Wifi Router as a Range Extender (Repeater Bridge)

Problem.  2800 square foot home and 1.5 acres with a path into the woods and a deck.  No way one single WiFi router can cover all this turf.

The other day I saw a Netgear XR700 Router on Facebook Marketplace for $100.  The XR700 is a rebranded Netgear R9000 aimed at gamers.  It is also a LOT cheaper than the R9000 which tips the scales at about $450.  But again, except for the case…….it is the exact same router.

Netgear XR700

Believe it or not it does cover almost all the turf in my big home but there is ONE dead spot in the house that I suspect has one too many walls and doors in the way of the wifi signal.

And when I set on the deck in the woods the wifi signal is “seen” but simply not usable at all.

So I decided to pull an old trick out of my hat.

 

I used DD-WRT firmware on my Netgear XR700 and I installed it on my old router which is a Netgear Nighthawk R7000 router.  I used something called a Repeater Bridge on the Wireless Interface to extend the range of my current router.

Let’s go over how this is done:

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Network Security with PfSense

I haven’t written anything for a while because I retired and sold and bought a house and moved at all the same time.

During setup of the new home though I had to redo my internet setup and start fresh with a newly mapped network.  If I’ve said this once, I’ve said it a million times………If you hook a store bought router to your Cable Company modem you are begging to be hacked.  Your security is non-existent. 

This is not just my opinion.  It’s a stone cold fact.  To have any element of actual security you need a hardware firewall or a router with custom firmware such as DD-WRT or OpenWRT.  OR BOTH.

This is where PfSense comes in.  It is a hardware firewall which routes all your internet traffic through its very capable interface.  And it is far from being just a firewall as well.  It is a full fledged network Operating System.

The easiest way to get some decent network security is to buy a pre-configured appliance.

Netgate 1100

This is the Netgate 1100 and it comes in at a cost of about $179.

Yeah, that’s a little bit of cabbage but do you really want to protect your network or not?

You can build your own appliance and there is no shortage of mini computers built just for hardware firewalls.

PfSense is a free download and there are several other firewall OS’s out there that are free and also Open Sourced.

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How To Tell Time In The Dark

DOES ANYBODY REALLY KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS.  DOES ANYBODY REALLY CARE?     

~ Chicago Transit Authority, 1969

HA!  Most  would tell you that famous line was from the musical group Chicago but it was actually their earlier name that it was released under.  You Are Welcome!

Why do we care about time?  And more importantly why would we care about time IN THE DARK?  I can think of a couple reasons.  I might care about seeing my watch face in these conditions:

  • Scuba Diving – I am a PADI certified Rescue Diver.  Seeing your watch face at 130′ under water is IMPORTANT.
  • Tactical  or Military – sneaking up on people and knowing what exactly what time to react without revealing your position.
  • Power Outages – They happen
  • Camping or hiking – this could extend to illuminating a compass dial as well.
  • Seeing the time without disturbing your spouse – possibly the most important on the list.
  • Seeing the time in the middle of the night without lighting up the room and fully awakening yourself.
  • Prepper Stuff –  If you fancy yourself a prepper and you are in a situation where the fecal matter hits the rotating wind movement device……..you aren’t going to be able to run to the store to get an SR41 watch battery.

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Seiko 5 Field Watch Review

Seiko 5 Unboxing

Not as many people wear watches these days but I am one of them.  And my style tends to drift towards the look of the military field watch.

I’m a big fan of Marathon, Hamilton and Bertucci Field Watches  and a real big fan of the Seiko 5 Series of field watches.

First and foremost the Seiko 5 offerings are AFFORDABLE.  They aren’t priced to the moon.

The Seiko 5 line was recently refreshed and I just picked up a new SRPG35.  It’s a beauty.  It is a 40mm watch face with a 20mm strap.  The movement is their bulletproof 4R36 Automatic. Right after that I’m not going to discuss specs.  There are videos and web pages galore that do nothing but repeat the Seiko specifications and I don’t find those particularly useful.  Here on my blog I like to talk about real world usage and obvious gotchas.

I first got hooked on the Seiko 5 series when I got the SNK803 Seiko 5 back in 2019.

Seiko SNK Series (click pics to enlarge)

Those are some beautiful watches, and best of all the watch snobs LOVED THEM. The tan one is the SNK803 and the black one is the SNK809.  I put custom straps on both of them.

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Sayonara Uncle Sam

Well, here it is.  The day we all wait for.  Retirement.  My official work counter shows me at 37 years and 8 months and retiring as a GS-13 Step 9.

