Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

11/15/2008

What a Gas!

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Dog and Pony Shows,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:09 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

My house almost blew up tonight.

No, really.
As I write this, I’m waiting for a serviceman from Centerpoint Energy to come out and turn my gas back on. Apparently, shortly after I left for church this evening a neighbor smelled gas by my house. They called emergency services in Jersey Village, where I live. When the emergency services got out, they could smell gas, so they turned off my power and got Centerpoint out. Centerpoint repaired the leak, or so it seems. Actually, the first thing the serviceman is going to check is to make sure the leak isn’t a leak any more. Then, assuming all is well, he’ll turn the gas on and I can light all my pilots and so on. That’s why the gas was turned off when I got home. Naturally, they couldn’t find me, since I’d gone to church, so they couldn’t turn anything on until they knew I could light all the pilots again. Otherwise, my house would have filled with gas, hit something electric and, well, let’s just say I was irritated with the whole thing until I got the lights back on and figured out what almost happened. Thank God!

I guess my little efforts and building up a little good karma in the short term paid off today.
See, I helped two people with computer things today. This morning, I started reformating and reinstalling my friend J.’s wife, L’s, laptop. She’d been having problems with it and I looked at it several times, but I couldn’t find anything obviously wrong. So, rather than spend any more time on it, I backed up her files and started reinstalling it. Of course, that got interrupted by my power being out, but, still, I’m sure I’ll get it done pretty quick now while I wait for Centerpoint to turn my gas back on.

The other person I did a little mitzvah for was Alison over at Inspired Work of Self-Indulgence.
She was having a little trouble with Comcast and their network. More specifically, it seemed to me she was having a problem with the assigned DNS servers. As any good network geek knows, an Internet connection with out DNS isn’t very useful. She had a connection, sure, but she couldn’t get anywhere. Comcast had been out multiple times trying to fix things. They’d even changed out her cable modem, which seemed to be connected fine when I looked at it. But, her wireless gateway was picking up the normal, default DNS servers from Comcast’s autoconfiguration. I reset the wireless router to the factory default and tweaked the settings a bit. The part that I think mattered the most was adding additional DNS servers from outside Comcast’s network. So now, if the main DNS server goes down or stops working, the backup servers should still find what she’s looking for.
Though, if the problem comes back, it occurred to me on the way home from church that it might be her laptop turning off her wireless connection in a power-save mode, so I might have to check that. (If she’s reading this, that’s a hint!) In any case, it was nice to at long last finally get to meet her. We’ve exchanged e-mail and comments and read each other’s blog posts for quite literally years now. She even sent me cookies when I was in the hospital getting chemotherapy that first time! But today was the first time actually meeting. Hopefully, now that she’s seen I’m completely harmless, it won’t be the last time.
Oh, and I got to meet Piedmont and his new pet human, er, owner. Both were sweet, too. And, of course, I got to meet Cheyenne, Alison’s chocolate lab. She’s as cute in person as in the pictures Alison takes of her and as spoiled, too! She has almost as much tummy as my own Hilda!

So, in spite of almost coming home to a smoking hole in the ground where my house used to be, it turned out to be quite a good day indeed! Stay warm, y’all, and make sure to check your gas!

Update: Apparently, my sins still out-weigh my good deeds, since the guy from Centerpoint Energy never showed up. I stayed up waiting for him until 4:00am, then went to bed, mumbling about liars in the night. I wish it were the first time.
I’m half tempted to turn it on myself and to hell with them. But, better safe than sorry, so I’ll just mumble quiet, Lovecraftian curses on them and try to be on about my day until the next lying serviceman arrives.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"When you handle yourself, use your head; when you handle other, use your heart."
   --Donna Reed

10/29/2007

Decisions, Decisions…

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Ooo, shiny...,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:43 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

So, my television died yesterday.

I’ve had this old Panasonic 27-inch tv for somewhere over ten years and it’s finally died.  Saturday night, when I shut off the cable box, the tv, which I usually leave on, went to a blue, video-feed-like screen instead of just going dark.  So, naturally, I shut it off.  The next morning when I went to turn it on, all I got was a weird, high-pitched buzzing sound, but no picture.  I tried unplugging it and letting it “rest”, but that didn’t seem to make a difference, so I have no choice but to assume that it’s dead.

Now, I suppose, I could try to get it repaired, but, frankly, it’s so old that I doubt it’s worth the effort.  And, it’s not like I don’t have a smaller television in the bedroom that I don’t normally use which could replace the old one.  But, still, it’s not the big tv that I’ve gotten used to watching.
And, with the recent increases in Comcast’s pricing, I have been thinking about scaling back my cable bill.  I mean, what’s up with them reducing the number of channels then increasing the price, anyway?  Besides, I’ve been watching too much television anyway.  That damn glowing box lures me in and sucks all my productivity right out.  So, it costs me in two ways.

But, here’s my dilemma…  I’ve been saving the revenue from the ads on my websites toward a nice digital camera.  Now, I’m not talking a simple “point-and-click” here, but an actual digital SLR.  The kind that you can change lenses on and adjust all kinds of settings and so on.  I used to take regular film pictures with an old, old Nikon F3.  But, I never took a class on how to develop film, never taught myself, and got tired of taking my film to an expensive, busy camera shop to get the film developed.  I especially got tired of them always telling me that I’d over, or under, exposed the film.  I mean, I knew I wasn’t doing it right, which was the whole point of the experimentation.  I was trying to figure it all out, as usual, on my own using my own methods.  In fact, even though I gave up on that, I still have the camera.
In any case, I’ve been doing well on revenues and I’m getting close to the purchase price of either a decent Cannon or an even better Nikon.  I’ve been reading up and pricing them and have settled on either the Cannon Xti or the Nikon D80.  They’re fairly close in features, and not too far apart in price.  The kicker is, though, they’re both about the same cost as a replacement television.

So, do I make do with less so I can get the camera sooner?  Or, do I put off the camera again for months, so I can suckle at the glass teat now?  Or, do I get the camera now, cut back my cable bill and save that and the money from the web advertising toward a better television a little later?

Well, the one thing I do know, is that I shouldn’t make a decision when I’m agitated about it, so I’ll be sitting on that for a bit.  But, I should probably make a decision soon so I can cancel services on my cable account before they start charging me for a bunch of stuff I don’t use.


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