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Network Trouble

So here's a story about how I spent my weekend.

I am dissatisfied with my home network, mostly with the network capabilities available in the bedroom. Because, as you know, Kaddi and I like to play adventure games on the Steam Link which needs enough bandwidth and low latency to be able to stream the game from my PC to the TV.

So in general, Wi-Fi sucks at my place. I measured it right next to the access point and on 5GHz I get a meager 23 Mbit/s. 2.4ghz is even worse. I guess it's just because the airspace is totally overcrowded - I see about twenty or more different networks.

Since I rent a place, there's no sensible way to set up network cables. So my network relies on Power LAN. Which is Voodoo. Everyone knows that it never ever reaches the advertised speed outside a lab. But I'm not asking for much. I had a couple of 650 Mbit connectors mixed with some older 200Mbit ones. And connection speeds in the bedroom were horrible. The Steam Link just did not work with that. With the sucky Wi-Fi it was at least somewhat usable - lots of freezes, stutters and shit, but bearable for slow paced adventure games.

So I thought maybe it would help to replace my mix of Power LAN adapters with all the same ones. I ordered four 1200 Mbit ones and it turned out okay in the hallway where speeds now reach up to 450mbit. However in the bedroom it still was not much more than 10 MBit.

Now because I know that Power LAN is Voodoo, I tried the power socket in the hallway right next to the bedroom door and that brought about 110 Mbit. Not too bad. I then switched the new 1200 adapter for an old 650 one and the speed was still about 110 MBit. So I guess it makes not a difference if you mix different speeds as long as they are nominally higher than what you can realistically reach.

So the new plan was this: send back two of the 1200 MBit adapter and use the old 650s instead. Use the hallway socket and lay down a cable into the bedroom. Not terribly sexy but bearable from an aesthetics standpoint.

However I need to connect two devices, the Smart TV (for Netflix and Youtube) and the Steam Link. So I needed a switch. I ordered a network cable and a switch from Amazon on Friday and they offered free same day delivery. Woot! I waited eagerly all day. DHL package tracking sucks though - you barely get any info until the mailman rings. The package finally arrived around 8pm. When I unpacked the switch, I properly read the labeling for the first time: “Fast Ethernet”. Shit, that's 100MBit max. I wanted my 110Mbit!

Back to Amazon on a Friday night. I picked a slightly more expensive Gigabit switch than necessary, just to be eligible for free overnight shipping.

The next day, Kaddi and I spend some time for neatly laying out the network cable, reordering aand fixing up all the other cables with cable ties - you know, making everything neat. Because in all those years I still seem not to have learned a thing about doing this kind of shit before testing the setup…

Anyway the new switch arrives in the evening and we hook it up and decide it's time for a game.

I boot up the Steam Link and it says that it cannot connect to the network and then freezes up. Shit. Reboot. This time we manage to start the game. Which freezes and stutters. A lot. Like unbearable lot.

I notice the lights on the switch behave weird. They flicker as they should for a while, then they all go out at once, then come back up all together again. A bit of flicker and the same spiel again. As if the switch is resetting constantly.

What the actual fuck? I have no idea what that's supposed to be. So I grab one of my old 100 Mbit switches I still have lying around and wire it up instead. It works. From time to time the game stutters a bit with a slow network warning, but not too often. Maybe a bit less than it did when we used the Wi-Fi before.

So, I guess there's another piece of hardware going back to Amazon. I spent a lot of time and in the end, didn't really achieve anything. I dunno what the moral of this story is. But this is my blog. If there's any place where I can tell pointless stories, it's here.

network, powerlan, wifi
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Last updated: 2017/11/12 20:15 · Permalink · Comments

Project: Personal Finance Information

I'm very lucky. Unlike many other people, I never have to worry about not having enough money to buy food or to pay my rent. I'm not super rich, but I live comfortably. However if you had asked what exactly I'm spending my money on and how much, I'd draw a blank.

So to answer that question for myself, I was very busy coding the last few weeks. The result are two new tools: TheBankster and TheCashster1).

Last updated: 2017/11/04 15:03 · Permalink · Comments

Weekend Project: Label Designer

I own a Brother QL-500 label printer. It's a cheap little machine that thermo prints self adhesive stickers. The printer is attached to my router which provides a simple print server on port 9100.

Of course the printer only comes with Windows software, but it's possible to run it with CUPS and use gLabels to create labels.

However I found that super cumbersome. Whenever I wanted to print a label I was fighting with CUPS not doing what I wanted. On some machines labels where cut off at the wrong places, on other machines the labels looked good, but more often then not the printer would just simply do nothing at all.

So I was very happy when I came across the Brother QL project by Philipp Klaus. He implemented the PTouch printer language in a pure Python library. That means you can send images directly to the printer – no printer drivers, no CUPS involved.

All that was missing was a tool to easily create the needed image to send to the printer. I wanted something web based that can run on our local Raspberry Pi. So that's what I build:

The BQL Label Printer software is available on Github.

Last updated: 2017/10/06 13:38 · Permalink · Comments


We're back from two weeks in Scotland and here's the usual picture dump. The weather was actually better than the photos suggest. But yes, we saw a lot of rainbows :-)

photos, vacation, scotland
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Last updated: 2017/10/04 19:41 · Permalink · Comments

Steam Link Adventures

Recently I started to make more use of the Steam Link and Controller I bought about a year ago in the Summer Sale.

The Steam Link is a little box you connect to your TV via HDMI and which then allows you to stream Steam games running on your Windows machine to the TV.

The Steam Controller is a very very configurable game pad with some track pad like controls in addition to more conventional game pad controls like buttons and analog sticks.

It turns out that both together are the perfect way to play adventure games (my favorite genre) and share the experience with my wife.

It started a few months ago by accident. I was sick and had to stay in bed, so I hooked the Steam Link up to the bedroom TV and started playing Broken Sword 5. Using the controller as a mouse works fantastic. In the evening, Kaddi came home and joined me. She really liked watching me puzzling through the game and at the end we where both exchanging ideas on how to solve the puzzles.

After we finished, Kaddi wanted more. We played through a whole bunch of adventures by now, so here's a list and what we thought of them (in the order we played them):

Last updated: 2017/08/20 08:52 · Permalink · Comments

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