back to article Close the windows, it's coming through the walls: Copper Cthulu invades Dabbsy's living room

Guess what I'm doing with my hands right now. Typing on the keyboard, obviously. I can't help it if "right now" for you represents a different point in the relative time-space continuum. Who knows what I will be doing with my hands once you get around to reading this? For me, right now, I'm still typing it. Talking of …

  1. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    If things are stationary, wiring them up is best. Wireless for mobile things. Simples (from a middle aged bloke's point of view).

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Here, here! Nowt wrong with a bit of Cat6 stringing it all together, especially running PoE to the multiple WAPs needed to ensure >100Mbps WiFi everywhere on your property, inside and out, and essential in the 'man shed' at the bottom of the garden for streaming pr0n. Especially when the channel wars start, and you spread your wireless across every legally available channel, and a couple of not so legal ones on the sidebands. Thus denying service to all the bluetooth connected soundbars that people are so fond of now because they are told they sound good by the walking pimple-fest in John Lewis's, but sound like a wasp orgy. Everyone buys them because BBC drama blockbusters are now recorded in muffle-o-surround, and the missus HAS to be able to hear Aidan Turner stripping off in the latest 50 Shades of Poldark.

      FYI, I've splashed out on 2 x 100m installer drums each of LSZH Cat6 and LSZH speaker cable and I fully intend to spend my Christmas holidays painstakingly wiring up my 11.2 surround speakers to the 19" rack in the basement where it loops in from the amplifier in the media stack. I'll think back to this article when I reach for the label printer, and not print any!

      If there ain't half-a-tonne of spaghetti behind your TV and record deck, you ain't done it right.

      1. Christopher Reeve's Horse

        "If there ain't half-a-tonne of spaghetti behind your TV and record deck, you ain't done it right."

        This is completely correct. I legitimately use a Visio diagram to keep up with the complex wiring that's just behind my TV and Speakers. It has at least 51 separately identifiable cables, and it's not even a multi-channel set-up, just stereo.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: half-a-tonne of spaghetti

          Yes, not surprised. Even my desk cable tray has 30 entry points, and being a glass desk, I damn well make sure it's all properly tucked away in the tray before the lid goes back on.

        2. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

          Re: "If there ain't half-a-tonne of spaghetti" of power cords on your lawn...

          Upvote for Visio.

          I once made a diagram of my Christmas light setup (post-Christmas 2017), labelling extension cord lengths and where the splitters go, just to make sure I had enough cords (and to aid in making sure I wouldn't overload the 120V 15A circuit breaker).

          Based on that, I switched some of it around for 2018.

          Now it's 2019 and we moved in spring, so I'm starting over with the same hardware but creating a new layout from scratch. Already got the roofline stuff up--some new sets--and learned my lesson about placement (move the junction / extension cord riser to the right about 10 feet so the ends are in better spots). I might need a new diagram to track my lessons learned.

      2. Shady

        I am so jealous of you right now. Not being sarky. I'm actually green with envy.

        I haven't done a decent home audio wiring project since, as a teenager, I drilled about a million holes in my parents walls whilst they were on holiday :(

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "If things are stationary, wiring them up is best."

      Right. No need to compete for bandwidth with any device around, including the neighbors' ones. IoT crp, Dect phones, baby monitors, microwave ovens, toy drones, etc. etc.

      Just I like my cables to run in the proper ducts, terminated into the proper plugs/connectors, and properly labelled.

      Unless I plan to sell the house soon to some British expat, maybe.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: "If things are stationary, wiring them up is best."

        Just I like my cables to run in the proper ducts

        OldestBrother had (at the last refurb 10[ish] years ago) had his place flood-wired with CAT5 ethernet. And now he doesn't use *any* of it other than the connection to the NAS in the loft.

        My only ethernet is local stuff in the 'computer room'[1] - everything else is connected via mesh wifi[2].

        [1] AKA the 4th bedroom. With extra power sockets and a pet-gate in the doorway to stop most of the pets going in (other than yougest cat - she's spry enough to jump over it..). Door stays open to keep upstairs warm. But, after oldest female cat puked over my previous switch and killed it I decided that cats and tech really, really don't mix. Youngest cat is fine since she doesn't puke like oldest one does.

        [2] Unifi. It (mostly) just works once you have the controller settings right.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: "If things are stationary, wiring them up is best."

          My only ethernet is local stuff in the 'computer room'[1] - everything else is connected via mesh wifi[2].

          Power-over-WiFi isn't really a thing yet, even with Nicola T's experiments[3] nearly a century ago. PoE however works quite well, and allows me to power[4] two access points, a couple of Arduinos and a RasPi that would be rather iffy[5] to get mains power to. Plus, as the switches are on UPS, so are the PoE-powered devices.

          [1] NMF

          [2] NMF either

          [3] without the WiFi component, but that doesn't make much of a difference.

          [4] and power-cycle, if necessary

          [5] and in one case as good as impossible.

    3. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Not to mention that I've yet to find a bluetooth audio solution that doesn't have appreciable latency, regardless of what it might claim on the box.

      The building regulations now require the soil pipes to be inside the house, so new builds tend to have enclosed routes from the ground floor into the roof space which are remarkable convenient for getting cables from one part of the building to another. And you can get baluns to run almost anything over Cat 5/6 these days.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Modern?

        The house I inhabit is as old as I am, both built in the middle year of the 1960s. It has a hollow column beside the front door and the electrickery cabinet and also the bathroom. It goes from under the ground floor up to the attic and carries electricals and soil pipes/plumbing. It also beside one bedroom, currently designated the fishroom since it has a fish tank in it. Also this standing desk with a laptop on it (wifi connected of course).

