The company I work for hired a new sysadmin a while back by the name of Arkadi. He’s a Russian ex-pat (Siberian, to be precise) and made his way here ultimately through work. He’s a quiet fellow, but he has a fantastic sense of humour, and is a great guy to talk to once you get him going. Really, he’s the new Carl of the company… still waters, and all that. But there’s more to him than meets the eye.
You see, Arkadi has this dream. He wants to build himself a boat. A 40’ foot boat, made from steel, to be precise. And then he wants to sail around the world in it. But the incredible part is, he’s going for it. In his backyard. By himself. Now, that alone is incredibly admirable, I think. Honestly, how many of us have really considered pursuing our dreams with such dedication? But in order to achieve that goal, he needed to get an inexpensive house (building a boat ain’t cheap) with a large yard and neighbours that didn’t mind the sound of MIG welding, a combination of attributes that proved highly difficult to find in a home.
So, what was his solution? He and his wife bought a piece of land outside the city, and he proceeded to build his house. No, that wasn’t a mis-print, he built it. By himself (with a little help to get the walls raised). He and his wife even designed it from scratch. And all this without any prior experience in construction, just some background in creating plans thanks to his engineering degree.
Now I bet you’re curious what his house and boat look like, eh? Well, you can check out the websites for his completed house and in-progress boat by following the links below:
Frankly, his story is inspiring to me. He’s proof that anyone with the desire can achieve their goals if they’re willing to put in enough hard work. His achievements also make me realize how often I place artificial limits on my own capabilities. I just hope I can take a cue from Arkadi and push some of my own boundaries. Fortunately, I have some stepping stones in the form of a deck to build, a basement to finish and a garage to raise…
So, aside from the computer building debacle as reported earlier, I finally got around to one other major TODO I’ve had on my list some time, that being to get some household networking going and move the damn cable modem and firewall downstairs. Previously, the cable modem was in our bedroom, and we had a hacked up piece of cat5 running into the den, which was a substandard solution, to say the least, so I felt it was about damn time to do something about this.
The beauty of this situation is that in basically all new houses, they’re wiring up the telephones using cat5, which means 8 pairs of wires, rather than just the old two. This means that, at every telephone jack in a new house, there are two pairs in use, and six extra pairs just sitting there, begging to be wired up. Well, regular ol’ 10baseT, which is capable of doing 10 Mb/s (sufficient for my needs) only needs four pairs. So, using the telephone line already wired into the den, I was able to hook up 10baseT from the den straight to the basement without having to drop a single line. Sweet!
For those wondering how to do this, it’s simple. You need just a few pieces of equipment:
- A modular faceplate and two connectors, an RJ11 and an RJ45 (or two RJ45s, if you like).
- A blade screwdriver.
- A pair of wire cutters/strippers.
With these items, the process of wiring is a simple matter:
- Remove the old plate and disconnect the wires. The blue and blue/white wires should be the ones in use. Warning: the ring voltage on telephone lines is enough to give a nasty shock, so do your best to avoid touching both wires at the same time.
- Connect the original wires to the middle pins of the to-be-telephone connector. For an RJ45, that would be as follows:
- blue -> pin 4
- white/blue -> pin 5.
- Plug in the telephone and verify it works.
- Wire up the ethernet connector as follows:
- white/orange -> pin 1
- orange -> pin 2
- white/green -> pin 3
- green -> pin 6
That’s it! Well, not quite. Now you get to wire up the other end. If you head to the electrical panel in your basement, you should see the various telephone lines from the house congregate. It’s up to you to figure out which one corresponds to the jack you’re wiring. I just disconnected them until I disabled the phone line I was working on. :) Once you’ve found the line, take the unconnected wires (there should be six) and splice a piece of ethernet to the white/orange, orange, white/green, and green lines such that the wire colours match. This will create a straight-through connection that you can wire into a hub. If you want to create a cross-over (so that you can connect the panel end directly into a computer) wire the white/green to white/orange and green to orange.
There, that’s it! After this, I installed a cable splitter, moved my cable modem and firewall into the basement, and then ran a patch cable from the jack upstairs into my hub, and voila! Done! Good times…
For my next trick, I think I’ll pick up another hub at some point, put it in the basement, and then put in another modular jack where my cable is currently wired in and run ethernet to the hub, in preparation for some sort of video PC or hacked Xbox-type solution. Plus, hey, it’s good ol’ techy fun!
The sequel has arrived. We were passing by a Future Shop downtown, and we decided to stop in, and lo and behold, they got in new stock! So I decided to take the plunge once more. I hope I don’t live to regret this.
OTOH, this time I bought the extended warrantee. Of course, normally, these things are scams, and primarily act as just a great way to pump up the sales dude’s commission. But, in this case, particularly given my first experience, it seemed worth the money. Of course, if I decide enough is enough, I just threw $60 out the window. Then again, if things go south in 6 months, it’ll all be worth it (the warrantee is for a rather ample 2 years).
‘course, the real irony in all this is that, just today, I discovered PocketMod. It’s been raved about again and again elsewhere, so I won’t get too deep into it, but it basically lets you make small, customizable 8-page booklets, which can contain anything from calendars to to-do lists to music staffs, and are intended to act as little organizers/notebooks/what-have-you. Which, of course, is exactly what my Palm is for. :) Oh well, a PocketMod or two is still useful for other things, and I’ll put my more ‘mission critical’ stuff on paper, rather than dedicating the information solely to my Palm (eg, important contact information, etc).
For those new to this place, my wife and I share our lives with two pet Rabbits, Herbie and Chloe. Well, the last year has been pretty hard on Chloe: so far she’s developed four Abscesses, three on her back feet and, now, one on her front. It’s been fun. Real fun.
Well, her most recent abscess has required me to come up with some method for protecting her foot. The problem is, it needs to be fairly tightly fit, reasonably durable, and most importantly cheap and easy to replace, since she will destroy them, even with the damned cone on.
So, I decided it was about time I actually used my knitting skills for something useful and came up with this:
Pretty basic, but it works surprisingly well. I can custom fit them, which is really nice, and I can bang one out in around 20 minutes, meaning if she does destroy it, I can just make another. I’ve also experimented with a couple other variations, like using decreases near the top to tighten it up, and I even created one using reinforced heel stitch, to see if would stand up to more of a beating. But, in the end, the basic Stockinette pattern seems to work the best. Maybe next time I’ll throw in a couple cables, etc. ;)