Monday, August 30, 2010

FIFO: First in First Out

There were mixed emotions this morning when whilst hurrying to put on my Kalenji running trousers I heard a distinct ripping sound. Yes, after about 2 years of pretty continuous usage one of my 3 pairs of long distance running trousers has finally expired.

Based on our principles of moderation I am now allowed to buy another pair of trousers or equivalent. I've tried other longs but so far the Decath(lon-gs) have been great because

  • Unlike SKINS trousers they have a waist cord meaning they can be secured above the hips i..e they don't slide down over the course of a run

  • They are based on compression technology, which over a long run keeps your legs fresher

  • On the back and under the crotch are some meshed areas for breathability

  • Since they come from Decathlon you can go in, try them on and they don't cost a fortune

  • Possibly the only competitors would be Raid-Lite trousers but the sizing is difficult, there are close to no retail distributors and the price, well it is high.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Get Well Hitch

2010 Splendid Vevey Triathlon

We have just arrived back in Lausanne after a very enjoyable and good natured 2010 Vevey Triathlon. Next up, our lentil and Wine celebration lunch. Delicious.

Transition setup

Race report: Well we both had an absolutely splendid time. The action began at about 06:45 Sunday morning when I got out bed, ready to be out the door cycling by 07.30. Since our lovely Audi can only accommodate 1 bicycle we decided that I would cycle to Vevey and Agata would come in the car with her bike and our 2 rucksacks including our wetsuits etc.

The plan worked well and we met up at the last minute ticket counter. After parting with 110 CHF (about 110 USD!!) including 30 CHF late sign up surcharge we headed over to Transition. Unlike last week there were no complications and soon we were ready to head over to the Swim Start.

Vevey is slightly unusual in that the Swim starts in one place and you get out in another. So I had to walk barefoot along the road for nearly a Km. My delicate feet did really not enjoy that. I should have brought a pair of old socks that I could have discarded . Hmm. Anyway, Agata started at 09.30.

It was interesting to see that 90% plus of the female swimmers swam to the left of the buoys, whereas we had been told to swim to the right of them. So when I started in 09.40 I was distressed to find 90% of the men did the same thing. Just Marcus and a few others took what we thought was the slightly longer and correct course. Anyway..

The bike started off well, A big hill to start and I overtook at least 50 people and was only over took by 1 person on the climb. On the descent they all caught me up. I have no idea how those triathlon bikes go so fast! And with my new lightweight Mavic wheels too.

About 15Km into the Bike my seat started wobbling violently and there was the sound of loose something on the bike. I had to slow right down as I realised my seat was about to fall off! I managed to get back to transition seat included, and the slower speed meant the last 5Km of running was truly a piece of cake.

I finished therefore in fantastic mood, not at all tired which is just as well since I would shortly have to cycle 20Km back home, including the last bit of 600 metres or so climb from lake to home. I just had time to run and get the Panasonic LX3 camera and get back to the finish to see Agata arriving. Brilliant

Video Diary: Marcus Finishes

Video Diary: Agata Finishes

Emergency cycle repair (post race). Thankfully the rear bolt did not fall off during the race and after some Allen keying all is well again.

Agata's faithful Ribble cycle complete the course without problem

Marcus discusses the race triumphs with his race neighbour

Marcus prepares his music for the cycle home

Princess bicycle rests on its way home

Agata Triathlon Time 01:42
Marcus Triathlon Time: 01:30
Course: 750m Swim, 30Km Bike, 5Km Run
Marcus Course: 20Km Bike, 750m Swim, 30Km Bike, 5Km Run, 20Km Bike
Marcus Drank: 600 ml water with SIS PSP22
Marcus Ate: 1 Nestle Powerbar Peformance Energize (219 calories) + 2x SIS Go gels (176 calories)
Marcus lost 1.4Kg after the event

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Honda Sports Cars: A disappearing breed

Ah Honda: The Power of Dreams.

What Honda are unconsciously refering to is that in the near future you will only be dreaming of [past] Honda sports cars. Since they are making strenuous efforts to stop producing any real sports cars .. today

Honda Civic CRX VTEC (rest in peace 1992)

Honda Integra Type R (rest in peace 2001)

Honda NSX (rest in peace 2005 )

Honda S2000 (rest in peace 2009 )

Honda NSX gen2 (rest in peace before getting to production )

Honda Civic Type R (rest in peace 2011)

But maybe this is the evolutionary status quo. I mean the outgoing cars might have finely tuned engines, but modern components like Independent Suspension, Dual Clutch Gearboxes and Four Wheel Drive were sadly missing. They were just not keeping pace with the times were they?

