Sunday, May 31, 2009

Working up an appetite for Lunch

There is one sure way to be able to enjoy a large meal and a spot of wine without putting on an weight... exercise.

So this Sunday morning Agata and Marcus decided to cycle down to Lausanne, then continue towards Vevey crossing into France and arriving a Evian. From there we continued eastwards until we got to Geneva and then took the lake road back via Nyon and home to Lausanne. In other words .... we just finished

And to summarise the result, we are now back home near Epalinges, sipping some rather ample glasses of wine and smiling smugly to ourselves having successfully cycled the 180Km race in about 6 hours, plus the extra 15Km or so to get there and back.

Here is Marcus's gear block reassembled. In a lucky check yesterday I found that the whole block could move horizontally by almost 1 centimetre! After removal we found the nut holding the block onto the axle has undone and so too had the locking sprocket end, meaning gear cogs were so lose they could actually spin backwards. All was fixed before Sunday and a little Saturday test cycle we declared all was good for Sunday.

Here is the 10 year old and counting Condor racing cycle. This was due for pensioning 2007 but I hung on to it even in 2008 for a Bike with new Shimano Dura Ace componentry. Unfortunately I am still waiting.

We arrived late i.e. 6.30 am meaning we were behind a 30minute starting queue. So we "only" started at about 07.00am

Marcus at the second refreshment stop in the forest. I've reluctantly put on the Cyclotour jersey since I read it was compulsory meaning I had to put some thermal arm protectors on. Why are cycling jerseys short sleeved anyway?

Agata at the Nyon refreshments stop

Marcus says, smile we have finished and look at my lovely teeth.

The smile that says the torture, er I mean exercise is finished for 2009

One of the disabled cyclists and his machine. Audi were sponsoring that team: but perhaps better tyre and wheel design is necessary. I saw 2 punctures across 4 machines.

Agata: Number 1 as usual

The post race, free Pasta queue was just too long.

We carried those Defi cards with us for all those hours so that we can get our Super-Defi stamp for this event.

Agata offers some post race prayers hoping she will magically be transported from race finish to home without any further cycling (i.e. all the way uphill ).

The statistics
Marcus's bike: 10 years old and creaking
Marcus's chain fell off 0 times: attributable to the Saturday repairs carried out
180Km race cycled in 6 hours
Marcus weight lost 3.0 Kg (I can replace this with Wine right?)
Marcus drank 750ml orange juice, 500ml of Isotonic juice
Marcus ate lots of Gruyere cheese plus 3 Energy bars

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Dangers of New

Ah marketing! We are searching for a new GPS since our Garmin V is now considered an antique (offers anybody). Since I decided that car GPS units are freely available I thought just select a mid price model from our local computer shop. It was the Navigon 7210. It was marked as New (to their store) so I naturally assumed it was a relatively new model and therefore current.

So after not much further very intensive Google research I was just about to press the order button when I noticed a Navigon 7310 for not much more.

What had happened? Well sure, this product was indeed New to their Webstore, but actually probably on the way out in the marketplace.

So what does this tell me?

  • The agenda of the store selling the item may not be quite inline with that of the customer

  • In this case they are advertising a New product (to them) but actually relatively old in the marketplace. Maybe they have it cheap, or it's a sales push from the manufacturer to offload these goods cheap before discontinuing them. Who really knows the mind of either

  • Research is really important, even for consumer devices

  • The advice of your tech savy (in this case GPS nerd friend) would have been useful. This used to be me, but I dropped the ball on GPS several years ago.

Today (unlike in 2000 say) the Internet and Google and Youtube in particular makes it so easy to find product reviews and comparisons, that you would be a bit of a muppet not do just plod out to town and go for an Impulse buy.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Assimilated by le Bourg

We are just back from a pleasant evening at the Bourg Lausanne

After a hurry up SMS from Rashida we made the journey south from home to the big Lausanne City centre in record time and with only 1 minute to spare took our places at the front to see a promising artiste Don Pinguino.

