03 January 2014

Happy New Year on Skype

New Year’s Day.

Ring.. Ring…

Hello!!! I looked at the screen of my Windows 8 Skype app and could see nothing but a generic avatar staring back at me. I could hear the voice at the other end; but there was no video.

The subject was late fifties. I say no more as I promised that, if I wrote about the incident at all, it would be something of a blind item.

“Mabuti pala ako ang tumawag sa iyo!” the voice at the other end said. I had called earlier but could not get the call through.

“Problem with the Internet connection,” the caller texted me by way of an explanation when I texted earlier that I could not seem to get through.


The wonder of it all for all people my age and older, I suppose, is that we are even trying. Nobody could have imagined any of this was possible when we were kids; and everything, when I come to think about it, now looks like they must have in sci-fi movies of the old days.
“Malabô ka,” the caller told me. She was getting my video feed; and somehow that did not seem fair. “It’s the back-light,” I explained.

So we went on with our conversation for about five minutes; and all the time I was not happy about chatting on Skype without receiving a video. I mean, what was the point?

So, I asked the caller to check if her laptop’s camera was on. “It is!” the caller assured me. “I had the same problem last night when I called my daughter on Skype. That was why we had to abort the call.”

“Smart ‘to eh!” she continued. Ayun! Nasisi pa ang Smart… She was referring to her Internet provider. “Kagabi pa ito.”

So, we went on again for another five minutes; after which, I just had to try again. “Can you please check your camera again? Please? Do it as a favour.”

“Sandalî,” the caller replied. After about five seconds, the screen suddenly went on. Oh you all should have heard my scathing rejoinder; albeit, we both laughed gleefully at the blatant kashungahan.

“Alam mo naman ako, hindî techie…” the caller offered by way of an apology.

So, we carried on the conversation. All the while, I could see the caller stooping down close to the laptop while we talked.

“Mahinâ ka kasi,” the caller explained when I stopped to ask. “Dapat siguro bumili na ako ng headset.”

“Oo ngâ,” I replied. “Mine cost me no more than 450 pesos.” In consideration, I pulled the microphone of my headset directly over my mouth. “Can you hear me better now?”

“Better,” the caller replied. So we resumed our conversation; albeit the caller remained crouched close to the laptop. Something did not add up. If the sound was better, why was the caller still crouched low?

“Can you look at that speaker icon at the bottom of your screen please?” I asked the caller.

“Yes, why?”

“Click it please.” The caller did.

“It says 50%,” the caller said. Oh you all should have heard me again! “Click on it and pull it up!” We both laughed.

“Better now?” I asked.

“Yes, much better!” And this time, the caller finally sat up.

We both laughed so hard it made for a REALLY Happy New Year!

*****

One of my former players used to work as tech support for a UK-based Internet Service provider; and among the most difficult calls he had to take was when septuagenarians and octogenarians would call asking for help regarding their Internet connections.

Sometimes, the problem was no more mundane than the computer not being plugged in. Or the monitor not being turned on. And so on and so forth. You get my drift.

It was something of a novelty in the beginning; but once the novelty wore off, talking to the old people became tiresome.

Sometimes, they could get really mean; and when the agents discovered that the source of the meanness was no more significant than an unplugged computer, sometimes they would mute their microphones and scream invectives out loud.

Or bang their heads on their desks.

Young people in the age of computers and gadgets, of course, have no clue that modern technology is something of a quantum leap for many older people. The wonder of it all, they need to see, is that these people are willing to try despite their age.

I do not consider myself a technical person. However, my career in the past forced me to get acquainted with computers so that, in the present day, I am savvier than many people my generation.

Had my career not brought me along the way of computers, it could easily have been that I was the one carrying on a conversation on Skype with my camera turned off and my sound not maximised.

The wonder of it all for all people my age and older, I suppose, is that we are even trying. Nobody could have imagined any of this was possible when we were kids; and everything, when I come to think about it, now looks like they must have in sci-fi movies of the old days.

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