After almost a year in Conakry (goodness, already?) the things that surprised me on arrival have become commonplace. It seems normal for the power to go out several times a day (though I still prefer for it not to happen at hair-doing time) and I have come to terms with a lot of Conakry’s deprivations, like the lack of movie theaters and real stores and the total absence of many of my favorite fruits and vegetables and other key ingredients. But the one thing about Guinea that I still find wrenching Every. Single. Day. is the terrible, terrible internet.
I miss streaming video. It is possible to watch shortish videos if you’re willing to let them load up for half an hour first, but internet TV ain’t happening. But I can handle that. Harder to deal with are the myriad programs and apps on my various devices that keep trying desperately to update but simply can’t make it happen. Often this is just annoying but now it’s causing me some real problems: I lost Steam.
For those of you who haven’t bought a PC game in the last decade or so, Steam is a nifty program that works with many new games to purchase them, download them, register them, update them, and sync them, so once you register your game purchase with Steam you can play it on one computer, save the game to the cloud, and open it up again on another. It also helps you find and save friends for multiplayer games and lets you chat while you play. All this connectivity is fantastic when you have high-speed internet to sustain it, but when you’re trying to run Steam on internet more appropriate for this, you’re in trouble.
Specifically, my copy of Steam corrupted so the offline feature no longer worked – when you don’t have an internet connection you’re supposed to be able to play your games from the files on your computer, but no such luck. Even with the disc and the registration code the games try to call up Steam and refuse to work without its okay. For me this means no Portal, no Skyrim (which I bought on R&R and played for all of half an hour in the States before I left) and most tragically, no Civilization V. I haven’t gotten in a good loot and pillage in months, and it’s making me itchy. There’s only one way to fix this – reinstall Steam.
I spent ALL DAY today (day off for Labor Day! Yay!) gently shepherding my laptop through the excruciatingly slow process of downloading, reinstalling, and updating Steam, with several interruptions for power outages. And after all that effort and all that time I STILL can’t connect to whatever servers need to recognize me and give my computer permission to play the games I paid good money for. It’s enough to make me want to reduce a thriving civilization to ashes. Oh wait. I CAN’T. I’ve still got Oregon Trail so I could kill someone with dysentery, but that just doesn’t provide the same stress relief as total world domination. Sigh.