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Slowest Computer I have every Built

Long suffering Agata would surely concur that if any of the multiple computers in the house is sick then Marcus is not so happy.

But today I'm relating to a future birth, the build of the new Master Server. I had hoped to report of a successfully built server by now, instead this is a progress report of what (in Audi marketing terms) is the slowest server I've ever built.

As an aside I'd like to comment that the existing server has lasted 3 long years without CPU or memory upgrade and that is a long time in computer years.

A real confusion so far has come from

Finding a Cooler that will fit with the Xeon X5660 CPU's sitting on the Supermicro X8DTH-6F motherboard

Initially I had ordered 2, Zalman CNPS 10X extreme coolers. The cost was over 200 CHF (that's about 200 USD or 125 GBPounds)

After 2 weeks of waiting I opened the top of one of the cooler boxes and extracted a black plastic mount. It did not fit on the motherboard! For CPU1 capacitors obstructed the mount, for CPU2 the PCI-E slot obstructed.

I tried to contact Digitec to return the coolers. They initially said that since I had used the coolers there could be no refund.

I pointed out that I had only opened one of the packages and only taken out the bracket (and not even the cooler itself), so surely at least one of the coolers should be fully refunded.

Apparently not, the coolers were returned to Digitec and my 90CHF total refund has yet to arrive.

Meanwhile I checked why 2 other Digitec orders had taken over 2 weeks to not arrive. Seems a component they had claimed in stock went out of stock and they don't partially deliver. So I have had to break the order (at possible extra cost!) into 2 or more parts.

Nervously then and from I ordered a Noctua NH-U12DX 1366. This was not exactly drama-less because the website had pasted the text for the Noctua Intel i7 cooler (i.e. not the Xeon one) so it appeared I was about to order the wrong product.

What is the difference? Well a Xeon Motherboard comes complete with a metal plate stuck on the back of the motherboard with threaded holes coming up on the component side. It is not a "push fit" as with some other coolers, it is a screw fit to the pre-existing plate.

I am glad to report from the photographs below, it is looking good so far

So next, I have to wait for a 1KW power supply to arrive and then: we can crank this old girl up and she if she springs into life.

I really hope to complete the build within the next month, or Marcus as they say will start to get most grumpy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Time in the Village

You know you are working in the wonderful and beautiful Swiss countryside when:

The locals refer to my home town as that big city Lausanne (population 150,000)

Fireman are helping out a local farmer and chatting to passers by

Alcohol, jam and fresh fruit are available at an unmanned roadside stall. An honesty box is provided for payment.

The local sunflower is so popular it is sold out

Can you guess what animals are frequently in the view (in Switzerland)

You've got the love

It's been a difficult couple of weeks.

Global "natural" disasters (floods, mud-slides) not included, below the cheerful surface things have not been quite 100%. I have had the mis fortune to directly and in-directly (witness) the experience of

Information hiding
Unprofessional Behaviour

It is at such troubled times that I would naturally turn to friends for support. Most certainly not to imaginary friends, or especially those promising me a better life, well but in the next life. So to friends:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Take the Long Road Home

The trials and tribulations of only having a single car were brought clearly into focus today. Princess Agata had this Monday as holiday and a car was necessary to get her from place to place. Unfortunately the chauffeur (Marcus) had a work engagement.

So I was impressed at Agata's resolve to rise with me at my normal yet horrifically early 05.15 and journey together in the car to Grandson. Then she dropped me off and let me cycle the 23Km or so to work. Unfortunately it was raining, but the fantastic new Mavic R-Sys SL clincher wheels complete with the Michelin Pro3 Race slick tyres made it a very easy ride. In the wet the rolling resistance is so low you positively glide along, the only downside is that you get completely saturated.

So the day plodded on and I had a great idea. In fact I am not talking about the days' success with Red Hat Kernel Virtual Machine. Rather, to save Agata the trouble of coming back to pick me up I would try and cycle the 70Km or so back home, weather, time, and post triathlon legs permitting.

So how did it go?