        It’s a Betts home in Scotland though. We invented the modern world so it is perhaps understandable that we also seem to have invented what you describe in the 1960s. All the estate is like this.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Modern?

          What's "modern" about hiding all the cabling? The house I inhabit was built some time in the late 15th century and has all it's cabling and plumbing laid bare for all to see just like the Lloyds Building.

          What's old is new.

    4. Franco Silver badge

      Absolutely agreed. When I first moved in to my flat it was before 5GHz WiFi was a thing, so interference was often an issue. Thanfully I'm on the top floor and the conduit that carries the aerial cable down to the back of the TV was easily big enough to take some extra cables so things like the XBox can have a wired connection.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      yep. there's a false wall behind the tv cabinet for routing everything between the floors, has a bunch of spare conduit because, well, there's never enough :)

    6. macjules Silver badge
      Flame

      "Simples"

      If this is French wiring (given that Dabbsy recently upped sticks to France) then, non, non et encore non. France is a country where the reason why the electrician trade is a closed-shop is because there is no bloody standard for electrical wiring. You might well think that the simple UK standard of "brown = live, blue = neutral and green/yellow = earth" could be adopted, but no this does not apply in France. In France the red wire might be live or earth or neutral since it does not matter - nobody else is legally allowed to touch it, so hence the lack of labelling or standards.

      Think Richard Harris in Juggernaut yelling "Cut the blue wire!" - if that had been a French movie the ship would have blown up.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Alert

        given that Dabbsy recently upped sticks to France

        From the description it seems to be network and audio cabling in all its appearances. You're not going to tell me that one's not free to install them oneself, requiring a qualified electrician to work on that too?

        Oh, wait. France.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        If you're talking about plug wiring, there's no such thing as live and neutral because of the plug design. Think about it.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          If you're talking about plug wiring, there's no such thing as live and neutral because of the plug design. Think about it.

          You are only correct for symmetrical plugs. In case of asymmetrical plugs (three prongs), there are conventions and even standards about which prong should be connected to live, neutral and ground.

          For more information, see this link.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Aw crap, I forgot there are Schuko sockets then there's France.

          2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            l'exception française

            In case of asymmetrical plugs (three prongs), there are conventions and even standards about which prong should be connected to live, neutral and ground.

            Except in France, where even the article you link to says "Although the plug is polarised, CEE 7 does not define the placement of the line and neutral and there is no universally-observed standard. "

            Indeed a common French double socket design is a mirror image about the neutral, wired internally in parallel, so the two sockets are inverted with respect to each other. Live in one will be Neutral in the other.

      3. JClouseau
        Headmaster

        Cut the yellow and green wire. Or the red and black. Ah, just pick one up...

        Salut,

        I'd choose another electrician if I were you. The "NF C 15-100" French standard is a real pain in the back with all the restrictions and requirements it includes. Fortunately it only applies when you're building a new house, otherwise doing any renovation work would cost more than the house.

        The standard does say that earth should be green&yellow, neutral sky blue, and live "any other colour".

        Which, I admit, could still be a bit confusing for colour-blind people (such as, say, myself) if you choose a bright colour for live.

        And this is since 1970. The fun starts when you buy a pre-1970 house where you may find :

        earth : red OR black, neutral : grey OR white, live : yellow OR green

        ...provided whoever did the job at the time followed the rules.

        I would know, I have an excellent electrician who is borderline autistic(*) when it comes to standards. Including how to wire live and neutral on a 3-prongs socket.

        He's Portuguese.

        (*) disclaimer : I'm NOT making fun of autism, and he's NOT autistic. He's a great guy. It's a figure of speech.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @macjules

        You should have taken a peek at "norme NF C 15-100" before posting ...

  2. TonyJ Silver badge

    Oh man I have a few comments here:

    Firstly, I worked at an Atos site some years ago that genuinely had a sign in the kitchen area telling people to use the microwave to boil milk and not the kettle...what...the....actual?

    Secondly, and a bit of a coincidence, but I found out purely by chance last night that Maplin's are a going online-only concern again. Been back up and running since last year, apparently.

    Third...I am no audiophile by any stretch of the imagination but I do have a vinyl player and a semi-decent non-valve based amp. I wouldn't go to the expense of gold wires in the walls, multi-thousand pound speakers and valve-based amps because, frankly, I am not one of those people who would even appreciae the nuances, but it did always make me smile when I saw those valve-based amplifier docks for iPhones et al back in the say.

    That's it I think. Happy Friday everyone and thanks for the smile, Dabbsy

    1. Dwarf Silver badge

      Maplin are an online e only concern.

      So, let me get this right. This means that you get the benefit of buying at a significantly higher price, but now with the added disadvantage of having to wait for it to turn up in the post ?

      I thought that the only reason anyone went to Maplins is because they needed it now and were prepared to pay well over the odds for the pleasure.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Upvoted because of your use of the word "valve" instead of the word that hip people use… "tube"

      Though your use of the phrase " vinyl player" almost got you a downvote. I am sure that you really wanted to write "record player" or "turntable".

      But I wish I could give you at least a triple upvote for your use of the phrase "Happy Friday everyone"

      And may you have had the same.

      Ishy

      1. Persona Bronze badge

        Valves are what us Brits call those things that needed replacing every few months to keep your TV working. Our American cousins called them tubes for reasons I've never grasped as toothpaste doesn't come out when you squeeze them.

        1. Rasslin ' in the mud

          RE: "toothpaste doesn't come out when you squeeze them"

          Trains don't run in them, either.

        2. TRT Silver badge

          Vacuum tubes.

          They don't have a nozzle on either.

        3. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          toothpaste doesn't come out when you squeeze them

          You need to upgrade your toddlers. Nothing, not matter how apparently vacuum sealed, is safe.

