Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Farewell Dear Huawei

Porter Robinson: Goodbye to A World

This is a sad but also bitter final story to how I disposed of my Android, Huawei P9 Plus Smartphone

What's the Problem?
The problem, and this is essentially true with all but Enthusiast brand phones, is that manufacturers are keen to sell you their latest Smartphone.

Part of the tactic is to purposefully obsolete their existing technology, and by doing nothing, the software on your Smartphone becomes not only Old and out of touch, but crucially,  totally insecure.

My Specific Beef with Huawei

Huawei has a particularly shameful history when it comes to Android upgrades.   Not only are they very Geographically dependent  i.e. not uniform, fragmented and inconsistent,  but for some phones, like Marcus' P9 Plus, well they just could not be bothered.

Huawei and the Bootloader Lock

Back in May 2018 Huawei changed their policy on Bootloader unlocking.  Without Bootloader unlocking a phone can not have an alternative ROM installed, you can't install a custom recovery, or become root, or for sophisticated users, have full control of your own Smartphone.

The knock on effects are that Enthusiasts and Developers will not develop alternative or new OS levels for older phones, and the brand standing within the Enthusiast community will dwindle.

This was my main reason not to spend over 600 GBP and buy a Huawei P20 Pro.  That Smartphone has an amazing camera, but it came with last years level of Android, i.e. Oreo V8, and at the time of writing over 6  months after announce, this has not yet been updated

Indeed I'm sure Huawei would rather you buy their Mate 20 Pro phone instead, this ships with Andoroid Pi verion 9, that will be an additional 800 GBP if you don't mind.

I was Stupid
Huawei lost me as a new customer because I was 100% confident that I could get my P9 Plus to a later Android level  (Oreo 8) using a sophisticated upgrade path.  Only their duplicity has prevented me.  So my plan to get more life out of a manually upgraded Huawei P9 plus has been ruined.   The carefully prepared plan, which would have worked on an OEM unlocked phone is:

- Changing the Swiss phone into a Chinese Branded phone
- You do this by over-riding part of the boot loader, boot block, to make the phone appear to be the Chinese model
- Then install Android 7 for the Chinese model
- Then apply updates
- Then install Android 8, which is only available for the Chinese model
- Then install the Google Play store, since this is not on the Chinese ROM
- Then install apps from the Play store
- Then install any updates
- Then you are done!

But, But, But

After hours of research, and preparing, and downloading code, that was most definitely not easy to find, I found to my horror that although the Huawei P9 Plus appeared OEM unlockable at the Android OS,  when back in bootloader mode, the

Bloody phone was indeed OEM locked

(to be specific the fastboot oem unlock command cannot complete successfully)
I was totally fooled and the phone was, is, and will be forever stuck at the 2016 level of Android 7.   I am so pissed off

Sticking to my Principles

I am both angry that I was fooled because I did not check earlier, but most angry that Huawei no longer offers unlocking that I immediately wanted to get rid of this phone.

I'm not prepared to use this phone a day longer!  I want Huawei out of my Smartphone life.

And so in the UK I noticed a Recyclabox outlet in our local Evesham Morrisons Supermarket.  They gave me a low offer (Under 100 GBP on a phone costing about 500 GBP 2 years ago), but I placed the phone into the machine and have today, 5 days later, the money has arrived in my Paypal account.

Lessons Learnt

Huawei,  I was your fanboy, but your Phone locking policy,  your inability to OEM unlock, combined with IMHO a dishonest Android Display screen re locking.  It all means that I don't plan to further recommend Huawei to others or buy your products in future.  Period.

You really lost me as a customer and advocate.

Recyclabox was a joy to use and very fast to pay out.  They offer a way to realise the cash without a long auction/ eBay/ private listings sale.   Very impressive.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Another Fantabulous Anniversary

Coldplay: Adventure of a Lifetime

Marcus and Agata have just celebrated another Anniversary.  It was this weekend in fact.

Sometimes you just have to take stock of your life and consider how good things really are.  And I'd venture to suggest 

Very Good Indeed.

On occasions like some matched musical and video stimulation might better convey how we feel.

Gala: Freed From Desire

Coldplay: Everglow

U2: Ordinary Love

Solveig: All Stars
Happy anniversary <----> Darling

See Also
Kylie: So Lucky

Some Signs
Imagination:So Good

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sunday Sermon: This Weeks Wisdom

And this week of Sunday November 18th 2018 I would like you to consider the following religious truths, or perhaps merely ideas for honest discussion ...

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Christmas & Seasonal Presents Day #1

Subtitle: Black Friday, take#1.  We waited!

And so, a month+ of waiting, and looking, and considering the latest Amazon Echo at 49.99 GBP,  Marcus and Agata are delighted, and just a little bit smugly pleased to say, that we ordered the Amazon Echo Dot 3 unit for only 24.99 GBP from Amazon's Black Friday Sale   Yep, truly bonkers.

The Winter Solstace
The season of Winter Solstace was many times over a festival for ancient people.   These activities including seasonal celebration & giving, actions that  got adopted into various Religions, the most notable being Christianity.

