Speed test

I have been trying for days to upload images, with very little success. We have had no real problems going online. It is just uploading that is an issue.

This might be why. 😒

At one point, during the doors test, the upload speed dropped to 0.01mbps.

Also, it took a couple of tries to upload this from my phone, too.

The storm continues and is expected to, through the night. While shoveling this morning, I checked the satellite dishes, and they seem clear. The wind is from the north, so they are sheltered.

Time to stay cozy and warm inside!

The Re-Farmer

Making Waves

I’m still having difficulties uploading images, so I’ll have quite a bit of catch-up to do later. So far, I’ve been able to upload a few photos here and there, but not enough to do even one complete post with them! The rest of the family is having slow uploads on their machines, too, so it seems like it’s our internet, even though downloads seem to be unaffected.

For now.

The predicted snow and stormy weather has arrived. When I drove my daughter to work, we had some freezing rain, but just barely enough to feel it. We started to drive into snow the closer we got to town.

After dropping her off, I stopped by the lake to see the conditions. It took a while, but I was at least able to upload this video.

I was being pelted with freezing rain as I took this, so I didn’t stay out long. By the time I went from getting this video to getting to a gas station, just a few blocks away, the freezing rain had become blowing snow. On the drive home, I was heading right into the oncoming storm! Visibility was down to about 150 meters, if that.

As I write this, the winds seem to be doing down – at least for a little while. It’s supposed to continue snowing through tomorrow, then be rain and snow on Saturday. By Sunday, it should clear up. Which is good, because we are having Thanksgiving dinner that day with my old brother; we’ll get to finally meet their first grandson! I certainly hope the highways are good, because they’re driving in from out of province. 😦 Looking at the weather radar, this storm system is coming almost straight up from the US, so they should be clear for most of their drive. Unfortunately, the most severe part of the system looks like it’ll pass over the city. My brother’s place may get some of that, too. While they may not get the worst of it, they’re definitely going to get hit harder than we are. My nephew and his family will have to drive through that to get to my brother’s.

After this, things will start to warm up a bit and I expect that, locally at least, the snow will not stay. Which is good, because we still have some winterizing to do out there!

The Re-Farmer

Fun times…

Okay, I’m being only slightly sarcastic with that title… 😉

The cold snap continues, and is supposed to continue for about a week.

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The above picture was taken a few days ago, on the last milder day, just before we headed into town to get to the pharmacy before the weather got worse. The camera automatically cleans up the image, so the visibility was actually poorer than it appears in the picture.

Right now, we have a cloudless sky. It’s bright and clear and…

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Hoop Jumping, discoveries and tech upgrades

Since moving out here, there have been quite a few things that we’ve tried to do that needed unusual hoop jumping.  The most severe being our issues with transferring our identification, but another has been getting an internet connection.  Since we couldn’t afford to have a minimum 60ft tower installed, we had to go with satellite internet, and then ended up needing to get two accounts, because it was cheaper than going over our data limit.  Satellite internet has more speed limitations, too.  Our internet provider, however, recently gained access to another satellite and could offer higher upload and download speeds, with less interruptions, so we signed up for it.  Someone was scheduled to come in this afternoon to switch it for us.

Before that happened, we got to work on our daughters’ taxes.  In Canada, we have until April 30 to file.  Normally, we just do the TurboTax thing, but it had issues with my husband’s disability information.  So he and I have taken our tax information to the tax preparer in the next town.  This guy (it’s a family business) has done the taxes for my parents for as long as I can remember, and still does them for my mother.  Probably my brother who lives out here, too.  We’d gone to him when we lived out here years ago, so it was a bit funny to be going back to him again, after all these years.

Our daughters, however, should have been able to just do theirs as usual, right?

Wrong.

Turns out that they can’t file their taxes online, because of the new address.

They can’t log onto the Government of Canada website to change their address, because they’ve never needed to start accounts on the site before, and to start one, they needed information from last year’s taxes.  Which was lost when we lost my husband’s desktop computer after the move.

