Wednesday 28 February 2007
I think I’ve made clear here in previous writings about the arrangement of my work facilities. My office is a converted summer house that stands in the garden of our home – and, on a sunny day like this, with a view out of the window of the plants that are starting to do spring things, it isn’t a bad place to be.
I hook up to the Webternet via an 802.11b/g wireless connection. The router sits near the phone socket which is in the conservatory, roughly 25 feet from the Global Headquarters. As I’ve mentioned before, the signal sometimes degrades (we have evil cordless phones, microwave oven and wireless doorbell in the house – all of which could be causing interference) and occasionally drops completely, particularly during wet weather (the summer house is of timber construction and, in spite of a water-repellant coating, the boards do get wet). I’ve added an external antenna to the router so that it is in an elevated position (dangling attractively from a light fitting) which has helped but not solved the problem.
I’m getting a bit fed up with the signal dropping out or degrading – it only ever seems to happen at the most inconvenient moment (when I’m using Skype or printing a big document – such is life), so I’m considering a physical connection between the router and the Global Headquarters. I don’t think it would be too difficult to run a cable from there to here – I can take it through the cat flap housing to get into the conservatory, route it around the edges of the decking so that it isn’t a trip hazard and easily make a small hole in the wall of the HQ to get it into here without using the same duct as the power supply cable.
The question is this: what sort of cable should I use? I’m not an expert on this sort of thing. I’ve seen standard Cat5 cable and also cable rated for outdoor use. I’ve also seen fibre-optic cable. Will these cables resist being in an environment exposed to sun, wind and rain? Can these cables be easily routed (there may be a few 90° turns)? How easy is it to put the connectors on the end of these cables?
Anybody got any experience of this sort of thing? Or should I just look at further uprating my wireless network?
Tuesday 27 February 2007
links for 2007-02-27
Splendidly old-fashioned place to stay (don’t expect wi-fi or a telephone in your room!) with lovely gardens and park. Having sat in the kitchen, I can confirm that Régis is the Jam Master and makes excellent melon jam.
Belgian property website, with search function.
Estate agent based in Lanaken, Belgium with properties in the Lanaken, Maasmechelen and Zutendaal areas.
Estate agent in Maasmechelen, Belgium, with woefully badly-designed website.
Belgian estate agent with property mainly around Hasselt.
Belgian estate agent with property around Bilzen, Maasmechelen and Lanaken.
Belgian estate agent with properties around Dilsen and Maaseik.
Belgian estate agent with property around Genk, Hesselt, Lanaken and Maasmechelen. Mainly apartments.
Monday 26 February 2007
Monkey Radio, RIP
It looks like Monkey Radio has ceased to be. This is a great shame, as it is through listening to Monkey Radio that I got into all sorts of music, including Visit Venus amongst others.
Tuesday 20 February 2007
links for 2007-02-20
Recently re-opened after three years closure and fifteen years of restoration work.
Monday 19 February 2007
Ce n’est pas un fait accompli
I understand that following some of the links that I’ve posted recently on this site, people are wondering what is going on in our lives. So I’d like to clear up a few things.
- yes, we’re thinking about moving.
- no, we will not be moving for some time, at least two years.
- yes, we are looking at the Netherlands. Why? Because houses are considerably cheaper there and we want to reduce the amount of our income that we spend on our mortgage each month. In addition, a lot of my work is in the Netherlands (at least as much as is in the UK), we like it there and it was recently ranked the best industrialized nation in which to bring up a child by the UN (compared to the UK which was ranked the worst nation).
- BUT, it is not a certainty that we will move there. At the moment, we are deeply involved in research which includes:
- working out where to live
- deciding what we can afford
- looking at what mortgage we could get
- investigating employment options for Hels
- sussing out education and childcare facilities
- language, running a business, mortgage system, property law, tax system – everything! There are lots of hidden factors to consider.
- IF we go there, then we would rent for at least one year to test the water – and if it didn’t work out, we could move back to England or to another place.
- we are also investigating other alternatives – in every town we visit, in the UK and abroad, we always look through estate agent windows, partly out of unbridled noseyness and curiosity and partly out of serious research to see what property we could afford if we moved to that area. So far our research has shown that moving within the south east of England would not improve our lot – either we’d still have a vast mortgage or we’d be in Ramsgate.
- in any case, whatever we decide, we have a whole bunch of factors to consider. These include but are not limited to (and in no particular order):
- Tom – particularly the environment and education/childcare
- us – we want a nice house in a relatively green neighbourhood (i.e. not a concrete neighbourhood) with a little garden and enough room for us to not be under each other’s feet
- work – both for me and for Hels as, without work that we enjoy and which pays reasonably, our life would be poorer in terms of quality or money or both
- family – we are close to both sides of the family and we want to be somewhere that is relatively easy for them to access, including by public transport
- cats – they’re important too! So no main road homes for us and always at least a little garden, even if/when we rent.
So you see that nothing is certain. Well, almost nothing. The only thing that is certain is that the current fixed rate period on our mortgage expires on 31 December 2008, which is why there is a window of opportunity for moving around that time and into early 2009 (if we move before then, we have to pay a heavy penalty to our lender when we redeem the mortgage) – and we don’t want to leave it much later than that as we want to get Tom settled in a new home before he starts school. The reason for moving is also fairly certain – we want to move in order to achieve either a reduction in our mortgage liability and/or an increase in our living space.
Even the “when” is not guaranteed. As we all know, events have a habit of overtaking one’s plans, so we have no idea what might happen over the next two years. I think the only thing that is likely to remain constant is the “why”. The “what”, “where” and even the “how” are all still to be decided.
At the moment, the mission is research. And with a life-change of this magnitude, I think anyone would agree that we need to be thorough and use all the time available to our advantage.