Physical connection

I think I’ve made clear here in previous writings about the arrangement of my work facilities. My office is a converted summer house that stands in the garden of our home – and, on a sunny day like this, with a view out of the window of the plants that are starting to do spring things, it isn’t a bad place to be.

I hook up to the Webternet via an 802.11b/g wireless connection. The router sits near the phone socket which is in the conservatory, roughly 25 feet from the Global Headquarters. As I’ve mentioned before, the signal sometimes degrades (we have evil cordless phones, microwave oven and wireless doorbell in the house – all of which could be causing interference) and occasionally drops completely, particularly during wet weather (the summer house is of timber construction and, in spite of a water-repellant coating, the boards do get wet). I’ve added an external antenna to the router so that it is in an elevated position (dangling attractively from a light fitting) which has helped but not solved the problem.

I’m getting a bit fed up with the signal dropping out or degrading – it only ever seems to happen at the most inconvenient moment (when I’m using Skype or printing a big document – such is life), so I’m considering a physical connection between the router and the Global Headquarters. I don’t think it would be too difficult to run a cable from there to here – I can take it through the cat flap housing to get into the conservatory, route it around the edges of the decking so that it isn’t a trip hazard and easily make a small hole in the wall of the HQ to get it into here without using the same duct as the power supply cable.

The question is this: what sort of cable should I use? I’m not an expert on this sort of thing. I’ve seen standard Cat5 cable and also cable rated for outdoor use. I’ve also seen fibre-optic cable. Will these cables resist being in an environment exposed to sun, wind and rain? Can these cables be easily routed (there may be a few 90° turns)? How easy is it to put the connectors on the end of these cables?

Anybody got any experience of this sort of thing? Or should I just look at further uprating my wireless network?

links for 2007-02-27

Ce n’est pas un fait accompli

I understand that following some of the links that I’ve posted recently on this site, people are wondering what is going on in our lives. So I’d like to clear up a few things.

  • yes, we’re thinking about moving.
  • no, we will not be moving for some time, at least two years.
  • yes, we are looking at the Netherlands. Why? Because houses are considerably cheaper there and we want to reduce the amount of our income that we spend on our mortgage each month. In addition, a lot of my work is in the Netherlands (at least as much as is in the UK), we like it there and it was recently ranked the best industrialized nation in which to bring up a child by the UN (compared to the UK which was ranked the worst nation).
  • BUT, it is not a certainty that we will move there. At the moment, we are deeply involved in research which includes:
  1. working out where to live
  2. deciding what we can afford
  3. looking at what mortgage we could get
  4. investigating employment options for Hels
  5. sussing out education and childcare facilities
  6. language, running a business, mortgage system, property law, tax system – everything! There are lots of hidden factors to consider.
  • IF we go there, then we would rent for at least one year to test the water – and if it didn’t work out, we could move back to England or to another place.
  • we are also investigating other alternatives – in every town we visit, in the UK and abroad, we always look through estate agent windows, partly out of unbridled noseyness and curiosity and partly out of serious research to see what property we could afford if we moved to that area. So far our research has shown that moving within the south east of England would not improve our lot – either we’d still have a vast mortgage or we’d be in Ramsgate.
  • in any case, whatever we decide, we have a whole bunch of factors to consider. These include but are not limited to (and in no particular order):
  1. Tom – particularly the environment and education/childcare
  2. us – we want a nice house in a relatively green neighbourhood (i.e. not a concrete neighbourhood) with a little garden and enough room for us to not be under each other’s feet
  3. work – both for me and for Hels as, without work that we enjoy and which pays reasonably, our life would be poorer in terms of quality or money or both
  4. family – we are close to both sides of the family and we want to be somewhere that is relatively easy for them to access, including by public transport
  5. cats – they’re important too! So no main road homes for us and always at least a little garden, even if/when we rent.

So you see that nothing is certain. Well, almost nothing. The only thing that is certain is that the current fixed rate period on our mortgage expires on 31 December 2008, which is why there is a window of opportunity for moving around that time and into early 2009 (if we move before then, we have to pay a heavy penalty to our lender when we redeem the mortgage) – and we don’t want to leave it much later than that as we want to get Tom settled in a new home before he starts school. The reason for moving is also fairly certain – we want to move in order to achieve either a reduction in our mortgage liability and/or an increase in our living space.

Even the “when” is not guaranteed. As we all know, events have a habit of overtaking one’s plans, so we have no idea what might happen over the next two years. I think the only thing that is likely to remain constant is the “why”. The “what”, “where” and even the “how” are all still to be decided.

At the moment, the mission is research. And with a life-change of this magnitude, I think anyone would agree that we need to be thorough and use all the time available to our advantage.

Tree and onion bag

Two things.

  • Today I planted a tree – a belated monument to Tom’s first birthday. It’s a Carpinus betulus Fastigiata, probably better known to you as a Columnar Hornbeam. It’ll be here long after we move away (whenever that may be) and will, I hope, add something to our part of Ruralville. Credit to our friend and neighbour Simon for helping to source some poo (of the well-rotten, bovine variety).
  • I note that Brighton and Hove Albion players seem suddenly to have remembered that the purpose of the game of football is to direct the muddy sphere into your opponents’ goal whilst doing all that you can to prevent your opponents from directing the same muddy sphere into your own goal. Wonders will never cease.

links for 2007-02-17

Ear update

For those following the saga of my burst eardrum (it’s edge-of-your-seat stuff!), my hearing is slowly coming back and the pain has mostly subsided. It’s actually quite remarkable that your eardrum can burst and then fix itself- it’s one of those parts of the body that ranks up there with eyes as being perceived as very delicate and irreplaceable, but it seems to be quite capable of looking after itself.

The doctors have told me that it could be up to another week or so before my hearing gets back to normal. As it is, I find it hard to pick out speech over background noise and I also have a little tinnitus. I tend to get more "foggy" as I get tired. They’ve prescribed a nasal decongestant, which is a little like snorting Pledge, but seems to help. The occasional ibuprofen knocks any pain on the head, but I’ve not had to take anything for a couple of days.

If things don’t return to normal, then I’ve to go back to the doctor and they will likely then refer me to an ENT clinic. But at the moment, progress is good. Either way, it’s not something I want to go through again or would recommend to others.