The alternative is to phone Canada Revenue.  The website says to change the address online, or call a 1-800#, providing a list of the information that would be needed.  One of my daughters called the number, got the automated system, went through the whole thing, only to have a recording tell her to go do it online.

Of course, the reason for phoning was because doing in online wasn’t an option.

Which meant they couldn’t file their taxes.

In the end, we gathered their tax stuff, drove into town and dropped it off with the same guy that’s doing mine and my husband’s.

The tax preparer’s wife took their stuff and got their information onto envelopes.  As we were chatting, she made an observation on how much my younger daughter resembles her grandfather (my husband’s dad).  Until then, I had forgotten that he’d done my in-laws’ taxes, too!

That done, we didn’t stay in town long.  Sadly, it seems one of my daughters has caught my cold.  I’m still sick as well, though I am getting better – the coughing fits are still a problem – so being out and about was pushing things.

Speaking of pushing things, before we headed out, I started to gather up some of the branches and twigs in the yard, now that the snow is gone.  There is a LOT of them.  In the process, I made a discovery.

20180423trees

These little spruce trees were deliberately planted, right by the fence.

I don’t get it.

First off, why are two spruce trees planted in the middle of the fence line like that in the first place.  There are already quite a number of mature maples there, including a couple that will need to be pruned away from the power line to the house, as well as trimmed so that, once the leaves come in, they won’t be blocking our satellite signal.  You can see part of the row of maples on the other side of the fence.  The fence line used to be on the other side of those trees with a gate to the pump shack – the red building in the background.

Second, why so close together?  Spruces get quite large.  They should be planted anywhere from 8 – 15 feet apart.  We’re looking at less than 4 feet apart here.

And finally, why are they planted right at the fence?  As they get bigger, they will grow into and destroy the fence.

Yet there they are, with little support poles and tiny picket fences to protect them.  Initially, I’d thought maybe they seeded themselves, but the fact that they are protected like this shows that they were deliberately planted.

Why would someone deliberately plant trees in such a way that they will destroy the fence as they get bigger?

I don’t get it.

Meanwhile…

When we got back home, the internet guy was here and busily installing two new satellite dishes.

On the sunroom roof.

Oh, dear.  My old brother specifically said he didn’t want them installed on the roof.  Turns out, there was no choice.

Because of the trees.

It was the only place he could get a signal.

The old dishes were already down, and he took extra care to ensure there would be no leaking caused by the satellites.  It took him a couple of hours to finish up.  When he was done, he tested the speed at about 35mbps.  When I had the chance, I tested the wifi signal on my phone.  I got 40mbps for download speed, and 1.89mbps for upload speed.  The first is quite a lot faster than before – I think we were getting between 10-14mbps consistently.  The upload speed is almost doubled.

That should make live easier!

We also got cool looking new modems, with the black boxes replaced with white triangles. 😀

This is what we had before.

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That’s our original dish.  When we got the second account, the other dish was installed above it.

This is what we have now.

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They are aimed in a very different direction.  No wonder he couldn’t get a signal through the trees!  The other satellites were aimed through a gap between threes.  In the same location, these would have been aimed right into the trees.  From here, they are now aimed through the gap over the big gate into the yard; the one that can be driven through.  Mind you, there are still trees on either side that will need to be pruned, because they are overhanging the gate.  Plus one that’s shorter, but close enough that its branches get in the way when I have to make a wide turn into the yard.  Pruning is still in order.

I like trees.  A lot.  They are wonderful things to have, and can be very protective.  We intend to eventually plant more trees in the future.  Preferably food trees.

But they are also potential problems.  Many of the trees that have been planted in the yard seem to have been done without much thought given to what would happen, once they reached maturity.  From the Chinese Elm in front of the kitchen window, planted too close to the house with branches damaging the roof, to the pair of Chinese Elm on either side of the small gate, whose roots are now making the sidewalk blocks uneven.  Even the original maples on the north side of the house have been allowed to reach too close to the house itself; they should have been cut back many years ago, when they were smaller and it was safer to do so.

It’s going to be interesting, during our first summer living here, to get a good understanding of what all is planted around the yard, what we can keep, what needs to be gotten rid of, and possibly, what can be moved.  Those little spruce trees, at least, as small enough that they can be easily transplanted.

