Marion and my dad arrived in Montreal Thursday afternoon. I spent most of Thursday arranging things for their arrival and slept over there to help get my dad to his hospital appointments Friday at dawn. I got home Friday around 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, I took Marion to flesh out her necessities. Prepaid cell phone service was going to get expensive, so we got her a Public Mobile phone. Her apartment building is supposed to come with free wireless but the only adequate thing about that is the free part. The signal is so weak, it’s unusable. The building management kindly recognizes that and will take $30 off the rent for renters who get alternate Internet connectivity.
Given the uncertainty of the length of visit and living arrangements, it makes sense for Marion and her old iBook G4 laptop to get mobile Internet rather than wired broadband. And that’s where our story begins….
We went to the Bell store in Place Alexis Nihon (when did it stop being a plaza?). We bought a Turbo Stick (model U998) and a three-year contract (which can be cancelled at any time without penalty thanks to the provincial government). She took the mobile-Internet stick and tried to use the building’s Wi-Fi to download Bell’s Mobile Connect software. Eventually, she succeeded – but she couldn’t get Mobile Connect to detect the Turbo Stick. She spent some time on the phone with tech support, who couldn’t help her to get it to work either.
I went over Monday to check it out and had no more success than she had, so I picked up the laptop and the stick and returned to the Bell store.
Nobody there had any idea what to do so they gave me a phone and dialed Bell tech support. An hour and a half later, tech support was able to figure out what they thought was wrong. We had installed the latest version of Mobile Connect and were trying to use it with an older version of the Turbo Stick. We needed to upgrade the firmware on the stick – but the firmware updater only worked in Windows.
Tech support asked the store employees if they could do it for me, but the employees were locked out from installing software on their computers. Tech support told me I could get it done or get a newer version of the stick at a Bell Product Assistance Centre, the closest one of which was in Plaza Cote-des-Neiges. Off I went, fighting rush-hour traffic to get there before it closed at 6:00 p.m.
I made it by 5:15 p.m. and Ivan the tech heard me explain what I’d been told was wrong. He took the laptop and the Turbo Stick into his back room.
He emerged 20 minutes later, telling me he couldn’t get it to work. I asked if if he had upgraded the firmware. This time, he heard AND listened, because he said he couldn’t do that. I asked if he could exchange the Turbo Stick for a newer version and he said he could sell me a new one, but that I would have to return the old one to the original store.
I admit, I lost it.
I yelled “What fucking bullshit!” and slammed te laptop shut. That wasn’t smart, but I did no damage. I went home, exchanged the computer for Child Three, and headed off to Monday night goalie clinic.
I got back to laptop at 9:30 p.m. I used Elvi’s Windows 7 laptop to update the stick’s firmware. Guess what? That’s right. It still didn’t work in the iBook.
I got back on the phone with tech support. The stick worked in Elvi’s laptop and it worked in my bitchin’ modern iMac, so we could conclude that the problem lies in the iBook. Tech support guessed that its USB ports don’t supply enough current to the Turbo Stick.
Next step in the plan, this afternoon, is to try a different model mobile-Internet device.