Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanks for the Giving

It is my recollection that Thanksgiving in America goes all the way back to a festival initiated by George Washington proclaiming

"A day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts and many and signal favours of Almighty God."

But like all the best traditions  IMHO; the meaning of Thanksgiving has morphed into a more appropriate and often secular ceremony on the last Thursday in the month of November each year.

Also note that Canada has a Thanksgiving too, but strangely its always a few weeks before the American one.  Hmmm?

What happens in America then?

The story told to me via American movies and of Marcus's time living in America was:

Extended families do indeed come together.

Many Americans travel long distances to be with close friends and family

Then do really usually eat a turkey and other meat based foods

Families do indeed have a good time and stay together till at least Sunday.

There is indeed a few days of extreme goodwill and community which may often be absent at any other time of the year.

In other countries where Marcus and Agata have lived we notice that this same pattern happens normally only at Christmas.  But for Americans  (and Canadians) Thanksgiving free's up Christmas to be the family centric and not extended family hook up.

Pretty smart thinking I would say.

Meanwhile ....

Watch out for Black Friday

And, if you did not know,  the Friday following Thanksgiving is named Black Friday, a day ushering the start of an American shopping frenzy in the run up to Christmas.

It's now also available in Britain too.

What is Marcus and Agata's take on this event?

Well, in principle if you had prepared your Christmas present shopping needs ahead of time and just bought everything you needed for Christmas (an not more) on Black Friday you would definitely be

/quids in/

Trouble is, the advertisers have realised this and come up with schemes and incentives for you to spend infinitely more than you can possibly need.  Our recommendation is therefore

  • Please don't die laughing if I say: consider need over greed and want.  Having said that ....
  • Ahead of time, plan for something that you really fancy (for yourself, or a Christmas present to others)
  • Search for that thing on Black Friday
  • Limit yourself to that one purchase, don't get carried away!
  • It's similar advice to all gambling and overspending hearts.   Quit while you are ahead.

Overall,  I respect Thanksgiving and Black-Friday as practised in America.   Thanksgiving has nicely morphed into a both  religious and secular tradition allowing extended families with even mixed faiths to come together and share experiences for one period in the year.


Thanksgiving at Joy of Tech

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nice ringtone

Chris Rock: Ringtones

It turns out that the future is not quite as apocalyptic as Chris Rock suggests.

On Android   (Oh and surely iOS?)  you can use any .mp3 file as your ringtone.   How is that?

  • I downloaded the .mp3 file here
  • I started Airdroid on my Google Nexus 5
  • Then went to the PC and used the upload function from the PC component of the Airdroid interface to upload the .mp3 file into the /Ringtones directory of my phone
  • I rebooted the phone

  • For Android Lollipop: Settings, Sound and Notification, Phone Ringtone

I have to thank the Indian dazeinfo site  for pointing me to the wonderful Ringtone   (don't get me started and say awesome!)  which you can play in full ...

MetroGnome Remix

(NB: Here is the Christmas version )

It's so good, that if I delay picking up the phone when you call, I am just chillin out to the ringtone.

.mp3 file to download
MetroGnome YouTube channel
iPhone metrognome Christmas

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Assos Jingo G1 Cycling Helmet

Subtitle: Possibly worth the [considerable] wait / weight

This is a review of the Assos Jingo G1 Cycling Helmet.   I freely admit this post rambles, because quite honestly to me there is not much to say about road cycling helmets!

Assuming the helmet is manufactured in a reasonably non shouty colour to me it normally comes down to the Weight. My basic rule of thumb is that in 2014 anything that is less than 200 grams is pretty impressive.  

At 188 grams this is a very lightweight helmet

Things I am pretty sceptical of!

  • Airflow: Some helmets claim to have special designs to channel more air onto my head.  Hmm. Really?  Well for winter not such an advantage anyway
  • Aero: Special aero design helmets, but they are very heavy!
  • Integrated:  Glasses clipping onto to a helmet.  Looked good until again I found the helmets heavy and the vendors I checked you could not get spare glasses (say if they broke)
  • Techno Lights: Stuck on the back of the helmet.  Again weight and I can simply clip on my favourite Moon Comet on anyway
  • Heart Rate:  I saw some designs that could try to measure your heart rate.   I think I'll wait to see if the reviews say it is reliable and able to talk to my monitoring devices.

