Commuting abroad

Here I am in Cancún Centro Mexico, where I stay for $20 a night in a small semi furnished apartment so that I can commute to the Hotel zone to get major dental work done

Just to show what we can do literally on the road I’m walking back from the bus station to my apartment, a 25 minute walk after a 30 minute bus ride this being the third or fourth time I’ve done it.

It’s been years since I commuted and the weird thing is that “work” consists of having sat in the dentist chair for eight hours very uncomfortable and sometimes in pain but all for the good…

I have not commuted or worked anywhere in years, having worked for myself for 20, is what I have done the last three days the way it is for most people? Feels like having teeth polled feels necessary feels in evitable?

At the very least this little exercise here shows it is possible to post blogs I’ll strolling along the road in the dark at 8 PM in a big city… And yes, I am using dictation which works quite well


So you take your tech show on the road to the likes of Mexico,
from wherever you usually work,
and assume the reasonable Internet connection will allow you to do everything you could do from home…

Not quite. The level of security involved with most things on the Internet now will make you a suspect as your usual access Is obviously coming from outside your usual country.

This Internet bureaucracy known as ARIN Assigns blocks of IP addresses to each country, and you will get one in Mexico if that’s where you are. If this is not where you usually are, your bank, WordPress, name registrar and anything of significance you want to log into will be most unhappy.

They never give the game away by telling you that this is true, you just simply find mysteriously that your password does not work or that they want to send you a text message to verify you…
To your usual USA number.

Thanks a lot, Xfinity Mobile, in spite of your blurb that doesn’t work out here Even though your site mentions it would do so at $.10 per message, Or they offer you a generous $10 a day. No thanks
iMessages? Yes. Plain Texts? No.

A long time ago I signed up for the free Google voice system which allows you to use an app to send & receive your USA texts wherever You are in the world.

I know this works because I use it with my friends but The banks etc. are not fooled… Yeah, they say they sent the text but you will never get it… Also those free webpages that allow you to use a throwaway number… Security software knows about them too

Basically no site that I tried that wanted to send text messages do anything except with blocks of phone numbers it knows belong to real cell phones with SIMs

Makes sense I suppose

None of this is helped by trying to use a VPN so that my activity appears to be coming from the USA… Using Nord VPN I found that every USA  connection I made always appeared to be in Miami Florida, and when I looked up the the  company that owned that block…
I find the address Block concerned was blacklisted in all sorts of places, and even resulted in Regular Google searches bringing up a capture challenge because, as the site said,
“we need to check your browser…”

Be aware that as a road warrior security wise you will never actually told exactly why or how you are being kept at bay.. Stuff will just Not Work Right, and if you push your luck, you could be completely locked out.

Same story with the Chip n PIN  and ATM cards… Never use the bank machine that is the type pick and pull your card into its guts and only give it back if it feels like- It Won’t

The type to use will always allows you to pull it back out yourself without a fight or breaking something.
..and does not pull it in itself with a motor

I personally think this is the most secure type anyway As it will be harder to trick the machinery with skimmers

Only way to do this Internet I suspect it to use Proxy Server or VPN back to one of my OWN machines ‘back home’-
So I really AM there. Sorta

This is a draft, that’s it for now.

SIM cards Abroad or, Troubleshooting troubleshooting itself.

[Dateline: Cancun, Mexico]

God forbid you should go abroad with your smartphone!
Who does that?

I did. Using my iPhone XS I had been relatively happy with XFinity Mobile, which uses the USA VERIZON network,
for some time, while in the USA

But, seeing their ‘unlimited’ Roaming Rates for use outside of the USA I decided: No, Senor, Will not do that then. $10/day?!
now I am headed for Cancun, Mexico. Nope.
That’s 3 meals a day there!

I would have thought, then, that it simply would not work abroad as I had ordered no Travel Plan.
Or maybe “Pay As I Go” would work

And, tellingly, foolishly, even,
I assume my Voice Callers would simply be sent straight to my Voicemail.

I could call (with a different phone!) in and retrieve them perhaps.
Of course “Visual Voicemail” won’t work- I accept  that.

