Why Peer to Peer IM is Good

Last Friday our FIOS Router died.

Actually it started to die two weeks ago, but I didn’t recognize the problem.  At first, my Macbook started failing to connect with the WiFi.  I was puzzled, but just switched to another access point.  Friday, however, the router started dropping packets on the LAN.  My daughter, for whom latency is a matter of WOW life and death, got on Bonjour to complain about the service to my neighbor Win.  (We have fiber in a conduit between the houses for Serissa Research).  Win in turn IMed me over Bonjour.  We found we couldn’t even connect to the FIOS router web server.

Down to the engine room…er.. basement.  I turned off the router and turned it on again, and it didn’t even light up.  Then I discovered the wall wart power adapter was super hot.  Never one to ignore a clue, I said “Aha!” to myself.  5 Volts DC at 3 Amps.  I’m an engineer, how hard could it be?  After rummaging through various boxes, I found a 5 Volt at 2 Amps supply from some DLink thing with the right connector, and we’re up and running again, for the moment.

Verizon says they will send a new power supply.

The moral?  Peer to peer IM like Bonjour lets the kids complain about the internet service without having to walk downstairs.  Those old-technology centralized things like AIM and Jabber only work when the Internet works.

This issue is also why I am leery of custom home NAS boxes like Drobo, for all their good properties.  I want something I can fix using junk PC parts late at night on a weekend, not something that requires a week turnaround time.  I am not religious about this, and you will pry the Time Capsule from my cold fingers.