Sunday, 19 January 2020

Another fine mesh

While Anita shops for groceries in the local supermarkets, I often have a coffee and then browse the hi-tech shelves.  I noticed, a while back, the arrival of a new technology; a wireless mesh system for WiFi in the home.  The idea is to spread around in the house, a number of wireless hubs that talk to each other, and each of these then offers a WiFi access point with a good signal.

Our house has thick walls, some are of stone, and the WiFi doesn't penetrate all that well from the modem/router in the downstairs hall.   I had installed an extender to give a better signal upstairs, but it makes a new WiFI net with a different name, which you then have to deal with.   So I figured that a mesh system would probably be useful for when we move house, but is not necessary right now.  Besides, they were expensive.

During a browse last week, I saw that the price of a TP-Link mesh system had been vastly reduced.  They were offering a two-hub system for about €75.  That's an interesting price, and could mean that it's worth getting one now rather than later.  I looked around the internet and settled for a 3-hub system for €99.  I figure that you can't get much in the way of electronics for €33 normally, so even if this is an end-of-range offer, it's still worth getting.  After all, it should last a reasonable time.

I installed it yesterday and it seems to work well.  You manage the mesh with an Android (or Apple) app (Not available for Windows; a sign of the times), and the setup is straightforward, pretty much automatic.  The only hassles I had were with the existing modem/router.  I decided to disable the old WiFi system to minimise the possibility of interference, so I had to log in to the old router.  Funny, it's not accepting my password, and I'm sure I keep a meticulous record.  Long story short, it seems that TP-Link manage your password centrally, and in setting a password for the mesh, the login password for the (TP-Link) modem/router changed to that new one.  I don't remember being told about that.  I had to do a factory reset of the modem/router and re-enter all the internet account login and communications parameters.

Here's a picture of the hub (the white cylinder next to the black modem/router).  They're not ugly (although Anita put the one in the lounge into a vase to hide it), they seem to work, and I get a good WiFi signal throughout the house.  I might need to play with the layout to get the best data rate, and TP-Link tell me that I can unplug them and move them about without having to set them again.  We shall see.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Mean machine

I kind of resent paying car parking fees, although I recognise with a sigh, that councils have to raise money somehow, and it all goes into a pot that, hopefully, gets well spent.   Some of it even gets spent on building car parks.   None the less, it has given me a small pleasure in times past, to hand over a parking ticket when I am leaving a car park, to someone who is just arriving and who can make use of the unexpired time.   I have also, to my disproportionate delight, occasionally been given such a ticket.

The financial dynamics of car parks are well-known.  People tend to buy more time than they actually use, and that means that the council collects more money than is represented by the number of parking spaces and their price per hour.  Various schemes have been invented to maximise this surplus.

We have new parking machines installed in Laval.  They take your photograph, which I don't like, and you have to put in your car registration that gets printed on the ticket so you can't pass the unexpired time on to someone else.  It happens that I put in €2 that was enough to last the whole day when I only needed the morning.  But I can't give the ticket away to anyone.

This is petty and mean.  Two people lose out directly - I lose the pleasure of giving the ticket away, and a random person loses out on the free parking.  But society loses too: we are deprived of a small opportunity to show a bit of fraternité towards our fellow citizens and Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité becomes, a little bit more, just a slogan.

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Antenna alert

I have a mobile phone but I don't usually have it turned on at home since there is only a weak signal; it's just about OK for text messages but not so good for voice.   It's only useful when I go out.

We have been promised a new mobile antenna installation for some time now, to improve network coverage in the village.  It was supposed to be installed in September, but there was a bit of controversy over its placement - someone didn't want it at the end of their drive.

Well, it's now in place.  The antenna that is - it's not connected to the mobile network yet, and we're told that that can take up to six months.  I asked our mayor if we couldn't have told Orange six months ago, that there would be an antenna that would need connecting in six months' time.  I got a gallic shrug.

I'm not sure if it's in line of sight with the house here - there are trees in the way.  If it's not, we're just a few metres below an undulation in the ground.  I'm hoping for decent reception.

Friday, 27 December 2019

Christmas cactus

Actually flowering at Christmas.  I think that's a first.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Rising waters

Over the 12 years or so that we've been here, we've seen an increase in summer droughts and winter rains.   It could be a short-term thing, or not.   At the moment, the river just down the road is quite high, but it has not yet flooded.  I have seen it cover the road before now.

The people who run the restaurant down there are a bit worried.  The water level is dropping now, it's about two feet lower that it was yesterday, but if we get another good storm, that will change.

The mill up the road looks a bit precarious too...

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Flowering spikes

When my friend gave me the orchid, he suggested I keep it outside in the Summer to stop it getting too hot in my conservatory, and bring it in for the Winter.   I didn't take it outside the first year, but it didn't seem to suffer any - I got four flower spikes off it around January.

The subsequent year I put it out, and was rewarded with an extra spike of flowers; five last year.

This year, after the same process, I have seven flower spikes; Three are out now, two will follow shortly after and two more are in the early stages.   I'm not counting my chickens, but experience tells me I should get a long flowering period.

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