Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Scooter, You Scooter

Eating Disorders

You Scooter
The first thing I thought of when I saw these two rather overweight women on mobility scooters was:  Pity.  But soon after the woman in the background who was also carrying a child started smoking and driving,  the sympathy aspect disappeared!

There was also an instant flashback to the UK legal change, effective October 2015,  forbidding smoking in vehicles when you are carrying a child.  I did however check the legislation and the vehicle needs to have an enclosed roof.

Still, pretty unhealthy.

I Scooter

By contrast, Marcus still scooters daily wherever possible.

I have discussed the Razor A5 Lux Scooter several times

If you are an Adult and need to cover longer distances than walking would allow on paved flat surfaces, a foldable push scooter could really help you get fit and have fun getting from A to B at the same time.

What Are my learning Points

- Push scootering is an efficient way to move around at run or greater than run speeds (>14 Km/h)  with minimal effort

- It is quite fun

- I still can't find a better scooter than the Razor A5 Lux

- Mobility Scooters are a different matter however. 

They can enable people with an eating disorder to defer addressing their problem.  And, as eating disorders become more pronounced they can become life threatening.

- What would I advise to somebody with any disorder?

- I recommend you start with this webpage

- Please download and read this PDF document

- Recognise that you have a problem and consult specialist medical care.

You only get the one life on this planet that you know about.  Don't waste it.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Oppo Color OS Camera Application on OnePlus

So,  I take a lot of photographs, and my default ultra small and lightweight default camera is now the [full frame ILCE-7] Sony Alpha 7.

I reviewed it here

But although featherweight, I want more!  Marcus would dearly like a ultra compact and higher resolution Smartphone Camera.  To use as a backup camera when I'm not carrying the Sony, for example on any race, or whilst generally out and about.

The quality photo options in October 2015 might be

a) Panasonic CM1
A 13.2 x 8.8mm so called 1" sensor and 20MP resolution

b) Sony Z5
A 6.17 x 4.55mm so called 1/2.3" sensor  and 23MP resolution

but meanwhile on the economy front Marcus is stuck with his now 1 year old OnePlus One Phone.

Since OnePlus is rather related to Oppo in terms of it's ancestry, and Oppo has this wonderfully superior Camera app, how about trying to install a port of the Oppo app onto the OnePlus One

Guide to Install the 50MP Coloros Camera Application

- Oppo has this wonderful Camera Application
- It has a normal mode
- But thru plugins you can have 50MP HD (4 pictures combined together), HDR, and other special photographic modes
- Yes there is a ported version for the OnePlus One phone

Top level screen has a useful set of option from top of screen

Decent set of basic Options

Now I downloaded some of the more interesting Plug Ins

Now these additional Camera Modes are available HD Picture is the 50 MP Megapixel one.

I spent this afternoon shooting between Normal, HDR, HD (50 Megapixel) , and comparing them to our Sony Alpha 7 Full Frame. ...

 Sony Alpha 7 takes a picture at 24 MP, full frame sensor

OnePlus with Coloros photo app takes a 50 MP photograph

I crop the hamper in the Sony Alpha 7

 I crop the hamper in the Oneplus photo

So yes, there is a huge huge difference in the quality of the underlying image which becomes all too clear when you zoom in.

The Color OS application port is wonderful, it's a clear improvement over the standard Google App, allowing for better effects and manual control. But to state the obvious, it does not begin to compare with my Sony Alpha 7 full frame picture quality.   doh!

ColorOS Camera App Install
Image Sensor Sizes for Cameras

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Sermon: Why Do Intelligent, Well-Educated People Still Believe

Being terribly busy to blog this weekend, my preferred reading option for this Sundays sermon, is, in my humble opinion is to redirect you to an article written by the wonderful Neil Carter

I have referenced the calm and collected views of Neil before

For an introduction to Neil, click here

And for Neils article

Why Do Intelligent, Well Educated People, Still Believe Nonsense, click here

Thank you for reading.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

The most good that you can do

Talks at Google: Peter Singer, the Most Good

For many years I've respected the words of the Australian philosopher Peter Singer and when I was recently debating about good deeds I referenced him as a good starting point.

So yes, goto Youtube and just search for Peter Singer

Thank You.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Decathlon Btwin 520 Long Sleeve Cycling Jersey

With the cold weather coming in, and by that Marcus would mean lunchtime cycling temperatures of about 12-18 degrees, it is time to consider some Thermal Cycling clothing.

So our latest find the Decathlon 520 Cycling Jersey has proved very worthy of a review.

As readers know, Decathlon is probably Marcus and Agata's favourite and premiere sports store.  They provide sensibly priced, day in day out sports clothing, we are constant consumers.

