Extending our wireless

We had a loft conversion built recently.  But the wireless reception in the new loft is a bit weak, being as it is two floors away from the Netgear WGR614UK router in the lounge.  So we investigated what to do.

It seemed there were three options, informed largely by my friend and service provider Rob:

Option one was ruled out quickly—mainly because I was skeptical.  Although it shares a fuse box, the electricity in the loft is on a separate circuit to those of the rest of the house.  I have no idea whether that issue would have been surmountable, but knew that my expertise in this area was non-existent.  I’m perplexed as to how electricity itself works, so how to get it to do something other than its designated purpose is yet further beyond me.

Option two was ruled out because I’m a cheap bastard—one with principles, no less.  I wasn’t willing to pay Virgin Media a monthly fee for routing an extra broadband connection to my house.

So bridge it was.  And with some help from Rob, it looks to have been successful.

First of all, the theory.  I was going to put a bridge router on the floor above the main router.  Wireless access from the loft would connect to the bridge router, which would in turn be connected (by wireless) to the main router which has the connection to the internet.

And below is a description of the process.

The hardware of choice was the Linksys WRT54GL.  Recommended by Rob, its USP was that you could re-image the device’s firmware, important for some of the quite complicated bridging that would ensue, allegedly.

So first of all, I had to re-image the device.  Unfortunately, this failed midway through, which borked the device.  So I had to flash it with TFTP.  (This process was made all the more difficult by the intermittent internet access—read access to Rob via IM—caused by my need to connect to the borked router.)  Once done I could then, step-by-step, upgrade the firmware to the firmware of choice that would allow the bridging.

Then I followed the instructions herein to configure it as the bridge.  The only step that didn’t seem to work was changing the bridge router’s IP address.  (It would need to be instead of the of the main router.)  As soon as I did this, it seemed to bork the bridge router, to the extent that I couldn’t connect and had to start from scratch.

I hoped that it wasn’t a critical step, but it was.  While at times each of the routers could be connected to, it seems there was too much conflict for this to be reliable, and even the previously reliable main router became as temperamental as its new sibling.  Oddly, when I came back to the problem a few days later, it accepted my IP address change immediately, and fingers crossed, that seems to have solved the issue.

So now, we have two routers, with subtly different names, allowing us automated and extensive access throughout the house.  Perfect!

I thoroughly recommend the set-up.  And huge thanks to Rob for his patience.

My 175-mile-long office

I went up to Leeds on Thursday for personal reasons.  Just for the day.  And the journey there and back was an utter pleasure.

A couple of weeks prior, with my daughter, I’d opted for the new Grand Central service direct to Halifax.  This time, I needed to be in Leeds, so I chose the National Express service.  I had to do the school run, which in the event was handy, as it meant the first train I could realistically catch was the 0935 from King’s Cross, departing six minutes into the off-peak window.

Equipped with my Caffè Nero latte, I sought a standard-class seat: rear-facing on a table by the window, opting for the west side of the train to avoid sun hitting my laptop screen.  I plugged in, connected to the free, on-board wireless and away I went.

It was like working in an office, but with a spectacular and ever-changing view.  I was able to focus on documentation, email and calls and got a huge amount done.  It’s almost worth the £83.70 fare purely as an office rental fee for the five hours the return trip takes.

Wireless on the journey south was a little more sporadic, but all in all, I can’t complain too much.  Thoroughly recommended.

Dr. Ramanpillai Nair

Thank you, Dr Ramanpillai Nair.  This morning you simply did your job.  But your job happened to be a triple bypass of my Dad’s heart.  Thus far, all seems to be going to plan and my Dad is, fingers crossed, on the road to recovery.

So although I’ve never met you, thank you Dr. Nair.  And thank you to the NHS nurses and staff for looking after a most precious patient.

My inferiority complex

I have an inferiority complex.  I have had for as long as I can remember, and I expect I always will have.  And I expect it’s something that oodles of people go through life with.

It has become less pronounced over time, but it still comes along in some form wherever I go.  And occasionally I overcompensate through arrogance, aggression or false confidence.

Perhaps on a related topic, there was one moment at school that stood out as being particularly horrible.  I was in the penultimate year of junior school and was gearing up—in whatever way a nine-year-old can—to transition to a local public (Americans, read private) school for the last junior year and my secondary school years thereafter.  My imminent transition to the new school was obviously known to my then form teacher.

My form teacher asked a question of me as part of a regular English class—the irony of my writing that sentence will become clear.

Teacher: what do you do with a question?

Me: you *say* a question

Teacher: no—what specifically do you do with a question

Me: er, you *say* a question

[Repeat for a couple of iterations]

Me: [failure to answer the question appropriately]

Teacher: you *ask* a question.  My, that was easy.  You’ll be expected to know *that* at [future school name]

It was a moment that was doubtless fleeting for the teacher.  But it was one that has stayed with me for the last 27 years and change.  Who knows whether tiny moments such as these contribute to developing an inferiority complex?

My Dad

My Dad has suffered a bit of a setback of late. He suffered a heart-attack back in 2000, had a stent inserted the following year and another five years later. This time, having had an angiogram on 24 August, they didn’t allow him to go home. Instead, he’s awaiting bypass surgery, likely to take place this coming week in Leeds.

My Dad is without doubt the biggest and most important inspiration in my life. He is selfless, solid, utterly dependable and is, with a single exception that I’m aware of, the most morally upstanding person I know. His sense of humour resonates beautifully, while his advice is always valuable, always valued.

Without him saying so, I know that he loves me. And he cannot hold back his effusiveness in showing his love for our daughter, his grand-daughter. She means the world to him.

I love my Dad—unconditionally. And I wish him all the best in the days and weeks to come.