Mac Campbell

As proof positive that it’s a small world, or at least a small Island, I got email from the very same Mac Campbell mentioned yesterday in this space. His explanation: “I called someone today and they said did you see, did you know? Peter is commenting on your presence or lack of at the Eaglesmith concert.” Perhaps now that I’ve attracted the eyes of Mac Campbell, I should casually mention the Pope, or John Coletrane.

Rory Beck, Sting, and Mac Campbell

At the heart of the nexus of the Ola Hammarlund and Mac Campbell demographics lies the Island audience for Fred Eaglesmith. Or so it would seem from the performance at Pat’s Rose and Grey on Tuesday night, for everywhere I turned, I saw Mac. Or Ola. Or at least Mac and Ola dopplegangers. Combine the Mac Campbelloids with the people who wandered in off the street, and you’ve got an audience. What they lacked in mosh pitty frenzy, they more than made up for in sedate enthusiasm.

Feeling that I should seek positive alternatives to having my heart ripped out by Island Tel, I wandered down Richmond Street around 11 o’clock to catch this accidental performance of Fred and his band, arranged only at the last minute when a gig on the mainland fell through.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that and his band included Washboard Hank (of Hank and the Honkers, Reverend Ken and the Lost Followers, among other groups), and Willie P. Bennett, both stalwarts of the strong Peterborough, Ontario music scene we left behind when we headed east.

As to Fred himself, I must say that I suffered immediately from an impression that he looked an awfully lot like Rory Beck (who used to sign my cheques when he was Deputy Minister of Economic Development) and also somewhat like Sting. Once the initial unnervingness of these similarities wore off, this became a pleasant distraction.

Now Pat’s is not exactly the best performance venue in North America. Or even in Charlottetown. Only about 15 people actually get a clear view of the stage, and the acoustics of the building are tuned for a drug store, not a live band. That said, that only 30 people or so were still around when I showed up made for a pretty “intimate” setting, and Fred and the band certainly filled every nook and cranny of the place with music.

I must admit to some ambivalence about the whole idea of Fred Eaglesmith, as Catherine was an is a Big Fan of his, and this traces back to the hallowed Time Before Me, when she was a footloose and fancy free Toronto chick. But I should get over this. And I did. These guys are all fantastic, polished musicians, accustomed to each other and the music, but not going through the motions (and Lord knows you could fall into the trap of going through the motions playing Charlottetown on a Tuesday in early June to a crowd full of Mac Campbell droids). They rocked the place. And I realized that I should get out more.

Disclaimer: The use of Mac Campbell’s spirit in this concert review was done without the permission of Mac Campbell. I think probably, in the end, Mac Campbell wasn’t even at the concert, however much it seemed that he was. This review should not be considered an endorsement nor condemnatio of Fred Eaglesmith, or of louder music in general, by Mac Campbell, nor should the use of the term “Mac Campbell droids” be considered a negative comment about Mac Campbell the actual person. Mac Campbell’s a great guy. We miss him on the CBC. Ola Hammarlund was at the concert. Island Tel has never actually ripped my actual physical heart out; however certain actions of Island Tel and its service providers and affiliated companies have created a psychological effect in me similar to that which I imagine having ones heart ripped out would cause. The fact that Rory Beck looks like Fred Eaglesmith is purely coincidence.

When rsync won’t work…

Note to rsync users: where you get this message from rsync:

unexpected EOF in read_timeout

…it probably means that the path to rsync on your remote server can’t be found. Solve this with —rsync-path=.

Call from Eastlink

Got the call from Eastlink today — they’ve been reading this website, and knew that it was the right time. Many questions to be answered, but looks like we can probably consolidate telephone, Internet, and TV under one account. Note to Island Tel: over the next 25 years, this is $100,000 worth of business. If your “team” is ever going to get back to me with your side of the story, now is the time.

