Digressions & Diatribes

by Kort E Patterson, Editor

Seventh Anniversary Issue!

This will be my seventh annual expression of surprise that I am still serving as the editor of your regional newsletter. In celebration of this unlikely development, this issue contains the traditional short story by your editor.

As you may have guessed, I've been learning more than I ever wanted to know about the Linux operating system. I call my current project "Networking on the Cheap" - a firewalled Internet Gateway/mini-ISP and protected local area network for small offices and multi-computer households. The Gateway/mini-ISP was originally intended to provide shared access to a broadband DSL connection, but DSL isn't available in all areas. The Gateway's latest trick is using on-demand dialing to create the illusion of exclusive access to an "always-on" Internet service for multiple computers sharing a single standard dial-up account.

I expected the project to take a couple of weeks, but it turned into months of frustration - punctuated by brief moments of delusional euphoria, that all too quickly succumbed to the crushing despair of discovering yet another unexpected complication.

It didn't help that I knew next to nothing about what I was trying to do when I started. Like the proverbial babe in the woods, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I should've suspected something when I couldn't find a ready made version of what I was trying to build. But I thought I could see where I wanted to go, and was sure there must be some way to get there. I should've reconsidered the whole project the first time I encountered the two steps backward that seemed to follow every tortured step forward. But even as I progressively worked my way ever further away from my goal, it seemed at each stage that just one more step-back-and-shift would finally put me on a clear track to the objective.

Things did get easier once I'd accumulated enough understanding through trial and error to recognize the problems I was causing myself. But I still blame all the delays and difficulties on a conspiracy of unnamed malevolent forces. My ordeal was obviously the result of the mysterious but ever present "them" and "they", busily manipulating things behind the scenes to keep me from uncovering the secret cabal that covertly controls the universe. No doubt about it...

It was close, but I did manage to get the prototype Gateway/mini-ISP installed in a real office for testing, just in time to suffer the fiendish torture of filling out my corporate tax returns by the March 15th deadline. Of course, the ultimate objective of all this effort was to get work and taxes out of the way so that I could get back to the really important stuff like putting out this issue of POC, and catching up on the various topics being discussed on Top1...

And since I've finally gotten around to talking about POC in this meandering anniversary editorial, I want to once again remind you that your newsletter needs your submissions. I would have thought that after 7 years of my filler pieces, the members of region 7 would be adequately motivated to send in enough stories, articles, or just idle musings, to displace my humble scribbles from the pages of this venerable rag. You have no one but yourselves to blame that so many of my words find their way into the empty white spaces in our newsletter that your submissions should have occupied.

Considering the range of topics and perspectives that have appeared in POC over the last 7 years, just about anything that will make a good read for the members is fair game. Surely you've done something, know something, heard something, or just thought of something you'd like to share with the rest of us. Your newsletter eagerly awaits your contributions to our collective consciousness.

Our calendar section is also a bit sparse. If you'd like to enjoy the company of your fellow Illans, the first step is to organize an event. Contact your Local Area Coordinator for help and advice. If there isn't one in your area, volunteer to become one! Then send your event schedule to POC so I'll have something to put in the calendar section!

Region 2 is preparing an outstanding AGA in the heart of New England (Worcester, Massachusetts) for us this year. I can confidently predict a good time for those who can attend. If you can't attend in person, be sure to send the proxy statement attached to this issue to me, or to Herb Lipson, Intertel Secretary, so that we will have enough members and/or proxies present to perform the annual corporate rituals of the organization.

As I pointed out in last year's anniversary digression, one of the functions of the Regional Director is to send welcoming letters to new members. Do any of you really want our new members to think I'm a typical example of our region's membership? If they don't meet other members at events, or read the submissions of other members in POC, what evidence will they have to the contrary? You too can defend the honor of our region by getting involved!

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