Friday, March 06, 2015

Down Stressing

Audi R8 for everyday use

Down-stressing is a term that we have invented to help answer the question that we are often faced in the first world.

If I buy that thing X will my life be enriched or impoverished?

Yes, go for it

- it's fundamentally in my price bracket
- It fits in with my lifestyle
- I can devote the time to it, but not excessively so
- The running costs are reasonable
- It really will be useful the day after I have bought it

No - don't buy

- Out of perspective.  You are living in squalid accommodation but you are saving for a Ferrari.
- It owns you, you don't own it:    Your lifestyle is so constrained by what you acquire that you spend a disproportionate amount of your time on it and nothing else
- It will get stolen! Or Damaged, Or defaced:  You can afford it but people will envy what you have and steal it.
- It's so valuable you dare not actually use it
- It's so valuable you can't adequately insure it
- It's so valuable that the merest scratch will plunge you into depression and you will spend much time and effort trying to repair it immediately.

Of course even when presented with these facts, life may not be; oh so simple.  Many young single male professionals realise that owning an expensive car or Supercar in London has its limitations, however they go ahead anyway.

It is a sort of extension of the line that we are fed about owning our first car.   We are led to believe, by friends, media, and even sometime parents that this (car) leads to a life of freedom, personal expression and sets us on a track to the good life and respect from one's peers.

But when we get the thing  (a fancy car in my example) we find that our lives are only moderately improved and the lifestyle comes with a lot of buts and complications.


Down-stressing then is the converse of buying something that is out of your price range and possibly slightly impractical.

Down-stressing means buying something or adopting a practice or habit that is easily financially possible for you. Something that reduces your stress level not increases it.  We are great fans of Down-stressing.  And so, we leave you with 10 examples from Marcus and Agata's restrained lifestyle:

Husband!  Where has our bed gone.

  1. Agata says: We searched for 2 years for the perfect bed base.  In the meantime husband sold the existing base (!!)  and now we just have a fancy mattress on the floor, sans base.  Actually it is rather Zen.
  2. You fancy a Ferrari but instead buy a sensible hatchback Audi because in daily life it is just less of a hassle, and it might actually carry your weekly shopping, or luggage to the airport effortlessly instead of on the passengers knees.
  3. You'd like a fancy Hublot watch, but really your Smartphone does everything.  So you don't buy a watch at all
  4. You like Cashmere Jumpers and Silk scarves, but they are so fragile and need dry cleaning as to be impractical.  Choose some Cashmilion instead :-)
  5. You want to always have the latest Apple laptop and mobile phone, but your current products are already more than fast enough and you, not the product are already the limitation in total productivity equation.
  6. We though we deserved some Rimowa airport luggage but we just knew that if it got scratched or dented we would be gutted. We settle for M&S travel luggage.
  7. Despite intense pressure from the whole of Swiss society to spend preposterous amounts of money on Lounge furniture from prestigious brands we instead choose the best of IKEA.  We chose something that can take a knock or two and even a wine spill without complaint.
  8. In the worlds of Sports clothing and Ski/Mountain clothing the sky is the limit costs pertain to some brands.  However if possible we always try to satisfy our needs at Decathlon or Wiggle home brands (e.g dhb).  We often come out of the stores with everything that we need at prices that have us almost laughing.
  9. Some Swiss people refuse on principle to shop at anything below the top tier Supermarkets.  Conversely we always go first to Aldi and then buy only the items we need but could not there in the fancy Supermarkets.  Each visit to Aldi has us stunned at the price differential, sure the selection is restrained, but our smiles leaving are not.
  10. Marcus quite likes expensive sunglasses.  However I keep losing them. I still wince at the multi hundred dollar loses of  pairs in a New York Taxi and in Covent Garden.  Currently I standardise on Decathlon Orao sunglasses at less than 5GBP per pair.  Ultra light and so simple, they just keep on going strong!

