Exit Sky box stage left…

I finally cancelled Sky recently after fretting over it for far too long – no fault of Sky, we just don’t watch that much Sky content now. Anyway, this rendered the Sky+HD box useless as it will no longer record, or indeed play already recorded content, even non-Sky stuff. No biggie, and the box was free after all. So I got a Freeview Play recorder.

I decided to tidy the cabling up ready for the new box and that’s where the day suddenly got longer…

First off, the amount of dust! I dare say that there is no dust left anywhere on Earth other than behind our TV. Clearly it all came here and settled. I guess I should have been prepared as one of the hamsters once ran under the TV unit and emerged a completely different colour… poor thing, it took me ages to clean her up. Ok, vacuum at the ready, dust gone.

The wires. For some reason unknown to me (even though I did it) I used the two longest Ethernet cables I had to connect the TV and the DVD, and both were intertwined with everything. Ok, so let’s get rid of those for starters. Then there is a gigabit Ethernet switch sat in the dust because there were not enough outlets – fitted 4 and needed 5. As the Sky box is gone I no longer needed the two CT125 satellite cables and outlet (well, more hole really as the outlet would not fit so the cables just carry on out the hole) which I replaced with a dual Cat5 socket. Why were there ever two different colour standards for Cat5 cabling and why did I never write down the one I used? Ok, pull a faceplate off and check… right, ‘A’, write it down. Ok later. Ok I took a photo at least.

Terminating these new cables in the wiring closet was an act of contortionism. I have a 19” rack bolted to the back wall and a 48-way Cat5 unit installed on a hinge so it can swing out to access the wires. This is great provided nothing is plugged in with cables going to stuff located on top of the rack. Which is what I have of course… so hinging the thing out means also carefully moving the two Ethernet switches on top of the rack as well, and balancing them carefully. Good grief, who designed this set-up… oh, me. Anyway, I got the cables in and yes I did remember to write down what goes where. So, let’s test them. Grabbed the tester from the workshop only to find out the 12V battery is dead and I don’t have a spare. Ugh. Ok, I used the TV to test each socket and both are fine. See how things snowball?

By-bye Ethernet switch and associated wall-wart. Remind me to figure out why I have a 24 port Ethernet switch and an 8 port PoE switch almost full when there are only 15 or so active devices in the house…

Dust – check. Wiring – check. Ethernet cables, shortened and sorted. Ok, the Freeview Play recorder is in place and it was pretty easy to set up.

I wonder if anyone will notice me replacing the now-redundant Sky dish with my 1.2m one with a dual band patch and aiming it at Qo-100…

Home automation

I have three ‘onewire’ temperature sensors running up from the hot water cylinder and central heating pump to a Raspberry Pi in the loft. These record the water temperature going round the central heating, as well as that going into the hot water cylinder and the temperature of the pipe back to the boiler. The Pi records these every minute.

Nothing whizzy in any of that, it’s all standard stuff. Only I discovered that the temperature readings make a lot more sense if the sensors are actually on the pipes and not sitting in a pile of fluff on the floor! Ah…

New broadband

Just switched broadband providers to a deal half the price for 12 months. Funny how you never re-check stuff though. I had carefully put two outgoing rules in the previous hub for my VoIP phone. While adding these into the new hub I realised that there is already a rule allowing any device any outgoing connections so that was rather a waste of time! Oh well…

Anti-Vibration gloves

Anti-vibration gloves

After spending hours cleaning metalwork with a wire brush in a grinder and suffering as a result I decided to get a pair of anti-vibration gloves. I wasn’t really sure how good these could be, I mean you still need to hold the grinder, but after a similar number of hours they do seem to work well. Last time I had to take an increasing number of breaks to rest during the work but this time I only had to rest because of me overheating. Of course, I was still talking regular rests anyway – you absolutely must – but no shakes or pins and needles this time. Yes I did read up on hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) and I was already aware of the risks but this kind of protection is really worthwhile and does not cost that much.

The ones I got are from Port West, others are of course available and results for you may differ from mine – this is my experience only so treat as such.

Why do they design sites this way!

Another brain dead website, an estate agent this time. Filling in the contact-me form it pops up the usual Google ‘select all squares that may have had a bike in them last week’ thing. Only it’s hidden under the sliding design so you do not actually know. I found it, but the sliding imagery of their website covers most of the bottom three squares and the buttons, so no way to complete the task.

Good grief. I take it the user testing was somewhat less intensive than that which would have been accomplished merely by showing a screenshot to a brick…

Busted phones…

I have not had a good day fiddling with iPhones.

The story started some time ago when one iPhone was dropped and suffered catastrophic damage. And I mean catastrophic. For anyone that has ever had an iPhone SE apart, imagine a phone where the screen had to only cracked but had come completely away from the backplate. All three cables from the screen were torn. The case had bent, the plastic at the bottom was broken, the camera had gone, the plastic at the top of the case was very dodgy and the battery had bent. How on earth – apparently it fell three floors on to concrete.

