Monday 5 August 2019

Update On 30-Day Challenge & What's Next

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash
I'm planning to make this blog honest and not just full of happy happy joy joy type successes. So, with that in mind, how did the last 30-day challenge go? It was a bloody disaster. However, I've actually taken four very useful lessons away from it so I suppose I'll let you decide how successful it was in the end.

First, and most obvious, £50 is just too small a sum to live off in the real world when you need to travel to work everyday etc. Trying to live off that small amount though led to me really considering what I ate and spent my money on. This led to the second lesson, spending your money on good food actually leaves you feeling better and losing weight :)

The third lesson I took away from the challenge was that it's actually difficult to make £1 online when starting from scratch let alone making £100 or more. Views don't translate into pennies in the early days The get rich quick online videos just aren't accurate.

The final lesson is by far the most important. There is no success without failure when you learn the lessons. I wish I'd undertaken this years ago.

So, what's next? Well the next challenge is to go off alcohol for the next 30-days. I really enjoy a beer or a glass of wine in the evening after work, especially on a Friday. I've read a lot recently about the damage alcohol and sugar do to you body and Liver and, honestly, I don't want my daughter to associate Daddy with the faint aroma of wine. So bye bye alcohol for at least the next 30-days.

I want to make this one work. I'm prepared for how difficult it is going to be but it's worth it. I'll be posting more regularly on how this one is going.

Monday 29 July 2019

How do I setup Google WiFi using wires?

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post my Google WiFi setup sends all its traffic over the wired network rather than mesh. For me I found this to be much faster and more reliable. However, it wasn’t easy to do or find information about so let’s have a look at what I did and hopefully it can help others.

My Setup

From Google

So my network has 4 Google WiFi nodes all connected together using Cat6 cabling and a switch. I’ve no modem anymore but when I did things were very similar and I’ll address the details as we go.

I’m going to assume you already have a WiFi network in place so before we do anything go and download the Google WiFi app from your App Store. You need it. You may also want to set your new WiFi up using a different network name to your existing network, especially if you can’t turn your existing router to modem only mode. 

Note: Start Wireless

The first important point to note is that your new wired network actually need to be setup as wireless then you’ll wire everything together. One of your nodes will to be the primary. This is the node that’s connected to your modem/router or to your fibre. For me this point connects directly to the Fibre and then on into the Switch. This is one of the recommended Google configurations. Any of your nodes can be setup as the primary so take the first puck out of the box and plug the network cable from the modem/router/fibre into the WAN port (the one with the globe). Switch the device on and follow the instructions in the WiFi app to setup your first node.

Setup The Rest

Once point one is setup head out into your home and place the rest of the network pucks in the places you want them. Remember don’t plug in any network cables yet. Each time you place one switch on the power and add the new node through the WiFi app. Repeat for each.

Going Wired

From Google
Ok, so now your whole WiFi network should be in place as a mesh but that’s not what you want. You want wired. So switch off all the nodes and go back round plugging the network cables into the globe ports. Switch on the primary and then the rest.

Once the whole network comes back up you should be able to go into the Google WiFi app and see each node as ‘Wired’. I’ve had multiple instances of nodes suddenly reporting as ‘mesh’ which messes the whole setup. To fix it restart the node and then run a mesh test through the app. That normally does it.

Final Configuration

So my final configuration is:
Fibre -> Primary -> Switch -> Node 2
                                            -> Node 3
                                            -> Node 4

If you have a modem and switch then yours should be:
Modem/Router -> Primary -> Switch -> Node 2
                                                            -> Node X

I hope this helps you getting your Google WiFI setup using a wired network. For me it has been much faster and more reliable than using wireless mesh.

If you want to buy Google Wifi then you can use my affiliate link from My Amazon Link

Thursday 25 July 2019

Smarthome - Pt 2 - The Network

In the second part of this smarthome series I’m looking at the network I have installed, how well it functions day-to-day and if there’s anything I’d want to change moving forward.

A solid network is the spine of the smarthome and your experience is going to be driven by it. Choosing the right hardware is therefore critical. You want something that can be easily managed while at the same time delivers speed and power throughout your home.

I’m in the fortunate position that we having network wiring throughout the house so the first step was to get a solid switch. For anyone not aware of what a Switch does it basically receives all the traffic coming from your various devices and sends it to the appropriate device. A good Switch should be one that you can setup and then never notice. I went for the TP Link TL-1024D 24-Port Gigabit. This has been running for a year with absolutely no issues so far and great speed across all devices. Selling at £63 right now through Amazon Prime this is a great Switch.

Along with the Switch I added a patch panel, power strip and fan and put it all in a great rack cabinet from 19Power UK. Here are the Amazon links to everything along with a few patch cables and the nuts/bolts to get it all added to your new cabinet.

TP Link TL-1024D 24-Port Gigabit: Amazon
Cabinet: Amazon
Patch Panel: Amazon
Fan: Amazon
Power Strip: Amazon
Patch Cables: Amazon
Rack Mount Equipment: Amazon

So that’s the wired network sorted but that’s at most half of the Smarthome spine. The
other half is the wireless network. It’s through this that your lights, cameras, iPhones, iPads, Android Phones and other devices will connect so you need something robust. Lets face it though, there aren’t many of us who actually enjoy tweaking with network settings so you probably want something that, like your new Switch, is easy to manage. I went for Google WiFi.

YouTube and the web are already full of Google Wifi reviews so I’m not going to go into too much detail here, shout out in the comments if you do want more information though and I’ll do a full review. Google WiFi is a Mesh network. Google cover mesh networks nicely in their blog post here. What I found though was that even with 5 pucks (the house is fairly spread out and contains many block walls) the mesh network wasn’t able to provide the coverage or speed that I wanted. This was especially true once you got beyond one hop from the main node One of the nice things about Google WiFi though is the ability to plug in network cables and let it use the, much faster, wired network to handle your traffic. It does turn it from a mesh network into basically an extended WiFi network but who cares, the thing is lightening fast! Setup is a little tricker, again shout out in the comments if you want a more detailed post on setting up Google WiFI using Wired Backhaul, but well worth it. The network has been generally solid with a couple of teething problems at the start caused mostly by having too many nodes on the network.

One drawback with Google WiFi is the Google WiFi application that you need to use to manage it. While Google has tried to make the WiFi simple to use, the app does rely on you being able to connect to the cloud in order to do anything with the network. This is very frustrating when you’re having broadband problems or your changing the router and suddenly you can’t manage anything on your internal network. I’d love to see them add a setup to the main node that allows for, even a reduced, management console when the Internet is not available.

Other than that I think Google Wifi is worth the investment. It reliably handles over 30 devices including Nest cameras streaming high resolution video. For UK readers, I’ve had some recent experience installing a BT mesh network in a two story house. Setup was easy and so far it’s been very quick and reliable without the wired backhaul. Certainly one worth a look if you have the BT HomeHub already.

Google WiFI: Amazon
BT Whole Home: Amazon

So that’s part 2 of the series. Next up I’m planning to look at our heating setup. Let me know if you’ve had any experience setting up a home network and what you used.

Tuesday 23 July 2019

Smarthome Setup - Part 1 - Overview

This is the first in a series of posts covering the smarthome setup I've put in place over the last year, some feedback on how it is all working together, living with it and some future plans for making it better. I'll also cover the 

So, what have I setup so far? Here's the list:

Over the next few posts I'll be looking at these different areas, how they work together (or not) and highlighting the limitations in the current Smarthome technologies.

If you can't wait, then click on the Amazon links above to buy now.