So it is quite valid to remind people that the exchange of pleasantries, presents and goodwill at this time of the year can still be regarded as an experience Independent of Religion, and may certainly be celebrated by all.

And So
It has come to pass that Marcus and Agata will be running a series of articles of genuinely nice, economical, useful and charming presents that we'd be proud to give to others at this close of the year.     We would say to receive also, but the complication is that by definition we already own and use the items we will relate.  So: sorry to all friends and family looking for present tips, for those people your time and good company is all that we would like to receive.

Relative Values
I've said it a thousand times.  But when I compare the value and particularly the longevity and service  I will get from this device, as compared to say the above energy bars, well to Marcus, the value of the Dot is quite staggering. I mean good!

Why buy the Amazon Dot?

- It is a voice activated gateway from you to the Internet, and it is able to answer some basic questions

- You will obviously need and Internet Connection and a 2.4GHz Wifi connection in your home so the Dot can talk to the Internet

- This is Generation 3, the latest device, with some bigger speakers than before, a fixed mains plug  (not USB which is a shame), and  Bluetooth Connectivity  (to speakers etc)

- You can instantly talk to any other Amazon Dot or Alexa based Device user, using the "Drop In" command

- It is able to help voice control many Smart Home devices.  For example "Alexa turn on lounge" will switch on all the lights in our lounge

- It can connect to music Services you may subscribe to like Spotify and also play BBC Radio 4 , which as most people know is the only Radio station really worth listening to.

- Considering its utility its price is staggeringly low.

Amazon Echo Dot 3

"You'd be a total frikkin idiot not to have one"

NB: Other devices like Google Home are available, but IMHO they don't match up to Amazon's offerings.  Especially so for Home Automation.

Friday, November 16, 2018


PSB: Minimal

Whilst this is indeed the season of good will, it also appears to be that of  s-h-o-p-p-i-n-g.  Thus I would like to share a further insight into Marcus and Agata's minimalism

Two days ago Agata was cooking a joint favourite meal  ... Lentils,  and I also wanted to make a Brussel Sprouts Meal. 

It's then that Agata confirmed the following truth:

We only have 1, yes just one Cooking Pot

It was the first time in over 1 year that this has presented a problem, the answer was that I would wait 30 minutes.

It's not that we cannot afford a second Cooking Pot.  It is that we consciously choose not to have one.

Less Clutter

Slightly less expenditure

A tidier Home

And we do cook a meal every night, so this Pot is used extremely frequently!

Obviously Marcus and Agata are at the serious end of the Minimalist Normal curve.   I would only ask that you consider what you possessions you feel you need to live a good and comfortable life.  Choose mindfully.


Do More With Less

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Black Friday Approaches ... Keep Your Nerve

Frankie: Relax

Whilst the Retail Industry might want Black Friday to be your starter for an orgy of buying, leading up to a spending crescendo in the days, hours and minutes before Christmas day,  savvy, astute buyers like Marcus and Agata are aiming for something quite different.

- A chance to buy the items that we would have anyway, but at better prices

- It's a displacement buy, meaning that if we buy X now, we will not be buying X later

Of Course We Have Planned

If you never heard of Black Friday then read this now

And be aware that Retailers start early. Sort of Black Friday Creep. Although the official date is Friday November 23rd,  our stalwart suppliers like Wiggle and Amazon have already started something

For the last month Marcus and Agata have made a Black Friday shopping list.  We also put these items into the wish-list / baskets of our favourite online retailers.  Maybe their online software is so sophisticated it will take account of our needs and help influence the deals they present?

Keeping Your Nerve

We have literally waited months for this bargain window to appear and with decidedly finite budgets we don't propose to buy ...

- the first bargain that we see

- something that is close to what we want, but not really exactly what we want

- we are prepared to leave with nothing.  It's very likely that specific items we would like will not appear and so then we have say: no deal.

Overall,  keep your nerve :-)

The Usual Caveats Apply

- For trivial purchases, knock yourself out, just bear in mind that filling your house with crap, that you might sooner discard/recycle is both a waste of your time, and a waste to society.  Let others buy the crap, not you

- Trivial as ever relates to your number.

- Non trivial purchases should be based primarily on need

- And, if you are replacing X with Y, where Y is not worn out, it means, as a pre-req: how do you recycle, sell or otherwise environmentally dispose of X.   Replacing X with Y should not ever mean, keeping X in a cupboard, because this starts as clutter and ends in Hoarding and other medical conditions.

- Be careful of the multiply buy factor.  You may have and love item X, but do you need another X? Example, I have a 4K Webcam but I don't need a second webcam no matter how much of a bargain it is.

Pet Shop Boys: Shopping

See Also
Madonna: Minimal Groove

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Winter Bib Cycling Trousers

Farewell to Bib

Subtitle: Dear Decathlon and Others ... Go Simple!

Monday was a sad day :-(  Well just a little.  It was the last time that I will ride my bicycle using my superb Decathlon Bib Cycling Tights/Trousers.

I've had this clothing item for at least 2 years plus, but not replaced them because Decathlon changed the design to something I just don't appreciate.

