Tuesday, October 06, 2015

"O death, where is thy sting?" I think I found it.

I don't mean to be disrespectful in my treatment of scripture, but this text "O death, where is thy sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55) has been on my mind over the last couple of days, and more-so today as we attended the thanksgiving service for a dear friend, and a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

Since I heard the news on Sunday, when I walk, as I drive, as I go about life, I think to myself, boy, this stings. As we sang part of Psalm 116 on Sunday "Dear in God's sight is his saints' death" it stings. As I think of children and grandchildren without a mum and granny, it stings. As I think of a husband without a wife....

Death stings because we are the ones who are left behind. 

Ann was full of life. Ann was full of "the life" - Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life" - this is the life that Ann had living inside of her. And it was easy to see, and it stood the test of time and tribulation. Jesus said "the one who stands firm to the end will be saved"  (Matthew 24:13) meaning that one of the tests of our faith is time. There would be those who would initially spring up very quickly, and look like they had faith in Jesus, but they would quickly wither and it would be clear that their faith had no real roots (Matthew 13:20-21). Ann was the opposite of this. As troubles and difficulties multiplied, so did her faith. As trouble comes it provides a real, visible test of our faith, demonstrating if we are true or false converts. 1 Peter 1:6-7 makes it clear that trouble will come, and that this trouble will ensure that our faith "may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed." This is what happened. As Ann lived more vibrantly than ever in her last year, the glory of God was shown clearly. As her illness increased her health declined yet her hope and peace increased. She had "no guilt in life, no fear in death" - a wonderful testimony to all who looked on.

“Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

The ultimate victory of death is gone. The ultimate sting of death is gone. Guilt from sin is removed for those who repent and trust. We can look at death and say "to live is Christ, to die is gain" - how is it not gain to fall asleep, and wake up in the direct presence of the Saviour God? How great it will be to find relief from the troubles of this world, in the place where "There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4)

Ann has fallen asleep. She has gone to be with her King. For now we are separated. But the sad truth is that for many who attended the service yesterday that separation will permanent, there is no denying that, because Ann chose a way of life that many reject. Jesus said that the way was narrow, and few find it. He said that many "religious" people would say "Lord, Lord" to him on judgement day, and he will tell them he didn't know them. I want to be one who instead hears the words "well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25). One day I want to stand beside her in the presence of Jesus; her saviour and mine.

As we who remain deal with this horrible sting that we feel, we need to remember that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

Let each of us who remain look to Him as our fortress, our deliverer, our God, our rock, in whom we take refuge, our shield. Ann would want us to honour her memory by honouring the one who gave her life, and life eternal. She would want us to do that by finding our hope in the same place she had hers. Let us do her memory justice by placing our hope in the same God as Ann did.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3 (ESV))

Soli Deo gloria

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Talktalk HG633 Router Saga Summary

Just in case this helps anyone else diagnose their router:

If you have Fibre Broadband from Talktalk and you have a good reliable DSL connection to the exchange (no resyncs, no DSL drops), but your internet connection speed drops intermittently to 1Mbps or lower, and a reboot of the router normally fixes it, then you need a new router  - and not a Talktalk one.

My router had the latest firmware (according to their website, although one of the technicians said it was out of date). The network inside the house including wireless worked perfectly all the time.

My sync speed to the exchange was always good, and the DSL connection only dropped when I rebooted the router. Rebooting the router instantly fixed the problem, but it would return sometimes within minutes, sometimes many hours later.

They sent a BT engineer, who confirmed that the line was all good.

I also found out that simply restarting the DSL fixed the problem too. (Click Maintain then scroll down to DSL, then there is a restart DSL button right at the bottom).

After a 2 month diagnosis with Talktalk ended up getting a new Talktalk router and it had the same issues. I ordered a Netgear Nighthawk D7000 router and this solved my problems. Buy one from Amazon UK, and then you should be able to return it for a refund if it doesn't solve your problem (just don't take all the plastic off it etc)

Talktalk HG633 Fibre Broadband Router Nightmare Saga

On the 11th of May our fibre router arrived, and our service went live on the 14th May. It was great, finally we got fast broadband, even if we did have to pay a small premium for it. It worked well for about 2 months.

On the 17th or 18th of July we had family staying and our guests began to report a problem with our internet connection. I was initially reluctant to do anything about it, but at the beginning of the following week I phoned Talktalk customer support.