  3. RockBurner

    The house is very likely a pre-faraday cage already - just connect every wire to every other wire and bingo.... a nice quiet life. :)

  4. A K Stiles Silver badge
    Joke

    That box of old cables

    you were opining / conveying serious journalism about a couple of months back - break that lot out and chain them together alongside a bulb from the rusty old bicycle in the loft and nick the batteries from the half-life wife's bedside erm... clock... then you can cobble together a battery powered sensor kit so you can connect it to each wire in turn until the bulb turns on, then don't forget to label each wire in hand-written scrawl on a piece of second hand masking tape so that when you come back it'll have faded or just fallen off completely and you can do it all again!

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: That box of old cables

      That's an awful lot of running up and down steps from the description of his wire bundles. On the other hand, once identified and then removed, there's a nice pile of cash to be made selling it to the scrap yard.

  5. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

    Lightbulb moment

    I think I've worked out why Dabbsy cant get any mobile signal near his house!

  6. Alister Silver badge

    "dem-bones" – this cable is connected to the… RIGHT speaker in bedroom 2, this cable is connected to the… LEFT rear cinema tweeter in the lounge, all hear the word of the Lord.

    Thanks Alistair, made my Friday, I genuinely LOLd at that.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      all hear the word of the Lord.

      in glorious Dolby 5.1 quadraphonic SECAM.

  7. Red Ted
    Go

    Kraftwerk

    With the kitchens I have observed the opposite problem too, with people tutting at the slightest coffee-cup-ring..

    Like the Kraftwerk, I was expecting "Pocket Calculator" though. Who cannot like:

    "By pressing down a special key, It plays a little melody"

    1. Andy Non Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Kraftwerk

      Playing in the background at the moment; alas not over cat5 but enjoying the blast down the memory lane of music. :-)

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Kraftwerk

      I was hoping it would be "The Model", so I could post this. Oh well, looks like I did anyway...

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Kraftwerk

        I was going to go with this

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xw3yeRoSUAs

  8. Chris Evans

    DIY gone mad!

    This reminds me of my sons flat. Before he moved in about 15 years ago we removed about half the electric wall sockets! In the lounge each of the three corners had four or six double 13Amp sockets so over 30 in one room and looked ridiculous. I suspect the previous owner had an aversion to power strips.

    He also had in the modest flat a full alarm system with remote monitoring and a printer that recorded every event!

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: DIY gone mad!

      I think I know where they ended up after you tossed them.

      The one with the Benning Duspol and the isolating gloves in the pockets..

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: DIY gone mad!

      I saw a post on FB while visiting him. One of those "hey you need to see this"... It was of a house that was for sale. Several rooms were covered in power sockets, various cable points, etc. Our basic response what "WTF?". They were asking a premium price for all the "improvements".

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: DIY gone mad!

        Ack.. brain fart. "I saw a post on FB while visiting him." should be "I saw a post on FB while visiting a friend.". I need more coffee before commenting.

      2. Unicornpiss Silver badge

        Re: DIY gone mad!

        I rather wish I had that many wall sockets. I'm in a 100-yo house where the wiring standard at the time was 2 per bedroom. Some improvements have been done, but could always use more.

        1. DanceMan

          Re: DIY gone mad!

          My first house in Vancouver was a 1939 one-bedroom that had one outlet per room. 60 amp mains, knob and tube wiring, built by a fire captain whose widow lived in the house next door.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: DIY gone mad!

      I'd describe it as "adequate". I wish our house was like that.

  9. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker
    Megaphone

    Wired audio memoirs

    I will always be a fan of stationary, wired audio. I was going to write this against an AirPods article and didn't, but now...

    GARAGE: An RCA stereo AM/FM/tape/phono/aux receiver connected to some repurposed Aiwa two-way speakers (tweeter/woofer) from a compact surround set where the college friend (a girl) destroyed the central unit by leaving a lit candle on top (leaving a nice round hole). I have a home-brewed headphone-plug-to-RCA-plug adapter so I can use any source with a jack, which usually falls to my 2012 iPod Touch. Yes, iTunes still talks to it and it holds a significant chunk of my music library, and the battery life is okay when it's just locked up sitting there belting out audio. (It can also Bluetooth to our year-old Oontz speaker.)

    OFFICE: A Boston Acoustic (remember them? great stuff!) set with two small speakers and a central woofer/amp. Volume control on the right speaker; color coded plugs throughout. A gift from a grandfather when he passed down his old, obsolete Gateway (so old it had the Holstein pattern). The computer and Brother multifunction printer/scanner are long gone but the speakers live, and can fill my entire office with whatever I deem worthy as long as I don't attempt to sit right in front of them at that volume level. (They're good at any volume; a nice level for classical can't be heard 10 feet away but is still rich.)

    HEADPHONES: My favorites were a $20 Sony set bought at Walgreens in 1999 or 2000. Thick (but flexible) and long wire and large drivers that went all the way over the ear meant good bass. They lasted until about 2015 when the frame broke; replaced with another Sony pair (under $50) from Amazon, nearly identical in performance. These sit in the office for the music I DON'T want to share. At home, my new pair is a set of wired Beats (blame my daughter; it was a gift for Father's Day). Soft ears and LOUD, because she wanted me to use them for mowing (cue the iPod Touch again because it's robust enough to handle the abuse). They may have TOO much bass when not competing with an engine. Plus, whenever I stop the mower to empty the bagger, I have to turn the volume down first.

    I'll keep my old audio tech as long as necessary, because new stuff is usually either utter crap or too expensive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wired audio memoirs

      Upvoted because… I loved your post.

