Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Google Hangouts connection for Microsoft Windows Mobile

Subtitle:  Google Talk connection for Windows Mobile

I am currently mid way through an evaluation (without prejudice) of Microsoft Windows Mobile 8.     

So far so good for the most part except for Google Hangouts.

Agata and Marcus use Hangouts for messaging between ourselves and other family members 24x7.   It's omission is a major blow!

Whilst Google Search and Google Plus applications written by Google can be installed/ used  on windows Mobile, 


Google Plus

if you consult the Google Plus forum you will see:

From this FAQ

Hangouts is not supported, but I did see that clients connecting with XMPP could still talk to Google Talk which would potentially appear on Hangouts.

Small Aside
There is an extremely irritating trend on the Windows Mobile store where people are writing applications such as Google Hangouts by Ravi Patel, which is an application that merely lists the features of Hangouts, in this case particularly disingenuous given that Hangouts is explicitly not supported on this platform.

I am not sure who is the bigger fuckwit,  Mr Patel for creating the application or Microsoft for allowing it into the store.

Flame off.

Something Working

Eventually I found the IM+ application  which actually seems to work  (It potentially says it can connect to many other IM, but I only need Google Talk, lucky because I also tried Skype and that does not work!)

So all is now well.  Agata's ancient Apple iPhone 4 has a native Google Plus Hangouts application.   When I from this Microsoft Windows phone compose a Google Talk message using the IM+ application it gets to her Hangouts.

Why not use Skype messaging I hear you ask? Well because the Hangouts message seems to alert on her iPhone.  Whereas, if I send a Skype message to her Apple iPhone it does not alert, so she has to manually check for messages, i.e. that's not a solution.

I will writeup the full Windows Mobile review presently,  a small spoiler: the results are a little surprising to me.

The Postal Lifeline

What you see above is part of a constant stream of a few letters but mostly PACKAGES that get delivered to our door almost daily.

The only paper we receive are communications we cannot control  (Government Tax Bills, Insurance Bills, Charity Bills ....) and are small in nature,

PACKAGES tend to be large in both size and frequency.


Because we operate a Postal Lifeline to Goods and Services not found easily in Switzerland.   Whilst we do shop for food exclusively in Switzerland everything else, and this is mainly technology, sports items or clothes comes from outside of Switzerland.

  • In some cases the exact same items are available in Switzerland but at grossly inflated prices,  Often at least double in price.

    Some people are making a lot of money here, because to re-iterate these goods are NOT made in Switzerland, just imported and put on a Shop shelf
  • Our normal ethical rule is this:  Is the same or equivalent product available from Switzerland at a similar/ fair and reasonable price. Note, the Warranty and Return conditions must also be comparable. If YES  to all then buy direct from Switzerland, else Mail Order
  • We don't follow this rule for Food (except Sports nutrition) which is bought wholly in Switzerland despite what I can only describe as a suspicious Swiss Supermarket Food cartel.
  • Just like England about 30 years ago Switzerland has a comprehensive network of Local Post offices, and if an item is too large for your postbox it is kept there for pickup
  • Swiss Post Offices have pretty lean opening times.  This post refers
  • When a package is inbound it is normally opened and inspected!  How rude.  But apparently some sellers and buyers conspire to put false values on the paperwork.   Hmmm.
  • The inspection costs about 20 CHF!  (>20 USD)
  • They also charge 8% VAT on the product if the value including postage is above 62 CHF
  • Do to the inspection costs goods should either be below 62CHF or significantly above so that the 20CHF one off charge is proportionately small
  • Since Swiss VAT is only 8% importing goods from the UK whose VAT rate is 20% is particularly effective

Overall, Marcus and Agata regard our local Swiss Post Office, located about 300 metres away as one of our best friends.  They keep our packages safe and in return they recevie an almost daily revenue stream of VAT and inspection fees from us, allowing us to have the best Worldwide products at much lower, non Suisse prices.  



Monday, August 18, 2014

Motorhome RV Learning Points

One of Marcus and Agata's near term objectives is to buy a motor home and to some extent play catch up in exploring our local environments.

The country may vary, but we make plans to change our lifestyles to live longer term in a Motor Home or RV  (Recreational Vehicle) as we might term it in the USA.

