Preoccupied

In between changing diapers and rocking the girl to sleep and running the odd errand or rustling grub, I’m preoccupied with migrating rox.com to a new webhost. Dusting off those command-line skillz I haven’t used for a good while. So far, so good.

Update: The migration was a success. I hope to write something about DreamHost soon.

Communication Meltdown

I had planned to Twitter my daughter’s birth. It seemed like the perfect tool for giving blow-by-blow updates in real time, and it’s easy to do from my phone.

Alas, it was not to be. Last week I suffered what I call a “communication meltdown,” where multiple technologies fail me at the same time, compounding one another and making everything more difficult. I suffer through these from time to time, and they often seem to coincide with other crises that are not technological in nature.
Continue reading “Communication Meltdown”

Incommunicado

Due to circumstances beyond my control, all rox.com e-mail is out of commission for the foreseeable future; however I do have my replacement Crackberry so you can call or txt me.

Information Blackout

Sometime in the wee hours of yesterday morning my rox.com e-mail account started to choke. I’ve had the same e-mail address for ten years so I get quite a bit of spam, and when the flow of spam stops I know something’s wrong. I finally called tech support and they said that account was at quota. Odd, I thought I’d been deleting messages diligently.

I tried to login to the control panel but it’s not really possible using my Blackberry. We haven’t had internet at home since Katrina, except for the Blackberry, which can do a lot — I even use it to post to this weblog — but it is no substitute for a real computer when you need to do something sophisticated.

It seems like a lot of my communication is done by e-mail these days. The fact that it wasn’t working was distressing to say the least.

I thought that I’d be able to deal with the problem when I got to work this morning.

Power Outage

But I arrived on campus to find the University blacked out. Only emergency power in my building. The data center was down, and so even buildings with power had no internet. This also means that our website and e-mail systems are all down. I’m frankly embarrassed; this does not reflect well on the University. The data center should never go down. I’m pretty sure it’s got some sort of auxiliary emergency power supply. Especially after all we learned after Katrina, I’m surprised and disappointed by this turn of events.

Blackout

I made a number of calls looking for a place where I might get internet access for an hour or two but it was so early that people were either on their way to work or not awake yet. Eventually I made arrangements to go by my boss’s house and use his computer.

Once I got online, I discovered that sure enough I’d maxed my quota. My e-mail account had a trash can full of 2,016 messages — 200 megabytes worth of junk I thought was deleted. The trash was so large the webmail clients couldn’t do anything with it. I had to have tech support delete it for me. I still don’t understand how this much trash accumulated, but it would seem that either my Blackberry or my Mac (at work) aren’t properly deleting e-mail from the server. I’ll have to diagnose the situation later.

So I’m back in business, but if you sent me an e-mail in the last 36 hours, I probably didn’t get it.

Beyond Beyond

The Beyond crew has come and gone. They consisted of an Australian director, a camera guy from Pittsburgh and an audio guy from Metairie. They shot an interview with us on Thursday, plus some scenes of us walking around our gutted basement. (Earlier in the day they got a termite expert to examine our damage, but I wasn’t there for that.) On Friday they got scenes of Xy working on a gardening project with some kids at school. Then they got some shots of me editing ROX video and uploading it to rox.com. (We had to fake it, because we still don’t have internet at home.) And this morning Xy and I did a ROX shoot, and they shot us shooting, and of course we shot them shooting us. Oddly enough Rob, the director, seemed mighty adverse to being on camera. Too bad for him!

It remains to be seen if viewers of their program will be able to discern the name of our program and the address of our website. They’ve got the footage to do it, but it’s in the hands of an editor in Australia. Hopefully there will be some collegial solidarity there. Us video editors got to stick together.

If we don’t get a spot of publicity for the site, I will feel burnt for letting them use our creative work (ROX #93). Actually I feel a little burnt already — they didn’t even buy me a drink.

Xy and I continued shooting even after the Beyond crew departed. I took the camera with me to our polling place and videotaped myself voting. It was really funny how this freaked people out. Taking a camera into the voting booth seems vaguely illicit, but I doubt there’s any law against it.

