Monday, July 24, 2017

Hill Sprints

It's not the dominant reason why we love our new home in England but our driveway is exactly 1.01 Kilometres in length.

Why is this important?

Because this length combined with the crucial fact that it is all downhill on the way out, and all uphill on the way back make it ideal for Hill Sprints.

What is a Hill Sprint?
(And Why)
A hill sprint is a shortish section of road where you can practise endurance training.  Ideally it's a hill section with what Marcus would ask for a 12% or greater gradient.

You can run up and down this section at maximum pace.  Resulting in:

- Exhaustion in a dramatically short period of time!
- Stamina Training
- Working at maximum heart & lung capacity
- And work on steep ascent and descent run training
- Over time a way to increase ones maximum Heart Rate and Lactate Threshold

In 30 minutes it provides a literally exhausting experience

An example Regime
Equipped with our 1Km inclined track surface with a steep hill at the end of a session:

- First run down warmup
- First run up max pace
- Second run down max pace
- Second run up max pace
- Right now we are km 4.0 total
- Repeat down and up 2Km loops until exhaustion
- Remaining 0.5Km down and 0.5Km up walking cooldown

Normally Hill Sprints take place on a much shorter hill section.  The above training regime however blends gradual ascent descent of about 0.85km for endurance with a final extremely steep 0.15Km lactate threshold training hill.

Additionally, running down and then up a 12% plus gradient teaches you the best way to run these inclines at speed.  For example on a downcline, body position (for Marcus, body forward).  On an incline attention to foot strike position  (for Marcus front foot strike)

You can attempt this say at least 1 time per week.

The Way Down











Going Up











Learning Points
So there you have it,  Hill Sprints are  an excellent way to improve your Lactate threshold is less than 60 minutes perhaps even in 30 minutes per day.   Exhausting, but do try it.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Because Democracy and Free Speech

 Green Day: Troubled Times

Indeed, we may live in troubled times, but never forget that in the Western World,  satire, irony and good old fashioned humour are still very much allowed.

True, the unusual leadership changes in Poland, North America and the  United Kingdom   (did I leave anybody out?) have made it increasingly easy for practitioners of comedy to perform, but perform they still may.

Democracy and Free Speech are still standing

Before anyone else can apply, here is my application for White House press secretary

But at this delicate moment the last word goes to Spicey ...

Spicey: Press Conference

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A[nother] day of Joy

Coldplay & Big Sean: Miracles

Agata and Marcus are just delighted to welcome our wonderful friend Sandra.  She has come all the way to see US.  Yes, us only.

She was not on the way to somewhere else or someone else more important.

She had to get on the plane, and the train.   It took some time & money.

Our friends are special and always welcome.

We have time for you.

Coldplay: Adventure

Friday, July 21, 2017

Motorola Focus85 Security Camera review

We have the services of a very part-time security cat.  As you can see, some more training may be required.

In the meantime we have invested in some [more] Security Cameras.  A quite old 2015 product, but with a 720p resolution Motorola Focus85 was our spur of the moment choice [it was very very cheap!]

Packaging & Appearance

It is rather small and attractive!  There is no battery but power can be via any USB adapter.   On the bottom is a pair button that you press to initially configure, which must be to an Android or iOS Smartphone.

There is also a wall or ceiling mounting slot and then in the software you tell it ceiling mounting so the picture gets suitably rotated.

Features and Smarts
+ 720p resolution
+ Small Camera
+ Pan and Tilt, under Smartphone or Web control
+ Power from a micro USB
+ microphone to record sound and has sound alert monitoring
+ Speaker, so you can from your Smartphone talk and have this sent to the SecurityCam
-  Motion Detection and Sound Detection alerts,  but requires paid subscription in practise
+ Temperature sensor

No Integration
This is an entry level camera.  Accordingly it does not have any sort of Smart Home integration.

To explain, the latest security cameras can integrate with Google Home or Samsung SmartThings.   You can use popular applications like ifttt to provide an alert and then response pairing.

But not with these cameras, they are standalone only!

You Pay

An alert can be motion, sound or temperature, but how does it work?

