March 5th, 2011

krazy koati

I cannot stay, I came to say, I must be going

So today turned into a sort of telecommuting day. My goal was to stay in bed until I didn't feel tired anymore, which would be a neat trick, although I was up and checking my Twitter feed by about 11. This was a convenient thing as my boss called mere moments later as they were having a problem with my project. A good part of my project involves using OpenLayers, a kind of map-generating tool, to, er, generate maps. The trouble was the generating of these maps (and some other tasks which were map-dependent) had gone from snappy and fast to sluggish over the day yesterday, and this morning ground to a complete halt with no pictures being produced and just nasty-looking error messages popping up.

Well, I hadn't changed anything in my code that would affect server speed, or calls to that server. And I checked from my laptop and from my iPad and found that everything was working just fine. So my instinct was to say that it was some transient glitch of the kind that's just inherently unfixable. My boss didn't agree with this and wanted me to do what I could. I could log into the administrative page for the map server, but there wasn't anything to really tweak that I could fix. I did find in the logs the traces of crashed map summonses, at least, but as to why they crashed I don't know.

So within a few hours we had logmein installed on my laptop, and I'm honestly awestruck by how I could see, sluggishly yet functionally, logged-in sessions to the servers at work. Ultimately I didn't do anything substantial, although it started speeding up again, and the boss was able to find a task which I was able to see being slow too. I suspect the problem is the map server, or the server software, neither of which I know a substantial thing about. But I put in a good appearance, and I edited some XSLT pages in small ways that I'd been putting off so as to deal with bigger issues.

Now, though, I think I've got a useful precedent. If I could get logmein set up for my office computer I think I could put in a bid for telecommuting. Even if I keep the exact same hours, rolling out of bed and into the virtual office would be an enormous savings to my time and sleep deficit. I must use this wisely.

Trivia: The southern border of Maryland on the Delmarva peninsula was, by King Charles I's original charter, to be on the latitude of Watkin's Point. By 1666 the point had eroded away, and local surveyors attempted to estimate its location but calculated incorrectly. In the attempt to draw the line due east they veered noticeably to the north. This mistaken border was ultimately ruled by the United States government in 1877 to be too well-established in practice to correct. Source: How The States Got Their Shapes, Mark Stein.

Currently Reading: Zendegi, Greg Egan. It starts out with Internet-connected protestors managing a reasonably bloodless overthrow of the Iranian government in 2012. Yeah, like that could ever happen. (It's surprisingly human/emotional/small-scale for Egan, I think, or at least relative my normal impression of his books.)