Geekery

Confession: I tend to be a total girl about the Athenae household’s tech. Mr. Athenae brings home a thing in a box and says he’ll hook it up to the laptop I treat like a pet, says it’ll help, I shrug. He sees computers as a form of recreation: building them, repairing them, playing with them, blowing up hand-designed superhero characters with them. I don’t require my computer to do a lot. I don’t play games, I don’t need advanced sound or graphics capability, I need to access the Internet, open documents and e-mail. To me the computer is a way to work, a means to an end. He enjoys tinkering, I enjoy having a computer that works, everybody’s happy.

So a few months ago when Mr. Athenae started talking about this I heard “free long distance” and “getting rid of our shitty phone company” and said okay, whatever. I was mainly worried that if the network went down, we’d be without a phone, and at the time I badly needed a phone. But we were also blowing almost $300 per month on that phone, both of us placing international calls at inconvenient hours to reach colleagues, me spending way too much time talking to my mother about grandma’s latest health crisis or to my sister about which icons she wanted me to make for her Livejournal and then feeling guilty for racking up bills.

So I saw the appeal. I still do, actually.

There are glitches. Occasionally the phone will ring and I pick up and it’s somebody else’s conversation, and I can hear them but they can’t hear me. Once a friend called and got routed to Mr. Athenae’s cell phone; we’re still not sure what THAT was about. And when the network goes down, we do indeed lose the phone, but I no longer need to call Poland or South Africa at 2 a.m., and he has his cell phone for emergencies. I have the neighbors who work from home, as I now do, for backup, and there’s always the pay phone down the street if the fit really hits the shan.

Overall, though, it’s lovely to pay $25 a month no matter what and tell Mom I’ll call her and we can chat for as long as we like. I’m wondering if any of you out there have this, if you find it reliable, or if the whole idea is just too scary for now.

A.