Well if you install the Smartphone application and allow it to run in the background then a small daemon polls via the Internet (you better be on a good data plan!) and a photo can be sent on alert.  This will drain your smartphone battery and also is good say if you are out for the afternoon, not if you are away for weeks.

Instead what they would like you to do is pay for Cloud Storage in which case an alert will trigger that a video is sent to the Cloud and kept for a minimum of 24 hours.  I did not see that it could alert you though!

Overall the alerting is rather flawed.  This is a more modern solution to previous Security Cam.  But the old way was this

- configure a email connection
- when an alert (motion/sound) is detected then send a photo or video via email

To me the old way, was a bit technical, but automated.  If you get an email from the security camera you investigate further.  In this case you do the same with a Smartphone alert, but it takes data connection and battery drain. 

The target market for this camera is for a noob user who wants a simple non scalable solution and occasional security.

In the fullness of time we will have 3:
- 2 fallback Independent Solutions,  this will be one
- A smarthome, programmed solution, multiple cameras, controlled but a handwritten Linux solution or if SmartThings ever works reliably using that.

This Motorola Focus85 Camera is typical of the new generation of Security Cameras.  It is reasonably attractive and can be powered from a USB cable.  It has motion detection and a host of features, but to get the benefit you are forced to buy a subscription from Hubble and this will cost you from 36GBP per year.

If like us you get the cameras for "practically nothing" then I'd say go for it, else pass.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Keeping an Open Mind, but not so Open your Brains Fall out

Critical Thinking

Subtitle: Inflammatory Copy

At the beginning of July 2017 I commented that I was to start a Trump News Blackout.  It has been in force for about 2 weeks now.

- Not reading any article that is pro or anti Trump
- If Trump appears on any TV or Youtube broadcast, immediately switch to something else.

Coverage on Donald Trump has now reached the stage were both sides present maliciously titled copy.

But I'm not talking about the Established Press.   I'm talking about the Web based press.  Of the 12 Based Political News feeds I read daily one has become a virtual cesspit of inaccuracy and inflammatory titled and contented writing.

I made some other checks.  Of the 54 fees on Religion that I read daily (!!) at least 2 have inflammatory copy.  Nearly all articles they publish are offensively titled  (and arguable contented)

In the UK the Obscene Publications Act and a variety of associated defences (see linked article) deal with printed and UK web hosted material that is liable to

deprave and corrupt

Unfortunately this is aimed at Pornography and not the torrent of Fake News stories, again set forth by the NON traditional press  (in other words CNN, BBC they are the good guys),  that IMHO also should fall under this category

Repeat: Not Mainstream Media

Fake News: This is not news that you don't agree with

Fake News: the 99.999% of it is coming from Internet Based News sources.  Relatively, the Established Media is not only clean, but squeaky clean and more over, accountable.

Fake News: Is pandering to and supporting the closed not open minded people who need to read again and again why their [mostly] hate filled ideas are justified.

Of the 1000 titles in feeds that were reading candidates for today here are some examples. A few disgust me, whilst many are legitimate.  Can you categorise them correctly?  The titles are quite proportionate the level of vitriol and bullshit contained within them   (google exact title to content check)


Donald Trump Ends Covert CIA Program To Arm "Moderate" Syrian Rebels

Here's Why I Know Bitcoin and Ethereum Are In a Bubble, Built On Top of Outright Scams

"Push Trump Off A Cliff" - Rosie O'Donnell "Sparks Outrage"

Tennis Legend Boris Becker Bankrupt, Burns €100MM Fortune With Help of "Nigerian Investments"

Trump Blasts Obama "He Knew [Obamacare] Was A Lie"; Tells GOP: "Don't Leave Town Until Healthcare Is Done"

Trump Bashes Fake News for G20 Putin Conspiracy Theories

Trump Slams "Fake News Story Of Secret Dinner With Putin" At G-20 - "Press Knew!"

