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ADSL issues

It hovered around the 3.8Mbit point last night (perfectly happy with a noise margin of a mere 2.7dB!), but when I came home this evening it is 2.2 Mbit (noise margin around 10dB).
And... as I write this Antenne Symphonic Rock has just died and my Livebox is reporting no connection...

It's come back again (about two minutes later) So I'm guessing that the work hasn't been done yet. I wonder if Orange will still call me...

It also shows the shonkiness of some of the coding within the Livebox's firmware. My first example... there's no ADSL sync, there's no IPv4, there's no DSL at all... but IPv6 apparently works fine!

IPv6 for the win!
IPv6 for the win!

Of course, I can't test this nonsense as the Livebox doesn't support DNS6, so I need IPv4 to get the AAAA record of IPv6 websites.

The next thing? I mentioned that I don't have an analogue phone, as in POTS. My (regular analogue) telephone plugs into the Livebox and it does some fancy VoIP magic.

Which rather implies that for the phone to work, Internet needs to work, right?

No internet but a VoIP phone?
No internet but the VoIP phone works? Really?

For what it's worth, I picked up the phone and got a recorded message saying "A problem with your line has been identified. If you have subscribed very recently, please be patient until you are notified of the delivery of your service. If not, verify the connection between your Livebox and the wall socket and then restart your Livebox. If the problem persists, please contact the Orange customer service.".

It would happen on Eurovision week, wouldn't it?

Oh, and I note, a wave of thunderstorms passed through midweek. Funny how often that happens on Eurovision week!

Anyway, I think it's safe to say (listening to the streaming radio come and go) that their 6pm Friday objective set on Tuesday has not been met. Is it a harder problem that it originally seemed, or has it simply not been done?

My scheduled call happened, about 35 minutes late. She seemed surprised that I was reporting that it seemed as if nothing had been done. I had the streaming radio on and it kept cutting out frequently. I had a recording of the message on the telephone which I played.
She ran another line test and called me back to say that the fault is still being reported by the tests.

She has modified my line and it's synchronised at 2.1Mbit down and 0.4Kbit (!) up. I think what she did was to disable the DLM, so it should (in theory) rest at that speed with a little more stability. My case is also being passed onto the engineer's boss in order to try to get it given some priority. The line is now under monitoring, and she will call me back around 7pm on Tuesday.

I think Netflix (etc) can work with 2Mbit, but the half-speed upload sucks. That's, what, about 35Kbytes/sec? We're approaching Minitel speeds here! ☺



I made up some 98 octane petrol with lead replacement additive and put it into the new-old rotovator. The throttle is very finicky. There's a tiny position where the engine runs happily. Any deviation from that position and the engine will stall (with varying degrees of rapidity).
However, I made up an air filter for the engine from a piece of filter foam that I got from Amazon.
Filter foam
Filter foam.

I got the foam wet with fresh engine oil, squeezed out the excess, and then popped it in place.

I took the rotovator up to the veg patch and pulled the starter.

It was Hard. Work. because of two days of heavy rain. As I say in the video, sorry to the Just Stop Oil nutters, but I think the only way an electric rotovator would cope with that is if I brought out the three phase. You know, rig up some Tim Taylor contraption (I can't do a PhotonicInduction as my little smart meter would melt).
On the other hand, a rather small four stroke drinking dead dinosaur juice powered through the morass. I did it east-west ways, and then gave it another pass north-south.

My hands hurt, my shoulders hurt, my back hurt... but it was done in about 40 minutes, and much less effort than if I had to do all of that by hand.

For buying it, I borrowed €80 from piggy. I took out €80 from a cash machine at the supermarket yesterday, so I'm all square with my piggy bank. And the ground has been turned. I'll call that a success.

On a technical note, the video is oldey-timey shakey because for some reason the phone was at 1080p 60fps, and the 60fps option doesn't stabilise. Compare that video with my usual ones and it's clear how hard the stabilisation is working in the background!
Still, given that my upload wasn't reliable, I decided to upload using 4G+, and since I was doing that, I'd just stick with 1080p (but 30fps else the file size got silly). The file was about 600Mbytes, and it uploaded in around twenty minutes! With my current ADSL speed, that would be closer to 300 minutes!

The moral of this lesson? When you need work done in the garden, you need a four stroke.


Terribly white

So a black woman (an actress known for being in something I've never watched) remarked that the balcony of the Coronation was "terribly white" (which, uh, it kind of was) and this sparked a massive number (about four thousand) of complaints to the media regulator Ofcom, the most whinged about thing this year.
I can't help but think that such a reaction is actually kind of making her point for her.



The Daily Mail is all hot under the collar over "incredibly difficult" SAT questions left "even the most able pupils broken and in tears".

