There was a sudden loud knocking at the kitchen door. I rushed over to answer. A FedEx man handed me a box I wasn’t really expecting, delivering my fixed LaCie backup drive. I thanked him and signed for it, only barely noticing the thick pallor that enshrouded the land and the smell that said the air was thick with moisture.
I tore open the box in haste, gloating over LaCie having entirely replaced my drive — I hadn’t had to return the power cords or gadgets with the drive for repair, and now I had duplicates for everything. With no emotion but relief for a minor ordeal being tidied up, I plunked the new drive down on a cluttered wire shelf next to my crochet work and back-up CDs, and sat in my seat, ready to check email and RSS feeds — my day of working-as-usual.
There was a large boom, somewhere nearby, and entirely out of the blue. Could that be thunder? I had gotten no storm warnings in my RSS feeds from the National Weather Service, but that gloom outside wafted back to my consciousness — it certainly COULD be thunder. A louder crackle-boom, far too close with no distant warnings. My hand automatically reached out and yanked the power cord from my laptop, and my other hand reached out for my desktop mouse — time to Shut Down.
Doorstop, my moody desktop, doesn’t shut down properly. In spite of a recent re-install. I’ve replaced every component in the case except for the video card and motherboard, and it absolutely refuses to shut down properly. I even have the boot-up and shut-down in “verbose” mode, so I can read all the system messages on the screen to see if I can figure out what’s wrong. The machine spits “continuing” onto the screen then waits for what seems like forever. I push the moody power switch and wait for the machine to shut off.
Cable goes out. It’s enough of a problem to be so dependent on my laptop battery — now I have no Internet. It’s definitely not a good sign. Chris, my partner, starts unplugging equipment wholesale, so I reach down, yank Doorstop out of the way, and grope blindly behind my desk, pulling the two plugs from the wall socket, saving Doorstop and my servers.
With a shrug, I grab my crochet work and move to a more comfortable chair.
What ensued was a violent (and sudden) thunderstorm in our area. We lost power for about a half hour. I can’t say if we would have gotten a surge sufficient to take our computers out, but I’ve witnessed lightning strikes that have done extensive damage throughout home networks, taking out every ethernet card on the network, and any motherboard with built-in ethernet. Note that all my Macs have built-in ethernet. In other words, a power strike could kill my computers. A power strike on my cable line through to my ethernet network will kill my computers absolutely dead with no hope of return. My laptop is joyfully wireless, so it’s not under that risk.
It took at least an hour for our Internet to come back up. I got a lot of crochet work done.
Last winter, we had a storm that took out our power for almost 24 hours, starting on a Friday.
In the case of power loss, I have no Internet connection and about 1-3 hours of laptop battery before I can’t work at all anymore. Hopefully people can understand this problem. It’s not like I live in the boondocks, either; I’m on the edge of Middletown, a pretty sizable city. Regardless of power loss, I need to take my computers offline, and work solely off my laptop, for the duration of any electrical storms. Any backup battery is insufficient to protect my computers from a direct electrical hit on the (overhead) power lines, and my laptop isn’t on the backup battery, since it technically doesn’t NEED a backup battery.
Not every admin is this paranoid, but then again not every admin has seen the effect of direct hits the way I have.
These storms will affect my ability to work. I pad my deadlines partially because of problems like these, but should power go out, I may have to move my deadlines, with profuse apologies.
I can crochet you a hat to make up for it though! Just ask!