11-15 - Skype Last night I worked until late on an evaluation of the computing and networking at SALFA. I started by typing a line or two wondering, what is there to say? What can I suggest? Do I have anything I can tell them or document? Five single-spaced pages later, I called it a night. This morning I got up a little late, bopped by Honorine's for breakfast, hiked up to SALFA, and found the Internet connection slow. Very slow. By the way, still no website. I am positive it won't be done while I'm here. I find this discouraging. Someone who knows he'll be connected with SALFA needs to make the purchase, needs to take responsibility for the site and credit card the sixty bucks it costs for a year. I'LL CUT 'EM A CHECK! Just spend ten minutes and do it! But they ask questions and make comments -- questions like "This is a good site provider?" or "Why not use salfa.org as the name?" and comments like "Well, this sounds fine. I support this." And because of the time difference between here and the States every question or comment causes us to lose an entire day. We've lost six days so far. One more, and I'm gone, no website on hand. Hence Skype. If the major parties could just talk with each other, actually talk, then this would have gotten resolved in ten minutes. Tried to teach several students about text and button words and getting people to click... without an interpreter. Didn't work. Abject failure. Rivo's good with dreamweaver, though, and he'll get them working well with that. Spent the next three hours fighting the Internet connection. It turns out it's not people surfing. It's all Windows NMB lookup queries. Forty a second. I don't know how that got actually fixed -- I just disconnected that computer from the switch. Got Skype working at the last minute, and got Rene on the headset. Sounds terrible. Lanto says it's fine, compared to the radios that he's used to, but I am upset. It's the connection to France. It's France Telecom, AKA Wanadoo. The infrastructure is garbage, and France has the practical monopoly right now. This has to change. There has to be a Fiber to South Africa. But it's possible that the connection to France will be better in the evening. Lanto and I make arrangements to meet at 8pm, and Rene will be by his computer, then. I walk home, and drop by the high-end supermarket for white people. Well, rich people anyhow. I buy silly, cheap things like coffee and tea, all made in Madagascar, to take home. I also buy lunch for tomorrow: a loaf of bread. Can't have diarrhea on the plane. Because the plane is tomorrow night. Tomorrow. I have accomplished so little, and think just a few days more would make such a difference -- but I know that way lies madness, and I also know I have an appointment at Ikea. That'll be Friday, and I don't want to be late. Not by one minute. So I stumble home with my booty, including some lychees bought on the street and some coconut ice cream. I head down to the MELCAM office with the hard drive and a replacement power supply. But the minute I put in the drive, everything's fine. That's bad. Without a solid failure, I can't fix anything. I ask Leon to get Hasine to use the computer tomorrow. Get it to fail, I say, because if it doesn't fail now, it'll fail later, and I won't be here to figure out what's wrong. Dinner is cashew chicken and Gaylord and I talk about telephone companies, religion and for-profit businesses, the Catholic Church, Mormonism, the CIA, passport covers, and how Africa gets into you. The lychees are not bad, and a lot of fun to eat. The coconut ice cream is phenomenal. Lanto arrives at 8 pm, and we buzz over to the almost empty SALFA building. Skype is a little better but not good enough, with 1.2 SECOND delays getting to Paris. Damn you, France Telecom. Someone needs to replace you and soon.