Friday, April 27, 2007

Getting a few things out of the way

I took the day off yesterday so that I could be home while a contractor came out to install Comcast Digital Voice. With my employee discount, I'll be saving about $10 per month compared to Vonage. (I don't mention my employer by name very often but I've disclosed it here previously.)

According to the tech, my RF levels are perfect, which is good to know. Before installing the Arris MTA (Multimedia Terminal Adapter -- fancy name for a cable modem which supports telephone connections) he replaced the ground block for my cable drop, and the splitter out back. He also cleaned up some of the spaghetti where the drop comes into the house by shortening the coax patch cords.

I now have both the Arris MTA and my regular SMC8014 modems. The Arris is being used only for my phone service, while the SMC, with its built-in router, will continue to provide my Internet service. The SMC and my phone are plugged into an APC Back-UPS 650 for electricity. The Arris has a built-in battery that should provide up to 6 hours of standby power in case of an electrical outage.

Because Comcast CDV packets are prioritized on our network I am hoping that the quality will be better than Vonage's. Vonage packets are treated like any other packet, so they'll be more susceptible to network congestion. So far the only call I've made was to call Vonage to cancel my service, and it sounded fine.

After taking care of the phones I ran down to Microcenter to pick up new speakers for Bagend. Awhile ago I'd removed the old Altec-Lansing satellite/subwoofer speaker system and just had a headset connected. We now use Bagend sometimes for Skype calls to my brother-in-law, who lives in Okinawa, Japan. So, we needed speakers so that we could all see and talk at the same time. I wanted a two-piece speaker set due to space constraints, and Microcenter had a set of Altec-Lansing speakers w/o a subwoofer for $30. I hooked them up yesterday afternoon and they sound decent. For a mic we use the one built-in to my Logitech webcam. This setup works well.

The last thing I accomplished was to get my wheelbarrow back in service. I found a new wheel with a solid tire at Lowe's and used it to replace the original wheel which uses an inflateable tire. The original tire had long since gone flat and I'd never gotten around to fixing it. Now I'll never have to worry about it. I see no need for an inflateable on a wheelbarrow, at least for my use, it's not like I care about dirt getting a smoother ride. If the weather is decent this weekend I'll see about refinishing the wooden handles. They've been exposed to weather for about five or six years and need it. I'll probably just slather on some linseed oil and call it good.

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