Day 12 – Fixing the phones

Saturday 25th August 2018

Wow! Nobody was up and about when I came downstairs this morning. Sandy, as is often the case, had actually gotten up earlier than me but she must have found somewhere else to go and lie back down again, since she wasn’t asleep on the couch this time. I crept downstairs and parked myself at the laptop. Between the various USB cables, phones, cameras, backup drives., etc. all plugged into the laptop, and the array of cables coming from the wall socket with a plethora of adapters and splitters, this section of the house is practically a bloody Faraday cage.

I was sitting quietly at the laptop trying not to make any noise for about half an hour when the thought hit me I might actually be the only person in the house. I checked out the kitchen window. The car was still there. Sandy and the kids wouldn’t have gone off anywhere on foot. It’s too damned hot and humid to spend anything more than a few seconds outside voluntarily.

I took advantage of the temporary lull in the household activity and examined all the footage I had offloaded from the GoPro just before going to bed last night. I also played around with the GoPro app for the iPhone. It’s actually pretty neat. You can see on the iPhone what the camera sees in real time wirelessly. I can imagine all sorts of fun applications of this, but I digress.

While sat at the table, amidst all the technology, I did an impromptu video diary. I was still knackered from the exertions from last night, so some of that tiredness might have come through in the video footage.

Jamie, my business partner, was good enough to send me some money via PayPal for some Dragon Realm Press work I had done over the past couple of weeks. This isn’t an unusual occurrence. However, this time it triggered a scenario I hadn’t sufficiently planned for. My PayPal account is in Australia. Whenever I do anything via the PayPal website, such as transferring funds to my bank account, it oftentimes challenges me with an authentication request. Since this was the first time I had accessed my PayPal account from here in the US, the change in IP address was sufficient to warrant a challenge response request from PayPal. It sent me an SMS message to my mobile. I needed to enter that number to confirm my identity. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to my Australian mobile. I don’t have that SIM card in the phone anymore. Shit! What now? The website didn’t offer the option of doing anything else until that authentication challenge was responded to. I tried the help page, which did list a couple of phone numbers. Unfortunately, those were both Australian phone numbers. It turns out that the local SIM card service I have installed onto our phones doesn’t come with any international calling credit. Contacting PayPal via phone wasn’t an option (at least not an easy one). I managed to find a US phone number for PayPal support and gave that a go. The problem was that the US PayPal isn’t the same as the Australian PayPal. The US support folk don’t have access to my Australian account and couldn’t help. I was stuck. It was only then I realised I still had the PayPal app on my mobile. Fortunately, that was still programmed to accept my thumb print as a valid form of identification. Via the app, I was able to transfer the money after all.

While doing my banking, I also paid off the credit card. The only thing on it was the GoPro we had bought yesterday with the credit card. There was enough money still left in the bank to cover the cost of the GoPro, which was handy as it meant that significant outlay wouldn’t adversely affect our daily budget of cash that we have on hand. Of course, we’re still burning through cash at an alarming rate – more than we had anticipated – but that’s another issue altogether.

With everyone still asleep somewhere in the house, I decided I’d pop out to the nearby Publix. I crept upstairs and into the bedroom. Sandy had since shifted from wherever she had been sleeping back into the enormous king-sized bed again. I wasn’t aware of this, so when I opened the door, it woke her. Big mistake…on my part naturally. I’d be in the dog-house for at least the next several hours, so it was a good thing I was leaving the house for a bit.

The beard trimmer I bought the other day turned out not to support the European voltage, so I wanted to return it (it hadn’t been used or even fully unwrapped – just enough to verify the voltage specifications). The CVS across from Publix had no issues with me returning it and duly returned the purchase price back to me in cash. I’ll pick up another one in the near future – probably at Walmart.