First example photo? Draw a line to match each word to the correct suffix.


champion          hood


friend            ship


What?! What age are these tests aimed at. It's so easy: childship, championhood, neighbourship, friendhood, and memberhood. I can't believe even children didn't know those.

The next one is a little harder. It gave three sentences and asked for them to be labelled as either Main or Subordinate.

After they had been for a swim,

the boys had a drink

because they were very thirsty.

The trick here is to know that a Main clause can stand on its own, while a Subordinate clause is a fragment that requires more information.
For example "After they had been for a swim"... yeah, and then what?
So, "the boys had a drink" is the Main because you can remove the other two clauses and it still stands as a valid sentence. The others, not so much. So they're the Subordinates.

I should add, this was never taught to me at school. We had "doing words" and "action words" and "describing words". Which is why I get confused when somebody asks me about verbs and adverbs... oh, which ones are those again?
My understanding of English came primarily from my mom in two senses. The first is her explaining stuff (that I kind of wish I paid more attention to, but in my defence ADHD...) and the second was that she tried to get me to read just about everything in the house, and the house had many books. Which is why I was reading adult grade books in junior school. H G Wells? John Wyndham? J G Ballard? Yup, plenty of that. And I was, like, eight. Mom asked me questions that were harder than these ones, but rather than a simple pass/fail she'd look to see what I was doing to explain why I was wrong. That's one of the things I really hated about school. Being marked wrong with no idea of why it was wrong, only that it was (mom to the rescue again!). And, I believe I've mentioned this before, having teachers saying things like "No, you aren't" when I talk about the books I read and why I find books with big text and pictures on facing pages to be boring. So I'm reading The Tripods, and rather than saying "what's it about?" my teacher simply told me that I wasn't, ended the discussion, and implied that I was lying.

Mom, on the other hand, asked me to summarise each chapter as I read it. Which I did. And she asked me questions like how the story made me feel, and would I have done the same things if I was in that situation. This degree of involvement, along with a rich technicolour imagination, made the worlds created in books to be very vivid.
Even as I read now, I like to pause after a chunk of text, and watch it play out in my head.
As for my writing, I'm not going to claim that it is any good, but generally what I'm actually doing is narrating what I see in my head. It's especially weird when I have an idea of how the story is to flow and progress and the characters go and do something else!

Right, back to the test, some maths problems now.

6,155 + 501 + 649 =

0 × 989 = 

10 + [    ] = 302

I suffer dyscalculia and... working it out on a piece of paper the first one I get 7,305. The trick question is a trick question. And the last one is the same as 302-10 which is 292.

More line drawing to make bigger words from prefixes and words.

en      cover

de      large

dis     frost

The trick here is to look for a word you know that jumps out. For me, "discover". So that leaves en, de, large, and frost. Which can easily be mangled into enlarge and defrost.

I will concede that the question on which sentence uses commas correctly might be a failure point as loads of people mess up commas, especially those whose writing style mirrors their speech patterns, which is to say frequent use of run-on sentences and asides (and I wonder why the Frenchies don't understand me!), that pretty much demand comma abuse, as this very sentence demonstrates, and this part has nothing of value to add but for idiotic childish reasons I wanted to write a sentence that spanned eight lines in my editor (actually these two asides take this content to a whole ten lines, whoo!), which I have now done so here is the full stop.

The band will perform at concerts in Belfast,
Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham and, Sheffield.

The children could choose to play netball, cricket,
hockey or tennis.

Owls badgers, hedgehogs and bats are all noctural

Painting, drawing, sculpture and print-making, were
all options on the art day.

Again, one stands out as looking correct to me, but to verify let's look for the faults in the others.
The first one has "and,".
The third one has "Owls badgers".
The last one has a comma after print-making that doesn't look like it belongs.
So my choice would be for the second sentence, though it's worth noting that I would write it with a comma after "hedgehogs". This is optional. It is called an Oxford comma in case you're interested, and it is often recommended by academic style guides. The other example of a comma prior to an "and" is demonstrated in the prior sentence where it joins to independent but related clauses. I started saying it was called an Oxford comma and then tacked on that it is a frequent recommendation. Really, a comma is a pause between fragments of a sentence. It might be helpful to think about where you pause (and maybe take a breath?) when speaking.

The Mail also said that there have been hundreds of complaints about the SATs with one union claiming that even some staff were left dumbfounded and that this paper was far harder than in the past.

Uh...? Look, I'm not the smartest cookie in the box. Far from it, but I dunno, I can't help but think that the one demographic in the country that ought to ace this test.......would be the flippin' teachers!

I can't help but think that the very reason these tests exist is because of the deplorable state of education. I mean, FFS, if I can answer these, does this make me smarter than a "year 6" (whatever that is) teacher? Maybe I should hang up my bog brush and become a teacher?



