Tues. Jan. 26, 2021 – references, they’re not just something that never gets checked on your resume’

Cool and damp again.  Maybe some rain, maybe not.

Yesterday was misty in places, overcast most places, and somewhat warm for a short time.  Just a pretty gross day.   So I spent it indoors.

Solved my client’s issues with a lot of technical help from my sometimes business partner.  A piece of hardware somehow lost its “IP Table” which tells it where the other parts that it controls should be found.  The fix meant downloading a current version of the IDE, then a firmware file, uploading the firmware (32 minutes), then downloading the control software files, and finally reinstalling them.  All that messing around followed by rebooting, restarting, and testing.  Still, it got him back up.   He’s getting a bit tired of piecemeal replacement of the stuff that got damaged by lightning.  I may be doing a complete remove and replace on the system.  That won’t be cheap.  Should be good for me though.

Lest anyone think I know what I’m doing with any of the above, I have good help.  I’m just monkey punching the buttons.  I’m the remote set of hands when it comes to the software side of all that.  Kinda like here, where Rick keeps it all working, while I’m the smiling face that people see.  I’ve been very lucky in my  career to have access to really good people to backfill my gaps…

I’m sure you have gaps in your preps and skills, and I can’t emphasize enough, that you need good people to help you fill them.  Consider how you’ll repay them for the help too, either through stuff or loan of skills of your own.   There is a great feeling too, when you can help someone else with your own expertise.  It’s about building a community, or network of resources and it helps in normal times, as well as bad times.

On the other hand, your normal network might not be available.  That’s why you need a reference library.  It doesn’t have to be a ‘rebuilding society’ library, but should cover the sorts of things you don’t know well, and it should also provide backup for the stuff you DO know well- because you might not be there.

It has to be offline too.  Consider infrastructure failures.  Consider censorship.  Consider the internet balkanized.  Consider search engines distorting results.  And consider your browsing history being weaponized against you.  Can’t happen?  If I’m an oppressive government and there is a general famine, and I want to seize the “excess” or “hoarded” food, I’m going to start with everyone who bought canning jars.  I’m going to cross that with searches for “how to can vegetables” and “beginning gardening” or “stealth gardening”.   After 9-11 there were stories that various agencies went on a terrorist hunt by collecting grocery store ‘loyalty card’ purchase histories, and looking for people that bought hummus, or falafel.  It’s part of their institutional knowledge now.   Even if they don’t have the resources to do it as a dragnet, they will certainly use it to build a case, or reduce the pool of candidates.  And they’re likely going to go for recent low hanging fruit, because they’re lazy.

Now that day may never come, and you and I will both continue doing searches for what we think of as normal or ordinary things.  We’ll leverage the beast for our own betterment with youtube and google.  Just keep in mind that you really really might not want to have watched a repair video, and then ordered a gun part, after having declared all your illegal guns to be sold or lost.   Much better to have a couple of books, picked up used, to answer your questions in what might become the ultimate in ‘non-permissive environments.’

With that cheery thought, I once again suggest that you keep stacking…

nick