Your Neighborhood Starbucks

02 December 2008

coffee praise starbucks

Over the summer, I relocated to a farming community in southwest Virginia. Around the middle of August, the Starbucks that'd been under construction finally opened, to much rejoicing. I've spent many a dollar and hour in that store, enjoying a lovely beverage and the fast internet.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we drank up all the ground coffee at the house. Heading into town to get more on Saturday night, we managed to show up 15 minutes after the store closed, just as the workers were about to leave. We'd assumed they were open until 11pm, not 10pm, on a Saturday. We were wrong.

Nonetheless, a worker named Thomas sent his coworkers on home, dragged me into the store, and insisted on grinding the 2 pounds of coffee I was in need of.

He gave them to me on an IOU, since the registers had been counted and closed. I returned the next morning to pay my coffee debt, after enjoying some of the fresh-ground joe.

Sure, it's sometimes fun to demonize the corporate coffee culture, but at least the Wytheville Starbucks feels like a local coffeeshop, populated with our neighbors on both sides of the counter.

I'd wanted to praise Thomas to the store manager, but I've missed him every time I've been in since Saturday. So I figure a blog would suffice, too.

Of course, this happened after we'd spent the holidays driving down to Georgia and back, stopping not once, but twice at Starbucks that had been shuttered. Billboards along the highway still proclaimed "Exit here, turn left!" But it turns out they were billboards of disappointment, as those stores had been downsized in September.

I was glad to return to my hometown, neighborhood Starbucks.

Offline ain't that bad

06 September 2008

evdo satellite starbucks wifi

I'm in the process of moving to some farmland in Virginia. It's out in the boonies.

How far in the boonies? No cable. No DSL. GSM is sketchy.

Thankfully, I've moved my personal development to Git as noted previously, which works wonderously. With no TCP in the air, I can still commit, and push my complete history on to the repository-of-record when I do find some radio waves.

So, I spend my mornings at Starbucks using the heck out of their wifi and the afternoons in a small 4-square house surrounded by cows. I've seen various strategies and tools for turning off the internet for some predetermined amount of time, to allow you to focus without distractions. I've indeed found The Farmhouse Method to be great for focusing on coding, and not browsing porn blogs.

Next week, though, I'll take a half-step closer to being somewhat online. WildBlue delivered a dish and a modem to bounce some bidirectional internet signals off a satellite. At a stellar 1 watt broadcasting power. It's not going to be awesome, particularly coming off 6mbps DSL. The latency on interactive traffic is also debilitating. The speed of light is just too slow bouncing all the way up to the bird and back, plus the return trip for the echo.

I also plan to evaluate Alltel's "wireless internet" EVDO service, supposedly unlimited, but also probably not funneling between the mountains to my valley (or "cove" as we call them here in the south).

But then again, I get to wake up and drink coffee with the free-range cattle. That's a trade-off I'm willing to make.

And there's always Starbucks.