There is much to do here, that’s for sure!

The Re-Farmer

 

 

 

Data Vampire, revisited

Last day of the month, so I checked out the data usage on my desktop.

To recap for new readers, the only internet service we can get out here is satellite, because the alternative was to install a tower at least 60 feet high to be able to get any sort of signal from the nearest signal tower.  We just can’t afford that.  The highest non-business data plan available is for 100 gigs of data, which we promptly screamed through.  Going beyond that 100 gigs, without useage.detailsaffecting our speed, came at a price of $2 a gig (otherwise, we’d still have internet access, but it would be very limited in speed).  It ended up being cheaper for us to have a second satellite account for another 100 gigs.

We were still going through the data really fast, which lead to some investigating as to what activity was using so much data.

It turned out to be my desktop’s system.  I had a Data Vampire.  This image was captured back in January, when I first discovered the issue.  No wonder we were going through our data plan so fast!  Almost all of it was being used up by my own computer, without my knowing it!

My daughters checked out their desktops, too, but they are on wi-fi, so they can meter their data usage.  They still shut off anything they could find that might be using the internet without permission, and are also monitoring their usage statistics.

useage.details.end.FebMy desktop is hard wired, so metering wasn’t an option.  I went through everything I could find and shut off anything that looked like it could be sucking up our data.

Within less than a week, I could see there was a drop in data usage.  The stats are for the last 30 days, regardless of when you look at them, so best way to monitor it and compare with our internet accounts, was by resetting the stats at the end of the month, then checking it again at the end of the next month.

This second image is from the end of February.  What a major difference!

Our total usage for the February, between the two accounts, went from almost the full 200 gigs we had available, to about 150 gigs.  The second account was added in the middle of the month, so that’s when the data plan flips, while the original account flips at the end of the month.  What we did was wait until the original account reached between 80-90%, shortly after mid-month, then switched the cables on the router to the second satellite.

At the beginning of March, my husband switched the cables again, so the first half of the month would be once again using the original account.  The plan was to repeat what we’d done in February, and switch to the new account at the 80% plus level.

We were into the last third of March, and barely more than 75%.

Which means we went from screaming through our data plan like no tomorrow, to under-utilizing our data!

Now, we were being frugal with our data usage; especially my daughters.  We were all putting off updates for various things – even our phone apps – to conserve data.

useage.details.end.MarchOnce we realized that was no longer necessary, we switched cables and my daughter did all the updates she had been letting slide.  With our satellite speeds, she had one that told her it would take 3 days to download!

It didn’t take that long.

Meanwhile, I’ve started doing more things like uploading videos to YouTube and photos to Instagram.  I was going to add that I have been watching more videos now, too, but I really haven’t.  Not because I don’t want to, but because it takes forever for them to load.  At you can see, my browser usage has gone up, but the system usage is only a bit higher than last month.  I expect it will go up more next month, if only because Lent is over and I will be back on Facebook. 😀

Even with all that deliberate internet usage, the second account has only just reached a little over 26% as of today.  So we still ended up using more than 100 gigs a month, between the two accounts.  Just not much more.

Before we moved, we averaged about 350 gigs a month on our unlimited, high speed internet.  Now I wonder how much of that was our actual usage, and how much of that was my Data Vampire.  I would never have known it was there had we not moved to the sticks, simply because I had no reason to look.  We all use the internet so much, it just didn’t seem odd.

For myself, this means I’ll be uploading more videos onto the new YouTube channel.  I’ve already started to upload videos I’d posted directly to the blog by using the share function on my phone, then replacing the shared videos with embedded YouTube videos.  Once the posts get updated, I can deleted the version stored in my WordPress media, freeing up data.

Just two videos brought my media status bar from being in the red at over 80%, to an amber low 70’s.  A few more of these, and I should be able to bring it down by quite a bit.

Sweet!

The Re-Farmer

Marriage Certificate Progress

I almost forgot!

My telephone tag with Vital Statistics is over.

