Author Archives: David Pilcher

About David Pilcher

IT engineer, guitarist, singer & wannabee sound engineer, angler, photo nut, website geek and programmer. Currently residing in SW France. Wanting to make a difference to peoples lives! Interests: Alternative food and energy production, reigning in government and the banks.

Got French TNTsat and want UK Freesat?

You may be able to use the same decoder for UK TV!

Most TNTsat decoders can be used to receive UK Freesat channels as well. We can add an additional LNB (the bit that points at the dish) on a bracket and a special switch to combine the two satellite signals, align the primary bearing of the dish to Astra 28.2E (Freesat) , align the second LNB to Astra 19.2E, set up the box and Voila! UK & French TV.

Got UK Freesat and want to add French TV?

You don’t need two dishes!

If you have a standard dish receiving UK Freesat you can have French TV via TNTsat from Astra 19.2E just by the addition of a second LNB (the bit that points at the dish) on a bracket, an additional cable and a TNTsat decoder.

Size Doesn’t Always Matter!

Dish size in the Dordogne, Charente and Limousin

New to France and want UK TV? Don’t be fooled into thinking that you need a massive dish in the Dordogne, Charente or Limousin to receive UK Freesat. You can happily use a 60cm dish (Not a Sky Mini_dish). In fact a bigger dish is often more difficult to align, doesn’t give a substantially stronger signal and because it is larger is more prone to being mis-aligned by strong winds.

Tooway Konnect

Great News!

Tooway have opened their doors to domestic customers again with a selection of packages called Tooway Konnect. Offering 15Mbps download & 3Mbps upload with monthly data limits of 10, 20, 30, 60, 75, 150GB. You buy the equipment and pay a one-off connection fee.

All packages come with a UK IP address as standard and include a free data period from 1am to 6am French time. This period does not count against your monthly data limit so is ideal for large downloads (or uploads). A good time to schedule updates or to download films, etc.

Tooway Domestic Customers Denied New Accounts in Central and South West France

UPDATE!

Tooway open up for new domestic customers again!!

Eutelsat in an effort to control bandwidth problems have taken the step of denying new Tooway domestic customers activation on beams 15 & 21 covering parts of central & south west France. These beams cover almost all of the area serviced by Satellite TV Solutions. Tooway Professional tariffs are still available.

This information is courtesy of Big Dish Satellite and the move by Eutelsat is said to affect over 16,000 communes.

Departments affected in our coverage area:
tooway-beams-france15&21

  • Charente                    All
  • Charente-Maritime  All except the far Western part (La Rochelle, Royan area)
  • Deux-Sevres             All
  • Vienne                        All
  • Haute-Vienne           All
  • Dordogne                   All

Alternative to Tooway broadband

Satellite TV cable damage

Satellite TV cable damage may only be seen in the quality of your picture. If water/dampness gets into the cable via the satellite dish connection then you will almost certainly see degradation or even complete loss of picture. I recently replaced mine and the signal quality on the Sky Digibox went from about 40% to around 75%. The problem first showed itself in wind and rain where I would lose some channels immediately but if the rain persisted I would experience total signal loss.

On inspecting the cable at least two metres of cable at the dish end had corroded due to moisture.

Also a customer recently called to say that her picture had disappeared completely. I found the the connection at the dish was completely eaten away. Luckily there was a lot of slack cable so I was able to cut out the damaged section and re-make the connection. Her picture was “better than it’s been for months”, she said.

Satellite TV cable damage repair or replacement

Given that cable is only expected to last between 5 and 10 years (dependent on initial quality) it may be worth having yours replaced.

Setting up a Home Network

In France all new build homes and complete re-wires must provide for network, telephone and TV points, according to the French electrical regulations, NF-C15  100. Even if you are not required to install a full system in your home under these requirements, setting up a home network may still be worthwhile doing for the following reasons:

  • children need internet access for school work
  • internet access in study, etc.  not just where the primary telephone point is
  • ability to have a telephone point anywhere a network point is located
  • it may make selling your property easier
  • wireless networks can be a problem in areas where several houses are close together
  • wireless networks can also be a problem in large old houses with thick walls, fireplaces, etc.

Internet Access for School Work

computer-in-loungeChildren need access to the internet for school homework and a single point of access can be difficult in terms of time when everybody needs access to the internet around the same time in the evening. If the computer is in a shared area of your home then they may be distracted.

Internet Access for Work

computer-in-studyDoing work surrounded by other distractions such as kids, TV, etc. is not ideal. Better to have internet access in a study or other separate area.

Additional Telephone Points

telephone-ethernet-rj45-splitter
If you have a wired network point in a room you can also use this point for a telephone.

Saleability of Your Home

maison-a-vendreIt may not add much value to your sale price but it might tip the balance in favour of a sale if your buyers see that they don’t have to start wiring the house when they move in.

Wireless Network Problems

Wireless network finder meterWhile wireless networks  and wireless phones are OK they can be a problem in larger properties and places where many homes are close together.

