Monday, March 19, 2018

Utopia by Bridget Christie

Subtitle:  Please Hurry

Given the Torrent of Lies and quite frankly Bullshit I have to try and listen past mostly from /He who cannot be Named/ and also British BREXIT   I cannot not recommend too highly that you quick tune into the last 3 remaining episodes of Utopia by British Standup Comedian Bridget Christie.

Tag Line: 
As civilization collapses, Bridget Christie embarks on a comic quest for her Shangri-La.

Goto the Homepage NOW!  You only have 5 days left to listen to episode 2!

I literally had to pause my BBC iPlayer Radio App to enable me to breathe I was laughing so much in episode 4 (17:00)

Cinnamon challenge Mike Parry

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday Sermon: A Hitchhikers Guide, Part 06

Arthur Dent  (Hexagonal Phase)

I'd first like to advertise that there is a new BBC adaptation of Douglas Adams' famous Hitchhiker;s Guide [trilogy], book 06 in fact  (sic).

This is the link to the Audio page

You are welcome.   Now instead of just thanking me I'd also ask you to watch the following short 10 minute YouTube video which Douglas Adams gave.

Douglas Adams: Radical Atheist

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Displayport to HDMI Conversion at 4K

Subtitle: Workstation connect multiple 4K HDMI Displays 

This article attempts to answer the question of How do I connect multiple 4K HDMI Screens to my computer.

For over 15 years Marcus has used a multiple display workstation. In previous times the Computer connected to each Computer Grade display over a Dual Link DVI interface

But in 2018 the professional grade displays and adapters use Displayport.

Just one thing though, Professional Grade Displays are expensive. Something like the Philips BDM4065UC/00 4K monitor retails at about 2K GBP. Ouch!

Wouldn't it be friendlier if you could use a Regular 4K Television and drive the HDMI input?  Sure, and I wrote about doing that here

The Problem

The issue is that if you want to drive multiple displays you will find out that your graphics Adapter only has 1 HDMI 4K port and the rest will be DisplayPort.   Because vendors like Gigabyte  think you will drive via that interface.

I'm testing a DisplayPort to 4K HDMI converter.   Yes, this way around, not the more trivial HDMI to Displayport.  To re-iterate, this is DisplayPort from your Graphics Adapter, entering the converter at 4K resolution and exiting on the HDMI interface at 4K resolution to a 4K Television or Monitor with a 4K HDMI interface.

 So really my Samsung TV is now full of 4 HDMI inputs, one is being driven from the Displayport to HDMI converter

You can't see much of the detail except that below the 4 port Ethernet is the Graphics adapter and one of the DisplayPorts feeds the converter and then to the screen


So the Nvidia card thinks it is driving DisplayPort at 4K

A pictures of the actual adapter.

Quality Test
Agata and Marcus took a 4K Movie, I mean something larger than 2Gigabytes in size and played it using VLC media player splitting the window between a Samsung 4K TV and my 4K Iiyama monitor.

Result.   Via the Displayport to HDMI interface the Samsung screen actually looked better than the native Displayport driven Iiyama.   I know!

I Want One!

Follow this link to order one for under 20GBP.  I know, just bonkers.

I can't believe it works so well

Active adapter enables you to connect a DisplayPort video output from your laptop, desktop, or tablet PC to HDMI-equiped displays, TVs, and projectors
Supports resolutions up to 3840×2160 (4k) Ultra-HD@60Hz. 1080p displays supported at 120Hz
VESA (DisplayPort) certified to ensure maximum compatibility and performance
Compliant with VESA Dual-Mode DisplayPort 1.2, High Bit Rate 2 (HBR2), and HDMI 2.0 standards
Compatible with the Plugable UGA-4KDP USB 3.0 DisplayPort graphics adapter
AMD Eyefinity compatible for 3+ displays
Supports 8-channel LPCM and HBR audio up to 192kHz sample rate
Complies with HDCP content protection

Requires no driver installation or external power supply

Modern powerful graphics cards have multiple DisplayPort outputs but typically 0 - 1 HDMI 4K Ports.

I've shown that you can use a DisplayPort, then a inexpensive Display to HDMI 4K active adapter to connect to a 4K TV with HDMI 2.0 ports

Using a 4K TV is a lot cheaper than buying an equivalently sized  (normally 40") Computer Grade Monitor.

(NB: It's tempting because 40" TV's become very hard to find, but anything larger for example 43" and I think this is too large to use as a Computer Monitor, especially if you stack multiple monitors together.  Really, go for 40" max)

So using this converter technique I can use multiple 4K TV's which in testing seemed to actually have a superior display to my actual 4K 40" Computer Grade Monitor.   

It is all good!

