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Where was I?

Well, last Monday a storm blew through. I think mom said the winds gusted at around 124kph (77mph), which was not pleasant, though off the coast of Morbihan (western Brittany) it apparently topperd 195kph (122mph)!
There was remarkably little damage considering.

Except this:

That had fallen across the access lane, yanked the phone line right off of the pole too. I noticed that my IPcam wasn't working - I tend to check on it to make sure mom got home safely (I'm 43 so I'm allowed to worry about stuff like that now). Given it was damn near blowing a hurricane, the two options were power cut or phone line. Well, it was a big tree. Blocking the access road, so mom was stuck.
She first contacted the farmer who farms the local land. This wasn't an imposition, it was his tree on his land. As expected, he was about as useful as normal. So, mom walked to the top of the land and tried another neighbour in case he might know somebody who could help. As it happens, the other neighbour came and looked, then came back with some big mechanised thing and grabbed the tree and tossed it aside, which is where you see it in the photo.

Unfortunately for me, this was what remained of the phone line:

I contacted Orange on Monday once mom had confirmed what had happened. There are two observations of interest. The first is that there is no "the line has been yanked apart" option. You call up this automated system and have to respond "oui" or "non" to some questions. It doesn't seem to understand "panne" or "dépannage". Instead, like the website, it seems to understand that help exists in three forms: Billing and account stuff, mobile related issues, and "internet" for everything else.
I waited on hold for something like fifteen minutes before being connected to somebody. After explaining what the problem was, I was passed through three different people until I got to the technical repair side. Second observation - funny how, having survived the initial stupid-long wait, everybody was immediately available...
The woman I got to in the end said that the problem would be resolved in 48h (which I didn't believe) and a text arrived to say the problem would be fixed by 6pm on Friday. I wonder if they need to pay compensation after that time?
As I work in a factory and it is forbidden to carry mobile phones, never mind answer them, I gave them mom's mobile number for contact.

Wednesday lunchtime I rang back. I didn't want to appear pushy as, you know, a storm blew through. I'm sure the guy was plenty busy fixing other people's lines. But what worried me was that the linesman was supposed to call to set up a rendezvous and we hadn't heard a peep. So I gave Orange mom's number again, they apparently didn't have it from before. Maybe because mom is on the SFR network? Evil, sizzle, sizzle!

Still nothing.

Thursday evening, a van drove up. Only turns out to be a guy for the repair company that lives in the same town! He said to me that his colleague would be out Friday or Saturday to get it sorted. He's had a look at what needs done, and don't worry, we don't need access to the house or anything. Just be sure to leave the Livebox connected.

Friday morning as we were walking up the lane (access road) with the bags of rubbish in a... I think they call those things a "garden truck", it's like a wheelbarrow with four wheels on it. Anyway, we were taking the rubbish up the lane when the linesman arrived. Cheery bloke, wanted to know how many phones we had. I told him it was a VoIP phone. And so he set to work splicing in a new length of cable.

We left him to his work and went "down South" to a place we like. Just to the southeast of Nantes, a town called Clisson in the heart of the Muscadet wine growing area. Known maybe for the annual "HellFest" music performance, which is sort of like Glastonbury with lots of guitars and shouting. The E.Leclerc there has the best damn bakery of any supermarket I've ever been to in France.
Let's be honest. I went for cake.
A lovely raspberry tiramisu in a glass pot with clip-seal lid (that'll be useful for my Gardens of Babylon tea), a yuzu-cream biscuit, a yuzu crumble pie, lemon pie, and a lovely pie that was basically a soggy crust (the best kind) covered in a thick layer of whipped cream (proper cream, not the tinned stuff) and peaches (they were tinned, it isn't peach season) and strawberry slices. You'd put on calories just looking at it. I'll assure you, it was very nice.
I also had a chicken/pasta salad, and chicken gyoza, the latter of which were marred ever so slightly by the filling being heavy handed with the garlic. Well, at least we won't be bothered by lovesick vampires.