      Quote I'll keep my old audio tech as long as necessary, because new stuff is usually either utter crap or too expensive" Unquote.

      I am still listening to music via my prehistoric Linn, Naim, Isobarik six pack" from the early 80's.

      Though, please allow me to suggest that when you are in the market for new headphones, give a listen to any of the Pioneer dj series headphones. They are seriously meaty and loud. I use them in my line of work.

      But, regardless, am just glad to see you just use whatever you enjoy listening to and, above all else, keep on with enjoying the vibes. And fuck whatever other people (including myself) think.

      Hope you are having a groovy and musical weekend

      Ishy

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

        Re: Wired audio memoirs

        @AC: Thanks for the upvote.

        My favorite gear* site ( MusiciansFriend.com ) runs a Stupid Deal of the Day and often puts studio-engineer-grade headphones like Marantz up for a deep discount. I'm biding my time until the newer Sonys meet with an accident (I'm sure they will). I'll consider the Pioneer then, and compare all specs I can get my eyes on.

        * Usually drum hardware like sticks, heads, and accessories, not audio. It's usually life-long musicians that truly appreciate unencumbered** sound reproduction.

        ** I once bought a cheap CD of Holst's The Planets (don't remember which orchestra) and hated the engineering on it -- oversaturated microphones almost the entirety of Mars and much of Jupiter. After years, I finally checked out an EMI recording from Britain, conducted by Adrian Bolt (sp?), from my local library. Now I can enjoy those tracks again!

        I don't care what anyone listens to, but if your audio system can't reproduce to your liking (and a minimum standard of fidelity), it fails. And if it's so loud that I can hear other things vibrating, adding "noise" to the intended audio, that's also a fail.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Wired audio memoirs

      Must get the Button Monster fixed up.

  10. Spanners Silver badge
    Pint

    Tone tracker

    At work, for this sort of investigation, I use a cable tracker - a "tone tester" but not the one used for tuning your guitar!

    You probably need to fit a plug up one end of the wire although I have a little device with crocodile clips.

    You plug the "transmitter" part into that and the other part can follow that particular cable along until you see where the other end is. Ours makes the same noise as the thing Dr McCoy in Start Trek used.

    Perhaps you know someone who works in IT support who can lend you one.

    1. Mr Sceptical
      Megaphone

      Re: Tone tracker

      We just call them cable tracers - used to help try and keep Maplin in business by buying ours there.

      Cheap ones are fine - just be aware they will not work on shielded cables like CAT5 (clue's in the name) until you get to the other end. Also not great on short-cicuits like loop would be.

      Set the unit to pulse tone for ease of listening and some have an LED to indicate its picking up a signal.

      1. It's just me

        Re: Tone tracker

        Unless you pay extra for the shielded stuff, Cat5 & 5e is UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair)

  11. Chris G Silver badge

    Cable heaven

    This nkes me think back to the many golden hours I have sat on the floor behind the ' entertainment centres' of friends and past girlfriends in their newly occupied flats or houses.

    The usual "I put all the cables in one carrier bag so as not to lose them' would see enough plastic and wire to run comms across the channel to France. Nothing labeled and seventy different types of plug with audio visual devices spanning every decade since Marconi was a boy.

    Thank god nowadays I have one smart but not internet linked telly in the kitchen, a 300W sound system in my workshop, a desktop and a laptop.

    Even the desktop is light on cables since I punched the HP printer.

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Cable heaven

      Nothing labeled and seventy different types of plug

      There's a related problem with power bricks. My house now contains about 25 years-worth of devices that rely on a power brick for low-voltage DC supply. I also have a corresponding collection of supplies, but matching them up is a challenge.

      The obvious thing would be to match on voltage and current. The bricks often have this printed on them, but the appliances are curiously cagey about their requirements. You'd think you could pair up the brands, but the bricks are always made by the likes of Jolly Chrysanthemum Inc of Kowloon.

      And when you eventually find a supply that seems correct for the device you want to resurrect, it turns out that the connectors don't match.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Cable heaven

        There's a related problem with power bricks

        The obvious solution would have been to label the device and the brick as you unpack them, using the method described a couple of comments back.

        So that you have a big box of widgets and a bag of power bricks, both with a sediment of scraps of not-sticky-anymore-tape with writing too faded to decipher.

      2. Unicornpiss Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Cable heaven

        AC Adapters

  12. juice Silver badge

    Oi! I resemble that remark...

    > I even heard that there is a fad among middle-aged musos for recreating well-known tunes using the 8bit audio chip in old Nintendo SNES consoles. This can't possibly be true, can it?

    To be fair, chiptune as a genre has been a thing for a good twenty years or so, though (for better or worse) it mostly revolves around the Gameboy. It's all about them three channels and a bit of whitenoise, innit?

    And while it's never been particularly mainstream (give or take the furore when Justin Timbaland "borrowed" large chunks of a few famous C64 SID tunes), it does keep hanging around the edges of alternative music, rubbing shoulders with livecoding, EBM and the like...

    1. SVV Silver badge

      Re: Oi! I resemble that remark...

      It's the Elektron Sidstation you're thinking of which used the old Commodore 64 SID chip because of its amazing capabilities. First came out 20 years ago, now horridly rare and expensive as they used up all the remaining SID chips in the world, and were even rumoured to be cannibalising old C64s just to get the sound chips out.

      Rather than hardware, there are many excellent free SID emulators available in VST (virtual studio technology) synth form : mine has lots of mappable dials which can be used for real time manipulation of sound shaping parameters, and it can produce hour after hour of unearthly warbles, freaky noises and fuzzy freakishness.

      1. juice Silver badge

        Re: Oi! I resemble that remark...

