A frustrating fortnight has thankfully drawn to a close.
We share a very high speed business DSL connection with our neighbour. To make a long story short and keep the finger-pointing to a minimum, I’ll just simply say that the party responsible for paying the Internet bill forgot to do so, and as a result, we got cut off. I paid the balance with my credit card, but the order to cut off service had already gone through. The hosting service reinstated our account quickly, but Bell Nexxia — the people who handle the “last mile” service between the hosting company and our phone jacks — took their own sweet time hooking us back up.
Odd that they’re so quick to cut off service and so slow to reinstate it. Jerks.
Thus began a two-week period of no Internet service at home. To many people, this is a minor incovenience. To the members of this household, it’s almost deadly. Paul’s working on funding proposals for his anti-censorship software for the Web, Peekabooty, and I’m trying to finish of leftover freelance contact work. In my case, an Internet outage is reputation-and-paycheque-killing-deadly.
I ended up doing spending my evenings at Webst@tion, an Internet cafe on Queen Street West, a mere two blocks from my house. A nice older Korean couple runs the place, which houses about 30 or so machines running Windows 98SE. I did whatever work I could on my own machines, and then carted it to Webst@tion whenever I needed to get online. In the beginning, I was burning CDs to move stuff over there, but as the days passed, I figured it would be easier and considerably more useful to buy a 256 MB USB drive, especially since they’re so cheap these days.
One particular project I’m finishing off was rather depedent on a large remote SQL Server database, which necessitated that I do the work on a machine connected to the ‘Net. I ended spending a lot of time at Webst@tion. Under most circumstances, I’d really mind — using an Internet cafe when you’ve got a perfectly nice and comfy setup at home is like passing up your own bathroom for the one at the nearby gas station, and forking over money for the privilege.
On one particularly long night, when I wished I was sitting in my nice office chair instead of a basement with a bunch of kids playing networked Counterstrike, the owner walked up to my station.
“You like kimchi noodle?” he asked.
He had two bowls of instant kimchi noodles topped with some green onion that he’d added.
“You look tired,” he said, “Kimchi noodle wake you up. It free. You good customer.”
“Wow. Thank you. Kam sa ham ni da.”
“You speak Korean!”
“Not very much. My brother-in-law, Yang Il [I used Richard’s Korean name], is Korean.”
“Ah,” he said with a nod. “You don’t play games here, and you not just doing email. You are a professor?”
He pointed to my tie. Yes, I’m still on my “wear a dress shirt and tie or vest” kick.
“Oh, no. I just like to dress up. I’m a computer programmer. The DSL at my house is down, and I need to finish some freelance work.”
“Well, you dress nice. You look like a professor.”
(I know a couple of engineering profs at Crazy Go Nuts University who would laugh at that idea.)
So began the freebies. Pot noodles here, a free Diet Coke there. I felt like a “regular”.
Now that the Internet is finally back on at my place, my time at Webst@tion is done. So long, and thanks for all the bandwidth and noodles!