We finally connected again, today.  It was the same woman I spoke to earlier, and she was so apologetic, because she’d told me my application would be processed after our last talk, where she thought she had asked all the questions she needed.

It then got sent to someone else for the final processing, and that person asked her…

Did I want a marriage certificate, or marriage registration card.

Now, the form gave two choice.  The large size suitable for framing, or the small card, like our birth certificates.  I’d checked off the small card.

It turns out, that’s just a registration card which, as I noticed in the image on the website, has only the pre-marriage names, not post marriage names.

The certificate (which would be the larger, framing size) would have our names before and after the marriage on them.

Which is what I need.

It’s a good thing I’d told her why I was needing the certificate, and the problem with my birth certificate name not matching any of my current ID.

For all the hassle this is, the folks at Vital Statistics are awesome.

This being Monday, I might get my marriage certificate by the end of the week.  Then, finally, I’ll be able to change my driver’s license and get my health care card!

Next thing on the list; get the van safetied, so I can transfer the registration and insurance.

I might actually get all this done before the end of the month!  Only a month longer than it’s supposed to be done by, but late is better than never!

The Re-Farmer

 

In the snow

The predicted snow finally arrived last night. While other parts of the province is storming, we have had a gentle snowfall.

The feed I left out this morning has been buried, but that is not stopping the critters from finding it. Like this squirrel.

Also, our satellite internet is having troubles due to the weather. My husband has been able to get enough signal for a wifi hotspot. Let’s see how long before I can upload and post this video! It’s already failed to upload twice as I’ve tapped this out on my phone.

The Re-Farmer

Data Vampire Slain?

So about a month and a half ago, I discovered the reason we were screaming through our internet’s data plan so quickly.

I had a Data Vampire in my own desktop.

useage.details

For some reason, my desktop’s system was using over 80 GIGS of data, and I had no way to find out what, specifically, was causing it.  With only 100 gigs on our plan, it’s no wonder we were going over so quickly!

So I went through everything I could think of to try and shut things off.  Then, at the end of the month, I reset the usage stats.

useage.details.before.Jan.reset

Even by then, I could see a difference, as total usage within the past 30 days had already gone down.

Here is my currant usage.

useage.details.end.Feb

Well, there we have it.  In the space of about 4 weeks, my system used less than 3 gigs of data.  A difference of close to 80 gigs!

My browsers used more data – I use one for this blog, so there are a lot of photos uploaded, while with the other, I had uploaded some videos this month, so I used it more than usual, even taking into account that I gave up Facebook for Lent.

My total usage for the past 4 weeks was just over 13 gigs.  Slightly more than what I use on WiFi with my phone which, after I no longer visited Facebook, dropped from about 11 gigs in 30 days, to less than 10.

Our original internet account reached about 88% before we switched over to the new satellite (a matter of switching cables on the router).  With the new account, we haven’t even hit 45% yet.  Which means that, in total, we used more than 100 gigs, so having two accounts is still saving us money.

I still have no way of knowing what exactly on my computer was sucking our data plan dry, but whatever it was, I seemed to have stopped it.

So we’ll only be paying about $200 a month total for internet, instead of closer to $400.

Still more expensive than if we had been able to install a tower and get non-satellite internet, but at least we’ve GOT internet.

Unless something weird happens, it appears our Data Vampire has been slain!

The Re-Farmer

Mundane Things

So a few things have moved along in just the past couple of days.

I got a response from the movers, after I emailed the estimate to repair their property damage in, then asked about the $400 they said they’d send for the damage to our belongings.  The first one I read said that the claims department had already sent the money by etransfer, then let me know that my estimate was being passed on to the insurance company.

I didn’t have an etransfer, so I went checking through my spam folder to see if it was there.  It was only after I sent a response saying I didn’t get it, that it came in.

So that part is taken care of as of yesterday evening.  They’ve paid up for the damage they did to our stuff during the move.  That lets us breath a bit easier for getting our van fixed.

Which leads me to the next bit of progress.

I got a call this morning, from my brother who lives next door.  I’d called a cousin everyone has been recommending to me to fix our van.  He’s retired and said he’d come out when he was in the area – he lives in the city, but has property out here, where his shop is.  He had stopped at my brother’s for coffee and they would be popping by together to look at our van.