We’re quite a ways from 1982 when I went through the gates at Great Lakes Naval Training Command.  Imagine being 19 years old and departing boot camp and reporting to an aircraft carrier in dry dock.  I’m not scared of heights but when I looked down that dry dock at the USS Carl Vinson in its entirety I got a little bit of vertigo.   Not to mention the whole ship is a gigantic maze with no cheese at the end.

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Multitools

Even though I am a Swiss Army knife guy through and through I have just started dabbling in multitools. During my employment career it was necessary to have a pocket carry EDC knife and most 91mm Swiss Army knives fit that bill perfectly.  Now that I telework (thank you COVID) and am about to retire I probably won’t be getting out and about as much and having a few multitools laying around strategically will be fairly practical, I believe.

I decided to try a tool from the major manufacturers and got the following:

  • Victorinox Swiss Tool Spirit X
  • Gerber Suspension NXT
  • Leatherman Surge

After reading dozens of reviews and talking to a few people I also decided to get a Leatherman Wave +.

Leatherman Wave +

I think out of all of them I may like the Wave + the best although it is a tossup between that and the Swiss Tool Spirit X.
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Credit Alert Interactive Verification Reporting System (CAIVRS)

I bet you never heard of Credit Alert Interactive Verification Reporting System (CAIVRS) before.

CAIVRS was established by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency in June of 1987.  It is a database of Social Security Numbers that are in default regarding federal loans such as Student Loans, Small Business Loans, VA Loans, etc.

The following agencies report to CAIVRS:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Small Business Administration
  • Department of Justice

If you default on a loan or credit card it goes to your credit report which is accessible to you.  However, if you default on a Federal Student Loan it is not reported to your credit file.  It is only reported to CAIVRS.

YOU WILL NEVER KNOW YOU WERE A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT UNLESS YOU APPLY FOR FEDERAL MONEY.

I just applied for a VA loan for a new home and was notified by my lender that I was delinquent on a Federal Student Loan and that I could not get my VA loan until this issue was cleared up.  I immediately knew this was inaccurate because I HAVE NEVER HAD A STUDENT LOAN.

I called the Department of Education Student Loan Debt Resolution ……………… let that sink in a moment.   This problem is so huge apparently that they have their own departmental offices.

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Leatherman Surge vs. Victorinox Swiss Tool Spirit X

I love Swiss Army knives.  But recently I have decided to try out some of the larger multi-tools.  Yeah, I’m a few years late to the game……..but here goes.

Before I ever talk about these tools know that I think they are used best on a conditional basis.   When I am at home or in the truck or camper know that I keep a proper set of tools around to take care of business.  The right tool for the job, as they say.

However, having a good multi-tool within reach most of the time does come in mighty handy.   And on the surface this statement might seem odd ……….. If the proverbial fecal matter were to hit the electrical rotary device………being stuck in the middle of an emergency situation with a suite of tools in your pocket would be a blessing, no?

So multi-tool choices are abundant and there are review videos galore on these tools.  The selection of a good multi-tool is going to be a very personal choice and no way am I ever going to imply that I found the BEST TOOL and that you should get one.

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My Favorite Swiss Army Knife

Wow!  What a loaded subject line.   Especially since I easily have about 75 Swiss Army knives.   And I love them all.  However some stand out, and particularly one stands out.

First of all lets stroll down memory lane, shall we?  The Swiss Army knife was first made in 1891 with roots back to about 1884.  That is quite a lineage.

Victorinox 1891 Soldier

Victorinox 1891 Soldier

Oddly enough it doesn’t look that much different than what we carry today.  Isn’t it amazing that the origins of a useful pocket took have remained true to form for so long?
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Swiza – A Swiss Army Knife Killer?

I like pocketknives.   A lot.  I’m actually one of those guys with a giant fear of getting cut and I have zero desire to ever use a knife as a weapon.  For me, the act of carrying a knife is more about being the instant savior to a situation with my fancy multi-tool.   And I like knowing I’m prepared and ready for whatever may happen to me.

NOTE:  99% of my knife usage is opening Amazon boxes that contain knives. 

My pocketknife of choice is, and always has been Victorinox Swiss Army knives.  As a young boy I remember the excitement of the first Cub Scout knife.  Wow.  What a responsibility.  It was taught as such and that message was received as such.  God I love my generation.

So I am a knife collector of sorts.  Swiss Army, Benchmade, Spyderco and other EDC items like flashlights and pens that actually work in the weather.

Even though the Swiza knives have been around for a while I decided to pick one up and try it out.  Allow me to answer the question in my subject line.

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