Island Tel High Speed Down Again

11:00 p.m. — Island Tel High Speed Internet network completely down for approx. 10 minutes. This follows on the heels of two major outages on Friday.
11:15 p.m. — Network briefly comes back up.
11:20 p.m. — Network still flaky. 50% packet loss to everywhere, include the ITAS gateway. Place call to technical support.
11:27 p.m. — On hold waiting for someone to answer technical support for 7 minutes and 58 seconds. Note that they have replaced old instrumental rendition of James Taylor song with instrumental rendition of Billy Joel song for on-hold entertainment. Not sure which is more annoying.
11:28 p.m. — Brusk Watts employee cum Island Tel technical support guy comes on the line. Claims problems are cleared up. I protest 50% packet loss. He says problems are cleared up. He says reset my modem. I protest 50% (not 100%) packet loss. He says they’re aware of the problem and someone is working on it. He says no more. I say thank you (why, I don’t know). Call over.
11:32 p.m. — Now experiencing 75% packet loss. Starting to panic that will have no Internet for the night despite much work to complete. Resolve to call Eastlink in the morning. All goodwill from early hopeful calls from Island Tel people after last frustration used up. Stark disbelief that any company can stay in business this long — even run ads in the paper claiming they’re e-business experts — with such completely crappy product and technical support. How do they sleep at night?
11:39 p.m. — Even though I know it’s a stupid idea, go down to basement to reset DSL modem. Note no water in basement; good sign. Come back upstairs. Still running about 50% packet loss. Place another call to technical support. Amazed that phones still work.
11:40 p.m. — Amazingly enough, technical support line answered on first ring. Oddly enough, end up talking to same guy. Guy admits that I didn’t have to reset my modem and that there’s a system-wide problem causing packet loss on the network. Claims it should be all okay by morning. Says someone is working on the problem right now. Two statements seem to be in conflict. Say thank you. End of call.
12:36 a.m. — Still experiencing same problems. Glad Island Tel is not running the highway system.
1:04 a.m. — Into the second hour of downtime now.
1:20 a.m. — Network seems to be back up and funtioning now. Feeling chastened.

Green Power

This Green Power project is one of the reasons it’s great to live on Prince Edward Island. What it doesn’t say in the news release, but which is apparently true, is that we consumers can buy Green Power too, at a premium, with the premium going to support the wind generator site.

I will be among the first to sign up for this — I think it’s an amazing idea.

Another nice Maritime Electric thing: they have an entire list of managerial email addresses online.

Pings and Traceroutes

The Story about Ping When Internet traffic travels from point A to point B — say from your computer to Yahoo! — it travels first to your local Internet company, then over their network to an Internet backbone (something like the 401 in motor vehicle terms), then to the Internet company of your destination. Along the way your traffic passes through a variety of technical gizmos calls bridges and hubs and routers, all roughly analagous to switching stations on the railway.

When you ping a computer, you’re essentially sending out a signal over the Internet, and waiting for it to bounce back. You time how long this takes, and in doing so get some idea of how smooth or congested the route between you and your destination is. This is roughly the same as going into a canyon and yelling “Ping!” at the top of your lungs, and timing how long it takes you to hear the echo.

A traceroute is essentially a roadmap showing the hops, skips and jumps your Internet traffic takes between you and your destination. For example, when I post this message to the website, it will travel over my Island Tel DSL connection to the Aliant network, then to BellNexxia in Montréal, New York and Toronto, over to AT&T Canada’s network in Toronto, to ISN here in Charlottetown, then to the Reinvented server 4 blocks across town. In general the fewer number of hops Internet traffic has to take between you and your destination, the smoother things will go for you.

Here are the results of my pings and traceroutes to Eastlink’s gateway (see previous message for details).

The Government of PEI webserver is 18 hops from c5.eastlink.ca with an average ping return time of 82ms measured over the last five minutes. By contrast, my Island Tel DSL puts me 2 hops away with an average ping return time of 10ms.

The Yankee webserver in Dublin, NH is 15 hops from c5.eastlink.ca with an average ping return time of 62ms. By contrast, my existing DSL puts me 16 hops away, with an average ping return of 50ms.

The Yankee webserver in Boston, MA is 11 hops from c5.eastlink.ca with an average ping return time of 40ms. By contrast, my existing DSL puts me 15 hops away, with an average ping return of 52ms.

Sad note: Mike Muuss, the author of ping was killed last year in an auto accident.

Eastlink Impresses

So I got “the call” today from Eastlink telling me that they can now offer Internet, telephone and digital cable services to the Reinvented World HQ here on Prince St.

One of my concerns about switching from my existing Internet service is a question about how “far”, in Internet terms, I would be from servers I maintain for PEI and for Yankee.

So I went to the Eastlink website, clicked on the technical support link, got the phone number (1-800-345-1111) and dialed it up.

I travelled through a well-laid-out phone tree, and after pressing “1 for Internet Technical Support” the phone rang. Once. Yes, just once. I didn’t have to listen to an electronic version of James Taylor’s Fire and Rain. At all.

The friendly guy who answered the call said “Eastlink Internet. How can I help you?” He didn’t say “What’s your user id?” I like this.

I told him my situation. He didn’t respond by saying “what’s an IP address?” He responded by saying “why don’t you just do some pinging and tracerouting to our gateway at c5.eastlink.ca”. Just like that.

The call lasted about 2 minutes from start to finish. I am very impressed.

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