Thursday, December 08, 2016

Consumer Costs vs Enthusiast Costs

Subject:  We had it tough and we STILL have it tough

My normal Marcus had it tough (and expensive) storyline was the time, some say it was in 1970 something when I bought a 79Kilo Byte Wangco Single Sided and Single Density Diskette drive for  350 pounds.  I am pretty sure that in today's 2016 money that is at least 1000 British pounds.

Today I just want to put a shout out for 2 low cost products and moan about 1 not yet working high cost one.

This is especially relevant as if you are wondering what to give that Computer focused partner or child I can tell you some socks just won't cut it these days.

Raspberry Pi

For less than 60GBP you can get yourself a fully working Raspberry Pi 3 with a memory card and power supply.  Simply add a USB keyboard, download and install the Raspbian (or other) Operating System.

You have to be a complete Computer head in the sand Ostritch to ignore this brilliant low cost computer platform

Asrock AM1B-ITX

I already praised Asrock for its low cost ITX product range  but now I have found an even cheaper computer,  namely the AM1B.  It is an insane 43 CHF  (about 35 GBP) from our local Swiss computer store.  And to it you'd need to add a mini ITX case and power supply, a low power CPU and some DDR3 memory.

For Marcus I have lots of old DDR3 memory kicking around and a cheap ITX case too, so only an AMD AM1 CPU .  Some specs

Supports AMD Socket AM1 Athlon/Sempron APU
Supports DDR3 1600 memory, 2 x DIMM slots, Max. 32GB
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16
Integrated AMD Radeon™ R3 Series Graphics in A-series / E-series APU
Multi Graphics Output Options : D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI
1 x Parallel Port, 1 x COM Port Header
4 x USB 3.0 (2 Front, 2 Rear), 6 x USB 2.0 (4 Front, 2 Rear), 4 x SATA3
Realtek Gigabit LAN
5.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC662 Audio Codec)

Supports ASRock Full Spike Protection, A-Tuning, APP Shop, FAN-Tastic Tuning, UEFI Tech Service, USB Key

Again, this consumer level pricing is to me quite insane!

Initially I prototyped a dedicated Webserver on the Raspberry Pi but it could just not server out data quickly enough.  I think the Asrock with AMD Quad core CPU power and Gigabit Ethernet will do the job.  (Oh and to be clear my Webserver needs to be able to serve over 2,000 Giga Bytes, I mean over 2TBytes per day).  We will see!

Intel Xeon E5-2697 v4

Actually I'm still working with the Motherboard manufacturer to diagnose why our new Workstationcannot boot so it would be unfair to name them just yet.

But let me just say that at over 2500 USD per processor, and this being a 2 CPU system, I am really hoping that they fix the problem.

Sometimes pushing for State of the Art is not what is cracked up to be.  Currently heartache and pissing about with EFI boot loaders, and not actually getting anywhere :-(

Christmas Advice

01 If you do not have a Raspberry Pi in the house and you are at all interested in Computers you really need your head examining.

It is the ideal sensibly priced Christmas present for your Computer obsessed partner or child wanting to really get into Linux and Hardware

02 And for a sensibly priced Appliance computer something based on the Asrock AM1B with a 5370 CPU should fly.  But wait for my build, review and test if you are paranoid

Finally as a perfectionist you may have to wait quite a while later for the new Xeon Workstation build story, because really these are busy times.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Truth

With technological advances in 2016 and beyond; advances in Social Media and Internet proliferation means suddenly the ability to project

Misinformation and a fabric of Lies

is all too easy.  Suddenly 

The Truth is being replaced [ by the Stupid, and the Unthinking]  as merely  my Opinion based on

- well nothing really, it's my Opinion and I'm entitled to my Opinion
- my gut feeling
- my intuition
- something I read on the Internet or Googled

For such individuals, Confirmation Bias, i.e. a willingness to believe in Internet based Press or news articles however wacky, that support their viewpoint,  together with an absolute rejection of other evidence based viewpoints as

- faked
- conspiracy theories

is their business as usual methodology

Private Stupidity - Public Danger
Whilst the Internet has brought his advances in information transfer it now begins to spawn via uniformed citizen journalism a very dangerous side.

