Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Adventures in electronics


In Chacala we came to the realization that our laptop was ready for retirement.  This was a long painful realization that began in Ensenada.   We just never knew if it would turn on or not.  And if it did, would it get beyond the initial welcome screen?  We already had a friend look at it which involved completely rebooting everything and erasing everything on it.  A week later it was doing the same thing.  It survived four years on a boat.  That’s pretty respectable, but it’s time to move on.  

Our laptop is a very vital part of our cruising lifestyle.  First off, we don’t have a TV, so it serves as our entertainment/TV/DVD player.  Secondly, I use it to type this blog.   Thirdly, Jake uses it to download and save weather files.  Jake may have put these in a different order, oh well.  The bottom line is, when we don’t have a functioning laptop, we are a bit lost. 

So we decide that we can’t have this on again, off again relationship with our laptop.  The good thing is we are in civilization and have access to a Walmart to seek the cheapest darn laptop we can find.  Need I remind you that we completely blew our budget out of the water in December (haulout).  At this rate we will be heading back to work in no time. 

So, off we go to Walmart.  Yo quiero un laptop, por favor.  We have the laptop in hand and express our concern in the best Spanglish we can manage that we need said laptop to be in ingles por favor.  The kid working the electronics counter was trying to be very helpful, but ended up going through the initial settings and apparently missed the ingles option because we went home with a Spanish laptop. 

 Maybe this won’t be so bad I say.  We are trying to immerse ourselves into the culture and learn the language after all.  This could help.  Oh, did I mention the keyboard is also in Spanish?  The keys are not in the same place as an American keyboard.  No problemo.  We did figure out how to convert the keyboard into the American style.  So if you are really good at typing and not actually looking at the keys you are just fine.  However, if you need to say find the question mark, you may have to push a few keys before you get the right one because low and behold the question mark is really on the – key.  Grrrrr.  Also, we are now dealing with a new version of Windows.  We can figure out simple things like cancel, shutdown, sleep, etc in Spanish.  Beyond that we are stuck using our wordlens app on our iPhone and holding it up to the computer screen to interpret.  We must look like total idiots.  So, new version of Windows in Spanish with a screwed up keyboard equals frustrating...

Oh well, what do you do when you need help with something way out of your realm of knowledge?  You Google it of course.  Unfortunately, according to Google, we purchased the single language version of Windows and there is no way of changing it to English at this point.  Therefore, we needed to take our version of Windows off and download a new version and set it up properly the first time.  This may not be a problem for someone that is sitting in a home with a normal internet connection and could start a download of Windows, then go to bed and wake up in the morning and bam there it is.  We on the other hand, have a crappy wifi connection that can only be used in the marina lounge and don’t have the ability to leave our computer on said crappy wifi for the five hours that it would take to download. 

What to do?  Ayuda me, por favor.  We asked the locals and they pointed us to Eduardo on the highway.  So, off to Eduardo we go.  Five hundred pesos (34 usd) and four days later we have Windows in English and Office downloaded onto our new laptop.  Gracias mi amigo! 

The moral of this story is…If you are going cruising outside of the US and there is any chance that your laptop will take a dump, get a new one in the States before you leave. 

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