Smart home getting dumber

For sure Cat 6 (future proof). I’ll let the real tech gurus weigh in on shielding, but that’s going to be an added ball ache when making your terminations, so I’d go commando if there’s not a pressing reason to put the shields up.

My only other recommendation is to run two lines to every wall plate.

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  • Cat5e can handle pretty much any of today’s residential applications, and is the cheapest
  • Cat6 is good for future proofing, costs about 40-50% more than Cat5e
  • Not much reason to go Cat6A, which costs 50% more than Cat6
  • Brand of bulk cable does not really matter much
  • If running cable inside walls I would go plenum-rated, which is durable and the most fire resistant
  • If running cable on the outside of your house, use UV-rated
  • Don’t bother with shielded unless you have a specific need for it

Network Update: It’s been a day.

Since moving the Xfinity Gateway into my network closet, the WiFi performance in the back yard has been dogshit. I am getting over 900mbps down and over 100mbps up at my ethernet-connected Mac Mini (Xfinity recently increased the upload speed dramatically, which is welcome), but I was barely getting 5mbps in the yard.

I figured mesh wifi was the way to go, so I ordered a TP-Link XE75 tri-band mesh router system and a gigabit cable modem from Motorola. I set it all up and it worked. I also took the opportunity to change my wifi credentials to use a randomly-generated 20-character password. This meant that I would have to reset everything connected to my smart home, so I decided to blow up my smart home and set-up anew from scratch.

This wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it sounds nor as bad as I feared. Recreating my smart home was the easy bit. The hard part was that a small number of smart devices would not connect to the new wifi, notably the thermostat that wouldn’t latch on even if I limited the network to 2.4ghz.

More disturbing, though, was the internet speeds I was getting out of the new system. Wifi download speeds were notable better, but nothing was getting any more than 5mbps upload, which is what the pre-upgrade speed was. My Mac mini was barely cracking 500mbps down and crawling at the same 5mbps upload speeds as the wifi. It also didn’t like me connecting my Mac via ethernet and wifi (the latter allows authentication to be done on my watch).

I gave up futzing with it, put the Xfinity Gateway back in place, reset it and used my new wifi credentials for the network and hey presto! Speed restored, the temperamental devices would now connect and everything else just dropped into place smoothly.

I’m going to do a bit of research before sending all the new kit back, but there’s going to have to be some pretty compelling reasons to keep it. How embarrassing to be beaten into a cocked hat by the ISP’s equipment!

It was precisely here

that my eyes rolled into the back of my head and I fell out of my chair and hit my head on the table next to my desk and knocked over my rotary dial phone, which, in retrospect was serendipitous, because I was eventually revived by the phone’s howler tone.


Don’t knock it 'til you try it.

I’m with chuck on this one. A smartwatch offends my horological sensibilities on multiple levels.

And mesh wifi sucked for me. It looks great on paper, but in practice it was a huge disappointment.

Having the wifi on my Mac turned on means that it will open without a password when I wake it up, and I can get into the passwords app without having to enter a separate password. Also, I can use my watch to approve online purchases made on my Mac.

I don’t understand the pushback. I appreciate that Apple has these layers of security in place, and also that they provide convenient workarounds for verified users. It’s smart use of technology and this is the smart home thread.

Yeah, I’m not sure what the solution is here. I know for sure that I am not spending $1k on wifi for a 1500sf house.


Partly to yank your Apple chain. And partly because digital watches are just ugly. But mostly because I have an affinity for mechanical watches (similar to my affinity for fountain pens, safety razors, and analog hifi).

Honestly, just adding a wifi repeater pretty much gave me what I needed on the back patio. I’m going to add another one to cover the back corner of the yard where I like to sit in the morning and have coffee and a breakfast cigar.

I had an Omega Seamaster for years, and I loved how it looked. Couldn’t tell the time on the damn thing (because I was in denial about my eyesight) and no one ever commented on it. I also used to wear semi-tailored shirts from Jermyn Street to the office.

I find my Apple Watch to be incredibly useful, I can read the time and no one has ever commented on it. Currently, I am in my home office wearing an old pair of jeans and an even older t-shirt. If I leave the house today, I will put on shoes and a sweater.

It pains me to think that my solution is going to be to get an extender-pod from Xfinity, but that’s where we are. Or, rather, that’s how much (affordable) mesh wifi sucks.

Figured you to be a Breitling Navitimer kind of bloke.

At least you remembered to put some pants on.

I wanted to like mesh, and it’s a great concept. I just couldn’t get it to work, at least with the as you say affordable home network options. The repeater is not as slick, but gets the signal and speed where I want it.

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We got one for free from them.

New customer so ymmv.

All my far reaching connectivity issues (like an IP security camera at the back corner of the yard) immediately wet away just by getting such a Pod. Easy-peasy. Plug it in and you are good to go.

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I am a networking god who does his own stunts!

I went up a 15ft ladder to remove the extraneous and ugly wires up the outside of the house.

One of them was the live cable connection, however, so first I pulled a replacement cable through the smurf tube from the outside into the attic and connected that down to the Xfinity gateway.

Then up the ladder I went to cut the live cable as high as I dare to save as much of the painted wire as possible. I got all the other lines down, save two that I could pull in from the attic side.

I connected the line from the smurf tube to the live cable and was rewarded with confirmation that my internet was back on. I clipped up the wire on the outside, pulled the slack into the attic and pulled the old lines in.

Well, one of them, anyway. Can’t find the other one inside, so I’m going to have to go back up the ladder. Not too excited about that prospect.

Meanwhile, I have add an extender pod in the kitchen, with a wired backhaul, and my outside wifi runs at over 600mbps down and 60mbps up. I did this while sipping on the first of many celebratory beers.

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When this is all over you’re going to have to find a hobby.


It will never be over.


Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

Meanwhile, that last wire is secured inside somehow, and won’t pull out from the outside. The additional, terrifying ladder trip was a waste of time, and now I’m lost as to what to do.

It ain’t over because it ain’t over.

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Battery operated video doorbell review for those interested.

New toys.

Can I write with it?

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