Unwired until tomorrow I hope

View 763 Friday, February 22, 2013


1200 Noon. Time Warner will send a truck sometime but probably not until tomorrow. Meanwhile I am cut off from the internet. Also my television isn’t working. At all. And the feeling of helplessness is building. I am contemplating using the modem and phone line. Pathetic. I’d have to transfer all the files over to the ThinkPad and connect that to the phone lines. And of course I don’t have an antenna set up to let me get broadcast TV, which has always been lousy at Chaos Manor anyway. But I don’t miss TV. I do worry about not being connected. I wasn’t for most of my life, and now the prospect of a few hours or even a day of not being wired is scary.

Of course I could transfer all mail and other necessary files to the ThinkPad, and carry that down to the local Starbucks which happens to be next to the – now my memory fails me. The telephone network that isn’t AT&T or Verizon. I’d use the Internet to figure it out but my iPhone doesn’t work too well at connectivity because it wants to use the wireless network rather than the phone to connect to the Internet. Turn off the net connection on the iPhone. Google phone networks. Sprint. The Starbucks is next to the Sprint store and I have a Sprint data account which I ought to have given up long ago but I keep largely because it doesn’t cost much and it is an alternate way to maintain this place. So if I move everything over to the ThinkPad, then go down to the Starbucks and have a coffee as I connect to my Sprint account, I can check my mail and post this. Seems a big use of time.

The reason I have a Sprint account is that American Airlines had Sprint in all their airline lounges back in the days when I travelled a lot, and there are Sprint wireless stations along the highway to Las Vegas which I used when I went to Las Vegas for computer conventions, and other places, and I got in early enough that the rate is low so long as I keep it. So I do.

{Later. Not to spoil the fun of catching me in a glitch, it was T-Mobile I was trying to remember. I don’t have a Sprint account it’s a T-mobile account. Absent mindedness strikes again. at least I generally remember if I’ve had lunch yet.}

So if you see this today that’s probably what I did, although it’s just barely possible that Time Warner will get here today and fix everything. It’s clear the fault is theirs, and there is nothing I can do.


I probably mentioned this before, but it’s not easy to check – unlike Front Page, which I liked a lot even if all my advisors thought it was hokey and out of date, the Windows Live Writer system I use for this journal doesn’t keep local copies of everything so it’s hard to see whether I have or not. Anyway the Forbes for March 4, 2013 has a High Science column on zero gravity research that describes pretty well what my son Richard’s company NanoRacks does: it sells space on the International Space Shuttle. If you can pretty well automate your experiment in a cubic foot or two, they can get it up there and back down. For a price, of course, but they can tell you about grants available for universities and even high schools. And NanoRacks can tell you cheaper ways to do what you want. I’d give the link but I can’t because I can’t connect to the Internet yet. Astonishing how dependent we get on being wired up.


There’s talk of doom and gloom as the sequestration approaches, and the Administration is running in circles flapping their arms like a local school board telling the district that any cut in the budget will end football and college prep courses and everything else so that the students will have to sit hungry in classrooms without a teacher unless taxes are raised. The truth is that under the sequestration the US will spend more this year than last, and next year than this. The “cut” is in the amount of budget increase, not in actual spending. It seems to me that the whole government would be better off for an across the board 2% cut – actual cut, spend 2% less money next year than last. There’s 2% waste and monkey motion in every department. I note that the Department of Agriculture is threatening to lay off food inspectors, but there’s no talk of firing bunny inspectors. Every department has people doing things we don’t need done, particularly since we have to borrow the money in order to do them.

Bunny inspectors, for those who don’t know, look for people keeping rabbits as pets and offering them for sale – or using them in a stage performance. Bunny inspectors go to stage magic shows and if the performance employs a pet rabbit they demand to see the federal license the magician must have, and no, I am not making this up. By the way, if the rabbit is killed in the act, say eaten alive, you don’t need a federal license. You may be in trouble with the ASPCA but not with the Department of Agriculture. And the bunny inspectors won’t be laid off under the sequestration. I bet if there were a 2% cut in the DOA’s budget they’d go. If not, a bigger cut would be in order…


It is 1600. I have not heard from Time Warner. I will transfer files to the ThinkPad and go down to the Starbucks to get this posted. I won’t be dealing with mail until Time Warner fixes things. It went out at 1012 this morning and I had called them before 1100.


I just called TW and they tell me that there is a repairman scheduled to come between 8 and 9 tomorrow.  We’ll be waiting. I am now off to where I can see the Sprint wireless connection.


1800: It wasn’t sprint it was the other,  T-mobile, I have an account with and maintains wireless stuff, but they did not have theirs up when I drove down to Starbucks so I came home and activated the little AT&T thingy that is a sort of cell phone for 3G data.  It is not cheap, but not that expensive, and it is what I used to use on the road.  The procedures for buying more time on it have been improved. It turned out to be pretty easy, and that’s what I am using, with the ThinkPad on a table and all the other big powerful machines looking on jealously.  I usually use the ThinkPad up in the monk’s cell so they don’t see. Anyway it works, and that’s what I am using here.


I very much thank Mike Johns. The first Nook posting of Legend of Black Ship Island by Niven, Pournelle, and Barnes had some glaring errors which must have irritated the heck out of readers.  Mike Johns called it to my attention last December, and we pulled it down and checked the formatting.  Authors ought always to do their own proof reading of eBooks. Like galley slavery. It’s just necessary. We put the new version up on Nook and Kindle. Amazon has posted the new one (did at once when we fixed it) and all is well now. If you have not read it, it’s a novelette set in the Legacy of Heorot series, and takes place after Legacy but before Beowulf’s Children: the youngsters have a secret that the adults are never to know.  It was tricky to work in the story since it is never mentioned in Children,but we explain why, and also shed a bit more light on how the teenagers are developing.

Those Avalon stories have been fun. We show you new forms of life, but it’s still a tiny human presence on a new planet, with limited resources, and a generation gap like you wouldn’t believe except of course we want you to believe it…  If you haven’t read it, I think you’ll like it.




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