Yesterday afternoon at work was very unproductive for me. About 45 minutes before I went home, my wireless network connection went out. It took me about ten minutes to get it back up again, between restarting the router and re-entering the passkey on my laptop. Normally, I wouldn’t be concerned with that at all, except that I didn’t have a working driver for my wired connection. That left wireless as my only option. So after futzing around with it for ten minutes, I got it back up. And it stayed up for maybe ninety seconds. Repeat. Ten more minutes of effort got me yet another 90 seconds. Then, I moved the router so that I could plug it into a programmable power strip. With that, I can turn the thing off and on over the network. That wouldn’t work at all (how do you get on the network when your network connection is down?), except that I have two computers in my office, and that second one has a wired connection to the net. Too bad that maneuver didn’t shave any time off the ten minute part of the cycle. I eventually went home.

Today, the wireless network came up without complaint. Good. And it stayed up for about two hours and went into the ten minutes down/90 seconds up cycle again. Give me a break! I have been using our wireless connection at home with no trouble whatsoever, but it uses WEP vs WPA. That leads me to believe that the problem is either with the WPA encryption we use at work, or with the router we have at work. I turned to my second computer (gah! Windows!) and did some research, and found that Intel has indeed posted a Linux driver for my wired Ethernet controller. I downloaded it, and during the 90 seconds of uptime (it’s not 90 seconds every time – it’s just not very long), I copied it over to the laptop. But it wouldn’t compile. I figured I needed the kernel headers for that to work, but to get that on there, I was going to need a better network connection than I had. So I decided to go home. Why not just use the second computer? Well during the course of the day, I cycle power on that thing half a dozen times, as that’s where I put the board I’m working on. Sometimes the boards need something soldered on them, so I have to shut down. I do all my REAL work on the laptop, because (normally) it’s up all the time. Plus I run Linux on it. I’ve gotta have Windows on the other one though, because there are some tools I hafta use that are Windows-only.

About that time Va called. I invited her to lunch. We ate at Pizza Hut, just the two of us, which was very nice. We rarely have the opportunity to eat without one or more of the kids with us, so that’s a rare treat. After lunch she went to the school, and I went across the street to buy some eyewash (that ceiling tile is still in there). I also bought a small sack of peanut M&M’s because they are so goo, so good, you see.

When I got home, I fired up the laptop, connected to my home wireless network, and downloaded the kernel headers. Then I tried to compile this driver. But it refused. The kernel I have on my laptop is newer than the kernel for which Intel wrote that driver. I poked around the source code, found the problem, and fixed it. Once the driver was compiled and installed, I plugged a wire into my Ethernet port and bingo. I had a wired connection. I worked the rest of the day from home.

Around quiting time I got a phone call. My cell phone said it was Melissa calling, so I answered, “Hello user of Melissa’s phone!” because I didn’t know if it would be Melissa, her daughter, or Jonathan. It was Melissa, and she answered back with “What?!??” Then she told me they had just crossed into New Hampshire (after visiting Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan since Friday). Va was not yet home, so I suggested that she might call her and save Melissa the extra hour it would take her to drive to Northfield and back. Maybe Va was still on Concord and could pick Jonathan up at the church? Va pulled into the garage 10 minutes later. Melissa had left her a voicemail (her phone didn’t ring) but she had not listened to it yet. So I called Melissa and told her I’d meet her at the church. But they had, in the meantime, decided to stop at Taco Bell. She said she’d call when she was 30 minutes out from the church, and she did.

So I drove back to Concord and fetched my boy. He was tired, but I think he had a good time at Andrews. He sat in on a General Chemistry class and rather enjoyed that. Hopefully, this trip will inspire him to buckle down on his studies. He sure needs to anyhow.

Oh – one other thing I wanted to write about. I had a phone conversation with an Internet friend. We’ve been corresponding for about four years now. He runs, and I am an admin on the forum. But the forum has been down for almost two weeks. He gave me the ftp credentials over the phone, and we chatted for about 30 minutes I guess. That was nice. After we hung up, I went to work fixing the forum and had it back up and humming after about an hour.