Dispatches From A Transient Programmer #2: Free Beer

As a transient programmer (with a family) we are living in a “suite” hotel.  I never realized the the true purpose of these establishments until a few weeks ago when I went looking for a place for us to stay during our “gap”. At a regular hotel, you get a room, a couple beds, a bathroom, and the distinct feeling that you are paying too much for too little. However, this suite hotel is designed for extended stays. While it costs just about the same as any other fairly decent hotel (that is, far too much), it offers all sorts of useful amenities. First, they allow pets, so my girls can have their cat around. They also have free breakfast, BBQs and tables, a sports court, nice new plasma TVs in every room. They also have FREE BEER. Yes, that is right. FREE BEER. Four nights a week they have “happy hour” in which you can get a free (although fairly slim) meal, and FREE BEER. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of another hotel that gives FREE BEER, but we found one with FREE BEER.

The FREE BEER though, does not mask the fact that the internet connection is slow and shared by everyone. This must be what all the nay sayers were talking about when they said cable modems would be useless because everyone in the neighborhood would share the same data pipe. That situation never materialized at my old home. The cable modem was always fast…when it was up. Time Warner however could not guarantee any sort of uptime and that is why I switched to FIOS the day it came available. We were basking the in the digital glow of 15mbps for months in our old house, but now we are in a room sharing a single connection with 100’s of other guests. The slowness of the connection makes any sort if online development impossible. Everything has to be built off-line and tested offline, and then uploaded at the last possible minute for a final test in production. If something goes wrong, rolling back can take 10 times longer than I’m used to. It sucks.

Another oddity about staying in one of these long-term hotels is the people you meet who are also staying for a long term. On Monday I noticed a VP from our department sitting at a table during happy hour enjoying the FREE BEER. It just so happens that he is very friendly and one of the best VPs we have. He came over to talk to to my family comment on the FREE BEER. The funny thing was that he and his family are kind of in the same “transient” position were are in, however the scale is to such a different degree that it is laughable. While my family is scrimping, saving and struggling to edge-up to a slightly larger house to support the growing needs of our children, he is living in the hotel because he is having a mansion built in the best part of town but had to move out of the house he was renting (also in the best part of town) because it was sold in a foreclosure sale. He told us straight out that the “novelty” of the suite hotel would wear off quickly. So, while I’m beating myself-up trying to design some kind of game as quickly as possible that might make me a few extra $$$ to offset the cost of our current albeit odd, but inadvertently and expensive lavish housing situation, he’s lamenting the fact that the place is not really up to his usual standards. Oh well, for now the playing field is level. We both get the same crappy internet connection, we both have an awkward time time trying to explain to everyone we know that we no longer have a permanent street address, and four times a week, we get to enjoy the crisp taste of FREE BEER on tap. Did I mention the FREE BEER?

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