Networking the House

For years I had wanted to network my house with ethernet. The reason I wanted to do this was I was tired of somewhat poor wifi performance and some other things. Despite having a “good” signal strength my actual performance was not great especially with streaming video inside the network. I had been using a combination of wifi and powerline adapters and while that worked it wasn’t great with having to reboot things from time to time as well. Another reason was my city is going Gigabit over the next couple of years from two announced providers so  far. No way my current setup was going to stand up to gig internet. Lastly was interest in moving data to a NAS for drive redundancy. Having recently suffered a few drive scares, even though files are backed up to the cloud, having some drive redundancy is the way to go if you can. I wanted a gigabit wired network in the house to access everything.


I started by thinking more seriously about this, going so far as to using Sketchup to create a blueprint of sorts of the layout of my house and marking where I wanted wires to go. I then talked to a friend who had done the same thing to his house and got the advice of people on a few different forums too.


The plan in general was to put 2 drops in each room, usually on opposite walls where possible and in each location a minimum of 2 wires per box. This included a total of 4 lines to the Garage, 4 to the living room, 6 to the office, 4 to the master bedroom, etc. So most rooms were between 4 to 6 lines total. I also put in a drop for access points on my main floor where I spend most of my time. Lastly I put in a drop in the attic to all 4 corners of the house and over the front door for future security cameras. Overkill yes, but well while you’re doing it you might as well do it right.


I also put in “Blue Smurf” conduit that runs from where services enter my home to my rack. Anticipating the fiber service in the future I figured this would just make things simple and give a service provider a better reason to refuse to run an extra 20 ft of fiber.


All of this terminated in the basement on the unfinished side near my HVAC equipment. There I pulled a new 20A circuit with GFCI to power the equipment. I installed a ¾” piece of plywood that I painted and attached to the studs of the wall. There I installed a 12U wall mount rack and terminated all the Cat6 runs. I grounded the rack to the water pipes above and installed some leftover LED’s in the top of the rack.


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What did I learn?

  • You need more wire than you think, a lot more wire. In my case I bought from monoprice a few months before  1 box of 1000ft CAT6 thinking initially that would be more than enough. I was not even close. Total amount used was 2586 FT in the walls. Pulling a bit more than that for slack on either end. I really didn’t estimate originally with much thought into it. So the suggestion here is to be more accurate when  you plan and then add some for additional runs, slack, and mistakes. It’s also a lot easier to pull 2 wires at one time out of the box then measure, pull, cut, and attach to another to do your pull. So my advice is buy more wire/really measure.
  • I used what’s known as “Fishing Rods” to pull twine from the basement to the attic and then between floors. They are cheap but super useful. Could not have done it without them.
  • If you’re going to the hardware store for 1, buy 2 and return it if you have to. Spray Paint, zip ties, clips, old work boxes etc, were all things I needed more of than originally planned. Luckily I drive by a big box hardware store twice a day on my way to and from work so it was an easy stop. It’s also an easy return process but I could have saved time by just buying more and returning once.
  • When pulling wire, it goes faster to have 2 people and two boxes. Having a friend help is pretty valuable. I was thankful to have a buddy who was a journeyman electrician help for about 2-3 days.
  • Hole saws VS Twist bits – When trying to put a hole in a wall stud or floor joist a hole saw makes a lot nicer hole that’s larger than a twist bit. Eye, ear, and knee protection are all good ideas at various times too. The right tool does the job.
  • Headlamps are a must. I had been meaning to get one for a while and finally did. Being able to work in a dark attic hands free is fantastic.
  • Velcro not Zip Ties – Zip ties become brittle when they are exposed to extremes in temperature like in an attic and will break in short time. Velcro on the other hand is far more durable and is easy to secure to a stud with a screw.
  • A cable Toner and Cable Tester are super useful. Sometimes labeling is off or smudged a toner makes quick work of this. I verified all my ends after putting them on with the Fluke Cable tester I borrowed from work. 99% success rate the first time, but now I know it’s 100% right after a fix.