After tens, perhaps even over 100 hours of hard usage the tears and rips in the fabric mean that this has to hit the recycling pile.  I am gutted.

NB: I do have other thermal Bib Tights but this is my absolute favourite type.

A Simple Brilliant Design

And here is why

Most importantly it is almost a single piece of fabric.  From the ankles up to the waist and even up to the shoulders.  One piece.  No seams, just smooth on the outside and smooth on the inside.

Since this is for winter, the inside is warm and fleecy.

And obviously there is a cycling pad

 No Zip and No Zip!   Not at the ankles or above the crotch.  Again its beautifully smooth and to Marcus zips means the opportunity to fail and  let in the cold.  I aim to set off with the correct clothing density for the temperature outside.   I won't use a zip to open and cool down, not in winter conditions.

 The bib goes up high meaning I keep warmth around the crotch and stomach area.   More expensive designs seem to have zips and a lower V design.   Also more expensive designs have a flimsy perforated shoulder.  I don't want that.

Simply warm fleece on the inside.  Good for down to minus degrees C

In Switzerland I did not just use these for cycling.  They also got steady use for Nordic Skiing and for Snow Running.  Possible because they were so flexible.

Not fancy, not technical
The more expensive the bib the more technical it is.  By this I mean they decide on different thicknesses and  materials for different areas and then stitch them all together.  Looks a bit like a patchwork quilt [muddle] to me when finished.

The design above is almost a single piece. Not fancy, but still great.

Why Go Expensive
The Cycling world like any other marketplace is one of diminishing returns.  Marcus would comment that in Europe I'd first always see if Decathlon sold the items that I want, at the quality I could accept.

But as Agata pointed out the traditionally posh brands such as ALE whilst often more than 100% more expensive produce garments

- With softer fabrics
- Better Engineered Cycling Pads
- Higher Attention to detail

I would certainly not rule out more expensive brands as a last resort :-)


Dear Decathlon, I hope you are listening.  I shall visit your store soon and shop for what I hope you now produce, namely, a zipless, affordable, simple, thermal winter cycling bib tight.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

USB Power in the Home

Subtitle: Give the Gift of USB and Your time this Christmas

Although our home in England is newly refurbished the builders did not choose to install any native USB power sockets in the house

For specialist USB Power Deivery (PD) or high current devices I would still recommend Anker multiport chargers.  Example:  The 5 port charger

But increasingly, we need a few USB devices near our Power Sockets for devices like Alexa ...  It turns out to be extremely easy and inexpensive to change your mains Power sockets in the UK.

A Worked Example

First we found a place that currently needs some simplification.  At the end we will even have a spare Anker to re-purpose 

This is the socket that we selected.  There are many choices, example switched or not, 2 or 4 USB sockets, chrome/ aluminium, white or other finishes

The cost is a negligible 10 GBP per socket.  I mean that is low, low, low.    If you use Screwfix to select a well known MK brand however one could pay upto about 100 GBP.  So choose wisely.

- Before starting find a plug in mains light.  You need it for testing
- You will need a flat screwdriver
- Find your Household Breaker Box
- Plug the light into the socket to be changed before removal and leave light on
- Switch off Breaker supply to your sockets
- Observer your Light switch off, now you know the socket is not powered and you can not get electrocuted. Remove light
- Remove the 2 screws holding the faceplate
- Note the wiring colours  (green/yellow for earth), brown (live) and blue  (neutral)
- Unscrew wires from this faceplate
- Wire in the new faceplate checking for the Live, Neutral, Earth positions since they may not be the same on the new plate
-Screw faceplate back
- Plug in light, it should not yet turn on
- Goto Breakerbox and put back on the switch that previously isolated the supply
- Your light should come on
- Job Done

It took us less than 30 minutes.  Our biggest interruption was the cat coming in from outside to distract us.  One can never ignore a kitty.

You know what might make an excellent present? A gift of some sockets and your fitting time to your friends and family to help transform their house just a little.

Monday, November 12, 2018

NEC Classic Car Show 2018

Rick Astley: She Makes Me

Marcus and Agata had a truly excellent time at the 2018 NEC Classic Car Show.

Like everybody else who attended on Friday we thought that Saturday and Sunday would be overcrowded.  So why not go on the not discountable Friday instead.  Indeed Friday attendance was expensive for us.  35 GBP for each ticket and then NEC parking which is more than 15 GBP.   I know.  We almost did not go, but we have never been to this show, it's billed as the best in the UK, so this year, we promised to economise elsewhere and went.  And yes, it was really, really crowded!

All Day
We spent the entire day there.  And Marcus saw so many old and familiar cars, talked with Enthusiastic exhibitors.   Great times.   

We had hoped to visit Silverstone Auctions too but they insisted that you buy a paper catalog before entry and our budgets were already busted so sadly we said no to their very large stand.  We oggled from a far instead.

All the Photographs

Many of the photographs are shown below.  But the full set, and I mean over 350 photographs at original resolution are available 



You are welcome.

So without further ado ...

Thanks NEC for a wonderful day out.

2018 Classic Car Souvenir Guide