The web pages confusingly talk about Per-Text and Per-Call rates, or at least I think so…Only one way to find out! Try It!
Well no, it did NOT seem to work much. Confusingly of course, iMessage uses your actual phone number to reach you- besides other means,
even if the sim card is OUT. No Woes. So Far. I turned Data Roaming Off as that’s $1/100mb. Maybe.
So. Just Voicemail for my callers while I am Gone. And, MAYBE, some straight non iMessage sender Texts (the Green ones on the iPhone) now and then for me. OK!

So I land in Cancun- Initially, “MOVISTAR”, a local carrier was acquired and seemed to do something.. Couple straight 
Texts seemed to pop through,… Guess I’ll Be Billed Later…
Look online at my account- Nothing Extra Shows..

At this point for the equivalent of $11 I got a Mexican SIMM card from TELCEL and put it in my phone. Instant Success: 2.5 GB data and a Mexican number & texts to use to call my dentists, etc.

I actually used a real TELCEL office so the assistant did help me,
but, you can buy the little SIMs almost anywhere in OXXO Convenience stores etc.
and do it yourself if your Spanish is Okay-
they do not seem to have a “Press 2 for English”

The XFinity Mobile SIM is OUT of my phone, safely stored.
I tend to tape it inside the card the replacement sim came from and tuck it back in the case

The TELCEL SIMM is in the phone and working perfectly.
I mean: Perfectly. TELCEL is #1 in Mexico and so far blows the pants off the USA offerings for simplicity. Oh! and unlimited calls to Canada & USA are… Included. $11. & 2.5GB data. Wow.

Now the Problem starts: 

I brought along a ‘spare’ iPhone 7 because, well, Crap Happens.
I put the XFinity Mobile SIMM into THAT phone, not my regular one
in case the promised 3c/text, 10c/min XFinity call rate would  SOMEHOW work as a backup means of catching my Texts as I never did figure a way to Forward such things

Did I need a Roaming Package? It was all so confusing I thought I would see what happened but this was Definitely a Backup

Bad Move.

Some days pass, then Hello? Someone Emails me that calling
my USA cell number immediately goes to saying:
“4-3-2-1 Switch 112-5 Verizon blah blah”
Not a Busy or non-answer sound just that bizarre message
I just Want  Calls To Go Straight To Voicemail

So! Now no  one can leave a message,
AND i cannot call in to get my messages. 
I don’t care if it does not actually RING in Mexico- It’s my Vacation.

So! I call XFinity Mobile who tell me, oh you will LOVE this:
This is a praisy or summary only:
First off they say ‘
XF:We see nothing wrong
ME: So CAll My Cell Number Yourself
XF:You will have to hang up
ME: No I won’t, this is my office line, My cell phone doesn’t wo…
XF:But it DOES work..
ME: Call it….Please?  [LONG wait on Hold..More Back and Forth]
XF:Your service is Disabled as your service was “Red lined” due to 
sim card/phone mismatch,
ME: OK! I ll just turn that  phone OFF
XF: But using it in the wrong phone disabled the line..
ME:OK!! Ill put the sim card back in the right phone
XF: Too Late….
ME:Okay,let’s Register the iPhone 7– I have it’s IMEI Serial.. I…
XF:No Can Do, you are out the country, needs Verizon towers,
ME: Okay!!! I will not use the sim AT ALL: Please turn on Voicemail ..
XF: No Can DO Because you are De Activated…
ME:Okay Activate me on my original phone..
XF: No Can Do You Are Out The Country, do it when you get ba…
ME:No Can DO., I no longer WANT any cell service, just Voicemail…
XF:Your voicemail is associated with your cell service Phone…
ME: Let’s just assume I don’t HAVE any hardware any more? 
XF: It has to be Active before you turn it OFF in Your Own Country
[Here I skip the strong urge to suggest my Teleporter is also a part of the Verizon family and is also broken]

Several of these conversation threads  went round and round in a good old fashioned GOTO:SELF loop I had to  break by trying alternate approaches. I shamefully admit it took quite a while to figure out what was NOT wrong and backtrack what ACTUALLY happened of the several things that COULD  have happened
This is the Troubleshooting I love to do with Tech in General…

When it’s someone Else’s 

1) It is not because I used my Mexican SIM in my usual (unlocked)
XS phone, as ‘they’ would not need to know that fact.
Why would they, of the thousands of other networks?
unless the phone was reported Stolen ?
Yes they CAN be blocked worldwide based on the phone IMEI: Serial Number, that is
but I was petty sure that had not happened otherwise .. Well, the Mexican SIM would Not Work. Right?
Besides…. what has that to do with my Voicemail?!?
the Lesson Here: Think off Everything, but don’t sidetrack.

