Friday, December 13, 2019

UK Election Results 2019

So even if you are not superstitious I'm going to say that the UK election result for 2019 was not as expected.

If only we could have had Uncle Rick as our Prime Minister.  His credentials as listed above substantially exceed that of the main parties who have gone head to head for the leadership of the UK parliament

The Results Again

Now it is about 07.00 as I finish writing this I can confirm that Boris Johnson has incredibly achieved a landslide Conservative victory.   The socialist Labour party has lost 59 seats.  The Scottish National Party has gained 13.  

Google Search News Link

Among the shocking news ...

- Jeremy Corbyn to step down as Labour leader

- Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson loses seat

And as expected:

-  Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon demands new Scottish independence vote

The Conservative Party (NB: their team colour is Blue) now has a comfortable majority and can thus enact pretty much any legislation it wants in the  House of Commons.  (It must send this to the secondary House of Lords, but the Lords can only delay legislation not cancel it).

We (the UK) are set for a swift BREXIT and then a year of heavy argument with the EU to do what it took the Swiss about 30 years, negotiate a comprehensive trade deal, because without it, the UK is done, but not in a good way.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Daddy, who did you vote for in the 2019 UK Election?

No More Heroes

Imagine it is year 2029 and the UK (that is England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland)  is at the end of a decade long downward spiral.  A weakened currency, high unemployment, the loss of London's financial importance, and the prospect of infinitely worse to come.

Alternatively there could be a British renaissance whereby the average earnings and well-being of the man on the Clapham Omnibus has skyrocketed.  And things in this sceptred isle are looking very well indeed.

Either Way your descendants will want to know if you helped to contribute to the current status quo

The Election Of Our Time

Marcus believes the 2019 will be the election of the decade.  It will set us British on a course of either disaster or double disaster.  IMHO there is no good outcome for the UK, based on the current mainstream political manifestos of either Labour or Conservative parties.

I'd like to say I'm more impartial than most, because perhaps by design, or maybe by accident, our assets remain principally outside of the UK  So should the UK sink beneath the waves we'll actually become relatively speaking richer.

I leave you with what I would consider the very wise words from Uncle Tony.   I'd ask you to listen even if you believe Tony made some rather questionable Iraqi decisions.  Those decisions have no bearing on the words that follow below:

Don't mix it up


And So

Rather like Americans staying up for the Trump election, I urge all British people to stay up all night and usher in the Apocalypse.   Depending on who wins it will be Minor or Major.

- The UK election is December 12th  (today)

- Polls from 07.00 to 22.00

- First Exit poll comes out at 22.00

- Broadcasters BBC, ITV, Sky News and Channel 4 will all be doing round the clock Election coverage

- By 02.00 Friday 13th 2019   20191213:0200 we can expect main body of results to come in

- By 20191213:0800 our Dark Fate will be sealed.  I definitely recommend all British people to take Friday the 13th off work. I'd think of it as the promised 4 day (32 hour) working week as promised on page 62 of their Labour Manifesto.  Just 10 years in advance.


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Unwinding: A Life With Backup

End of the Line

As the end of 2019 draws in Marcus is ever reflecting on the changes in my life.

I think 2019 has overall been a year of joys, but today I'm focusing in on the melancholy of living life without substantial backups.   In my professional (IT) career backup was something I specialised in. 

And over the decades the Backup Ethos somewhat spilled out into to Real Life.

Now I'm increasingly in my sunset years  (is this what they call it?) I am consciously scaling back.  At some time, may I ask, who too, has had a backup (i.e. duplicate) ...

01 Car
02 Mobile Phone
03 Computer
04 SmartWatch
05 Home

I know that I have had :-)

Reasons to Keep A Duplicate
Well obviously, if thing X breaks down, then duplicate X is standing by to take over

Duplicate Inertia
This is where you continue to expend time and effort making or keeping duplicates or backups mainly because /you always did so in the past/.

A sort of inertia develops and you realise the moment that you stop, it's like throwing all that effort away.  The choice can seem to be the small incremental cost of a continued duplicate vs the angst of not duplicating.

But the real question that needs to be addressed is: is the duplicate still relevant? Perhaps circumstances have changed so that you no longer need or want this level of availability.

Reasons Not to Keep a Duplicate

- Synchronisation
e.g. A backup computer would have to be kept in sync, this is time consuming.   Most people just settle for regular backups

- Static Costs
e.g An extra car has annoying static costs like yearly inspection, storage, maintenance. A bloody nightmare!

- Obsolescence
Keeping a spare thing that dates results in 2 x extra expenditure.  A mobile phone is an excellent example.

A spare home (sic!) is possibly the only exception.  Because unless you are unlucky and / or stupid, homes always beat the inflation curve, even allowing for expenses.

