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Bussman's Holiday

I spent Good Friday at the landscaping company where my sister works. I'd been out there two weeks before doing a site survey. Friday was installation day for a small wireless network.

I dropped in a wireless AP / router (they had an existing DSL connection going to the one PC), installed wireless cards in their three laptops, and configured file and printer sharing all around. As usual there was one machine (one of the laptops) that just didn't wanna play ball. In the end it turned out to be some stray personal firewall software that, while it was not configured, was causing networking on this machine to conk out for four out of every sixteen seconds.

I was going to do the labor part pro bono, as well, I don't get to do enough of this stuff these days. The principal partner, however, was insistent that I bill him for the whole deal. "There's no such thing as a free lunch, and I'd rather pay someone I like!" ...This puts me in a somewhat touchy position of sending him an invoice for services I have already rendered, when we've never talked about time or rates or terms of any kind. I found out from my sister that her consulting rate as a landscape designer is 25% more than my consulting rate as a network engineer, so her boss probably won't have sticker shock.

Actually, sticker shock is how I got this gig. They'd had a couple of office system outfits come in and give them prices to do what I did. The high estimate was $5,500. That probably included a server with Microsoft's Small Business Sever or Windows 2003 Server and a pile of consulting time. With materials and labor I'm coming in at just over a grand. There is a place for enterprise solutions, and there's a place for getting the job done with the tools at hand. Everyone there had some flavor of XP; the one desktop PC will make a fine ersatz server for now. If they outgrow it we can talk about a "real" server (running Linux and Samba) later. I can see my slogan now:

Shipman Network & Systems Consulting
We don't charge you for an anvil when a fly-swatter will do!

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