Monthly Archives: September 2011

Offline and Out

So the apartment saga grows more absurd. I’ve been without an Internet connection since Thursday because of the actions of idiots. There is a small construction crew doing work on the apartment complex; they’re rebuilding the supports for all the upper-floor walkways, replacing the rotting wooden vertical beams with steel. Fine, I say.

But Thursday, I noticed that my ssh connection to my house had gone dead. Nothing I could do from work would bring it back. OK, I thought. So after I finally get home, I take a look. The power to the apartment is on; it didn’t burn in a fire; the server was running and was responsive; but the cable modem was offline. So I log into the cable modem, the signal level was low enough that it basically said “Hey, I’m physically disconnected.” So I grab my flashlight and look outside, tracing the cable line as far as I can. Didn’t take long before I found the problem: the construction crew intentionally cut my cable line. They cut a lot of people’s lines. Intentionally.

So I called Time Warner and let them know what was going on; they’ll send me a tech to service the line, but the soonest he can come out is — get this — Sunday. Three days without Internet at my apartment. I had a nice little chat with the landlady about it the next morning. She basically covered for their stupid asses and made excuses. Blowing smoke, basically. “Oh, they had to do that, it was in the way…they’ll fix it today.” Like I trust welders to repair my telecommunications lines. By end of Friday, you know what happened? Absolutely nothing. They didn’t fix it. Why did she feel like it was necessary to lie like that?

At least I know I’m not the only one inconvenienced by the debacle. There were at least ten other lines cut. My only hope is that Time Warner will take notice and see fit to fine the apartment management for letting this happen, and that the management will pass the buck on to the contractors. It’s a damn good thing I’m moving out; this whole things just feels like a final “Fuck you, get out” sort of thing.

On a positive note, my lease application was accepted at the new place, and all I gotta do is sign the lease agreement, decide on a move-in date, and write a check. Can’t wait. Been slowly moving stuff out of my apartment and into the storage. Now that I’ve gotten a lot of stuff trashed, given away, or stashed in the storage unit, the amount of stuff I have doesn’t seem so unbearable.

Budge Packing

Quick note to inform you guys that I’m intending to move out of my apartment by month’s end. The neighbors upstairs have gotten aggressive with their noisemaking, and since my lease expires on the 30th, it’s high time to get the fuck out. Tired of being rudely awakened every morning before 7 by their stomping and chores. We had a “discussion” in the breezeway yesterday, and it came out that my sarcastic note on their door (as well as my banging on my ceiling) meant I was an asshole. “At least have the decency to talk to us,” they said. Like that would end well.

That was all the prompting I needed to find a place and get wheels in motion. I checked out a place coming up for rent that adds 120 square feet for only $85 more. It’s one more exit up MoPac, but I’ll live. Put in my application, application fee, and earnest money on the place…here’s hoping my rental and background check come up OK. Assuming that’ll fly, then I got it. Here’s hoping.

Rented a storage unit as a way-station for my packing. It’s what I did last time I moved, and it proved immensely useful to have things mostly moved out so all I needed to do on moving day was furniture and a few final boxes, and then move all my stuff from the storage unit to my new place on my own leisure. I’m doing that this time, too, mostly to ensure that I can get out as fast as possible.

In that light, I’ve been digging through my boxes. Can you believe I’ve come across at least five boxes full of miscellaneous paper crap that I’ll never, ever need? We’re talking bills from 1997, check stubs from jobs I had a decade ago, paperwork for health insurance I’m no longer covered by. Like who the hell needs that crap?

If it’s older than 2007, do I really need it? No. No I don’t. So unless it’s something interesting, like a sketch, doodle, greeting card, letter, tax paperwork, or something to do with any of my current concerns, it’s perfect fodder for the shredder and trash bag. Seriously, I’ve collected too much bullshit, and it’s time to clean that bull out. So far, I’ve liberated five boxes. Immensely gratifying. And there’s more to come!

I’m really hoping I’ll get this place. It’s got a balcony, it’s upstairs, has outside storage, and except for the smaller kitchen is more spacious. There’s some quirks that I’ll have to adjust to, but all told, it’s a change for the better. Wish me luck.

Pure Power

O’Brien: “Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”

— George Orwell, “1984”

Mushroom, Cloud

There once was a DARPA defense project to create a decentralized communications network that had very few points of weakness and therefore could survive a nuclear attack. ARPAnet.

Academia joined on. The network grew, proved it was functional. Project a success, network renamed The Internet, as in “a network of networks”. All was well.

Electronic mail — email — and remote login to connected mainframes — telnet — was born. Researchers could share work, loan computer time, and join each other’s projects without traveling.

Realtime communications between users on the same system had existed — chat — but eventually a method to share and broadcast these chat messages between users on physically separate but connected systems came into being: Internet Relay Chat, or IRC. The network grew more vivacious.

File servers were set up to archive and share any file of interest: File Transfer Protocol, or FTP. A user could upload a picture or download a program.

Indexes were created to help users search these file and message archives: Archie and Gopher. The future was handy.

People could mail messages to special addresses to be publicly posted into groups based on common interests: Usenet. Anybody could come along and read these messages, then post a reply if they felt so inclined. Like posting a note on an office message board.

A few major businesses and a lot more schools joined the Internet. Those students graduated and formed a class of businesses called Internet Service Providers to allow themselves, and their customers, to retain access to the network.

In the early 90’s, a researcher at a European particle physics lab, CERN, built the greatest killer app of them all: The World Wide Web. Hypertext had hit the mainstream. Anyone could publish a document and link it to other documents anywhere else, giving rise to the “spiderweb” of threads between documents. The possibilities multiplied.

Late 90’s, the Internet, with the bright light of the WWW, began to attract those with lots of money to invest like moths to a porch light. New money was born, “DotComs” flourished, stock speculators placed bets. The Web reached critical mass. Soon, anything and everything you’d want began showing up on the Internet; things previously inaccessible found their way online for either profit or community. A new world dawned.

The rise of journaling and weblogs gave new voice to millions who discovered the richness and depth of long-form commentary. Every person could have a say, each one an audience. The banquet tables were filled with plenty of food for thought for everybody.

Then along came Facebook and those of its ilk, and all was forgotten about the rest of the Internet. All attention became centralized; where once was many voices in delightful cacophony became a few choirs singing nursery rhymes amongst themselves. The vast mindshare all across the net quickly funneled into one point of weakness. An attack on this would be devastating, and like subway riders in a power outage, all would be lost in the dark.