DPA dfacto Vocal wired first edition

Port-au-Prince, I wanna catch a glimpse ...

Summer's winding down, and we're inexorably approaching the fall. Did you take a vacation this year, reader? Maybe you went to the beach; or maybe you live on the beach and you went to the mountains instead, as I did as a girl. Wherever you may have gone, odds are it was a tourist destination. Do you ever wonder what they get up to the rest of the year?

Alexi grew up in just such a tourist town, a little oceanic getaway that was a sleepy ghost town for most of the year, propped up by the brief yet intense tourist season. Her last year of high school, she tried desperately to find a co-op position, but her options were bleak and limited. Finally, she landed the only job she could: the IT guru for the local community college.

At first, it wasn't so bad. She spent much of her time reading books in the office, waiting for the hapless student with wifi troubles or the clueless teacher who needed a password reset. The highlight of her career was the day her senior tech, Aaron, turned off Spanning Tree protocol on a router and then flipped it all back on at once, causing a small fire in the broom closet they were using as a server room.

But for the most part, her days were quiet. Almost ... too quiet.

Jack was a department head, one who was well known by the IT staff. When he stopped by, Aaron immediately ducked into the broom closet. Alexi frowned briefly, but by the time she turned around, she was ready with a polite expression and her asshole-handling kill-'em-with-kindness tone. Her time in retail had prepared her for such a customer.

"Can I help you, sir?"

"Yes, I'm having some trouble with this newfangled Internet classroom," Jack said. "Can you help me?"

No cursing, sputtering, or calling her useless? Then why was Aaron hiding?

"Of course," Alexi replied. "What seems to be the trouble?"

"Well, I set up the microphone and camera just like your instructions said, but my students say they can barely hear me. I even turned up the volume, and nothing."

Now suspecting this to be the oddest prank ever, Alexi launched into the standard bevy of questions. "What kind of microphone are you using?"

"I have a broadcast microphone from the telecommunications department, plugged into about 300 feet of cable."

That was weird, but not unheard of; there was plenty of old equipment floating around. "All right, and where does the cable plug into?" she asked, expecting an audio interface of some type to be involved.

"What do you mean?" Jack asked, a polite yet puzzled expression adorning his face.

"Well, you said there was 300 feet of cable, right? It has to be plugged into something."

"I thought it was wireless."

Wireless? With that long of a cord? "No. That's why it has 300 feet of cable ..."

Sensing that they were both confusing each other more than before, Alexi closed her laptop and asked the gentleman to show her the setup.

The classroom Jack was using was a large lecture hall, complete with a chalkboard and podium. There was a desktop machine sitting under the podium, but Jack had elected to use his own laptop on top of the podium instead, with the camera clipped to the hinge. He demonstrated for her that he was speaking loudly enough as he dragged the microphone, entirely untethered, around the stage area.

A 300-foot tail of black cable dutifully followed him to and fro, but surely was not capable of conveying sound to his laptop. The crappy built-in microphone on the laptop itself, however, was more successful in picking up his voice.

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