July 2003 Archives

July 12, 2003

Getting bike on my bike as a friend loses his

Since I don't have much to keep me occupied during my off hours when I'm out here in CA, I brought my 15-year old Trek 520 out to CA.

Atlanta is not a good place to ride a bike. There no bike lanes, and of course the humidity makes it a challenge. My neighborhood is pretty hilly, and my natural laziness inhibited me from getting out on a bike.

The Pasadena area is much nicer. It is somewhat hilly here, shoved up against the San Gabriel mountains, but there are beautiful wide streets (with bike lanes!) to ride on. And the weather is just enormously better.

I shipped my bike out the weekend before I left for Pasadena the first time. I took the suggestion of someone on rec.bicycles and took my bike to a local shop, let them disassemble it, and then ship it to a shop out here, where they reassembled it and tuned it up at the same time. (It's mostly been sitting in my garage for much of the past five years.) Unfortunately, though the local shop had told me they couldn't ship it until the following Monday (my first day in CA), they actually didn't get it shipped until a week after I brought it in, and I didn't get it for another week. By the time it got here, I didn't have much time to ride it. I'd also bought some cycling shorts and socks, but I'd left them back in Atl. You can't really do much cycling without proper clothes, even in CA.

But this last week, I finally got to it. I brought my cycling shorts and socks. There's an REI just a few blocks from where I'm staying, so I rode over, bought a lock, bought a proper cycling jersey, and set out.

I've now taken two rides from my hotel. The first one went perhaps 8 miles round trip, maybe a bit more. The second, yesterday evening, was all the way from my hotel to my office building at Earthlink, and back again. The outbound ride is mostly uphill; not really steep hills, but pretty persistent. Back is almost all downhill, and so it much quicker. I'm guessing I rode perhaps 10-12 miles. At 7pm when I was out it was perhaps 80-85, but with the lower humidity, it was gorgeous weather for bike riding.

One of the things that gave me a push to get back on my bike was reading about Paul Beard's new bike and his plans to ride in the 200 mile STP Seattle to Portland ride. The ride was this weekend, but just this week, someone stole his bike..

I hope Paul manages to get another bike soon. If you want to help him, you can Paypal a donation. (Though if you don't know his email, as I do, I'm not sure how you'd do it - the link on his site was a generic link to Paypal, with no indication of directing it to Paul.)

T-Mobile's HotSpot wireless service

On a whim, when I was last back in Atlanta I decided to sign up with T-Mobile's HotSpot wireless internet service. I was intrigued by the service when I heard about it earlier this year, but a couple of things stopped me:

  • The service is mostly in Starbucks, and that's not a place I've ever spent in time in.
  • The service seemed expensive - $6 an hour, or $40 a month.

Two things changed my mind. First, since I started with Earthlink, I'm putting in two weeks a month alone in CA, and spending some of that time in Starbucks seems preferable to my 22x14 foot extended stay hotel room. Second, T-Mobile announced that current T-Mobile phone customers can get the service for $20 a month.

$20 a month is not bad. At $6 an hour, you'd use that up in a little over three hours of surfing. (I believe if you don't have some kind of a plan, there's a $6/1hr minimum.)

It turns out there's a Starbucks just downstairs on the ground floor of the Earthlink HQ in Atl. Since I'm a squatter when I'm in Atl, the Starbucks is a reasonable place to work from time to time. (At least if you sit inside. Sitting outside in July in Atl isn't recommended).

So far, I've used the service from perhaps four different Starbucks. Most Starbucks seem like reasonable places to hang out for a while, and the service works reasonably well. (Ironically, the service in the Sierra Madre Starbucks where I'm sitting right now appears to have gone out while I've been typing this.)

I did discover one oddity yesterday. I was down at a Starbucks in Pasadena over my lunch hour, and tried to send mail. I'm was using an Earthlink SMTP server, in fact an authenticated connection - and I was surprised to get an error when I tried to send mail. I was on IRC with the our day shift sysadmins, and after a bit of debugging, we discovered the problem: T-Mobile intercepts outbound SMTP connections. The server giving me the error was not an Earthlink server, but was apparently a T-Mobile mail server.

I can't tell if they block or intercept anything else. All my web connections have worked fine with no proxy setting, and I've been able to do SSH connections; everything else works. Still, it's a little disturbing to know that T-Mobile is intercepting my email. I suppose I could set up an SSH tunnel to get around that.

(And the internet connection here came back after about 10 minutes. Something must have died .. I had to re-authenticate before I could get back in..)

Living life between GA and CA

I left Georgia Tech at the end of May. I was a temp there, and you can't be a temp for more than a year without a 30 day break. My year was up May 28th.

Fortunately, I was able to find something else. June 2nd, I started with Earthlink. I took a position as a Senior Site Manager for Pasadena System Administration. Basically, that means I manage the group of sysadmins who manage the server farm in Pasadena.

The question of geography is a bit odd, because Earthlink's headquarters is in Atlanta, where I live, the job is in California. Since I started I've been commuting back and forth: I spent the first three weeks of June in CA, the next two working from the HQ office in Atl, and now I'm back in Pasadena until next Friday. The basic idea is to split my time between CA and GA until we can sell our house and move.

So right now I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Sierra Madre using T-Mobile's HotSpot wireless service. (I'll have more to say about that in a different post.

At any rate, life is little up and down right now. It's kind of lonely out here in CA, and when I've been back in GA, life has been filled up with painting and work. Still, it's a new direction, and that's a good thing.