Joseph Abbott (faxpaladin) wrote,
Joseph Abbott

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The Internet is Useful

I got taught this lesson twice today. First this morning, when I woke up (this was at 11 a.m. - recall that I work strange hours), poured a glass of orange juice and a bowl of cereal and trudged to the computer for my e-mail/LJ/news-over-breakfast ritual.

No Internet.

OK, the DSL modem overheated. It does that. Turn it and the router off, eat breakfast while waiting for it to cool down, turn it back on and when it comes back up, plug the router in. Standard procedure.

No Internet.

Reboot the Mac. No Internet.

Plug the Ethernet cable straight into the modem and switch the access setup. No Internet.

Finally call the DSL support number, wade through the response tree to the recorded Network Status Update: "Customers in Waco and surrounding areas will not be able to access the Internet. We are aware of this problem" - I would hope so, since you just told me about it - "and are working to solve it. Estimated time of repair is 1 p.m. Central time." Which by this time is about 45 minutes away. Sigh. So I reread some Watchmen, since it's right to hand. (I probably should have been doing something more useful, but my whole "morning" routine has been thrown off by this. What did we do before we had the Internet?)

At work about 2:30; I'm wire editor tonight. The last copy is supposed to be sent to the typesetter by 11:45. At 11, just as I'm putting what was supposed to be my last story on the page, one of the other deskers wanders over to inform me there's just been a wire alert of a 7.0 earthquake off northern California, and tsunami warnings issued for the entire Pacific coast. No tsunamis yet detected, though, so I'm in that uncomfortable deadline-breathing-hard-down-my-neck limbo: It might be nothing. It might be the first indications of Major Catastrophe. (Our first report of the Indian Ocean catastrophe was a 5- or 6-inch story that a major earthquake had been recorded; at press time that night nobody knew yet that it would be a catastrophe, much less how big a catastrophe.) All the pages are already filled; most of them have long since gone to press. So: How much space do I clear for this story?

I need information, and I can't wait for the Associated Press to give it to me. CNN is no help (this is actually a fairly good sign: They only feel the need for a very brief interruption of a Larry King Live rerun - he's interviewing Michael Jackson's defense lawyer - to say the quake has occurred and they're monitoring it). But I can get the data straight from the Feds, can't I?

US Geological Survey. Earthquakes. Hmm: OK, this is the page they were just showing on CNN, but where's the tsunami info? Back to Google: Ah, I see... USGS handles the seismic info, NOAA handles the sea-level stuff. OK, NOAA, then.

A few clicks later, I'm reading the West Coast tsunami warning center's just-issued bulletin: The tsunami alert has been cancelled. It's another five or ten minutes before AP moves a new story to that effect, and by then I've already got the space ready for it: A 4-inch hole previously occupied by a filler ad. I now know that's all it will need.

The Internet taketh, and the Internet giveth...

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