The problem was intermittent - sometimes the speed would be perfect, at about 20Mbps, and other times it would drop to the point where speed tests would time out, and it was barely possible to check for new emails. The router always reported a good sync speed, and rarely if ever lost connection to the exchange. Rebooting the router always fixed it, sometimes for many hours, sometimes for only a few minutes.

Thus began the long saga where I would have to have line test after line test done. Every call to Talktalk required a fresh explanation of the problem, and the usual "I've completed a line test and it shows there are no problems". We had a BT engineer visit and he replaced our master socket, but reported that there was no problem with the line, which of course we already knew, as the sync speed was good, and the connection didn't drop.

Talktalk became pretty frustrating when they kept asking for the same ping and tracert tests to be done over and over. Then there were days of delays while their "network team" analysed my results. On one occasion they told me the ping and tracert results were "incorrect", and made me do them again - so I sent results that were exactly the same again; this time they were OK. Ping and tracert results were sent on 29 Jul, 6 Aug, 8 Aug, and 1 Sept.

Time continued to pass, July, and now August was almost gone.

Searching google for this yielded no fruit. This new HG633 router seems to cause problems, but no one was reporting the same problem as me. I was getting nowhere with the diagnosis and decided to take things into my own hands. The HG633 is very much a consumer level router, and doesn't even allow certain ports to be used, so I had toyed with the idea of buying my own router anyway, but they can be hugely expensive. I settled on the TP-Link TD-W9980 which is not as expensive as others, but reported good results. I ordered the router on 25th August, and it arrived on the 1st September. I spent a while fighting with settings (an updated firmware added Talktalk to the setup wizard, and that made it easy) and once I got it working it stayed working for a few days. The two issues with this new router were that the sync speed was only half of the HG633, and the wireless range wasn't nearly as good. But it worked. I believe this is the root of the problem.

I was waiting for Talktalk to phone over the weekend, but there was no word. So I finally called Talktalk on Monday 7th Sept, and the guy was seriously suggesting going through the "we need to do a line test stuff". I had to be quite firm, and actually talk over him (which I don't like doing) but since he didn't read my notes (it seems they don't even have a summary that pops up on their screen!) I had to explain the problem was ongoing, and that with my personal purchase of a new router the problem seems to have gone away. I had decided that rather than trying to get the new router to sync at a higher speed I would simply request a new router. So they agreed to send me a new router.

I used testmy.net/auto to run periodic (10 or 15 minute intervals) speed tests over many days. The results testing is below, marked with the different routers.

The left side of these test results shows how with the Talktalk router the speed would drop right to zero. In the centre section where the speed is more like 11M (TP-link router) you can see how stable it is, apart from three drops, where there were other big downloads happening at the same time as the speed test. And when I plugged the original router back in, you can see it operating OK, and then failing again. I persuaded Talktalk to send me a new router, and plugged it in with great hope, followed by great disappointment. As you can see from the first of the two sections on the right, it was still just as unreliable.

At this point I did some better research and spent about £170 on a Netgear Nighthawk D7000 router. It seemed to get good reviews and reportedly had a good wireless range. I restarted the Talktalk router while I waited for the Netgear to come, and it seemed to perform better in the meantime. However I didn't trust it to continue.

On Saturday 12th September the Netgear router arrived, so I plugged it in and set it up. So far (Thur 17th) it has performed well, and I haven't rebooted it since Sunday. There have been no re-syncs since, and the speed test results are good. See the continuation of the graph below

There are a couple of spikes, which I can't explain, maybe other big downloads were happening, I don't know, but the router has performed flawlessly so far.

And, due to the fact that telnet can be enabled on this router, DSLStats can be used to see all sorts of interesting data (that I don't understand!) about the router. And it shows my connection speed, and my lack of re-syncs, which are both great. You can see from the graph above as well that although the sync speed is the same on the Talktalk router and the Netgear, that the Netgear consistently provides slightly higher throughput.

So, after almost two months of angst fighting with Talktalk and router configurations, getting a new DSL faceplate, and trying three brand new VDSL2 routers my problem finally seems to be solved.

I will update this article if there are any further developments, but from the point of view I have at the minute, if you are experiencing problems with the Talktalk Super router, don't listen to Talktalk telling you they will sort it, go buy yourself a Netgear Nighthalk D7000 from Amazon, and sort it yourself. And if the router doesn't solve the problem, just return it to Amazon, who are very good for refunds.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Netgear D7000-100UKS Nighthawk AC1900 D7000 router and DSLStats

Just in case it helps anyone out there, I struggled to set up DSL Stats with this router.

