Tuesday, 30 July 2019

A Cheap Solution

I do like a cheap solution to a problem and have I had an expensive problem to solve. 

The issue was the computer media server which contains all our video files.  The server is connected to our local network and is capable of streaming multiple video files simultaneously to multiple devices (TV’s tablets, etc).  We have so much video data that it takes four hard drives to store all of it.  I have a smaller, 5th drive which holds the Linux operating system.  The problem was one of the hard drives was randomly disappearing from the system.  It would disappear and then reappear making me think the hard drive was failing.  Eventually I replaced it and the problem disappeared.  Then a month later the problem re-appeared, but with a different drive.  After several months I started to suspect the hard drive controller on the computer motherboard had developed an intermittent fault.  Testing equipment is expensive and I didn’t want to take it to a computer shop where they would charge an initial $80 just to open the case.  I’d resigned myself to the expense of replacing the motherboard <ouch>. 

But then whilst lying on the bed trying to forget about my back pain I started to wonder whether it might be possible to fit a hard driver expansion card to the motherboard.  Did such a card exist?  Google said yes….. but they were more expensive than a replacement motherboard.  After further searching I found a Chinese retailer selling a 4 port card for $25.  This card would expand the existing hard drive port capacity on the motherboard from 6 to 10 ports.  I need 5 ports and two on the motherboard have failed.  This card might be a cheap solution.

The card arrived today.


I guess the same Chinese factory produces the same cards but with the expensive brand name embossed on it.  A DVD containing drivers was included which initially concerned me as I’m using Linux.  But Linux is rather forgiving and I was hoping the card would work straight from the box.

As you can see in the next photo there are four SATA ports on the end of the card.


The expansion SATA (hard drive) card has been fitted and it was immediately recognised by the Linux operating system.  The two “defective” server hard drives were then connected and recognised by the system.  The media sever is back in business for $25 <phew>

Now I can get back to struggling with the second desktop pc (which is very old) that contains the five TV capture cards.   

Monday, 29 July 2019

Local Weather

According to some of the Perth locals the recent winter weather has been freezing with frost on the ground in the morning.  Even my sister (born in NZ) has said its so cold she is heading to Bali for a week in an effort to avoid the winter cold.   It’s interesting how one becomes acclimatized.  The temperature has never dropped below 16°C (60.8°F) and it was dew on the ground… not frost!  I shouldn’t be too critical of the complaints as I remember our return to NZ from two years living in Singapore.  We arrived back in the middle of winter.  I had to go to work, however Jan and the children spent their initial fortnight huddled together in the double bed with the electric blanket. 

There has been more progress with the outback camper trailer modifications.  I’m fitting a ‘Stone Stomper’ and some angle iron underneath as the support for a long mudflap.  One of the hazards towing a trailer off sealed roads is the stones can flick out from underneath the 4x4 striking the trailer (or caravan).  This can both damage the trailer/caravan and result in the stones ricocheting back against the 4x4 chipping the paintwork or even smashing the rear window.  The Stone Stomper is a length of heavy mesh cloth that is the width of the rear of the 4x4 and which extends back horizontally under the trailer.  The idea is it prevents any stones coming out from under the 4x4 hitting the body of the trailer/caravan.  however that isn’t enough for me.  I’m concerned all these stones will ‘shot-blast’ the suspension and underside of the trailer.  In an effort to reduce this I’m fitting a length of angle-iron across the width of the trailer at the rear of the ‘A’ frame.  The angle-iron will have a triangular shape with the apex pointing towards the 4x4.  My plan is to fit a vertical rubber skirt (old conveyor belt rubber) to the angle-iron.  My theory is all the stones coming out from under the 4x4 won’t be able to rise because of the Stone Stomper.  The will then strike the arrow shaped rubber skirt and be defected to either side of the trailer.  Well that’s the theory!

Meanwhile Jan has been busy baking in the kitchen.  Some lovely smells have been emanating from that part of the house.  The peanut butter and oatmeal biscuits look and smell delicious.


Unfortunately I’ve been forbidden from tasting them.   Jan has sternly informed me they are not for me.  Moreover Molly would probably snarl if I put my hand anywhere near them.  Yes readers, Jan has baked dog biscuits for Molly.  Sad smile

Oh…. I appear to have found yet another small project.  The large plastic bag on the ‘man cave’ sawdust extractor has a hole in it which was probably caused by a splinter.  Now the bag spews out sawdust through the hole when the extractor is running.  Replacement bags are $25 which seems rather excessive.  I have an idea on how it might be possible to replace the plastic bag with something more substantial.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Delayed post

Time has passed since the last post and that wasn’t intended.  I put my back out (again) pulling weeds in the front lawn and have been lying on the bed for almost a week waiting for the pain to subside.  In a few days I’ll hopefully be good to go…  One consequence of my inactivity is a delay to the house maintenance tasks.  I still have two ceiling air conditioning ducts to remove and patch and the modifications to the spare bedroom wardrobe need to be completed.  The good news is I completed repainting the bedroom before the back problem occurred which means there has been no delay to laying the new carpet.  I first laid carpet more than 30 years ago and didn’t enjoy the experience of acquiring an aching knee from stretching the carpet with the hired ‘knee-kicker’.  It wouldn’t surprise me if all old carpet layers had bad knees.