The US’s proposals for bringing back auto jobs would more likely kill them instead

Macron’s France has dethroned Trump’s America as the world’s top soft power

UNESCO is an Immoral, Anti-Semitic Organization

Germany: Infectious Diseases Spreading as Migrants Settle In

The Islamic View of "Feminism"

Putin Looked Trump in the Eye and Lied to Him

Trump Re-Ups Iran Nuclear Deal He Once Called The 'Worst Deal Ever'

Hackers can take control of your Segway hoverboard

Ubiquiti Edgeswitch 8 150W Managed PoE+ Gigabit

Trump endorses FCC's plan to roll back net neutrality

Apple patents a feature that could save lives


WTB: CPU Upgrade Cards like Microsoft Mach 10

Why Windows File Server Archive ROIs are Broken

Microsoft: Full Windows 10 is not coming to smartphones

How I wasted a whole day trolling with assembly

Apple Security Update 2017-003 19 Jul 2017 For OS X 10.11.

All New iPhone Models Facing Production Delays

Software Problems With iPhone 8 Wireless Charging and 3D Sensor Causing 'Panic' at Apple


Some Idiots I Work With Don't Believe In Front-Mid Engine Layouts

Young People Aren't Saving Harley-Davidson

Ferrari Is Being Extremely Silly And Calling Its SUV An 'FUV' Instead: Report

Georgia Mayor Lashes Out at Atheist Who Criticized “In God We Trust” on Cop Cars

The Most Controversial Claim Jesus Made

Iowa GOP Leader: Atheists Are Lying By Quoting Me Verbatim

Jesus Taking the Wheel Is An Awful Driving Strategy

Turkey: Erdogan's Obsession to Take Jerusalem

Top musicians are to sing all 150 Psalms in one weekend. What can this teach our world today?

Was this Catholic cardinal a saint or a pro-Nazi war criminal?

Life expectancy isn't rising any more. This is what the Bible says about it

Darkstat – A Web Based Linux Network Traffic Analyzer


How to block database connections

The world’s plastic problem, in two charts

How Exactly Did 15 Pounds of Meat End Up on a Roof in Florida? An Investigation


The BBC’s top male star is paid four times as much as its top female star

Bloated Blokes Club

Is a total news boycott & head in the sand attitude necessary for the future sanity of thinking humankind?

I really hope not.  Back to the original quote. By whom exactly?

Keep an Open Mind, but not so Open your Brains Fall out

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Three Mobile "All you can Eat Data" Telephony in the UK

I'm going to talk about the decision by Three Mobile in the UK to charge more for their All you can East dataplan on Pay as You Go mobile.   But first a digression about customer service.

Good Service

So at the end of the call the Three operator said:  Have I resolved your problem,  and I said YES.

This morning my phone stopped working, there was no Internet, or ability to call my Voicemail and when I logged onto my account I found my balance which was not zero was now at 0.0 GBP

It turns out that Three failed to send me a "Your monthly plan is expiring SMS" and so I did not renew the monthly "add on package, the one that gives me minutes and data" and so it used up all my credit at a very high rate so that in 1 day it zeroed.

One might argue it's my responsibility to renew but with all my SIM and phones I rely on this SMS for renewal.  Three made me a fair offer of temporary Internet and Phone minutes in compensation.

It was pretty fair.  I accepted it and really I think this represents good service. So plus brownie points to their offshore call centre, who were polite, understood my issue and put it right.

Now the Bad Bit
With respect to Private  (not Business), Phone only plans, three continues to be the only mobile network in the UK to offer an unlimited dataplan

(Giffgaff advertises unlimited, but after 6GB in one month the bandwidth is throttled to approximately zero.  Shame on them.)

On August 1st 2017 Three will increase its prices of all you can eat Pay as You Go Dataplans

 Current Position above

From August  (Three would not commit to a date on the phone, in order to benefit from the all you can eat data package you must now spend 35 GBP per month instead of 25GBP.