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Power Of Your Network

Subtitle:  Life's connections, illogical Captain

So Marcus and Agata did some Dog Sitting recently.  We posted our tale briefly on Facebook.

An old friend saw it and invited us to do some cat sitting

So we set off and installed ourself

We went out running and bumped into a Health Centre

We got chatting with the helpful receptionist Syliva

She mentioned that perhaps wowcher were doing a deal to have introductory membership for just 5 GBP

We joined wowcher  which is free and did all the paperwork and today we had our first Gym class.


What did we learn?

A long list of unrelated situations led us to this fantastic Gym.  To Marcus it emphasises the power of networking.  Of course in 2018 this should not just be limited to IRL  (in real life)  person to person communication, nor exclusively Internet based communication.

By Once removed communication I mean

- Person to Person
- Friend to Friend
- Internet Special Interest groups, like Google Communities
- Facebook or other Social Media

No man  (or woman) is or should be an island.

Once removed means something other than Google, an initial lead or special deal that you found via physical or electronic communication with another.   And of course helped along the way with Google, but not initiated by.

And so, we can't wait to get to the fancy Gym again tomorrow.  What a treat!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

What Did You Do on Pi Day

Introducing Pi 3B+

Raspberry Pi 3 B+ 

Subtitle:  Yes, that was Wednesday 03.14  March 14 2018

Wow and just wow!  A new slightly improved Raspberry Pi computer was announced for sale on Wednesday March 14 2018.

It is formally known and the Pi 3 B+, it replaces the Pi 3B  (i.e. without the +)

From the official product page

  • Broadcom BCM2837B0, Cortex-A53 (ARMv8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.4GHz
  • 2.4GHz and 5GHz IEEE 802.11.b/g/n/ac wireless LAN, Bluetooth 4.2, BLE
  • Gigabit Ethernet over USB 2.0 (maximum throughput 300 Mbps)
  • Extended 40-pin GPIO header
  • Full-size HDMI
  • 4 USB 2.0 ports
  • CSI camera port for connecting a Raspberry Pi camera
  • DSI display port for connecting a Raspberry Pi touchscreen display
  • 4-pole stereo output and composite video port
  • Micro SD port for loading your operating system and storing data
  • 5V/2.5A DC power input
  • Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) support (requires separate PoE HAT)


The new model is still lacking some very much asked for features, including

- More RAM memory
- A much faster CPU
- Proper Gigabit Ethernet  (not capped to 30 MB/sec)
- USB 3 ports

Still the B+ does advance the technology for those of us looking for something more capable than the 3B, notably

- 5Ghz Wireless including AC standard
- 30MB/s Ethernet vs previous 10MB/sec
- POE support (though may not be that useful to many)
- Marginally faster CPU

I am sure YouTube is likely to be absolutely jammed packed with exhaustive reviews soon.   But since the device still costs about 32 GBP  in the UK, the same price as the old one, call Marcus reckless, and extravagant but ...

You can order yours here

After watching this glitzy launch video, can you resist?


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Basic Rule of Management

No Chaos, Just Great Energy

Subtitle: I recognise the cut of your jib

I was always taught there was a certain minimal set of rules of etiquette, than even the most Dilbert-esq pointy haired boss would certainly follow

Hiring and Firing
As a Manager on your first day at work you will be there in person to greet your new Employee

As a Manager you will inform your employee first and directly that their employment is terminated and be there to usher them out on their last day

This was taught as Basic Courtesy 101, Basic Humanity 101 and Basic Management 101

NB: In times of Outsourcing where your direct Employee is in a distant land,  in person may be modified to video-call or at absolute worst telephone call.

He who cannot be Named
I still maintain an official news blackout regarding the individual I shall refer to as He who cannot be Named.

I will however comment that I can see from the way James Comey and Rex Tillerson have finished their last employment a basic rule has been broken

James Comey

(saw a report on Television)

YouTube: James Comey Fired   BBC

Rex Tillerson

(read a tweet)

Google: Rex Tillerson fired  Engadget

The End Shall Not justify Any Means

Whatever you think about your Manager, your Commander in Chief, your CEO,  their means to an End is important.

Perhaps in a specific one off time of life threatening crisis a corner may be cut, an exception made.   But if an out of line action, one without common courtesy becomes the norm, it very much underlines the character of the actor(s) involved.

In life it's never just about what you do,  it is also how.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

What a Bloody Saga

Subtitle: In Saga Motor Insurance We Do Not Trust

Saga is a Motor Insurer who specialise on  the older customer.  It's based on the valid assumption that aged people , well not too old, are not boy racers, and, are more liable to drive sensibly and have less accidents.

