Internet meets tornado. Guess who wins?

IT pilot fish living just outside a small rural town isn't exactly swimming in internet options: There's no broadband, and the local phone company won't supply DSL to fish's home.

"That left dial-up -- until I discovered WiMax, which allowed line-of-site connection via a directional antenna on the house roof pointed to a transmitter on the city water tower five miles away," says fish.

"This worked great, and with UPSes, all the PCs and network equipment were protected from the various power outages, power spikes and brownouts that came our way on a fairly regular basis."

But one night there's a not-so-regular occurrence: A tornado roars through and tears things up. After the storm, fish discovers that his power lines are down and the WiMax directional antenna has been relocated from the roof to a nearby tree limb.

Once fish gets a chance to take inventory of the damage, he notes that the UPSes are working as designed, so the PCs still have power.

And as he's going from PC to PC, shutting them down gracefully before the UPS batteries drain and the PCs crash, fish notices something else: The PCs are also still getting internet, though it's intermittent.

Then he discovers that while the directional antenna has been blown off his roof, it still has power through its UPS and the network cable is intact. Result: There's an internet connection as long as the wind doesn't blow the tree limb enough to move the antenna out of alignment.

"I didn't have any power for three days until the power company was able to restore the lines," fish says. "But I had internet, off and on, the entire time."

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