steve's plumber came in the late morning to take a look at our pipes. i wasn't involved, but i could hear them in the basement. i had a feeling whatever the fix it was going to be expensive; steve isn't the kind of person who haggles over price, so it's easy for people to overcharge him. he just wants the thing fixed regardless of the cost. the final estimate was $1000, because the problem was more "systemic," meaning the plumber will replace our old galvanized iron pipes with copper, and replace some valves as well. my limited knowledge of plumbing doesn't extend into those areas, but since i only need to pay 40% ($400), i'm fine with the estimate. it'll be nice to finally get normal water pressure for a change. i am a little worried that if the water pressure increases, maybe some of the valves on the first floor will began to leak. but still, better to have normal water pressure versus low water pressure. the plumber will return wednesday morning of next week to make the repairs; there won't be any running water during that time. one last thing: steve told me he wants to make some repairs on our front porch area as well. that's probably going to run at leat $1000 as well. so much for trying to save some money before i leave for china.
i saw bruce today. i actually saw him a few days ago, but didn't get a chance to say hello. i figured he was in town because of spring break. he was on his way to the airport so didn't have time to chat, but told me then when i come back from china, he might already been living in cambridge permanently.
i began running my errands: first thing i did was to deposit some cash into my checking account. i'll probably need to make another deposit before i go, but this payment is primarily to pay off my credit card balance (a big chunk of that money was used to buy my china plane ticket). before coming back, i went to the korean supermarket to look for a particular kind of buckwheat tea my mother wanted. they had some, but it was in granulated form, not in teabags.
when i got back, i noticed there were multiple messages on the nokia phone. it took me a while, fumbling with the keys, to finally see them. a bunch of them were about how i successfully transferred $10 into my account, or telling me what commands to send to check my balance. only one of them was the one i've been waiting for since thursday, the one telling me that i'd successfully ported over the old cafe phone number from comcast to t-mobile. i called my cellphone to test it out, then used my cellphone to call back this phone.
now came the next step, which was to port the telephone number a second time, from t-mobile to google voice. it costs $20 to do (unlike a regular phone-to-phone port which is free), but first google had to call the t-mobile phone to get confirmation that the phone actually belonged to me. what i had to do was to punch in a code that google flashed on the screen. i kept hitting the button to call, but the phone wasn't ringing. minutes later my father called back, said that an automated system was calling the cafe phone, asking for the code. that's weird, because that means the cafe phone was still working even though technically that number had been ported to the mobile nokia phone. whatever the reason, i gave my father the code to punch in, which finally allowed me to go through with the google voice porting process. minutes later i discovered the port was temporarily on hold until i gave them my t-mobile pin number; the only reason why i knew it was earlier i called t-mobile asking for my account number (which is actually just the telephone number) and i had to give them my pin which i'd forgotten.
while waiting for the phone number to port over from the t-mobile to google voice (google said normally it takes less than 24 hours), i went ahead and set up the obihai 200 voip device. it didn't work at first, i couldn't do the echo test. i had to log into the obihai's admin page and reboot the device that way before it finally started working.
my parents came by in the afternoon to drop off the 2 suitcases (the smaller suitcase nested inside the bigger one). by that point it was already raining. i wanted to go to home depot to get another double prong robe hook. i was going to screw them to my foyer closet door today, but i was missing one (a total of 4). i bought them originally off of amazon.com ($2/each), but fortunately home depot sells the exact same ones (just a little more expensive, $2.68/each).
i waited for the replacement white foscam camera to arrive, which i ordered through amazon.com last night, but was shipping via 1-day-delivery courtesy of amazon prime. it finally got here around 4pm, delivered by a red minivan cruising the neighborhood making drops. if it wasn't raining i would've gone down to the cafe to install it, but it'll just have to wait until tomorrow.
i spent the late afternoon to early evening research VPN services. i'll need to sign up for one while i'm in china, otherwise i won't be able to access google or surf certain websites (like cnn.com for example). a lot of places recommend expressVPN, but i also heard reports that some people have began to lose services even with them. there's one called VPN.ac i might end up going with, they seem fairly well-versed in bypassing the great wall of china with various new techniques. i've done enough VPN research at this point, i could probably give a talk about the various ways china uses to prevent people from using VPN services inside the country.
my one last project of the evening was to upgrade my sero 7 pro tablet ROM from android 4.4 kitkat to android 5.0 lollipop. it was actually easier than i thought, because i'd already laid the groundwork the last time i installed a custom ROM on the sero tablet. even after i finished the installation, it didn't work right away however because apparently sometimes it takes a little while for google play services to work on a newly activated device. when it finally activated, i went ahead downloading apps. the sero running lollipop feels a little slow. maybe it's because i'm running so many installs in the background, hopefully once i get it properly configured, it can run a bit smoother.
for lunch i made myself a simple english-muffin-turkey-cheese sandwich, toasted it for a minute in the oven. for dinner some french bread pizza. these are my final days before mary returns wednesday morning.