The voting went smoothly and there wasn’t even a line. Maybe Li’l Kimberley got her act together for once.

Beyond Inc.

I was contacted last week by an Australian television production company. They were looking for a termite-damaged house and they’d read about us in the Times-Picayune. They were interested in shooting a segment about us for a special on real estate disasters which they’re producing for The Learning Channel.

I told them if they wanted to see what Xy and I looked like on TV, they could watch ROX #93 online. They did, and they liked it a lot. In fact, it seemed to seal the deal. They’re headed down here today and will be shooting us over the next few days.

I suppose I should be kind of excited about that, but I’m not really. In fact I’m a little apprehensive. We’re letting them use some of our video, and I didn’t like the dickering over the accreditation. I want an on-screen credit saying “rox.com” at the time the video is used. They say that Discovery (TLC’s parent) just won’t allow that. I probably should have told them to kiss off. But the producer said they’d make it clear who we are (and where we are on the web) through the actual production. Plus I have a hard time saying no. We may actually get some good publicity out of it, but is it worth the stress of dealing with these strangers coming into our lives and making a TV show?

Playing the New Orleans Card

I made an unpleasant discovery this morning. The rox.com website was down. Looked like a problem with the database. Upon further investigation, I discovered that all the data tables were gone. The database itself was still there, but the thirty-odd data tables which it contained had vanished. Poof. Gone.

I called tech support for our webhost. The first tier guy I talked to immediately recognized the severity of the problem, and soon I was exchanging e-mails with a sysadmin named Sergey.

Yes, the database is empty. However we didn’t delete it. I advise you to restore your database from backup.

Sigh. I was afraid he’d say that. I asked if there was anyway he could restore the data. And I gave him the sob story. You know: My life has been disrupted from Hurricane Katrina because I live in New Orleans and my house was flooded. I’m not sure when or where my last backup of the database even is right now. All of which is true. Looking around on my hard drive here at work, I found a backup — from September 2003. Needless to say, the thought of losing two and a half years of data made me a little queasy.

Sergey wrote back:

We don’t provide restoration services for free. However, I’ve decided to restore the database for free, because you are from New Orleans. Please be more careful next time and make backups from time to time.

So, sometimes it pays to play the New Orleans card.

Idle Threat

A while back I got an angry message via the rox.com website. The writer demanded the immediate removal of “my image and any mention of me” from the website, and threatened legal action. The message was not signed, and the return e-mail address was obscure.

I wrote back and said I was sorry to hear it, but who are you anyway?

Shortly I received confirmation of the sender’s identity. I don’t want to tell his name, but it starts with Russ.

So, after consulting with J, I wrote back:

Sorry for the delayed response. I’ve been busy gutting my flooded home here in New Orleans.

I wish I could say it’s good to hear from you, but obviously you’re mad at us and that’s not good. I’m sorry that you feel that way.

However, upon reviewing the whole situation, we don’t really understand where you’re coming from. Quite simply, there’s nothing objectionable in your appearances on the ROX television show or on our website.

To the contrary, I really get a kick out of what you contributed to the whole project. You have a dynamic, charismatic personality and it really comes across.

Anyway, legally there’s no case here, and we remain committed to maintaining a website that accurately and completely indexes the content of the TV series, including all the dramatis personae, and that includes you.

Perhaps you would like to add some production notes to the site, regarding your ROX experiences? I have set up an account for you with username **** and password ****. Feel free to login to the rox.com site and add some production notes.

Now I’ve gotta get back to fixing up my house. We are just now getting electricity turned back on after almost four months. Hooray!

I sincerely doubt he could get a lawyer to pursue this. He appeared in the show of his own free will, we simply presented him “as is,” and that was over ten years ago.

E-mailus Interruptus

Sometime over the past day or two, rox.com e-mail services became intermittent and then shut down completely. I spoke with our service provider, MidPhase, this morning, and learned the problem was related to our disc allocation being full. They upped our quota from 1.5 GB to 5 GB, no charge — guess they’ve upgraded their plan.

Anyway, what this means: If you’ve tried to e-mail me or any rox.com address in the last couple days, it probably didn’t go thru, so please re-send!

I don’t know if the roxlyst was affected.