2) It’s not that I went a-roaming without a Roaming plan and did not tell anyone, When I first got here some messages got through
What I wanted was a Pay as you Go at 10c/message $1/100MB that they mentioned somewhere in their Site, and did NOT want to pay $10/day to make that Unlimited. as I would have Limited use

3) Someone Emailed me that my cell phone number rang BUSY
I checked all over my Plan online, Devices, everything. Nothing. No Email. No Text from XFinity, Their Rep’s support screen obviously showed NOTHING WRONG– Initially.
Nothing in their App to say there was a Problem
It’s Strictly Self-Rescue- Something Sailors know- It’s what you do when there’s no one to help. Only the liferaft is full of holes..
And you don’t; know til you are ‘out there’ and cannot ‘go back’
It’s Titanic, this f-up.

4) The rep I called, Bev, as as helpful as she could be. Please folks don’t shoot the messenger, it’s the Company! She got caught in the middle messaging ‘higher ups’ who fed back BS about ‘turning on Line & Voicemail Is Not Possible Til You Are Back Home” etc
“Can I Talk To That Higher up Person Directly So YOu Are Not Caught In the Middle?” 
Not Possible. “Can we Escalate This?” No…..
“Why is that?” “Because that’s the way things are” (Paraphrased)

ME: Can I talk to a Supervisor? (I did say this apologetically as I knew it was ‘out of her hands).
XF: He Is In A Meeting”
ME:Please have IT call me Back at this Mexican number..”

I am sure that form of personal pronoun is
Not Acceptable but I used IT anyway.

IT stands for:
“Information Technologist (Male, Female or Anything In Between) and also the famous Impersonal Pronoun used by Gollum: 
“What has it got in its pocketless?
Decent Service my Preciousssssss??””

This was after unravelling a longer conversation about what exactly was “MY Problem” Own it, Right?

I left my Mexican Cell Number to Call me Back as I KNEW that that worked. I had Tested it from USA numbers..
I asked her to put in tech support notes:
“Caller does not need cell service to work
Caller just wants ITs number and voice mail back”

That’s all she could so. She seemed stressed and I was in the unenviable role of saying, “It’s NOT YOU It’s this Stupid Company,
How would you feel if someone ditched your main phone number?But thanks for trying to Help”

Hung Up; Plotted Next Moves of which Waiting is never my Fave.
I’ll just call back over and over and NOT go away til it’s handled?
Some companies you just have to, and prefix your call with
“I do not seem to be the kind of client who can be blown off do I?”
But ALWAYS remain calm and polite. THIS is why I do not Meditate
Or perform religious rituals. THIS is the Ritual. Above all their mendacity os not an infectious disease.

Nevertheless I recognize that, according to Dale Carnegie, if you identify too strongly with your Employer it means insults to them are insults to you.
Not least as it sounds like a criticism that one has ‘chosen’ to work for a deadbeat company. I get all that, Stockholm Syndrome ahoy-
“Be Grateful You Even HAVE a Job even with the Corporation From Hell…” 
I feel her hands were tied by missing information
and dire warning never to escalate calls

One take away from this:

Take Great Care not to fall in this logical trap:
There is a logical fallacy called “Straw Man”
I create a ‘straw man’ replica of my antagonist as it is easier to attack that than the real issue

I am Mad at XFinity. Of Course!
This agent  ‘represents’ XFinity in my head, if I let it
Ergo, Everything That Happanes Is Her Fault
Because I would LOVE to go to corporate HQ in Philadelphia
And rip someone’s head off
(But Who? the Entire Roberts Family that Runs it?!)
But I cannot. All I have is ‘Bev’ between me and the Tech Abyss
No Sorry– the Corporate Abyss, the Tech is JUST FINE

Would that make my number come back?
Who Cares. I get some satisfaction

In Fact, I think I shall go right now,
that way Ill get a chance to re activate my phone….

Post Mortem: About an hour later- The line starts working again as I would Expect. No Explanation, no remedy, no warning, Nothing
NO sim in my phone and- I am NOT putting it back til I am Stateside

THANKS. I Guess. I’ll just shower insults and pickets outside
their Corp HQ instead.

No Wait, the XFinity Teleporter is Broken,…,