can barely operate it. Whatever, it's not really my problem. I don't need people watching me work on the computer anyway.

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