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segunda-feira, 6 de junho de 2011

Project Webthings Tour - ep. 3: Things, Water and Internet

If you missed the first 2 episodes, don’t worry you can understand this one no problem. However, if there is inside you the will of check the previous episodes, you just gotta click: Episode 1, Episode 2.



August 2010, a house, Wetzlar, Germany

It is funny how when we go through some places or someone show them to us the first time, we have no idea of how many times we gonna see all that again, of how that will be part of our life and the stories we eventually gonna live having that places as a scenario. And it is funnier that we don’t need to be very smart to know that, but even so, every time we meet a new place, we forget about it.

The first time I saw a picture of the house I lived there, I found it much smaller and not so nice than it actually was. I don’t know, maybe, just like people, houses may be more or less photogenic. Who knows?

In numbers, to you who may have the intention to live someday in Germany, the rent was 520 euros every month, to 2 people, with water, electric energy and heating already included. The company in Germany found the house to us, but in the internet there are a lot of websites for renting houses and apartments all over the world, like these one. You can see pictures, make the negotiation and everything, depending of where you are going and how much time you gonna stay, rent a house or apartment can be a better option than a hotel.

The house had a living room, 2 dorms, kitchen, bathroom, a place to wash clothes, furniture, appliances and the rent also included the change of towels and bed sheets every 2 weeks. The only thing the house didn’t had was *prepare to something terrible* one certain thing called “the internet”.


Putting the drama aside, when we got to house the landlords were there to welcome us, they were a couple, a French woman and a German guy. They were expecting us with curiosity and a famous Brazilian alcoholic drink called “caipirinha”. Yeah, but before you think the message was “Welcome to Germany, get drunk, ‘cause here we are drunk all the time!”, it was much more “we are interested in you, your culture and we want to be friendly”. And they really were friendly during all the time I was there, but I will talk more about them in a future episode.

There is an ancient legend which tells in simple words that “sleep in an airplane is like shit”. Science show us that a few legends are true, specially those ones with economic class in their prophecies. This way, even if you, like me, are used to sleep on the chair of a bus, the longer the trip, the longer you will need to sleep later, at least for a couple of hours. Once the landlords left, promising to came back around 4 p.m. to take us to do some shopping, we had to sleep.

There was a shopping mall not very far from the house, which to Brazilian standards, even more if you live in São Paulo, was not so big, but as I learned later, was the biggest one of Hessen, the state of Germany where Wetzlar stays.

The first impression I had was that it was closed, because it seemed empty, with no visible people and there was also silence. Well, these are two things hard to get used, specially because I live in Sao Paulo, one of the biggest and most populated cities of the world.

Our mission at the shopping mall had the following objectives *007's song starts to play*:
a) Buy food to fill up the fridge
b) Buy power plug adapters, since the German plug does not accept all the kind of plugs we use in Brazil.
c) Buy a power charger to recharge the Nintendo DS, since the network in Germany is 220V - 50 Hz, different from Brazil, which in São Paulo is 110V - 60Hz. Most of the electronic devices these days are prepared to work in any kind of network, like notebook power chargers, cellphone chargers and so on, but the original power charger from the DS was not (tsc, tsc, what a shame Nintendo, what a shame)

This shopping had a supermarket inside it and doing shop there was not so different, despite the fact that Brazil is Brazil and Germany is Germany, it is all a globalized capitalist world with the same brands, the same products and a few differences in options of some products and prices. Just to give you a example, it was easy to find, no kidding, something like 30 types of sausage.

About “the internet”, the landlords had a friend who knew about “the internet” and they would come back with him on monday, because they had no idea about the best ways to obtain “the internet”. They let us to use “the internet” at their house, so we could tell to the people in Brazil we were fine, the trip was ok, the world was a place with many types of sausage and we had no means to communicate for a few days, until we get “the internet” at home.

Where I live in Brazil, depending of the month of the year, sunrise and sunset happen in a different time of the day, but the difference is not so big, maybe 2 hours maximum. Not in Germany. In this first day, for the first time, I saw a sunset at 10 p.m. and it was very weird. To my head that kind of light was the light of 5 p.m. and not 9 p.m.

And now let’s pause for a while, ‘cause it’s time to one...

                                                                                                                                                              .
- Little Story of Little Trip! -
- today: Water -

In the land called Gemany, people usually drink water with gas and I never knew about it. So, let’s play a stupid and probably not so funny game, ‘kay?

Considering you are buying water and you don’t speak German, which one of the bottles bellow has water with gas (click to enlarge)?


