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Mother's Day

Allow me a moment to wave at mom's ghost.

Okay, done. Let's continue...

 

It has been a hectic week - PART TWO

Yesterday I talked about the car. Today, the trees.

 

Tree massacre

I can't even blame my neighbour for this. It's all on me. Remember the nice tunnel of trees going up the driveway alongside the pond?
Take a look at this.
Looking along the pond
Looking along the pond.

Make no mistake, that breaks my little beating heart, that does. Even worse, I'm the one responsible.

But why?

Well, on Tuesday before I went to have the car looked at, I went up to town for information on the deployment of fibre optic and was signed up. It will be installed on the 8th of June, and as a result of that I'll need to clear away all of the trees from the phone line. They have a big thing with the fibre on a roll to hook it up, so they need to be able to access the line.

So the trees have to come down.

Maybe more of a problem is the phone line is on the other side of the two electric poles, but that's not my problem. Honestly, I think the most logical thing would be to stick one of those splice-junction boxes by the nearest pole and run the fibre in two halves, but I'm not the installer...

Installation is free, and they have already sent me the astonishingly heavy Livebox 6. I'll talk about this later on.

Now, I stopped by the sister of the mayor and asked if she knew anybody who would be able to help me get the trees cut back. She said she'd ask Mister The Mayor (and never passing up an opportunity to use his title rather than, you know, my brother, since it's a small town and everybody knows who the mayor is).
I went back the next day and she told me that EDF would do it. Okay, she's a dame de certain âge when all of this was state owned and, yeah, they may well have done so. But it's 2024 and there's no way in Hades that EDF (electricity) is going to give a flying flamingo about the Orange (telephony) lines.
She went and fetched the town's worker/handyman and together they looked at what needed done. The previous man had coppiced the trees for mom for when the new power line was going to be installed. This guy said "no, I'm way too busy". Shame for me, but yeah, it's a bit of a job.
He then said my best bet would be to call a company who can do it. He then looked up, and down, the row of trees and sucked his breath through his teeth. The universal symbol of "ooooh, that'll cost you".

After he left, feeling a bit depressed about the whole thing, I ran out the power cable and plugged another into that, and oiled by little Lidl chainsaw.
In my life, I've only ever cut down two trees using a chainsaw. I am not an expert, I have no idea what the hell I'm doing.
But there are three rules that I'm doing my best to stick to:

  1. Take down the trees.
  2. Don't take down the line.
  3. All fleshy appendages must remain intact and, more importantly, attached.

Here's another horrorshow.

The shady space by the pond
The shady place by the pond.

The oak at the back is now a stump about a metre high. The field maple has had all of its branches removed. I didn't take it down lower as I wanted to leave some leaves so it doesn't keel over dead. I think the maple has already been coppiced once, so might come back. The oaks will, I'm not worried about them. And there's an oak in the foreground that is now a stump a little under a metre high. The ladder is because I'm going to have to whack off a few bits of the sprawling willow to leave some clear space on the other side of the line.

I have a man coming out on Tuesday because of this.

The walnut
The walnut.

It will be a huge shame to cut this tree down. It has history. Mom dropped a walnut she got from the local market in 1995 when I first came over (she bought the place in 1992 when the four freedoms were introduced). When we came over for good in 2002, we found this little stick growing out of the ground. That last walnut had started to grow into a tree. Well, a sort of bush. We wrapped it in fleece in the harsh winter of 2003, and the following one. Afterwards it seemed to be growing nicely, but was never growing straight. Even as a twiglet it was leaning.
Fast forward twenty-two years and it's a huge monster. It is leaning more now than in the winter due to the weight of the leaves. This is normal, I used to drive my car through leaves as it sags quite a bit "when laden". But, you know, it's big enough now that there's a risk that one day it'll just topple over and take out the phone line and possibly bring down the electric as well. Now while the phone line can be patched up, the same can't be said for the fibre optic, and as I just said, it's big enough to be a potential problem for the electric line. So... somebody is coming out on Tuesday to give me a quote for it. And being a tradesman, if he screws it up, it'll be on his insurance.

What remains
That which remains.