I ended up using the netgear debug url to enable telnet (, which left me with a prompt for a username which I had to enter 'root' (without quotes).

To set up DSL Stats, I used these settings:
Modem/Router model  -  
IP Address: - set to the IP of your router
Telnet login name: - leave blank
Telnet password - leave blank
Telnet port - 23
tick the box  " Requires command to enter shell"
Shell command - root
CLI command prefix - xdslctl

with these settings it began collecting data for me. HTH and HAND :)

NETGEAR D7000-100UKS Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band 600+1300 Mbps Wireless (Wi-Fi) VDSL/ADSL Modem Router for Phone Line Connections

Monday, August 10, 2015

Nissan Leaf - Conclusions

Well, this has been an interesting weekend. We tried to do all our normal stuff, except using an electric car.

The Leaf is a lovely car, and our time with it has transformed both our views. Susan has become more accepting and less sceptical, and the opposite is true for me. My initial range anxiety in getting the car home gave me a bit of a scare.

The car is lovely to drive, and well equipped. The single gear automatic make acceleration very smooth; the ride is lovely, and the car feels spacious inside. Driving the automatic is very appealing to me; it is so simple to drive, and makes exits from junctions very simple and safe. The cruise control is not as sophisticated as I had expected and often overshoots the required speed (by a few mph). As for space - the rear seat has tons, however the boot narrows towards the back, making it quite tricky to get the parcel shelf out and in, if required.

The in car entertainment is super, and easy to use. Another quibble I would have about this demonstrator is that it wasn't fully linked up to the list of charging stations, often telling me we were 40-50 miles from the nearest, when there were many within 10 miles.

The quietness of the car is nice too. However on one occasion I found this to be a problem, as I approached a family who were cycling, they clearly had no idea there was a car approaching from behind. I had to wait behind until one noticed me and alerted the rest. Even with the artificial noise, I suspect this would be a relatively frequent occurrence.

For me the biggest issue with the car would be the requirement to plug it in and out at the house all the time. In the rain and wind, when all you want to do is run from the house to the car, another stop would be required at the front of the car to unplug.

However, none of these niggles would stop me from buying the car, it looks like a great choice. The reason we decided against it in the end was purely financial. It had to work out cheaper than the existing car over the two years, and while it was close, it wasn't cheaper. When I worked out the exact TCO for both cars, the Leaf's price per month went up, and the C4 came down. I'd need to count the cost of the charger installation at the house for the leaf. I had made some mistakes in mixing up the 12 month and 24 month costs too, which artificially skewed the figures. There was also the risk of selling the C4 and getting the value we needed privately from it.

In the end it was disappointing not to be driving a new car with cutting edge technology. It would have been great to be an early adopter, and do our bit for the planet. But the original goal was to save money overall, and this goal slowly slipped from sight. We considered paying the little extra for all we were getting, however with everything else that's going on at home financially and otherwise we thought it just was not wise right now.

It's been a great experiment, and I commend Donnelly and Taggart Nissan, Eglinton for their help in the process.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Nissan Leaf - Picking up our test vehicle

Well, that was a bit of a disaster. I left work early to call into the Nissan dealership as arranged to pick up my Nissan Leaf for our extended 4 day trial, and when the guy went to check the car it had 8 miles range left!

Now, they would have gladly rescheduled, but they offered me a car with 40 miles range on it as an alternative to do my 20 mile trip home. It was raining hard, and I knew the last 10 miles of my journey contained a lot of hills.

But I didn't want to reschedule - these 4 days are a good 4 days for the test, so it should give us a good impression of what it is like to live with the car.

Well, the 30 minute journey home taught me what "range anxiety" really is. I tried to minimise my use of the window fan, with it regularly steaming up. I drove at about 50 mph, slowing up the traffic.

I made it home with 11 miles to spare! We put the car straight on the charger, which is of course the slowest charger, as it gets plugged into a normal socket. This seems like the worst mistake a dealer could make when handing out one of these cars - having someone instantly worried about getting home - on their first journey!

Anyway, after a few hours on charge we decided to go out for a drive. It drives really nicely, smooth and quiet, apart from the fan and splashing of the puddles. We drove around town, just to get used to the car; more the automatic gearbox than anything.

We also tried to plug it into a carpark charger, which turned out to be simple.

