August 16, 2009: Cabling Nightmares

Dominica and I were not ready for bed as early as we should have been last night.  After working such a long day, while I was exhausted, makes it difficult to go straight to bed as you need time to wind down a little before going right to sleep.  So I did some work cleaning up my filesystem and, to my amazement, stumbled across a giant cache of video transfers that were hiding on one of my large drives.  Tons of stuff that I had wondered where it had gone.  Fifty-two movies and a ton of television shows as well.  So I set about copying them over to the media server so that we can use them.  With this load we are up to three hundred and twenty two movies completed.  Roughly one quarter of the collection is now transferred and usable already with a few more every day.  The movies are not too bad, it is the television shows that are the real killer to transfer.

Dominica put in an hour or so getting our “new” printer working as a photo printer.  She printed out several photos of Liesl.  The printer is really amazing with photos.  I am quite impressed.  They turned out beautifully.  We are not too sure about the cost of printing from our own printer, though.  Buying four by six prints from Walmart online is just nine cents per print!  Our ink set of four inks is roughly forty dollars.  We have no idea how many photos that we can print with those but we are watching the ink levels in the printer carefully and after printing four prints they appear to be pretty low.  Although there is no way to really know how accurate that is so we just need to keep an eye on it and figure out how many prints we get for our money.  It seems like we would need to get two to three hundred prints of comparable quality to the Walmart prints, which they probably are, in order to make the convenience of printing at home worth the cost.  Somehow I don’t see that happening but we will see.  It is perfect for emergency printing.

I am proposing the new world for the English lexicon: poopsplosion.  I don’t think that a definition is warranted in this case.  It is a useful word and very descriptive.  Now I have published it with an official spelling for the OED to parse.  I will use it whenever possible so as to demonstrate its correct use.  An example would be: Dexter, my in-laws’ Boston Terrier, had a poopsplosion while riding in the car to come visit us. Another great example would be: Chinese tourist fear interacting with wild animal for fear of  being involved in a poopsplosion.

The family went out to the Westchester Diner for breakfast this morning.  I checked in with work and covered what needed to be done.  That only took thirty or forty five minutes.  Then we were able to go eat.  It was great to get away from the office chair for a little bit.  I really needed the break.  Just sitting somewhere else made a big difference.

Dominica’s parents left Peekskill at one.  When we got some spare time this afternoon we watched a bit of Hannah Montana as well as working on fixing our cable problem.

After rebuilding the existing cable yet again we got it to work reliably but not with Gigabit Ethernet.  We did some testing and discovered that none of the our homemade CAT6 cables were working at GigE!  This was not good.  We undid and redid the cable a few more times and ran a battery of tests.  It ended up being a few hours of cable making.  And what we discovered was that no matter what we did the cable was only ever FastEthernet (100Mb/s.)  This is a real problem.  First because we have spent hundreds of dollars getting the cabling and the parts that we need for it.  Second because dozens of hours have been spent putting the cabling that we have together.  Third because we can’t figure out how to fix the problem at any cost.

The bottom line was that we simply had no idea what was wrong with the cabling.  We tried and retried everything.  We Googled.  We tested.  We theorized.  Just could not figure anything out.  Eventually I decided that the only thing that I could imagine was that the problem was with the cabling itself and not with the work that we were doing to it.  So I decided that we would buy some CAT5e to test it out.  Unfortunately Home Depot was already closed for the evening so there was nothing to be done tonight.  We have a project now for first thing in the morning, though.

It is incredibly frustrating.  We bought this extra expensive CAT6 cabling specifically to make the GigE capability more reliable!  Now that we have spent all of this money we have nothing to show for it and it turns out that we are going to have to remove all of the wires that we have already run, or almost all of them, and make new ones to replace them.  This is no small amount of work!

I am really hoping that we can make some serious progress on the cables and other stuff in the basement as it would be nice to have some progress on the state of the basement before my grandparents come to visit in six days.  This will be their only time seeing our house and it would be nice if it was not a complete disaster.  Unfortunately cleaning up much of anything in the basement requires that we move a lot of stuff into the utility room and that requires that some cables be run into there and that we get the baker’s rack built.  I suppose that we have our work cut out for us tomorrow then.

There is a lot to do before next weekend.

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