Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Bring back real music to me

Strike it Up: Black Box

Yesterday I promoted the above video, and well, I just couldn't stop playing it.

I cast my mind back to what feels like just a few years ago and reminded myself that in those days Dance and related categories of music was possible:

  1. Without Cussing and Swearing
  2. Without misogynist lyrics
  3. Without a message of hate

But moving forward to today:


Luckily for me I think I found the truncated version of the video.  Phew!

I think most music of this genre tries hard to incorporate what I can only describe as the above 3 point un-holy trilogy of stupidity,  thankfully it has not yet been extended to include the killer 4th category  (Religious crackpottery)  but maybe that is coming too.

So to recap, what happened to the preponderance of cheerful, musical, clean and danceable music that I was raised on?

DJ Jazzy Jeff& Fresh Prince:Summertime

NO (contains bad lyrics, themes, just about everything ..)
Lil John: Get Low

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Pump It Up

Strike It Up: Black Box 
  Link if imbed does not work :-(

(In my mind the Video was titled Pump it Up, so although this video does not make much sense with the text below, I am still headlining it!)

Yes our Lezyne CNC Travel Drive pump gauge is now officially dead.  After weeks sticking at 60psi it now has gone down to 0 and is stuck there.

Yes it really is this beautiful.  So rather than throw it away which is surely a waste; we had to scout high and low for a replacement gauge.

No joy in Switzerland (no surprise there then!) but eventually Evan cycles in England looked promising and an order later, waiting 1 week, receiving package, paying duty, well it was now up to me.

There is only 1 screw on the pump but after removing it nothing seemed like it was coming out.

About 30 minutes of buggering about with some sharp tools later I managed to prise out the old defective gauge

 Hmm. A bit ham fisted but hey

Inserting the new gauge is easy, it just screws into the hole.  The moderately encouraging news is that it all seems to work again, although the gauge seems to be sticking at some points  (and bashing pump on the floor in an unscientific manner seems to help).  Just bedding in I hope.

It has been a bit of a palava replacing just the gauge and not the entire pump, but we don't enjoying just buying a new pump unnecessarily.    Our gadgets have to work, and work, and work almost forever until

Silicon Heaven

after a lifetime of service they can indeed enter Silicon Heaven. but until then, in our house they have a very, very, busy life.

Short Teach-in About Bicycle Tyre Pressures
Marcus and Agata check our Tyre pressures before every cycle.  Why?

Firstly for safety.  At high speeds incorrect tyres pressures could lead to accident and damage, usually of Marcus in some horrific way.

Next, you correctly inflated tyres are more aerodynamic.  Actually for Road tyres 120psi is the usual recommended and maximum race pressure for fast dry cycling, max aerodynamics; on a clincher  (ie. non tubular wheel); on smooth surfaces e.g. most Swiss Roads.

Then you would adjust downward the pressure for
a) Rain, more contact area to wet tarmac so reduce to <100
b) Casual cycle - Marcus rides on a suspension-less Carbon Fibre seat, so less pressure for more comfort
c) Rough Roads: Less pressure for more comfort.  Essential around Evian et environ!

Evans replacment gauge 160 psi
Lezyne Travel Drive

Monday, September 01, 2014

Hymer ML-T 560 Motorhome Review

Hymer ML-T 560 video diary

In our search for the perfect Motorhome  (aka Recreational Vehicle RV) we are freshly back from the Dusseldorf 2014 Caravan Salon.

A review of this will follow, however let's look at one of the best contenders for Perfect Motorhome

Hymer ML-T 560

This is based on a Mercedes Sprinter Chassis and is a Semi-integrated Motorhome.

We are interested in the 560 model which has one double bed but the 580 sister model with 2 single beds and slightly less storage is also available.

Question: Why would any could couple want two separate beds (and less storage)?  Total mystery to us.

The 560 ticks a lot of boxes including

  • Quality Mercedes Sprinter base
  • Options for 190 BHP, 4WD and 7 speed DSG gearbox
  • 222cm wide not including mirrors
  • Fully winterised a standard including double glazing
  • Large garage would take 2 bicycles and lots of additional sports equipment
  • Inside there is masses of storage space both below kitchen, in two tall cabinets near bed, and in the front above living area.
  • The bathroom has a separate (no shower curtain) shower and a fixed sink and toilet (no movement needed for showering)
  • There are multiple options that must be selected (annoyingly) like satnave
  • There are multiple options that can be selected such as heated seats, uprated water and batteries and internal heating.   This can push the price from the standard 65K euro to well over 80K euro

Hymer ML-T Overview
Hymer ML-T 560 Layout

Hymer 560 Special Equipment

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Sermon: The God Particle and CERN

In the Summer of 2012 Scientists announced with high confidence that they had identified the Higgs Boson subatomic particle.

Not surprisingly illustrations of what is called the /God Particle/ closely resemble the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I shall leave the reader to draw the inevitable conclusion. RAmen.

In homage to this discovery Marcus and Agata have for some time been on the waiting list to visit CERN and learn more about Colliders and sub atomic particle theory.   We can now reveal that we have had an introduction

 This year CERN celebrates it's 60th birthday

Part of a small group

The Synchro Cyclotron

Colliders contain common components and we were explained the basics by an in depth talk about the Synchro Cyclotron shown above.

Besides an informative video that overlays the actual Cyclotron our Physicist guide encouraged us to ask any question to clarify our understanding.

There are multiple Colliders at CERN

 The Collider mural

 Collider detector building blocks

Talk of Boson

Particle discovery at the Atlas collider displaying the common components to all colliders

We thoroughly enjoyed our Physics based tour which was made professionally and our Physicist guide was a great source of technical information.


