Saturday, 23 September 2017

Solar pool cover installed.

Over the last couple of weeks, it has been noticeably getting cooler in the evening. This has had the undesirable effect of the pool also getting colder. it had dropped around 5'C to 25'C over the course of just over a week and it was certainly noticeable when you went in! Not quite 'where have they gone' cold, but cool enough.

After look at various site and suppliers and getting a feel for prices online from various forums etc. I came across a supplier in Paphos.

I dropped them an email on the Wednesday morning and they came back to me with some options on different materials and requested I send them a sketch of the dimensions and picture of the pool.

They came straight back to me on the Wednesday afternoon with an estimate, and I agreed to proceed and just to make sure on the dimensions etc. agreed for them to come and measure up first, just to be on the safe side. The pool could have easily been slightly off square etc. They also needed to know the corner radius etc.

Thursday morning Lloyd of Safe.T.First Pool Safety arrived and measured up the pool, he also showed me the different options of the Solar Cover material. I remember back to the days of swimming pool covers being effectively blue bubble wrap, i.e. the same bubble wrap you might use to send a parcel or spend hours popping when you are bored. This pool cover material is like a really strong peanut shell shaped bubbles.

I elected to go for the heavy duty 500 micron premium 'Aresti' cover, with hemmed edged and also a suitable roller. Didn't fancy trying to handle a large 10m x 5m (+steps area) cover without a roller.

I asked about the delivery time and was told it would be about a week.

On the Monday, got a phone call from Lloyd that they could come and install the pool cover, as everything happened quicker than anticipated with the supplier etc. We had just dropped the kids off at school and were out shopping, so finished off and headed back to the villa ready for them coming.

Lloyd and Dan turned up and did an excellent job of installing the pool cover and trimming the curve at the Roman steps end to fit neatly. The swimming pool had a step ladder at the far end, and wasn't sure if we should leave it in or not, and cut the cover to suit, but decided to temporarily remove the ladder as we don't use it and it is only bolted down. Might consider extending the leg height of the roller at a later date to go over the steps, but for the time being it is fine without them.

Pool Cover In Place
I used a piece of the trimmings to make a bobble float for the pool thermometer which I had originally tied to the step ladder. Over the course of the next next couple of days I checked the temperature and when I went into the pool on the Tuesday, it was definitely better, it had risen by a couple of degrees, despite being cloudy on Monday and Tuesday, by the Thursday night it was up to 28'C.

Big thanks to Lloyd and Dan of Safe.T.First Pool Safety, for such a speedy and professional delivery and installation. This investment will certainly extend the pool usable window towards the winter months.

In addition to their website link above, you can also visit their Facebook page at:

Next up I will maybe think about some form of solar heating using a sump pump and black irrigation hose coils....but that is a project for another day.

Friday, 15 September 2017

New internet installed!

I had already got ADSL boradband installed by Cyta when I first moved into the villa. The maximum speed I could get was 16Mb/1Mb. Problem was it was not very reliable, particularly in the evening.

I have MAG254 boxes and on the Standard Definition channels, in the evening it would still frequently drop out and buffer. Now, this could have been also due to other reliability issues elsewhere on the internet, but I had noticed that when I was sitting in my office, I would notice that the Amplifi HD router would display internet connection lost. I would turn to look at the ADSL modem, and it would have lost its Sync with the exchange. So, not an internet issue....

I had looked at several internet providers that provide WISP (Wireless ISP), where they install an access point dish on the building and point it to one of their antennae. The prices varied dramatically and some also do not cover all areas etc.

I contacted a few of them, some didn't respond, others were sketchy with their responses to higher bandwidth options, symmetric connections etc.

In the end I decided to go with Cosmos Wireless, who offered a 30Mb/4Mb connection for a reasonable price compared to some of the others in the area. After contacting them and confirming I wanted to proceed with their proposal, they contacted me to tell me they could install the next day.

Next morning, the installation team called to say they were lost and couldn't find the villa, easy done in the area, but gave them some more directions and they eventually arrived.

They took a look at where I wanted to install the dish and got to work. They tried 2 different types of dish, but were just not happy with the connection speeds they were getting. After a few more trial and error with the positioning they concluded there was a lot of interference and would have to move the dish back in behind the house, so the dish was sheltered from the interference. After mounting a new wall mount arm, getting the connection up and then fine tuning the alignment, they managed to get a sustained healthy speed test connection at the service level they said they could provide.

They gave me a username and password for their client website, which allows you to access to data graphs, invoices etc. then left.

I switched over my internal wifi system over onto their new router, which was a simple case of swapping the Ethernet cable. I then went to try the IPTV box on the new connection and the results were clear instantly.

Turning on the TV and going to the UK:Entertainment menu, the first channel on the list is a FullHD one, and it immediately came on, it had never done that before, On the TV menus, a lot of the channels are repeated in FHD, HD and SD, and I have always had to choose the SD. Now, the FHD channels work a treat!

So, far happy with the connection, and very few minor blips, but this might be drop outs elsewhere on the internet or issues at the IPTV service provider. On the whole these are few and far between, and compared to what I had previously this is a winner!

The two guys that came to do the install and the individuals that I had communicated with via email and FB were all great. So thanks Cosmos Wireless!

Here are an example of the client website graphs, showing my connection data usage.