So de-stress your life.  Use your judgement and common sense to live comfortably within your means on items that serve you, not the converse.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Two Mobile Phone Strategy

  1    Two households, both alike in dignity, 

  2    In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, 
  3    From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, 
  4    Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. 
  5    From forth the fatal loins of these two foes 
  6    A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life; 
  7    Whose misadventured piteous overthrows 
  8    Do with their death bury their parents' strife. 
  9    The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love, 
 10    And the continuance of their parents' rage, 
 11    Which, but their children's end, nought could remove, 
 12    Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage; 
 13    The which if you with patient ears attend, 
 14    What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend. 

Total sidetrack:
I wanted to shoehorn and preface my story of having 2 mobile phones into the famous prolog of Romeo and Juliet.  But I could not bear to sully the words of the bard so the above introduction just stands on its own as a the start of a work of immense beauty ...

Moving on:

Marcus finds himself in possession of 2 mobile phones.

Now as a fan of minimalism and for reasons of cost   (this means lack of money people), a single phone might be more economical but:

Just an accident - honest
In 2014 my Nexus 5 phone stopped being able to charge and as a stopgap I bought a cheapo Windows Phone. A month later I got the shocking news that the Nexus 5 was refused warranty repair.

I considered my options and decided to buy a OnePlus Android phone.  Rather irritatingly OnePlus is not available for public sale, and even when I received an invite to buy  (oh the bloody cheek of it!!) I found it could not be delivered to Switzerland.

The OnePlus marketing department are clearly fuckwits.  I cannot put it any more politely.

After further consideration and weeks later I ordered the OnePlus phone to England which I intended to visit for a job interview.

Then, would you believe it,  I was finally able to upgrade my Nexus 5 phone to Lollipop Android 5, and as I suspected Wireless charging worked fine again.  (I had written the warranty repair centre in Switzerland explaining that Wireless charging suddenly stopped after a Software upgrade but they were not interested).

So Nexus 5 was working again, and so when I visited England I picked up a second phone.

Now therefore I have 2 phones

Daily Driver Strategy

Use two phones.

Install one phone with your all primary and difficult to re-install applications.  Use the second phone as something you can play with including

a) Beta Android Installations
b) Advanced Recovery programs like TWRP
c) Rooting and Unlocking

Orange Switzerland has a subscription plan allowing 2 SIMs on one account.

The first SIM has phone service and unlimited data
The second SIM just unlimited data

So both phones can be on all of the time, both connected to the Internet, both with VOIP  CSipSimple Internet phones installed, and one with an Orange phone connection.

Reinstalling Android Notes

First of course make sure that your device is backed upto Google.  Also I set my device name  (In various places, not only the Bluetooth Name, but the name know to Google via:  Settings : Developer Options, obviously you enter Developer mode by tapping 7 times on Settings, About Phone, Build Number).  Then check that the phone is registered on Android Device Manager also as the name you chose  (otter for me)

Now, When you perform changes to your phone such as re-installation you will lose ALL your data and installed applications and settings.

However there is an option on the install to reinstall all setting from a previously backed up phone.  So at this step I always choose

"restore all apps like Otter"  then Android automagically installs all my applications back.  However all login userids and passwords and any digital certificates are missing.

For trivial applications like Dropbox or Gmail or RunKeeper this is just a simple userid and password, so re-entry is no big deal.

However some banking Applications I use install a custom digital certificate onto the phone and obtaining that can be as long as receiving a code in the post from them.

SO  my obvious conclusion is to install those hard to re-install applications on the stable phone  (Nexus 5 in my case) and have the other phone (the Oneplus) with identical applications  [excluding those tricky ones], identical screen layouts, identical settings but with the Orange 4G/LTE internet and no phone SIM installed.

Notes on TWRP

Team Win Recovery Program (TWRP) is a mini Operating System that allows you to perform significant upgrades on your Android phone far in excess of the standard Recovery

As initial shipped a (say) Nexus 5 phone contains a small bootloader program that will either boot the OS Kernel or go into a special small Recovery Program.

Powering on an Android phone and simultaneously pressing the Volume down button tells the bootloader to load the Recovery Operating system.  This is the standard one from Google.

Installing TWRP means first unlocking the bootloader and then installing a different recovery Program.

