Monthly Archives: May 2013


Sunday morning, my dad ‘phones me for a chat.  As always.

Only this time, I hear just the merest snatches of his voice.  Likewise, he can’t hear me.  Somewhere on the line there is a problem, and it seems to be with me.  Specifically, a connection that’s inadequate for VOIP.  That shouldn’t happen: I have cable and pay for a 30Mb line in, and near 2Mb upload speed, which is an order of magnitude more than I should need.

While I figured out an alternative, my dad ‘phoned my mobile number.  Not something either of us like, as it costs (he gets weekend landline calls free).  I explained my alternative, which was to turn my Virgin router off and use VOIP over my O2 line.  Fortunately the weather was gorgeous and it was a pleasure to go and sit out on the front terrace for best 3G signal, though it appeared also to work in some parts of the house.

Later in the day I ran some more tests.  Performance was incredibly poor: on average rather worse than a 28K modem (remember those?) and much of the time a complete standstill.  It took a long time to get a speed test to run at all.  Whoops!

Experimentally I tried a wired connection to the router.  Now suddenly all is well: I’m getting the speeds I’m supposed to.  So it’s the wireless.  A bit of research later and I change the WIFI channel, whereupon all is well.  I also come upon a tool called Kismac, which tells me the problem was indeed congestion: my neighbour and I had both been using channel 11.

Is that a common problem in a cable area?  Lots of Virgin users, and they ship standard routers with a standard configuration that sets us up for conflict, rather than a more mixed area where routers are (a priori, at least) a random mix?

Credit where credit’s due.  Virgin’s help pages were genuinely helpful.  It’s a rare pleasure to find a help page that tells me anything that wasn’t already blindingly obvious.

BTW, I have a couple of DECT phones and an ATA adapter to use my old phone&fax on order.  Should be arriving tomorrow.  So I’ll have a well-equipped house and should hear the ‘phone from anywhere.


It’s my first weekend properly in the new place (last weekend having been spent mostly away).  Gradually getting to grips with the place, and that view really is as good as the piccie I posted.  Perhaps even better, as it’s forever changing with the weather and tide, and there’s more on the trees!

Not everything is that great.  The best thing about it is that view; the worst is the six-lane dual carriageway running along the side of the estuary but cleverly not visible in the photo (the steep slope and 30m elevation makes the water appear closer than it really is).  There’s also the railway line!

On the plus side is the extra space and what it enables.  A separate dining room means the table doesn’t have to be squeezed into a corner of the living room (which is just as well, given that the living room is smaller – though the big bay window and opening into the dining room give a feeling of more space). Upstairs I have two decent-sized rooms, one as bedroom and the other as office, and a third so-called bedroom so small it would only just fit a regular single bed without obstructing the door.  That room’s currently full of junk, but might eventually become a guest room if I take advantage of extra space including the attic and outdoor covered area to reorganise.

On the practical side, the kitchen and bathroom are elegant, but some of the fittings are horribly impractical.  I’ve bought a dishwasher to relieve myself of one more chore, but some things have had to move out of the kitchen due to having less cupboard space than the old one.  I’ve got a garage to keep bikes in.  And having a second (outside) loo is a definite luxury: no need to worry who else might need it if one has company and someone wants a long soak in the oversized bath!

Hmmm, what else?  BT’s ADSL checker told me their service would be pretty useless here, but cable is available from Virgin so I signed up with them.  Now I see BT’s checker may have been out of date, as they appear to have installed fiber.  Still, it’s too late now to revisit that choice: I’m committed to Virgin for my ‘net, and have signed up with sipgate for a landline ‘phone number via VOIP.

The final urgent thing was my bed search.  My old bed-grade futon was falling apart, so it went to the tip, and I’m temporarily on the lower-grade futon that serves as a convertible seat/guest bed.  Not, alas, a comfy platform for more than a night or two!  I now have a new bed on order from one of the five local furniture shops I tried, and I look forward to sleeping in comfort again when it arrives.

Lower-priority things I’ve yet to order are a new sideboard/dresser to keep crockery in the dining room (I’ve temporarily pressed a tall bookcase into use for that), and new chairs for several places.