Where did THAT come from?!?

This non-profit organization's offices are located on the outskirts of town, and that makes getting a good internet connection iffy, according to a sysadmin pilot fish working there.

"When we finally decided to get high-speed internet, the only choice was wireless," says fish. "Not cellular wireless like you can get today -- just a directional antenna on the roof, pointed at the ISP's access point on the city water tower.

"It wasn't the best, and it took a few days of trips up to the roof of the building to repoint the antenna. But eventually it was working very well, especially compared to the individual dial-up that a lucky few users had before that."

And it keeps working well all through the year -- until winter arrives, and internet speeds start dropping. Fish finally realizes that every time there's a snowstorm the antenna is icing up, and someone has to climb up to the roof with a hair dryer plugged into an extension cord to melt the ice.

Still, for the next few years internet continues to work fairly well. It isn't until the organization rolls out a new project that's heavily dependent on internet that fish realizes something is wrong with the connection.

The bandwidth has dropped noticeably -- and the only saving grace is that it's not bad enough to be a problem....yet.

"As the city was growing and more businesses were getting DSL, the ISP didn't have a lot of resources to deal with the dwindling number of wireless users," fish says.

"So we lived with it, while having an ongoing battle with the ISP, which insisted nothing was wrong on their end."

Finally, the day after a wind storm, fish climbs up on the roof yet again to readjust the antenna, and happens to bring binoculars. He turns them toward the water tower -- and suddenly realizes that all he can see is a tree.

Turns out the tree was always there, but over time it grew tall enough that it's in the path of the wireless connection. That's not a problem during the winter, but once the leaves grow in every spring they start blocking the signal.

Fish has a hard time believing that's the only problem, but once the receiving antenna is on a taller pole, the problems clear up right away.

"The company continued to use that wireless until we received notice from the ISP that they were shutting it down because we were their only customer still using wireless," says fish.

"How we managed to get justification to extend the new fiber loop out to our office is a story for another day."

Sharky needs a story every day. So send me your own true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You can also comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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