A considerable Wait!
My cycling accident was in April 2014 and being ultra paranoid I had decided to replace the helmet after my mid speed acrobatic crash into the ground.  Yet I had to wait until October 2014 to receive my new Helmet. Why?

Well I know of only one Lausanne high end Cycle shop in Lausanne unlike my former home town of London where chains like Evans and specialists like Condor give you a decent chance to walk in, test and then buy your dream helmet.

But in Switzerland (as usual) it was impossible to find any lightweight helmets at shops I visited without regard to price. And since I thought Assos was a Swiss brand, oh, the Irony burns deep.

What are the factors then?

So to summarise the factors for Helmet choosing for us:

  • Sub 200 gram weight, so that our head never gets tired even after a long ride

  • Non shouty colours if possible

  • A ratchet mechanism at the back preferred to micro adjust the tightness

  • If possible  (never seen it so far though, ever!) a simpler mechanism to feed the straps to adjust for length.  [I know you only do this the once, but honestly it is always a flippin palova]

  • Some sort of clip or quick release buckle.  In this case adjustable.  Nice.
  • Supplied with replaceable internal pads is nice, with one spare set you can change them at 6 months, assuming that you plan to change your helmet after 1 year.

Overall the Assos helmet took 5 months to arrive, but now that it is here it is a welcome change and slight upgrade on

 the Giro Aeon  which I had previously moved to because my Giro Prolight was no longer in manufacture

Wiggle Assos G1

Monday, November 24, 2014

I have the Cases

As most people know Marcus and Agata live in Switzerland. The country that the supply chain forgot.    

Consequently before I fixed my Google Nexus 5 phone   (by upgrading to Android Lollipop) I had already set in motion to change my Android phone for something new.

And now I am the proud owner of 2 new phone cases!  Phones of course are still not available.  But at least I have the cases.

Can you guess what phones they might be?  One for sure is a monster.

The Two phone strategy

These days a smartphone I regard as essential.  Indeed when I'm faced with a friend or acquaintance who does not have one I get slightly ratty/ irritated.

I would only make exception for old people who don't have or refuse to have Internet access of any kind.  They are excused on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

I suppose the only thing worse than not having a Smartphone is knowing somebody who has one but has never configured it for even email or the Internet.  Again, I unfortunately speak from experience.   These people really do exist.

For Marcus and Agata we think that we'll settle on a strategy of a primary phone and a backup phone for emergencies.

But I still don't want one

Here are the arguments that failed to persuade the guilty few, you know who you are, friends for sure, but arguably very stubborn people who against all odds just refuse to smartphone ...

  • You can just use it as a regular phone!
  • But it knows the numbers of all your friends from the Internet Mail addressbook
  • It has a maps application
  • It has a compass
  • It has a Clock and Stopwatch
  • It has a Diary
  • It has a notepad for shopping lists
  • It can tell you the weather and traffic
  • It can track your fitness steps/walks/runs
  • You can use it as a camera
  • You can use it as a barcode scanner
  • You can use it as a flashlight
  • You can use it as a video recorder
  • You can browse the Internet
  • You can show Pictures and Videos that you took to your friends
  • You can listen to music or the radio
  • You can send email
  • You can talk to Social media like Facebook
  • You can store files on it like a USB key
  • It costs less than a days pay

So in short we'll be a two smartphones per person couple shortly whereas some misguided friends are stuck at 0.  Really.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Walking in the Clouds

Whilst Marcus and Agata are still quite ill we are trying our level best to keep moving and active.

With the weather at about 6 degrees we set off on a walk in our local vineyards, only about 20 minutes drive from our home in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Basecamp, Riex, Switzerland.  Our mission is to walk up, and up, and up.

 It is literally so misty that the Lake is pretty much invisible

 Vines are now harvested and sleeping until 2015

 Getting higher and actually in the clouds!

About an hour later we are quite literally above the clouds.

 Check the fine print on the number plate :-)

Once again Switzerland provides for some stunning views. Quite superior to our home countries Marcus and Agata muse.

