20 August 2005

About four years ago, my boss moved us into a new building and we were checking out internet access pricing. That was the height of the internet bubble and pricing was much, much higher that it is now and many networks weren’t nearly as built-out as they are now. Road Runner business class was available but not in the building, as was DSL. Other tenants in the office building where we were had a t-1 from XO communica-tion. As we began investigating options, a technology called “fixed wireless” came to the forefront. Fixed wireless is similar to the wireless hubs all over town in principal. There is a “central location” in a fixed wireless market. The customers put something akin to a “satellite dish” on their roof and aim it at the central location. The roof must be line-of-site of the mother ship and the connection gets funky with the weather. The landlord told us that we “weren’t allowed” to put a connection on the roof of the building and that we would HAVE to go with XO if we wanted anything more than dial-up. My boss hit the roof. How dare they dictate to us the vendor from which we choose internet access…. as our business is internet programming and design, that constitutes “Restraint of Trade”… etc, etc….. ok, ok, whatever

When we told the fixed wireless people that we “weren’t allowed” to install, they said that was common in their industry. The landlord didn’t want to allow them roof access, didn’t want the hardware on their and so on. They had a deal that if we could get 2 more people in the building to enlist, our installation and access was free. My boss countered that if he got them into the building, they would float us the access in exchange for the ability to sell other people on access. They bit, my boss fought the landlord and so we have free internet access. That was almost 5 years ago.

In those 5 years the service has been relatively slow…. but all of us are comparing it to the Road Runner we have at home. It’s faster than dail-up and it’s slowly gotten faster over the 5 years… or websites have gotten more optimized and it feels faster than it was when we first got it. Whatever the case… I feel the quality of service has slowly pro-gressed and the service itself is fine for a small office where other options are too costly or not available.

Tampa Bay is the lightning capitol of the world. There are more lightning strikes in this 5 county area than anywhere else in the world… some Fifty- Thousand every year. Tampa Bay’s Hockey team is actually called “the Lightning”. This past wednesday, during a massive lightning storm the building got hit. The installation on the roof was zapped as were the network cards in several computers.

Our company’s internet access has been down since then. Why do we put up with it? Because it’s free and my boss is too cheap to actually PAY for internet access because he’s getting it for free.

So i’ve been tearing my hear out all day at work trying to get us back up. It’s very odd to work in an office without internet access. Much of the things I take for granted I can no longer do. Last year I threw out all the yellow pages because we were all using Super-Pages or yahoo to look anything up. We’ve had to dial 411 on everything… which is a major pain.

No email, no IM. My roommate has been texting me about a project… I can’t do any-thing about it, I’m not connected.

But mostly just a sense of “disconnected-ness” … “uninvolved”-ness… irrelevancy… It’s odd how just a few days of no internet can make you feel that way. Radio doesn’t help and news on the cell phone’s wap browser ain’t gonna cut it. I gotta get connected again. I feel like a junkie who needs a fix. I won’t be satisfied until I can hit news.yahoo.com and get a response.

I don’t have a problem; I can quit anytime.

So the guy shows up at 3:30 and spends almost an hour on the roof. He’s done around 4:30 and I begin trying to resurrect the server. I soon realize that the zap has taken both server network cards with it. A quick trip to best buy and I get a Linksys wireless router up in place of the server and I’m finally routing traffic. Thank god. I’m finally up and go-ing again.