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Scott's Column
House plans, more on ADSL, and job rant

November 1, 2000
By Scott Lewis

This month is one of the slowest. My job is getting strained for a number of reasons, so I plan on a small rant on that. I have noticed a little more about my ADSL connection. However, there is good news on home plans front, our designer is doing great things with our house.

House Plans

House_Plans.jpg (55654 bytes)The initial plans from our new designer were great. We only had a couple of things we didn't like. Considering that we gave two sets of very different plans and two pages of "requirements" to the designer, his results were impressive. In fact, when we took the plans home and compared it to our list we only counted three items from two pages of stuff missing.

Yes, we are very impressed with this designer. We saw these initial plans about two weeks after we hired him. We kept the plans for 6 days. I went to Kinko's to reduce the plans to a legal sheet of paper and faxed it to my father. He like it a lot. That was more reassurance for us than anything else. He pointed out only one issue. The upstairs bathroom was drawn as a Jack and Jill bathroom between two bedrooms. (A "Jack and Jill" style bathroom is when each bedroom has its own sink off the bedroom, and the toilet and tub are between the two sink areas. Since there is just the two bedrooms and a large game room upstairs, the issue comes when people in the game room have to go through a bedroom to use a bathroom.

We had noticed this ourselves and already decided against the bathroom setup, even though it was really nice. Again, the fact that this was the only thing my father had to comment on was very reassuring to us.

In the initial plans the guest bedroom was in the back of the house. It was off the kitchen. It actually seemed nice. Until my brother-in-law pointed out that it sticks out and blocks the view of the "common" backyard between our houses. We thought this over and figured we would switch this bedroom with the study. The study was smaller and would fit in the same location without blocking the view. This would put the guest room near the master bedroom. When I returned to the designer with our concerns he whipped out a piece of tracing paper and started sketching out a couple of alternatives for the bedroom in its current location. I was very impressed. Our pervious designer complained with almost every change, This guy just soared.

In the end the designer came up with a great solution. He arranged the guest room off that kitchen in a way that leaves our view unobstructed and provides the guest room with a bathroom that can also act as the powder room. This will probably save us a few thousand dollars at build time. Now the powder room will become just a closet off of the hall between my study and the master bedroom, or a closet in the study.

ADSL

Last month I mentioned that my ADSL speed was very speedy, but occasionally hanged for unknown reasons. I decided to test this (with very limited capabilities). Whenever It appeared to be hung I would immediately go to another page from a totally different location.

This revealed that I was not losing my mind. From time to time it just hangs. No matter what I do. I just have to wait it out. It usually only takes a minute or so. Much less time than it would take to get through to tech support.

I can't pinpoint the slowdown. But I think it is plainly the ISP's fault. So I can add some dissatisfaction to the companies poor policies, customer service, and configuration.

One last comment. The ADSL I am getting has limits of 1.5 Mbps download, and 128Kbps upload. The download speed has been excellent (when it doesn't hang). But upload speed is only acceptable in my opinion. When doing long uploads I have noticed I get a steady 12 - 16KBps reported from my FTP software. 128Kbps = 16KBps. So I am getting at or near the best performance I can. But that is not good enough. I would regularly get 25-40KBps upload speed from my cable modem service.

Even though I am getting the most out of my current connection, I would gladly trade some of my download speed for more upload speed. Two reason:

1) Online gaming requires a two way connection. Increases in download speed without increases in upload speed means you are held to the upload speed. In this case 128Kbps. My cable modem was limit to 384Kbps and I would regularly get at least 256Kbps of that. So it was twice as fast for gaming.

2) Serving. I once planned on building an online radio station. I gave up the idea because my company does not allow non "approved" software to be loaded on workstations. That meant I could not run WinAmp to listen to my own ShoutCast based radio station. But I was hoping to do it someday anyway. Alas, this would not be very practical with only 128Kbps of speed. My experiments revealed that broadcasting at less than 24Kbps sampling rate degraded sound quality too much. At 24Kbps over a 128Kbps connection that means only 5 connections. And that assumes the connect stays rock solid. Not enough for any decent audience. When I was playing around with Shoutcast on my cable modem I was able to support up to 10 simultaneous listeners. When I set the limit to 12 I started seeing excessive dropouts in the logs, but 10 was possible and 8 was very reliable.

What I want is SDSL. The "S" stands for synchronous, meaning the same speed in both directions. I would rather have a 768Kbps two way (synchronous) connection than a 1.5Mbps/128Kbps asynchronous connection.

Job Rant

Now that I got this far in this column I decided not to rant too much. My problem is that I am being held back in my current position. My manager turned me down to talk to another area because nobody in my current unit could perform my job. This has been an ongoing problem with lack of time to transfer knowledge. But now it is limiting my career.

I initiated a knowledge transfer regiment. Following this my manager asked me to come up with a work plan for how much time and effort would be required to transfer knowledge. I decided to hold the rest of my rants until this works itself out. If this doesn't work out I will consider going to the Human Resources department and file some kind of formal complaint that my manager is deliberately stifling my career.

I am in discussions with another manager in charge of a consulting department. Hopefully the new manager will want to hire me. If the manager wants to hire me, they would offer my services on a consulting bases back to my current manager to complete knowledge transfer. Hopefully this would relieve my current manager of any fears that he would be left with a void to fill.

It is a delicate situation, but will hopefully work out without me burning any bridges behind me.

Conclusion

That's it. I had planed on using the bulk of this column to rant, but that would bore you more than my trifle ADSL woes.

I was considering shutting down this web site. The account it resides on was due for renewal. I only use the disc space for this site. I wasn't sure if my in-laws were using the connection enough to justify its cost. But they have decided to continue it. I still haven't made up my mind to continue maintaining this site. I am giving up on believing it could mean anything to anyone besides myself.

Until next time. Assuming there is a next time.

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