But this is not enough, if it was random 'little people' Tweeting misinformation.

Unfortunately the American Election campaign and now Tweets from president elect Trump are more dangerous.

I invite you to follow the links

Are you entitled to your Opinion?
Pizzagate and Fake News
Samantha Bee channel

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Very Very Busy

To have any idea what these pictures relate to you would have had to have been living in England in the 1970's or was it the 1960's or even the 1950's?  I mean it was so long ago Marcus can hardly remember.

The pictures you see were those the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) put up on my then new Television as they prototyped the then new Colour Television transmissions

The relevance is that both Marcus and Agata are currently working flat out towards changes in our lives.  Consequently blog content is suffering :-(

Normal service will be resumed presently.  Until then Please Stand By

Until then my suggested reading for the day

Things that you can do at 20 to make your lives better at 50

Monday, December 05, 2016

Moutard Famille Champagne

Earlier this year Marcus and Agata visited Buxeuil in the Champagne region of France.

We arrived there because Agata very cleverly located a Motorhome resting spot (called an Aire in France) that apparently had free parking and electricity.

And you know what.  It did!

We arrived at night, and despite the bitter cold, well freezing weather we went for a stroll

We have stumbled upon a town of distilleries for Champagne and other alcohol production.  So we hatched a plan for the next morning

So the next morning

- We visited Moutard Famille Champagne
- Their full address is

Rue des Ponts B.P.1
10110 Buxeuil FRANCE

- We spent over 15 minutes on a personalised tour with the owner, who spoke good English.  Good because Agata was asking a lot of questions :-)
- We then had a small Champagne testing
- And bought a few bottles
- We walked away as happy customers, and a good experience.

It is the very least that we can do to publicise all of this, so if you are in the region, you can visit, look, learn, buy and enjoy.

Moutard official Website
Moutard products

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Sunday Sermon: Some reasons why he left

Why he left Islam

The Aside
If you are reading this, then by definition you have Internet Access. I hope your bandwidth is fast enough to look at YouTube and here is why.

Over the last 15 years Marcus has exponentially gravitated away from the paper based documentation sources to a mixture of Online websites and living repositories of information.

We do live in a world of manufactured, mis-represented facts, suppositions or theories, but by cross checking sources, and actually using your Brain to screen out the inconsistent then you are hopefully left with at least a set of plausible propositions.

YouTube now forms a major free online resource that I recommend you take advantage of.  Indeed this above video is a good example

- It puts forward propositions
- With supporting references
- It invites you to check them out
- So that you can verify the arguments put forward are based on agreed texts / statements

So now back to the Video Itself

Not Equal
All religions are not equal.  In fact it is usual for each Religion to have a revealed Truth, supported by one or more Holy Books, that are usually not to be subject to revision or criticism.  

Yet for each Religion that represents a world view even a superficial study will reveal that their differences and contradictions give us reason to believe that at most one is the truth but that zero can be assumed and each religions infallible holy book is true by circular argument

Back to The Plot
Please watch the video,  and consider subscribing to the channel   I hope it encourages you to do your own research.  Maybe you will find this video is so wrong it will actually lead you towards Islam, or maybe not. 

And so much more: Quran and Scientific Miracles

Saturday, December 03, 2016

The Human Spirit

Great Big Story: Hard Ship

In my humble opinion watching this video is well worth 24 minutes of your time.

Along with the film Gattaca I add this 24 minute short to show the very best of the human spirit and what it can achieve.

And finally,  you are subscribed to Great Big Story?  It really is a quality channel.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Clean Clean

Buggles: Clean Clean

Subtitle: Stuart prepares for Winter

You might think of this as cliche but Switzerland really has some excellent Cleaning facilities that help us to keep our Motorhome Stuart so very very clean.

Our local carwash,  well our favourite one of two is only 1.5Km away.

Jean-Michel the owner is getting quite carried away.  He just installed a hot air dryer so that you can literally blow dry your car after a wash.  What a guy!