The dish feed arrangement they have used is a Ubiquiti Powerbeam M5 (PBE-M5-400), but they said if I had issues they would look to maybe change this for some other equipment, although time will tell how it performs.

I currently have an EdgeRouter Lite, still connected to the Cyta network, so will look to move this new connection over as the main feed to the EdgeRouter. I am using the EdgeRouter to provide address routing, with a split network, one side on a permanent OpenVPN tunnel to the UK, and the other side to local internet access, more discussed in the article I wrote while in Qatar: Building OpenVPN Site-To-Site Tunnel on Dynamic Addressing Endpoints, just need to update the settings to handle the new setup.

Ubiquiti Powerbeam and Dish.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Zoo day!

First weekend for the kids. So decided to head up to Paphos Zoo.

We arrived about 11.45, and which was just in time for the 12:00 show. They had a number of parrots and Owls flying around, riding a bike, basketball etc. and one of the owls also starred in the first Harry Potter movie. At the end of the show they also took in a 10 week old tiger cub.

After the show, we took a walk up to the zoo restaurant, it was lunchtime after all! Food was very nice, and it wasn't busy. After lunch took a stroll around the zoo, and got finished about 3pm.

On the way back we stopped of at another supermarket that we hadn't yet been in. It was very deceptive, as didn't look big from the outside, but had pretty much everything inside, including cases of beer, which was really the first place I had seen that had not just loose, six or 12 packs.

Got back to the villa, and went to fit some pigeon spikes to the fence near S's bedroom patio. The neighbours cats have a habit of coming round the corner of the fence and down into the garden and into the house. The door is left open to keep a draft coming through. So trimmed the fir tree back a little and fitted the spikes, see if that stops them.

Also, I still hadn't really turned my main computer on since it arrived from Qatar. I wanted to set it up for mining and put a power meter on it to work out the cost and returns. After setting up Claymore Miner in dual mining for Ethereum and Siacoin, it runs at round about 550w. It does about 64MHz/s on Ethereum and 650MHz/s on SiaCoin simultaneously. I haven't try to optimise the machine yet, so don't know if I can squeeze more hashes out or drop the power usage down. Just want to make sure it is stable over night and see what it is doing.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Medical Insurance

After dropping off the kids at school, it was time to head to the bank again. We had an appointment at 9am with the Medical Insurance representative.

With some time to kill, headed to the DIY shop as I was needing a new 20A Distribution board MCB. While I was scouting around the house, I had turned off one of the breakers to see if the marking tied up to markings on one of the wall switches. Sadly they didn't, but this also introduced a problem. The breaker just wouldn't stay reset. I guess it had never really been off, and it was tired. It just kept randomly tripping, even with nothing plugged into the circuits.

The DIY shop didn't have any, but told us where to get from the electrical wholesaler. Eventually we found it and walked in asked for what I wanted and in about 10 seconds had one in my hand. Being Cyprus, I was waiting for a killer price tag to match, but was pleasantly surprised at the pricey sum of €2. Screw-fix and B&Q in the UK are charging at least double this, and even more for the premium brands.

We next stopped off at the bookshop again. M was needing some A3 paper as she had to make a poster for a school assignment.

Then it was off to the bank. Arrived on time and met with the agent. She told me that I will have to get a quick check by a doctor, seeing as I declared my High BP and was on medication. Thought this would be set up for the following week or something like that, but nope, it was straight after the meeting at the bank. Anyway, all paperwork/contracts/bank direct debits etc. and initial premium all paid up/signed and we headed off. The medical clinic 'St. George Polyclinic' was just round the corner. We walked in, the lift was already on the 3rd floor were we wanted, but no amount of pressing the 'up' button made the lift come to us. Had to press the 'down', very bizarre.

Anyway, went to the reception desk and the woman pointed me to the doctors office. Knocked on his open door and went in. He was sat waiting. Anyway, filled in a form, he had a poke about with his stethoscope, took my BP and we were finished, off we went.

Went back to the villa and had a couple of hours in the sun before it was time to pick up the kids from school. After school, took the kids for an ice-cream that N had promised S at the end of the school week.

Time for home, into the pool for a bit, swapped out the faulty MCB that I had purchased earlier, dinner, TV and done for the day!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

More ice-cream.....

Started the day off with dropping the kids off a school. Day 2, went in a lot easier today, so things definitely settling down.

Next off was the Bank, needed to get another account set up and bank card for N. We went in, and signed the usual mountain of paperwork, but the woman in the bank is very helpful. Pick the cards and pin's up from the branch next week. While we were in, she also set up an appointment for the next morning to see the medical insurance rep.

After the bank it was off to the Bookshop again. On day 1, M had been told which Greek book she needed, so went in to get it.

Then it was back to the house for a few hours chill, before it was time to pick up the kids from school. After picking them up, we headed over to the Elysium Hotel where our Qatar fiends were staying. Met up with them for some ice cream before they were heading back to Qatar that afternoon. Actually ended up with two helpings, as we were first sat down in the Mediterranean restaurant, where had a selection pot of Häagen Dazs, then went up to lounge where I couldn't resist a Häagen Dazs chocolate brownie and ice-cream once the kids had started looking through the book.

Said our goodbyes and see you laters to our pals and headed back to the villa.