Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Computers: I’d like my Google plugged back in, please.

Most people don’t have a computer, even fewer have internet access, even fewer have a personal computer. No one has virus protection, not even the cyber cafes. So I’m really paranoid about getting one on my computer right now because I can’t access the most recent virus protection because I don’t have access to the internet via my laptop. I backed up all of my information before I came to Paraguay and left the copies with my things in Texas and brought extra blank cds with me. However I forgot to bring the computer cds for my operating system and programs so that I can reload everything if I have to wipe the hard drive. My host family always wants me to put my photos on their computers, but because of their lack of virus protection, I’m hesitant to do so. They aren’t at a high risk for contracting something because they don’t have the internet and they almost never use the computer, but still.

I’ve put all of the documents that I’ve created on my pin drive and some of my photos in case my computer does die. At the end of training I’ll put it all on two cds and send one back to the US for safe keeping. I’ll do that periodically, just so I don’t lose everything. I also scan my pin drive everything I put it into my laptop to check for viruses. Again, I won’t be able to protect the computer from new viruses yet, but at least I’ll catch the old ones hopefully.

Internet Access

As far as internet access goes there are several cybers in our community, including one near my house at my training site with an average speed connection most of the time. One good sign that internet access and speeds might be increasing soon is that a few months ago the Paraguayan government opened up the internet market to increase competition. They don’t have wireless at the PC Asuncion office right now, but in the next few months they are working on setting up a hot spot. We had a session with Gustavo, the PC IT guy. Whose most memorable piece of advice for using the PC computers was ‘No porn!’

Many volunteers at their sites have internet access through their USB ports via their cell phone. Once I swear in, the PC will give me a cell phone and I can start looking into an internet plan through my phone carrier.

The best time for me to go to the cyber is after class sometime after 5pm. Unfortunately, usually it gets dark by then and I avoid walking alone at night. So I don’t get as much internet time as I’m used to. In some ways it is nice to unplug.

A CHP employee has come up with a series of expressions like ‘PowerPoint unplugged’ and ‘Google unplugged’ to describe the presentation and research techniques in a community where computer and internet access is limited. I’m fine without PowerPoint, but the ‘Google unplugged’ aka asking the people for information, isn’t something I like to rely on much. Paraguayans are very eager to please and friendly most of the time, so they will give you bad directions because they don’t want to admit that they don’t know or can’t help. History is also a topic that comes up frequently in class; the Paraguayan answers often differ markedly from the record accepted by most historians internationally including whether or not Paraguay won the wars it has been involved in.

In conclusion, I’d like my Google plugged back in, please.

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