On our recent holiday in the UK we hired a van from JustGo and now we present a list of some of our learning experiences

Size of Motorhome
Not this!  2004 Holiday Rambler

We absolutely want the very smallest, lightest  (and fastest) Motorhome that ticks all of our boxes.   We don't need a tall van, since as short people  that just raises the centre of gravity needlessly.   We don't need an excessively long van since it is difficult to park or manoeuvre and a wide Motorhome is a liability on this and windy roads.

Van or Coachbuild

In the trade I understand that Coachbuilds are generally regarded as the serious choice.  However whilst a van conversion (e.g. Mercedes Sprinter) limits you to using the original van sides and does not allow for a completely customer (plastic) body as per Coachbuild it is going to be more rigid and stiffer.

My understanding is that a Coachbuild comprises a Van Base only i.e subframe of say a Fiat Ducato, onto which a bespoke plastic body is constructed.  This is ultimately more flexible but weaker.  Also Coachbuilds tend to be wider  (see below).

The 3500Kg limitation
In Europe this is the weight limit on which you can use a standard motor car driving license.   We definitely want to stick to this weight.  In fact the lightest and hence fastest vehicle that we can spec out the better

The Width
We found that on small British roads our hired Coachbuld Motorohome which was 2.30 metres wide, was uncomfortable.  We researched and have found widths:

Van conversions 2.05 metres
Thin Coachbuilds 2.20 metres
Regular Coachbuilds 2.30 metres
Wide Coachbuilds 2.35 metres

Here I am talking about the main body width. Many Coachbuild Motorhomes have a thinner cab with mirrors that extend to just greater than the width of the main, wider body.

The Overhang
Unlike a car if there is a significant overhand over the rear wheel then when turning   the back edge of your van will stick out.   This can be a significant issue on smaller roads or whilst in towns

Driving on Small Roads
Driving small roads even with a 2.3 metre wide van is quite easy if you dont have a hard wall on the passenger side and if there is nothing coming in the other direction.

Conversely with a hard wall on the passenger side and if you van is over the white centreline due to width, then if any large object is coming in the reverse direction, you WILL have a collision.


The Garage
On a small Motorhome this is a space normally at the back into which you can put small non internal items like for example some bicycles  (essential for Triathlon races and just getting around).  Bicycles of course can be mounted on an external rear rack, but with more /faf/ and less security.  So an internal garage housing at least 2 road race bicycles, Wetsuits and a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) would be preferable.

Campsite Booking in Advance
For us, this summer of 2014, which I presume is pretty much peak season we had no difficulty finding campsites for our motorhome, on the day of booking, with hardstanding pitches and electric hookup.

This is significant because it means that equipped with just an Internet connection and a phone you can leave the campsite choice to the last minute, based on where you actually are, allowing you quite literally the freedom to roam without being homeless or illegally parked over a night.

Gas is Cheap
Our camper used Gas for either the fridge/freezer,  heating water and also for the Gas kitchen hobs.  We did not use it sparingly.

After one week the recharge cost was 3 GBP!!  Unbelievably low.

Shower and Toilet Essential
We plan to live in the Motorhome for more than just a weekend or week, plus we would use it for running/ athletic events.  As such you need an internal fixed shower and toilet.

You cannot rely on a campsite having these facilities and whilst normally you would be at a campsite, there will be times when you need these faciliteis.

This requirements rules out smaller e.g. VW Campvan conversions

Large enough to stand
To be comfortable longer term you need to be able to stand up inside the vehicle.

Again this rules out VW Campervan conversions which at best have a raised roof which even when up does not totally alleviate the problem.

Two Accommodation Areas
We thought that for a couple, i.e. two people it would be best to have 2 living spaces that each person can make their own.  At a pinch it could be a fixed bed area and a lounge area, but better to be 2 seated areas.

Living full time 
There are many Youtube channels devoted to full time RV living, from mainly US citizens. 

Slide Outs
A slide out is what it sounds like.  It's a motorhome with part of the wall that electrically /slides out/ on command when the vehicle is stopped to provide more interior space.  In Europe they are a rarity.

Other Desirable Features

  • SatNav - means something built into the dash not an add on
  • Winterisation - Insulated tanks and a heating system for cold conditions
  • 4 Wheel drive - More even power delivery, makes for more confident driving
  • BHP - A larger engine, but not a whopping great /Amercian/ gas guzzler
  • Lots of Storage - Means our basics: Space for Sports clothes and Equipment, Casual Clothes, Food, Toiletries, Gadget Paraphenalia. And nothing more
  • No Shower Curtain - Shower yes, but the curtain that sticks to you , no thanks!
  • Kitchen needs are a Large Fridge and a Microwave.  In other words the smallest Hob possible!