        > It's the Elektron Sidstation you're thinking of which used the old Commodore 64 SID chip because of its amazing capabilities

        There's plenty of variants - a friend has a C64 rigged up with dual sids, and I've been to gigs and festivals featuring everything from Spectrums to Amigas, Megadrives and circuit bent kids toys.

        Hell, Pixelh8 even produced a tune on the Colossus down at Bletchley Park...

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixelh8

        But in general, it's been the Gameboy which is most popular, which I suspect is mainly down to the fact that it's cheap and portable. So long as you have some AA batteries and some speakers handy, you can literally play anywhere. One of my favorite chiptune memories is of a jam/gig session while sat in Picadilly Gardens in Manchester: a dozen or so chiptuners taking turns to plug into a little amp while passerbys stopped to look and listen, kids ran around playing and a bunch of furries watched from one corner.

        Manchester. Tis a strange place, at times.

  13. CliveS
    WTF?

    More importantly, are the cables squamous and rugose because it sounds like they've been run through the walls in a non-Euclidian manner?

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Hopefully there aren't any rats in the walls, either.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Hopefully there aren't any rats in the walls

        I can guarentee there aren't here - 7 cats[1], one elderly half-JR and one young Podenco cross.

        If you are rodent-averse, my house is probably the safest place to be. Of course, if you are allergic to cats or dogs it's probably the worst place to be.

        [1] Although - out of the 7 only 5 are probably capable of (or interested in) catching rodents. One is too fat, the other is too paranoid.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Cat 7! Bang on. Faster than Cat 5.

        2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

          It was a reference to this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rats_in_the_Walls

      2. hplasm Silver badge
        Alert

        Don't forget to tie knots in them-

        -else the Hounds of Tindalos may seep in.

        The worst kind of crosstalk, Non-Euclidian Crosstalk...

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Non-Euclidian Crosstalk...

          Depends on the kind of non-Euclidean space - maybe in some there's no way anything can cross something....

  14. Andytug Bronze badge

    I've seen a house like that

    with all the audio kit wired from room to room with BT style multicore (80 thin unshielded wires in a cluster). $DEITY knows what the crosstalk was like.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: I've seen a house like that

      If it was actual BT multi-pair, then each pair is twisted to minimize crosstalk.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: I've seen a house like that

        Only any use if you have differential inputs, though.

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: I've seen a house like that

      "$DEITY knows what the crosstalk was like."

      Euclidean... <sorry, leaked from above post...>

  15. Andytug Bronze badge

    Also, wifi is all very well, but....

    if I had a quid for everyone that complained to me that their broadband is slow and "Virgin/Sky/Talktalk/whoever said I'm getting eleventyhundred megabytes" when using 802.11g wifi (max 56 megabits if router on top of a telegraph pole in the middle of an empty field) I'd have enough for a darn good weekend away...…

    If you want speed, use wires. (or fibre, although never seen that inside a house. Yet).

    1. holmegm Bronze badge

      Re: Also, wifi is all very well, but....

      "If you want speed, use wires. (or fibre, although never seen that inside a house. Yet)."

      I have a sort of theoretical fiber port in my home. They came round two or three years ago and installed it (for use by the people of the future), then put a piece of tape with a logo over it.

      I occasionally for fun call up and ask when it might be used for something, and am always assured that it will be really soon now (tm).

    2. jay_bea

      Re: Also, wifi is all very well, but....

      I've got FTTS - Fibre To The Shed (my office in the garden).

    3. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Also, wifi is all very well, but....

      (or fibre, although never seen that inside a house. Yet)

      Do drop by if you're in the Netherlands some time. Okay, it's just the backbone link between two switches, and that only because I had a couple of SFP's and some lengths of fibre to match.

      In my previous house I had a fibre run between my hobby room upstairs in the house and the garage at the back of the garden. Audio also ran over optical, with DIY analog-to-bitstream and back converters.

  16. chivo243 Silver badge

    ME?

    installed voice-activated Smart Shit - Never on your life.... Within the last year, I found a Dumb refrigerator, bought it! The TV will be giving up the ghost any day now, will be looking for a Dumb TV to replace it.

    1. holmegm Bronze badge

      Re: ME?

      I'm thinking a monitor with HDMI port? What reason is there to even have a tuner in the TV anymore, to say nothing of "smarts'?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: ME?

        *sigh*

        I thought that once. Apparently some TV manufacturers of smart but dumb check if you are in UK TV Play license region by reading the fingerprint of the DTV signal coming in via the aerial. Just to get the built-in app to work. It's infuriating.

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Dumb TV to replace it

      Just don't give it passwords, nor plug in the ethernet. On some you can disable the BT and WiFi.

      I'll go now, being late to this party people have written all my comments already.

  17. Trygve Henriksen

    Voice activated Stupid gear? Not happening.

    (It's 'stupid' because the processing happens outside the box, often in Google's server farms)

    I'm slowly smartening up my home, too, but yeah, I'm using 433MHz and Z-wave kit mostly.

    And I'm using HomeSeer, not the manufacturer's cloudy solutions, or ITTT.

    I should probably label some of the cabling in my 'network closet', though. And now you can get heat-shrink TZe tapes...

    1. DasWezel
      Thumb Up

      Mycroft.ai and similar might be worth looking at, but otherwise I agree - no cloud managed voice gubbins. Apple, Amazon and Google can do one if they think I'm giving them a free mic in the house.

      I'm going down a similar route, but with Sonoff gear flashed with Tasmota controlled by OpenHAB. Haven't really investigated the Z-wave stuff much but it does look interesting!

      The only fly in the ointment at the minute is the cloud-controlled Haverland heaters, but I've already got direct access to the API (JS based web interface? Don't mind if I do!) bundled down to a couple of half-arsed libraries (that I really should finish and release), but ultimately what I do need to do is MITM the RF box and roll my own server.