Back at the house, I offloaded my Publix shopping and made myself some breakfast. It wasn’t long before the whole house was stirring again. We weren’t sure at this point whether we were going to visit any of the parks today, but I did want to address some issues we’ve been having with some of our phones today. Both the kids’ iPhone 6S’s were second hand and nearly two years old. The batteries weren’t holding much charge. Sandys iPhone 7 PLUS in the meantime had sustained some water damage. It turns out it’s not waterproof after all! The screen is showing some water damage, as is the camera (you can actually see water droplets inside the camera lens housing). The home button is working only sporadically, as is the touch screen. Sandy had previously noted a phone repair business in Old Town that had plenty of positive reviews online. I called them and explained the problems we were having. It turns out the man I spoke to was the business owner. He said he had two stores. One was in Old Town and the other on I-Drive (International Drive). He said all the repairs are simple and relatively inexpensive but suggested I drive the extra twenty minutes to the I-Drive store. The Old Town shop is considerably busier, but the I-Drive shop would have the phones repaired pretty much on the spot for me. I took him up on his suggestion. Jennifer and I piled into the car and set off with phones in hand.

Jennifer took her GoPro along with her and practiced getting brief videos, so she could post them online for the benefit of her friends back in Australia. Sadly, this meant catching some footage of my karaoke to the music in the car. What can I say? Sometimes the music just grabs you and you have to sing along.

The repairman at the phone repair store on I-Drive was very good. He was technically up to speed and knew what he was talking about. He was also quite geeky and chatty, neither of which bothered me in the slightest. He examined all the phones and noted what was or wasn’t working with each of them. After all the paperwork was taken care of, he suggested we come back in half an hour or so. This gave Jennifer and me a chance to go and get a real breakfast, which we did at a nearby IHOP.

Trying to kill a bit more time, we left the IHOP with full tummies and went to a nearby petrol station to fill the car up. This time, it came to $46 to get the tank full again.

Back at the phone repair shop, there was a slight surprise waiting for us. Two of the phones had been fixed but the last replacement battery he had in stock turned out to be defective, sending the phone into a repeated boot loop. The owner was on his way from the Old Town store with a new one. As it was now rush-hour time, he was stuck in traffic on I-4 and still at least twenty minutes away. Jennifer and I just wandered around the local vicinity for a bit, popping into a few touristy giftshops here and there. We didn’t buy anything.

The phone repair shop owner eventually showed up with the spare part needed, along with a handful of things for other waiting customers. The battery was installed, and I even had screen protectors installed as well. All up the following repairs/upgrades were made:

  • 2 x new iPhone 6S battery
  • 1 x new iPhone 7 PLUS touchscreen
  • 3 x new screen protectors affixed

All up, the final bill including tax came to $210, which I was quite pleased with. Sandy did want me to see what could be done about making her phone waterproof, but it turns out there’s little to nothing that can be done that’s going to be trustworthy.

Jennifer and I made our way back to home base. Everyone was happy with the new life that had been breathed into their phones.

Sandy and I went out to the nearby Walmart so that I could pick up a new beard trimmer. The kids wanted to stay at home, so they did. I had wanted a powered trimmer, but it seems that none of them are compatible with the European voltage. In the end, I went with a cheap battery-powered trimmer that can be charged with a USB port.

Next up was a Chick-Fil-A, which Sandy had been hankering for over the past week or so. We ate in and then made our way back home with a MacDonald’s for Joey.

There was a bit of an incident in the car when I was doing a U-turn. Sandy had spotted an oncoming vehicle she thought was in the same lane and thus on a collision course. She reacted accordingly and somewhat instinctively. In fact, I had already spotted the vehicle in question, which actually was not on a collision course or indeed in the same lane, although Sandy hadn’t realised I was already on top of the situation. Her reaction actually came close to triggering an accident, as it made me think there was some impending collision I was unaware of. There wasn’t, but Sandy’s reaction triggered a reaction of my own, sending shivers down my spine. Neither of us enjoyed the experience. We had a bit of a spat about this for the next several minutes.

Back home, the stress of that incident wore off and we settled in for the night. I managed to finish yesterday’s blog and have now just finished this one also. We don’t know what we’ll do tomorrow. Perhaps we’ll do some more relaxing and nothing. We may let the weather dictate it either way.