Overall, I'm pleased to have the opportunity, but tonight has made me much more cautious about the idea, and also more resolute that we should have the 32A / 6.6kW charger at home.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Nissan Leaf - investigations and extended trial

Periodically I get out a spreadsheet and figure out if there is any way under the sun I can reduce my motoring costs. I have often wondered if a hybrid car would do better MPG than my current 1.6 diesel C4, but the figures are pretty similar, even though a hybrid car would cost far more to buy.

I did the sums for an electric car, and I figured out that if the range would suit, it would be cheaper. And with the Nissan Leaf being out for a few years, there are good examples available at reasonable price, second hand.

However, as I researched on the web, I simply got more confused, so many options, so many different opinions, so I decided to call into a dealership to see on on my way home from work.

I was impressed by the car, by all accounts it seemed normal, and well kitted out. I asked about the financing, and it turns out that with the current £5000 government discounts, and Nissan's eagerness to sell, you could have one for about £250/mth, with a reasonable deposit. This is a 2 year deal, and afterwards you just give the car back. The fuel costs for the car (electric bill) should max out at around £50/mth, which is much less than what we currently pay (go here for a shock at how much your car actually costs you: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-1633412/Calculator-True-cost-running-car.html ).

Financially, this seems cheaper than either of our cars, however, for my drive I think it is not practical - I have 48 miles to do each way, meaning that I would really need to charge at work - and this currently is not possible.

But it might be a practical option for our other car. We decided to investigate further, so we went for a test drive, and although the rain was so heavy I had to slow down to see the road, we liked the car. After working through some figures with the dealer, we decided to arrange an extended test drive to see how the car performed in our everyday lives.

We pick the car up on Wednesday night, and leave it back on Monday morning, so two work days and two weekend days. Really looking forward to seeing how this goes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Webcams everywhere


from here:

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Kiting Benone - Sat 13th June 2015

Kate in the water first time - onshore, waves, small rides, struggles with board. Great evening, perfect wind, could have stayed there all night

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Good Works

The topic of ‘Good Works’ covers a huge range of topics, in fact almost all Christian activities fit within this umbrella – teaching Sunday school, preaching, cleaning the buildings, sitting on committees, leading in an organisation, helping someone with a flat tyre, sharing our faith, sharing our life with others etc, etc. I want to look at five areas relating to good works.

1)  The Origin Of Good Works

Where did good works originate? Well the first chapter of the Bible is full of God working for a day, and then proclaiming that his work is good. Every day he created more stuff, proclaiming that it was ‘good’ and on the sixth day he created mankind in his image, and looked over all he created and proclaimed that it was “very good”

2) The ULTIMATE Good Work

‘By his stripes we are healed’ – Easter time focuses our minds on the ultimate good work – Jesus death and resurrection. If you ask people what man’s biggest problem is, you will receive quite a variety of answers. The bible however is clear, the biggest problem we all face is that by nature we are objects of God’s wrath (Eph 2:3). Easter is a big solution to a big problem. It is only by this good work that we are even able to approach God, and to be part of the kingdom, and part of any fellowship.

Eph 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” We are saved by grace, through faith, and where do we get the faith? It is the free gift of God. It is the only way to remove God’s wrath from us, we were dead in our sins (Eph 2:4) and God gave us the gift of life. What do we contribute to this? Nothing. Think of Lazarus. He was dead. Jesus called him and made him alive again – this is what God does to us. We are dead, and he calls us to life. How much did Lazarus contribute to this situation? We have nothing to do with our move from death to life – it is the gift of God and the work of God. The only thing we contribute is the need for it! It is “not by works, so that no one can boast” – works come after faith, not before it.

Interestingly v10 goes on to state our purpose – “or we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” – we are created to do good works.

3) We Are Equipped To Do Good Works

2 Tim 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” This is why people write things like this –the scripture is full of power, just waiting to be discovered. It is much more than a book; it is God’s living word. Each time we study it we become more equipped to do the work of the Lord, and isn’t it interesting that we see that phrase again – we are fully equipped to do ‘every good work’!

4) Why Do We Do Good Works?

Eph 2:10 states that we are created to do good works. Why? Well, the ultimate reason is to give glory to God. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) . In reality our motives are unlikely to be pure, but that is what we should be aiming for. We do what we do so that others will see and give glory to God, not to us. When speaking to unbelievers it is important to point out that we are not ‘good people’ or ‘better people than others’ or whatever way they want to put it, but rather, if there is anything good, or better about us, it is not of ourselves, it is the work of God within us. If people look at us and say “those are great people” then they have missed the point. We only do what we do through the redeeming work of Jesus. We don’t boast in ourselves, only in our Saviour.