Sunday Sermon: The very Abbreviated Bible

Not all of us have had the time to read the Bible.  Of course it is actually a good read, although if you want to ignore many of the ugly parts  and use it more as a moral text I would sincerely recommend 

The Jefferson Bible

But if you just want an overview, here is one from Reddit

God: All right, you two, don't do the one thing. Other than that, have fun.
Adam & Eve: Okay.
Satan: You should do the thing.
Adam & Eve: Okay.
God: What happened!?
Adam & Eve: We did the thing.
God: Guys
God: You are my people, and you should not do the things.
People: We won't do the things.
God: Good.
People: We did the things.
God: Guys
Jesus: I am the Son of God, and even though you have done the things, the Father and I still love you and want you to live. Don't do the things anymore.
Healed people: Okay! Thank you!
Other people: We've never seen him do the things, but he probably does the things when no one is looking.
Jesus: I have never done the things.
Other people: We're going to put you on trial for doing the things.
Pilate: Did you do the things?
Jesus: No.
Pilate: He didn't do the things.
Other people: Kill him anyway.
Pilate: Okay.
Jesus: Guys
People: We did the things.
Paul: Jesus still loves you, and because you love Him, you have to stop doing the things.
People: Okay.
People: We did the things again.
Paul: Guys
John: When Jesus comes back, there will be no more people who do the things. In the meantime, stop doing the things.
Wow, guys. Thanks for the gold, the kind words, and the upvotes!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

2014 Winter Tyres

Peter Gabriel: DIY

Agata and Marcus concur that today, Saturday 22nd November has been full of surprises.   Mostly of the jinxed variety.  We shall spare you all the details!

Let us just say there were multiple challenges today. Not all have been resolved.

However,  we are pleased to say that one thing that went 100% according to plan was:

DIY:  Changing of Winter Tyres

Goodbye to our Summer Tyres

Marcus is instructed by Agata to make sure the wheels to be removed are clean before removal.  I goto the Car Wash

 Even the rears are cleaned

 Winter boots from our Cave

Marcus also saw fit to mop our garage space.  It's cleaned every six months by the minions, but that is not enough for us.

 Agata is expected to participate!

Ah so nice and clean before our Winter Tyres are mounted

Marcus is in charge of the mounting.

And so after only about an hour all is changed.   The old summer alloys are clean and resting until 2015 when the temperature hits about 10 degrees.

Now we are off on a little test drive ..... vrooom.

2007 Why winter tyres?

2011 Winter Tyres
2012 Summer Tyres

Friday, November 21, 2014

Rooting the Google Nexus 5 Smartphone

Further to my last posting where I upgraded my Nexus 5 phone to Android 5 manually  (necessary to fix my charging problem) it is now time to /root/ the phone.

What is Rooting?
Perhaps watch this video  but essentially some applications need superuser access to the phone i.e. without any restrictions, and so I decided to root the phone.

Rooting is accomplished below by replacing the bootloader program boot.img by a custom version of the program

If you follow the XDA developers website  you will see that user Chainfire  is probably the leading

How to Root your Nexus 5 

  • This process assumes that you already installed on a controlling PC the necessary minimal adb software and thus you know how to make a connection from your PC to your android phone.   This post
  • Next you have upgraded your system to Android 5.0 right?  Just checking
  • Download the bootloader and controlling script here  (generic page) and link for Nexus 5
  • I unpacked the files into the same directory as the adb files from a few days back C:\Program Files\Minimal ADB and Fastboot

  • Then shutdown the phone and restart  (hold down volume and power button)
  • Now connect your phone to your PC via USB cable
  • I tried the fastboot devices command to check that my PC can talk to the Nexus 5. (It should return the serial number)
  • For windows now run the root-window.bat program that is just really running these 2 commands

tools\fastboot-windows.exe oem unlock
tools\fastboot-windows.exe boot image\CF-Auto-Root-hammerhead-hammerhead-nexus5.img

(Here we will run the different fastboot-windows.exe program supplied with this .zip file)

Actually I ran the commands manually and since the phone is already unlocked the first command failed as expected

Next the bootloader is downloaded and kernel modified etc.


Okay, you can double check you are rooted because you will see the SuperSU application magically appear in your app list.

Close but no Cigar
One application that needs root permissions for certain functions is airdroid.    It allows you to control certain aspects of your phone remotely without using cables    (For me not everything is working but you get the principle right?)

Right now rooting the Nexus 5 with Lollipop OS is fantastically easy thanks to the work of others.  I recommend that you consult XDA developers website periodically for interest and also subscribe to their YouTube channel.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Not betting on Tony

A dear friend came to visit last weekend.  After the usual pleasantries like /how was your trip/, I asked:

What do you think about Tony?

And then it became abundantly clear.  Sue did not listen to the Archers  I was shocked to the core.

