May 31, 2007

Someone did it!

We've always have had to print out things from various databases. When I started with Ma Bell this was done with AT&T 4500 controllers and terminals and huge line printers. From there it went to stand alone terminals and printers on 4-wire data circuits, and finally to "Work Stations" (desktop computers) and printers attached to the LAN. Here is one such printer:

Genicom LA36W printer w/ Microplex M307 Print Server

The highlighted spot on the upper left is a 20-button Key Telephone Set. This predates my joining the company 36 years ago. It is still operational, in daily use. Some things are hard to get rid of. Highlighted on the lower right of the Genicom printer is the Microplex print server, with closeups on the right.

The print server is a neat toy, plugs into a standard Centronics parallel printer port to connect any printer to the LAN. All sorts of protocols, which we disable to just a fixed IP address. Since it is a fixed address, when I upgrade the LAN I have to reset the IP address. No problem, just log into the Microplex, change the address, it saves on reset, move the physical connection to the new LAN and you're done.


We did the cutover at Hawthorne about a month ago. A couple of days ago one of the above type printers went and set itself back on it's old IP address. HUH? Where did that come from? The stored profile had been changed? It can't do that! Hey, what I like about my job is running into thing that are near impossible. Change it again, reset it, telnet in (which talks at a lower and simplier level than the http interface) and store/save both net and tcpip (redundant commands but I want the old IP to be GONE!)

That took a hour or so this morning, then it was upstairs to rip KTS jumpers. To be interrupted by a page from dispatch. Call in, a trouble ticket has been loaded to me for the Torrance Call Center. Roll. Arrive and look at the ticket.

It is a printer that is not repsonding at it's IP address.

Say what? Flip the swiches, unplug the LAN, reboot to get it to print out it's configuration -- it is at it's OLD Address! Except THIS LAN wasn't cut over last month -- it was cut over last YEAR. This printer had been rebooted several times since then, it couldn't have kept the old address. Yet it did. Don't understand this one.......

Posted by Paladin at 08:42 PM | Comments (1)

May 28, 2007

Half Full or Half Empty?

Every once in a while you get the old saw about whether a glass of water is half full or half empty, with the usual optimists see it half full, pessimists see it half empty. They are both wrong part of the time -- whether a glass is half empty or half full depends on the history of that glass of water.

Take the two glasses of water, above right. Glass A, on the left, is half full, glass B, on the right, is half empty. Glass A was filled to the half way point, glass B was emptied to the half way point. A clue is the few drops of water still clinging to the upper half of glass B.

And it matters. When you fly a flag at half mast you are supposed to raise the flag all the way up and then bring it half way down. A flag at half mast is supposed to be half way down, not half way up.

Posted by Paladin at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2007

No Internet, again!

Power Volkswagen in Torrance folded. We had a vehicle maintenance program with Power, so to get my paid for oil change and service I had to drive to Corona. Last time I found that they had Ethernet access for waiting customers -- but no patch cable. *SIGH* This time I brought my cable -- no link. Unlike Pacific, they had no problem letting me peek into their 'Phone Room. So I did. A basic setup, a DSL line (A) connecting to a Netopia (ex Cayman) Modem-Router (B) with a patch cord to the customer waiting area's phone bar (C). The DSL light is steady, indicating that it is up and working to a DSL line. The reason I had no link was 'cause the cable was hanging loose. Plugged it into my laptop, links, no DHCP. Moved the cable to the floor jack, did a power cycle of the Netopia, went back to the customer waiting area.

I have my link, no address. Netopias sit at, so I set my laptop to and zap! -- link at 100m. No connectivity. Router does not respond at it's address. *SIGH* It looks like the router portion of the Netopia is wonkers, but I don't have my spare Caymans with me, so I cannot test further. Should be a simple matter of replacing the Netopia (and finding the DSL log-on information) and they will be back up with customers who actually prefer waiting so they may surf without feeling guilty about "wasting" time.

Finding the DSL log-in info will not be a problem as it is associated with the telephone number, which is properly written on the jack.

Posted by Paladin at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2007

Super Chromega C-700

Uncovered, literally, my old color enlarger. Back before computers I was into photography, color slides, and did my own printing. Printing color slides was dead easy -- it is WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get. You project the slide onto the easel, adjust to what you want, dial in the color correction for the paper and bingo -- perfect print. Anyhow, this is what I found:

The original plastic cover, the original lamp, still works. Has the carrier for 35mm (2"x2") slides. Has a little surface rust on some screw heads, otherwise appears to be just fine.

For Sale, $100 or Best Offer, free delivery within 30 miles of Gardena.

Posted by Paladin at 09:19 PM | Comments (1)

May 05, 2007

Pacific Volkswagen - LA Car Guy - Wi Fi

My last trip to Pacific Volkswagen was on March 16th, 2007. In that entry I mentioned that Pacifioc Volkswagen, a member of the L.A. Car Guy (Sullivan Automotive Group) group of dealerships, was still offering internet access via Dial-Up.