Marcus and Agata came back to the UK in 2017

We had 7 years plus proof of no accidents from our previous insurance company Baloise

We had a claim for Glass damage as a result of attempted theft

We are honest people looking to insure our vehicles in the UK, wishing to find a company that will take our good character, and driving history from Switzerland in the last 15 years

We took out a car Fully Comprehensive policy  with LVE who checked and then accepted our No Claims without issue. But they don't cover motorhomes and so we Google searched and found Saga.

We took out a policy with Saga which involved extensive form filling on the Internet, then some phone calls, after which Marcus paid an entire years policy in advance.

We asked the policy to start Dec 14th, and then left for an extended vacation.

Initial Woes
The existing Baloise Swiss insurance policy was in 4 languages including English. This was an initial point of confusion. Worked thru.

They then asked for proof that the old Insurance was terminated. I pointed out that the old Swiss Insurance plate was now invalid since  vehicle import and UK re-registration had been made.

The Swiss Insurance could of course not cover by definition a UK registration plate.

The Low and No Point
After countless phone calls Saga were unhappy about

- The No Claims Bonus
- The End of the Swiss Insurance Date
- The Fact that I supplied information on more than 1 sheet of paper

We just could not agree and the Saga representative just kept repeating the words back to me like some sort of Robot and refused to answer my questions.

I asked for a refund.

The Refund
Saga processed a refund but claimed they had insured me from December 14th whilst at the same time saying they could not insure me because the End of the Swiss Insurance was not verified.

At the time of their initial un-hapiness I told them that our Motorhome was in a locked compound, off road, did not require any Insurance (at all) from them until this matter was resolved.

So they charged for that insurance without any No Claims bonus, ignored my Suspension until resolution request, oh and then slapped on an Administration fee.  Also this occurred over Christmas 2017 and they did not reply within their stated period of the first email query.

Not fair Saga!

Who Was Good?
After a recommendation from a neighbour I called NFU (National Farmers Union) Insurance.  They took all the same proofs that I sent Saga and arranged insurance immediately.

They were actually over 25% cheaper than Saga to insure the same vehicle, namely a Dethlefss Motorhome.

Also NFU dont have any initial admin charges or a resignation fee like the 50 GBP that Saga ask for.

I know.  So NFU Insurance is a recommended++, and Saga, you indeed live upto your name:  What a Bloody Saga.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Staying Shapely

I will never forget the moment that I went to a multi performer concert and was confused why the warm up act to the Peter Gabriel live show was playing peter gabriel music.

Why is that old guy playing his songs, when Gabriel comes onto the stage he will be furious!

And then I realised the truth,  the egg shaped man playing was Peter Gabriel.  

Ever since that moment I have had added respect for celebrities and musicians who have kept in shape despite their advancing years.

Captain Kirk  Willam Shatner 86

I remember watching this in 1967 and Captain Kirk looked pretty good to me.

But even in this 6 year old picture shown above the puddings have indeed come to stay

The Sweet

A great song I danced to in 1978 here

But now 40 years later things have gotten a little heavy

Peter Gabriel 68

Peter Gabriel live in 1978

And today, as above, you all know the score.

We are still not worthy
On my hitlist for still in decade defying shape I have left entertainers like

Madonna   59

Madonna 4 minutes ( she was 50)

Madonna at 59.  Just incredible

Depeche Mode: Dave Gahan  55

Enjoy the silence  (at 52)  Incredible.

Alison Moyet  56

Don't go at 56

So to all the oldies that are keeping in shape.  I salute you.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

In the Eighties

The Musical story of 1985

Did your parents or older friends tell you that the 80's was the time of the best Music, the Best parties, the Best raves, and well everything?

Perhaps you are a slightly older reader and can confirm :-)

Regardless, please watch an enjoy an incredible 55 minutes of 80's reflection.  Remind me,  what did the TDF mix stand for again?


Sunday Sermon: This House Believes We cannot Thrive Without Religion

David Silverman: Against

First, let me say that I do prefer the Oxford Union debates to those of the rival Cambridge Union.  That having been said both channels are an extremely good listen and I have referenced them earlier.

That having been said the video that I am asking you to watch closely is one of 6 , 3 proposing and 3 against.

The Motion: This House Believes We cannot Thrive Without Religion.

To me I would ideally ask you to view all 6 of the videos regarding this lecture.   In some you will find

- Good but misguided people
- People giving God  (their God obviously) credit for the actions of 'their faithful'
- A sea of non sequitur   (does not follow) arguments
- Good humour
- Delusion
- Above all, people talking with faith and conviction; trying to persuade by force of their aimable character.

But enough about the Proposers :-)

I would posit that the proposers pale into total and utter insignificance when you view and listen to the views of the esteemed David Silverman.