As you can see this recovery program has many more options.   For interest I'll show some of them:

In this life it is always a good idea to have a backup.   I'm suggesting a 2 phone strategy, a primary phone with a stable OS, and a second phone with a Beta OS on which you can tinker and experiment.  Additionally Orange (and other carriers) allow you to have a 2 SIM subscription that means both phones can have active 4G(LTE) Internet on at the same time.

Thursday Sermon: I am offended

Dawkins: I am offended

I am continuing my /I am offended/ series of posts.  All of these individuals were offended but have not seen fit to murder people as a consequence.


Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Wireless Phone Charging 2015

I have been wireless charging my Google Nexus mobile phone since 2013.  How are we doing in 2015?

Well today I am using a Google Nexus 5 as my primary phone and it supports Wireless charging  (unlike some other phones in the household notably any iPhone or OnePlus).

Nexus 5 throws a spanner

In 2014 my Nexus 5 stopped all charging at one point.   But an upgrade to Android 5.x  (lollipop) has resurrected Wireless charging.

With that limitation I decided to invest in a second wireless charger since getting the first charger  to work was a nightmare.

Prices Have Dropped

Of course I headed to ebay.  Living in Switzerland where I regard everything as ultra expensive it was a pleasure to see that in Hong Kong I can buy a wireless charger for less than 10 GBP.   Including postage to Switzerland.

How do they do that!

Simple and understated.  Perfect!

In essence, if your device supports wireless charging it probably adheres to the Qi standard.  Look for that.

NB: Another Standard  Power Matters Aliiance  (PMA) is provided on other phones.  Example Samsung S6 (which actually supports both Qi and PMA)

Positioning Nightmare
Aligning the phone to charge was not just hit or miss. Sometimes it took me minutes to get it right.    Because, it often started, then stopped about 1 minute later, or worse kept repeatedly starting and stopping, with an annoying beep between states, and not resulting in any net charge.

So currently the charger sits on a paper template which details the best possible charging position for this specific phone and charger.

I have also found that taking the phone out of the thin protective case, which makes it closer to the charging surface helps a lot.

Overall I'm still a great fan or wireless charging.  Apple and Motorola have stepped up the game with magnetic  and idiot proof Smartwatch cradle attachments. This seems to be the way to go because it is still very position sensitive.


eBay wireless charger #2
IKEA wireless charging
Qi wireless charging std

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Agata has a Birthday

Today, that will be March 03, 2015 is a significant birthday of my rather beautiful and life partner Agata.

One must first consider your partners character in order to realise what sort of present(s) are going to be appreciated

As the picture above shows Extrovert or Introvert?  

Or Introverted Extrovert or Extroverted Introvert?

Here is my master plan:

First I have prepared a nice card:


# banner happy birthday darling


  XX  X       X   X    X  X    X  X   X
  X   X   XXXXX   X    X  X    X  X   X
  X   X  X    X   X    X  X    X   X X
  X   X  X    X   X    X  X    X   X X
                  X       X         X
                 XXX     XXX      XX

 XX         X                    XX          XX

  X                        X      X           X
  X                        X      X           X
  X    X    X      XX  X   X      XX  X  X    X       X   X   X
  X    X    X      X       X      X   X  X    X   XXXXX   X   X
  X    X    X      X       X      X   X  X    X  X    X    X X
  X    X    X      X       X  X   X   X  X    X  X    X    X X

     XX                    XX       X

      X                     X
      X                     X
  XXXXX   XXXX   XXX XX     X     XXX    XX XX    XXXXXX
 X    X       X    XX  X    X       X     XX  X  X    X
 X    X   XXXXX    X        X       X     X   X  X    X
 X    X  X    X    X        X       X     X   X  X    X
 X    X  X    X    X        X       X     X   X   XXXXX


Next I have hand crafted a present.   

It is an audio rendition of Colin Swash's Paradise Lost in Cyberspace.   It has everything for the perfect partner who has a significant Birthday today.

