Monday, May 26, 2008

Wabash the destroyer

Restoring any antique product is never easy from Books to Houses, to Cars or in my case Computers.

This weekend the plan was to image over 100 of my old 5.25" diskettes mainly from the 1980's DOS era using 3 computer systems. On Sunday morning I had 4 working 5.25" floppy drives and by nightfall this had been reduced to 1.

The shameful culprit: The Wabash floppy disk

On Windows Vista I use the excellent EMT4WIN to Image

On Cromemco Cromix I am using ftar -cuv (UNIX format) and -cv (Cromix format)

On DOS I use Dave Dunfield's Image Disk

In all three cases here is a quick guide on howto ruin temporarily or even permanently your previously 100% working floppy diskette drive

  • Remove Wabash diskette (circa 1980-1985) from sleeve

  • Inspect for signs of damage - no, all looks good. No rust spots or blemishes

  • Insert into floppy drive, close door

  • Start imaging program and drive spins up

  • Horrible screeching sound like nails on a blackboard follows

  • Your diskette drive stops working and even after a lot of cleaning may never recover. Examing the diskette often now reveals a track or two where all oxide has disappeared (presumably stuck on heads of your diskette drive) and diskette now has a see thru track

In fact after over an hour of cleaning 3 out of 4 floppy drives now don't work at all, so my practical advise is, however important the data on that old Wabash floppy is, do not be tempted to read it. Just throw that diskette away.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

We survived 180Km journee Lausannoise

All's well that ends well and as we sipp some celeration wine and watch the latest episode of Doctor Who we reflect on both the pain and pleasure on the 180Km 2008 Journee Lausannoise Du Velo

Actually it's supposed to be a 160Km route but we added to this by cycling up the steep hills from home to get to the start and then by getting lost en route (sorry about cycling across that Swiss runway, but there did not seem to be anything coming).

Here is the overall route:

The event started off as usual with a consumately large amount of planning. Both Agata and I are fair weather cyclists and if it was going to rain we'd rather stay in bed. So for 7 days prior we've been studying the weather forecasts which clearly said some rain at from Saturday 15:00 onwards. With this in mind we got up at the crack of dawn and headed over to Chalet a Gobet for 07:00

Imagine our suprise as; whilst picking up our race numbers rain began to start. We were in a state of shock that the Swiss meteo could possibly have been wrong. About 2 hours of constant cycling in the rain later, we knew that the meteo had been very wrong and we thought we might shorten the journey to alternative 100 or even 50km events.

But not wanting to admit defeat we plodded on and the weather eased up just a little. Almost exactly 8 hours later (yes an average of 20Km/hour no less) we rolled up at the finish, sun shining. (Contrary to the forecast which if you will recall had promised the start of rain).

The learning points from our day out were possibly:
  • Sometimes the Swiss Meteo is wrong - we are shocked

  • Guess where rain spray goes if you cycle with a seat with an ergonomic hole in the middle. The answer is not nice

  • When packing he rucksac do not include the kitchen sink next time, it is heavy

  • the iPhone proved to be a suitable camera

  • Our bicycles are now terribly dirty and we realise we have no butler to clean them. This is awkward

  • Can Marcus really be bothered to wait for electronic Shimano 2009 Dura-Ace. The current 1998 bicycle front and rear derailleurs are on their last legs.

Some photographs

Smiling despite a rainy start - a good sign

The first rest stop, and what a selection of cheese, chocolate and more!

Please relieve yourself in designated areas only thank you

Okay which idiot designed this seat with a flipping great hole in the middle

Notice how well black hides the fact that Marcus is soaking wet

The top refreshements and halfway point was all the way up Mont Vully - true sadism on the part of the organisers
Old Faithful, 1998, Campag Record from Condor Cycles, but now on last legs

Agata with our prizes

Wait a minute, it is supposed to be raining now, we have just finished :-(

Towels, always a good thing

If you really want an oily tan, cycle in the rain for 8 hours on a freshly oiled bike

To sum it up. It was worth it. We ache all over. We finished. Agata was one of only 3 women who did the 160Km event. Fantabulous.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Birthday Celebrations

You know, I so much wanted to write a happy article about a splendid birthday, with an optimistic thirty four years (or so) of smiling, with all the presents received and the numerous card and well wishes from friends and family.

But it was not to be, this flu has hit us hard and the sounds residing inside our apartment have only been sniffling, coughing and grumping. Champagne corks have been distinctly absent.

So as I thought what could I positively talk about. And then I thought about the blue IKEA shopping bag. I'd call it a modern miracle and as an Engineer I regard it as a design classic.

What can I say ...

  • Popular from tramps to the hoy-poloy
  • A particular favourite for carrying laundry or as a replacement for supermarket plastic carrier bags
  • Absolutely indestructable
  • Costs less than 1 English Pound
  • Now available in original and new smaller sizes

So if it's your birthday and somebody wraps up your present in a Blue IKEA shopping bag, or even if the present is the bag, be assured that the bag will be one of the longest lasting, hardest wearing presents you will ever own.

Enough said.

Monday, May 19, 2008

An audience with tom and jeanette

Despite languishing now in the study at home with an unhelathy bout of British flu I am thrilled to report that Jeanette and Tom visited us this weekend all he way from lovely Warwick, England.

Jeanette arrives in Lausanne, landlords rejoice

The focus of the weekend was definitely a catchup and so the majority of time was spent discussing friends and famalies. We did however get some time to show off our lovely Lausanne.

