Archive | October, 2011

The Benefits of Wiring for a Home Network

October 28, 2011

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When I gutted the living room in 2007, I bit the financial bullet and networked the room for Ethernet wiring. Except for drilling a small hole through a 12-inch support beam and 4-inch thick studs, the experience was pretty enjoyable. What I essentially did was create one Ethernet port for each wall in the living room. I ran Cat5 Ethernet wiring inside the wall studs and created a “port” or “Ethernet station” on each wall. One of the walls I made into the “master station.” This area would hold the master computer, the router, and the face plate that would hold all the Ethernet port cables. I scratched a rough diagram showing one of the ports and the master area. It’s pretty rough, but it gives you an idea of how simple it is to network a room.

networking32

As you can see from the diagram, I basically created “extension cords” of Ethernet wiring within the walls. Previously, the other computers in the room were connected by wires that I had to string on the floor, across doorways and through the living room. It was terribly messy, and dangerous.

This is the face plate after I had wired the Ethernet. The top two ports are telephone (RJ11) jacks. The others are Ethernet (RJ45) jacks. I left one blank because I didn’t need it filled at the time.

Modular Face Plate

Ah, but now I have cable Internet, with coaxial wiring. I had fun yesterday, and learned how to wire a coaxial cable jack to my master face plate.

networking

You’ll notice that the other two ports have Ethernet cables. These cables go to the router and to the switch, which is a device that acts like an extension cord for the router. Most routers have only 4 ports in the back, but I need many more connections. The switch is a big box that can hold more connections. The one I have holds 16 more Ethernet connections!

Eventually, I want to make the entire house wired. Currently, the computers in the upstairs rooms use wireless. While wireless is pretty handy, I don’t like using it for main computers. It takes up a lot of bandwidth when everyone is on together. Wireless is also a PAIN to configure and if there’s interference from airplanes, CB radios, microwaves, whatever, it can be frustrating when downloading stuff. Wireless is also less secure than wired connections.

The hardest part about home networking, in my opinion, is getting the wiring through the walls. Even when we gutted the walls, it was still hard to drill holes through such big, old lumber. Wiring the upstairs is easier because you can string the wires up into the attic and simply drop them down into the wall cavities without drilling horizontally through studs. When we renovate the upstairs, I will be adding a few Ethernet ports to each of the bedrooms.

Cat5 jack wired

We’ve had our home network system for a few years now, and I’ve never regretted it. The only thing I regret is not adding more ports!

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Livvy, Unplugged

October 21, 2011

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I have a number of Find the Kitty photos but in the disaster that is my desk and computer, I can’t seem to find them. :S

I did find a number of cute, albeit subpar quality, photos of Livvy around the house. So here she is in all her casual glory.

Doing what cats do best.

LivvySleeping1

Really enjoying herself, too. I wish I could sleep so well.

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So cozy.

LivvySleeping2

Here she is, staring at my shoes. She knows that when I put on my shoes, I will leave the house. And she knows that when I leave the house, I must leave her behind. The kids tell me that she moans and whines and scratches at the door until I come home. It’s a great thing to be loved. ….or maybe she doesn’t care for me as much as she wants to GO OUTSIDE.

Livvy_Cute

Alack, the closest thing she sees to to great outdoors is the view from the family vehicle. I don’t like her wandering around the yard. For one, there are ticks in the grass from all the deer that wander around. And two, I don’t want to encourage her into thinking that it’s OK for her to wander in the yard. She escaped from us once and took off like a wildcat. FREAKED me out. I don’t know how you cat owners do it with your cats coming in and out such well-trained pets. Livvy is a maniac outside.

And here she is playing with a roll of kraft paper.

Livvy_Cute2

Whenever I get a package in the mail (a frequent event because I order everything online except groceries), Livvy gets to have the packaging. Like the kid that gets to lick the bowl of frosting after the cake has been iced, Liv gets to play with the “stuff.”

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Livvy_Cute4

And here she is, being a bad cat. Yes, hard to believe! She can be bad. She hopped up onto the table after we’d cleared the plates (but before we removed some of the dinner). She must like Italian food.

BadCatonTable

Have a great weekend, friends!

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My Lights Flicker When Neighbors Suck Power

October 17, 2011

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You learn something new every day. Huh.

I was sitting in my office today, typing merrily away, when my lights flickered. Then, they flickered again. ?? I’ve been seeing this happen a number of times recently, and while I wasn’t exactly WORRIED, I wanted to know what was going on. Since I did all the home electric wiring myself (and it’s been working fine for several years now), I guess I’m still a little nervous. It’s a silly thing to worry about— if I wired something wrong, I’d certainly know by now! But I also like to know WHY things happen.

My neighbors next door use a lot of power-sucking appliances. They seem to have commercial carpet cleaners over a lot (we have basement water problems around here, if you recall, and woe to the poor folks who have finished basements 🙁 ). As a matter of fact, the carpet cleaner truck is outside my window right now, roaring at a high decibel for the second time this month. I wondered if perhaps the carpet cleaner machine is sucking the electricity… since I am “after” them in the power grid lines, it makes sense that my electricity would experience a slight transmission delay. Looks like I’m correct! I found this little FAQ at a power utility company website:

Q: My lights dim when my neighbor operates his power tools.

A: The voltage going into your home constantly changes depending on electrical loads used by you and your neighbors. The neighbor’s power tools may cause your voltage to drop.

Aha!

So if you see your lights flicker and you know that your neighbor is running a homegrown industrial lights machine or is cleaning their carpets, it’s just a temporary blip in the electricity transmission.

I don’t care about the lights flickering, but I do care about how the voltage fluctuations might affect my computers and other sensitive electronics. I think I need to get more surge protectors, just in case.

I’ll pass along a tip I found while researching this issue: If it happens often, you can call your power company to upgrade the transformer, or perhaps they’ll give your neighbor his own transformer on a pole. That way, he can slurp energy without draining it for everyone else down the pike. 😉

P.S. Just in case you’re wondering, your neighbor’s mega-power-slurping does not affect your bill in any way. It just affects the flow of voltage transmission, which is why it’s important to use surge protectors for your electronics.

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Find the Kitty Friday: I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat

October 14, 2011

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Yep, we’re still here. Still in the same rickety old house! I’ve just been busy and renovating has come to a grinding halt right now, although Lord knows we have yet to batten down the hatches for winter. We still have to fix the chimney, and the windows need to be ordered so we can get them installed before it gets really cold.

But PRIORITIES, right! You all need photos of Livvy!!! Where could she BE? Hmmmmmm….

FTK_Bird2

That was easy. Hey, for extra bonus points, find the bird. That’s what she was after that evening.

Sorry the photo is grainy. Taken with a non-quality iPod camera in low light.

I don’t know about you, but I remember when fall and winter used to be *kind of* quiet and uneventful. These days, I’m hopping. We’ve been traveling much more than usual these days, and of course there’s school for the kids and work for the mom and dad. I also have to rearrange my office which has swallowed up the living room. Lord willing, I have plans to build a storage barn and workshop next summer. All the stuff in our attached garage will go in there, and I can convert the garage into a family room/music room. Then, I’ll have the living room all to myself as a big office. I have great delusions of grandeur, getting this all accomplished in the next year or so….. hahahahaha!!!

The renovations seem very elusive, actually. A bit like how Livvy feels about that bird.

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