In large properties, especially older ones with thick walls, wireless networks may not work well. Other things which can affect wireless reception are large metal objects such as fridges, filing cabinets etc. and microwaves, digital telephones and mobile telephone masts. Old technology wireless video equipment can also cause serious interference with your wireless network signal.

In areas where many homes are close together such as towns and in lotissements the close proximity of other wireless  networks can cause interference problems and lead to your computers losing their access to the internet. This can be a permanent loss or it may happen intermittently. This is due to the wireless connector in the computer continuously looking for the best wireless signal and at times will choose your neighbours network and due to the fact that you don’t have their security details your internet connection will fail. You might be trying to use the  same wireless channel as your neighbour, you might not even be able to see that there is a wireless signal interfering with yours as some wireless networks are set to not broadcast there name.  The only way to see them is by using a wireless network finder meter similar to the one in the image above.

 

UK Satellites will be Hit by Sun Outage from 4th October

Satellites serving the UK will soon be passing directly in front of the sun in the mornings, starting around the 4th October (9th October in Scandinavia)

For about ten days, signals from the UK beams of Astra 2E and 2F will be completely lost for up to 14 minutes during every morning just after 10.30 am CET (GMT+1) in Spain, Portugal, southern France, Eastern Germany, Austria, Italy and Scandinavia.

The explanation:
Sun outage is a twice-yearly event, and happens when the sun, satellite and earth are in a straight line during the spring and autumn equinoxes. A satellite dish always has to point to the satellite 24 hours a day, even if this means the dish is pointing straight at the sun. Random electrical noise from the sun overwhelms signal in weak areas.

Dramatically worse signal-to-noise ratio results in total loss of data. The British Isles are unaffected. Strong signals also weaken, but within normal margins.

At night, satellites pass through the umbra, or area of total eclipse, forcing operators to switch to built-in batteries, compensating for the absence of sunlight.

For some weeks either side of total eclipse, satellite reception in fringe areas is disrupted owing to the reduced amount of sun the satellite’s solar panels receive as they pass through the penumbra, or outer shadow.
Sun outage. This happens twice a year at the equinoxes when the earth, sun and satellite are in a straight line. Check your dish for obstructions if it sunny- they will cast a shadow on the dish. Anywhere in full sun at this time is a good site for a new dish. There is one compensation for the loss of signals. It’s the perfect time to check whether there is anything shading your dish, such as trees or foliage. Any obstruction will cast a shadow on your dish at sun outage, revealing that signals will be reduced all year round. Green leaves are as effective as lead in blocking satellite signals.

Any site with full sun at this time is a good site for a new dish installation.

Of course, this only works if the sun is shining…

Courtesy of http://skyinmadrid.com

Astra 2 Satellite Changes Causing Problems in France

Are you experiencing problems with your satellite TV reception since early this year?

Does rain or bad weather in general affect what channels you receive or does it stop you from receiving anything at all?

Some Astra 2 satellite  have been replaced and new technology has allowed the owners to more effectively target the UK so they have better reception whilst we in France have a weaker signal. This means that if your system is not set up correctly or you have a small fault then you may be experiencing the problems detailed above.

If you are then why not let me assess your problem and see if I can take away your frustration at not being able to watch your favourite ‘soap’ because it’s raining again or it’s windy?

ISP Changes Mail Retrieval Parameters

I had to solve a problem last month for an old UK client of mine. In 2005 I installed MS Small Business Server 2003 with Exchange Server & set up the MS provided POP3 Connector for retrieving mail from several accounts.

Until last month this functioned perfectly and so I was surprised by the call and from the conversation initially suspected that the exchange server database was corrupted (this had happened before).

When I investigated further I found that this was not the case so a bit perplexed. After several conversations with their person nearest to being their on-site IT support I received a forwarded email from BT Broadband stating that they had upgraded all their business accounts onto a new platform and that they should be contacted if there were any problems. I asked for further details of the upgrade and finally as an aside to the other info about new server address, ports, etc. was informed that retrieval was now through Secure Socket Layer (SSL). Drat! A quick search of Google proved that the MS POP3 Connector was insufficient to the task.

Several hours of Goggling (not a spelling mistake) my eyes were going square after looking through review after review of alternative exchange server add-ins able to accomplish the task.

Eventually I found that:

1. A paid for product was the only ‘safe’ way to go.

2. One which would allow for a trial run ought to be used.

3. It had to tick at least all the same boxes of the now defunct connector with the addition of SSL capability.

4. The price shouldn’t break the bank or be an on-going cost.

In the end POPBeamer was the only performer which I felt confident would be up to the task.

It allowed a 30day trial with no restrictions, the cost is one-off approx £175.

Installation was relatively easy (except for some slight confusion as usual with acronyms – why the hell can’t people spell things out these days?).

So in conclusion it’s worth trying POPBeamer if a similar situation arises with your Exchange Server.