@Starbucks, Internet down, postings sporadic…

2 days ago. my internet died. I’d not put in a service call, since often they just fix it anyway.

It had gotten slow, then started resetting the DSL link a few times a day, now no DSL Link light at all…

Last time this happened and I called service, they shot the line with a TDR (radar for wires) and blew the brains out of my modem/DSL router. I’ve unplugged the wire for now…

So I guess I’ll need to hit the customer service desk (who always ask me for the telephone number assigned to my account despite my not having a telephone on the account… What? I’m supposed to remember a useless number from 20+ years ago?).

At any rate, I’m back at Starbucks with the tablet and the point and click pseudo-keyboard. Sigh.. Sometimes I hate computers and networks… (Really, it is the unreliability of a constantly moving bleeding edge target I hate… I wish folks would make thing dependable first…)

My “On The Go” hotspot wouldn’t work, despite a new reload card. Seems you now need an internet connection to reload your internet connection. And, if you have let it expire (not used in a year), some magic incantations are needed to “reset” it. Cindy at The Help Desk that seems to be in Guatemala at the moment, did a great job talking me through the process (that includes opening a browser window on the device and entering a magic number they provide).

The T-Mobile Hotspot remains dead until I buy a new SIM card for it, as not registering within a year causes it to commit suicide…

Guess the concept of “Emergency use” preparation is lost on them…

But at least now I have expensive and slow hotspot internet when I get home… Expect lite posting for a while…

The good news is that the Compaq EVO that had a dead DVD drive suddenly has a working drive. No idea why. I wiped the laser emitter, maybe it was dusty… or a wire loose. Also, the 64 bit Antek that had started throwing disk issues (including suddenly going to read only… hard on the OS…) suddenly started behaving after an unplug / replug of the ATA cable. Maybe oxidation? Or maybe it will finally die tomorrow… At any rate, I’ve drained it of data.

Due to the propensity for “agencies” to steal your computers at the drop of a hat on minor pretext of “crime”, I’m moving all data I care about to removable and off site storage. Helpful when on the road or dealing with flaky computers anyway. An experiment with the OS “living on a chip” has gone well. Knoppix works very well as it sends most gratuitous writes (like log files) to a RAMdisk. CentOS on a usb stick pauses a lot for disk waits as the PNY is not so fast. Final solution to be a custom rolled version with RAMdisk and squashfs (standard on live cd versions) with writable userland. Encrypted and on a very fast stick. “Take the computer, leave the cannoli”…

I was almost to the point of starting that process when the DSL Died. Hard to do GB OS downloads and updates without internet, or with a slow expensive hotspot. Oh Well.

So I’ve drained the data from my computers, proven “system on a chip” along with encryption and squashfs. Good enough for now I suppose. Easier to fly with two chips and a usb stick anyway. Just depot some compatible base hardware at each end. Oh, and generally I’ve found that a VM On A Stick is just too darned slow. It is nice to have, for example, a Sun Workstation on a class 10 SD card as a virtual machine, but even on big fat fast PCs, it is sucky slow.

Life in Tech Geek Land…

Well, the Mocha runs low, the hotspot is fixed, and more repairs call to me. Time to go.

Next up will be doing what I can to reintegrate a computer environment where the actual hadware is meaningless (though carefully filled with an account with a browsing history of Disney characters, how to support the police, best cookie recipes, and which Kardashian is most trendy.., Forensics investigates The Empty Space, so do not leave it empty.) and The Internet runs via VPN to Other Places, everything inside the encrypted container. We’ll see how far I get with minimal connectivity. Or when that gets fixed. Or if I buy a new SIM card…

As long as there is coffee and chocolate (and maybe Scotch or Tequila :-) life is good and all things are possible.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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6 Responses to @Starbucks, Internet down, postings sporadic…

  1. John F. Hultquist says:

    Seems like maybe the “triumph of central planning” left a few ragged edges as it swept by.

    Seriously, I’m sorry for your troubles. Our DSL is provided by FairPoint Communications and a call often goes to Nova Scotia or other lovely place. They say (after finding they can’t do squat): “We’ll write a ticket.” That’s what police do. I want someone to fix whatever is wrong. They explained a “ticket” is what my local service center needs to get someone’s butt in a truck and on the way.

    Things ought to “just work.”

