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Loft 5 Amp Socket and Network Router

Loft 5 Amp Socket and Network Router

It has been a while since I’ve regularly blogged and since then, R & J have tipped over into double figures and thus heavy data and device usage.  I have the best broadband from Virgin Media at 200mbps (though on checking it turns out not the best, they now have a whopping 362mbps!) yet we were all struggling with enough bandwidth over wi-fi.

Jamie asked for an x-box, a very straightforward request we though as after all ‘all his friends have one’.  That isn’t quite how it turned out.  First the old plasma television we had ear marked for the job didn’t support HDMI and Scart connections weren’t good enough, so we had to acquire a new television.  Then apparently, the wi-fi wasn’t good enough for Fortnight (yes that kiddie crack as one of my parent friends put it) and it kept lagging out.

To rectify this (or so I thought) we asked Virgin Media to move the broadband router into the lounge for the new TV (Amazon and Netflix were also cutting out and poor quality on the wi-fi) and add another Tivo box upstairs.  I naively thought I could have them run the broadband upstairs too, but that it turns out is not part of the deal!

Cat 6 LAN Cable UTP Solid 4 pairs

Cat 6 LAN Cable UTP Solid 4 pairs

So, for several months we had network cable running all round the house and veritable trip hazards including up the stairs to the Fortnight hibernation room.

I therefore turned to our local fab electrician Vincent who popped round and scoped out networking the house so that no more wires were required to run along the floors.  We needed the cables running from the new router location in the lounge to the garage, study and upstairs bedroom.

He proposed CAT 6 networking cable run up  the side of the house inside some trunking on the side where it is more exposed to the elements into the loft to a new network switch. From the loft back down into the garage and the X Box room.  Vince also put a cable directly back into the study.

At the same time, we decided to deal with the issue off too few USB plug adaptors by swapping over a few plug sockets with new ones that have USB points included.  These have proved particularly useful at overcoming the problem of other people unplugging someone else’s charging device and missing adaptors, hunting in obscure places for where they may be hidden.

Study networking USB socket

Wired broadband in the study and USB Socket

The net result of all this is that we have super fast broadband in four rooms with the capacity to drop cables into many more rooms from the loft if required.  I can now do my web design uploading and downloading much quicker than over wi-fi, the TV streams programmes no problems, I can watch football on my laptop in high definition in the garage doing a work out and Jamie doesn’t leave his room for days on end as Fortnight no longer ‘lags out’.

Not just an X-Box after all…

BBC License Fee

BBC License Fee Irrelevant

I was thinking about upgrading our TV the other day from our perfectly adequate 12 year old plasma TV to a much more energy efficient LED Ultra 4k HD (and other buzzwords which I need to research further) when I started to consider our usage in the house and what we actually need.  I then also thought about the BBC scrapping BBC3 and my thoughts veered towards the fact that the BBC licence fee is completely irrelevant in this modern era and should be ‘scrapped’

We only watch a fairly limited amount of television in the house these days, primarily it is tuned to Disney channel or if I throw a big enough tantrum, I get to watch the football.  However, what generally happens is that I invariably ‘watch’ the football on my dual screen set up whilst working on my other screen.  If the Tivo card is removed, the kids simply switch to YouTube and their devices to watch what they want – invariably though they watch YouTube whilst also having the TV on in the background.

So all in all, we actually watch very little BBC content and even the radio I listen to is usually non BBC stations.  However, when I do tune into TMS or 6Music, quite often they have texts / emails etc from listeners who contact them from various locations across the world.  Which also got me thinking as to why can they do that, probably not have to pay their license fee and subsidised by a compulsory tax on UK residents, except the over 75’s.  Many of my friends live abroad these days and simply bypass the BBC’s geo restrictions via VPN and don’t pay the license but watch and listen to the content anyway.

With my commercial head on, I was wondering why on earth this system is still in place and that the BBC should change its role in broadcasting.  The media industry is now global and local rather than by country.  It has a magnificent brand across the world, why not sell the content globally as a content provider rather than the outdated UK only content provider.

As an example, Amazon has purchased Top Gear (not the brand, but the essential branded content) and is basing its business model for Amazon Video at a cost of £79 / year (yes I know it includes other things as well) on this content.  The BBC has a huge bank of content it could put on demand to compete with Amazon, Netflix, Sky and everyone and still make the license fee optional with a large number of people taking it up not just in the UK but across the world.  I’m sure it could then also bid for sports again and other events by scrapping the flat rate everyone has to pay into a tiered model, basically doing what Sky and BT are doing.

