An unorthodox diary this week, due mostly to me not being around for most of it. So take it as read that all the events below happened, just not necessarily in a stately order of days.
Before Christmas, an unfortunate accident with a cup of tea and someone's foot led to a sick router at home. The drenched device in question, a Vigor 2200E, has given many years of perfect service and I tried quite hard to revive it — including putting the bare board under the shower. Although it came back from the dead, it wasn't quite the same — some ports wouldn't switch to 100Mbps, and none would talk to my otherwise blameless Dell laptop. As my broadband is now up to 10Mbps and I'd been using an ancient 3Com wireless gateway that did 802.11b only, it was new router time.
There are two ways to purchase technology when one is deep in the heart of the IT knowledge nexus. Option 1: Go online, research the best buy making sure you get the most flexible and powerful devices from the most respected suppliers, phoning up engineers and hassling PRs, putting the word out that you're waiting to pounce. Option 2: check what the local PC World's got on offer and pop in on your way home.
Yeah. I did. Apologies. I even had to show the shop assistant where the darn things were – "Sorry, boss, we're out of stock. We'll have some in tomorrow." "Ah. And those boxes piled by that pillar would be?" "Oh yeah!" — and I found it particularly easy to ignore the piles of USB thumbdrives stacked high and twice natural price at the checkout. But sixty quid got me a brand new Linksys WRT54GS (no, not even the Linux version) and a USB 802.11g adaptor, all of which were up and running after one cup of coffee.
It all worked so well I was even tempted to dig up an old Proxim card and stuff it in the Ubuntu laptop, which promptly installed itself faster than I could google to find out what to do next. What's gone wrong with naff usability? In a fit of madness, I've ripped out all the Ethernet cat 5 from the flat, stuffed the cable modem and router in the cupboard and am enjoying an entirely wire-free life. As soon as I need to move a reasonable amount of data around, of course, those cables will come back, but for now I'm revelling in the experience.
I come from a land where the motto "Any job involving RS232 takes a day" was universally admitted to be if anything an understatement, so this sort of thing still impresses me. It was too good to be true… and you know what that means.