The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

“What's the frequency, Kenneth?”

I don't handle stress well (as if that wasn't apparent) and again, today was no exception.

I get this way because of deadlines.

Normally, as I approach headbanging time, I simply stop doing what I'm doing and put it on the back burning for a period of time (could be days, could be months) until it suddenly strikes me what I might have been doing wrong. But when I can't follow my own timeline for these things, that's when I get irritable.

It also doesn't help my mood when things that should (there's that word) work don't, and in the process of troubleshooting the things that don't work, the processes I'm using to troubleshoot have to be troubleshot because the stuff that I'm using to troubleshoot should (there's that word again) work, but aren't.

Ouch, my brain hurts.

Today I found two wireless units on my desk to configure (as part of the firewall/router thing that was dumped on my lap nearly two weeks ago)—an access unit (with a serial port—more on that in a bit) and a bridge (without a serial port, just power and ethernet). The wireless bridge should (there's that word again) have been on (why that address? I don't question why, I just do and die) but no response at all. After half an hour I'm told that that unit might be bad, so try this one.

Four hours later with the “new” unit (handed to me encased in plastic) was just as uncommunicative as the “bad” unit. And don't think I didn't try. Let's see … couldn't see it at all from the router it's supposed to be plugged into … couldn't see it from the office switch (and having to place my workstation into the network). Couldn't see it from a separate switch the wireless bridge and workstation were plugged into (bascially because this switch didn't work at all) … and couldn't see it from a second switch I found (that took about half an hour to get configured to ensure that the port the wireless bridge was plugged into was 10Mbps half duplex no auto negotiation (basically, troubleshooting the switch to attempt to troubleshoot the wireless bridge) since the office switch can't be configured).

All this in a vain attempt to configure the wireless bridge. It should (there's that word again) either grab an address via DHCP or failing that, default to (ah, that's why that address) but the documentation, it lies! It lies! (turns out it wasn't factory set, even though I came wrapped in plastic—thanks wlofie!)

Now, the wireless access point? It has that serial port on it.

Ah, I'm brought back to the days of yore when men were men, women were women, and getting any two random pieces of equipment with serial ports communicating was indeed a Black Art™ of the darkest sort—arcane incantations, sacrificing small furry animals to the Great Computer Gods, and an ungodly number of cables, adaptors, frobs and gender changers were required. Along with knowing such arcana as DCE, DTE, CD, XMIT, RECV, CTS, RTS, DB-25, DB-9 (which technically is incorrect—it's DE-9 but everybody just calls it DB-9), RJ-45 (if you're lucky, otherwise, you get DEC's unholy abomination of RJ-45, which requires heaps of gold to use), XON, XOFF, NULL modems, breakout boxes, jumpers, UARTs, male ends, female ends and RS-232 (which isn't).

Just shoot me now.

I didn't get to the wireless access point because I didn't have a gender changer (or a female to female connector). It was bad enough having to crawl under the desk to continuously swap out the DE-9 NULL modem cable (normally used to congfigure the Cobalt RaQs but today used in a vain attempt to configure the one switch while trying to troubleshoot the wireless bridge) for the RJ-45 to DE-9 adaptor cable (for the router that's being configured).

On the bright side, I didn't have to deal with any control panels today.

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