I checked the IPcam and saw the cat sitting on the windowsill so the internet was back on, and my server said that the temperature on the 10th of March hit 19°C. Lovely. A nice day off, and a nice little thing to do to celebrate mom's birthday.
As seems to becoming a yearly tradition, we went to a scenic place nearby. A town called Le Pallet.

Only this year I had better software so could do more than static photos... These are 360 degree photos, and if you have one of those Cardboard VR doohickeys, you can see it in 3D too. Included below are four 360 degree photos. I'm probably required by the licence that I didn't bother to read to state something like the following: This service is provided by Google, I have no affiliation whatsoever with Google other than another user of their products, and everybody everywhere disclaims everything ... except maybe kittens...well, the cute ones at least.

This is the car park and gardens around the little memorial made for Pierre Abélard, a philospher and theologian back in the 12th century. He is perhaps best known for his love affair with a woman called Héloïse d'Argenteuil.

Here is what remains of an ancient church. Google Maps rejected this as it is an incomplete 360 degree view, but it shows that which is necessary. Since I was holding the camera through the bars, a full 360 was not really feasible. Well, Google Maps' loss...

Biggest hill around, and it's quite a hill. At the top is a big cross. And a view.

A bridge across the river Sanguèze. Mom and I both agreed that this bridge is crying out for a lick of red paint.

Here's a rare picture of me. ☺

You can look at my recent Google Maps photos. The earlier ones (that were uploaded to Panoramio, now on Google+, seem to be neither visible nor counted...?).

When I got home, I saw that the line had been fixed by fitting two boxes and just splicing a new piece of cable into the existing line. Which means two extra joints and the increased resistance this would imply on an already stressed connection (stressed as in it's 4.4km long which is right on the border for 2mbit). The downstream noise margin is 12dB and the box is synchronised at 2424kbit download and 1021kbit upload. The Livebox firmware no longer reports the signal strengths, but Errored Seconds and Severely Errored Seconds both report zero.
It is worth expanding on this a little to explain that the Livebox does not provide either the signal strength nor the signal to noise ratio (SNR). Instead it gives the noise margin which is effectively the difference between the SNR received by the Livebox, and that which is required to sync at 2 megabit. In this case, a larger value is a higher margin, which means a better connection. Below around 6dB is bad, above it is okay. There shouldn't be any high numbers here because if you can sync with, say, A 30dB margin, you probably ought to be syncing at a faster rate...
My 12dB is good, so I ought to have a reliable connection (fallen trees excepting!). The very first Livebox told me the potential speed was in the order of three and a half megabits (which is pushing this old line right to the limits). Funny enough, they got rid of that in the new firmware. ☺ Suffice to say, if the line is capable of three and a half, there ought to be sufficient margin for 2mbit to work reliably.

Downloading an animé came in at around 180KiB/sec but this could have been dependent on server load as much as anything else. I did a speed test and got the expected ~250KiB/sec download, but a seriously worrying ~10KiB/sec (!) upload. Several tests confirmed this - an upload speed of around ten kilobytes per second, which would be about ten times faster than my old 14k4 modem managed. Worrying. But suspect as the Livebox had earlier managed to stream an HD image from my IPcam which I doubt it could do at 10KiB/sec, even with MPEG4 compression.

It was not the phone line.

Just the WiFi struggling to pass through a thick stone wall. I went and stood beside the Livebox and got this result:

No better than it was before the storm, but more importantly, no worse either.


It wasn't the end of the world having no internet, as I always had access to it on my phone, even if that meant walking halfway up the lane to capture a 3G signal. 2.5G/EDGE is useless as Android seems to give precedence to all the background stuff when a connection is established. 3G is necessary to get that done quickly as 2.5G/EDGE runs at about 10KiB/sec... wait, that number sounds familiar!
What I missed most was popping over to read the RISC OS forum, checking the random assortment of news headlines in the morning when I got up, and all those times I have dumb questions that Google can answer - like that Del Shannon song "Runaway", my mom knows it from when it was released and I know it from a TV programme, but which? Crime Story from 1986 starring Dennis Farina and set in Las Vegas. Just, you know, in case you're interested...



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