If his quote is reasonable, I might ask him how much he'd want to finish the job for me. I have the far part to do still. I left it because I didn't have a long enough power cable, but I've recently bought myself a 40m extension which ought to be enough. But it's ball-breaking work, so if he's like a couple of hundred to sort that mess out, I'll be like cash or cheque.

Oh, and that grassy section that I reclaimed from the brambles and sowed grass after a mostly failed attempt to grow potatoes? This is what it looks like right now.

Wreckage
Wreckage.

Turns out, it's actually quite easy to whack trees down. I even get to do interesting physics things like cutting a big branch three quarters across, then tie a rope to it, then loop it around a different tree, then pull hard to bring the branch down in the opposite direction to the phone line (thus satisfying rules one and two), as shown in this photo.

Timber!
Timbaaaah!

I should have cut the grass yesterday. But, asides from the couple of hours spent with the car guy, I passed most of Saturday afternoon and into the evening tidying up the wreckage of the field maple. Not "the trees I had cut down", no, one flamin' tree.
The bigger bits of wood were cut and put aside for burning, should I ever get a wood fire sorted out. The rest was dragged down to the end of the Sunny Southern Spot and thrown onto the wood pile. I'm sure there're loads of useful bits of wood there, but you know, life is too bloody short. Really, I just went it gone, because if it all hangs around for too long, it'll get buried in grass, nettles, and eventually brambles. And with bits of wood lurking in there it'll be hell to try to tidy it all up. I know from bitter experience as the Big Bramble Mess (that is now the Potato Patch) had a load of branches that mom dumped in amidst the brambles. And they were, like, a decade old.
No, I'm trying to make things grassier, less weeds, easier to maintain. A pile of branches is the wrong direction.

 

Fibre?

I did a back-of-an-envelope calculation. It will currently take me around 40 minutes to download a file of around 750MiB. My internet seems to have settled at around 2.8Mbit. It used to hang around 3.7 but a lousy patch job at a nearby farm has managed to lose me a megabit, and since it's more than their "guarantee" of half a megabit, there's not much desire to fix it. The box, when plugged in after being unplugged for a thunderstorm warning, tries to sync at around 3.5Mbit. It does so, but the noise margin is too close to the 6dB limit, so the speed slowly drops down to have a more stable but slower connection.

Fibre doesn't care about distance like copper wire does. It is also, due to using light, able to spew data much faster. I think the woman said that my typical downstream rate will be somewhere between 600Mbit and 2Gbit, with an uplink of around 600Mbit. What this means in practice is that forty minute file will, instead, take somewhere between six to ten seconds.

Now, this is quite unrealistic in practice. My Pi's ethernet is a USB 2 combi-chip, and USB 2 runs up to 480Mbit, but you can sort of halve that as USB 2 is half-duplex and there are protocol overheads. WiFi is slower yet, around 26Mbit at 2.4GHz and 40Mbit at 5GHz (but then it's RISC OS running the WiFi, not Linux, so expect it to not be quite as fast - does it even support 5GHz?). And, of course, there's the question of whether or not the server is able to sustain anything like that speed.

What it does mean, though, is it ought to be less onerous to upload videos to my YouTube channel. I've been using 720p and medium quality encoding as a 350MiB file at 768Kbit takes ages. Now, in theory, it should just fly.
For my uses, I don't really need hundreds of megabits, but it'll be good to have a capable and fast connection in both directions. I got the feeling that ADSL (being Asymetric, that's what the 'A' means) was concentrating on downloading much at the expense of uploading. There was no option to be able to flip channels to give faster upload rates. So it reminded me of those old 1200/75 (ITU-T V.23) modems.

 

Today

I wanted to be outside. There's so much to do in the next two weeks. But I knew that I was tired and sore and not only would this be bad for me for going to work, it's also not an ideal state to be in when operating a chainsaw. There are three things you do NOT screw around with. Deep fat fryers, guns, and chainsaws. Luckily for me, I have an air fryer (so no oil explosions to worry about), guns just aren't a thing on this side of the ocean (unless you're a terrorist), which leaves chainsaws. The fact it can churn through an eight inch stump in a matter of seconds ought to make anybody scared of getting any body parts too close to the business end. I don't went to be the star of my own Evil Dead knockoff, thank you.