None (a
All (b
The one from the center and the one from the right (c
The one from the left (d
I’m not your f*cking mommy, save yourself (e

Little Lesson of the Little Story: German people usually drink water with gas. When you are buying water pay attention if you don’t see the word “kohlensäure”, or if you see suspect bubbles. And don’t be sad, they do sell water with no gas, but is not so common and depending of the brand it has different kinds of taste. Testing a few I chose and recommend one called Volvic.

Oh, and the right answer is... B!

- The End of The Little Story -
                                                                                                                     .

Now, let’s continue

When we finally talked with the friend of the landlords who knew about “the internet”, he said the easiest solution would be a USB 3G modem (they call it internet stick) and then work with a pre-paid plan. He said his plan was something like paying 1,99 euro gave him 300Mb of data, after that he had to pay again. That is the face I made when I heard it:

: \

300Mb was to small, so, Mr. Friend of The Landlords, told us the a myth of a plan with no limit of data, by 20 euro, offering connection for 1 month. He never tried this one, he believed it was too much, probably because he didn’t like to visit YouTube, listen music online and had no website do update.

The price for the internet sticks were 20 euros and the SIM card came together for free. We also bought 2 other SIM cards, one to my cellphone brought from Brazil and another one to my college. The cellphone of my college, unlike mine, was locked to work only with one specific cellphone company from Brazil, so he had to buy a cellphone too, the cheapest one was 20 euros. Oh, and just as a curious fact, the name used to cellphone in Germany is “handy”, probably from “handy phone”.

In Brazil, when you buy a cellphone you leave the store ready to call to your mom to tell her how amazing you are now that you have a cellphone and how inside of the concepts of the communications of the new era you have become. In Germany, you had to wait a processing time in which the SIM card is registered and it could take 1, 2, or 3 days. If it was not working in 3 days, the landlords said we could call and they would try to help.

After the 3 days period, the cellphones where working, but not the internet sticks.

: (

I called the landlords and they said that “Mr. Friend” would only come back at the weekend to help us, so I took these picture of myself (ok, actually, no):


Using my big head, I knew USB modem only needed a registered SIM card with credit to work and the SIM card from the cellphones was just like these. So, I removed the SIM card from the internet stick and inserted the SIM card from the cellphone and then *tcharam* “the internet”!

Now I could surf the web, yes, nice, but it was using the credit from SIM. At the website of the German company we bought the SIM cards and everything (it was called Tchibo), using Google Translator, I could find out the chips of the internet sticks for some reason were not yet registered, but it was possible to register online. I did it and, since the register was made through the internet, something around 6 hours later, the two SIM chips were working. Yes, no 3 days of waiting (!).

There was only one problem left, the unlimited plan. We could now connect using the SIM cards from the internet sticks, but they were only consuming the credit we put in it.

Going back to Tchibo’s website with Google translator, I learned it was necessary to have in the chip the amount of the credit needed to buy the plan (20 euros in this case) and then you have to send a SMS with a specific message to a specific number.

The first time you plug the internet stick into the computer it installs a software to manage your credit, connect and even send SMS. Using this software I could send the SMS and the unlimited internet was finally there.

Long story short, if you wanna get internet in Germany:
 - Buy the SIM card and, if possible, make the registration via web, so you don’t have to wait the 3 days.
 - Once the chip is working, put enough credit to hire the plan you want.
 - Send the SMS and wait for their SMS confirming that the plan is hired.
 - There you go, you have now 30 days of unlimited internet... But, be careful, cause there is a little trap.

I explain. One day I was surfing the web, updating websites and believing I was really special, but then, suddenly, the connection speed became very, very, very slow. It was like going back to that old times where to connect you heard a sound similar to two robot cats fighting (like these).

I called to Tchibo’s hotline a couple of times until I get a operator who could speak English. He explained that the internet was unlimited, but the full speed was only there until you reach 5Gb of data flow, than it was reduced. He also said he could active to me another 5Gb with normal speed if I decided to pay another 20 euros (with credit in the SIM card). If I say yes I had to wait sometime between 20 minutes and 6 hours to process my request and active the service.

I did it many times during the time I was there. Really, many times.

I remember it was a Friday, at the end of the first week, with the fridge full and me getting used to see the sunset at 9 pm without finding it strange, that “the internet” was finally unlimited there and, I could not realize at that moment, but at that Friday, that strange place, little by little, was starting to become my home.


End of Episode 3

a vista da janela do que era meu quarto, depois de uma chuva