We had to get a new router (and better internet)

Our house or something near our house got hit by lightening, which killed the wired connection to both of our computers somehow (it also blew a ton of fuses and somehow managed to break two of the lighbulbs above the stove, but nowhere else).  The wireless was still fine, but half the router was fried.  (Thankfully DH is super risk averse and has a very fancy surge protector on our desktops.)

On top of that, having 4 people needing to video conference at the same time was putting us dangerously close to our data limit and would occasionally cause DC1 to drop internet during things like exams (this was especially problematic after the lightening strike).

So we upped our internet plan to get unlimited data for an additional $10/month, which also doubled our speed.

After some searching, DH decided on this router, and this modem, though he got them from best buy instead of amazon (all amazon links are affiliate links).

It is great.  We haven’t had any data dropping problems since.  It does a much better job of covering DC1’s station in the breakfast nook and DC2’s station in the dining room.  Wireless is still about the same speed as before, but my and DH’s wired speed has doubled to just under 200 Mbps dl.  And we can walk around the house without losing and then picking up wireless again, which is a nice bonus.  DH says that’s because it switches between 5g and regular wireless automatically.

I had also tried to get a new webcam since DC1 needed DH’s for school and DC2 has commandeered my laptop.  Since March I’d basically been using my iPad Pro as a camera which meant I had to have two zoom windows open (not a problem for office hours when I need to switch between whiteboard and desktop so need both windows anyway, but a problem for some meetings).  But when we tried, they were all out of stock everywhere.  Just recently, DH’s relative’s kid, the only one in community college, needed a web-cam for remote school exams and looking for one made us realize that they were back in stock.  We got her a cheap $40 one and we got me a super fancy C922x Pro Stream by logitech.  (I think we would have made this same choice had we known DH’s company was going under at the time.)

If you want more information, here is DH back in September:

The recent storm damaged our current modem + router, the Arris SURFboard SBG6782-AC, such that the ethernet sockets no longer work, though the wifi does. This has 8 download channels and 4 upload channels (8×4).

I am going to buy a new modem and router, because I am worried that this one will eventually fail.

Our ISP says that any DOCSIS 3.0 compatible modem will work. That apparently includes DOCSIS 3.1 modems that are also compatible with 3.0, according to Amazon reviews of various modems.

I think I want to get a separate modem and router, instead of an all-in-one, because I want a better router that will reach across the house.

Puma chips are bad. https://www.classactionlawyers.com/puma6/

Meanwhile, Broadcom chips may be susceptible to the Cable Haunt exploit. https://cablehaunt.com/
The Netgear CM1000 is listed as vulnerable, as is the Arris Surfboard SB8200. But not the Motorola MB8600.

The Motorola MB8600 is Wirecutter’s “upgrade” pick, a 32×8 DOCSIS 3.1/3.0 modem. https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-cable-modem/

On the router side, wifi 6 (i.e., 802.11ax) has been released relatively recently, and though we do not have any devices that would take advantage of it, I would like to get it if possible. Tri-band is more important though.
I looked into mesh router systems, but they are expensive and they all seem to get seriously negative reviews. Our house isn’t that big (~2800 sq feet unheated area [Editor:  (!)]), so a single good router should be sufficient. Review sites recommend making sure the router has a good processor and RAM.

Based on the Wirecutter recommendation, and the price point of ~$200, I got the TP-Link Archer A20 (AC4000), which is a wifi 5 tri-band.
https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-wi-fi-router/

And here’s DH after purchasing:

I’ve really been enjoying the higher speeds, the higher reliability (and lower congestion due to the router’s two 5GHz channels, aka tri-band), the ability to get a good signal all the way at the other end of the house, and the router’s “smart connect” that automatically switches between the three bands.

The modem and router are somewhat overkill, because they could handle a 1Gbps speed, while our plan tops out at 400Mbps, but they work so well that I’m glad we went with these.
And they run a bit warm to the touch, but not hot like some modem+router combos we have used before.

Has your place ever been hit by lightening?  How do you handle internet problems?  What’s your internet situation?

Ask the grumpies: How do aesthetics influence the things you buy?

Steph asks:

When do aesthetics influence the things that you buy, and for which things does functionality matter more? I’m currently overthinking this question in terms of buying a car, and also had a related debate about computers with a couple of art majors a few years ago.

#1 is really a Form Follows Function devotee.  And yet, that aesthetic can still be beautiful.  I tend to narrow down to the best object, and then choose aesthetics after.

Grumpy Nation:  How much do you care about aesthetics?  Where does beauty fit into your purchasing equations?

What are we getting for people this year?

My sister said she wanted a chef’s knife and a paring knife, so after some conversation, we got her a santoku (Shun), a paring knife, and an electric knife sharpenerThis post of ours really helped me!  I don’t know what DC1 is going to give her this year, but DC2 has been working really hard on a 4 plate pixel hobby with 8 ballet dancers on it (DC1 gave my sister a pixel hobby with a pair of ballet slippers on it at about the same age).