There is also a fancy machine to clean any floor mats

Winter Preparation for Stuart

Aside from over 2 hours of internal and external cleaning and washing  we carried out some final preparations to put Stuart to bed for the winter.  It's unlikely that we will drive him in the Winter.  We do have all season tyres, but Marcus, call me chicken, do not fancy a 2600Kg motorhome sliding around on a steep mountain pass.  No!

Upper right is a know that opens a valve draining all the water from the 100 litre freshwater tank.  We emptied the tank 2 days ago using the pump and tap in the sink but a small amount of water normally remains.  So opening this valve drains everything so nothing can freeze.

This is the Hot Water system dump valve.  You open it so that if the temp is below freezing water comes out of the system instead of freezing the pipes

Meanwhile Earlier this Year
Earlier this year Marcus had the dubious pleasure of driving up a snowy mountain pass with the prospect of black ice just around the corner.  Not again this year please!

And Finally

We are back home in CH and relaxing.  You can see that winter is biting hard.  So hard that tomorrow we may have to go out on our race road bicycles.  In December!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

That was the [Financial] Month that Was

So back when I used to work at NYSE there was a quirky statistic: That none of our technical department used to invest in Stocks, nor in fact many of the actual traders. [ Then traders made their money on trades, you buy or sell, they earn.]


Because stocks could go up as well as down!  However in the last 5 years a disturbing trend has swept over Wall Street,  the ever upward movement of the Dow.

To sound like an old fart; there was a day when stocks were valued on their fundamentals, like Price Earning, or a bag of well know metrics.

When you invest in a painting, or an asset class like property the underlying value is often irrelevant.  It's basically worth as somebody else will pay for it.

And today the US stockmarket comes into that category.   Whilst other financial objects have been troubled and other countries' exchanges mostly up up and then down, the Dow just keeps rising.

Like Housing
If you study the UK property market; demand far exceeds supply, so no matter what measures the UK government implements to cool down house price rises, the fundamentals are against them.  What happens in a market rising far faster than inflation or wages?

- Guaranteed Asset Class
- Returns higher than say, really working to make something!
- People can't afford to enter
- But those at the margin, feel like they MUST enter, because if they delay they will be priced out

More Stats

Here is the full article

Will the Madness Continue

Longer Answer:
Yes, the Dow just will not Crash.  Even though the current numbers are insane.

What could Possibly Go Wrong

This is how happy traders must have looked when DJIA hit 19,000


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday Sermon: The Tower of Babble

I had to update the firmware on my Swisscom TVbox this evening.  Now in 2016 all our Television, and also our Radio is delivered thru the Internet.   

I mention this because today this is optional.  I  predict that in the near future, as the Internet becomes exponentially important providers will cease to be interested in Terrestrial transmitters.  In our own lifetime the Internet will become the only medium.  Be warned to those of you with less than a half decent Internet connection.

What you see above is a consequence of Switzerland's multi lingual country.   3 Languages and Swisscom (thankfully to me) also add in English for a grand total of 4!

Why Different?
I've always been a strident critic of multiple languages in this world.  Of course the issue continues because no country would like to drop their own language, far rather others drop their language for yours.

In Switzerland we have a much worse situation, in that there are actually 4 official languages

Languages of Switzerland: German, French, Italian and Romansh

Switzerland like India and a few other countries are part of the select few where Nationals can be totally misunderstood simply by travelling to a different region of their own country.

The Ridiculous nature of the situation was highlighted when I goto the Supermarket.  When I buy something simple like Breakfast Cereal the instructions need to be printed in 3 Languages (French, German, Italian) so there is less room for any type of text compared to say the English version.

The Religious Explanation

I hope you find the Religious explanation as comical and stupid as I do.

Why So Bad?
My principle irritation against language difference is

- It leads to misunderstanding and conflict
If you don't understand somebody your first reaction will be to treat them as something apart from yourself.  Conversely if they speak your Language their is an immediate bond and something very large in common.

- So it leads to division and not bonding

- It's so wasteful
Mastering even your mother tongue to the full is normally a lifetime of continual improvement, imagine the waste of time that learning multiple languages involves.   You could use that time to more productively do something else: you could help disadvantaged people, or perform charitable acts, that sort of thing.

