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A Week Off

Yesterday I returned from a 5 day trip to Nelson and back (a distance of about 1600 kilometers). Nelson is a great holiday destination but on this occasion the reason for the visit was to collect a car for my daughter and to make some improvements to an accounting program I created for my mother-in-law – its very important to get that right!

Actually its just as well the main purpose wasn’t a holiday because the weather was fairly terrible. Nelson has a reputation for having good weather (it generally has the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand) but on this occasion there was almost continuous heavy rain and fairly cool temperatures. It wasn’t so good yesterday when we got back to Dunedin either but today the weather has returned to pleasant spring conditions.

I usually write a few blog entries even when I am away from home but on this occasion I didn’t because I had a technical problem with my web site. I was horrified to receive an email (on my iPhone) as I was travelling north saying the web site couldn’t be contacted. I didn’t worry too much because sometimes there are problems with the links to the rest of the world and I expected it to fix itself fairly quickly.

Unfortunately it didn’t and I diagnosed the fault as a problem with my ADSL router. That was locked inside the house and I was away for 5 days so my web server was unavailable for that long. This is not the standard of professionalism I usually have (my up-time is usually better than some real web hosting services) but I will rearrange my home network so the modem can be restarted from the basement (which is more accessible) so I can phone someone and ask them to fix things in the unlikely (I hope) event it happens again.

I hasten to point out that my good old reliable Mac servers kept running perfectly and they have had 100% uptime over the last few years they have been running. It was my modem (usually very reliable itself) which had got confused.

Knowing my servers were unavailable was a bit of a worry because I was constantly trying to think of a clever way to fix things by “remote control” but apart from that the trip was successful. We did have 2 pleasant breaks overnight at Hanmer Springs on the way to and from Nelson and sitting in the hot pools while admiring the mountain scenery tends to make you forget (temporarily at least) about technical issues like web server problems.

So it was back to work today with about 300 email messages to deal with and various other IT related problems to solve. Playing with computers is fun but sometimes I’d rather be back at Hanmer Springs. I particularly want to take my telescope up there some time because the night sky is just superb, although on this occasion the Moon and some light cloud would have made observing a bit of a waste of time.

Now that my daughter has a car we now have three at home. To make matters worse my wife has won a new car in a competition so we will have 4 tomorrow. It might be time to thin out the fleet a bit, I think!

We have already found a couple of enhancements which would be helpful in the accounting program so another visit to Nelson seems likely, but that won’t be until Christmas. I do have a few more days off coming up soon for a short visit to Queenstown (yes, I have some computer work to do there too) so I really must re-arrange the network before that happens. Whether the servers are on or off line isn’t exactly critical but I always think if you’re going to run a web service you need to aim for the best reliability possible.

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