Would I recommend spending all your free time over the course of about 3 weeks wiring your house with CAT6? Of course I would. I went a bit overkill and had some project creep as one of my friends put it. It’s just really nice to be able to have a reliable fast network in the house. For instance I have my Plex set at the highest possible bit rate now. I can play any file without it buffering.


So what’s planned for the future?

  • NAS – Need to do more research here and decide if I want to build from an old PC or buy an enclosure. Having 4-5 disk redundancy will be nice. I would like it to play nice with my a cloud backup service as well.
  • New Router and Larger Switch – Right now my old but Reliable Asus RT-N16 keeps on working until the Gigabit fiber service arrives. I also only have an 8 port Gigabit switch. When I find the right deal on a 24 port gigabit switch I will upgrade switches. Not sure yet on a new router, I need to do more research. For now however this equipment works with the wired setup.
  • Access Points??? This will play into my router decision, if I want to go with a consumer router or something more enterprise and then go with an enterprise wifi system kind of like an Ubiquiti system?

Jawbone UP2 band fix

I liked my original Jawbone UP24 however it broke and Jawbone replaced it with their new model the UP2. Newer means it should be better right? I would say different, but probably not better. My chief complaint with my UP2 was that it would not stay on my arm very well. The clasp was too easy to knock off when out doing things, even simple walking it seemed to come off for no reason. I was concerned with losing it so I went online looking for an answer. I ended up bending the clasp a bit to put some more pressure on it after seeing this post, this definitely helped but didn’t solve the problem. I then saw a suggestion on Reddit to use an O-ring. That post has disappeared from what I can tell now so I decided I would make a new one with new photos to show the fix. Since doing this my band has not fallen off once.

Up2 Band Fix

I went to the corner neighborhood hardware store into the plumbing section and found o-rings in the sink rebuild area. The o-ring cost me $0.49. The size I used was a #7 O-ring which is ½  x  3/8 x 1/16 in size.

You can put the O-Ring on the band or the clasp with similar performance. I hope this helps everyone fix their Jawbone UP2 bands.

Summer Concerts 2014

Arctic Monkeys With Royal Blood

It was nice to go to a Rock Show again. The Harrah’s casino is a pretty good venu. It was the first smoke free concert I have been too indoor or out. Sound quality was good, not great. Royal Blood was my surprise of the show, having never heard of them I became a fan and had to grab their album when I got home. Arctic Monkeys put on a good show, focused most on their music playing song after song.


Katy Perry

I wasn’t originally planning to go to this one but got a ticket at the last minute. While not the biggest Katy Perry fan I left the show very impressed.  Seats were great at midcourt since the stage was a big triangle and went to just over midcourt. This show was a huge production, over 15 trucks brought in tons of lights, screens, moving floor sections, props, and fireworks. Sound quality in the PBA is really great, although bring your earplugs, it’s loud. You really forget about how many hit’s Katy Perry has had and she sang them all.


Driving the Tesla Model S

Model S side

The Tesla Model S is kind of the halo “electric” car at the moment, and it really breaks the mold of a stereotypical electric car.  It is fast, sexy, and super high tech, yet drives almost normally. Being a car enthusiast, I had previously driven the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt locally; but with so few Tesla showrooms and service centers in the country, it’s hard to have the opportunity to drive a Tesla, especially in Nebraska.

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to test drive a Tesla Model S on May 3, 2014 in Omaha, Nebraska. I had spotted a post on the Tesla Facebook page saying they were taking reservations for a test drive, so I signed up. They called me the next day and confirmed.

They had 4 cars on display in the corner of a parking lot.  All were the P85 variant (the big battery model), and some had quite a few options, so sticker prices ranged from about $80k-$107k. Quite a few people were hanging around the car that was charging while a Tesla employee answered questions.  Having read several reviews of the car and watching several videos of it, I had quite a bit of knowledge to draw from for my test drive.

My time slot came up and I scanned my drivers license, typed in a little info on an ipad and went for a test drive.  The car is so quiet that in a somewhat crowded environment, people kept walking behind the car when we were trying to back out of the parking spot. Their mouths kind of dropped open when they saw this car come at them silently.

