Just Another Effin' Observer

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Location: Huntsville, Texas, United States

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

I moved a couple of months ago, which explains why I haven’t added any new entries to this blog since late February. I also started a new contract recently, and it’s shaping up to be one of the more interesting I’ve had in the decade or so I’ve been doing this “consulting” shtick. I’ve always hated being called a consultant, because every company and/or manager who referred to me by that title never listened to a word I said. I will answer to “contractor”, “itinerant rent-a-geek”, “data-center concubine”, or any of a number of other “colorful metaphors”, but if you call me a consultant, I’ll just ignore you. (Miss Manners would call it rudeness; I call it karma, coming back to bite you on the ass.)

I am now a telecommuter, working from my home. This is both a good thing and a bad, since the company I am working for is located in southern Virginia, and I live in East Texas. I don’t have to absorb the expense of maintaining a residence twelve hundred miles from home, but I don’t get the tax-free living expense per diem, either. It required a few adjustments, like summoning up the self-discipline to drag my lethargic ass out of bed every morning (which I would have to do, anyway, no matter where I worked), and immediately get down to working, without benefit of that nerve-jangling drive to the office. On the other hand, there is also the fact that I am never really off-duty. (This, also, can be considered a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your outlook.) I can work whenever the muse inspires me, which is good for the company, because they get more bang for their buck, and for me, because I have always been motivated more by getting things accomplished than just putting in the hours. I’ve always been something of a night-owl, anyway; my most productive periods tend to coincide with the times the maintenance crews come on duty, and those Rolls-Royce RB211 turbofan-powered vacuum cleaners they insist on using can be a bit, shall we say, distracting.

Another adjustment that was required was to upgrade my Internet connection. Since I am now living, to use the technical term, twelve miles north of nowhere, I have had to compensate for the slower, simpler pace of living in the middle of a prairie. For the techno-geek, the phrase “slower, simpler pace” translates to… dial-up. You can’t get DSL out here, and the local cable company is pushing their technology envelope delivering the Disney Channel; expecting them to offer broadband is completely out of the question. Out here, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain – oh, sorry, that’s Oklahoma – there is only one alternative: satellite.

It was installed last Saturday.

Okay, it took a while to connect the title to the text, but I finally got there.

Internet via satellite is probably the greatest invention since the cordless vibrator. You get wicked fast downloads (faster than DSL, in many cases), connectivity in areas where DSL isn’t available, along with a cool-looking piece of high-tech sculpture in your back yard. (Hey, if that Joan Miro piece of crap in downtown Houston qualifies as art….) Admittedly, it is a bit pricey (the service starts at sixty bucks a month, and the equipment and installation runs from six hundred to more than a grand), but if the only alternative is dial-up at 28.8, then the check is in the mail.

So now that I am connected in true Star Trek fashion, what am I planning to do with my new-found bandwidth out the gazotch? I’m gonna kick some bytes and take down some file names, is what!


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