Despite my best efforts Agata grabbed the faithful Panasonic camera and managed to record a record breaking 2GB of video and photographs in less than an hour. So here are some of the edited down results

Don Pinguino's 15 minutes of fame

She played for 15 minutes without sheet music

Not so classical but classy
In the first number of the set I was fascinated to hear a song about the Taliban. Later Agata managed to translate this chorus line to "Tout en Bien". I think this says it all about my current level of French.

From cliche song to singing whilst performing a handstand (sic)

The next act was not photographed for reasons of him being so boring

Sensual songs with a large dose of humor

Jose gives us that all important signature so that post fame we'll definitely be in the money

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Show me the Money

To all the Americans out there:

Here is an interesting feelgood Slideshow detailing the biggest debtor nations of the world as expressed by

External Debt Per Person in that country

e.g In the USA it is claimed that each American man, woman or child owes $44,358 to somebody not in the USA.

Have a look at the survey

The Worlds Biggest Debtor Nations

The clear idea is to show Americas that whilst their debts are high, well most other countries are still higher!

I did check Switzerland and unfortunately the figures for Switzerland looked accurate. Oh woe. My questions therefore are

  • Switzerland - you should be ashamed of yourselves
  • UK (Britain) - just what were you thinking?

and most obviously then, with all these big named nations owing so much money:

Just who has all the money?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Westmere and Nehalem-EX server planning

So Intel has now gone public with its new CPU designs for 2009 / 2010.

Which processor will you be choosing?


Intel Nethalem-EX press release

Intel Nehalem-EX powerpoint


Intel Westmere 32nm Family

For a domestic environment I would consider it likely that Nethalem-EX processors will sit on noisy multi-fan servers or proprietary form factor motherboards. So for reasons of noise I have a feeling my next server will be a more modest Westmere clad one.

When I consider that the oldest working computer in the house is a Z-80 with about 7000 transistors, and that a Nethalem-EX has about 2.3 Billion transistors, well that is some rate of progress in just a few decades.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Netbooks killed the OQO star

You cannot imagine the countless hours I have spent on eBay looking for a reasonably priced OQO 1 and then OQO 2 miniature PC.

The first OQO 1 shipped in late 2004 and the company was somewhat famous if not infamous for having demoed, talked and otherwise advertised its product over 1 year before actual delivery.

As the owner of several pocket sized PC's from the DOS based Mitac 1600A to the 486 Gateway Handbook (onto which I squeezed OS/2 Warp) to the Sony Vaio C1X (windows 2K) I felt the time was right to add another overpriced and underperforming laptop to my technology stable.

But at the shockingly high price of all OQO hardware I would have been happy to have taken a rich kid's cast off. But it was not to be! Fellow eBayers seemed blissfully un-aware that any OQO sized device would come with massive usability compromises and always overbid.

And then on May 14th 2009 I heard the tragic news that OQO had bitten the dust.

I am guessing that their overpriced products now had some real competition from the still larger screen, faster and more capable Netbooks, which in 2009 have been springing up everywhere. Heck, a Netbook is now so cheap that if I accidentally went on vacation without a computer I might buy a Netbook as a temporary holiday laptop that I could "give away" to a friend on my return.

The logical thing to do now of course is not to take the plunge on a late model OQO 2 micro PC even if it's somehow magically available "cheap" on eBay. With no more production, support or replacement parts it would be a risky computer purchase especially so for a carry everywhere PC. I keep saying to myself "Be strong".

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Choosing a GigaBit switch

There was certainly a moment of silence and in retrospect sadness when our Dlink DGS1008 failed recently and went on its way to Silicon Heaven. I think she was tired of shipping the multiple daily Tera-Bytes (not Bits) of data around our principle home Gigabit Network and felt it was time for a permanent rest.

Her demise does have a happy ending ... the chance to step up a level. Whilst our apartment is certainly not yet using 10Gb Ethernet several of our computers have multiple Gigabit Ethernet ports capable of trunking. And so we eventually settled on this sexy number:

What are the great features you should know about?

  • Managed: Means the Switch has an IP address and an associated Web Gui. You can logon to it and configure all the various features

  • Trunking allows you to assign physical links to one logical link (trunk) that functions as a single, higherspeed link providing dramatically increased bandwidth. This capability applies to connections between backbone devices as well as to connections in other network areas where traffic bottlenecks exist.

