How to describe it? The piano keys that normally produced beautiful music had been transformed into a calliope. Dave said it reminded him of the rides at Seabreeze amusement park. What started out crisp and melodic wound its way through the sound cables and computer components and was transformed into just noise. This needed to be fixed.
It took a few weeks after the transition to in-person services to focus on the problem, but once we did, the solution became clear. First, we had the sound coming into the new computer much too loud. Adjusting this down to 25% of the original volume erased much of the distortion and the melody could be heard again. But it just wasn’t quite the same as before.
There could be several reasons for this. We had switched from the laptop to the new desktop, replacing the external sound card from Orion Jr with the one internal to the computer. The grand piano was now kept closed. The pulpit mike was also being used in the sanctuary, which meant it could be picking up the piano on a separate mike from the one positioned next to it. We isolated each component to see how it impacted the finished sound. The conclusion? While there were some problems with the pulpit mike, the overwhelming concensus was that the external sound card was much better than the computer’s internal sound card at delivering the sound we had become used to. Maybe we were just spoiled.
At any rate, since we weren’t using it any time soon, we re-connected the SignalLink external sound card and everyone is happy. In the event we need it for the boat, we can find a replacement at that time. Until then, the music sounds good. And we think we are good to go.
In the process of diagnosing the problems with the internet speed and throughput, we started noticing some cable ends that looked pretty fragile. Years ago, when Cathy had been learning how to terminate an ethernet cable, there was a lot that she didn’t know about how to make a good connection. So, we took a Friday afternoon and worked our way through some of her “early work”, ensuring the cables were solid and not likely to create problems.
Dave had some more improvements to the internet infrastructure that he wanted to do. One morning that was a little cooler than normal, he crawled into the office attic and we ran a line to the building next door, providing internet to some of the “P” building rooms that didn’t have it before. Also, to help Beyond 90 have some independence from the rest of the network, he reconfigured their routers to be a separate subnet.
We also had a small locksmithing duty to create a new lock on the gym concessions door for the new tenant. The list is definitely getting shorter.
After a discussion with Pocahontas State Park about how we would manage social distancing for our time as hosts in the park, we made the decision to continue with our planned August and October park host duties. We would be able to use our RV’s facilities more, with the park’s purchase of a larger portable waste tank, and we would be able to work on projects that were away from others.
So, we’ve started packing up and prepping to move the RV at the end of the month. That had some its own challenges in the current environment. Topping off the propane tank went smoothly, as U-Haul seemed to have good procedures in place. Dave and the employee worked together, but at a distance to position the tank and take payment. Both wore masks and Dave didn’t have to go inside. We were even able to deliver our used oil to Advance Auto with a curbside pickup and got a container of Def from Walmart delivered to the truck bed along with our groceries. However, the trip to Discount Tire to rotate the truck tires didn’t go quite so well.
After initially being told the rotation could be done without contact, his experience upon arrival differed greatly. Most service people were not wearing masks, even the one driving the vehicles into the bay. (Dave had been told that he could stay in the truck and take it into the bay himself.) Calling from the parking lot to say he was not comfortable with what he saw and was leaving, the person simply acknowledged his cancellation without comment. After he passed his comments on to the Discount Tire management, he got several calls back and was encouraged to try again at a different location.
The next day, he did try again and social distancing worked mostly as advertised. The only problem was an oversight by a worker in checking the tire pressure. One tire was at a lower psi than it should be, and Dave's efforts to get it corrected took more effort than it should have,. In a subsequent call from the manager, it was clear that the service manager realized he could have handled it better.
The rest of the prep was work we needed to do ourselves – topping off the batteries and cleaning up the connections, mounting the bikes, packing up the sewing supplies, etc. The only problem being that even the smallest task left us dripping in sweat. It is hot outside.
Despite its being the newest of our computers, Cathy’s laptop had struggled during livestreaming of Faith’s services, which pointed to the need for an upgrade. In researching a replacement, Dave located a Lenovo computer that was a good buy and should be much faster, since it had a faster Intel I3 10th gen chip and a Solid State Drive instead of the more traditional hard drive. Shortly after picking it up (in another no-contact Walmart transaction), Dave got a call from his sister. One of her clients needed an inexpensive computer to take advantage of a better job opportunity. How about the same computer we just bought for Cathy? By the time we were done, at least 5 of these computers had been purchased by us, friends, family, even one for the church office.
Once in place, Dave was asked to help configure these devices. That meant a lot of phone time, frustrating on both ends. However, completely by coincidence, we had a long conversation with Jahaziel (our fellow livestreamer for his dad in West Palm Beach). Almost as an afterthought, he mentioned software that allowed his aunt to help solve problems on his computer. That was the day before Dave had to do the same for someone in PA. It was called TeamViewer. And it worked amazingly well. Much easier than trying to decipher screens you can’t see.
The transaction took place Memorial Day weekend, but resolution was slow in coming. Dave had purchased the computer for the church’s livestream on a holiday weekend. So, he was told he had to wait until Tuesday for the tax exempt form to be processed and the tax to be refunded. But despite promises that it was coming, week after week passed with no result. Each week Dave escalated the problem. Eventually that led him to the local news reporter who claimed to solve these problems for frustrated consumers.
To our surprise, he responded to Dave's email a few days later, asking for more info. Within an hour, Dave had cleaned up and changed for a Zoom call with Ben Becker of “Action News Jax” from the local CBS and Fox stations. (Interesting mix.) He promised to contact the company. And sure enough, the next morning Lenovo called Dave looking to resolve the problem. A few days later, the refund had been processed.
Thinking we would get a heads up before the story went on the air, we were again taken by surprise when Ervin called to talk to the “star”. The story had made the news.
Dave became a local celebrity, enjoying his 15 minutes of fame.
Our evening walk sometimes has its rewards, including this rainbow after a storm.