Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2006-07-28
  Disconnected from the regular channels.
It was a busy week this week in Lake Wobegon. Oh wait, wrong show.

I was away part of this week, as happens every year. The timing is always right during Max's birthday, which caused the family some consternation until this year. Since this year he was in Kindergarten, we just moved his birthday to be before the school year ended. I wish I knew you could do that back when I was a kid, would have been handy. Maybe they've changed the rules since my parents were parents.

So for several days I had most of my garage, a pile of scrap from the local metalbenders, and a fair amount of school property packed up in my car and hauled out to Showlow to teach Indian kids how to weld. Its a little bit of a challenge teaching them in three days what we usually have a whole semester to go over, and they're not always ideally dressed (think shorts, tank tops and sandals instead of boots and long sleeves), but I've worked up enough of an idea what will fly in a couple of days to keep them occupied and otherwise out of trouble.

However, besides being in the middle of Max's birthday, this trip is usually in the middle of some big deadline at work; so I spend a portion of the day back in the huts, poking on my laptop and trying to get stuff done for work. This week was no different, as we had the usual circus of new hw deployment, cluster trouble, new processing, new market data, and a dog & pony show for the powers that be. Mornings were usually checking on various details while hanging on the line for several hours in a conference call (boy I love Free calling with SkypeOut) Nights I was back online, finishing this feature or that, creating new database tables with abandon and pushing data around as best I could.

When camp was over Wednesday (and we had launched our last 2L water rocket up into the air) I was ready to get home to my family, and my own computer lair. How ironic that the moment I get home my internet goes down. At first I didn't worry too much, DSL goes out from time to time, usually it comes back. So that night I poked around on my local machine, dealt with local issues like a new color printer that needed setting up, and then went to bed.

Come the next morning, I rose and headed back to my burrow to see what's happening, only to find out the DSL is still down. I call in to my service provider to harangue them some more only to find out that the mop on duty the night before didn't even create a record of my call. So I rail at level 1 tech support some more and settle down to get by as best I can.

The morning is not so bad, mostly spent on the phone again (only this time I have to tie up the land line which thankfully is working). Various jokes are made in reference to Cheeseburger Brown's excellent article on his time spent without internet and I get considerable millage from the phrase, "I don't know, the internet's down." After the conference call I link in on my laptop using my cell phone and can get a connection, though 2 bars on sprint wireless cannot hope to support a dozen x-windows, google mail, my IM services and various other windows. I give up a few hours later in disgust and take Max to swim class.

Facing the prospect that the internet will continue to be down, I dig into my bag of tricks and decide to go wandering out into the world to get my internet connection. There's a number of businesses that offer wifi, but being a runt of a town, most places close around 9pm. Luckily BBW is both a wifi hotspot and a sports bar—its actually open until midnight. I tuck the clan into its beds and head out to eat cheese fries and get some work done. The staff is very patient with me, I pick slowly at my food, drink a dozen refills of Mr. Pibb Maxx, and generally seem to be ignoring them. I try my best to be unobtrusive, and leave a big tip. The connection isn't perfect, I'm often re-logging into sessions that die inexplicably, but its a highspeed connection and I get a fair amount of work done.

The next morning with the demo looming, I return and work through lunch. Finally the bored meeting starts, we stop trying to make any more changes, I pay off my tab and head back home. Still no connection, and no help from my ISP, so I do what I should have done long ago and call the phone company. I get yet another inept level 1 phone droid who leads me through the process of disconnecting the power to my DSL modem and resetting it for the Nth time (I've done this so many times now, I'm able to do it virtually, calling off the power up sequence of lights, colors and blinks by heart, accurate to the second), and he finally runs a diagnostic from the back end and determines that a truck roll is actually needed to fix whatever mysterious ailment has infected the wires.

That night, I'm down in my basement again poking away at local matters when my computer suddenly chirps at me about some random bit of news acquired from afar. Curious, I look over and discover that 48 hours after losing my connection, it has found its way back to the house and is working again. Sigh.

 
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Paul Graham's Essays
You may not want to write in Lisp, but his advise on software, life and business is always worth listening to.
How to save the world
Dave Pollard working on changing the world .. one partially baked idea at a time.
SnowDeal
Eric Snowdeal IV - born 15 weeks too soon, now living a normal baby life.
Land and Hold Short
The life of a pilot.

The best of?
Jan '04
The second best villain of all times.

Feb '04
Oops I dropped by satellite.
New Jets create excitement in the air.
The audience is not listening.

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Neat chemicals you don't want to mess with.
The Lack of Practise Effect

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Scramjets take to the air
Doing dangerous things in the fire.
The Real Way to get a job

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Checking out cool tools (with the kids)
A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
How to play with your kids

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