A thought provoking plot line about Growing old in the Future

It is 22nd-century Britain, and the collapse of the pensions system means compulsory euthanasia for 70-year-olds.  Tough luck for George Smith - celebrating his sixty-ninth birthday - when the authorities get their sums wrong and come looking for him.  Starring Stephen (Marvin) Moore & Geoffrey McGivern.


Senseless Bureaucracy
An exploding Bible
An action hero
A hover Porsche
Talking Computers
Computer Viruses

This audio play has it all.

Here is the episode Guide:

01 A 22nd-century clerical error sets George Smith's demise for 69, not 70. Colin Swash's dystopian comedy stars Stephen Moore.

02 Sixty-nine-year-old George Smith battles against his imminent death with Central Admin and a scary TV crew. 

03 Fresh from incarceration, 69-year-old George Smith has attracted the attention of OAP terrorists

04 Armed with a new face and an array of OAP gadgets, George Smith prepares to take on Central Admin

05 Now a fully fledged OAP, George Smith goes on a mission with Andrea Sunbeam and Mrs Cookson

06 he future of the OAPs, and indeed the whole of civilisation, hangs in the balance

Most of this is available at BBC Radio 4 extra

A delight for the discerning audiophile.

And finally I have an unbeatable offer:

An unlimited day of attention ....

We can watch a Scary movie together

We can play with them there computers

Perhaps  a little exercise

Definitely some food

And finally a cuddle or two and a nap

In fact whatever you want darling. In summary:

Darling Agata,

Forever Young.
A very Happy BIG birthday to you.

Update 20:42.   At lunchtime I convinced Agata to check out the local campsites for possible future Motorhome storage ...

 Take me cycling Husband!

With the sophistication of Dura Ace, our ride should be easy right!

Food stop at Chatel St Denis

59Km of Cycling, not bad we think!

A bouquet to finish off the day

Monday, March 02, 2015

Beggars in Lausanne Switzerland

This was to be an upbeat posting about the significant Urban renewal and cleaning that is occurring in Lausanne Switzerland this Springtime.

However I began to notice that Lausanne is now hosting quite a large community of beggars.  This is a most unwelcome addition ...

The full Picasa album including the Urban Regeneration I had initially intended to cover is here

Marcus and Agata take the day off

Marcus and Agata have already expounded the virtues of Daily Exercise but well sometimes you need a day off from our regular rather gruelling schedule.

So this last Saturday we thought a gentle stroll might be the best course of action and we thought about somewhere new

The Menhir Monolith at Essertes Auboranges
In 2013 whilst participating in the 38Km General Guisan walk we had a charming [wine!] refreshment stop in Auboranges district.   They told us that close by was the 

/largest monolith in all of Switzerland/

So Saturday we thought we had best check it out.  It's sort of on our local bucket list of Swiss activities because we don't know how much longer we will be living in canton Vaud or even Switzerland for that matter.

[NB: donations always welcome, we would love to stay :-(  ]

Here are photographs of the day.

I suppose it is evidence that 

a) We had a nice time walking and talking
b) Nothing really happened, but the sights and sounds were just beautiful to us
c) We really appreciate Switzerland!

 We parked in Esserts.  Hurry up husband, Agata is saying

We thought if we could buy this fire station cheaply and take it over it would be perfect to house a Motorhome should we ever get one  (tall garage).

 Quaint and beautiful views after only a few hundred metres.

We are speechless. Somebody has a wonderful double garage including a custom motorhome bay.  We Like.

 Nice blooms in the summer we think

 Zoom in for the Amen


 Local Farm

 Some cute tiny animal breeding farm

 Complete with kitties

 Strange rustic torture machine

 The monolith sign has been found

This is the smallest /largest monolith in the whole of Switzerland/ that Marcus can imagine

 What do you think?  It is not that big is it?

Next to this property is some land we think we'd love to build our dream house on.

 Lots of wonderfully quaint houses

And more kitties.  This truly is a wonderful area.

So we made the walk, we talked the talk and had a splendidly relaxing time.  Only tale of the monolith given to us was tall :-)

Picasa Web Album (full photos with locations)