Tips for getting the housework done

Here’s a few tips I’ve collected or discovered over the years, when it comes to getting housework completed:

Put the machines to work  – the first thing you need to do is make sure all the appliances are doing their thing. This means loading the washing machine, dryer and dishwasher, and setting them on their way. If you have a robotic vacuum cleaner then get them in the fight too. This is the only legitimate way to multi-task when it comes to cleaning.

Don’t sit down – resting is the enemy of progression, and if you’re sitting down for a second, you’re not moving so you’re not cleaning. There’ll be time to relax when you have finished your chores. Now it’s time to move.

Move things progressively closer to their home – if you’re moving from one room to another, you need to be carrying something that is in this room and needs to be in that room. You don’t have to put it away, just move it closer to the right place. Then when you’re ready to clean up the target room you’ll have all the things you need where you need them.

Pre-load – take some antihistamine if you are likely to sneeze from dusting. Drink some water if you’re going to be sweating while you vacuum. Think ahead and you’ll have less distractions or interruptions while you’re working.

Meditate – tell yourself that this is what you’re doing for the next few hours. observe your actions, and see the activity for what it is – just jobs that need to be done. I like to think about all the people in my family who are benefitting by my work. Elevate your mood (and consciousness) if that helps you focus.

Prioritise – make your bed first so you have a clean surface to fold washing on. Do the most impactful things first.

Listen to to new music choices to find new favourites. Listen to old favourites to find new depth and meaning.


… that’s how many days it took me to tap a BJJ black belt.

In other words, 10.78 years.

I started training on the 12th of October, 2005. I caught a black belt for the very first time on the 25th of July, 2016.

Whilst I’m proud of that achievement, I also acknowledge that it doesn’t mean anything to anyone other than me.

Officially shut down

After a good run I’ve decided to close, the blog.

I’ll probably move it over to at some point, for nostalgic reasons, but as you can probably see in recent years this has not been given any attention.

One Remote to Rule them All

Keyword loading incase anyone else tries to find this: I have a Pioneer VSX-919AH receiver driving a Panasonic TH-42PV60A plasma TV over HDMI. I access my movies and TV from a Raspberry Pi II running OpenELEC Kodi (formerly XBMC).

The TV has its own remote; the receiver has its own remote and to control the Pi I use an Apple Remote connected to a Flirc USB dongle. That’s too many remotes, and on top of it all, the circuit board in the Pioneer receiver’s remote has been damaged meaning I squeeze it at the right angle to get a contact. Argh.

To solve this I bought a few replacement Pioneer remotes from eBay, but the AXD7616 worked the best and most closely matched the broken one through B2B marketing software.

The new remote is used to drive a variety of Pioneer receivers, including the VSX-LX55. Reading the manual for that device shows that you can configure a few smart options on the remote allowing it to control other devices. This is exactly what I wanted.

There’s dedicated TV controls, which I programmed for my Panasonic screen as follows:

  1. Press and hold RCU SETUP and 1 for 1 second.
  2. Press TV CTRL.
  3. Enter 0008, the first 4-digit Panasonic TV code found at the end of the manual.
  4. Press RCU SETUP.

Throw away the TV remote as it’s now redundant.

To control Kodi I need to do a few things. Firstly, the receiver has a feature called “Direct Function” which will allow you to send operating functions to the device without the receiver changing to it as an input source. Convoluted? I read this passage from the manual a dozen times before I was sure it would do what I wanted:

You can use the direct function feature to control one component using the remotecontrol while at the same time, using your receiver to playback a different component. This could let you, for example, use the remote control to set up and listen to a CD on the receiver, and then use the remote control to rewind a tape in your VCR while you continue to listen to your CD player.
When direct function is on, any component you select (using the input function buttons) will be selected by both the receiver and the remote control. When you turn direct function off, you can operate the remote control without affect- ing the receiver.

Turn it off for the Blu-ray Disc player:

  1. Press and hold RCU SETUP and 5 for 3 seconds.
  2. Press BD.
  3. Press 0 to turn Direct Function off.
  4. Press RCU SETUP.

I chose BD to be the device reference for Kodi, even though it’s connected via HDMI. I cycle the HDMI button until the right input is selected and then hit BD to tell the receiver that I will be sending it commands for the Blu-ray Disc player, but not to change inputs to that device.

Lastly, I needed to load up the Flirc software to program the USB dongle. I used the same process above to program the BD input to a generic Sony DVD player (code 2009) and I was ready to teach the Flirc new tricks.

The only interesting part here is to enable “Sequence Modifiers” via the Advanced menu. Without this function selected, when the remote sends an IR command to the Flirc the device prefix (the part of the signal that identifies it as a Sony DVD player) is registered as the actual command (up, down, enter, play, pause etc). This results in Flirc reporting that the input is already assigned to another button. Checking this box meant I could map all the keys I wanted, including the directional pad and all multimedia keys without issue.

Quality of Service on a Draytek 2820Vn

I have a Draytek Vigor2820Vn at home that provides ADSL 2+ services (until the NBN rollout is completed in our area later this year). We get a steady 14 Mbit downstream and 0.8MBit upstream from that device to iiNet. Since becoming a heavy user of Usenet we have suffered from the problem of network saturation, as lifeline (our SABnzbd and torrent host) sucks down maximum bandwidth from the news servers. I knew that the router has quality of service and bandwidth limitation features built in, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I experimented with them in an effort to solve the problem. Now that I have, it might be useful for others to know how.

First things first, shoot over to the Draytek support site and download the latest firmware for the device. I was running from November 2010 and is the latest, released in October 2012. Note that the release notes for recommended upgrading to first if you’re running an older firmware as the web user interface changed between releases, and using as a stepping stone is the  approved upgrade path. You can download older firmwares, including, from the Draytek FTP server.

With the shiny new firmware freshly installed I dug about in the Bandwidth Management menu options, knowing that either bandwidth Limit or Quality of Service would be what I wanted.

Bandwidth Limit is used, from what I can tell, to dedicate a maximum amount of bandwidth to an IP on the network. I want almost the opposite of that, and so after further digging I worked out that it was Quality of Service that I needed to investigate further.

QoS can be used to ensure minimum service levels for various applications (or rather, protocols) and is commonly used in conjunection with VOIP on the 2820Vn. In my case it’s a much simpler problem to solve – traffic to all IPs other that lifeline should take priority, but lifeline can use all the bandwidth if nobody else is. To create this formula I edited the Class 1 Class Rule and added a rule that matched all IPs within the range – (which is everything other than lifeline). This rule matches any Remote Address, any DiffServ CodePoint and any Service Type. I named Class Rule 1 “Preferred” and saved it. Back on the QoS admin page I setup the WAN1 rule and enabled QoS in both directions. I allocated 95% bandwidth to “Preferred”, 1% each to Class 2 and 3, and left 3% for Others.

My testing showed that this setup worked perfectly for the scenario when any other host on our network (wired or wireless) required bandwidth it was diverted from lifeline until it was no longer required, at which point lifeline maxed out the link again. No more lagging YouTube videos or slow web pages!

I went back and added some additional rules to handle remote access into my network, namely the web applications that I use to manage the downloading, and SSH. These rules include lifeline in the preferred pool for those protocols only. Connecting my laptop to the iPhone’s LTE showed the desired effects when coming into our network too.

With how easy QoS was to setup and configure on the Draytek it makes me regret not looking into it in more detail sooner. Furthermore, when the NBN gets lit up on my street I’ll be looking to Draytek for router options (though I do love using pfSense).