And of course there was no backup…

So, off to eBay. Having acquired various bits and reassembled it sufficiently to do a full backup this was then restored to a new SE phone. All was well with the world (well, actually the new phone soon suffered water damage and then another catastrophic fall and has since become an even newer phone… but that’s not my problem!).

I had assembled the repaired phone rather quickly as it only had to do the one task of the backup. The camera was not sitting right and was pressing against the screen. So it sat on the shelf waiting it’s turn to be re-repaired. For maybe a year.

Fast forward and one of our older phones no longer receives new versions of iOS. The app used for bus tickets, which originally split into two apps, one for timetables and one for payments, has been replaced by a new version that does everything. Only it does not work on the older iOS. So, the waiting-to-be-re-repaired iPhone came to mind. I wiped it and checked the battery will actually store charge for more than a few hours, and then set about pulling it apart to sort out the camera. It all went back together just fine. I updated iOS, set it up as a new phone and attached it to the relevant iCloud account. All was going well. Well, until I tried to call it. The call worked fine, good audio both ways… but…

…IT DOES NOT RING OR VIBRATE!

Typical. Everything else is fine, but useless as it does not give any audible alert on incoming calls, FaceTime or messages. The ‘silent’ switch and volume up/down buttons are very non-functional, and even setting the ring volume up via the app it does not ring. The assistive touch stuff does not help. I guess it’s stuck somehow on ‘silent’ in a way that the software cannot get round.

So it is destined for eBay as parts.

Robotic answerphone

I don’t know what reminded me of this funny little event of the early 1990’s but hey.

Our exchange had a callback function which rings your extension when the one you are dialling becomes free. I had an answering machine connected to my phone, one of those old ones with two cassettes in. Anyway, I rang my boss but his phone was engaged so I hit the callback button and hung up. Some time later (he must have been on a very long call!) I had to go out and then went to lunch directly afterwards. When I returned there was a rather confused sounding message from my boss on the answerphone. What had happened is that his call had eventually ended and when he put his phone down the exchange then rang my phone to indicate the callback was available. My answerphone picked the rings up assuming it was an incoming call which resulted in the exchange then ringing my bosses phone while the answerphone was giving out my “I’m away…” message. He picked up to hear the end of my outgoing message, and my answerphone then recorded his confused mumblings to his PA, something along the lines of “…I don’t know, it seems to be an answerphone…”!

PPI adverts

I wonder what will replace all those TV and Facebook adverts about reclaiming PPI once the deadline has passed…

CDN blues

Interesting week. A couple of days ago we heard of Cloudflare’s issues with a software rollout gone wrong. Yesterday I noticed I could not see one of our iPhones on FriendFinder. It later became clear that the phone had not received any iMessages either and the associated iPad was in a worse mess. It took several cycles of logging in on both to restore normality, and that meant logging into iCloud and FaceTime and message separately. Oddly he iPad had iMessages from 2018 but no later and the iPhone had missed a whole day of messages – I had expected both to pull down the current messages but on checking the o/s is too old (these are old Apple devices).

Then this morning my Mac, which is up to date o/s wise wanted the iCloud password, but putting it in resulted in an ‘unknown error’. I rebooted it and it appeared ok, but then I had to go through the cycle of logging into iCloud, iMessage and FaceTime. For iMessage it would not play ball and suggested that I was not logged into iCloud on my previous account name, changed some months ago. Potentially I’d never had to log in since the change so that may be why. Anyway, logging out and into iMessage again fixed this. My iPhone has not (yet!) had the same issue…

Given the Facebook / Instagram issues yesterday with stored photos and videos not displaying – also CDN based – it gives me an ‘eggs in baskets’ feel. Where you have one large infrastructure provider such as Cloudflare with so many services sitting upon it that provider has to work all of the time. Corners are easily cut (not saying they were here!) and mistakes can have far reaching effects. Of course the solution where everyone has their own infrastructure is not very ‘green’ these days with the proliferation of data centres and such and so these large third party providers make a lot of sense. But when they go down the world goes with them – well, ok, the web goes with them!

Notebook blues

A notebook came in the other day that had had tea poured into it and now refuses to work. I’d never seen inside one of these before and we wondered if the hard disk could be removed and installed elsewhere to recover any files. At that time I’d not been to Google to check on the model etc. because there was a disk-sized lump which surely must be it?

No, it’s part of an odd shaped battery! On inspection I could only see two connections and even though the whole ‘thing’ was connected by a multi-way plug it definitely looked very un-disk-like. Off to Google.

Yup. It’s a battery alright. This notebook has no disk, just some Gb’s worth of flash. All data is stored on OneDrive. Hopefully!

You live and learn…