mosh in a lift

This blog post is more than two years old. It is preserved here in the hope that it is useful to someone, but please be aware that links may be broken and that opinions expressed here may not reflect my current views. If this is a technical article, it may no longer reflect current best practice.

Every quater, me and my flatmate pay about £80 to the Aberdeen City Council for maintainence of the lifts in our building. As I write this, I am trapped in one of these lifts. It appears that none of the buttons work except for the alarm button. You’d think this would connect you to an operator somewhere who would dispatch a repair team, but no. This sounds a loud alarm and nothing else.

I have used the button many times so far, I’m about 20 minutes in, but I have no idea if anyone heard it or even knew what it was when they did. I certainly had no idea that was the noise that the lift made when someone needed assistance.

Why would you build a metal box, which shields almost all radio from working, and not put a telephone in it? I have managed to get a few text messages to my flatmate who hopefully has phoned the council. Unfortunately, the message asking him to phone the council has not been sent yet, but he knows I’m trapped in a lift and have barely any signal. I have literally only been able to send two text messages in the time I’ve been in here.

I’ve started to settle in now. I’ve got my stuff arranged on the floor and I’m sat here quite happily typing away, but I can’t help but wonder what I’m going to do when I need to take a piss.

The following was written once I left the lift.

After the first hour, I started to panic a bit. The alarm button wasn’t getting anyone’s attention except for two people who used the other lift at some point that started to mock me for being stuck in the lift. Wtf? After pacing up and down in this lift, dispite the lack of pacing space, I decided it was time to try other methods of contacting the outside world.

I’m still in a metal box, but at this point the lift had moved to be close enough to my flat to connect to the wifi. My first thought was Twitter although this was pretty much a non-starter. The interface wouldn’t load properly in the web browser and I imagine I was seeing quite heavy packet loss. Once I left the lift, I could see the tweet had posted, but while in the lift I had no confirmation of it at all.

Then, mosh and the SDF MetaArray to the rescue. mosh can cope with this high level of packet loss and worked a hell of a lot better than I’d expected to. I managed to get logged in to the SDF MetaArray, open mutt and send an email. Within minutes, the fire brigade had been called and were on their way to rescue me.

Then, the lift started working again miraculously and let me out. I was sitting on the floor so I just threw my MacBook, hoody and bag out of the lift and jumped after them. As I did, the door to the lift closed behind me. The fire brigade arrived and tested the lifts were working, but I took the stairs back up to the flat. I think it’ll be a while until I trust those lifts again. I might look into boosting the signal on my WiFi access point so that I can use mosh again if this happens to occur again.

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