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The Disruption Caused by Blackouts

In the last 6 months I have endured 2 blackouts at home (which is also my office). Yesterday's was about 13 hours long, easily beating the previous record of almost 8 hours. The power supplier has given me the information on how to make a claim for the food in our freezer which has to be thrown out.

Now that I am working away from home for large parts of my day, I really need a working internet connection in the evenings so I can run the rest of my business. I can use my data card and laptop battery to work at reduced efficiency during the short outages, but anymore than 2 hours and it starts cause major disruption. The problem is that I use my laptop as a MP3 player while catching up on mail and feeds on the train, so my battery is almost dead when I get home.

Although I live a bit over 35kms from the CBD of the second largest city in Australia, theree are times where I feel like I live out the back of nowhere. I have an electric train station 2 mins walk away, I have a "03 97XX XXXX" phone landline number and a 24hour supermarket less than 5mins drive away. On the downside, couriers considering us country, so "next day delivery" means it will arrive 2 or 3 days after it being shipped. The other big reminder is the reliability of electricity supply.

In the last 3 and half years shortish blackouts (1 to 2 hours) have occurred on average once every 3 months or so. When I was living in Footscray (inner Western Melbourne), in almost 5 years, we had 2 outages I remember, both of them less than 2 hours, and one was from someone wrapping their car around a pole just down the road.

The compensation regulations (PDF) (p21) which apply to power companies in Victoria are completely inadequate and encourage poor maintenance. In the past our electricity retailer has claimed that they are not liable for any compensation claims where the outage is caused by matters outside their control, such as possums shorting out lines, cars hitting poles or various other natural causes. I think inadequate staffing levels is something within their control.

Maybe the compensation claims from the local strip shopping centre traders will force the distributor to improve their response times, rather than being rude to customers who call for an ETA.

The following items have been added to the household shopping list:

  • Battery powered lantern
  • Battery powered radio

I just wish I could buy a more reliable power supply for a rental property (so solar panels on the roof is out).

Update Earlier this morning (31-May-2007), I had another 1 hour+ outage. This time the network didn't come back up cleanly. A switch needed to be power cycled and another server decided to swap the network card allocations.

Using Technology on the train

It has been many years since I have caught peak hour trains. Last time I did it was about 5 years ago when I was working at the City of Darebin. Back then I used to lug a heavy Compaq Armada (I forget the model number) home most nights, but I rarely used it on the train. MP3 players weren't worn as fashion accessories back then.

These days I have a Dell Latitude D810, which has a 15.4" widescreen screen, which runs well at 1920x1200, but it is a too big to use comfortably on the train. The UMTS/GRPS data card hanging out one side and the headphones lead out the other take up even more room. I have quite broad shoulders, so it very hard to type on a laptop which is as wide as my lap, with people sitting either side of me. I have also noticed that my laptop screen becomes communal reading material, just like a newspaper. Maybe I should offer to come to their work and read their emails and monitor their web surfing while they are at work.

Time for me to return to listening to psy trance and catching up on my feeds in liferea.

First day of my new 9 ta fiva

I am bashing out this post while sitting on the train as I head off to SGI. I have landed a 2 month contract position hacking on the web gui for their NASes. I am yet to meet everyone else in the team, except my boss and Russell Coker (sorry couldn't resist naming dropping.

I am pretty excited about the job. I will get to play with some pretty cool tech and work with some really smart people. My body is still adjusting to the 6:45 am start, but in a week I think it should be used to it.

My existing clients and projects won't be forgotten. I will still have some time in the evenings to work on things for private clients.

I am hoping to post a bit more frequently, most on the train, lets see how long that lasts :)

Another coder along the way

Today I went with Julie for our first midwife visit. Julie is almost 10 weeks pregnant! We are pretty excited. Noah has been telling a few people about "the baby in mummy's tummy" over the last couple of weeks.

It doesn't seem as scary the second time around. Noah is already pretending to tickle the baby and take the baby out so he can play with it or read to it. Pretty cute.

If everything goes to plan bubba #2 will be born on or around 26 November at the Family Birth Centre at the local hospital. Noah was born there and we were really happy with our experience there.

While we were at the hospital today we saw the picture of Noah at 1 day old on their baby wall, which was pretty cool.

We had hoped that Noah would be cranking our code by now, but that hasn't happened, even though he started well.

Noah coding @ 2 months

Lets hope the next one can keep up the progress ;)