- Complexity
Keeping spares weighs heavily on your time, if maintenance of the spare is down to you.   Usually this means you are a normal person and can't pay an army of retainers to maintain the backup of X for you.

- Money
At the end of the day, as in most times in life, it comes down to the money.   Whilst keeping a backup thing is re-assuring, it's normally at lease a costly financial burden.

Scaling Back

And so, I might no longer have a spare Smartphone or Car but I do have 2 spare ESP8266 Inching relays.  Why?   Well they seem to break frequently, they are not greatly expensive, they take over a week to arrive, and when they do break; some elements of our Secure Home infrastructure get compromised.  So it's a small ask to keep some spare in advance.

Unwinding a life with Backup is on the one hand heartbreaking.  All those elaborate procedures and techniques.  But on the plus side its both financially and time liberating.   And it leads to a much simpler existence.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

USB to Ethernet, Reliability and Testing

Marcus has been really happy with my 2017 HP Spectre Laptop . So much so that I did not even bother to look at an upgrade possibility this 2019 Black Friday.

One thing the laptop does not have however is an Ethernet Port, and I now need a new Adapter.   This post investigates this further.

Fluppin Wizz Air
I try to restrict all travel including Air travel  (re Environment) but recently I flew to Poland using Wizz Air.  They have a nonsensically, smaller than standard IATA cabin bag size.  So all possessions had to be put into a soft, collapsible IKEA Kylvaska cool bag.  And somewhere along the journey the existing USB to Ethernet adapter was damaged.  I got to Poland and it was toast.

I know, something I own, actually wore out or broke down!

Choosing New
This is a relatively trivial purchase.  Nevertheless it was approached with the same meticulous zeal that I would undertake for a substantial purchase. I considered

- Brand
- Styling
- Features
- Price

Since I'm only really interested in the Ethernet performance all else is well just a bonus. I selected this Anker from Amazon

USBDeview is a useful tool to check the USB connections

Testing With Mikrotik

I talk endlessly about how Mikrotik produce incredibly powerful and complete networking equipment.  So I used their btest.exe utility running on the laptop via this new Adapter to talk to the performance server on a Mikrotik Router

On the server ..

The Mikrotik has a GUI but also a matching command line for every graphical command

Let me test it with UDP and TCP streams.  The picture from the PC based client.  Over 940 Megabits per second.

That's fast enough for me :-)

Learning Points

- I know it was not expensive, but I shopped around and compared specs

- Mikrotik makes incredible routers,  yes bandwidth testing utilities are included .. of course

- Anker makes lovely products, hopefully they will survive a future flight.

Monday, December 09, 2019

A Gentle Weekend

Subtitle: No Time to Die

One should always recognise ones limitations. And so this weekend past; Marcus (and Agata) thought we would take it easy.

This means daily exercise where we are not racing, just ambling.

Saturday Park Run
Our running club Run Alcester has a Facebook Page and we heard that one of our members Lizzie Tovey was to attempt an un-tethered Park Run this Saturday.  Lizzie is visually impaired and this would be her first solo run without an attached guide runner, instead being surrounded by a nice friendly Run Alcester human shield.

The instructions

Richard is always stretching

Agata with Lizzie

We finished the modest 5Km run in great spirits and we were all just a little emotional that Lizzie made it around without issue an enjoyed herself so much.

Sunday: Wyre Forest Runs 

We first lent support and encouragement to Alana's 2km run at Wyre forest

Of course she did well and even beat Kathy to the finish.

It was then time for Jenny, Marcus and Agata to attempt the very muddy 10km course.  Actually Marcus thought it was only averagely and acceptably muddy but everybody else said I was under-reporting it

Jenny finishes

We finished and then decided to stick around for the prize ceremony just in case

So yes,  Agata was first in her category.  Of course she was

Fatboy Marcus got a smaller prize for my second in category place

And so to the connection between the Film trailer and reality.  It is simply this: One gets to a certain age when one finally has life under some sort of control.  At this joyous time I reflect it is No Time to Die indeed

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Seasons Cheer for 2019

For the first time, well perhaps ever, I'm voting Marks and Spencer Christmas Advert as my number one.   If you watch the above it contains a well known hip hop song (House of Pain), from well, oh so long ago.

And it got Marcus into the Christmas Spirit.  So much so that I actually participated in my first local village quiz, I think in perhaps 40 years.  Now that really is something to write home about ...

 So much thinking

 And there was fish and chips included!

With our appalling General knowledge we held up the rear gracefully.  But for us the point of the evening was to socialise more than win, which I suppose is just as well :-)

While I am in the mood, I shall finish with some more rather fine advertisements.



John Lewis

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Do I Keep The Box

I suppose it mainly depends on what country you live in, and whether you are of  a certain age.

As the Christmas season gets into full swing, a quick tour of either my local Evesham supermarket or London's Oxford street this week has shown Marcus that austerity is definitely off!

