Telecommuting surprises: When technology fails you ...

Well, for the last month, I have been in Egypt, on a visit to extended family.

I planned to work via my laptop and had an ADSL installed from Link for that month. On the days I am out of the city, I planned to use the dialup modem.

Sounds like a good plan with all the bases covered. Right? No, wrong!

What happened was a series of unpleasant surprises that left me frustrated.

Family committments

First, there is the demand on my time, visiting family and friends, attended dinners, and running errands. These eat up a lot of time.

Dialup modem ALSA/Intel HDA

Second, was the surprise that the dialup modem did not work when I needed it too. The modem on my Toshiba A100-TA6 is an Intel HDA, attached to the sound card. It uses the slmodem package to work. It worked fine on Kubuntu Edgy 6.10. However, in Feisty 7.04, it stopped working, and it turns out that ALSA has broken it. I hate the way the kernel folk stopped the odd/even scheme of development/stable, and how that breaks things. I tried to patch the driver but ran into another problem, and just decided not to screw more with the laptop.

Sound not working

At one point the mic stopped working too, then sound died out totally. This was basically settings using alsamixer, but took a lot of time to get back on track. This was caused by attempting to solve the dialup modem issue above.

Power outages

Initially, power was not an issue, but in the last two or so weeks, it just went out for 2 hours at a time and did that daily. No power = no ADSL = barely any work can be done.

Internet downtime

The internet is much slower than in Canada. This is expected, but being used to 300 kB/s downloads, that recently was increased for free by Rogers to 800 kB/s makes 35-50 kB/s look pathetic. Speed is not the only aspect though. Flakiness is a problem specially in the evenings. This is probably due to increased demand, as well as more power drain too (the ADSL modem/router indicators show power may be an issue).

All these factors contributed to work and reading lists piling up and increasing the stress level more than a "normal" non-"vacation" month would be.

So, all in all it was not a very productive "vacation" due to the above factors.

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