So when I went out to do the cats stuff, I also went to open the garage, pop the hood, plug in and hang a light, left the keys on the seat, then opened the gate.  Then I went inside and had my tea in my crochet corner, so I could see them when they drove over.

Then there was a knock at the door, and they came in to tell me the status of the van. Since I had everything already set up, they pulled over at the garage and checked the van first, and I never saw them!

It’s confirmed that the noise is from the bearings in the water pump.  My cousin says he can fix it for me – and he can even get a new pump at wholesale cost for me!  We talked for a bit and I mentioned the first noise being made by a belt in temperatures colder than -20C, but that when the other noise started, I stopped driving the van.  I’d only started the engine a couple of times.  I think he appreciated that I didn’t drive the van with that noise.  It would have worked for a while, but could have caused some much more expensive damage, eventually.  On hearing about the belt, though, they decided to go back and check it, in case it needed to be replaced.  He’ll have to take the belt off when replacing the water pump, anyhow, so that would have been the time to replace it, if it was needed.  It turns out my belt is fine, so that’s good.  When he puts it back on, he’ll be sure to make sure it isn’t loose anywhere.

So he’s going to order the part for me and will come and pick up the van to fix it, probably around Friday.

Which is SUCH good news!

It’s also going to be much cheaper.  I’d gotten the cost of the water pump, if ordered directly from GM.  Depending on how much his price turns out to be, getting him to fix the van for me will cost about as much as it would have cost me to just buy the part from GM!  Not that I would have done it that way, if I had had to buy the part myself.  I would have gone elsewhere.

Meanwhile, my brother told me to keep using his van.  That is so sweet of him!

useage.details.before.Jan.resetAnother thing on the list of things to do today; reset the data usage for my computer.  Our internet account rolled over today, so I will monitor it over the next 30 days and see if all the stuff I turned off made the difference.

I noticed, however, that my total system usage over the past 30 days had gone down.

That means that, between 30 and 38 days ago, my computer’s system alone used up about 3 gigs of data.

I will be checking my data usage often, to see if there are any sudden jumps.

The next thing on my to-do list was to call the phone company.  I had been able to use their automated system to find out what our bill was, and it told me they’d mailed it out on Jan. 15.  I never received it, and needed to call back during business hours to find out why.  I asked to have it emailed to me, and for future bills to be emailed as well.  Then I got myself transferred to the sales department, so I could pick a long distance plan.

The pdf of the bill arrived in my email before I finished the call.

I found out why I didn’t get the bill.

Despite having given them my name and mailing address, they had my name, but my mother’s mailing address.

So that explains why my mother called me a while back, thinking she was going to be charged with my phone bill!  She must have opened it, not even noticing it had my name on it, instead of hers.

So that is now fixed; confirming my mailing address was one of the things done when I called.

As the hours passed, the winds and snow continued.  We had intended to go into the city to do our big, monthly shopping trip with our own vehicle, but since that won’t happen until the weekend, my daughter and I decided to go to the next town and get some groceries to tide us over; we’re still okay, but at that stage where we’re running out of enough things to be inconvenient.  Which would have been fine if we were going to the city tomorrow, when the pay comes in, but not so fine for several more days.

I also wanted to get it done while the roads were still clear enough to drive on.

The drive was certainly interesting!  The open road between our little hamlet and the next down over runs East/West.  The wind was coming from the south.  There are a few places where there is nothing to cut the wind at all.  It wasn’t too bad, but we definitely got buffeted a fair bit!

But it was done, and we’re good for a while, even if for some reason the van ends up taking longer to get fixed.

The wind can blow and the snow can fall.  We are safe and warm and well supplied.

I must admit, though, I can hardly wait to be able to drive our van again.  We avoided using my brother’s van as much as possible.  Once our own wheels are up and running again, we will be making quite a few more outings.  Especially to the city, so my husband can visit his father.  And with the money from the movers, I’ll be able to get the vehicle registration and our licenses transferred faster, too!

It’s going to be good.

The Re-Farmer