Mobile Broadband External Antenna

We used to get fixed line broadband but it was a bit unreliable since the cable comes through a bunch of trees and whenever the wind blew the connection would keep dropping out. Obviously this would not do.

So 3 do a mobile broadband solution for £29 per month. I managed to snag it for £20 a month but this lead to a whole bunch of calls with 3 who insisted on charging me £29 per month…but that is a whole other story!

Anyway, we got a reasonable speed from the 3 router – about 18Mbps down and about the same up I think. But whilst researching why my page loads sometimes stalled I happened across a site where people were discussing their download speeds and some of these dudes were getting 80Mbps. Needless to say, I fancied a bit of that. So I bought myself a Poynting external antenna and sent the boy up onto the roof

Turns out having your son on the roof holding the antenna and just pointing it in random directions didn’t work out too well. So I built myself a little wooden caddy for the antenna and got myself up on the roof with a mobile app that measures all sorts of funky stuff like RSRQ, RSRP, RSSI and most importantly SINR [ Signal to Noise Ratio ]. By some judicial repositioning of the antenna whilst keeping an eye on the SINR mesaure I managed to get this…

Well over double the speed I was getting from fixed line broadband. I’ve since seen it up at 50Mbps – but it all depends on how many people are on that given cell tower. These speeds are with 4G too – when 5G comes along … well

Grasmere and L’Enclume

For Emma’s birthday we dumped the kids on Granddad John and shot up to the Lakes for the weekend. All was lovely. We did a bit of eating and drinking at L’Enclume

Did a bit of walking around Grasmere…

and generally had a groovy time.

Storm Dennis

My dear friend Aggy had a rather big birthday this year so we decided we’d head over to Snowdonia and climb https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crib_Goch. Storm Dennis, however, had other ideas.

For our weekend of near death experiences we stayed in this luxurious mountain retreat.

Storm Dennis meant that climbing Crib Goch was a really really really bad idea. So we did a bit of a hike up to a hydro electric reservoir dam type thing and got properly … properly soaked

Everything that I was wearing that I thought was waterproof, absolutely wasn’t.

Yes, those are white-capped waves on a lake. It was blowing a right gale! At one point I had to sit on the ground for fear of being blown over.

After getting to the reservoir thing we made the right decision and walked back to the car, got warmed up and went to the pub.

Camden with Charlie

Charlie and I decided to nob off to London for a few days of sightseeing. It all started in Wigan Wetherspoons followed by a quick journey on the train down to Euston and a tube up to Camden. We arrived at our funky apartment and then went out for some drinks which quickly degenerated into chaos. The next day was our proper full day in London and it started by walking up to the top of Primrose Hill to take in the views

We then hopped on a bus and headed into Central London. I think we might have had a beer somewhere before heading to Covent Garden – but where that beer may have been is a mystery to me.

A spot of lunch in Covent Garden before embarking on a mission to find the Dr Martens shop…without using google. We wandered here, we wandered there – drinking beer in both places…at one point we ended up in the Bear and Staff where we met quite possibly the dullest and least helpful barman in the whole of London.

Eventually we worked out it was on Neal St, then we cheated a bit since we were pretty pissed by this point and looked up Neal St on Google Maps.

We made it and Charlie got his DM’s. At this point we wanted to do the tourist thing so we went over to Punch and Judy and drank beer on the balcony watching some pretty epic street performers.

It all gets a bit blurry here but we got on the tube, on the wrong spur and ended up down by London Bridge. Got out of the tube and ate dinner in the first random pub we came across, The Southwark Tavern, which served pretty wonderful food actually, and then we hopped onto the correct tube and went over to South Kensington to meet up with Gerome

This brought the night to an end – we uber’d back to Camden and passed out.

On the last day we grabbed our stuff and left the unbelievably insecure apartment we rented…turned out you didn’t need to put a code in – just turn the handle and off you go … and headed down to Embankment to show Charlie one of my favourite views in London from the bridge outside Embankemt Station. I always thought it was called Hungerford Bridge but that could be the bridge the train goes over – according to Google maps it’s called Golden Jubilee Bridge.

We finished the London mash with a glass of wine in Gordon’s Wine Bar. I’ve been to this place many times but it’s the first time I’ve ever managed to find a table in the vaulted section. It seems daytime drinking has something going for it after all

We both slept most of the journey back on the train being rudely awoken just before Wigan. In the mad dash to get off the train I managed to lose my pilfered emergency wine glass. Sad face.

Moel Famau

We forewent [ if that’s even a word ] the usual NYE celebrations and instead got an early night so we could get up bright and early and drive to North Wales…Loggerheads to be precise, so that we could climb the lofty heights of Moel Famau.  We got there and the first hurdle was that we needed £2 to park on the car park.  Since I pretty much pay for everything via contactless this was a bit of an issue.  In my rear view mirror I could see a queue of cars forming behind me as everyone in the car [ including kids ] were scrabbling around trying to find some change.  Fortunately Emma found a couple of pound coins and in we went.

We set off walking in our boots, hats, scarves, snoods and jackets.  After about five minutes the scarves, hats and snoods came off and the jackets were unfastened.  It was hard going and we were all getting pretty hot.  Amelia was loving it

 

At one point we thought we were getting near the top as all the trees started thinning out….nope, we just popped out above the tree line and then saw that the summit was a loooong way away.

We persevered though and made it to the top.

After some sandwiches at the top we started walking down again….Amelia cheered up by this point

This is where the fun really began. We didn’t realise Moel Famau was such a popular New Years Day walk. As we were coming down the hill there was a mass of people heading up. Some were in trainers and shorts, pretty much everyone had dogs, there were some guys walking up smoking a spliff and I’m sure I saw some guys walking up with tins of beer. Anyway, the important part was the car park was rammed and so people had started parking on the road. This reduced the access road to a single carriageway meaning people were trying to get out whilst people were trying to get in and it was just deadlock. We ended up stuck on the road for about forty minutes until somebody managed to organise the people coming up the road to pull onto peoples drives and reverse back down and all sorts of stuff. Eventually we got away and made it to Nana Pat’s for a New Years Day lunch. In summary, beautiful walk, definitely do it again…but not on New Years Day.

Soldering

You’ll all be pleased to know that my soldering has not improved one tiniest little bit. However, it was good enough to get the job done and my Pi is now driving the Neopixel LED strips. Next step is to power the Pi from PSU that powers the LED strip, but first I have to work out how much power the PSU consumes when the LED’s are not illuminated.

Wine is on sale again

25% off at Asda

Amelia spotted that wine was 25% off so off we popped with a load of wine carriers and the big car. I thought we bought 42 bottles but it turned out I miscounted and only got 38. Should last us a while though

Canon PIXMA MP560

Piece of shit

I cannot stress enough how much I hate this printer. The way it will totally randomly decide that a colour has run out every single god damned time you switch it on. The way it kind of gives a gallic shrug if you decide to print to it – sometimes it will print, sometimes it just can’t be arsed and no amount of prodding, poking, resetting wifi connections or kneeling before it begging to just print ONE FUCKING page will do any good.

Well today enough was enough. The kids seemed quite concerned at my hulk roar of rage but generally took it in their stride as I calmly unplugged the power cable, took it outside and used all my strength to smash this annoying piece of crap into many many [ but not enough ] pieces. Fuck you Canon – I just bought a Brother laser printer that just works.