I’m amazed that the BBC isn’t pushing to do this (the fear of change i’m sure) and wanting to move from a 60 million customer base to a 6 billion customer base and delivering multiple content channels across traditional broadcasting and on-line mediums thus boosting its revenue from the current £5 billion or so (similar to Sky who have a lot less content).

Mushrooms October 2013

Autumnal Mushrooms

Living next to the countryside we are lucky with our wildlife and tranquility.  Throughout the year we have many mushrooms appearing in the lawn before disappearing.  Here’s are few photos of the October variety:

Mushrooms October 2013 Mushrooms October 2013 Mushrooms October 2013

Almost end of Summer Term

Wow, its almost a full school year since I last blogged.  Jamie today went to his graduation to Key Stage 2 and Rebecca will be moving up into year 5 and coming up to her 9th birthday.  Time is elapsing at such a scary pace.

Had a good weekend with a bar-b-q and some friends round and Martin’s 40th over at Ley Hill – the vodka ice was hilarious.  ‘Unfortunately’ I couldn’t drink as I was on anti-biotics for my head after having a lump removed earlier in the day.

Friday night was also very good, went out with the team at Cater For You to celebrate last year’s record and the last quarter’s record sales.  It is a great team of people there, I hardly ever pop in there any more and leave them to it, concentrating on my web site design business instead.

Walk in the Woods – Buzzard

Half term this week, and I was lucky enough to have today off to be with Rebecca and Jamie.  Whilst lying in bed, I was wondering what to do with them today, however, when I finally hauled myself out and downstairs, R & J had already decided – “Can we go on a wildlife walk Daddy”.  Blimey.

So we trundled off down Chesham Lane and to one of the footpaths that go towards Rowands Nursery.  As soon as we came off the main road (which was pleasant but I was surprised how much litter there is at the side of the road) and into a field, Rebecca spotted flocks of Pigeons flying off and thinking it was us Rebecca then pointed out a much larger pigeon – or on closer inspection, a Common Buzzard – what a majestic bird.  Fortunately it came to rest and I was able to take a photo of it with my camera on full zoom and sat still for a few minutes for us to appreciate it.

Common Buzzard

Common Buzzard

Off to watch the hockey

Off with the usual suspects to watch some semi final hockey at the olympics today … Sadly not the GB team. I’ve arrived at chalfont and latimer station rather early so thought i’d write another blog on my phone…

Yesterday was another great day with r and j, we spent most of the day doing some gardening tidying up and planting lots of grass seed. They then went for a swimming lesson at amersham then the family hockey at newlands.

Jamie is really taking to hockey still he surprised me last night by doing a double spin with the ball last night – i cant even get that low to do it. I’m still feeling my hamstring too its gone about four of the last three seasons … Despite lots of physio visits. Also played with a few of the other youngsters who are moving through the club and they look very competent indeed.

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Denham Country Park

Checked the weather forecast today and it said fine until 2pm this afternoon, so decided to explore Denham Country Park.  I’d never been there before and knew very little about it except for what is available on the web site.  It is a sister park to Black Park which we went to last week for a rather nice afternoon out (though it was packed).

First of all was finding it – Google thinks it is on the A412 (which it isn’t at all) but it is on the mini roundabout just before you get on the A40 to London and the turn off for the Buckinghamshire Golf Club.

Tree Climbing

Tree Climbing

An empty car park awaited at 10am (though still cost £2.50 – thanks Bucks CC) and we went out and explored.  After a brief distraction with some excellent climbing trees, we went across a field / meadow which R & J renamed as slug field and was very boggy and marshy.  We soon ended up at the Grand Union Canal which we wandered along for a short while again, past Denham Deep Lock and then over a bridge to a couple of beautiful lakes with superb scenery…. the perfect location to test out my marginally upgraded camera (out with the Tamron lens in with the Canon).

The Swans and Cygnets

The Swans and Cygnets

I remembered to take some bread along and at the River Colne we fed a Moor Hen and  Coot and then at the lake we fed some swans / cygnets.  The most popular part of the day though was playing pooh sticks – great fun.

Pooh Sticks Denham

Pooh Sticks – Good job their heads didn’t get stuck

I also discovered that there is a quick way from our house to the Canal down Denham Lane, a quick right then left into Denham Village Road you can quickly tie up with a bridlepath and cycle down to the Canal safely.  So I’m now looking at my next little excursion on the bike as down to there then see how far into London you can get on the canal tow path.

Heron and Cormorant

Heron and Cormorant

The Heron the other side of the lake

The Heron the other side of the lake

Red Kites in the Garden

Whilst working from home last week, I suddenly noticed that there were three Red Kites swooping in and out of the garden and the woods.  They were only a few metres away and just glorious to watch.  I quickly swapped lenses on the camera and popped outside for a better view and a couple of photos.  Below are a small selection of the photos I took:

Red Kite 4

Red Kite 6

Red Kite 1

Red Kite 5

Red Kite 2

Red Kite 3

Clicks and Mortar the future?

