Posts Tagged ‘DCO’

Risk Automatic Dice Roller

Monday, August 31st, 2009

I went to Missoula last weekend to play some Risk, and saw that some RTAs had made an automatic Risk dice roller. Being the inquisitive type, I decided to write one myself. Mine uses pretty dice images I made, which somehow makes it better than the other one. It also has a few options for end-of-battle strategy.

Risk Auto Dice Roller

The source code is available, too. And because I’m awesome like that, here’s a .zip of the pretty pretty dice.

You can go to the page to see all the options.

How I Survived My Net Outage

Monday, August 17th, 2009

There are about fifteen points of failure between my upstairs computer and the Internet at large. So when my web access stopped working last Thursday night, I had a long way to go before I blamed my Internet Service Provider (Bresnan). Having worked at a sort of ISP for four years (the DirectConnect Office at the University of Montana), I was quite used to customers immediately blaming their provider, instead of the technology that was immediately at their control. After all, they hadn’t changed anything, right, so it must be the connection itself. Or, as they each usually liked to call it, “my Internet.” Oh, that’s nice. Got your own personal Internet, huh?

The point is, I didn’t call my ISP the second something went wrong. Because the probability that it was on my end was greater than 86.525%, I started troubleshooting my way upstream. Now, between my upstairs computer, there are a number of failure points. To wit:

  1. The computer itself connects to a D-Link wireless bridge (the model number escapes me now). This bridge works flawlessly until something goes wrong, at which point it acts like a brick with a five-port switch.
  2. Downstairs is the bridge’s counterpart, a D-Link Draft N access point. Because of the layout of my house and probably due to its age, the highest signal strength I can on the wireless bridge upstairs is about 66%. The signal has to travel through two walls and a ceiling to get upstairs, and I have the strength set lower than maximum to keep the signal within a reasonable range of my house.
  3. From there, the signal has to go through a switch to the actual router, which is a LinkSys model running the Tomato firmware.
  4. Finally, from the router, we get to the cable modem, which plugs into the ‘real’ Internet and signals the end of my responsibility.

Between each of these nodes, of course, are the usual points of failure. This includes the hodge-podge of Ethernet cables I’ve collected throughout my life, any of which might have lost the tab that’s supposed to hold it in place. I had a bit of troubleshooting to do, but was still pretty certain that the problem rested with me.

The first thing I did was connect to the router’s web configuration. This worked right away, which eliminated most of my signal chain. Unless my connection problems were the result of some bad Voodoo (which has happened before; maybe sometime I’ll tell you the horror story of my Ethernet-Over-Power attempts to link my upstairs and downstairs network legs), it was looking more and more like Bresnan’s fault. This was confirmed when I checked the lights on my cable modem. Being a rational-thinking person, I resisted the temptation to reset my router and my cable modem. I have known people who instantly do this even if their connection is a bit slow, and I assume that the one or two times this actually worked was enough to reinforce the superstition in them. The final nail in coffin for Bresnan was that I could release and renew my router’s IP address, but could not use my router to ping anything upstream, except my router’s router.

Since it was a bit late in the day, I resisted the urge to call my ISP and complain. Often people would aggravate me by calling to complain about outages at school. These outages could be beyond our control, as we were not the people in charge of the ‘pipe’ to the Internet, but were merely intermediaries between the campus’s IT department and the dorm residents. I figured that if it were a serious problem, my connection would still not be working in the morning.

As the sun was climbing in the sky I checked, and everything was working. I really didn’t give it much more thought; after all six hours of downtime in the fourteen months I’d been a customer translated to at least three nines (99.9%) of uptime, which was pretty good for a residential service.

I didn’t give it much thought, but my ISP did.

I’m used to being given a bad shake by corporations, but this time Bresnan came through. This weekend, I got a voicemail from an unknown number, which turned out to be a recording from them, apologizing for my downtime. This wasn’t a half-assed CYA thing, because it had obviously cost them some money: somebody had to write the words, and they had to call all the customers who were affected, which would have cost them a bit. I wasn’t expecting any sort of acknowledgement of the outage; after all, I hadn’t called to complain. The fact that they left me a message means that they left everyone who was affected a message, too. And that shows that they care. This is good for me, because a company that cares about its image is probably less likely to be a jerk to its customers.

Often in business, those who are loudest are the ones who receive the most attention. It’s good to see that every once in a corporations can rise about the soullessness with which we often endow them, put on a human face, and treat their customers with respect.

Back From the Bo-Zone / inside

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Just got back from Bozeman a few hours ago. Jesse, AJo, Andy, Cullen and I went there to check out how their ResNet program compares to our DirectConnect program. It was informative, despite the fact that we spent twice as long traveling (eight hours) as we did doing what we came there to do (four hours). They’ve got complete control of their network (we don’t), so they can do stuff like VLAN switching and bandwidth control much easier than we can. Their web-based tools aren’t as pretty as ours, however. This is a result of my design-first, code-second philosophy.

We stayed at the Western Heritage Inn, which sounds like a front for a white power group (“Free racist mint on every pillow!”). We all played Mario Kart 64 until the wee hours of the morn; this includes my boss Jesse, which pretty much makes him the coolest boss ever.

On an altogether unrelated note, last weekend I finished vocals for inside, the new record that I’ve been working on for two years. Tracks:

  1. I Miss You – slow, moody homesickness song.
  2. This Could Be Any Day – uptempo piano pop with strings.
  3. Fret – a worried dirge.
  4. Temperamental – frenetic song about changing moods at the drop of a hat.
  5. Mary’s Plea – A synth-folk number about abortion.
  6. Jenny Lewis Will Never Go Out With You – The name says it all. Power pop.
  7. Here There Be Monsters – A riff-heavy song with horns and strings.
  8. Let’s Get Away – Lolling folk about hitting the road, Jack.
  9. Written Off – An angry folk song about cowardly homophobes.
  10. Soap – A peppy song about a shower (more philosophical than prurient)
  11. Torn – A synthy yet rocky song with beats.
  12. Polarize – Quasi-raggae horn-infused polemic.
  13. Glut of Food – Synthy
  14. The Highway – Folk-rock about Interstate 90.

It sounds pretty good. I’ll probably have CDPrintExpress run up copies again, considering the fantastic job they did on Pick Your Poison. I also have plans in the works for an EP by Page Fault, my hardcore pet project. It’s an EP called Two Minute Hate.

But first, I plan to record some B-side vocals over the weekend while I’m visiting my parents. A country song about finding god (“Lifted Up”) is first on my list. I haven’t really found him (perhaps he’s hiding under the covers), but I find songs like it beautiful. I would also like to re-record the vocals for “Synth Pop” (not its final title), a former album cut for inside but now relegated to B-side status. I might also do a ‘stripped’ version of “Written Off”, with just vocals and acoustic guitar.