  18. hopkinse
    Thumb Down

    Over-zealous office cleaners...

    many moons ago I worked in an office where I used to have to hide my coffee cup every night because the cleaners thought it was a good idea to periodically dump any cups they could lay their hands into a bucket of bleach, presumably to get the tannin stains off the tea-drinkers' cups. Took a good couple of days to get rid of the hint of bleach taste drinking coffee so god knows how bad it must have tasted drinking tea out of them!

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Over-zealous office cleaners...

      get the tannin stains off the tea-drinkers' cups

      What! Remove the years-worth of flavouring? Nooooooooo!

      Almost as bad as my mum taking a wire-wool scourer to my favourite wok[1] on time she visited on the basis that 'it looked dirty'.

      I had to season it all over again and cook more chinese meals for several months before it got back to being properly coated.

      (Although I do have to wash my coffee mug - the ladies in the coffee shop at work tell me off if it isn't clean..)

      [1] A proper Ken Hom mild steel wok. None of yer teflon-coated rubbish. I actually have two of them - one for cooking meat and the other for rice/vegetable dishes that I use for cooking if my vegetarian niece comes over.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Over-zealous office cleaners...

        They hang on hooks either side of your wall mounted kitchen time piece.

        Yes, you gonna wok around the clock tonight.

        1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Over-zealous office cleaners...

          I'm upvoting this. But I shouldn't.

  19. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    On the other hand...

    I'm having no "smart" tech in my house whatsoever. I have an internet connected amp for internet radio, and that's about it other than a fairly powerful router.

    I gives me lots of pleasure in almost being able to feel the misery of my "smart" TVs smartness having been neutered because I refuse to connect it to any form of network. If I want to adjust the heating or turn on a lamp, guess what... I just get up and adjust the heating and / or flick a switch.

    As for Alexa or Google, over my dead body.

    1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

      Re: On the other hand...

      I'm having no "smart" tech in my house whatsoever.

      I wouldn't be without my smart technology.

      Like the machine where I just put my dirty washing in, press a start button, and it comes out clean. Or the one that cleans my floors for similar effort. Or even the one I use for reading El Reg.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: On the other hand...

      As for Alexa or Google, over my dead body.

      Be careful what you wish for, you might get it ;)

  20. AndrueC Silver badge
    Facepalm

    You missed an item out of your kitchen list. Wet dishcloth left in the sink. Seriously - what's so difficult about giving it a wring then leaving it on the draining area?

    It's going to be infested with bacteria anyway but at least if you wring it out there might not be quite as many and it won't be so nasty to pick up :-/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'll raise you browning apple cores and snack wrappers in the plug hole, where the bin is an arms length from the sink!

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        I'll up that raise with a stack of seemingly clean saucers and 2 inexplicably dirty cups left in the sink, at 8 in the morning.

      2. FrogsAndChips Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: bins, why is it also that presumably intelligent people can't figure out how to use the proper bins, despite clear instructions? The Food Waste bin says "Food and tea bags", so WTF are cardboard and plastic containers doing there? And do you really think crisp packs belong in the Recyclable bin? FFS the whole building is trying to go plastic-free, why can't you be arsed to do your part, take 2 seconds to connect you neurons and think before dumping your waste down the nearest hole?

        1. holmegm Bronze badge

          The problem with that is that people in the aggregate either can't or won't do it (it hardly matters which).

          So designing systems that rely upon them all doing so, is like designing software that depends on perfect input being supplied. It's a systems engineering failure.

    2. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

      Dishcloths do that. Leave them rinsed and reasonably wholesome somewhere sensible, and the next day they're swimming in mucky water of uncertain origin.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. Dr_N Silver badge

    What's your poison?

    "I put down my backpack and head straight back to the kitchen to brew up some chai."

    I had you pegged as one of those Maté drinkers, Mr Dabbs. My bad.

  22. batfink Silver badge

    Conduits?

    One of the things that mystifies me about UK houses is why all the wiring is buried in plaster, and excavations are required for any change. Has nobody heard of conduit??

    A friend had a house in France, and explained that the French standard was to have a conduit horizontal in the walls at 1m off the floor. So, at least you had a clue where to look for the power line etc. Then, as discussed, you deal with the rest of the French electrical standards...

    1. davemcwish

      Re: Conduits?

      The prior owner of my house does (ex council). It had 5mm steel conduit for the lighting circuit and brass faceplates. On trying to diagnose a non working light, I viewed in the summer so wasn't aware, I discovered the interesting feature; there were no earth wires.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Conduits?

      the French standard was to have a conduit horizontal in the walls at 1m off the floor.

      Not one that I've heard of, and you should never run conduit horizontally above skirting level, nor diagonally. Vertical only.

  23. Dr_N Silver badge

    Is this in France?

    "The amazing thing is that all these cables are embedded deep into the walls. Not just in the plaster but behind the bricks, "

    So are these cables embedded diagonally, French style?

    That's why French electricians never reuse existing cables and always chase new ones.

  24. Oengus Silver badge

    Hot desking - law of unintended consequences

    It only takes a few seconds to pick my hot-desk location for the day since it's always the same one

    When our office implemented "hot desking". We (IT) were instructed that we had to set the example and not sit at the same desk all of the time.

    One guy decided that he would have a desk for each day of the week, in my regular office I just swap between two desks others took the random approach seriously.

