Sunday, May 14, 2006

Power and electrons

My office building had a scheduled power outage this weekend to accommodate construction on my floor.

Saturday afternoon found me shutting down Linux, Sun, and Windows machines plus various networking hardware before the scheduled cutoff time at five PM. We had a slight mixup with the security guard during the outage, and others in the building weren't as prepared as I, so the power didn't go off until after six.

I'm thinking of the sound, now. First an audible clunk, almost more felt than heard, as someone throws the breakers. Next, dozens of UPSs squealing simultaneously (such an ugly noise!). The cacophony of all these little batteries, all starting within a half-second of each other, all different brands and tones and pitches and frequency; all crying out at the same time for life in the dim and the dark, behind doors and echoing out of the lab and across cubicles. Then the realization in the Count Basie silences between the beeping that the unconscious thrumming of the HVAC and temperature control have ceased, and a swift but fleeting feeling of isolation and dependence on the industrial complex and electricity, and all that implies to a near-sighted knowledge worker/skilled technician.

Coming home, I learned that our home theatre has started to flake out, with the DVD player deciding that it now wants to be convinced to play DVDs. That's unacceptable, so we went to Fry's and snagged a new Sony Home-Theatre-in-a-Box. Setting it up was a dream- the disc changer and receiver meshing together into a single slim component with color-coded speaker cables. The whole affair capped off with my ritualistically THX testing and calibration using the Star Wars DVD.

I brought all the machines back up today, and all went well. At a guess, I'd say it took about half the time to bring things back up; it's faster to press a button or two and move on to the next than to type "shutdown -h now" or "shutdown -y -i5 -0" or click Start | Shutdown | Shutdown. Not to mention simply finding the right keyboard or mouse for a given system, logging someone off when they forgot to follow directions to do so, or shifting mental gears between OSs.

After a tasty cheesesteak at Texadelphia with Cat, I then went to my brother's to help him with his new KVM and data transfer, fiddle with a FireWire card, watch some Patton Oswalt stand-up, and donate the old surround sound to his entertainment.

Current projects on my biscuit: Bring up a Windows Gaming Box, figure out how to bring up Musicbox, revise 1984 Prime (my award-winning roleplaying game), catch up on my backlog of movie reviews.

Don't forget; today is Mother's Day in the US. What did you do?

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