This blog is my attempt to reconnect with the world of chemistry. I have a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry and make a living doing research for a large company in Michigan. As times have changed, that company has changed its focus and I no longer have as much chance to do the basic, fundamental research which I most enjoy. Through this blog, I am hoping to recapture the magic which I felt during my graduate (and undergraduate) days in college. Expect topics on chemistry and alchemy along with some non-chemistry related items which I think might be interesting.

"The chymists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their pleasure among smoke and vapour, soot and flame, poisons and poverty; yet among all these evils I seem to live so sweetly that may I die if I would change places with the Persian King."

Johann Joachim Becher (phlogistonist)
Acta Laboratorii Chymica Monacensis, seu Physica Subterranea, (1669).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Perils of Technology

Technology can be great, but when it fails it can really screw you up. Today was a classic example. After working late last night on a presentation for a customer, I show up in our lab this morning about 45 minutes before a group meeting where we are all to present our individual talks for critical review by the group. Since this meeting was being held in a facility about 45 minutes from where I work, I decided I would just link into the meeting via phone and Microsoft Netmeeting. Nothing I haven’t done before. So I arrive at work only to discover that our phones have been removed from our cubicles. As I mentioned in a previous post, my cubicle was officially moved to another building about 2 weeks ago, although my lab will stay where it is until the end of summer. Apparently maintenance decided that we didn’t need phones in the old cubicles anymore.

So I go back into the lab area, since I still have access to a phone and can tap into the corporate intranet from there. After much rearranging of wires, phones, and computers, I’m ready to log in. What? No internet or email? Hmmm, I tweak some network settings and reboot. Still nothing. I’m starting to get nervous. Then someone else walks up and asks if I’m having trouble getting onto the internet since he cannot get on either. We check with the guy in charge of this facility and he says the server for this building is down. Damn. I pack up everything and drive 20 minutes to our new building, the one with my new cubicle (empty except for all the moving boxes). After booting the computer I find out that the entire corporate system is down. No Netmeeting, no emailing my presentation to the meeting location. Nothing. Nada. Trying to describe my Powerpoint presentation over the phone failed fairly miserably. I would have gotten just as much accomplished if I had stayed at home today.

The corporate system came back online about a minute after the meeting ended. Classic.

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