But this Cycling Jersey was almost 50 Euros  (33 GBP) which is considerably more than last years Decathlon Winter Jerseys  (which was the Decathlon 500, and that Jersey is an unbelievable bargain 20 GBP)

Yes, there are 4 pockets, 3 traditional at the back an a 4th on the right side.  And, on the back middle pocket an additional water resistant zippable compartment.

 By the neck is additional windproofing

Other Notes

- The Jersey is really thin and light, compared to the thicker Decathlon 500 that I use in 10 degrees and lower temperatures

- The Jersey is made from very stretchable and smooth material with a thin fleecy lining.  If feels like a cut above in quality to our existing 500 Jerseys

- 4 pockets is just superb!  The right most pocket is very easy to access.

- Also available in Black

- On cycles so far it has done a good job of blocking wind chill on 40Kmh+ downhill runs

- Too many logos on the jacket, I'd prefer none, but of course much less than a regular cycling jacket.

This is an /upmarket/ Jersey from Decathlon, but it's proved so good that Agata bought one too.   Recommended.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

The Heartbreak of Choice

I've touched on individual freedom in our own household last October 2014,  when I was dragged kicking and screaming into an Apple store for darling Agata to buy an iPhone 6.

Indeed, I think when we consider freedom [in my zero world] it is often best done internally in your own life, and not by watching the suffering and injustices, and lack of freedoms of others, often in distant lands.

I think many of us experience this in a intense form when we get involved in our first /one way/ relationship.  You know,  when you have a crush/obsession/feelings for somebody who really doesn't adequately reciprocate those feelings.

They, are quite at liberty not to like or love you.  It may be unfair, but you can't make somebody love you.   Equally in this Christmas season you can't even force people to accept your presents and gifts.

What are the safeguards
The UK Mental Health Act is what legal training points us to.

You have probably heard of the famous phrase "A danger to yourself or to others"

This is a key criterion which if passed by an official adjudged source means that such behavior can land you to be forcibly detained in a Healthcare Institution.

So assuming you don't exhibit this behavior, what freedoms have I been exposed to lately?

- to die

- to refuse medical assistance

- to neglect ones own health in favour of others

- to refuse gifts or presents

- to refuse hospitality

- to be a know it all

- to refuse financial advice

- to behave selfishly

- to act spitefully

- to believe in Imaginary Friends

With all these quite depressing attitudes I've encountered in the last days, I need to turn to music to lift my spirits, well just a little.

Neil Young: Rockin in the Free World

UK Mental Health Act 1983

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Shimano R171 Cycling Shoes

Summary: Not a Bad shoe then

The Justification

Most items in the Marcus and Agata household are approved by our joint purchasing committee based on need. Or at least we like to think so.

In our case each of us hope to clock over 5000Km of cycling per year, and in a good year at least 10,000Km.

And so it was time for another pair of shoes since the previous Shimano R170 are now well worn and in need of a backup / replacement

The shoes are a lot wider that I was banking on. Actually a little too wide

Three straps, two Velcro and the base level on a clever ratchet.  There are two holes to locate the bottom buckle, so those with a thinner or lower volume foot can readjust the buckle for a better angle.

Yep it is a /standard/ three hole design

At 300 grams per shoes these are pretty light.   My lightest Mavic shoes are down at 200 grams but they are so fragile as to only be used on exception.   These shoes feel tough enough for daily use.

Nice and shiny means great to clean!

Note I recommend the cleat covers enabling you to do some walking on the shoe without totally destroying the Speedplay.

All assembled with the Speedplay cleats from my old shoes.  Economy counts.  Speedplay is a four hole design meaning that you need to mount the cleat over a three hold adaptor, raising the stack height just a little.

Looking good then.

The Report so far

- Sturdy enough to use as a daily shoe

- For me, with thin, low volume feet, I moved the buckle for better alignment

- The shoes are pretty light, but rather too wide :-(

- The extra width meant that I had to reposition the Speedplay cleats otherwise the shoes was touching against the cranks and squeaking.  Aargh.  All repositioned now well.

- Shoes are scuff and weather resistant.

- UK price from Wiggle for Swiss delivery was 82 GBP

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Costs of having a car in Switzerland

(Montiverdi Berlinetta)

01 Depreciation
This is the big one.  Both figuratively and literally.   The first gotcha is that Swiss motor dealers have no idea about the word /discount/.  After all why should they with all those rich people around, a wait time from order of at least three months, and what seems like an 'artificially' constrained supply.   

Next Swiss drivers love new cars thus depressing the second hand car market.  Expect to lose 15% in the first year and thereafter 10%, just as a guide.

Oh, wait, a tiny sliver of good news!  Each year you must pay tax on all your bought assets,  So each year your tax bill will include tax on the remaining equity value in your car.  So at least the tax paid on that, each year, will be smaller, since your car will be worth less, a lot less than new.