What is the Archers?
The Archers is a 15 minute daily radio Soap opera broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 19.03 UK time each day.  It's also available for download, or via iPlayer or via iTunes podcast as shown in the links below.

Originally billed as a story about "everyday country folk" it started as a series set in the [fictional] village of Ambridge, a town near Birmingham in the Midlands of England.

The title derives from the Surname of the principle family "Archer" but of course today the cast includes a vast range of non Archer characters.

Why listen to the Archers?

  • It reminds me of simpler times in England
  • A serial where a balance of usually nice and just occasionally sad things happening
  • A series where overall; good things happen to good people
  • A series set in real time  (1 year later, the characters are 1 year older!)
  • Over the years you can follow the Archers family, they sort of become your extended family
  • Whilst the main emphasis is country living the series deals has also dealt with issues  of inequality, poverty, discrimination, religion, sexism and racism.
  • For those at home the afternoon broadcast  (at 14.00 UK time) is an opportunity to have take a 15 minute break with a cup of tea and relax from the rigours of the day

All in all there is no better introduction to the British psyche than to listen to the Archers.

What about Tony?

Tony Archer was recently seriously injured by a bull and although he is in hospital with severe spinal injuries it's my personal theory that his days are numbered.


He's been in the worst of health and suffered a Heart Attack in the series.  Recently Colin Skipp, who played Tony for 40 years retired and David Troughton took over.

My theory is that things are not working out and that Tony's demise will have Rob Titchener   (the partner of Helen Archer) taking over instead.

How can you put things right?

  • Clearly you need to start listening immediately! Your commitment is just 15 minutes per day, 6 days per week.
  • You will pickup the who's who of characters as you go along, but this link can help
  • Links below for your best listening mechanism.  Since I now live in Switzerland I use the iTunes way.

The Archers Wikipedia
The archers listening link
Archers Podcasts
Archers on iTunes

Discuss the Archers

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nokia 635 End of Term Report

Now that my Google Nexus 5 is back in operation it is time to say goodbye to our Nokia 635, Windows Smartphone.

I made an initial review here

Of course the Nokia 635 is an entry level Smartphone running Windows and the Nexus 5 is an almost flagship Google Android phone.  So there is no real comparison especially in terms of price.

Final Comments

Please first read the September review I made.  Since then I have noticed the following extra points

Google+ Plus Hangouts are still not available for Windows.  I tried to kludge a solution using the IM+ app but it never worked right.   Google Plus allows you to talk to another G+ user and also send them your location.   

Google Location
Additionally Android  can have location reporting switched on so named friends can always know your general or exact position.  This absence and that of Hangouts were the 2 real deal breakers of Windows vs Android.

Integrated Step Counter
I have no idea how, but the Health and Fitness App can keep count of your daily steps and put results into Healthvault/ now Cloud repository.  Without draining batteries.  Very impressive.

Control Panel
Somehow the layout of the control panel and its features was very intuitive.  First day back to Android and Windows seems more convenient!

Live Tiles
A really nice feature.

Windows Support
When plugged into a Windows PC the internal SD card shows up as a Windows drive making photograph copying very easy

I found it the best AI assistant, better than Siri or OK-Google.

Beta OS
Signing upto the Windows Phone Developer Preview  was super easy and means that I always had the most cutting edge Windows OS available.  The 635 got the latest OS beta releases since it's a pretty new phone

No Front Camera and Flash 
I did not notice until I had bought but there is no front camera  (I never use one so no prob), but also no Flash.  The latter would occasionally have been useful, however recall that using a flash on many mobiles terribly distorts the colour balance so I always try to take flashless photos

Sony QX10
I've been experimenting with the QX10 camera lens and the M.2 Windows App that supports it is actually better than the official Sony Android one.

For the money this Nokia phone performs excellently and the Windows Smartphone OS has some really great features I was not expecting.  Using this phone has been a really positive experience.

So if you are interested in taking this phone off our hands then see this Swiss advertisement.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lollipop Android 5.0 installation on Google Nexus 5

Subtitle: Nexus 5 is alive

My attempts to install the Beta Android 5 ROM onto my sick Google Nexus 5 in the last 3 months have all failed.   For me however this was not just /a nice to have/  but a /disaster/.

