Technically speaking Part III

Now that I have the router up and running, it’s now time to decide where the best place to put it.  Since we moved into the house, the router and modem have been in close proximity to the main computers here.  That is, in the addition off the main house in the back of the property.  For whatever reason, it’s really been the place that we spend the majority of our time, year in and out.  Which is weird sometimes, considering it’s a 3 1/2 bedroom house, on two stories.  We don’t have children, so 2 1/2 of the bedrooms have become de-facto storage space.

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D-Link DIR-868L router

Getting back to the issue though, our WiFi setup has been incredibly wrong since the beginning.  If you consider how WiFi works through a router, the antennas send out a signal in all directions, as long as you have them pointed in the correct configuration.  The old D-Link router I had for the past 6 years had an omni-directional antenna, in that it was encased inside the housing and wasn’t visible. 

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TP-Link Archer A8 router

 

Most routers have the ubiquitous 3-4 (or nowadays more) antennas and most people (me included…yes guilty) leave them in the standard up position without even considering that they can be directed where you want your WiFi signals to go.  By all that I understand, generally you want your router to be in the middle of the action, where you spend the majority of your time, so that you can get the biggest bang for your buck in terms of WiFi coverage.  Otherwise, you’re going to have to invest in things like Access Points, repeaters, even possibly a second router to adequately cover your house and property.  Of course, it’s not as simple as that (it never is, right?) because in most instances you don’t just have a router, you have to consider where your modem is, whether it’s fiber, cable or even DSL (I’m guessing satellite is probably similar, but I’ve never had a satellite Internet downlink).

In my case, the modem sits next to the router.  When we upgraded to fiber 4-5 years ago, the installer asked where to put the modem.  At the time, I had thought probably it would have been a better option to put it in the middle of the house, near the west facing exit door, but our computers are here in the addition, where the router would be.  The house was built in the 19th century (1838), so it wasn’t designed with electricity in mind, let alone hi-speed Internet connections.  Consequently, when the house was wired sometime in the 1950’s (I’m guessing based on the age of some of the outlets) there wasn’t a lot of thought put in to where those outlets needed to go.  So it was very haphazard.  Over the last 20 years we’ve been upgrading outlets as needed, because the very idea of re-wiring this house might end up costing us more than the property is valued at.  Too, to do a proper re-wiring, one needs full access to walls and such, to pull wire.  So we’d have to basically demo the interior to a degree that makes my eyes water.  Most people’s houses it wouldn’t be an issue because drywall isn’t all that expensive.  Plaster on the other hand?  Double your price estimate.  Or triple it.  There aren’t many qualified plasterers these days.  Believe me, I know.

As of right now, my plan is to put the modem and router more central to the middle of the house and run either Cat 5e or Cat 6 cable back to the addition to a switch so both of the desktops can be hardwired to the router.  Hopefully that will assist with the remainder of the house being covered by both the low speed WiFi (2.4 ghz) and the higher 5 ghz connection.  After I’ve had it connected and running for awhile, I’ll give another update.

 

Coming full circle

It’s early Saturday morning, which means my vacation is rapidly coming to a close.  By this time tomorrow I will be tucked into my bed, snuggled under the covers and anticipating (or dreading) going back to work.  I’ve purposefully stayed away from my place of employment so as not to interrupt the flow of work (hopefully) happening in my absence.  I expect things haven’t been going completely hunky-dory.  Certainly they didn’t the last time I went on vacation, and despite my best efforts to be sure my relief had all the tools he needed to get the work done, I expect it’s going to be a wreck when I go back on Sunday.

Needless to say, I haven’t missed being at work all that much.  I do get four weeks of vacation per year and as I’ve said many (many!) times, I’d be content taking two weeks of vacation and just getting paid for the other two weeks.  But my employer prefers that their employees take all of their alloted vacation.  Basically ‘Use it or lose it‘.  So I use it.

This week has not been so much sitting on my ponderous butt, watching TV.  It just so happened that my wife and I had scheduled four medical appointments, and we were on the go for most of the days that I was off.  Monday and Wednesday were the only exceptions, but Wednesday was gobbled up by an emergency dental appointment due to the fact that my wife slightly broke one of her teeth.  So that needed to be attended to.  And was.

Even though I spent some time helping a friend furnish her new apartment, I didn’t necessarily neglect my own domicile.  I ordered 4 large plastic storage boxes from Amazon (actually probably larger than I needed) and have been sorting through some things that I haven’t had use of in several years, that need to be secreted away before something nefarious happens to them.  I have to say I’d be pretty devastated if something did happen to them, and certainly I wouldn’t forgive myself easily.  If at all.  Once I have that attended to, I think I’ll breathe a sigh of relief.  That’s been a long time in coming to get accomplished.  At least when I have need of them again, I’ll know where they are.  I hope.

Anyway, it’s back to work tomorrow.  Only one more week of vacation to take for this fiscal year, then I’ll get another four weeks to agonize over on April 11.  Never ends, does it?

Warming trend

hot-coldThe temperature peaked at 60° yesterday.  Sixty!  Holy crap.  It had been snowing for the previous 3-4 days.  We were up to about 10 inches of snow by Tuesday afternoon.  And now we’re in an unseasonable warming reversal.  And from what I’m seeing through Weather Underground, we’re not supposed to see a high below the freezing point anytime in the next ten days.  Although to be accurate, there are going to be several days in that time period when the daily lows will be in the teens and twenties, so we’re definitely not due for t-shirts and shorts quite yet.  This isn’t Texas after all.

Even so, I would definitely say it’s been a snowy winter.  Most years I only drag out the snowblower a couple of times, but this year I think I had it out almost six times since November.  Certainly to the point where I actually had to refill my gas cans so I could keep it running.  It worked like a champ as well, thirty-one years after buying the old girl from the Red Hook Agway.  I still remember when I got it, just before a big storm at my parent’s house.  I didn’t feel comfortable trying to drag out Dad’s Gravely, so I went to the Agway and bought the floor model.  They managed to deliver it that evening and the following morning there was 15 inches of snow to remove.  Cranked it right up and it’s been working every since.

Having witnessed what Texans have been enduring with their utility bills, I’m grateful I live where I am, even thought the taxes can be somewhat high at times.  Where I live we have a local electrical co-op, so it keeps the utility bills reasonable.  When my wife and I lived on Keuka Lake in the 1990s, towards the end of our stay New York State deregulated the electrical business, and in the beginning we got double shafted (or so it seemed) because NYSEG (New York Electric & Gas) didn’t have any competition yet, so they had the lion’s share of customers.  Where before 1998 you received one bill for generation and delivery of your electricity, after deregulation you received two.  And the new bills added up to way more than the old ones.  For the simple reason that when you’re generating a new bill, there are extra taxes added on, so you end up paying for many of the costs twice.  Which was really, really unfair.  But since deregulation was new, and no other companies were in your area, you were stuck.

I think in the end, just before we moved at times we were paying almost $700-800 in electric bills.  And since we heated our rented house with fuel oil, there was a further $250-300 for filling that tank every 45 days or so.  Even though it sucked moving from there, where we’re living now isn’t breaking our back with utility costs.

Spring is on the way.  But perhaps Winter isn’t quite done with us yet.  We still have a little less than a month to go.  No time to get complacent, eh?