    As I was part of the implementation team I was responsible for checking each desk. Each desk was setup with a Targus USB docking station with LAN, 27" LCD screen and power adapter and plugs for the different laptops. The first two sites went okay (approximately 100 spaces per site). At the third site I started to have issues with docks. About half way through testing the third site all of docks were failing. Docks I tested early at the third site were OK but the later ones all failed. Another of the guys tested the failed docks and they worked but my laptop steadfastly refused to work with any "new" dock. Eventually we determined that the issue was the number of docks I had connected to. Each dock installed their own driver because of the different MAC addresses on the LAN ports. After 250+ drivers were installed the drivers had an issue and wouldn't install. Targus were able to provide a solution with a "Ghost" dock removal tool but it served as a warning to management about people being "too mobile".

  25. Blackjack

    Smart homes meet Hal... itosis

    When someone you respect, not you, don't be silly, is so paranoid about his data online despite working on a business that does just that, and laughs in your face when you ask what wifi toaster you should get, what makes you think a smart home is a good idea?

    Internet and any wireless connection main purpose is to steal from you.

    In the past century, a toaster burglar was a joke, nowadays is a reality.

    Toast! With data stealing, steal your credit card number, Yes or Yes?

    NO!!!!

    Yes, here your toast with a side of credit card number stolen, have a nice day and eat more toast!

  26. John 110
    IT Angle

    I feel your pain...

    ...regarding people's housekeeping habits. I worked in a teaching hospital (before the retirement fairy visited), the practical part of a medical school -- Training the next generation of doctors, nurses etc. They have had to replace the carpets in the foyer three times because of chewing gum embedded in it (finally, they just tiled the stairs and they get somebody in in the summer to steam it all off). Who spits chewing gum onto a carpet!! Especially who with the levels of intelligence and qualifications required to be a Doctor spits chewing gum onto a carpet!!!

    And as for tea-rooms. My particular place of employment was a Microbiology lab. Every six months, a nice lady would go through the fridge and empty out the hairy sandwiches and vastly out of date yoghurt and juice cartons and send a group email reminding people to wash the stuff in the sink, don't just dump it there. (She's retired, so goodness knows who does it now)

  27. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Once Upon a Time...

    One of my clients lost a big, big building contract. But then the winner got booted out, and my client took on new premises and got all tradesmen involved in a mega, mega deadline as a condition of taking the job on. My job was to cable up the Ethernet into a new cabinet and get all the pc's up and working. Everyone met their deadline, with the sole exception of BT, who were simply asked to run a new fax line. They picked a cable from those festooned around the wiring cabinet during the period when I was punching down, and used that to provide service. They were told in no uncertain terms that they should come back and do the job properly.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "What there homes must be like".

    Many times I've heard when on cleaning jobs, that staff that were atrocious at work because "we have cleaners" had spotless homes.

    They had respect for themselves, but not for anyone else.

    In every other job I've had, when working in the small offices, we were respectful to each other, and kept ahead and cleaned up after ourselves (expect for one or two clueless millennials, or a totally unqualified and horrid manager who was a little prison guard style screw). Bigger offices turned into shark pools, and people just took the mickey.

  29. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: I find it appalling that

      WTF are you on about? The gist of both the article and many comments is that people should be civilized enough to clean up after themselves.

      Take a chill pill!

  30. Martin-R

    Please leave the kitchen as you'd like to find it

    I'll need a skip, and a budget...

  31. Graham Dawson Silver badge
    Mushroom

    I can beat this. The house I currently occupy was built in the 70s, as a series of concrete slabs held together with glue and rubber. The wiring is largely original (right down to the wylex in the porch that I upgraded with late 70s-era push-button fuses only because it was threatening to explode every time I ran a shower), and cannot be replaced for one simple reason. It's embedded in the concrete.

    I assume there must be ducting in there somewhere, but I'll be damned if I can find it, and I don't want to risk trying to pull new wiring through in case it disappears into some parallel universe along the way. And it may already have done that, because the way everything is wired up makes very little sense to the average mind. There are three floors - it's a townhouse, so we get an extra floor with a garage on it - and two lighting circuits.

    The first lighting circuit feeds the porch, the bottom of the second flight of stairs, the front toilet, the kitchen and the front bedroom. There's a double switch by the front door. One turns on the porch light. The other turns on a random wire that goes nowhere that I can see.

    The second circuit feeds the top of the first flight, the living room, the kitchen, a back bedroom, the upper bathroom and the garage. There's another double switch for the top of the first flight in the living room. One switches the light. The second switches nothing. A third pair of wires also emerges here; both are live, either by inductance or just because. I have no idea where they go either.

    There's a third feed that doesn't appear to be wired into the fuse box, but is live in the space that used to hold a narrow chimney and a gas fire. There's another lighting circuit that feeds somewhere into the back yard. The loft lighting is spurred from the electric shower (or was - I disconnected it because I don't want to die).

    All of the ring mains in the entire house are on a single 30 amp fuse. A second 30 amp fuse feeds two sockets in the kitchen, and only those two sockets. I'm assuming it was for a water heater, because it's not for the cooker, which is only attached to the gas supply but still somehow manages to have a sparking lighter. I think there's a peltier charging a battery on the back.

    Sometimes the garage floods, but that's an aside.

    There's an external security light. As far as I can tell it isn't connected to anything, but it lights upevery time someone drives past on the main road a quarter of a mile away. It has a switch on the skirting board by the TV aerial.

    The shower has its own separate fuse. The wiring was green when I examined it, because whoever intalled it decided it would be ok to just connect a few strands to the fuse, and then bypass the fuse itself with a thick piece of copper so that it would keep going even if it was loaded with more than the rated 40 amps, because life just isn't worth living.

    Half the lights are connected with flex coming out of random holes in the concrete, instead of 1.5mm protected pair as you'd expect. CPC is an afterthought. Some of this wiring is just dangling bare in cavities.