Some Example Sooper Dooper Motor Homes

Coachbuild Contenders
Hymer Compact 478

Burstner Brevio t 645

These are the same vehicle and has the advantage of 

  • 210cm width and 638 cm length and 275cm high
  • 130 - 177 BHP and 2865Kg
  • 2 living areas
  • Drop down bed at back  (does not need converting)
  • -No microwave

Burstner Brevio T 645

Adria Compact SPX  YouTube

  • 212cm width 661cm length 
  • 135 BHP and 2844Kg
  • Huge 145 litre fridge
  • -No microwave
  • Large garage
  • - 1 living area

Hymer ML-T 560  Pictures

  • 222cm wide, 698cm length, 290cm height
  • 190 BHP Engine Available
  • DSG 7 speed Gearbox possible
  • Based on a Mercedes Sprinter Chassis
  • - No Microwave
  • Large Garage easily takes 2 bicycles
  • - 1 living area only
  • Winter Proofed and Double Glazing
  • Many storage spaces
  • 4WD available option
  • Numerous options available, nice but expensive

Van Conversion Contender

Which Motorhome Van survey 2013

Adria Twin 640 SPX YouTube

  • 205cm wide and 636cm length and 260cm high
  • 130BHP and 3042 Kg
  • Shower in corridor design
  • Large fridge 145L
  • 1 living area
  • Assembly bed

Currently Fallen choices

Autosleeper Kingham  YouTube
Novel rear fixed bed, but 226cm wide with mirrors folded

Next step: Motorhome Show and another Motorhome hire!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Sermon: Thanks for the Memory

Peter Gabriel: I don't Remember

Imagine without the aid of any pre recorded material that somebody asks you to remember the detailed events of an important life changing, Spiritual experience from (say) 20 years ago.

They ask you to write it down in some detail.   

It is then translated from your language thru a series of others eventually to my language ... English.

I wonder how reliably accurate would be the story?  

Well this is of course the background to in essence to one of more of the World's religious texts.

But there is something more to consider.  How can you be sure that your memory is accurate and not tampered with before you wrote down your account those 20 or more years later?  

If you saw what you believed to be a /miracle/, could it have been an implanted or suggested memory. Although the following talk will take 52 minutes of your time, I think you should find the results bother interesting and illuminating:

Elizabeth Loftus: The Memory Factory

I suppose the take-away from this discussion must surely be that the more modern the religion, the higher it's accuracy, whilst memories are fresh and un-contaminated.

RAmen, one might say.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hello, Is that Legal?

Oh boy, now I can honestly say that Marcus and Agata do own a number of Samsung and Apple products.  However normally we can easily tell them apart.

But topically Samsung is (to coin an English expression) really beginning to 

/Take the Pi**/

Here are some of the really annoying aspects of the Samsung Alpha Phone announcement

  • The phone has marginally worse specs that the existing flagship model the Galaxy S5  yet with clearly a superior casing and marketing suggesting this is the new flagship.

    Way to go Samsung.  Alienate your premium customers who bought S5 earlier this year. And if they do take the plunge give them a device that is in some respects worse (no waterproofing etc) than their outgoing S5.  Doh!
  • The phone adds to an increasingly large range of phones.  This choice overload confuses the customer, even the technical experts.   Few models, streamlined range.   Which set of buffoons is driving your Marketing and Sales department?
  • Let's say it looks extremely like a competitors phone.  I mean, are you completely insane!  Do you  (Samsung) have a really short memory or something?
  • If you want to go ahead expect to pay about 500GBP  (including VAT) for an unlocked, SIM free, 32GB model.

So overall the Samsung Galaxy Alpha aka SM-G850A SM-G850F remains a mystery/ misguided launch to me.   Since it is not available until September 2014 you'll have the ample chance  (as I will relate next week) to choose from a host of other next gen smartphones that will all arrive by October 2014.