Well the main issue turned out to be Hydration. With no water bottle I would be reliant on things like Swiss roadside water fountains, which are quite plentiful around Lausanne. Indeed about 3Km from work I found a fountain. This was going to be easy I thought! Er no:

At least the route is pretty easy. You just stick on Route No 5 south and ignore the constant Northerly wind that seems to be constantly whispering "you are going the wrong way".

Another 40Km later and no sign of any water I was getting pretty thirsty. A quick call to Agata confirmed she could rescue me if the drought continued in darkest Switzerland soon for more than another hour.

Finally at around Km 55 I trundled into Echallens. I found an open Petrol station and headed for the food counter. Some hydration and chocolate later, what a relief! Time to go:

I was encouraged when I saw the 15km then 10Km Lausanne signs however they give the distance to central Lausanne and I saw no way of getting directly to Northern (and up the hill) Lausanne. So I went into the Centre, then back up the same steep hills from Sundays triathlon, finally getting home about 20.30

So what were the learning points today:

Well it is certainly possible to cycle home, but if the weather had not been dry it would have been quite miserable. Considering the extra chocolates and food I have subsequently eaten, I am not sure cycling is any more cost effective than driving. It is significantly lower in carbon footprint though, all things considered.

So although I'd like to believe that this tale of hardship would prompt "the man on the Clapham omnibus" to cry "buy another car, please!", we are still waiting for a suitable 4 wheel drive, Dual clutch, lightweight, coupe to be available. Please, someone soon!

Marcus cycled just less than 100Km today, about 70 something Km on the way home
It took about 3 hours
I ate 1 Mars Bar and drank about 600 ml fluids
I saw 3 kitties and 1 Black Nissan GT-R, Premium Spec which was nice

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lausanne Triathlon 2010

So yes, I very proud to report that inspite of the 30 degree heat, and our otherwise time consuming work commitments we found the time to participate in the 2010 Lausanne Triathlon.

We only had to get up at 08.00 which was a nice lie in bed compared to other races we have entered recently

I did ponder whether I should use the new Mavic Wheels I assembled on Saturday night. A bit of a risk, but then let's go for it!

Video Diary: Pre race thoughts

So we cycled downhill from home to Ouchy lake and head to the Transition setup. I setup my bike at 306 and then walked over to Agata at position 622. She is missing and her bicycle is not there. The mystery was later solved when I heard that Agata put her bike in a temporary place and headed off for the toilets.

So it is 10 minutes before the start and I think I should put my wetsuit on and go for an acclimatisation swim. Notice I use plastic bags to stop my nails tearing into the wetsuit. We are professionals!

And so now the race begins:

So the 1.5 KM swim was slow but easy. We had to get to 2 red buoys at the end of a straight, go around the outside of both of them then head back on the outside of the orange buoys. A group of us actually went around both rear buoys, a larger group I saw go for the furthest left one. Either they made a long detour at the last minute or something irregular happened. I could not say.

So I finished the cycle. On the first lap (of 6) I had to overtake some slow traffic. On the hills I am usually close to the fastest on a course, but today people completely blocked the whole course so I overtook on the right. After that a Marshall on a motorbike came out of nowhere and gave me a time penalty for not overtaking on the left. I spent the remaining 5 laps shouting for people to move over to the right (not very politely) since I was a little cross at everybody else whom I could see overtaking in any way left or right.

So then all that was left was the run. Marcus admits to being extremely tired at the end of the Triathlon! On the last lap Agata passed me running on the opposite side of the course and her encouraging words "Run, Fatboy, Run" kept me going.

Agata finishes in a faboulous time of 03 hours and 04 minutes

Let's look at the timing board, yes 03 hours and 04 minutes.

So that is it. We both finished well. Agata had a personal best, some 15 minutes quicker than her April Lanzarotte time. Incredible. Marcus will be forever more careful in overtaking, and will do some proper pre race training next time ... honest!

We begin the 10Km all uphill cycle home. Here we have already stopped for a comfort break disguised as a photo session.

Agata's faithful Ribble cycle sporting Ultegra 6600 groupset. Perhaps due for a replacement sometime soon.

Marcus Time: 02:47
Agata Time: 03:04
Marcus weight loss, after rehydration at race end: 3.4Kg
Marcus ate 1 Sponsor energy gel, 2 SIS GO gels
Post race: 1 ate12 orange slices (delicious) and 400ml SIS Rego Recovery fluid
Marcus Drank 750ml SIS PSP 22 Energy liquid
Marcus was given a time penalty of 3 minutes for overtaking on the right

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Last Minute training Again

The thing about having something called a job (and not for example being in blissful retirement) is that one's free time is decidedly limited.

