12/12/2002

Today’s Client Moment is sponsored by Sprint, my bandwidth provider.

A client sent me an e-mail with an attachment that’s 155MB. Yes, that’s megabytes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an e-mail message larger than perhaps 10MB or so. He definitely takes the cake with this one.

The real problem occurred when I tried to run it through my spam filters and it brought the software to its knees. After disabling the filters, I’m trying to download it (again) and will see what happens.

12/12/2002

One of the great songs in music history is U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”.

I was listening to it and thinking how funny it is that although I’m nearly 31 (yikes!) I indeed haven’t found my path in life. While I don’t necessarily believe in fate or predestination, I think everyone has a mission, a goal, to fulfill. I also believe that at some point– maybe when you’re 12, maybe when you’re 88– you know what that goal is.

I still haven’t found it. But I’m having a good time looking.

12/10/2002

Wow. My BitRelay servers have survived their trial by fire… over the past five days, one of my clients’ web sites was hit 3.4 million times by more than half a million distinct users. I have no idea what the guy did to get that kind of traffic (neither does he), but it brought my network connection to its knees and slowed down all the other sites (obviously, since there was quite a line to get in!).

Still, I can’t help but be a little proud that the server handled 3.4M page requests– along with all my other client web and e-mail traffic– without even a burp.

Linux rocks.

12/07/2002

Tonight I received another sign that I shouldn’t even attempt to do projects around the house.

For reasons unknown to mortal men, the electricians who wired our house put several light switches in places you’d never expect to find them. The worst is the dining room, which actually has TWO switches: one in the kitchen and one in the stairwell (?).

Almost as annoying as their placement is the fact that since they’re double switches, either one can be used to turn on and off the lights. But the way they were installed, if the lights are off one switch is up and one is down. So you might have to flip the switch up to turn on the lights– or, you might have to flip it down.

A minor thing? Sure it is. But it sure gets annoying after a while. So I decided I’d be a manly man and fix the problem. It’s a simple concept: remove the faceplate from the light switch, flip the switch itself and screw it back in, and put the faceplate back. Surely someone with a college degree can handle this…

As I was mucking around with the switch (keep in mind there were TWO switches in this particular wall box; one controlled the stairway lighting) I must have bumped the wrong wire into the wrong other wire. There was a crack, hiss, and (no kidding) a shower of brilliant orange sparks flying out of the receptacle. Not surprisingly, the lights went out with it.

Okay, lesson learned: I should’ve gone to the breaker box and turned off the power. But– and this is the icing on the cake– the electricians labeled the breaker switch “kitchen lights”. I would’ve never even known which breaker to shut off!

Yeesh. I should stick to web programming.

12/07/2002

Wow, this is awesome! It’s a letter from none other than Christ, and apparently he got my “contact” from the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry! I’m really glad I registered with them.

Now I assume all I have to do is give Christ my bank account number and I’ll be rich…

———- Forwarded Message ———-

Subject: BUSINESS PROPOSAL
Date: Sun, 8 Dec 2002 02:08:56 +0100
From: “DR.CHRIST ADUBACA”
To: jeff@neobox.net

ATTN:PRESIDENT/CEO,

TRANSFER OF $28,600,000:00 (TWENTY-EIGHT MILLION SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND U.S. DOLLARS) ONLY.

I got your contact from the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Following this and other investigations resulting in a good recommendation. We have decided to contact you to help us with the legal Transfer of US$28,600,000.00 (Twenty-Eight Million Six hundred Thousand United States Dollars).

12/06/2002

Wow, today’s been one of “those days”. After a great lunch with my friends Scott and Derek (I haven’t seen Scott in nearly a year; he was literally touring the globe) I came back to several client disasters. People needed emergency fixes; people’s networks didn’t work right; people’s web sites weren’t doing what they should.

None of it was actually my fault or anything, but it’s always hard to be slammed into a wall of requests that all have to be answered immediately. So I plowed through them one at a time, trying to multi-task as other friends sent e-mail and instant messages, and finally finished.

All the fires are out, and now it’s 4:15 on a Friday. Too bad I haven’t even started the work I had planned on spending the day doing!

12/06/2002

I saw a posting for a web development job that was right up my alley. It was the same kind of stuff I’ve been doing for years, and mentioned several small, ongoing projects… perfect for my situation.

So I applied, and received a response that was unexpected but hilarious:

“Please send the URL for your content managed site, if you think that will knock my socks off, as that is almost primarily what we are after. And (polite cough), some of it is, er…a little naughty in a naked sense, but nothing at all very naughty. So let’s cross that hurdle and let me know if your hat is still in the ring. I have a mainstream business too, but right now my naughty stuff (all from the UK, by the way) is taking over.”

I had to respectfully decline, explaining that I don’t really want my company’s portfolio to include content management for (polite cough) porn sites.

12/06/2002

Tonight we went to Applebee’s for dinner, to celebrate Alex’s kindergarten Christmas party. The kids and I had lemonade to drink, as usual, and our refills had some kind of fizzy stuff in them (Sprite?).

Kyra took her first gulp and then looked over at me.

“Dad, this doesn’t have alcohol in it, right?”

12/02/2002

Today it’s 53 degrees outside. And our driveway is coated in a thick layer of ice.

Nice how the house completely shades the driveway from the sun. I suspect by the end of winter we’ll have a serious glacier out there, and it’ll melt sometime in July…

12/02/2002

Part of the fun of working at home is being able to jam to music while I work. No headphones, no low volume… just big speakers in a small room, and throbbing bass.

… And who could ever complain about some Weird Al Yankovic tunes blasting?

Woo hoo!

