Wednesday, August 15, 2012

8/14/2012 The Dinosaur

I did something tonight that used to be completely usual, and now is very unusual: I worked late, and didn't even see my children tonight.....eeeps! Verry strange. And hard to believe that someday, that will be the norm.

Actually, I feel pretty good about all the work I did tonight, because it's the sort of work that takes a ton of concentration, and that my actual day-to-day job just doesn't allow.

As much as I like my job, one of the hardest parts is being constantly torn between doing what I know is needed, and doing what's needed NOW. I have to be responsive (i.e. drop everything now and respond) but I also have to be timely (i.e. drop nothing now until the customer is billed for this complex configuration). A competent experienced professional can juggle these competing objectives, but me...? Not so much yet!! I'm getting better at it by leaps and bounds though.

So sometimes working late gives me a much-needed boost. And it's my favorite kind of work, the down-n-dirty icky-sticky details, with some lifting and running cables involved. Overall, super-cool stuff -- it doesn't get better for a network engineer than to be handed a pile of Stuff and be told, "go make this work together!"

Something that's also so cool about my not-so-new company is that if you're still at work at 6pm, you are the last one out the door.

But once at home, somehow tonight I found myself cleaning up my ancient account, one I've had for years, and still actively use -- and now even moreso than usual, because it's a useful resource for work sometimes. (Those of you who know what a "shell account" means might relate -- they used to be normal but are nowadays nearly nonexistent.)

And I came across this message, excerpted below. Just in case you were wondering how truly ancient I am when it comes to Internet and computer things!

January 25, 1995

Re: Internet dial-up account

Dear Noemi:

I want to personally thank you for selecting Bay Area Internet Solutions.
Modem Flow Control:
Flow control is the method which the modem starts and stops sending data.
It is essential that flow control be enabled.  If your PPP communication
package does not use hardware flow control, (sometimes referred to as
CTS/RTS flow control), you will need to use software flow control
(XON/XOFF flow control).
  _           _                                     _
 /_) _       /_/ _ _  _    / _ _/_ _  _ _  _ _/_   /_` _  /   _/_ . _  _   _
/_) /-|/_/  / / / (-'/-|  / / //  (-'/ / /(-'/    ._/ /_// /_//  / /_// /_)

George E. Navas       
Voice: (408)447-8690            Fax:(408)447-8691

You caught that date? 1995!! Dialup!! This was my connection to the world then!!

I've been with the same ISP for 17 years now. I think that's a record. This is all pre-Google, pre-broadband, pre-cable, pre-wireless, pre-everything days. And I stay with them for the "shell account," something that used to be totally normal, and now is only grandfathered in for total dinosaurs like me.

The funny thing is that I only picked this ISP is because I knew George Navas, who started it -- we both worked at NASA at the time. He left to start his own business,, which to this day continues to thrive.

In fact, to prove how small Silicon Valley is, now is a customer of Dasher's, my new employer, and I've talked to their new executives. George Navas is now a long-gone legend, though he'll always be known for his fantastic salsa dancing; he was from South America, I think Venezuela but I could be wrong.)

How's that for history and ancient-ness!! "...back in my day...." -- start the creaky sound now please -- " 'tech-savvy' meant a whole lot more than knowing how to download videos to an iPhone!!"