You see, as I have moaned in considerable detail, ever since upgrading to Android 4.4.4  my Nexus 5 wireless charging has totally stopped and the wired charging is at 1% per hour.  So the phone is essentially useless.

Here is the full Moan

I had hoped an upgrade to Android 5.0 or even a reflash or Android 4.x could correct this issue, but nothing worked. 

And as of the time of writing the OTA (Over The Air) upgrade has still not appeared.  Maybe I could have one last shot at a manual upgrade ...

Thinking of 32bits

Then I had a brainwave!   Whilst upgrading my Minix computer to Android Kitkat 4.4.2  I found that nothing worked until I used, Windows 7, 32bit Operating system as the upgrader platform.

I thought:  maybe this was why all the previous attempts using adb (Android Debug Bridge) had failed.   So I began again, with just a little enthusiasm

Upgrading your Nexus 5 to Android 5 manually

Apologies in advance:  I did not take any notes whilst upgrading, so this explanation is not to our usual standard


  • You need a 32 bit Windows computer,  I had a freshly installed Windows 7 instance.
  • Place your phone in Developer mode and enable USB debugging.  Do this in the Settings, About Screen.  Scroll down to Build number and tap on it 7 times.  No I am not kidding.
  • You need to download and installed the /Minimal ADB and Fastboot/ program.  Get it here version 1.3
  • Install Winrar so that you can unpack the Nexus 5 image.  32bit version here
  • You need to download the Nexus 5, official image, and place the unpacked programs in the same directory as the ADB install  (which for me was C:\Program Files\Minimal ADB and Fastboot ).   Nexus 5 official image here  Unpack the .tgz file with winrar.

This is the files in my directory before I proceeded

OS Preparation

For me I had only just installed Windows 7 and had forgotten to install all drivers to speak to the USB interfaces on my ancient Gigabyte  GA-X58A-UD7 1.0 motherboard.

So make sure that you have done that first

Next download and install specific USB drivers that the adb  (Android Debug Program) is likely to need, ie

Koush drivers

Phone Prep
Make sure that your current Kitkat Android level phone is automatically backing up its configuration.  This is so after your fresh install the install program will give you the opportunity to restore the phones settings and programs from a backup

Backup Data
The re-installation should give you the option to restore your applications but any data will be lost.  So before proceeding backup any and all data from your phone!   Example any photographs.

Enter Bootloader on Nexus 5 Phone

With your Nexus 5 phone off

Press volume down and power button together

With a screen like the above connect phone to your PC

> fastboot devices

This command must return something (i.e the device serial)

Fastboot Blank?

You cannot proceed further until fastboot devices returns something.

  • Did you install the special USB drivers?   If yes then try additional drivers also
  • Check the USB port you are using is working.  For example, plug in a USB flash drive and check it is recognised
  • You are using a Physical (not virtual) and 32 bit Windows base operating system, aren't you!

Continue the Reinstallation

> fastboot oem unlock

Type the unlock command at the PC prompt,  then select YES unlock bootloader on phone, then press power key to action.   Command should then return as shown above.

> flash-all

After flash-all get android working then google logo then moving coloured balls for several  (>3) minutes.  Do not interrupt or power off.

Welcome to Android Lollipop

Now it is time to step thru the standard installation screens. Notice it will re-install applications with updates that were previously installed and this installation takes a further 10 or so minutes (for me) after the desktop screen is finally displayed....

This is why you made the backup before re-installation

The screen shot shows apps with circles around icons that are being updated.  And I even have a picture of my much cleverer wife Agata restored.  Nice to have you back darling!

So after all the downloads for apps have finished you are ready to go.  For me a few last minute customisations, principally that I need to re-authenticate to applications and also

  • Login to Dropbox and configure automatic upload of all photos and videos from Camera photos taken
  • Check automatic machine backup is on
  • Check location reporting is on

Charging Issue is Solved

And guess what.   Wireless charging now works again (recall, before it was busted).  So the phone is entirely usable again.  May I just grumpily remind myself that this phone was refused warranty service by the Swiss authorised repair centre and they said I had to replace the entire motherboard  (at a cost almost exactly the same as a new phone)

In summary

With the brainwave of using a 32 bit OS base I was able to make an adb connection from PC to Nexus 5.  Once this is established updating the Nexus to Android 5 was /a piece of cake/.

All this was necessary primarily because after a week of waiting past the date of official Nexus 5 Lollipop images being posted by google, an OTA (Over the Air) update was still not available.