Stupid Computer Tricks

In the late 1990s I had a static IP address, DSL, and my own domain. I got my email delivered to a PC running FreeBSD that I had built out of components I bought at Fry’s Electronics and which lived in my living room, right next to the other PC I’d built out of components and which I used for playing video games. The DSL modem was a little flaky (or maybe it was the line) and so from time to time, I’d have to turn it off and turn it on again in order to have actual connectivity to the world.

What’s the solution to a problem with shitty technology? More shitty technology! I got a switchable power supply with a serial port that I could plug into the server. I plugged the modem’s power cord into the power supply. I wrote a script (can’t remember now if it was a shell script or if there was a CPAN module to communicate with the power supply that meant it was easier to use Perl) that would attempt to ping Google and, if that failed, it would turn off the modem’s outlet and then turn it back on. I added a cron job that ran the script every five minutes. Problem solved, eh?

Today I saw a tweet where the poster confessed that they had a problem necessitating rebooting the wifi router. So they created an Alexa skill for “turn off the router” and another for “turn on the router” and how, whoops, Alexa can’t recognize and then do a thing if there’s no Internet.

Once again, I’m thinking that for all the horrors of the Bush/Clinton/Bush years, things were better last century.

Published by pirateguillermo

I play the bagpipes. I program computers. I support my family in their various endeavors, and I enjoy my wonderful life.

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