Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sneakin' One In

My DSL Saga continues. Today, I'm waiting for an AT&T Tech to visit the DaveCave to fix my DSL drop-out problem. My "Service Window" is 8AM-8PM owing to the fact that it's Saturday.

My new NETGEAR Modem/Router is doing yeoman's duty when the DSL isn't freaking out. This morning, I streamed P3 live from Monza where the Italian Grand Prix will run Sunday morning at 4:30AM PDT I watched the whole stream without a glitch at 2AM PDT. My alarm roused me at 5AM to watch Qualifying LIVE on SpeedTV...young Sebastian Vettel grabbed the pole position...his 10th in 13 races this season.

I got a phone call from an AT&T Service Tech Dispatcher in St Louis about 9AM, I explained my problem and he said the tech would call me this afternoon. There's no point to coming over if the DSL isn't dropping. These intermittent problems are the worst.

I'll just hang out... 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Phone Line Funnies

Confession time...I've been dragging my feet all week. I'm so not enthused by putting a new distributor in my pickup. My summer cold was good cover...while "laid up" I avoided the guilt of procrastination.

Today was to be the day...until I found yet another DSL started acting up about noon. All weekend, I thought it was the local broadband infrastructure bending under the weight of holiday visitors and the Burning Man Festival north of Reno. This afternoon, I decided it was my antique modem failing. Fortunately, I had a new Wireless-N modem/router on hand just waiting for me to find the time to install it.

I hooked everything up, ran the install wizard, and in under 30 minutes I was burning up the broadband. I did a speed test online...1017 eightfold improvement from my ancient setup!

My old gear dates to eternity in tech. When I ditched my landline telephone last summer and ordered "naked" DSL in November, It took an hour with AT&T Tech Support to get it all sorted out...getting the billing to catch up with me took another three months!

I had long suspected that the ASDL/phone line filters from the original setup were the real bottleneck. I looked all over for a non-filtered adapter to run the RJ11 phone line into the Cat5 ethernet cable to no avail.

The new system is filter-free and performed like a Ferarri for 3-4 hours before I saw the old drop out replete with blinking LEDs. I waited 'till all was A-OK, and surfed to AT&T's High Speed Internet Support Site to find a telephone number to speak to a human tech...After several pages, I gave up and clicked to start a support chat. The drop down page said I was third in the queue...until the DSL dropped out. I refreshed when all the LEDs were back in a row, and found myself fifth in the queue.

Twenty minutes of tech chat with the lovely Emily (hb638e), and I ended up with some email links to the pay to play AT&T ConnecTech, and the modem/router manufacturer...the DSL was steady as she goes all through our chat. It's hell when you know what's wrong, but it's an intermittent problem that refuses to show when the Man is on the line!

I learned that the ConnecTech was 24/7, and decided to give them a call when I wasn't using wireless minutes. Everything ran fine except for a flurry of outages between 4:55 and 6:14. Everything firmed up and ran like that Italian sports car until another dropout storm around 7:30-8:15. I powered off and back on, rebooted the laptop, and after 10 minutes of genuflecting tech gear, the LEDs lined up again. It's just after midnight, I just did a speed test (1230kbps!), and the thing is as solid as a pre-bailout GM pickup.

About 8:30, my Sainted Mother phoned to warn me to stay away for another day or two...she's got a summer cold now! Believe me, this is high comedy! I asked if she had enough vanilla ice cream to tide her over, and suggested that she might think about upping the chicken soup portion of her diet at the expense of the confections. She assured me that everything would turn out OK, I told her I'd phone tomorrow LEDs, but our ducks are all in a row now!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September Grab Bag

Summer is winding down and snow and ski news is starting to trickle in. @CorduroyPlanet's Twitter stream came alive last week with snow and resort news, and many tweeters I haven't seen since the last weeks of last season have awakened from their summer slumber.

Early snowfall in Colorado is first out of the blocks this year. @Liftopia linked the early snow story. @Skiingmag retweeted @COPowder's photo from Winter Park here.

These are 12,000ft events up in the in Truckee the afternoon highs have been close to 80°F, cooling overnight into the low 50s. It's been more than a week since the Airport's Official Thermometer recorded the 48 State Low at 32°F.

The KTRK METAR station is biased as much as 10°-15° cooler than the Town of Truckee itself due to the airport's site in the Martis Valley. Next time you drive from Truckee to Northstar, take a look around as you pass the Truckee Airport. It's in a giant bowl, surrounded by mountains towering 2500ft above. All the cold air from those peaks runs down those peaks to find the Official Thermometers, skewing the temperature record lower.

I'm starting to hear a little La Niña noise above the general din. Even semi-summer-silent @PistenBullyUSA tweeted the speculation between tweets thanking PistenBully customers for buying another snowcat from the German manufacturer.

One of the BullyTweets caught my touts their new PistenBully EQ.1 Diesel/Electric Hybrid Groomer. I spent some time searching for the details of their hybrid system, but it looks like PB is playing this pretty close to their vest. There might be something here.

I'm imagining a diesel engine running a generator that drives the track motors and implement motors, along the line of the railroad's diesel electric locomotives. I'm pretty sure there would still be auxiliary hydraulic pumps to run the blade and stinger functions.