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Anon, 12th May 2023, 22:20
$anim al[]="Bats"; 
You get the idea. Think of a list in natural English as a comma-separated array, except the "and" before the last element replaces the comma. 
Your ADSL woes... I shall make you somewhat jealous now. I'm in rural England. My current speeds are 53Mbit down, 8Mbit up, according to the router stats page (I have a Zyxel VMG8924 series router). 
This is using a FTTC service. For those not in-the-know, that's "Fibre To The Cabinet". Basically runs fibre from the exchange to the green box by the roadside, then uses a VDSL link (rather than ADSL) between the cabinet and the premises. 
It gets better. Openreach (the sub-division of BT that now deals with all the cabling and infrastructure) have said we're getting full fibre (FTTP) by the end of Q1 2024. Gigabit here we come.
Rick, 12th May 2023, 23:15
You can't be that rural if you have a green cabinet nearby. ;) 
Mine is kilometres away. 
As you might have seen from the previous blog entries, there's a fibre termination point on the pole just beyond the property. Brittany is aiming for FTTP everywhere within the next few years. 
No idea what sort of speeds I'll be getting. To be honest, 4Mbit didn't really bother me. It's enough for what I need (and, remember, I grew up when 1200/75 was a thing). What I'd like best about fibre is a much better upload speed, so dumping crap on YouTube won't take time spans that evolutionary processes are measured in. 
Anon, 13th May 2023, 01:57
Surprisingly BT (or is it Openreach now?) have installed the green cabinets in most villages. It's often the green cabinet that was already there running the phone service. Just with some extra kit installed into it. 
Before upgrading, my connection speed here was 8Mbit down, 768Kbit up. So it's about 6 times faster downstream and 10 times faster upstream. The extra that it cost to go to FTTC I saved by not having to pay for a v-host at a data centre to host all my email etc, it's all done in-house now. 
And yeah, I remember dial-up too. Not quite 1200/75, but I remember 2400bps, then 14k4... the connection noises, the anticipation of a download, then the moment when someone picks up the phone downstairs not realising you're online, and you're 98% of the way through a 6MB download, from a server that doesn't support resuming a transfer... 
There's some things I miss about the 1990s. That, however, isn't one of them.
Rick, 13th May 2023, 05:36
...the fact that we could diagnose connection troubles (and, often, know the connection speed) just by what it sounded like...
Gavin Wraith, 13th May 2023, 10:19
You would make a wonderful teacher, Rick. But you would have a lot more trouble with managers and colleagues than with pupils.
Jeff Doggett, 13th May 2023, 13:29
I've just changed from Plusnet (14Mb down, 400kb up) to a Three Broadband 5G router (115Mb down 70Mb up). This is for £20 a month and a free router box.
J.G.Harston, 13th May 2023, 15:48
When I first took an allotment 30 (eek!) years ago I hired a rotovator to go over it. Yes. ow! ow! ache! ow! But done in an hour.
J.G.Harston, 13th May 2023, 15:51
White family is white, shock horror! And if she looked out of the window, white country is white, shock horror! (2021/2022 census figs: 9.5% of UK population are non-white)
J.G.Harston, 13th May 2023, 16:54
Oxford commas are definitely required when you need the meaning, for instance when listing things that have "and" in the name. 
We campaigned in Dore and Totley and Shiregreen and Brighside. eh??? 
We campaigned in Dore and Totley, and Shiregreen and Brightside. 
Or, much better: We campaigned in Dore & Totley and Shiregreen & Brightside. Which makes is much clearer that it is two entities that have 'and' in their names. 
I also grew up in a house full of books, and books about language so learned the proper names for doing words, naming words, describing verbs. That's fundamentally the basics that you need, when news reports go on about "kids don't know what a referential attritional adverbial is" my response is "WTF is that????" I didn't encounter the word "gerund" until doing Japanese at university, so clearly thought it was some Japanese-specific term, so completely obviously pronounced it the Japanese way. Why couldn't they have just said "the 'ing' form of a verb". 
Anyway. Let's eat grandma! 
Rick, 16th May 2023, 21:02
Quel surpris, I waited and... no call. No message, nothing. Thanks. It's not as if I didn't have other things to do... 
And my dossier is still outstanding, only now the report says that I was called back to verify the functioning of my services. "Functioning" isn't the word I'd use. The word I'd use isn't polite. 
It's calmer outside now, so my radio managed 43 minutes of playing (it just dropped out). When I came home just after 5 it was breezy and I'd be lucky to get five minutes, with a good minute taken to resync. Makes streaming, uploading (anything larger than a JPEG), and telephone calls all somewhat pointless. 
So, like, when is the engineer actually going to look at this?

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