Networking during Hurricane Irene

Hello from within our modest tropical storm Irene.  Here it is just windy and rainy.  The power went off about 4 hours ago, right in the middle of the coffee maker cycle.  I dumped the rest of the water in the reservoir into a pan and brought it a boil on the gas stove, then poured it into the basket. Worked fine.  Without power you have to start the gas stove with a match, and the exhaust fan doesn’t work, but that is OK for minor cooking.

After about 15 minutes, the little UPS on the ethernet switches and FIOS router stopped working.  The FIOS optical network terminal kept running on its own battery.

I suspect this little neighborhood in Wayland is pretty low on NStar’s list of power problems, so I wheeled out the generator to the garage entrance. This is a 6KW electric start machine.  We haven’t needed it for several years, since a round of tree limb triming in town dramatically improved power reliability.  Unfortunately, the generator battery is ten years old,  and hasn’t worked for the last five.  I’ve never been successful in pull starting it unless it was already working, so I gave it a jump start from the DR field mower.

The generator plugs into the house via a 30′ pice of 10-4 cable with 30 Amp connectors.  The house connector in turn is wired to a manual transfer switch that moves 10 circuits from line to generator.  When the house was built, we thought pretty carefully about what to power:

* boiler controls, to permit hot water to work

* refrigerator

* freezer

* kitchen outlets

* outlet near the TV in the family room

* outlets in master bedroom

* outlets near the computer equipment in the basement

* outlet in the study (for my computer!)

* … and I don’t remember where the other two circuits are.  Note to self: find out.

Plus there is 300 feet of 12 gauge extension cord running across the lawn to the neighbor’s house to power their freezer.

This all made sense, but things change, and the house wiring hasn’t.  The FIOS ONT is in the utility room, and there is no generator outlet in there.  So now there is a 25 foot extension cord connecting it to the server outlets.  Similarly, we moved the freezer so now there is another extension cord connecting it to a powered outlet.

The little UPS is a problem. When the power came back on, the UPS hasn’t switched back. It just beeps fitfully. Note to self: a cheap UPS from Best Buy is probably worth every penny!

My son Alex was so offended by the lack of power for the family iMac that he’s moved it to the floor of the MBR and figured out which outlet is live. He also moved the Time Capsule that supports upstairs WiFi, and then I had to show him how to interpret the patch panel diagram to get it plugged into a live network port.  Cathy doesn’t approve of kids using the internet during a power outage,  but I figure I should reward initiative.

The home server had been up for 242 days, but it hasn’t restarted.  I will have to go troubleshoot.  The only difficulty with this is that we don’t have DNS service for the inside machines.  For talking to the world, we can just switch to Google’s DNS at 8.8.8.8, which is easy to remember.

The roof is leaking, but it is the place that just happens to drip into the kitchen sink.  Is that good planning or just luck?

I don’t know whether to expect FIOS to stay up long term or not.  The fiber goes to the local CO, which has lots of batteries, but I don’t know if there are active components between here and there, and I don’t know what is upstream from the local CO.

Updates:

The home server came up fine, and if you wait long enough, ssh to it works.  The problem is that its upstream DNS is the server in Win’s basement, which is down right now.

One of the smoke detectors is unhappy about the lack of AC power.  It probably needs a new battery, but it is the one about 14 feet off the ground in the loft.  I can reach it with the extension ladder, but that is out in the rain behind the house.  Ah well.

So far the chicken coop hasn’t blown over, and the run is still standing.  The chickens, sensibly, are staying inside.

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