Network Testing with Laptop

A few weekends ago I was testing my new SageTV setup with my laptop.

I had the network in one configuration, and I wanted to move things around to get better reception. Before I moved the server and aerial, I took the Powerline device to different rooms in the house to test. I ended up only getting 9.4Mbps in other rooms. I then noticed my laptops Ethernet connection was at 10Mb, assuming something was wrong I forced it to 100Mb full duplex and only got 17Mbps throughput. Assuming this was due to some cross circuit performance problem I tested around the house, and ended back in the office, and with my laptop on the same 100Mb switch as the server, I was still only getting 17Mbps.

After banging my head for a while I put the network connect back to auto detect, and plugged the laptop back into the power cord and ta-da, 94Mbps to the server.

Thus for my Dell Latitude E6400, with Windows 7, on battery, the Ethernet runs at only 10Mb. I remember Windows XP having an option for reduced Ethernet speed on battery, but cannot find it under Windows 7, it just seems to always be on.

Thus now with power cord in hand, I found that the room I wanted to place the server gets 45Mbps to the TV, so I proceeded to move everything, and over-the-air TV is wonderful.

Project Goodbye Mediacom

Project ‘Goodbye Mediacom’ is underway…

After having Mediacom’s cable TV service for a year, their teaser rate has ended and they want to charge $69/month for basic cable + $6/month for HD + $11/month for an DVR device.

You know what? I don’t want to pay ~$1,000/year for TV.

I’m paying them $45/month for Internet (12mb), so if I remove the TV that will go to $65/month (they will have there pound of flesh), but the key problem is paying for TV.

I don’t really like to watch TV, as there are lots of development work I’d rather be working on, so 1K/year is too much for something optional that I don’t like.

So the options are:

  1. Over the air broadcast & Tivo
  2. Over the air broadcast & home made PVR
  3. No TV
  4. Put up and Pay

The first two plans relied on if we could get an aerial that worked where we live, otherwise we ether had to put up with Mediacom or just have no TV…  The house we are renting has a “no putting up aerials” rule, so it would have to be internal, and I didn’t have the option of putting it in the attic, as I wouldn’t be able to run the cable into the livingroom/office without plaster work, and I wasn’t going there ether.

When we first moved into the house we tried a small internal aerial, the  and it basically didn’t work RCA ANT121, I could see that there was digital TV, but was always “bad”

So I went to best buy and picked up a more expensive internal aerial with amplifier, the Trek FDTV2A, which also didn’t really work, there were three channels that were 80% but crackly, and the rest would never work for more than a few seconds. I tried it flat under the TV, vertical behind the TV, vertical on the wall, and held by hand. Flat worked best, but really wasn’t good enough. I found the +10db amplifier didn’t seem to help the signal quality, but I didn’t do any empirical testing.

So I return that to BestBuy, and purchased the Antennas Direct – ClearStream 2, this worked well in the living room pointing out the corner of the house (behind a chair) and in the office (the final project planned destination) I got 100% signal for 4 major channels and a total of 19 channels. I also also picket up a rocket-fish powered +4db amplifier/splitter, but my testing showed that across the 19 channels that it had a zero or non-positive effect. So I returned that.

I purchase these things directly from BestBuy at their +20% Amazon prices for the very reason of returning if they didn’t work. So in the end I was not stressed at the additional purchase price.

Now that I knew that Project ‘Goodbye Mediacom’ was viable, I started the planning for the DVR replacement.

Office Lego Toys

Before leaving the New Zealand office I took some pictures of the Lego toys (and other machine toys) around the office. But I never posted them…. here they are:

Side note: it seems that almost everybody in the USA pronounces Lego wrong when talking in the plural and it drives me batty. It’s one Lego brick, many Lego bricks, a box of Lego. No  ‘s’ anywhere. You can tell because the box with 251 pieces in the box, they write Lego, not Legos on the outside, there’s no ‘s’, unlike a box of cookies, it has an ‘s’ on the box…

Sony Walkman NWZ-E345 and MacBook

We purchased a Sony Walkman NWZ-E345 for Michaela’s welcome to the USA present.

We had some concern once we got home because it only mentions support for Windows XP and Windows Vista on the packaging, and nobody on Amazon had mentioned Mac support.

But never fear it works perfectly with our MacBook, it just appears as an USB device, and you just drag’n’drop like an USB hard drive, and when you disconnect (after ejecting via Finder), it rescans the library.

Michaela really likes it, problem solved (the problems was bad music choice in the car).

New Camera: Sony DSC-HX1

DSCHX1We bought a new camera on Tuesday, the Sony DSC-HX1. We have been wanting a camera with more zoom for a while now.

There have been too many school events where we can see the kids fine, but due to lack of zoom, our camera has failed to capture the scene, or the shot has been ruined by the super contrast of the stage lights making bright spots.

We were also considering the Cannon Powershot SX1 IS, but the deal closers for me were:

  1. The single lithium battery. We had so many issues with rechargeable AA’s that I was not keen to deal with the 4xAA needs of the SX1
  2. The sweeping panorama shooting mode is really cool. I love panorama’s and having the picture auto-magic stitched is very cool
  3. The HX1 was noticeably lighter than the SX1
  4. There was only a $9 price difference between them, due to Sony lowering the list price by $200NZD  the day before. Which once you take into account having to buy batteries for the SX1 made the the HX1 cheaper

I miss the idea of not having a raw mode, and the ultra swivel LCD on the Cannon would be useful in more situations, but really, the batteries was a major issue.

Part of me was wanting to step-up to the bigger boys 450/1000 Cannons, but price was a consideration. If I use this camera enough and find myself limited by it, then a full DSLR may have to be the next step.

For now I’ll continue playing with it a lot, trying out different situations, and learning how to use it.

Having not researched the topic at all before buying, I was pleasantly pleased with the DSC-HX1 review at dpreview.com, with there not being any worst-camera-in-the-world type surprises.