The Driving

Acceleration – Instant torque is addicting. Really addicting.  The acceleration in the Model S is so smooth and linear. It definitely pushes you back into the seat in a very satisfying way. Its speed and power are deceiving because of how quiet it is. In a gasoline powered car the engine gives you an indication of the speed you’re going; the S doesn’t have that, so it was very easy to go faster than the law says you should. It would be interesting to see if Model S owners get more speeding tickets because of it. I can verify that traction control is pretty effective too. When you give the S a lot of acceleration off the line, the traction control will come in and make sure you keep things on the road and straight; it does give the sensation of wiggling around a little though.  It was fun.  Because the Model S has no transmission or torque converter like in an automatic transmission, the car doesn’t creep along at low speeds. Tesla has added this creep mode as a software mode if you miss it. It takes a little getting use to in non creep mode.

Brakes – The Model S brake feel was nice and linear under normal street driving. Tesla has taken an interesting approach, giving you the option of a maximum regeneration mode or a low regeneration mode.  It’s a simple setting on the 17” touchscreen center console.  In the low generation mode, the car will coast much like a normal car with an automatic transmission with low drag.  The downside of this is that it will generate much less energy to put back into the batteries and extend range.  In maximum generation mode when off the accelerator it feels much more like you have downshifted on a car with a manual transmission. The feeling of drag is increased quite a bit. It’s essentially using electric motors as an engine brake by using the electric motor to generate electricity..  It takes a little getting used to since you don’t have to touch the brakes nearly as much in city driving. For instance, when coming down a hill, instead of coasting down the hill you actually may have to just use the lightest input on the accelerator to maintain speed.  The benefits of this is it’s extend range optimally. Tesla says that this also greatly decreases brake rotor and pad wear because you’re not using them as much to slow the relatively heavy car.


Steering/Suspension – The Model S is the safest car on the road, and part of that has to do with how stiff the chassis is. That stiffness really adds to the sportiness of the car.  The suspension is stiff, but well damped so it’s not harsh, but also not “Lexus” smooth.  I would call it european inspired suspension. The car corners pretty flat, and in normal street driving hides its weight pretty well, I thought.  That stiffness also made the car feel really solid and well built. Our test car (829 miles on the odometer) had no squeaks or shudders. It would be interesting to compare a model with the sport suspension option. The steering was a nice weight and some road feel feedback.


The Interior

The 17” touch screen that serves as the cars center console and main control unit for all configurable things in the car really is the top interior feature.  The large screen and first HD backup camera that can optionally be used when driving were great.  The layout and navigation were really logical and intuitive of the controls and options. The UI was fast, and the cas a web browser build in to search for anything or read a website. Navigation was by Google Maps so it was great and always updated. The only driving control I was hunting around for was to put it in park (I will blame wanting to continue the test drive, I think it probably had enough range left to make it back home 🙂 )


For what the car cost, the seats should have been better. After visiting the BMW Welt in Germany my benchmark is admittedly a bit high when it comes to seats though. The Model S I drove had the standard seats, and while stylish, they lacked some adjustability and didn’t have enough side bolstering to match the car’s performance.  With approximately a 300 mile range, you’re not as likely to be in one without a break as long as you would in a diesel or gas European luxury sedan in the same price range. The flat floor (no transmission tunnel) was really nice, and made the middle rear seat much more useable.  Someone who is tall might have problems sitting in the back seat without hitting their head on the roof.  The interior design was minimal but nice.  The design of the door handles are by far my favorite interior design feature.  I didn’t care for the dark gray walnut wood trim on the dash, and would have probably prefered a carbon fiber or dark, warmer wood color.


Model S door


The key of the car is pretty cool, as you would expect. It’s a fob and there is no traditional key.  It’s actually a Hot Wheels sized model of the Model S in black that is a bit more streamlined. Touching the model (key) on the trunk for a second or two will pop the trunk. Walk up to the car with the key in your pocket and the door handles automatically come out and it unlocks. The car is always on and ready to drive; sitting in the driver’s seat and putting your foot on the brake to put it into drive is all you need to do, no push button start or turning of a key. There is also no shutting it off, you touch the button for park and get out, the car locks and shuts off itself.