02 Car Tax

A yearly car tax is levied based on the maximum allowed weight  (not regular weight) of the vehicle and its KW engine output.  A discount of .75 if the CO2 is < 120g/km

Here is the formula

CHF 0.15 per kg to 2000 kg and CHF 0.30 for each additional kg and
CHF 2 per kW to 100 kW and CHF 3 for each additional kW.

Taxation based on the maximum allowable weight is of 
course really offensive since cars with a large load capacity 
are penalised.  We end up paying about 1000 CHF i.e. 700 GBP.

03 Insurance
With maximum discounts for no accidents, elderly drivers  (Marcus), and no fancy extras like legal protection, and shopping around on the excellent Comparis  we have the cost of modest Audi down to about 1800 CHF (1200 GBP) per year.  

Swiss base the insurance on the new cost of the car, not the actual resale value, so year on year your car insurance cost will not go down.  Yes, annoying

04 Motorway Tax

You pay a yearly 40CHF charge to gain a non transferable sticker that attaches to your car to give you the right to drive on Swiss motorways.   To us it's a bargain.  Switzerland has no tolls and a quick trip to France has us cursing them expensive French autoroutes.

05 Expertise Inspection

At import and then after 4 years you must take your car to Service des Automobiles for a detailed inspection.  A lot of details are checked, including the infamous cleanliness of the engine bay.

06 Manufacturers Service

Buyer frown if the car is not Manufactuer serviced leading to ludicrously high car servicing bills. For just changing the oil and /having a look/ at the car we can expect to pay over 600 CHF  (ie. 400 GBP) per year.

Tell me the good news

- Swiss drivers are very polite and law abiding, at least in the canton Vaud where we live.  This significantly reduces the risk of a Car accident or road rage, and makes driving a much more pleasurable experience

- Most Car insurance companies allow multi vehicle policies whereby multiple car's are insured against a single number plate.  Then you pay the insurance only for the most expensive vehicle, and a few francs admin charge for each other vehicle.  To be clear this allows you to drive only one of the vehicles in such a policy at a time, hence the single set of plates.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Cycle Upgrades: Towards Tubeless Easy

Marcus considers Tubeless Easy

The Background
Marcus and Agata have only one primary road bike each, shod with ultra light weight components.  As such our ability to cycle on all but the most pristine road surfaces is limited.

Gravel is possible for short hundred metre distances, but a leafy country lane is quite out of the question.

Rather than go to the expense of a new bicycle we've hit on the idea of using an additional set of wheels with different tyre technology

Tubeless Easy

In the Mountain Bike World,  Schwalbe has pioneered a new tyre design called Tubeless Easy.  It's sort of the equivalent of a car tyre format for bicycles.  Well because

- You need an air tight rim

- You provide your own valve
- You get a Tubeless easy tyre, looking like a regular bicycle tyre, and without any inner tube mount it
- Then you insert some fluid via the valve to help with seating and to seal small punctures
- Then you inflate

Unfortunately Tubeless easy tyres are not yet available, at least from any UK or European supplier that I know


Interim Plan

We found that Shimano Ultegra  6800 wheels are airtight and are supplied with a valve, so we thought

- buy Shimano Ultegra 6800 wheels now

- Buy Hard wearing Continental Grand Prix 4 Season tyres
- Buy 28 section tough inner tubes

Try this combination until the Schwalbe tyres and liquid is actually shipping.

Small hickup:

Wiggle delivered everything but the Continental tyres.  So still there is not a working combination.   But sooon!

Schwalbe Pro One for MTB

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Show me the Code

A quick level set.

Audi, Seat, Skoda, Volkswagen diesel engined cars are now believed to have custom computer code that tried to detect when they were being detected for NOx emissions.

NOx by the way is just shorthand for the 2 gases NO and NO2

NOx gases are directly bad for humans

Note: CO2 gas emissions have not been doctored.  CO2 gases are indirectly very bad for all humans on the planet, since now all but /nutjobs/ believe that they are the principle source of Global Warming.  And recall that Global Warming will precipitate catastrophic changes in climate and sea level within our lifetimes.

Just One Question

There must be source code somewhere back at VW

And this is complicated code, so it must surely have comments saying who wrote what

And the code is surely checking into a Source Code Control System, so who checked in what and when.

So, show me the source code!

I am interested.

Fiirm action is required
EPA allowed for secrecy
CO2 Manipulation
Fuel Analysis

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Computer Backout

This is a wise tale about service.

As an IT consultant (or is it ex IT consultant?) and also a professional and certified nice person, well the opinions of my customers are vitally important to me.

I am happy when you are happy.

The rules are of course suspended should you be an idiot,  an absolute bastard, or a persistent liar who seeks to exploit others.

That said, Agata's mother in Poland is none of these and so when she told Marcus and Agata that her new computer that I upgraded her too was very slow.   I had to investigate ... 