Sadly, the bookstore in my mom’s town just went out of business (as did the Barnes and Noble a few years back), so either I get her a giftcard to someplace half an hour or more away, or she gets an Amazon giftcard.  Aha!  I realized that she’ll be staying at my sister’s around Christmas, so I can get her a card she can use at the half price books near my sister’s place.

For everyone else it has been harder!

MIL:  She started an amazon list this year!  Woooo!  When DH found that out (on the phone on Thanksgiving while trying to pump her for any hint of what she could possibly want) his stress level visibly dropped 75%.  We popped through and got a bunch of “Nanarelated merch (I guess replacing her previous Green Bay Packers theme?) as well as a number of hard-boiled mystery novels.  (My mom runs more towards cozy mysteries, DH’s prefers the tougher stuff.)

FIL:  Now that FIL is retired, he’s spending more time hunting.  Plus he’s making sure there’s plenty of game on the plot of land he inherited from his parents.   So in addition to the Cabela’s giftcard we usually send him, we’re also sending a highly rated game cookbook.

BIL1:  DH is waiting for a game to go on sale so he can get a copy for his brother and his cousin both.  (I assume we’ll also be sending a check to the cousin, but I don’t know for how much yet.)

SIL1:  It is always a pleasure to shop for SIL1 because she has an up-to-date amazon wish list!  And she puts cool things on it!  And she has great taste in books!  This year I’m adding the Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal and KJ Charles’ regency series.

Cousins 1 and 2:  The younger has been learning braille, so we got her a subscription to the children’s braille book of the month club.  (It is pretty heavily subsidized, so we added on a donation.  What a great program.)  This is the first time we’ve known what to get hir!  For the older we’re getting the dragonbox complete math pack and big numbers which is too new to be in their complete math pack.  (Usually we also buy books for their oldest, but he’s already got most of what our DC1 likes.)

BIL2 and SIL2: This one was hard this year.  The past few years there’s been a good excuse to just write a check (a new house purchase, saving for a house, babies, paying off wedding debt, etc.) but this year none of that has been recent or immediate.  When DH tried to pump SIL2 for information on the phone, she was non-committal and said she’d update her amazon wishlist, which she always says and rarely does.  DH suggested not exchanging gifts among the adults with her nuclear family, but apparently she demurred.  I wish he’d just asked her straight up about checks vs. giftcards, but he didn’t.  We do have a bunch of $5 off amazon luxury beauty products and she does have a $20 foundation from 2014 on her list– we could get her that and the pair of $14 earrings from 2014 but that’s literally all that is on her list right now, other than a bunch of size 0-3 month onesies and diapers that will probably not fit either her rising 3 year old or her 5 year old.  [Update:  We got her the foundation and the earrings, and then a little over a week later she actually did update her list so we got her one of the books on teaching she wanted and now we are 100% done with holiday shopping other than that one game that DH is taking care of and stocking stuffers.  Yay.]

Cousins 3 and 4:  SIL did ok us buying books again for her kids (given how many toys everyone gets from the grandparents).  For the older one (about the same age as our DC2), we got Magic Treehouse and Magic School Bus books and the Magic School Bus chemistry kit.  For the younger one, ladybug girl, the Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, Elephant and Piggie books, and Beautiful Oops.

For someone who likes art and lives in Milwaukee

What are you getting for peeps this year?

Big expenses coming up in the next few years

We’ve been out of graduate school for ~10 years now, which means a lot of the stuff we own is now ~10 years old.  We’re now at a point where the probability that something big is going to need to be replaced is pretty high.

Our cars are 10 and 11 years old.

Our 12-year water heaters are 10 years old.

Our roof is getting on about 12 years.

Our refrigerator is something like 15 years old.

Our w/d are 10 years old.

Our dishwasher is 9 years old.

We’re not really sure which of these things is going to break down, or even how many are going to break down.  We shouldn’t need the cost of all of these in our cash emergency fund, but the longer time goes on, the more plausible it is that we’ll need to cover two or more of these in a short time frame.

We’re pretty sure we can cash flow water heaters.  Our cash emergency fund can handle one car, but not two.  Or not one car and a new roof.  Plus I’m kind of hoping that we can do solar with the next roof replacement (we’ll see!) — even if there aren’t government incentives, DH likes new technology and I like the idea of lower a/c bills in the summer (even if we don’t actually save money), which would add considerably to a new roof expense.

I feel like if we have enough in savings to  get us through the unpaid summer should DH permanently lose his job and to handle a major expense like most of a new car, then we should also be ok for the future, even though it might mean having to take on a temporary loan or to sell stocks.  I don’t think we need to have a targeted savings account for each of these major expenses as hopefully we’ll have time to replenish the emergency fund after one comes due, but maybe I’m wrong.

How do you deal with big lumpy unexpected but still kind of expected expenses? Does everything expire around the same time for you or have you spaced things out?