PermaLink @johnhead, you may be right for once08/04/2011 04:16 AM
Network engineer vs. late-night desk clerks

OK, John, I'll grant you this: you spend more, but I end up with better stories!

This evening on my way home from IamLUG 2011, I am at the fabulous Super8 in Buckeye Lake, Ohio, about 20 miles east of Columbus.

As a matter of habit, at check-in, I always ask, "is there a trick to using the wifi?" See, cheap hotels always have free wireless these days, mostly as a matter of competition. Sure, the expensive hotels also have wireless, for which they charge anywhere from six to twenty-five dollars per day, but they all have essentially the same level of support, which is zero. See also, "LumierePlace."

So here I am in southeast Ohio. Pop into the room, the signal is very strong, but nothing is loading. I shut off the Airport on the new MBP, turn it back on, and as usual, it sniffs every 802.11 signal within the whole zip code. I pick "Super8," and it connects to the WAP perfectly. However, I cannot connect to anything.

My go-to test is to open a terminal session and ping www.ibm.com. Just because. Sure, it's possible the site is completely screwed, but if it is, the entire basis of 20 years of my career in IT are down the shitter. And yours.

It can't even resolve the address. However, I can ping the router, so I know my MBP is OK.

I call the desk.

The nice South Asian dude listens to my simple question, "is there a problem with the wifi right now?" Because, come on, sometimes there's a problem, and if they're aware of it, they'll tell me. Instead, he says, "I'm on it right now and it's working fine."

As a veteran network engineer, that sets up three possibilties:

  1. His laptop in the office is hardwired into the switch, and the WAP is messed up;
  2. He is linked to one of several WAPs hardwired into the switch, and while his is OK, mine is messed up;
  3. He is downloading so much porn he's sucking the life out of the entire hotel's network, since, after all, he's working after midnight on Wednesday at the Super 8 Motel in Buckeye Lake, Ohio.

I thank him and hang up. But, as all veteran network engineers do, I go to my backup test suite, which is to tether the MacBook Pro through my Blackberry, after moving to the other bed, the one closer to the window so I get three bars instead of half a bar. I turn off the Airport, plug the cable between the MBP and the Berry 9700, and I'm getting about 200kbps back to my server in my house. I call the desk and repeat my question, "is there a problem with the wifi?"

It's almost 3:00am. Dude at the desk asks, "would you like me to come to your room, sir?"

See also, possibility #3, above. I just didn't wanna fuck around with everything that could entail, particularly after I had just had one of the most corrosive showers of my life and had no clothes on.

"Um, no. Could you, just, kinda, reset the router?"

"OK, yes, sir, I will try that."

"Yeah, OK."

Shit, I remember the days I had a Notes 3.2 server in my room at the Comfort Inn in Lake Buena Vista at Lotusphere 1998 over a 28.8k modem.

I guess I'm spoiled.

And right now, my eyes are burning, because seriously, this is the worst shower water I've ever experienced in my life. If I wake up and the hair on my ass is blonde, you know it was the water in the hotel.

John, if you've had to deal with this sort of thing, I figure I'd have heard the story by now. Hopefully... not.
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1. Roy Rumaner08/04/2011 09:57:17 AM


If you wake up and the hair on your ass is blonde and I know about it, we are in the wrong movie buddy. I mean I like you but not "that " much




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