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November 29, 2011 20:23

Rearrangement of Equipment I've been working the last several days toward getting equipment ready for Xmas and for some other purposes. First off, I took a 9 year old computer that had been sitting idle for the last several years and repurposed it to operate the Xmas lights once I get the tree set up, which I will do sometime this week. I'm also going to take the Akon box and repurpose it as the main router, which will allow me to use Bastille as another box for automation purposes. The issue has been the computers that have parallel ports, and my chronic lack of them. I've ordered another pci card that HOPEFULLY will have working parallel support at the hardware level, instead of being yet another one that is just a glorified usb controller. It's getting harder and harder to find parallel ports that work properly, so I'm guessing I'm going to have to take the plunge and get into building my own USB devices for future projects. Not really what I want to do, but it'll probably be necessary. I've got a LOT of extra computers running here that don't do much more than provide a single parallel port. Waste indeed.

I've been having Internet issues lately as well, some of which I've traced to the networking hardware in Bastille, which is my router. I know the network card on the internet side is an old 10mbps one. That was never an issue at the time I put this router into service 6 years ago, since my internet connection was an order of magnitude lower than that. Now, the downstream exceeds the rate that the card can handle, and I suspect some of my upstream problems could be related to that fact. I've done some temporary tweaking to the network settings, mostly by dropping all of the traffic shaping settings, but I feel getting a new box in there would make sense. Besides, it's one of the only computers in my cabinet that REQUIRES a keyboard to boot (yes, I know about the BIOS setting for that), and it also won't automatically boot after a power failure. Having the UPS on it has made that crisis a lot more managable for the last few years, but it'd be nice to have an entire network that can handle a power failure, particularly one system as important as the Internet router.

I bought a new LCD monitor during the Black Friday bruhaha and that is now operating off of the last generation XP machine which I still use as a third workstation and do my windows programming on. This has resulted with having yet another CRT monitor sitting on the floor, taking up space, getting in the way. I'll probably take a crack at clearing out some space under one of the tables, likely the one on the east wall, so I can shove them under there. I've got two very large boxes under that table, with a dubious collection of contents. At best, they can probably be relocated to the shed. Or maybe I'll put the monitors out there. Anyway, project for this weekend. I need to get my working space back so I can get my project tables cleared and get working again. I'm going to need it for Critter Stage 2.

Also having reception issues with the cable TV in the house. Since this is a new development, I'm suspecting there's been some tampering with one of the cables in the attic. Reception upstairs has never been all that great, partially because the TVs up there have 4 splitters between them and the cable outside. First splitter breaks the incoming cable between TV and cable modem. The second splitter is reversed, combining the incoming TV signal and the output of the UHF modulator for channel 90. It then feeds into an amplifier which has 4 outputs, only one of which I'm using. This effectively negates ONE of the splitters by boosting the gain by the same amount that a splitter loses. The next splitter is in the living room. The cable goes from there up to the attic where I have a 4-way splitter, one connection to each of the bedrooms.

I realize that splitter nightmare is bad. But, it made some degree of sense at the time. Now, it just seems like a really bad idea, especially since one of the TVs upstairs is digital and the lower quality connection isn't helping matters any. I'm now considering some new possibilities. At the very least, I plan to bypass the splitter in the living room and run a cable directly from the amplifier to the splitter in the attic, as well as reduce the attic splitter from a 4-way to a 2-way. That will hopefully cut down on the signal loss enough to be helpful. Otherwise I might need to run two cables to the attic, one to each of the two TVs up there directly. Locating and fixing the source of the tampering would probably be helpful as well. A bigger problem is how to get the wires up there. The cable line from the office (where the cable comes into the house) follows a path that goes under the house into a very inaccessible area, through the crawlspace to a slightly more accessible area, up through the wall which I have completed drywalling of, through several holes and into a box. I MIGHT be able to pull that cable back through the wall and drag a rope with it, but I doubt it. I DO have an unused network line that I could use to pull a new cable through for the TV in the living room, and I could replace the splitter in the living room with a coupler instead... I'll work on that.

Anyway, that should be enough for a weekend.