After I wrote it up I sent a couple of e-mails linking to the Blog, and received a comment:

This is being done as I read this, as part of a total overhaul on our WAN and LAN's. Hopefully you can surf broadband while waiting next time you need service.

Best regards,

Tim James
Sullivan Automotive Group

Well, it is over six weeks later, and still no Wi-Fi. What's the hold up? All it takes is calling up Verizon or AT&T and ordering Basic DSL on a Fax line connected to a Fax machine somewhere in or near the customer waiting area. You can be cheap and get the free modem, or cough up a few bucks for the Wireless Router option. If you go cheap, you have to get your own wireless router so you might as well take the easy way. Hook it up, leave the WEP off, give the AP a name such as "Pac VW Service" and you're done!! Shouldn't take more than a week. The Self Install is so simple now that most people do it without assistance, and the vast majority of the rest just need a little guidance from tech support.

Posted by Paladin at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2007

Not My Job! (do it anyhow)

Get into work today, I'm all alone. John is in Mexico, Doug doesn't start 'til noon, no idea where the boss is. Fire up the corporate laptop, check my e-mail, pull up my daily workload. A rather odd trouble ticket (as if OCS gets anything else!) asking me to replace a modem in the Miscellaneous Bay 001 in the San Pedro DMS. Of course the ticket didn't say it was in the DMS on the 2nd floor, you just have to know that mis001 is in the DMS and the DMS is on the second floor and the code to get thru the door is... ah... well... OK, I can find out.

Arrive in San Pedro, talk to Ed, get the door code for the DMS, get a call from dispatch about some guy want's a call on this trouble. Go upstairs, turn off my cell phone, enter the DMS area, find the mis001. Fortunately it is right next to our telephone terminal -- clip my buttset to a line and call said gentleman. "OKay, I'm here, need a little more information so I know which of these modems you want replaced. A circuit number, a shelf and slot, what type modem, anything." Loosely translated the reply is "huh?"

As you can see, mis001 has a shelf of GDC's 500C's, 500F's a 202T? and one in slot eight with 'way too many buttons and no designations. Last two I've never seen before. Next two shelves are TelTrend shelves -- as far as I know we did not install and have not, so far, maintained. The panel in the middle has a jack for a telephone handset, with handset, but no way to access a line or dial -- which is why I'm using a buttset. Below that is a shelf of C?? (don't remember and too fuzzy to read) dial-up modems; with a third shelf of TelTrend devices -- Inteliport modems.

Meanwhile, above gentleman has made a few calls and has a circuit number, a 62-letters-and-numbers. I check the markings and sure enough find a modem with the circuit ID penciled on it -- on the bottom shelf, in slot 10, not plugged in. "Is the circuit up?" "Yes" "In that case, someone already has replaced the modem, probably slot five as that on has no markings. If the trouble is still there, unchanged, it wasn't/isn't the modem. I'm out of here!

Posted by Paladin at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2007

OffLine for a WEEK!

It's not that I don't know any better, but it seems that I'm still male, just as the last time.

This time I was experiencing charging problems with the laptop. Has a bit of crud in the power connector causing a resistive connection. Rather than repair or replace immmediately I keep using it. Power is as easy as P=IE . . . power = current times voltage, current = voltage divided by resistance and thus power also equals voltage squared divided by resistance. *ANY* resistance associated with a current flow, such as crud in a power jack, will result in a power lose that will show up as heat. As the condition worsens the resistance increases and the power loss increases and the heat increases and the plastic supporting the jack sort of softens so when you get the new power pack, pull the old plug out and shove new one in it simply shoves the center pin in and you can no longer connect your AC adapter to the laptop.

A little Googling found a fairly local place the does power jack replacements fairly reasonably: Fix My Monitior -- click for website
Had a trouble ticket left over from Friday, so I went into work Monday, was told that John was taking time off starting Wednesday, so I took today off to go get my laptop fixed. (Boss: "What if I don't allow it?" Me: "I'll still take off.") BONUS -- Today is May 1st and they are protesting that we don't give enough favors and perks and rights to lawbreakers. They are boycotting -- staying home and/or gathering for protests. WE get to enjoy a day with freeways mostly free of trucks and '80's vintage cars being driven in third world style. Left the house at 9 am, hit the L.A. Freeways and hardly ever dropped below 60 mph -- mostly doing 65-70 with a few bursts to 80. MUCH nicer than a usual weekday with clogs and slowdowns that mean you average about 40 with rare bursts to 60. Find the Brick and Mortar associated with the website -- a mini-mall storefront. You shouldn't judge a book by it's cover -- or a business establishment by it's size/location. The owner takes my laptop and cell phone number. I go get coffee and a donut and a newspaper. Hadn't finished the paper when he called saying the repair was done -- well under an hour. Repaired, cleaned, six month warranty on the work. At $89 flat rate he's nearly working for slave wages. I'm not complaining -- I have any trouble with a monitor / laptop he'll be the first and likely last place I'll call.

Posted by Paladin at 04:08 PM | Comments (0)