Recently I picked up some part-time work two-three days a week, assisting in making teacup-saucer sized ravioli with exotic ingredients (salmon, portabella, arugula, sweet-potato) to keep food on the table and some bills paid while I work on developing a subscription package for a client.
This led to the part-time job's Boss discovering that I knew a little about computers, and I was subsequently conscripted into additionally helping (on the side of the other work) in fixing his LAN (which someone else had been working on for about four weeks of similar 2-3days/week, with little success).
This involved me taking one look at his network map, immediately grabbing a pen and reconfiguring the design to include a linux firewall to sit in front of the Windows 2000/NT boxes, with option of a future DMZ for Webserving, and farming DHCP to the LAN.
Over the course of the next day or two, he bought a new used system, installed his Win32 package on it, and gave me an older one to use for the firewall. Burned a copy of FC3 to CD, went thru the usual rigamarole getting the hardware to behave, and got a minimal install going, rpm package updates installed, and bare-bones firewall/dhcp up.
THEN he springs on me that he wanted the Linksys WRT45G hooked up (which I had not been aware that he had, and which could have easily serviced all of the above, although somewhat more basically), to allow the two upstairs computers to have access to the network in the basement. I banged my head on that for the few hours I had, took home the CD with the PDF manual, failed to find what I needed, and came in today to squeeze in what I could in between the ravioli-making.
However I was met with the directive that "this has gone on long enough" (even though I wasn't involved in the early stages of any of this) and if I can't get the wireless working by the end of the day, the whole thing gets scrapped and he's gonna put it back the way it was before the whole thing started.
Banged my head against the quirky WRT45G built-in configurator for several hours, finally wound up calling tech support only to get cut off at the very end by a failing cellphone battery, however with what I'd learned by then, I made the final lucky discovery that by plugging the cable into one of the built-in four ports rather than the WAN port, it all 'just worked' as a wireless access-point doing routing but passing the DHCP up to the linux box, and I set up the 128-bit encryption and everything's contained.
THEN last minute, his D: drive disappears while he's trying to install a DVD drive on another system of his, which has crucial data he needs for a meeting in the morning. No Norton Utils, just bare-bones Win2K utils. Sees the drive, won't mount it. Windows pretends it doesn't exist. I yank the DVD drive, check the SCSI ID settings, re-set them so it's not ID 0, plug the drive back in, and BOOM, there's his D drive.. only now, the DVD drive doesn't show up. However, that's a thing for another day, since he can get the files he needs, and it's time to go home anyway.
Oy what a day. My friend had to make all the raviolis because I *had* to make sure to solve the computer problem before the day was out. (hell, my reputation, such as it is, was at stake... or at least my attempts to build one with him. *chuckle*
Postlude: Even as I'm typing this, he's called to get my e-mail address so he can send me some more work. Busy, somewhat frantic, but if the trend for success continues, this should definitely turn out better than I'd hoped. Now all I need to is to stress how much I normally make for this kind of work. Nothing worse than being taken advantage of because you're broke, but still hard to look a gift horse in the mouth either considering I only had the one other long-term project before this.
The difficult part will be keeping my mind-set in line to make sure to complete the OTHER project ALREADY on my plate, which is quite a bit more complex and actually involves Perl programming, as well as learning how to (securely) do things I'd never done before.
Maybe I'll be able to catch up and pay off my roommates what I owe them before they have me drawn and quartered.