CERN at 60
Higgs confirmed
Key to the Universe

The force holding the Universe together?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Agata gets Dura Ace

This is the story of Agata's recent Bicycle upgrade to more [Shimano] Dura Ace.

Deserve it, really we do!
Before we get onto the detail, you need to read this section! Otherwise you could imagine this is merely a tale of two rich kids with another toy.  But no.

Firstly neither Agata or Marcus are kids and are funds are increasingly limited!  Secondly, we really make use of our bicycles and do a lot of cycling.  How much? Well, Marcus put significantly more than 5000 Km last year and I am sure Agata is in the same ballpark.

We need quality componentry on our Bicycles, parts that perform and won't let us down.  As Engineers we favour the lightest, best Engineered parts we can find, but they must be durable!

Shimano Dura Ace is just that!

Goodbye Ultegra
Agata's bicycle initially came with Shimano Ultegra components on a Ribble EM2 frame.  In 2006. That was 8 years ago!

Over time there have been multiple Dura Ace upgrades and today it is time to upgrade the Front Chainwheel and Bottom Bracket.

 Dura Ace 7900 Hollowtech Double Chainset

Notice that the teeth sizes are specially sculpted in some places.

 Different crank length are available.  We stick to the short 170mm.  The shorter the crank the higher the force per revolution your legs will need to produce since the moment is less.

The underside of Dura Ace 7900 Hollowtech II

 Removal of the bottom bracket needs a special spanner. Actually to insert the new Dura Ace 9000 bottom bracket you need a new spanner or use the plastic insert supplied with the 9000 bearing.

Some considerable time later the Ultegra Bottom Bracket removed and the new 9000 bracket greased and ready to insert.  Then simply insert right Chainwheel, attach left pedal and tighten to 14Nm. Put pedals back on, and test cycle...

Oh yes,  I of course renewed the Chain also with an original 7901 .  It is best practice always to renew the Chain when one makes changes to the Geartrain.

Looks so good!   We will be testing shortly.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Another Sick Disk

My now 6 year old plus Virtualisation Server normally boots up from Bios  (20 seconds) and then  to load it's Operating System  (30 seconds) for a total Boot time of under 1 minute.

Not bad for a /server machine/  which is designed to run 24x7 without a break if need be.

So a boot time of over 15 minutes, and, after pressing C-A-Delete at the login window to Desktop in another 20 minutes this morning had me thinking.

Probably, something is very wrong!

Last week whilst fixing another problem I noticed the SMART disk status indicators on this disk looking very unhealthy,  now I realise that things have got dramatically worse.

It's interesting to note that this was not a (Windows) Operating System disk issue, just an unrelocatable error on a disk on which backups were stored.

Yet, it's breakdown had caused the issue.  How do I know? Well, removal of this faulty disk and a reboot of the system without it put back the boot time to 50 seconds.


Now, of course all Microsoft Windows systems, certainly since XP have a centralised and well organised Application, Security, Setup and System logging system that you can refer to anytime.

So from this we can instantly see the issue.

So I got to thinking how about other Operating Systems manage.

IBM's AIX has a well established but proprietary facility shown using the errpt command.

This article shows you some features

Apple OSX

Since OSX runs UNIX under the covers we can look in the standard syslog area /var/log/system.log to check for disk errors.

OSX also has the diskutil command that can be used to list and check  disks.

Centos 7 Linux

Centos runs the /usr/sbin/rsyslogd program writing to /var/log/messages


Writes to a file called /dev/log/main

Back to fixing my problem

  • I Removed possibly failing disk

  • Tested with HD Tune Pro, shows bad Logical Blocks for sure
  • Place a new disk into my Virtualisation Server   (Another old Apple branded disk, this time 500GB! . Will surface test for sure ...)

  • Testing full surface of disk. It took over 2 hours but I think this time is well spent.

  • Re-setup this disk as a target for backups ! :-)  Note that your disk is formatted and any drive letter removed. So caution

    (After completion you can always put a letter back onto the disk and then use it for other purposes in addition to the backup)

I have a huge library of hard disks but the majority of them are now about 30 years old (and working!). These disks are used sparingly but hard disk error rates have improved so dramatically that it is still quite a shock /to the system/ when any modern hard disk failure occurs at home.

Many of us are now moving to SSD disks for reasons of speed and these disks have a known and limited lifetime! [Having said that my last 3 hard disk failures in the last 12 months were from spinning disks.]

So I really should prepare myself for this to be a more frequent occurrence and be prepared to fully recover from it

My Windows server has an excellent Centralised Error log which I can view graphically.

SMART disk errors get reported there and I should not need to invest in a special "look at my SMART disk errors tool, please buy me" application

HD Tune Pro is however an excellent [chargable] Benchmarking and checking disk tool which also checks SMART, and I would recommend it

Most other OS, today based on UNIX/ LINUX use the traditional syslog facility or variant thereof to receive disk errors that the user must then interpret.

Hard Disks have a finite lifetime and you should make 100% sure that any data you care about has a backup.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Race #3 Chavornay, Tour du Pays de Vaud 2014

Chavornay Report

Just a small report from Chavornay  which is race number 3 in the Tour du Pays de Vaud series 2014.

 The facilities at Chavornay were the best so far.

There seem to be a lot of people coming tonight

We are not at the back but nowhere near the front

Race start is delayed so we start counting time and admiring the shirts of fellow competitors

The first serious hill and many people are slowing down

<I stopped again to take more photos but they are all blurred. Hmm>

Last Bridge and fellow runners cheering

Agata crosses the bridge

750 metres to go

 Last bit of Concrete path

Grassy straight to the finish

Agata finishing

And the proud finishers are:

Agata 45:08
Marcus 39:31 
From the heart rate you can see Marcus made an effort for a change, but must try harder next week!