On Friday night we managed to nip out to our local Pizzeria which has laid unsampled for over 2 years. As we walked slowly out, large portions inside us we noticed that the locals had errected a Wicker Man

Something to put those foreigners in no doubt

On Saturday, we thought in view of our aboarted attempt to climb Rochers de Naye with Kang junior we would have another go. Of course the snow would have gone so it would be easy right?

Before we started the rain began

Having spent last weekend in rainy spain we now faced rainy Vaud, still best foot forward

Unbelievably about 200 metres (vertically) from the summit we had to turn back. It turned out to be a wise decision since the train down had been cancelled and had we tried to scale the last part of the path, now covered in snow, we would have had to climb back down. Too risky!
Obviously on the way home we popped into Montreux to admire the statue of Freddy Mercury

On Sunday we pootled over to the Retro 2008 TCS meeting in Cosssonay where classic cars were on display both statically and driving around the tiny cicuit.

The full range of photos are available here

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The rain in spain

As part of our exercise plan we decided to try an improve our running performance by attending a mini break running holiday. After a lot of web surfing and allowing for restrictions of the swiss May holidays, easyjet destinations and finite costs we selected Running in the Sun - Running Holidays

Getting There

Our journey to Moraira Spain began innocently enough with a 5am start to Geneva airport.
Some Last minute packing
To our dismay after scooting through immigration and bag scan we soon found out we were not going anywhere in a hurry

So it was back thru immigration to find the Priority Pass lounge where a mountain of Croissants, Coffee and alcohol welcomed us.
En route we were amused to find the Smokers Lounge in the middle of a building site

So after 5 hours of delay, and then 2 hours of flight we finally arrived at Alicante airport. We went to Record rentacar and did indeed pickup a new (245 Km on the clock !) Smart Passion, which we nicknamed the Bee
The initial views were good and did not include rain (or sun for that matter)

We then had a 100Km drive to Moraira which should have been straightforward. Except that torrential rain set in!

And then things got even more desperate as it started hailing heavily. Our Bee was being attacked so strongly by the ice barbed hail that we ended up sheltering under a motorway bridge and we were soon joined by a cluster of other motorists all of whom were either to astonished or scared to continue driving.

We arrive Moraira about 16.00 and we knew we had time for our first race, a 10Km local run complete we were assured with cheering crowds, prizes and probably a T shirt.

So there was just time to unpack our bags in our new apartment

Then Agata and I, and Paul our personal trainer (and family owner of the whole run in the sun enterprise) set off in earnest to the race. Some 30 minutes later ... catastrophe ... The race has been cancelled and without any warning.

So instead we had a welcome 10Km or so run along the seafront during which time it did not actually rain! There's no justice eh.

Meanwhile one of the other resident guests in our Apartment had stayed put whilst we rushed off to the aborted run

Sunday Interval Training

We spend Sunday morning doing Interval training a totally new concept to Marcus. In a nutshell you measure a route and run that route at a particular pace. At the end of each run (ours was about .6Km) you rest for (say) 90 seconds, then repeat the route again. Er clearly a circular route is preferable here. You repeat this sequence until you find it impossible to complete the route at the nominated pace. To determine the pace use ....

The McMillan Calculator

Paul introduced us to the amazing McMillan Running Calculator. If you put in your best 10K or higher distance time it seems to be able to predict almost exactly your run times at any distance. It also produces suggestions for timing of speed workouts and stamina workouts.

Exploring Moraira

After all that running the appetite had been generated and we spent the afternoon exploring the coast and town of Moraira

Giant Cactus

Sunday - Ceroc Dancing

Paul and family invited us and the other guests to participate in some Ceroc Dancing. Actually, technically this is not Ceroc, a trademarked dancing class, but something with almost identical dance steps called something totally different!

Marcus had a good time and Agata had an excellent time

Monday - Fartlek Training

We did about 12Km of Fartlek running. Essentially this is a Swedish running program designed to increase your peak running speads. This is done since the exercise is mainly aerobic (and not anaerobic) in nature.

We managed a series of sprints followed by rests until we were all rather tired.

Monday - Yoga

The last exercise of the day was to attend a Yoga class (in English) taken by a great lady called Sue. The class was not that strenuous but Sue emphasied the importance of correct posture and exactly when we were doing what we were doing. She encouraged us to ask questions and this made it really informative.

Monday - Valencia

After Yoga we decided to drive the 100Km under Bee power to Valencia. Bee managed 120km on the motorway despite the hills, that's really impressive.

Some arts students painting

Ornate works

The celebrated Art and Science Museums

Yes, a shop selling precious items but only for Christians

That twonk Deepak Chopra, I think he's stalking me

In a tapas bar consulting the map

Old town, central square

A nice and empty street

Due to our tourist map being too small we had no idea how to get out of Valencia. 2 iphones and no GPS did not help the situation. So after over 45 minutes of driving, mostly in the wrong direction it was a pleasure to find signs to the Motorway. And on the way out we saw a Decathlon sign and therefore it was time to stop and visit our favourite sports store.

Tuesday - Return to work

We got up at 5am again (this is becoming a habit) and rushed around to get ready for the 100Km drive back to Alicante.

Thanks to the wonders of Easyjet we were back in beautiful and dry Switzerland before noon.

A tiny Summary review of our run in the sun dot com holiday

We had an excellent holiday in Spain despite the average and thoroughly wet weather. The provided accomodation was very homely and the other guests we met there were very friendly.

We only had three days of holiday but during that time Paul Fletcher introduced us to the values of Interval training and Fartlek traing and will be providing us with an individual training plan. Aside from the running we also had time to explore the local area including Valencia and put in an impromtu dancing class. This was not a cheap holiday but very enjoyable.