    Help.

    1. a__d

      If it makes you feel any better, I've been slow discovering the horrors of my house wiring. Every socket has 3 pins, but opening them up shows them to have only 2 wires - live and neutral, with an additional wire joining the ground and neutral pins. We lost 2 TVs, numerous cable TV boxes and 2 computers to power surges before this became apparent. Also, I recently discovered that our lighting circuit was wired also to the dishwasher, fridge and microwave, meaning that the circuit breaker trips if you run the dishwasher and the microwave at the same time, and all the lights go out. I found one plug never worked, and when I traced the wire back, I found the wire to that circuit was covered in paint. Stripping the paint off and refitting the circuit got that working (so I can now move the .microwave to another circuit). Oh and the security light and sprinkler pump share a circuit, so if the sprinklers come on in the dark, and cat walks across the lawn making the light come on, the breaker trips and both cut out. But the electric is nothing to the horrors we found with the plumbing (such as the waste drain from the washing machine that was just a pipe that went into the ground- not a French drain, just a (blocked) pipe to nowhere...

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Every socket has 3 pins, but opening them up shows them to have only 2 wires - live and neutral, with an additional wire joining the ground and neutral pins.

        Technically this can appear to work,because neutral is grounded to earth at the substation, so any fault current will also run to ground that way. It causes problems because neutral is still a supply, so if you do get a fault, you get a potential 480V drop instead of just grounding out. Things go bang.

        The more I read of your comment, the more I think I might actually have the better situation...

    2. tallenglish

      Sounds like a "prefab"

      Those buildings were supposed to be temporary, I am impressed if it is still standing and safe to live in.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: Sounds like a "prefab"

        It's still standing, certainly.

        I was a little hyperbolic with the description, but nut by much. It's concrete walls and floor with steel joists, and with a brick outer skin. Pretty sound, structurally, but an absolute bugger to keep warm. The rest is about right, though: random wires coming out of concrete from god knows where, strange, rubbery things holding parts of the building together, and god-awful light positioning.

    3. xpz393
  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even more annoying

    I used to work in a shared multi-professional educational establishment. One team of professionals were apparently incapable of placing their mugs, plates etc. into the handy dishwasher*, sticking them in the sink for the plate fairy to deal with instead. The dishwasher was within arms reach of the sink.

    *And no.when it was their turn to empty the thing they never did that either. Nor did they ever hand wash their filthy plates so they didn't have the "I never use it" excuse. In fact, some were known to go off and sulk if there were no clean mugs in the rack or washer. - [Come to think of it, they always managed to open it when they needed something (clean) from within.]

  33. DanceMan

    The Impermanence of wiring

    The ex and I had a house built around 1984 and I did a bunch of low-voltage wiring before the walls were drywalled (covered.) By now all of it has been super-ceded by newer standards. The 75 ohm coax for cable tv is now a heavier gauge, cat5 has replaced the old untwisted telephone wire, and surround sound arrived after I'd run zip cord for speaker wiring, so no rear speaker wires. The zip cord for alarm and intercom has become cat5 standard.

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

      Re: The Impermanence of wiring

      The previous owners here had all rooms coaxed with a powered amp/splitter running from a common Big Cable Co. feed, And all RJ11 phone connections in the house were done using Cat5 instead of normal phone line (leaving a bunch of wires unconnected).

      When my Big Phone Co. guy came and I told him what I wanted and where, he dutifully ran his own line from the outside across the basement straight up to the home office (why bother to reuse the existing Cat5 run?) and ran some new coax too, tying it in to the 2 existing coax I wanted live and disconnecting the rest (~8?).

      With DECT cordless phone and Wi-Fi, I don't need the Cat5 and probably won't need the coax either (we keep our bedrooms screen-free), so there's now a whole bunch of unused copper in this house.

      P.S. That's okay, I did a similar thing in the LAST house, but at least when I was trying to figure it out I bothered to label a bunch of it near the main splitters. If they want to wire something back up, they might just be lucky enough to do it!

  34. Dr_N Silver badge

    PS

    "Copper Cthulu": Brilliant.

  35. FlippingGerman

    "Me, I've just moved into a house" - oh, you've moved house? You should have said before!

  36. tallenglish

    Alistair Dabbs is such a millenial.

    That cable likely cost a bomb from Richer Sounds because it is multi cored to prevent clipping. Connected to a equally expensive tube or Nad amp or similar with only audio selector and volume control - no remote here as settings rarely change.

    Alistair, I say embrace the Boomer / Gen X ways when people werent lazy and embraced hi-fi audio, not some digitised crap sent to a speaker that is worth £10 and only good for listening to britiny spears or justin beiber shrilling.

    BTW, we geeks have moved on from Xbox or jail breaking your old phone, to creating battle bots or drones with raspberry pi. The more raspberry pi you have "in a cluster" ot number of "projects on the go, and on youtube" is your official geek status.

    I do miss the days when TV and Movies were original and not remade for the latest whiney pc babies and "woke" generation. When things were hard, but you had a sense of achievement for doing anything.

    Long live the boomers and Gen X.

  37. Olivier2553 Silver badge

    Why use the bin?

    I don't understand your obsession with people throwing things in the trash can. It's not like they wanted to archive their old tea bags or empty packs of crisps, So why puting them in the bin?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Why use the bin?

      Restore from trash can. That half eaten pizza from two days ago.

  38. Anonymous Tribble

    Mummified cat5

    "Not just in the plaster but behind the bricks, along with the usual lost spirit levels, witch dolls, mummified cats and a chained-up Fortunato."

    I just have the usual CAT5e cable running through my walls, but I do know someone who did find some mummified cats in their walls, along with a few other interesting objects.

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