I undertook a presentation giving my thoughts to a customer’s board of Directors the other day.  It was a thought provoking process and allowed me to bring various thoughts together on business in particular business on the Internet.

The existing big businesses have been very slow to capitalise on the Internet, allowing the rise of new Internet giants such as ASOS, ebuyer et al, all taking the place of existing retail giants such as PC World and High Street Fashion retailers.

Internet businesses / sites have been able to take advantage of the fact that they are able to rent much lower cost warehouses (rent and business rates), have less shoplifting (though on-line fraud is a headache) and lower overheads delivering the goods to customers.  On the flip side there is the distance selling regulations to take heed of though fortunately these are not currently abused by consumers.

The thing about the Internet is, that it is primarily about price whilst also ensuring good service (handling of communications and delivery to the customer – though delivery you are in the hands of the third party couriers).

Ebay is also another interesting channel as it allows very small sole traders to specialise in one specific product and sell relatively cost effectively.  This is particularly interesting as it is sole traders who cannot buy particularly competitively but have no overheads compared with the established ebusinesses and retail outlets who have much higher overheads but can purchase more competitively.  The trick for a profitable Internet business is to sit in between these and have low overheads with purchasing power.

A new phenomena that could turn the whole thing full circle is the increasing reluctance of manufacturers / importers to supply pure e-commerce businesses.   I first noticed it at the Spring Fair trade show, where as soon as the reps spotted you were an e-commerce business you could see them walking away from you – they are increasingly only interested in dealing with businesses that have a retail presence.  I have also increasingly heard of some manufacturers not supplying product if there isn’t a display and pure e-businesses being charged a lot more unless they have a showroom / display etc.

I’ve previously posted on Google and its results are becoming increasingly erratic and I’m wondering whether everything is indeed going to go full circle – it wouldn’t surprise me at all.  A high profile example is Screwfix which I believe was a pure mail order / internet business, but has now opened a whole chain of outlets to compliment its direct channels.

This area particularly interests me, not least as my original degree dissertation was distribution / channels to market which I wrote in 1994 and quoting the Internet as a game changer back then.

Curry, Partying and Cycle Rides

Another packed weekend but all very enjoyable again.  The weekend kicked off with a curry in Malik’s in Gerrards Cross with some good friends, one of whom (Al Spicer) challenged me to enter the Chalfont St Giles 10k and try and win the 40+ age category – unlikely in the cold light of day (sans Cobra) as I should think I would struggle to get under 1 hour.  Not been for a run for a while (as achilles hurting again) but my pace was about 9 mins / mile.  The curry was pretty good, though very slow service as they were so busy so ended up drinking too much (whoops).

Rebecca's Birthday Pony Party

Rebecca’s Birthday Pony Party

Saturday was the day of Rebecca’s birthday party and she had chosen a pony party at the stables behind the house (which made things very simple).  The two ladies who came and organised it all with helpers and horses were absolutely brilliant and all the children had a great time (I think!).  Sarah then did a very good party tea for afters.  The next thing is odd, Rebecca had what is called a sleep over – yet, from what I could tell, there was very little sleeping involved!  Rebecca had a serious ‘hangover’ next day and fell asleep on Mum’s lap in the pub.

On the Sunday, I had arranged with John to go and see Martin over in Ley Hill on bike.  I also wished to check out how safe it would be to cycle along the tow paths as I think it would be great for the family (with the attached bikes) to cycle along there.  On the way there we got pretty muddy but did 20 miles in just over 2 hours which isn’t too bad as we were catching the scenery whilst going along too – it was so quiet and plenty of wildlife to admire.  One beautiful flower endowed long boat had a Heron sitting very patiently on top of it as we cycled past.

Cycling the Grand Union canal at Denham

Cycling the Grand Union canal at Denham – superb scenery

As we were a bit late, we had lunch in The Crown and the family joined us too which was good.  On the way back we went a more direct route, but I wanted to see what Shire Lane was like for cycling.  I knew it started at the top of Chorleywood as I’d walked it with Cashman, and it ended at the back of Newlands but not the in between bit.  I assumed it was a quick path between the two villages (the original route from centuries ago).  Not a bit of it.  It went sharply downhill and then sharply up hill – and because of all the mud was pretty much a quagmire – not ideal for cycling shall we say!  Great fun though and John and I were in fits of laughter through it…  The maps can be seen here and here of our routes.