So I cleaned the living room. Cleared all the crap off the table, reorganised things, vacuumed it all, brough down the cobwebs (it's a battle between me and the spiders, and I think it's a stalemate). I did a quick trip up to the village to take my papers to the recycling point.

Papers
Stacks of newspapers.

What do you notice? How about most of them are still in their envelopes. Yup, I keep thinking I'll come home and settle down to read the daily paper like an actual real adult... but there's always something to do. Outside, blog articles, or whatever. So the paper gets put aside and, ultimately, never read. I think I was still thinking of the time when the paper was €0,80 an issue. It is now €1,35 an issue, or €1,60 on Friday (comes with a culture/TV mag). So I'm paying nearly forty euros a month for something I'm not using! What!?
So, the date is fixed. If I'm not enjoying the paper daily by the 4th of July, I'm cancelling it. And if I should have any doubts or hesitations, I just need to come and look at this picture. Time to make a few minor life adjustments, and the first is not to be spaffing away money on unnecessary things, because while ~€1,40 a day isn't much, it adds up over the course of a year... to be quite a substantial amount. Enough is enough. Either I start reading it or I let it go. Five and a half weeks to decision day.

 

A brief bit of politics

So the Man With A Plan called a General Election at long last by proving he has such a complete lack of competence that even the British weather managed to catch him off guard and, well, he was far too useless to think of stepping back inside for an umbrella.

But, you know, rather than the usual smear campaigns about how Starmer has no idea what he wants or is doing and how Rayner is a crook... he decides that instead this would be the absolute best time to shelve key proposals (like getting flights to Rwanda sorted as promised over and over) and to instead announce either a year of military service or a year of weekends spent volunteering for eighteen year olds...which will seeingly carry no penalties if said eighteen year olds say "get stuffed" which makes the entire thing simply a lame attempt at appealing the Boomer radicals that have already decided to vote Reform in the coming election...
...without wondering how this might come across to eighteen year olds, or parents of children who are (or soon will be) eighteen.

Is he actually attempting to lose this election?

I mean, we all know the Tories are screwed, but this isn't so much a fall from grace as a nosedive straight towards the ground.

Don't get me wrong, I want those scum to crash and burn and never be in a position of power again, I hope the failure is enough to end the Tories (let the hardliners bugger off to Farage's playground)... but, you know, it's supposed to be the Opposition slapping them off the pedestal, not their own leader.

 

 

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A tree-dwelling mammal, 26th May 2024, 23:13
I live in a fairly rural area (for the UK). We can get FTTC, I upgraded in 2015. My download speed went from 8Mbit to 60Mbit, and my upload speed went from 768Kbit to 20Mbit. Worth it for the upload speed alone. 
 
BT (I mean Openreach) keep promising us 'full fibre', but every time I enquire I get the answer 'the computer says between 3 and 12 months'. Funny, it was saying that when I asked them this time last year. I was told by Openreach that 'you can have fibre-on-demand if you're prepared to pay £1,500 to have it installed'. Or I could just wait until Openreach upgrade everybody? 
 
Don't get me wrong, 20Mbit upload seems fast enough to run my web server in-house, and it's fast enough to dump backups to an offsite location. But faster is better. Openreach keep promising us "gigabit broadband", and it'll be coming "real soon". But they won't give us an actual timescale. 
 
For those who don't know, FTTC == Fibre To The Cabinet. The line coming into the house is still copper, but because it's only copper as far as the green roadside box, Openreach run VDSL rather than ADSL over the 'last mile'. If you tried running VDSL right back to the exchange... well, it wouldn't work. 
 
FTTP == Fibre To The Premises. This is what Openreach keep promising us "real soon". 
 
Looking at your connection speeds, sounds like you need full fibre. As mentioned, I was getting 8Mbit / 768Kbit on ADSL, I'm getting 60Mbit / 20Mbit on VDSL / FTTC. Which is usable. I can stream video in HD on the new telly, so that's ok. 
 
Now, on to Richie Nutsack... national service? Rick - you knew me when I was 18. Would you have trusted me with a loaded gun? Nope. Me neither. 
 