I think he made his defense well, but please watch and listen most carefully to the video and you the reader be the judge.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Auctions: Where People Buy Just Anything

NCIX Bankruptcy Auction

Marcus does follow the exploits of the Canadian Vlogger Linus Sebastian .   The content that he produces at Linux Tech Tips is the sort of content that I might aspire to if I was in this marketplace.  Do please check it out.

This week Linus visited his old company NCIX which has declared bankruptcy and had exactly the same bewildering experience that Marcus and Agata have had when they visit auctions in the UK recently.

Some people seem to buy any old crap

I wrote about it  here and later here

Evening up the Odds with Unix, Lynx and Grep :-)
Since Marcus and Agata are now of distinctly modest means we thought, how can we use our brains to sift thru the chaotic web presentation from some our our Auction haunts.

Some Unix Shell and Powershell coding later
cat ?? | cut -c10-  | grep -vi incomplete | grep -vi smashed | grep -vi salvage | grep -vi spares | sed s'/^[0-9]* X .*//'g  | sed s'/QTY OF //'g | sed s'/ITEMS TO INCLUDE //'g | sort -u

We now have a way to sift thru programmatically items and lists more automatically so we can find if there is anything interesting.

So now

We can instantly see what is totally and utterly boring

Or instantly search for something we might actually need

Of Course
The main issue which cannot be overcome is the seeming lemming like propensity of people to buy regardless of 

- the total price based on the commission and buyers fee  (can be as high as 50%)
- buying without inspection an item very likely to be defective
- At prices often exceeding retail
- Without any warranty

As Linus commented, forget the computer business, we need to get into the Auction business.  Doh!

Friday, March 09, 2018

The Price of Education

Marcus has recently investigated and started some courses, well electronically at Yale University.

When I say started, this example is really a self study course but this is from a high quality source, some would say one of the best

Example: Philosophy

Shelly Kagan teaches about Death from a philosophical perspective.

You can download the Diagrams, MP3 audio of each lecture, and even a video recording of each lecture in low or high quality format   (about 500MB per lecture).

What is going On?

This is a top quality class, presented for free, from a world famous establishment.  How come?

- You can view/attend the class but you don't receive any certificate, take any exams,  or have any interaction

- This is a one way study class,  so if you run up against an obstacle you are on your own.
- Why is Yale doing this you might ask?
- Doesn't it devalue and short-circuit its paid, and very high priced University curriculum?
- Well yes, to an extent it does, but Yale is reacting in part to the pressure of the free economy.    Examples include Coursera and Khan Academy

The Uncomfortable Crossroads

Employers still value qualifications from a narrow band of country specific,  or perhaps European specific sources.   These are bonded to the traditional Government or parallel private school systems of each country.

Whilst there is now a wealth of free, or small fee services their qualifications don't count as a starting point.

However perversely, if you are already an employee your employer might actually consider them  (low cost!  and study anytime e.g at home on your own time) to improve your effectiveness

Ready Player One
In the near future novel by Ernest Cline technology has progressed and society has depressed to the point that the state education system no longer functions.   Students the world over are encouraged to participate, learn and educate via a virtual world called the OASIS  Is this where we are headed?

A Rock and a Hard Place (Teacher)

Teaching at most age levels is a difficult gig.  I speak having taught in both primary school environments  (age 6 - 12)  and at University  (much better I can assure you).  But the current Education system is creaking.  And why?

- Teachers salaries are not exactly stellar

- Some countries (can you guess) may want teachers to do other things ... like carry guns
- Teachers workloads, at least in the UK are pretty overloaded
- Supplemental teaching income, well it's still there, but machine marking, free environments like Coursera and Khan are trending their additional income to zero
- Like many Internet free resources, if you are established, you can use and perhaps participate and benefit somewhat.  But if you are an entry level teacher,  now you sometimes compete against free.  
- Teaching is eminently outsource-able, and thus a difficult sell to any student even if this is their passion in the first world.   (Because we can ship this to a cheaper cost territory which you can't compete with)
- For the University student, it's not exactly rosy either.   Over a 3 year+ course in the UK you build up a huge debt which you need to repay.  In the UK if you subsequently default on this debt, then the taxpayer gets to pay. Hmm.

To Close

So my advice to officialdom is to consider what a future workable Digital Classroom model you need to implement.  And figure out a way to actually pay local teachers and understand if full time teachers will and should exist in the near future.

Meanwhile,  if you are of a certain age, with Digital skills, you know, that right now, you have access to an almost infinite Education resource, and it's free.  Yep, absolutely bonkers.

Example #2: Apple Electronics

(I have learnt so much from Louis and other technical YouTube channels.   To me,  astonishing yet rather scary at the same time)