2013-02-27

Now I can network anything!

This weekend, I repaired a network outlet. Three, to be precise.

During the remodel, the contractors have severed three network cables by mistake, and the loose ends were knotted up and stuck out of a hole in the wall.

Considering this was my first time getting all physical with networking, it did not go too bad at all.


Before starting on the project, I got some kit on Amazon.

This little set costs under 20 dollars, and contains a network cable stripping tool, a plug crimper, and a network socket punchdown tool. There was even a baggie with some RJ45 plugs in there, too.

Since all I had coming out of the wall were six ends of the cut cables, I randomly picked an end coming from the left to find out whether it was the live side. Because I was going to sacrifice at least one, and possibly two, and also I had a surplus of RJ45 plugs, I crimped one on there instead of the keystone socket, and stuck it into the network tester.

This little network tester was all of five bucks and saved me a lot of trouble. I had one part of it connected upstairs where I was performing the repair, and plugged the other one into one port on the downstairs switch after another, trying to see if this end of the cable was even live.

Luckily, I hit the jackpot on the first try: The wire I picked went to the switch. However, I made the mistake and wired the plug according to the wrong RJ45 standard. They have A and B and I picked B because that's what one of the cables I had lying around had.

It was pretty easy to figure out, because the tester sends the signal to each of the eight wires in order (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8) and it comes out scrambled on on the other end.


Once that was resolved, the rest was easy. I used the punchdown tool to wire the three sockets, which had each terminal color-coded for both standards. Again, fairly obvious.

I bought the more expensive "keystone" type sockets and wall plates, because they seemed like they would be easiest to work with. The sockets in this case click into the wall plate, and can be easily removed and replaced.

Wiring the sockets individually, as opposed to dealing with short cables sticking out of the wall while trying to wire them to a plate, was definitely a more convenient option.

Since we were already dealing with cut cables, I had asked the contractor to put a hole on the other side of the wall, in my office/library, which used to be a formal dining room and did not have any network.

Now that I had sockets wired to each of the cable ends, I stuck two through the hole into the office and routed one into the living room.

Voila!


2013-02-23

Unpacking (and re-packing) my Nexus 4

My Nexus 4 phone has arrived.

It did not take long at all to get here, despite the chronic shortages. If it had taken much longer, I would be risking serious new gear anxiety attacks. But it's all good now.

Behold: the new phone.

I have spent most of last night and some of this morning getting the UI and preferences sorted, but so far it has been a very smooth experience.

The phone restored all the apps currently installed on my Nexus S, and all I had to do was put the shortcuts and the widgets where they belong.


Selecting a phone cover was a little bit of a process.

I actually do not like phone covers, screen protectors, and their ilk. Hundreds of hours spent by designers to make the device sit just right in your hand, the rounded corners, and the buttons -- all of this is completely wasted once you put a cover on your phone. Where it diminishes the looks, it adds weight and bulk. Really not my thing.

However, my phones live a life of adventure, going with me everywhere from race tracks, to restaurants, to museums, and to work. They have been known to sometimes be clumsy and fall out of my pockets at the most inopportune times, hitting concrete floors, rocks, or tarmac. Neither of these things are good for the phones, and so I have been choosing the lesser of the two evils: I have been buying covers for my phones.


This time I think, I may have finally hit the jackpot. A classy-looking slim leather case that has room for a few credit cards, and does not obscure the contours of the phone too much when open.

Since I haven't yet put a new SIM card into the phone, I haven't used it all that much yet, and the jury is still out on the cover. I hope it works out for me.

2013-02-22

Excited about Google Glass


Last June, I managed to snag a ticket to Google I|O by waking up super-early and refreshing the perpetually timed-out order form in six or so tabs at once until my order finally went through. The event sold out in the first 20 minutes, mere ten minutes after I secured my spot.

The event experience was mostly standing in lines for everything from the registration, over general sessions, to spartan lunches. I also stood in line to register for an opportunity to purchase a prototype of Google Glass.

It seems like the wait for the chance to shell out $1500 for a snazzy pair of glasses is nearing its end. I received an email saying that all of us who registered at the I|O will be first in line to receive our gear, while the company will also select up to 8000 people through the "If I had Glass" contest. Judging by the contest's Terms, those folks will be able to buy their Glasses in mid- to late March, meaning that us I|O goers also should be getting ours at about the same time.

This leaves me about a month to obsess over the decision whether Google Glass prototype is worth the money to me.

On one hand, the ability to have the next-generation heads-up display for my navigation is quite appealing. Same goes for the voice control and neat hands-free operation.

On the other hand, it's $1500.

For that kind of cash, I can have some awesome improvements done to the Mountain Lair. Tree trimming, grass mowing, gutter repair, that sort of thing.

But back on the first hand, DAYM, that's a neat piece of kit, and I think I would really get a kick out of owning it.

Are any of you, O my gentle readers, in the same position?

Even if you aren't--what do you think would you do if you were?

2013-02-20

Back in the saddle

While my carpal tunnel syndrome pain has subsided, I am tentatively typing more again. However I am also trying to use more voice entry, such as in writing this article.

This is not my first run in with this particular ailment, and it probably won't be my last. I know it is caused by typing a lot, and unless I learn a completely new trade, there is little chance that I will stop using computers as much as I do today.

For those of you interested how I treat my tendonitis and carpal tunnel pain, I wish to share my treatment strategies.
  1. First, rest, rest, rest. 
  2. Second, reduce typing to a minimum, or completely eliminate it, at least for a week. My Android devices have been very helpful in allowing me to stay up to date on my email, by dictating my responses. There are probably other voice entry solutions on the market, but considering that I carry my phone everywhere, this seems like the most effective option, since it would always be at my fingertips (pun intended). 
  3. Third, ice. Lots of ice. Every night, for three weeks, I would empty the ice bucket from my refrigerator's ice maker into a large kitchen pail, and fill it with cold water, enough to submerge my forearms all the way to my elbows. I would then dunk my forearms into the ice water for as long as I can stand stand, repeatedly. I can usually keep them in cold water for about 30 seconds, before it gets too intense. Your mileage may vary, just pay attention to not get frostbite. I usually would alternate my 30 seconds of icing with about 5 minutes of light massage, all the while watching some TV series or a movie to keep me entertained and distracted. 
  4. Finally, massage. It is very effective to have a professional massage your forearms to help relieve chronic tension, and restore healing blood flow.

This is pretty much it. While I am quite determined not to have another episode for a while, I really am glad that I have found ways to control the pain and restore my hand and arm function relatively quickly, when push comes to shove.

I hope you find this post helpful. What other methods do you use? Have I missed anything? Share it in the comments!