  •  LTE Cat.6 (300/50Mbps)
  •  4.7” HD Super AMOLED (1280 x 720)
  •  8 Core (Quad 1.8GHz + Quad 1.3GHz)
  •  Android 4.4.4 (KitKat)
  •  RAM : 2GB
  •  Internal Memory : 32GB
  •  No micro SD Slot
  •  132.4 x 65.5 x 6.7 mm, 115g
  •  12MP (rear) + 2.1MP (front)
Camera Features
  •  Beauty Face, Dual Camera, HDR (High Dynamic Range),
  •  Panorama, Selective Focus, Shot & More, Virtual Tour
  •  UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) @30fps
  •  Video Codec : H.263, H.264(AVC), MPEG4, VC-1,
  •  Sorenson Spark, MP43, WMV7, WMV8, VP8
  •  Video Format : MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV,
  •  MKV, WEBM
  •  Audio Codec : MP3, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+,
  •  WMA, Vorbis, FLAC
  •  Audio Format : MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA
Additional Features:
  •  Ultra Power Saving Mode
  •  Download Booster
  •  Quick Connect
  •  Private Mode
Google Mobile Service:
  •  Chrome, Drive, Photos, Gmail, Google, Google+, Google
  •  Settings, Hangouts, Maps, Play Books, Play Games, Play
  •  News stand, Play Movie & TV, Play Music, Play Store, Voice
  •  Search, YouTube
  •  WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac HT80, MIMO(2x2)
  •  Bluetooth®: 4.0 BLE / ANT+
  •  USB: USB 2.0
  •  NFC
  •  Accelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor,
  •  Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor ,Gesture Sensor
  •  Fingerprint Sensor, Heart Rate Sensor
  •  1,860 mAh

Give me Strength! And Energy

Question1:Could this sweat-powered tattoo power our gadgets?

Answer: No

Question2:Could coffee shop chatter charge our phones?

Answer: No

For 2 mornings in succession I have been subjected to what I can only describe is further what I call

/Energy Ignorance/

I did work in the UK Power Generation Industry for some years and one of my take away nuggets is that many people have no idea how much energy they use per day, or the magnitude of energy differences used by their technology, nor how much energy the different power generation sources such as Solar, Wave, Wind, Coal, Nuclear actually produce.

So back to the first article




by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan

The article does say the electricity produced is about 70 microwatts per square centimetre of skin,  which probably already lost most of the prospective audience.

With that as an exercise to the reader, and given the basic fact that 1 Watt is 1 Joule per second.   Then how many Joules of Energy or Watts of Power do the following require or produce:

  1. A serious cyclist, sprinting on a straight road
  2. You Apple iPad or equivalent tablet, switched on and connected to Wifi
  3. An 80Kg man or woman performing a 10Km run
  4. Realisable energy from burning 1Kg Petrol in a car engine
  5. 30 minutes of a Cooker Oven being on at 200 deg C to make a modest dinner 
  6. A dishwasher on a 90 minute, 50 degree C cycle
  7. A one metre square solar panel in direct sunlight
  8. The end to end Energy production cost of a one metre square solar panel including shipping, and recycling
  9. The power produced by a 300 BHP car engine
  10. The time in seconds to boil 100ml cup of water from room temperature at 20 degrees C using the Sweat Powered Tatoo.

I am just going to answer question 10.  It is for you to solve 1 -9.

70 microwatts is 70 x 10 -6 watts

100ml of water is 0.1 litres and 100 grams

The specific heat of water, which is 4.186 Joule/gram per degree C.

So therefore the energy in Joules to heat 100 grams of water thru 1 degree = 4.186 * 100 = 418.6 Joules

So to raise by (100 - 20) = 80 degrees == 418.6 * 80 = 33488 Joules

1 Watt is 1  Joule per Second

so 70 x 10 -6 * <answer.seconds> = 33488

Time =  478, 400, 000  seconds

=  5537 days == 15 years

So based on the Sweat Technology it would take 15 years to boil 1, small cup of Water, say for a cup of coffee.

In summary: The next time somebody tells you that there is a revolutionary way to solve the worlds energy problems, please make a few calculations before applauding.

Friday, August 15, 2014

80's Deep Dive

Shalamar:Make that Move

Whilst tunnelling into YouTube for a linked musical video to my purposefully ambiguous Pirate Bay posting   I became lost in a linked series of  80's videos.

Now for those of you /youngsters/ who were not around then, well you just missed all of the fun.

Because in Western Europe and America there was a lot of music and dancing.  With all the dancing different races intermingled, men and women intermingled.   People were optimistic and dreamt of a more equal future. They absolutely did not think about reading an old religious book and /religiously/ following all of its teachings back to a time of injustice, ignorance, inequality and tribalism. 

But I digress.

And for those of you who were dancing then, sit back, relax, remember, enjoy:

Love Come Down:Evelyn Champagne King