May 12th, 2004

And a backhoe...

Timing. I have timing.

I've had a cable modem at my new condo for months now (loads of bandwidth, static IP and everything; I pay $95/month for this) but my laptop has a built-in wireless card rather than a built in ethernet jack, and although I have both a pcmcia ethernet card and a USB ethernet adapter, it's a pain to fiddle with either one. Normally I just wander down to Metro (24 hour coffee shop on guadalupe) to use the internet. (I got a wireless card for the server I meant to attach to my cable modem, but the hard drive died shortly afterwards (of course). I'm putting together a new Linux From Scratch system (reviving my old "firmware linux", only a reimplementation from scratch that won't belong to an ex-employer, and based on busybox, uclibc, 2.6 kernel, udev) to put on the thing anyway. I had it more or less working weeks ago with conservative components (2.4 kernel, glibc, etc), but I keep doing things like switching the C library to use the 2.6 headers, rewriting busybox's "sort" implementation so I don't have to use the one out of coreutils when compiling software... And thus, the server remains in pieces and the new hard drive for it remains on the shelf, blank. Meaning I have no wireless at home, and it's a pain to dig up an ethernet card and untangle the end of one of the cat 5 cables. (And the only unused ones are upstairs, anyway, while the caffiene supply is downstairs.)

So in the meantime, I go down to the coffee shop to check my mail. It's open 24 hours, has excellent hot spiced chai, comfortable couches, free wireless, it's next door to a video arcade that's open until 3 am... On the whole, a nice thing. (Okay, the "music" they play here positively sucks about 95% of the time, but I've learned to ignore it.) But it does mean I have to get out of the house and walk a dozen blocks or so. And on monday, I was busy thumping on my new distro and catching up with the 24,000 unread messages in linux-kernel (yes, really), plus some consulting work that was just analysis which I had all the stuff for on my laptop already, that I just didn't get out of the house.

So today after dropping the cat (her name is George) off at the vet to be "Edited for Content" (and vaccinated, and have an orwellian tracking microchip inplanted in her butt for reasons of national security), I packed up my laptop, headed out the door, and my cell phone rang.

It was my friend Eric, whose server "grelber" I'm using to host my website and collect my email (until I get my own up, see above. Yes, I've been in this condo since the end of August, had the cable modem since... January? And I haven't gotten my server set up yet. I've finally unpacked all my books, though. That's gotta count for something.) Eric's calling to tell me that his DSL got disconnected, that the problem's in the line going into his house, and that the phone company up in Pennsylvania won't even be able to tell him how long it'll take to fix for four hours. (Not "we'll have it fixed in four hours", but "we'll have an ETA for fixing it in four hours.)

I didn't say I had _good_ timing. Just timing. Out the door, laptop bag in hand, phone rings. A day _after_ I skip reading my email (although I do queue up 22 outgoing messages in my laptop's outbox for when I'm connected to the net again).

And those messages are still there, because I send my outgoing mail through the same server I read mail through. (This makes spam filters happier, the sending mail server has an mx record for the domain the mail claims to originate from. My laptop thinks I'm running sendmail on loopback, but the server there intercepts the connections, does an ssh tunnel into grelber, and then connects to the local sendmail there via netcat. Easy.)

So thanks to metro I've got net access, but I can neither send nor receive email unless I want to rip apart a configuration I'll just have to fix again when grelber goes back online in 24 hours.

On the bright side, it's motivating me to work towards actually getting the server on my cable modem up and running sometime soon...