As I've mentioned before on these comments, I'm a traditional Tory voter, and I can't wait to get these, errm, persons of questionable parentage, out of government. Think I'll be going the Lib Dem vote; firstly I couldn't bring myself to vote Labour, secondly the Lib Dems are the most likely party to unseat the Tories in this area.
jgh, 27th May 2024, 01:52
You have my thoughts. I had my father's funeral a few days ago. All the best. :) 
C Ferris, 27th May 2024, 08:37
Do you really need fiber to your door? 
 
Keep well - my sister dying - and my ticker causing problems - doesn't half get me down :-(
David Pilling, 27th May 2024, 12:58
Fibre reshapes the world, like the canals and railways. Virgin broadband dug up all of my street to put in fibre. They have only had one taker. The rest of us still on BT FTTC, which is good enough for me. I am getting emails saying "the old phone system will be turned off in 2025 - buy our product now!". 
 
In other words I suspect BT will miss their deadline for connecting everyone with fibre. 
 
This side of the tram tracks comms are underground - maybe the weather, close to the sea. The other side loads more poles and wires in the sky - there BT is competing with another company, got their own poles. 
 
National Service - another reason to feel guilty - because unless they bring back the Home Guard I will not be doing it. Or maybe feel sad because I will not be 18 again. 
 
Having 30,000 in the forces every year would let them raise a 300,000 army at short notice. Good idea if you believe some of the noises. Also good idea not to be part of the spearhead, if you look at the history of WW2. 
 
As to mixing, learning to take orders, being out of the comfort zone and all that - had enough of that at school. 
 
For some it would offer a second chance at education etc. For others it would be in the way. 
 
Make it compulsory unless you can wangle a way out. 
 
We've also not had the reality, bullying, waste of time etc etc. 
 
By now we're going to have voting at 16 - from the party of probity and not changing the voting system in their favour. 
 
Some kids I went to school with left at 15 to join the Army. 
 
C Ferris, 27th May 2024, 13:28
I can imagine a 18 year old Druck jumping for joy at a chance of flying a Fighter Jet :-)) 
 
Would the house powered By Phone work with copper to the nearest Fiber cabinet?
David Pilling, 27th May 2024, 13:42
Let me help with those papiers: 
 
Monsieur Le Marie et la Fortune Teller!!! 
Bread flavoured stamps!!! !!! 
 
Fiber, gotta supply your own power, linemen will be happy to be isolated from God knows what lurks. 
Rob, 27th May 2024, 14:07
(hmm.. 35753 backwards is.. Oh!) 
 
Phone line here, in an inner-city estate, is terrible. My Mrs got turned down for ADSL on launch because it was so bad. That was 512kbps! I managed to get Pipex to install, but it was dodgy. Tech improved over time, but we never got over 6Mbps on ADSL. Currently on FTTC/VDSL. When it went in, we got about 35Mbps. Earlier this year, Virgin finally cabled up the street, after 30 years of asking. Going off the fibres poked through the front walls, over 50% of the neighbours signed up. Suddenly my BT line has jumped to 40Mbps/10Mbps, the max on my package! 
I looked at signing up myself, but we're on the BT Essentials package, only £15 a month, including phone. Virgin's equivalent is cheaper, but slower and with no phone. Their cheapest standard package is nearly twice the price, going up to double that after a year. I'm not that desperate to go faster.. 
 
National Service. Pah. It'll never happen. From what I read, he plans to start it for 18 year olds from September next year. I.e. Those who are 17 now. Like my daughter, (who said words to the effect of "Sod that!") but whom are too young now to vote against it. This is purely an appeal to the Conservative Old Gits who are so old they remember the war and will probably approve.
C Ferris, 28th May 2024, 08:59
I wonder if the Government want to increase soldiers without banging war drums - frightening times :-(
C Ferris, 28th May 2024, 09:04
Aren't a lot of us Old Gits?
jgh, 29th May 2024, 00:14
I think I've mentioned before that I'm on copper and have been told I'm too close to the exchange to go to fibre. And I can see my copper going down the pole into a hole under the lane which - being about 20 metres from the harbour and about 20 above high tide - is always full of water. I get 2M upload 20M download. Video conferencing is a NoGo. 
 
At this month's Town Council we were told that Virgin are working their way up the coast and will get here Real Soon (tm). 

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