Desk upgrades for Sabriena and Duncan

Sabriena and to a slightly lesser extent I have both been bothered since moving by the fact that her and Duncan's desks don't match. This was fine in the last house, they were at opposite ends of the room, but now they're right next to each other and it's terrible feng shui that bothers us every time we walk in the door.

The original plan was to duck down to Ikea and pick up a couple of matching desks, since we wanted something a tiny bit nicer than what Kmart offered... this was an issue because the nearest Ikea is several hours away, and we're not headed down there any time soon, and it's much too far to go for just this. Shipping on the two desks she wanted was astronomical, putting the whole price tag in the high-hundreds range, which we're both much too cheap for.

I had showed her in the past what people do with "his and hers battlestations" using countertops, and we threw the idea around a bit about using manufactured wood benchtops to create a single, long desk, sitting on top of supports that I - something of a wannabe amateur cabinet maker it seems - would make. I drew up some sketches, and she skeptically went with me to Bunnings to take a look at the countertops on Friday.

After finding only the hideously expensive stuff after about 20 minutes of searching, I reluctantly asked for help and was shown that they were out in the lumber section, not where the flat-pack kitchen stuff is. But Sabriena quite liked them, so on Saturday morning we picked up a couple, and a couple sheets of MDF and other materials, the entire shebang costing less than $300. After a very long Saturday afternoon, we had the first fit put together, and they can use it temporarily this week as it must come apart next week for the electrician to get access to the wall behind it.

So next weekend I'll take it apart, glue it back together, seal and paint the MDF portions, and after making a couple of tweaks it should be ready for reinstalling on the following Tuesday or Wednesday after the electrician has been and gone.

We're pretty rapt with how it looks so far though, even though the MDF isn't the most attractive material to leave raw. The entire desk is just shy of the 3.6 meters long, 600mm wide is comfortable but not huge (like my desk is), each individual desk section is 1400mm long, but the entire thing is one long surface. There's an 800mm wide cabinet directly in the middle that houses the printer/scanner. On top of this, screwed to the underside of the desk supports, lives the UniFi switch, so it's out of the way. We'll install headphone hooks, as well as some cable hooks and velcro straps for cable management under the desk and everything should look pretty amazing.

I suspect next weekend will be fairly long also, but hopefully they use it for quite a long time. Unfortunately I've now got a serious case of desk envy. :(

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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NBN Improvements

"Baz" the electrician came by today to quote on and schedule running ethernet cable similar to what I had in the old place. I also asked him about moving the FTTN outlet into the office, so that I can have everything together, served by the UPS, to minimize impact of power blips. That led to a whole thing in and of itself...

The current internal wiring for the POTS (now NBN) is an absolute shambles, very obviously done by a prior or the current owner of the property, and not done terribly well. I knew something was up when we synced at 18mbps upstream (almost 100% of our plan) but at around 30mbps downstream (only about 60% of our plan)... normally if you're a fair distance from the node the upstream frequencies seem to be the ones that suffer first, because for most consumers that's how you'd want it, so something was definitely strange.

While trying to work out where the MDF ("main distribution frame", what Australia calls the "MPOE" or "demarcation point", basically the point at which the provider's responsibility ends and the homeowner's begins), the plug where the modem jacks into the wall failed. Baz went out to his car and grabbed a brand new one and installed it for me, unhooking the old extension to the bedroom at the same time (at my request, he insisted it wouldn't make any difference, but didn't mind unhooking it anyway since it's super poorly done). When the sync came back on the VDSL, we jumped up to basically 100% of our plan in both directions!

It wasn't just the sync rates either, I do basically 95% in both ingress and egress on speedtest.net, so if it stays that way I'll be quite the happy camper. I'm debating asking AussieBB to chuck us on the 100/40 plan and see what we get there!

Baz is fairly sure that our node is right around the corner from us, and that because this is a somewhat newer development that we'll be fairly close to it in terms of wiring, unlike the old place where our loop went across the neighbourhood and back to the node.

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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Commodore: broken castor rod bushing!

Uh ohOur car has pulled to the left off and on for a couple of weeks now, but with the pain-in-the-arse of moving I haven't bothered to do anything about it. I knew that obviously something was loose, as mechanical problems don't suddenly fix themselves, but frankly I was just too damn tired to do anything about it.

Today, backing out of a parking spot during our usual shop, there was a thump and then a rubbing noise. Got out to have a look, and the driver's side wheel was much further forward than it should be - that's not good!

Got down and had a look underneath it, took a really shit photo (shown above), then called the RACV because obviously this sucker wasn't going anywhere. Mum and Dad were out for a visit, so Mum took Sabriena to finish the rest of the grocery shopping while I waited for RACV with Dad. When he arrived, he confirmed it wasn't going anywhere and that we'd have to tow it.

I asked if he could tow it to Rudolph Motors, not a problem he's worked with them before... would it be OK if he towed it later when the parking lot cleared out? Sure, I guess, as long as I don't get towed for parking there too long (probably not likely on a Saturday I think), and then he took Dad and I back home.

He went back later, and took it to Terry's for me, who managed to squeeze it in on Monday, and replaced both bushings for about the price I'd figured he'd do one for... so I really can't complain too much. I am thinking that replacing this car probably won't be able to wait until after we buy a house, but we'll keep it as long as we can.

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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All moved in!

Well, what I was concerned about happened... they put the house we were renting at 2 Shirley St up for sale several months ago, and I just knew we'd end up having to move. I started making enquiries about getting a mortgage to buy a place - we could comfortably afford a fairly modest house in Horsham, but due to several factors we're not a particularly desirable candidate: Sabriena doesn't work outside the house at present, I'm a contractor, for a foreign company, who's been doing it for less than two financial years, and we want a house outside the "desirable" zones. Both brokers I'd spoken to basically recommended waiting until after the financial year ends and I've filed taxes which would eliminate at least one of those factors.

Unfortunately, the place sold well before that happened. At first the new owner seemed great, she wasn't interested in moving in immediately and would happily keep renting to us for one, possibly two years, which would suit us great - she even asked about whether we'd be interested in signing a lease!

However, mere days after the sale went unconditional, our property manager rang up and told us that plans had changed, and the owner would be serving us 60 days notice as required by law. Fuck!

Off to start looking around for places, only to learn that rent has gone up considerably in Horsham - our place which was once a tiny bit on the steep side (to the tune of about twenty bucks a week more than average) was now considerably below, and to find anything in the same sort of price range was going to result in a significant downgrade. We applied for a few places that looked OK, and got rejected from all of them (again, on paper we don't look particularly desirable), until we finally found one through the same property manager, which they basically accepted our application immediately (we had to wait out the weekend).

Our rent's gone up a bit (about 40%), but the new house is substantially nicer than the old one. It's better laid out, it's much newer, it's warmer (particularly in my office!) and while the shed is a downgrade (no power out there, indeed no outdoor power at all!) there's an outdoor living space that's absolutely amazing.

So we signed the lease last week, got the keys on Friday, and moved everything in over the weekend. I have to work from 4G until NBN hook the new place up (it's presently on ADSL, which my ISP can't sell me access to in the meantime) but I can live with that. We still have a lot to unpack, and we have two weeks from Tuesday to clean the old place out, which I suspect will involve a fair few trips to the tip.

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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