Sales outlets are pumping out large volumes of Christmas only relevant merchandise.  From jumpers, to decorations, to seasonal food, and drinks, and of course the Christmas tree.  All of this stuff is not just seasonal, it has value only around Christmas, i.e. outside of this narrow time period it is useless and will consequently be discarded early into the New Year if not before.

Other Merchandise
So principally when I ask about box keeping, I'm talking about 'all the other stuff'.  I mean, for Marcus and Agata, that constant stream of purchases that supports our active, yet minimalist and frugal  lifestyles in England.

In Switzerland
It's a dirty secret that returning goods in Switzerland is usually impossible.  As long term Swiss residents I can assure you the number of times we have had to keep something that did not work 'quite right'.  I don't mean defective, I just mean, not suitable for us.  It was then basically "tough shit" time as we had the option to try and gift or sell the item in question.  The shop would not take it back.

In England
In our third or so year back in England I still have a wide smile when I return anything back to the retailer.  Normally it is Amazon and they have a no quibble return policy for the first month of ownership, on just about everything they sell.

I am totally in awe, and use this still remarkable facility,  only when needed. I appreciate this facility could be abused and I am careful never to do so.

Why Should I keep the Box
In the 'olden' days shops might stipulate that returns must be in 'original packaging'.   Keeping the box was therefore an accepted norm. But if you are a 'young person' of today you might have a wildly differing opinion.   The proliferation of stuff, more choice, variety, and paid for by the generous bank of mum and dad has resulted in some pretty spoilt, entitled, young persons.  They never keep the box, never think of how to return the item, and may also be unconcerned by the waste that their constant demand for new is creating.  Unfortunately these people really exist, and in some quantity.

So then, do I keep the Box?
Well mostly yes.  Here is the rationale.

- Most of our goods comes via online order and then transport e.g. Amazon

- We always keep the box and packaging, initially until we are sure that we want to keep and not return the item.   We try to decide within 7 days, we don't want to piss off our online retailer

- Our boxes then move to our garage.  This is the picture above

- Our boxes then are kept for anything upto 1 year.  After 1 year Agata and Marcus agree that the box can be junked

- But there is another reason to keep our best sturdy boxes!   We use them to resale our older technology items.   For example the Nest SmartCamera  I sold yesterday was packed in the box of the new home Power over Ethernet Webcam.

- Boxes after 1 year must be disposed of.   Anything else leads to clutter, and other weaker disposal rationales include: home for rodents, or fire hazard.

- Note super expensive product boxes, like Apple gear are kept indefinitely in case of resale.   Second hand users just love an original box.

- Of course all recyclable boxes are first flat packed, then recycled.  Good Swiss training taught us that.

So yes, we initially keep the box, but after 1 year it will be gone.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Leaving the Nest

As of Thursday December 5, 2019 I am not a Nest Camera user anymore.

In Marcus' home in Alcester UK we have a large amount of Security monitoring, and multiple Nest Cameras were part of the deal.

But no more.

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Nest

- The Nest brand is of course owned by Google and is as such top quality.  But top quality costs.

- The Nest indoor pictured above retails at about 300 GBP.  I know!

+ The UK retail sales link is here

- Something like Apple computer ownership,  Nest Camera represent a well thought out, stylish and freakishly expensive product.

- The sales ethos (again like Apple is), you might not know that much about cameras, but trust us, pay us a large amount of money, and we'll sell you quality and high function

- The high price of ownership does not stop with purchase, you also need to buy a Nest Aware Subscription, otherwise motion events detected just show up as alerts, with no associated recording.   (Alerts only is useless!)

+ I did really enjoy the picture quality of the camera, and also the beautiful and tasteful styling.  Oh and it used USB-C, and I'm a great fan.

- The Nest IQ Indoor used a non 5V USB-C adapter so you had to use their specific, original adapter.   You can't even buy a third party one.

+ With such a high retail price, there is actually a decent second hand marketplace i.e. the price of a used camera is not close to zero.

Our Replacement Strategy
We changed the majority of our External and Internal cameras to POE (Power over Ethernet).  Because our new home in England has 10Gb Cat7 Ethernet cabling we've chosen to install this alternative technology.  The cameras record locally, and/or to a Hard Disk Based 24x7 recorder, and run Linux on each camera, with the ability to send emails or ftp motion video clips on demand.

This is of course much more work that the Nest Camera approach with Aware subscription.  However it all comes down to costs.

For a least hassle, does it all solution, Nest is one of the best, but its costs are too high for my tech savvy,  cost constrained, UK lifestyle.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

London Calling

A Drug

I suppose if it was half a century ago then one could suppose a certain similarity of the above events to Marcus' quick dash down to London.

But it is indeed 2019, and so instead things were rather more cultural.   Thanks to everybody  (your anonymity has been preserved here) and we look forward to another meeting at your convenience.