  • VLANs allow you to create groups of like minded machines that may only talk to others on the same VLAN even if their logical IP addresses are on the same subnet. This can help increase security

  • Statistics allow you to monitor what traffic is really passing around your Switch and maybe consider implementing Trunking or other speed increasing mechanisms to reduce bottlenecks

  • LLDP: Link Level Discovery Protocol allows devices on the network to share information about themselves for the reasons of simplified troubleshooting, enhanced network management, and maintaining an accurate network topology

  • Fanless: Means you can work next to it without feeling like you are sitting in a machine room
So all in all money well spent and the only slight embarassment is that due to size limitations of our IKEA furniture we had to go for the 8 port and not the 24 port model.

The Configuration manual is here

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Birthday week in review

As middle age approaches the occasion of ones Birthday often changes from excitement to a cold sweat.

For my part I try to take this to new levels of disinterest by actively not knowing my exact age. I am sure it is 30 or so, more than that might require some investigation. But for sure, Agata had organised a whole birthday week in Warsaw Poland. And here is this glorious week in review:

Our local exhibition and events complex is now complete. But we have not seen any famous bands performing there just yet.

This Old computer equipment just has to go

My teeth are repaired, and it was so painless and fast!

Boarding the Metro to go shopping

Marcus and Agata get some new boots!

We went shopping

Always keep an emergency Sangria bottle at home

The ancient hard disk collection, off to Silicon Heaven

Organising 40 year old rolls of film for scanning

An old traditional motor

Making way for the new Generation of Warsaw motor

Waiting for those Angels and Daemons

The local churches seem to be placed in all the best spots

Your birthday celebration is just here

Wine, women and dessert

Even Marcus is Smiling!

Moet Man

The Salomon shop has been found

Agata Caught in the Act

Catching the midnight last metro home

Dental Heaven

I am really quite excited to tell you that if you look at the above photograph ... you will see .... well some really healthy looking teeth!

Having dental work done in Poland has completely transformed my view of the Dentist, a profession that had so long filled my mind with fear and trepidation. Now I actually look forward to visiting our local Warsaw dentist. Here are just some of the reasons:

  • Reasonable prices and great availability. We are talking weeks not months.

  • The private dentist system is full of young competent English speaking dentists who act very professionally.

  • In the 3 principle areas that I have used them for, namely: Checkup and subsquent dental work e.g. new fillings, Replacement of Old fillings, Cleaning and flouride treatments. Well they have been truely excellent.

On this my Birthday week Agata organised not one but 2 appointments.

It is a significant story because: 20 years ago I was then lucky to escape my then second family dentist with some white composite fillings on my central front teeth. Lucky?, Well because the first family dentist had died (of old age) and he was a "drill and fill them" man. By this I mean filling with metal coloured dental amalgam! This newer dentist however contradicted my fathers amalgam suggestion, saying that "for your son to have some chance in future life, I'd suggest some white not metal coloured fillings".

But pretty quickly these white fillings began to discolour and for some years now whenever I smiled you can see these stained areas on my front teeth.

My Polish dentist has been recommending their removal and replacement several times now. So on this Birthday week I agreed for him to go ahead. What were the results?

  • Everything went so smoothly, painlessly and quickly I feel like a total muppet for not having this done earlier!
  • There was no pain
  • It took only 40 minutes or so to remove the old fillings and a short time to put the new ones in.

To repeat, I am totally astonished at how painless and quick this procedure was and now my front teeth are absent of all blemishes! It is absolutely fantastic.

And then on the second appointment Agata arranged some dental cleaning. Don't page down if laughing uncontrollably is going to be a problem for you

30 minutes in and I've had some Ultrasonic Cleaning, still smiling

Just before the sand cleaning, and quite the funniest photograph I have ever had taken of me. I am still smiling!

So the moral of this story is, when you find a good dentist, regular visits to them are actually fun and not a pain. In Poland, there is the added bonus that the cost will not burn a hole in your pocket either.