Another motivation for doing good works is that we are obeying what we are commanded in Matthew 6:20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” – we are actually commanded to accumulate goodies for ourselves in the next life – God is so good that when we are doing what He says, He is actually storing up a future reward for us too! You might think that this is a bad motivation, but in actual fact, when our hearts are right, we know that God always wants the best for us, so to do what He commands in any case is ultimately doing what is best for yourself. This way God gets even more glory.

5) How Should We Do Good Works?

Col 3:17 – “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”. Whatever we do, we should do it in the name of Jesus, and with thankful hearts that he has given us all we need.

Summary –
We are created in God’s image, and he is the original author of good works. It is because of the ultimate good work of Easter that we are able to do any good, not through anything of ourselves, but from God. We are equipped by the power of God, through fellowship and studying the scriptures. We do good works to bring glory to God, and so that souls might be won into the Kingdom of those who bring glory to God. How? Like everything, we do it in the name of Jesus, giving thanks.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Kitesurfing - Benone - 20th March 2015

Middling forecast today, but I thought since I had the day off I'd give it a try.

Went to the beach at lunchtime, and came home, not much wind. I tried again later in the afternoon when the wind had picked up a bit at home, but there still wasn't much. However, I could see the sea was cresty, so I knew there would be wind.

It is ages since I've been out, so I hoped that I still remembered how to do everything - and that the mice hadn't taken up residence in my kites! When I unpacked it all my fears were relieved - everything was in good shape.

I set up the 12, and had a go. It was up and down, a bit light, but when it was up, it was great. There wasn't a steady enough wind to stay upwind, so I did a couple of downwinders, which were great.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Equality / Tolerance

I see this image popping up all over social media stating "'No gays allowed' in Northern Ireland". But, when I click, and read the link, the quote in the headline is nowhere to be found, and neither is a link to the proposal for the amendment to existing equality legislation. Coincidently, for the readers information I don't support the amendment as it stands, nor will I sign *this* petition against it. It is a poor fix to poor legislation, like putting a band-aid on a broken leg.

I wanted to reply to some of these posts on Facebook, but I don't think that would be constructive or profitable as Facebook debates usually end up in a name calling flame war, so I decided to pen my thoughts here. The title of the petition is misleading, and I hope doesn't represent the views of anyone associated with the amendment.

Oh where to start. I am not anti-anybody. I believe everyone has a right to determine right from wrong as they see fit. Everyone has the right to figure out how to live, and to live that way within the constraints of the law. 

I think it is also important to remember that most people do not arrive at any world-view or lifestyle choices lightly, most are considered thoughtfully, even painstakingly, and most are shaped over a lifetime.

It is everyone’s right to act according to the world-view they have arrived at, and live the lifestyle they choose, as long as it is in accordance with the law. Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion...”[1] and I fully support that. Everyone. Not just one group, but all, to the exclusion of no one. So long as it complies with law.

Surely the whole point of freedom of conscience is that you don’t have to be complicit in some act that is acceptable by me, but not acceptable by you. For example if your company prints billboards or T-shirts and I ask you for some slogan that is in opposition to your personal ethos, or your company ethos, then you get to refuse. You are not refusing because of who I am, but because of what you believe, beliefs arrived at through your conscience. My response ought to be to tolerate* your belief, and go find someone else to give my money to.

If however you refuse me because of my political views, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation etc, then that is a different issue.

But, as I understand it, this is not the core issue in the cases that are driving this debate. The businesses are not discriminating against customers based on who they are, what they believe or how they live. In some of the cases long standing customers have asked for a product that requires someone to produce something, and lend their name to something that is against their beliefs. They have previously served the same customer many times, and have no issue with doing so in the future, the customer is not the issue, but rather their association with the product is.

We must understand that this is mutual; it works both ways, and that sometimes it will cause me a little trouble, but the other side is that I cannot be forced to do something which is against my personal conscience. This applies to the big things and the small - whether I'm asked to print a billboard, or participate in of facilitate the abortion of a baby.

The real issue comes down to one question that we all have to ask and answer: “will you tolerate* me?”

*tolerate: allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one dislikes or disagrees with) without interference

If you feel the need to comment, please do so, but if you disagree with what I've said, can I ask that rather than attacking me, you criticise my ideas, and that way we can have a constructive conversation where we all might learn, rather than just a mud slinging session?

[1] http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/documents/humanrights/hrr_article_9.pdf