All week I have been trying to prepare for Sunday's Lausanne triathlon but I am ashamed to say that even on Friday morning nothing had started. A positively shocking admission.

So Friday morning after the customary Boudry mountain climb I resolved to go on an emergency Diet. This fitted in nicely with a heavy workload meaning that I worked thru an imaginary lunch to investigate the delights of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 KVM (Kernel Virtual Machine)

Friday evening was supposed to be dedicated to a Lausanne Lake Triathlon swim preparation, but back in Lausanne by 20.00 left it too late.

So it came to this Saturday: Today I did make a few Km test swim of Orca wetsuit clad swimming. The water temperature was 21 degrees and it has been my first swim in about 2 weeks. This will have to do as Triathlon Swim preparation.

Next it came time to mount and build the new Mavic R-Sys wheels. I forgot to order the necessary tyres so had to use the 2 emergency Michelin Pro-2 Race tyres

Agata helped with the mounting of the Michelins onto these Mavic rims. As expected the 700x20C tyres need levers just to put them on. Tight! Fingers crossed, if they are still at 120PSI on Sunday morning I take it that nothing is pinched, trapped or otherwise mis-aligned.

Mavic R-Sys SL mini review
I've ridden them for about 5 minutes so far without any complaints! The things I noticed were
  • Yes the wheels do weigh only 1295 grams per pair, that is light!

  • Being non aero section it means that they will behave normally in a cross wind

  • Being non aero means it's quite impossible to find any lightweight tubes, so you'll buy aero tubes and have a huge long dangling valve showing.

  • The skewers are part plastic to save weight

  • The bearings can be accessed by simply pulling off the edge carbon fibre/plastic caps. It reminds me of the original Dura Ace groupset I first bought in 1980.

  • The front wheel have only carbon fibre spokes
  • The rear wheel has alloy spokes on the cassette side and carbon on the other

  • The idiotoc manual contains pictures only so it was not clear if I needed to fit a spacer to accomodate the Dura Ace 10 speed Cassette
After Googling, reading both the Mavic and Shimano Technical notes, Agata and I reasoned to leave the Mavic Spacer on the Hub, and not to use the thinner Shimano spacer shipped with the Dura Ace 7900 cassette

Good Night
So it is approaching midnight Saturday 21st August and I'm still not in bed but hopefully I am prepared for the 10.15 Lausanne Triathlon! The Wetsuit and running clothes are packed, I've been on an entirely too short 5 minute test cycle of the new wheels. I'm about 1Kg lighter than Friday after not eating too much crap, come on Sunday.

RHEL Red Hat Enterprise Manuals

Friday, August 20, 2010

Posh: I think you need a bag for that

The first time I came across the seemingly unnecessary bag was decades ago on the purchase of an exquisite leather briefcase. It came with a light blue cotton bag that would ensure the case would be protected from scratches.

How very posh I thought to myself

Perhaps I should have 2 of them, One for home protection and one for briefcase protection at work :-)

Subsequent to that it seems all my business shoes come with dark blue, and now above styled cloth bags. In fact you should always have these shoes in 3 pairs: The manual says that best practice is to alternate pairs of shoes to not tire them out.. So you need 2 sets for alternating days (with leather soles), and a third pair (with rubber soles) in case you need to leave your office or home and step onto tarmac. And when not in use, snuggle the shoes back into those bags.

Therefore, last night when I received my new Mavic R-Sys SL wheels I was delighted to find that they too come complete with individual bags. Presumably when my wheels are not in use they can nestle back into the these bags to cosset them and make them happy.

So to review, when you buy a quality thing, don't be suprised if it comes in a seemingly unecessary bag. Over time you will both come to like it, and expect it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fingers crossed for the kids

So in England it is an important day for parents. Today hopeful mothers and fathers accross the land will find out if they can finally get rid of that noisy, know it all adolescent child and ship it off to Univerisity.

Or alternatively, if said offspring have screwed up big time their career progression might be more in line with "do you want fries with that?"

Let's hope they made it, now parents, if that is the last of them there kids, you'll finally be able to go back to all those indulgences you might vagely remember from about 20 years ago, weekends in bed, free time, romantic nights out and in. Lovely.

Yes, keep on walking kids