Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Urge to Panic

Marathon, FL

When driving a car, or flying a plane, or when commanding Tarwathie, I like to think that I'm not prone to panic.  Even when things are dire, it is best to keep one's head calm.  I wish I could do the same with my Internet connection.

In case you don't already know, I'm heavily addicted to the Internet. I can't even count the number of times every day that I contact the net, or the number of hours I spend online.

A few weeks ago, while en-route from Green Cove Springs to Cape Canaveral, my phone quit working.  When on the boat, my phone provides the WiFi signal to all our other devices.  I felt the bile of panic swiftly rising in my throat.  What would I do?   Well, I was able to repress the panic because we were going to the PCYC which has WiFi, after that we were going to Vero Beach were there are multiple places for me to access WiFi.

I also got Dave to mail my my backup phone, which I gave to him to use as his backup.  Yes, I'm an indian giver.   I also purchased an extra phone battery and a simple $7 device that charges Samsung phone batteries outside of the phone.  We were back in business.

When approaching Marathon by sea last week, I turned on my phone.  It had a good signal.  I tried to turn on the WiFi using the FoxFi phone app that I've been using for years.  It didn't work.  "Oh No."   I suspected that the problem might be local to Marathon Verizon, because the thing had just worked OK in FMB.  But I also worried that something had expired or that Verizon changed the rules.

That same day, I phoned Verizon to complain.  They weren't any help.  But they did offer to sell my Verizon's WiFi hotspot feature for an additional $30 month.  To have signed up right then and there, would have been a panicked response.  With great difficulty, I resisted that.  I though that Verizon might introduce "malfunctions" like this from time to time, specifically to panic people like me to sign up for expensive options.

I did manage to get FoxFi to connect to my laptop via a USB tether.  That worked fine.  But the iPads were out of luck.  I said, I won't panic until I get to test the WiFi in Miami or Key West.  I still suspect a local problem.

Now, a week later, things are much brighter.  I figured out how to make FoxFi work with Bluetooth as well as WiFi, and as well as by USB tether.  Also, I just rechecked FoxFi with WiFi using Verizon-Marathon; IT WORKED!  The local problem had cleared itself.

If I had panicked and signed up for the $30/month service from Verizon, I probably would have never investigated the free FoxFi solution better and would have never know that it works OK in several modes.   That would have cost us $360 per year.

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