You can see in the photo below that the old carpet has seen better days.  I cut the edges off to provide better access for painting the bottoms of the walls.  Jan has selected a darker coloured carpet with a pattern as the replacement.


She also wanted the built-in wardrobe modified.  The three lower vertical shelves have been removed and replaced with a smaller shelved section on the right.  The larger area on the left will be for brooms, mop, vacuum cleaner, etc.


Yes…. it’s not finished!

Now for a warning

Don't wash your hair with shampoo whilst in the shower.

I never used shampoo when I was single opting instead to wash my hair with a bar of soap. Back then I was lean and taunt.

Once married I seemed to slip into a routine of washing my hair in the shower with shampoo. Nearly 50 years later I've realised just how dangerous this is. When you wash your hair in the shower it then runs down your body into the tray and the drain. Big mistake..... If you read the warning on the shampoo bottle it clearly states "For Extra Body and Volume".

No wonder each year I get "chunkier". Well I've ceased using shampoo and commenced using dish washing liquid. Hopefully this will reverse the process as the label states "Dissolves fat that is otherwise more difficult to remove!"

Friday, 12 July 2019

More Changes to Open Live Writer

Our post on Wednesday <here> included two photos.  Strangely after the post had been publish to Blogger I could see them, but Jan only saw blank squares on her Android tablet.  Eventually I worked out that if I was logged out of my Google account then I couldn’t see them either.  It appears Google has made yet another change and the method I’ve been using to link images in Google Photos to OLW no longer works.

However blog reader Robin (of blog Romany Rambler) had almost simultaneously sent me a link to a forum where yet another method had been described.  I’ve now discovered it is possible to insert a photo into OLW from your computer by going to ‘Insert’ on the OLW toolbar and then ‘Picture’.  In the drop down window select ‘From your computer’.  When the box opens navigate to the location on the pc where the image is you want to insert and select it.  Then click the ‘Open’ button to insert it into the OLW draft post.

This latest method previously didn’t work for me, but something must have changed because now it does!   Well I’m assuming that because I can see the image I inserted into my test post yesterday.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Jan’s Pyjamas

Jan walked out of the bedroom after her shower yesterday evening wearing the new pyjamas she purchased during our recent holiday in the UK.  They are covered in small printed slices of watermelon.  I’m convinced this is part of a ‘cunning plan’ to ensure I stay on my side of the bed. 
To explain this I have to wind the clock back 39 years.  We were living in Singapore where I held the appointment of Deputy Force Engineer for the NZ Forces in South East Asia.  The ‘sharp end’ of the force was an infantry battalion and a flight of helicopters.  These were supported by logistics elements, including my engineer maintenance unit which was responsible for maintaining the camp buildings and grounds.  A good appointment which was 9 – 5 and working in an office.  No requirement to go off to the jungle which is hot, dirty and full of nasty bugs and animals.  Three months into my new appointment the NZ Army decided to participate in a joint brigade exercise with the Malaysian Army.  This would involve two Malaysian’s battalions and the NZ battalion.  Some bright spark on the NZ planning staff offered NZ support to conducted the battle simulation for the final brigade attack on the last day of the exercise.  Battle simulation involves the laying of explosive charges to simulate mortar and artillery fire.  The Malaysian’s accepted the NZ offer.
Subsequently the NZ planning staff discovered they had no one in the battalion who held a Demolitions Certificate (explosives license).  Actually they was only one qualified NZ officer in the theatre….. Me!   That’s how I found myself departing my comfortable air conditioned office being sent to the jungle with five soldiers and a truck load of explosives where we were to prepare the battle simulation.
We were duly dropped off at the location of the final battle.  Two thirds of the terrain was jungle and one third a former watermelon plantation.  I say former because the plantation had failed when the land became exhausted.  Using two large tarpaulins we create a shelter for the explosives and a separate shelter to sleep under.  No rations had been provided as I was told we would receive a ‘hot box’ meal delivery three times daily.  There was no mobile phone coverage (mobiles hadn’t been invented) and our short range radio couldn’t reach the main exercise area.  It would only be used on the final day as part of the exercise radio safety net.  The first task was to cover the explosives and then we set about establishing a comfortable campsite cutting timber from the jungle to make stretchers which would get us off the ground and away from the bugs.
That evening the ration vehicle didn’t arrive.  The five soldiers looked at me expectantly. “Don’t worry… it will arrive!”  says me.  It didn’t……  Dawn breaks the next morning and no ration truck.  Stomachs are growling.  “Guess what’s for breakfast guys…… pick yourself a cool juicy watermelon!”
Noon and no ration truck…. “Watermelon for lunch guys…… It’s very healthy”.  By that evening they had realised there wasn’t going to be a ration vehicle….. we’d been forgotten.   For nine days we ate watermelon… NINE DAYS!    To this day I STILL HATE WATERMELON!!!!!!
To something more interesting.  I’ve been recycling the timber from the old wardrobe removed from the master bedroom.  Its been converted into shelving which has now been installed in the garage.  Of course I over engineered it and the shelving proved too heavy to move on my own.  that’s where Jan came in useful.  She’s younger and stronger than me.  Don’t listen to the excuses of being a great grandmother.  Anyone who wears pyjamas with a watermelon pattern can do this.