PistenBully touts a 25% fuel savings for the EQ.1. Torque is never a problem with electric motors, given enough horsepower and amps. Tillers and winches are electric on the EQ.1, but I couldn't find confirmation that the drive motors are electric, not hydrostatic. Given the weight of electric motors, there could be balance problems for these cats with so much weight right on the sprockets. I'll keep an eye out for more on these eBullies. I'll bet there's too much electrical interference to tune an AM radio station in one of these eBullies FAIL

The Climate Prediction Center's next 90-Day Outlook for ENSO will publish next Thursday Sept 15, 2011. The last issue caused a mini-stir when it raised the likelihood of La Niña's return to 50%.

Reading the first snowfall article reminded me of just how weird our 2011 weather has been. The story mentioned the record summer heat in Colorado in it's first sentence. Here in California, August was our eighth month of below normal temps. The Midwest, Texas, and the East and Southeast are all broiling this year...while La Niña looks to be reforming in the Pacific.

There's two weeks left of Celestial Summer, and next week I'll get my traditional first glimpse of the Autumnal light in the skies around Stead Field, home of the Reno National Championship Air Races. That's when the intel gathering and speculation about the coming Winter usually kick into gear.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summer Colds

Why do I get one most summers?

I woke up Saturday with the telltale scratchy throat, and a hint of fever. I lounged big time all the Holiday Weekend. My fever broke (such as it was) Monday. Tuesday the aches were finally leaving, and now I'm just giving it another day before I return to the Ancestral Digs...My Sainted Mother doesn't need my summer cold.

As always, summer colds disappoint...there's so much you want to do, but can't. The weather was lovely all weekend, almost hot by Truckee standards. I'm a little superstitious about saying "My San Francisco Giants got Hot as the weekend ended", but they did, winning two Monday and Tuesday.

In Tuesday's game in San Diego, the Giants' starting lineup had not one player from the Giants' Opening Day lineup! These new Giants (and the veterans who were on the DL back in April) hit and ran well, and again the crowd noise from Petco Park was a chuckle.

Now to be fair, San Diego is a beautiful City with many diversions. Were they my San Diego Padres, I'm not sure I'd be leaving the beach early (especially with the epic swell making for excellent surfing) to plunk down serious cash to watch the 20 games out of first place Padres.

So, in a mostly empty ballpark, you could really here the traveling Giants fans in the third inning chanting "Let's Go Rockies. Let's Go Rockies" when the scoreboard showed the Colorado Rockies were leading the Arizona Diamondbacks who have been playing like the Giants did a year ago. The Rockies beat Arizona while the Giants won gaining a game back in their race back to the top. The Giants are six games back with 20 games to play.

This season has been a season of wonderful firsts for the Giants, and there was another one Tuesday night. Brett Pill, called up to the Majors this week, started at 1st base, and in his first Major League At Bat, knocked a two run homer out of the park!

The last SF Giant to homer in his first MLB AT Bat was Will Clark who homered in his debut against Nolan Ryan at the Astrodome in 1986. Clark, one of the most popular Giants ever was nicknamed "Will the Thrill" After Pill's debut Big League Knock, the #PillTheThrill hashtag trended worldwide on Twitter. Welcome to the Big Leagues, kid!

Still in the fairness vein, it's looking more and more like it's going to take Divine Intervention to push the bruised and battered SF Giants back to the top of the NL West.

Watching and praying

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Funday

I woke up with the scratchy throat and a headache...perhaps a tiny here's my tardy grab bag of thoughts.

I've always wanted to go to Burning Man out on the Black Rock Desert's playa. About ten years ago, I saw a photo of a Burning Man Art "Car" in the paper. It was a mobile living room, sofa, coffee table, end tables, console TV and a floor lamp on a carpeted floor only 6-7 inches above the just about broke my funny bone!

Tickets sold out for this year's festival in July despite the $300 price tag. It looked windy on the playa from the photos in the Reno paper.

Saturday night I watched the Man Burn streamed live on the internet. This year's effigy was the tallest yet at 120ft. Before the Man ignited there was 15-20 minutes of Civic-Level 4th of July-Style Fireworks emanating from the Man's that's where $300 X 53,341 went!

Nitpicker's please note: All 27,000 discount tier tickets sold out by noon the day after sales began.

Truckee and Reno are packed for the holiday weekend, so packed that my DSL dropped off a couple of times Saturday, and just before 11AM Sunday. The stream from the Black Rock last night was pretty slow, and the Reno Gazette Journal's man on the scene complains about the turtle-slow internet out at the event. He didn't say how long it took to upload 90 photos from Black Rock City.

Well, the internet was in and out for about a half an hour before 1PM this afternoon....could be all the departing Burners are firing up the smart phones, iPads at Starbucks, and the smart well-heeled burners are checking into their hotels for unlimited showers and WiFi.

I was trying to stream the KNBR Giants Pre-Game Show, but internet traffic wasn't havin' it. Burning Man is a San Francisco-Centric event, so I imagine thousands of departing Burners are firing up their MLB.TV Apps to check on the Giants' progress and to watch today's game. It's STAR WARS Day out at the ball park. I imagine there's a lot of STAR WARS Fans coming off the playa today.

I'm afraid my Giants are gonna have to find some Jedi Mind Tricks in the bat bag if they're going to get into the playoffs!