I got a chance to work from home today in an effort to figure out how to get our car back. It was cool because while I’ve sorta-kinda worked while not actually being in the office before, this was the first time it actually counted as a day of work. That my boss was cool enough to let me do this already (I mean, I’ve only been working this job for about four months) either means he’s got a lot of faith in me or he has no idea how clueless I am.
At least in this case I’ve done the self-motivation thing before so I’m not concerned about my own performance in that regard, it’s more of an issue where I really would like for this to be something I can continue to do on a semi-regular basis. In order for that to happen I need to show that not only will working from home not be problematic but also that my overall skill in my job is continuing to improve despite being away from the office on occasion.
Of course in terms of the car situation, there was some miscommunication with the insurance company and I’m still not completely clear how we’re supposed to get it back in our possession (I thought I would need to go with Nik to the tow yard it’s being stored in so one of us could drive it home). So in the end my working from home was not strictly vital but it turned out to be a good thing that I was here to help Nik sort out the confusion with AAA.
Network? Yeah, Right
For someone who is ostensibly a computer geek and who makes a living solving computer-related issues, there are few things more frustrating than running into a stumper which negatively impacts someone I care about. Last night Nik and I went to HB and Gin‘s place for some barbecued steak to celebrate the first reasonable weather day in what feels like forever. The food was good, the company was excellent (as always) but after dinner Gin suggested that I give her new Sony Viao laptop a look to see if I could get her on their wireless network.
Troubleshooting network issues, especially wireless network issues, is not exactly my forte. It’s also not exactly my idea of a fun evening, but HB and Gin are exceptions to the rule because a) they seem to have mostly converted to Mac folk which I certainly respect and admire and b) they’re good people who had just fed me a marvelous dinner. What was I going to say, “Yeah, thanks for the steak but I’m not interested”? Hardly.
It became pretty clear off the bat that the Belkin PCMCIA wireless adapter Gin had and its associated software was designed by feral orangutans so it wasn’t going to be easy. But I forged ahead, fiddling with the connection settings, SSID keys and whatnot until I got to the point where it should have been online and working but I could get no traffic coming in from the Internets. Puzzled, I tried to transfer some of the settings I found on their AirPort Express configuration over to the laptop for a while and while I was doing that HB decided to show Nik a website he had found.
As he fired up Safari, it said there was no connection to the Internet there, either. So switching gears to troubleshoot the Mac, I started investigating. It was possibly the weirdest network issue I’ve ever seen: Everything was fine. The internal network worked just dandy, with the APE receiving the signal from iTunes to play over the stereo and the AirPort status was listed as on, active and connected to the Internet. Yet there was no signal coming from the outside world. Gin even kindly called Comcast to see if there was some freaky, coincidental outage at that moment but, alas, no.
What really baked my noodle was that I hadn’t touched a single thing on the Mac. Other than opening the configuration panels for the APE to look at the settings, none of them had been messed with. It made no sense. After an hour or more of frustrating trial-and-error, I was pretty grouchy, Gin seemed to be concerned for my sanity, HB was asleep on the couch and Nik was gently urging me to give up so she could head home. Somehow leaving their network in worse shape than I had found it when they had merely requested some help seemed very rude.
Eventually, on the verge of doing what inevitably leads to nightmarish support calls and wiping everything clean and starting from scratch, Nik and Gin finally talked me in off the proverbial ledge and promised that it wasn’t a big deal. After all, they reasoned, I was coming back on Friday to watch the playoff game so I could maybe sleep on it, get some inspiration or look up some online help guides and get it all back to normal in a jiffy. Unconvinced but now thinking clearly enough to not desire any kind of major catastrophe wrought by frustration, I conceded.
The funny thing about being a geek with a certain sense of pride in the moniker, I didn’t sleep well last night as my dreams were plagued by uncooperative network adapters who, for whatever reason, were semi-sentient and acted vaguely like domestic chickens.