Saturday, January 06, 2007

Pieces, Pieces, Everywhere

Those of you who are family and close friends are probably already familiar with my family website, so I won't bother to post a link. Besides, the website is down right now... here's the story.

Since about 1998, I've been running a webserver on my home computer. The first time around, it was a Pentium-90 that I bought from Sarahlynn's ex-boyfriend accessing the internet via dial-up. My roommate and I even shared that dial-up connection, thanks to Linux's built-in network routing. That computer has been torn apart and rebuilt with new parts several times since 1998. Added a new harddrive here, replaced a motherboard there, new network cards and video cards.

Eventually, we upgraded to DSL. We went with this great local DSL provider... Value Net. (Notice the name.) They were absolutely great. When I moved into Sarahlynn's apartment in 2000, the DSL came right along with me. When we moved to our house in Kirkwood, though, DSL wasn't available. So, we dropped the service and went with Charter Cable. Never have like Charter. Their static IP packages were too expensive, so I setup a pseudo-dynamic DNS service. Every time we got assigned a new IP, I'd go out and re-register. Within 12-20 hours, the DNS would be right. Luckily, Charter let me keep my IP for months at a time usually.

Finally SBC upgraded the infrastructure in our area so that DSL was available again. I went right back to good-old reliable Value Net. Great service... until... one day.... poof... internet service is gone. Sometimes that happens. So, I reset the modem. Nothing. I waited a few hours. Nothing. I called the phone number of Value Net. No answer... ?? Suspicious. I looked up their address: something N. Lindberg. OK. That's up by the airport. I'm headed that way for a conference tomorrow anyway. I'll stop by and see what's up.

As I drive up N. Lindberg looking for the right address, I start counting up. Oooh. I get the excitement of driving through the new tunnel that is built UNDER the airport runway. What fun! ... Start looking at numbers again... they're too big. Ack. Must have missed it somewhere. I turn around and drive back through. Nope. Not there either. There's probably an Old N. Lindberg now, right? Nope. Turns out that the Value Net's office building is gone. So is Value Net! Huh?! Never saw a letter, never got a call, no one ever said anything.

On to practical matters: where to find a new internet provider. Alright. I didn't want to go back to Charter, but I wanted to go with someone reliable. I ended up going with the phone company. They own the wires, they'll be as reliable as it gets. So, I call them up. "Sorry sir. We show that you already have DSL on that line through another provider," they tell me. "That company apparently went bust," I tell them. "I see." "Well sir, we can't open up a ticket for new service until this old service is turned off. And we can't turn off that old service without a work order from Value Net." (Ummmmmm... that isn't going to happen!)

Well, long story (and a side story it was supposed to be) short. We finally got DSL back, and have been as happy as can be expected since.

Back to the story about this computer's body parts...

In 2002, though, it really was time for a wholesale upgrade. So, I took a few scraps from other computers, but bought a new harddrive, CPU, memory, and motherboard. The important things. And built a new PC from scratch.

Over the past 5 years, that PC's had a motherboard replacement and another new harddrive, a couple of power supplies, etc.

Today, that harddrive finally failed... for good. So, Ellie and I went out to the computer store (her third favorite place), and bought a new HD. My last one was 40GB... biggest I'd ever bought until Sarahlynn's laptop. Today's new harddrive... 250GB!!! Big enough for all that video of Ellie we still have on tape!

So, for a while, I had all the pieces of the old computer strewn about the kitchen table, separately trying to keep the old harddrive alive long enough that I can copy off all of the pictures and website stuff.

I think I was successful. Now, I'm busy installing a new version of Linux on the new harddrive. Something I've been meaning to do for a couple years, but have just never justified to myself the time it would take. I guess "broken" is a good justification.

So, until baby comes, I've got a little hobby.

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