Model S Key



Coming into the test drive the car was already sitting on a pedestal. My test drive was short but for the most part it met and exceeded expectations.  For me the standouts were the acceleration, large center console screen, general technology, and its sexy lines. It’s an expensive car, and for most people it probably would not be your only car unless you had access to something with more range for long trips. That will change as electric charging, especially the Tesla Super Charging stations, becomes more common. For me it would be a great daily driver: fast, sexy, super safe, and minimal day to day costs.  The main barrier right now for most is the cost. It’s still quite an expensive car. Tesla is rumored to be coming out with a less expensive smaller 3 series competitor that will be more affordable for the masses.  By that time they should have a more robust charging network too. That will be more of a revolution for the masses.  Until then, the Model S is a great example of how good an electric car can be made, especially in the USA. It makes a few sacrifices and has some great benefits.

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The Frunk (Front Trunk)
The Frunk (Front Trunk)


Pretty Lights Analog Future Tour – Lincoln NE

Pretty Lights came to Lincoln on November 15th as part of his Analog Future Tour. Unlike other electronic artists, this show had real live musicians playing along with Pretty Lights.  The keyboards and horn players were pretty cool.  This was a more laid back show in comparison to Bassnectar but this is to be expected.  It was a long show at over 3 hours of music playing.  I enjoyed it for sure.  All photos and video below were taken with my Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

On the Big Screen

I took the photo below at the Nebraska vs Michigan State football game on November 16th in Lincoln, NE with my Samsung Note 2.  I used the new HDR feature of #Snapseed to edit the photo, and I posted it to Twitter.  Later that night I had a few people tweet me saying that my photo made the big screen at the Nebraska Volleyball game.  Pretty cool!




On Friday, October 27, 2013 I was able to go see @Bassnectar in concert at Pershing in Lincoln.  Having enjoyed Bassnectar for awhile and hearing about his great live shows, it was exciting to see it come to my home town.  The show had some really unique things, and in total it was great. The sound was unbelievable.


The security to the show was nearly as extensive as at an airport.  They required everyone to take everything out of pockets, have a pat down (not as invasive as an airport), and lift up your shirt to look at the waistband.  Despite this, they allowed sealed water bottles in (they took the caps at the door) and bags after looking in them as well.  My observation while waiting in line was this caused a lot of people to consume anything they were hoping to get into the show before going in.  This did cut down a lot on substance use inside the concert, but of course the concert still smelled like an EDM concert.


Koan Sound

Usually opening acts don’t get much attention, Koan Sounds was the opposite of that.  They got the crowd going and were a surprise for me.  Being from the UK, their music was a bit different and more like a club.  I am definitely going to check them out.


Bassnectar/The Sound

Bassnectar’s set was over 2 hours of constant music and dancing.  He had 1 giant screen behind him supported with 4 smaller pillar boards on the sides.  The video was very colorful and synced to songs. Some were random fractal designs, others were moving video or stylized bits from music videos.


The music was a great selection of new and old Bassnectar.  One of the things I like about Bassnectar’s music is it incorporates pieces from lots of styles of music, and this showed in what he played. It was similar to some of his recent mixtapes. It’s the Bassnectar we know and expect to hear.

The sound quality was unbelievably clear and dangerously loud.  It brought new meaning to “feel the music”.  I had read a little on the Meyer Sound system being used.  I thought some of it was hype, but the system lived up to its reputation.  Never before have I been to any concert that was as loud, but super clear, as this one was.  You could feel the music in your body way more than you typically would at a rock show. As a long time follower of Bassnectar on twitter, I knew that he recommended ear plugs; I was very glad I had my Etymotic Research ER20 in my pocket.  These are unique in that they evenly block volume in sound without distortion or changing pitch. They make it so you can talk to someone near you without yelling.  My guess is this was the loudest and most bass heavy concert that the old Pershing building had ever seen.

All photos below were taken with my Note 2.