Many people try to conflate culture with language but IMHO the two can and should be distinguished.  Sure they are related but one can still imbibe the culture of a nation, say Switzerland, without knowing all 4 of its national languages.

Dear god
So my open question to God is surely:  The Tower of Babel explanation is no explanation at all.   If you perpetrated this situation you have just let to societal misunderstanding and conflict.  And since (by definition) you God are omniscient you must have know that your actions would have had this result.  Not very nice of you God.  Not Babel just Babble.

XTC: Dear god

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Considerably Richer Than

Harry Enfield: Considerably Richer

Subtitle:  Smartphone Wars

In the more genuine I would argue old days, Smartphones used to compete on Specifications.  But with the technology curve and app ideas reaching a sort of plateau there is a new game in town:


Smartphone manufacturers are now competing with each other to produce the highest price, and therefore,  least competitive smartphone.

I'm assuming the audience is the "My Smartphone is more expensive than your Smartphone" end user segment.

Not convinced?

Google Pixel XL
819 GBP

Apple iPhone 7 Plus
919 GBP

Above prices from UK Clove Technology

Huawei Mate 9
(Porsche Design)

about 1200 GBP

- Well Apple, of course it is expensive
- Well Google, so now I need to be rich to be a fanboy? Shame on you
- Well Huawei, so you are admitting you need an expensive European Brandname to bolster your product? Shame on you.

I really stress to the youngsters reading this:  Don't attempt to save up for one of the above 'ultimate' Smartphones.  Leave them to the likes of the Business customer, who more often than not has their company actually buys them this astronomically priced phone.

An remember that all of the above will be /The old Smartphone/ in town in 12 months time.

Harry Enfield: Not Considerably Richer

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Internet: Don't Home without IT

If you think it is merely foolish to leave home without your portable Internet connection then it may follow that to buy a quality home without a convincingly strong Internet connection, in 2016 is

The height of insanity

The Exclusions

- You currently don't have any Internet connections and no computers or smartphones. You are proud of being a technological neathandatal

- You are extremely old with no interest in technology and about to exit the planet

- You are living in a fantasy world where you think a large house in the country does not need an Internet connection. Just like in your parents age the quality of the staff is what is important.

- The Bible did not mention the Internet and consequently you don't need it. [Note, other religious texts are available, they also exclude any explicit reference, how strange]

In 2016 best practise would be to have

- A smartphone with an unlimited data plan, ideally for your country and all you regularly travel into

- A home Internet connection, uncapped with at least 30 and ideally over 100 Mbps downstream connection.

- If you make extensive use of Cloud Services, WebHosting ideally 100Mbps+ upstream

- For the home a backup Mobile 4G LTE connection in case the Fibre Drops

In reality

Marcus has found a property, in a really secluded location. No fibre. But with Satellite and a BT copper connection. Let's look at

Can you see the satellite latency! So using any interactive application, for example a Web Browser !!! results in a tedious user experience.

Mobile 4G LTE
With this current dismal Internet connectivity the only possible saviour would be a 4G i.e. Long Term Evolution (LTE) connection

After some hours of fiddling success:

Quite a few networks were found and some notable exceptions

Base equipment used for testing. Our trusty Asus 4G-N12

Now time to vary the position and height of the reciever

This is what happens when you run SpeedTest and each 50-100MB test download eats up your 2GB data allowance in literally minutes.

Finally a half decent result with Marcus doing some acrobatics on a rooftop. I hope the potential new neighbours don't think a crazy person is coming to stay.

Other Considerations

In the UK it might be difficult to find an uncapped PAYG or Pay Monthly plan for mobile data. Even if it says uncapped there may be a small asterisk saying, uncapped means please don't exceed 15GB per month. As a counter example, Marcus recently uploaded 7000 GB to a Cloud provider in 3 days, just as a test, at home in Switzerland. This could not be achieved in the UK via any Mobile or Land Fibre connection. Hmm. Taking a step backwards in life is always painful.

Stepping back below uncapped 100Mbit/sec download, ultra low latency Internet, is almost your only choice in the UK, is going to be a tough one. To be continued.

Acceptable Internet Speeds in 2016