What we Supplied

I covered the build process in July here   and at the time I thought that the system was acceptable

 First it is a very quiet and small PC.  You can barely hear the fans spinning at all

 A full 8GB of memory and Windows 10 Enterprise

 A dual core Atom CPU running at 1.8 MHz

 A 128GB quality SSD

More USB and other ports than one quite knows what to do with!

Making it Vroom
I had thought that the addition of

- a fast 128GB SSD Disk
- 8GB memory
- Windows 10 with all excess services removed

Would be enough to make it fly. Like a professional I asked for a list of problems ....

Make Me a List

- Dodgy Power Button
Yes.   True.  Somehow, after powering on you also had to press a recessed reset button, and occaisionally do all of this twice.  Pretty annoying.

- Office Complained About expiration
Yes. True. Office 2016 beta was installed and it kept threatening expiration, but only in November 

- AVG 2015 issues
Yes. True. AVG the virus program intermittently stopped working after some Windows Updates were installed.  This causes and AVG alert and also a Windows 'what the hell has happened to your antivirus program' alert too.

- Media stuttering
Yes.  True.  That Atom processor is never going to win an awards for speed.  And that is the polite reply.

The Backout

So with the greatest reluctance it was time to revert BACK to the old Shuttle computer.   But as a concession at least change the internal disks to all SSD and use a Windows 10 build ....

For generations to move a Windows installation to a new hardware architecture I would normally
- use acronis or other to make an OS backup
- re install from exact same OS media a bare level OS
- restore over the backup on top of the base OS

This is because simply cloning the disk (at bit level) and placing the cloned disk into the new target system normally Blue-screened.

But in Warsaw with limited resources and limited time I did a clone.  And guess what ...  it started, downloaded drivers, rebooted twice.  And all was well.  Fantastic.

When all was re-done there was a testing period.  In case we had to backout the backout!

Luckily it became clear that the working power button and superior speed of the 'old' shuttle made operation easier.  It was then a matter of fixing the remaining software issues.  Easy.  Well, easyish.

What Did I learn?

My old Quad core computer with dedicated PCI graphics, from 2009  was still a lot faster than the 2013 Intel Mini ITX computer.

A separate PCI graphics card really is so much faster than planar / motherboard graphics, even from 4 years later.

Even adding 8GB to the Intel Atom powered ITX motherboard could not make it fly.  The Atom is one seriously slow CPU

Windows 10 could be cloned to a new hard disk and then booted on the new target computer architecture.   The target machine downloaded the necessary missing drivers and after 2 reboots all was well.

All is well that ends well then.   Mr Quad core shuttle is back in a new home office environment, and mother is happy++

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Another Wonderful Weekend in Warsaw

I am just filing away our report on Marcus's recent September weekend in Warsaw.  As usual it was full of action.  Oh, and hotness.  Although Lausanne was stiflingly hot, I had no idea that Warsaw would trump it.   It is autumn!

 I picked up some SIM cards at the airport.  Free sims, with instructions in Polish, German, English (phew) and a 5GB for 15Zl offer  (4 GBP).  It is totally and utterly bonkers.

The main reason for the visit was to be there for Mama and her hospital eye operation.  She is looking pretty good to me.

Yes, in still heavily Catholic Poland, Crosses invade even the hospital.  The Religious would say that [Christian] God gave Doctors the skills to save people.  Lucky we have the right God then.

 I am still quite obsessed with getting a better scooter. However after visiting many shops Marcus' Razor A5 Lux is still the best. So, no new scooter for me.

Part of the trip was to upgrade the local Computer Infrastructure to Windows 10 and new Professional Quality style desk.  I begin with a thorough clean, of course

 Multiple trips to Decathlon are obligatory because this shop is suspicious absent in Switzerland.  (Do I hear Cartel anybody?).  Anyway, this trail rucksack was almost perfect  (reviewed here )  but I am still holding out for something better.

 Mothers' new computer Infrastructure seems very slow, so the first fix attempt is a newer build of the Operating System.  I'll upgrade my laptop first, and then if successful, her system is next.  What could possibly go wrong!

In Poland  (and not Switzerland) I have access to Marks and Spencer shopping.  So I am testing out 2 new porridge types. Porridge is my normal breakfast, so I'm always looking out for improvements

The New Road

I commented before that a surprise road is being built nearby so let's look at the progress now

 Veturilo bicyles are back.  Fantastic

 As you can see I like large machinery

And I am totally fascinated as to how they manage to lay down the edging so perfectly.  What a skill.

Of course more Vintage car spotting is obligatory

Mum's new professionally equipped office, concealed cabling, new and hyper clean, and 100% working.

Semisonic: Closing Time

So it is another all too quick goodbye and return to Lausanne Switzerland.

One day I dream of arriving and staying until it is right to pootle back home, not being forced back due to other commitments. One day.