11/30/2002

Today was the day to hang Christmas lights. It was pretty chilly– about 45 degrees– but you can’t hope for much more this time of year. I dug out the ol’ box from the basement and went through all the existing sets of lights to see which ones worked. Surprisingly, only two sets were dead. Still, the others are in pretty sad shape (some of them date back almost a decade, from my college days). I took the kids on a trip to Wal-Mart so they could see all the glitz and glamour of the Christmas section. (Aieeee!)

Picked up some sets of 100 lights– very nice. After some excitement with the wiring, trying to get everything to run off two plugs, I think I’ve got it all in place. We’ll see how it looks when the sun sets tonight…

11/29/2002

We’ve got a baby monitor. It’s got a transmitter that you put up by the baby, and a receiver you put wherever you are (in my case, the basement). Nice for hearing if Zack wakes up, since I can’t possibly hear him two floors down.

Anyway, Alex and Kyra decided they wanted to play with it. They turned it on, and then one of them ran upstairs to the transmitter.

“Hi Alex!” yelled Kyra into the transmitter.
“Hi Kyra!” yelled Alex back. Of course, she couldn’t hear him, since it’s just a receiver.
“Hi Alex!”
(pause)
“Alex, can you hear me?”
(pause)
“Alex!”
(pause)
“ALEX!”

Alex figured out that she couldn’t hear him, so he tried to end the conversation:

“Kyra, that’s enough talking for now.”
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALEX!”

I was laughing pretty hard when Kyra stormed downstairs and demanded to know why Alex wasn’t answering her.

11/28/2002

Ah, Thanksgiving.

We went to celebrate with our friends the Lukowskis. They’re great, a lot of fun, and (most importantly on this particular day) fabulous cooks. We brought a handful of homemade cinnamon rolls and some dinner rolls, and they provided everything else: turkey, cranberries, potatoes, carrots in a white sauce, candied yams, Jello salad, pumpkin cheesecake, stuffing, gravy, and all the other trimmings.

Oh, and plastic cups.

What a marvelous way to celebrate friendship, food, and generally all the great blessings of life.

11/26/2002

If I ever stop learning, I might as well stop living.

11/26/2002

I went to Sears today to buy the towels and rugs we need to outfit all our bathrooms. Several bathrooms have towels dating back to our pre-married days (six years ago!) and of course our new bathroom in the basement has been pretty much empty for the few months it’s been around.

After lugging two enormous piles of towels and rugs to the checkout counter (Sears doesn’t have carts, of course), I was subject to the fascinating spectacle of watching the saleswoman Maureen ring up my order.

She’d take a washcloth, carefully unfold it to find the tag with the UPC, and hold it up to the laser scanner. The little red light would dance across the UPC for a few seconds; she’d shift the tag around a bit to get a better angle; the light would continue to flicker; she’d move the scanner a bit and then move the washcloth a bit. Finally, with a satisfied BEEP, the system would read the UPC.

Then she’d fold up the washcloth very carefully and place it gently into the gigantic plastic bag on the counter. She’d pick up the next washcloth (which was identical to the one she’d just scanned, but I guess she didn’t know she could hit the “Again” key or whatever to ring up the same item) and repeat the entire process.

It must have taken fifteen minutes for her to ring up the thirty or so items I had. A line of people grew behind me, and I probably would’ve laughed if I wasn’t getting so impatient. It was comical, how slow and deliberate she was.

In the end I bought two hundred dollars’ worth of bathroom linen. Sheesh. Maybe I should revert to a grungy rug in each bathroom, and let people wipe their hands on their jeans after they use the sink.

11/22/2002

Qwest strikes again!

We’re having sprinklers installed in our backyard, and the guy doing it was being all proper by calling the phone company and asking them to come out and flag the underground phone lines. They did.

Then he cranks up the trenching machine and starts digging pipelines, and (surprise!) smacks right into a phone line. Who knows why it’s there; it seems to cut diagonally through the yard for reasons only a Qwest engineer could fathom.

So our neighbor Bill will be without phone service for a while, I guess…

11/21/2002

Today we cleared the rocks out of our backyard. This is part of the preparation for re-grading the soil, installing a sprinkler system, and dropping in sixty (yes, SIXTY) tons of topsoil and compost.

In addition to the fun fist-sized rocks peppering the yard, I came across two enormous chunks of concrete buried just beneath the surface. Each one easily weighed twenty pounds. What in the world are chunks of concrete that big doing in my backyard?!

11/20/2002

Who would’ve guessed it would be so hard to find matching bath sets? We went on an odyssey in search of bath mats and towels in certain colors: navy, maroon, forest green, and a dark purple (all jewel tones). Seemed simple enough.

After going to Wal-Mart, Target, JCPenney’s, Sears, and Dillard’s we learned that you simply can’t buy that. Some stores had a set of navy but no green. Others had most of the colors but no small rugs (for in front of the sink). All in all, two hours resulted in nothing.

Dang.

11/20/2002

Today at breakfast Alex was singing the ABC song.

Kyra turned to him and said deadpan, “Alex, stop it. You’re making me nervous.”

11/19/2002

For three days my client has been trying to get their brand new network laser printer working. When I was last there, I configured it for all the right network settings and left it for them to finish, because at that time there wasn’t a network cable for the printer to use.

So after a number of exasperated troubleshooting calls from the client, I finally agreed to go down there (45 minutes each way) to get the printer working. It turns out they’d connected it with a crossover cable instead of a straight-through cable. Simple mistake, sure, but it took all of a minute for me to recognize the problem.

It reminded me of the story where the consultant shows up to fix the problem and spends about a minute doing so. His invoice is for some outlandish amount of money (in my case, seventy-five bucks) and when he’s questioned, he simply itemizes the costs.

Fixing problem: $5
Knowing how to fix problem: $70

Ahh, clients.