If you are prepared to take out a 12 month subscription, with direct debit you can get something cheaper thus

Why Is it Important?
Having a truly all you can eat  (not Giffgaff, what a ripoff!) subscription is the right thing to buy and for telecoms providers to offer in 2017

- As a consumer you don't get any nasty cost surprises for going over your data limit, for their is none
- You don't need to pick and choose special data offers like Three's binge 'option'
- You don't need to keep monitoring your daily and cumulative data usage, possible on Android, but still easy to forget
- Essentially you can surf freely from your mobile, at the highest Spotify resolution, using full Dropbox mobile uploading, and full Youtube highres viewing and never run out of data.

It is the future and Three should be credited for offering this.  However the cost hike hurts!

In Summary
Today I called three about a messup with my Pay as You Go Mobile Subscription.   They made me a fair offer to put right the problem which I accepted.  This was good service.

However, on a wider point Three have realised that they can charge you more for "All you can eat" Data subscriptions for your mobile phone.   And so they are doing just that.  From August 35 GBP per month.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Financially: A Mess

The truth is that after childhood and sometimes even before, (well because some of us had to bypass childhood, )  life becomes complicated.  There are seemingly increasingly insurmountable odds to cram just living into every 24 hour long day.

Many people feel that just keeping their /head above water/ is all that they can do to survive.

The symptoms of this malaise / indifference are often accompanied by explanations like

I would care but

I'm too busy to look at the bigger picture

I have to focus on my family

I'm interested but only so far as any crisis might affect me

The Big Picture
The global   (macro) financial situation is in a mess. 

And each day it gets worse.  Every person of thinking age should at the very least

- appraise themselves of the global financial position, i.e. without regard to self interest
- understand what (micro) i.e. individual actions are necessary to effect change and recovery.

Until then I turn to music to set the mood

Supertramp: Fools Overture

Monday, July 17, 2017

Salomon S-Lab Sense 6 Trail Shoes

Salomon S-Lab Sense 6 Trail Shoes

I'm a strong advocate of Salomon trail shoes but my S-Lab soft Ground shoes, reviewed here, have been giving me big problems in the last 12 months.

Essentially for any run over 15Km they produce enormous blisters and considering they are almost 2 years old it was time to search for a replacement

Why Trail Shoes
Trail shoes in general have a firmer sole that can cope with a non tarmac environment.   This enables the shoe to be better planted over a rough and uneven surface.   

Above that base difference you can add perhaps
- waterproofing
- protection on sides against rocks, sharp things
- Quick lacing systems
- Special treads and even studs to cope with rocky terrain, ice/snow etc.

As usual thought there is a tradeoff between what gizmos your trail shoe has and its weight.

What about the Weight
Both Marcus and Agata are very weight sensitive, because is a long race all things being equal the heavier shoe will significantly slow you down

The headline feature of this shoe is the astonishing 220 gram per shoe weight.  Any single shoe that is under 300 grams is light and anything under 250 grams is ultra light.

So the design compromises here have resulted in a very lightweight, non waterproof, and thin walls on the sides of the shoes that can come into contact with rocks.  (Ouch).

These shoes have a drop i.e. front to back of only 4mm so they are designed for running on the front foot strike not on the backfoot.

This means, to run in these shoes

- You need to front foot strike not backfoot.  If you backfoot you will literally bust up your achilees and tendons.

- If you backfoot strike then you need to change your running style when using these shoes

- You need to be very careful when running over and thru rocky surfaces.   You need to try and anticipate trail sections that are going to likely sharply jut into the sides of your shoes and run carefully through them

- In wet weather you are going to get really wet, I mean I can see my socks thru the upper mesh!

Other Shoe features

The tread is pretty modest.  Don't expect these shoes to last for very long!

Salomon quick lacing.  Something I absolutely love.  Allows you to stop and quickly change the tension, either because you got it wrong, or perhaps to tighten it up on a tricky descent  (tighter and the foot has less movement in the shoe and you have more control)

As Marcus is flat footed I can report that I can only run in shoes without a insole bump.   This is one of them!  Flat arch friendly :-)

The inner sock design is made to be silky smooth inside.  I'd never run without socks but in principle the inside is comfortable enough to do so

This is a 130GBP, race oriented shoe.  It is flimsy and sculpted to be just right for the dedicated athelete who knows that a 220 gram shoe will help you fly along the trail.