This has freed up some space in the garage. 
The really interesting news is we received a visit today from a couple of Kiwi blog readers.  Geoff & Eileen were early starters and have stuck with us ever since.  It was great to finally met and exchange news.  Somehow the subject of toilets arose! 

We had a lovely BBQ lunch together and somehow I fluked it with the meat.  Nothing under or over done!  Thanks for visiting Geoff & Eileen

Thursday, 4 July 2019

No holes

A little more information on the repairs to the ceiling.  This is what the reverse side of my plasterboard patches look like.

I don’t want these patches to become cold (or hot) spots in the ceiling reducing the insulations effectiveness.  This is why I kept the offcuts from the shed insulation.  After carefully cutting the scraps I used some pva glue to secure them to the reverse side of patches.


More pva glue was applied to the end of the pine support strips before inserting the patches into the holes in the ceiling.

You may notice the two small holes in the above patch.  I drilled them in order that I could hook a piece of 16 gauge wire into the patch and pull it down into place.

The last step for the day was to apply some plaster to the joints between the patch and the ceiling.  I will leave it 24 hours allowing the plaster to set.

The other project was the floor steam mop.  We found the mop on a high shelf in the garage.  I guess it was something my mother purchased years ago.  Well it didn’t have a cover for the foot so we purchased six on eBay.

Can you see the problem?

Yes… the mop foot is too big for the covers.  Having worked out how the steam system operates I did some modifications.

Jan has taken it for a run around the new floor and it appears to be working satisfactorily.

I’ve not been the only busy person in the house.  It’s been baking day.  Jan has baked two dozen beef and veg pies along with six apple sponge puddings.  All but four went into the freezer.  Jan had one for lunch and i’m not sure who ate the other three. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

On my back

No posts during the last week and that was because I spent most of in in bed.  Not the winter flu…… I did my back [AGAIN] moving the waterbed.  Jan said we should have split the heavy work over two day but I was {of course} impatient and lower back pain was the result.  I’ve also discovered that as you get older you don’t have a left and right knee.   You have a good and bad knee!

Yesterday the back was down to a dull ache and today I started yet another project.  The evaporative air conditioning vents in the ceiling need to be removed and the holes filled in.  These are old vents and a right mongrel to remove.  They were installed from inside the roof cavity.  Obviously be a flexible young apprentice!  I’m simply no longer sufficiently flexible to get into the confined roof cavity which means they have to be cut out from below.  I’m getting better at this and will be an expert by the time the last vent is removed.  A skill I’ll hopefully never have to use again.

The first step is to cut some of the vent blades with tinsnips to expose the ends of the retain screws.

I’ve worked out I only need to remove the blades at the ends

Then I use the angle grinder to remove the ends of the screws.  This separates the room half of the vent from the housing in the roof cavity leaving me with a 410x410mm hole to fill.


Next a trip to the local hardware to purchase a half sheet of plasterboard.  A full sized sheet won’t fit into the vehicle!  Four holes have to be filled and I cut the plasterboard in the afternoon before ripping down some waste pine on the bench saw.  These were cut 460mm long and glued to the back of the plasterboard patches; two to each patch.  They have been left overnight for the glue to dry.  Tomorrow I’ll do a ‘test fit’ of each patch before gluing it in place using the attached rails.  Give the glue another day to set and I’ll be able to start plastering the edges of the patches.

I was asked why we didn’t hire a narrowboat during our UK holiday.  We had the time but for a very good reason we decided to avoid canals as much as possible.  If you don’t it’s possible to get addicted.  You may recall Joe and Lesley of NB Caxton and then NB Yarwood.  After 8 years living on the Cut in 2016 they gave up the canals for a motorhome.  Then in mid 2018 they were asked to move a boat.  Hooked……  They are back boating and blogging <here>.   The canals are addictive…. stay away if you don’t want to be caught!