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    I’m replying via the “dollars per kbyte” hotspot gizmo… The DSL modem now has a DSL link light doing the ‘blinky blinky’ thing, but no internet just yet… maybe tomorrow…

    I’ve not yet called in a ‘fault’ that would cause a ‘trouble ticket’ to be issued and get someone’s “butt in a truck” (or into the back room…) as I figured they’d work it out eventually.

    Yeah, count me in the “just work” group…

    Sidebar Gripe:

    At several companies, but to include Apple and Disney, we made things “just work”. The problem? If it “just works” folks (read clueless ubermanagers) have no idea why it just works and can NOT connect this to the budget they approved for the I.T. department. So they lay your butts off… until things do NOT work… I’ve been through this cycle way too many times.

    The way to “win friends and influence people” (along with getting a big bonus) is to have things periodically breaking and NOT working, then you rush in and “fix it” and are “the hero”… Yes, echos of “never let a catastrophe go to waste”…

    I hate it. I refuse to participate in it. I’m unemployed at the moment…

    Nobody will pay for an information outlet (like a power outlet) that “just works”. They WILL pay for one that periodically fails in dramatic fashion… One wonders if that is why the Political Class are busy making sure that the electrical outlet periodically and regularly fails…

    Just sayin’…

  3. Larry Ledwick says:

    Preventive maintenance which is completed quietly in the background never happened.

    Larry’s rule “If it is not written down somewhere it did not happen.”

    The first challenge is to counter the expectation that a needed and effective department must look busy.
    1. Tell them that your department is like the fire department. It is a bad thing if you are always running in circles and shouting. Typical managers confuse lack of chaos with not needed staff. You need to find ways short of pulling the plug to let them know you are doing something.

    2. Periodically send emails that tell them about the catastrophe your team prevented by discovering a problem while doing diagnostics or preventive maintenance.

    3. Maintenance windows or outages are a good way to remind them of how much they depend on functionality.
    Even if they do not actually lose the service during the Maintenance window, an email telling them that you are doing upgrades etc. on a system, but do not expect any loss of function, then a reminder that if they do notice any issues during the change/maint window they should let you know immediately.

    It sucks that you have to hold people’s hands to make them notice things, but that is the squeaky wheel syndrome in action. Preventive maintenance and proactive resolution of problems are just concepts that some management folks have difficulty understanding. Some of them never really internalize it is a pay me now or pay me later equation.

    State government is what taught me Larry’s rule. They would always come back with “this is the first time I’ve heard about that”. You often have some other group who is run by sales mentality who is always giving himself or his team gold stars, pushing spreadsheets or some who burying them with BS. Conventional managers who have no experience with IT assume quiet means you have nothing to tell, rather than you are good at what you are doing and preventing problems. The old cannot prove a negative problem always bites you because there is no way to prove the catastrophes you prevented.

  4. Larry Ledwick says:

    By they way, my comcast modem used to periodically go stupid and I would lose internet. The old full disconnect and power cycle trick would bring it all back in short order.

    I got to the point I would check this site to see if they had an outage in my area. If not it was time to power cycle the modem.


  5. omanuel says:

    Thank you, E. M. Smith, for sharing your journey of life. We are in this mess together!

    I suspect we have incorrectly blamed the obvious “power brokers” (Presidents, The UN Secretary General, Senators, Popes, etc.) for difficulties engineered by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) – the “Scientific-Technological-Elite” former President Eisenhower warned might take control of government policy in his departing message to the nation on 17 JAN 1961:

    World leaders (Presidents, The UN Secretary General, Senators, Popes, etc.) seem to be captives of the “Scientific-Technological-Elite” that fabricates “consensus” science through NAS control of budgets of federal research agencies.

    Our challenge is to by-pass this blockade and inform real power brokers (Presidents, The UN Secretary General, Senators, Popes, etc.) what is essential to the survival of humanity, living on a water-covered planet exactly 1 AU away from the pulsar core of the supernova that . . .

    Made all of our chemical elements
    Birthed the solar system five billion years (5 Ga) ago
    Sustained the origin and evolution of live here after 3.8 Ga ago
    Still controls every atom, life and planet in the solar system today:


  6. E.M.Smith says:


    Interesting link. Has a big red blob over Silicon Valley for AT&T…

    I’m using a new 4G LTE hot spot now. Darned fast! We’ll see how the cost shakes out and how long it takes me to blow through the 3 GB / mo. rate plan… (when I think it drops back to 2G speed… or about like a modem…)

    AT&T has gotten the DSL link back up (light lights on router) but no data flow yet… (the “internet” light stays dark.) Maybe next week … sarc;

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