Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lausanne Marathon 2010

So I am very pleased to say that Marcus and Agata participated in our home town Lausanne marathon 2010. It is now about 17:00 and we are sweating over some tricky post race decisions namely what is the best wine to compliment our dinner and dessert.

For us the fun started at a leisurely 08:00, with even more sleep considering that the clocks went back at 03:00. We managed to park in the Bellerive car park which is incredibly less than 200 metres from the race start and when we arrived at 09:15 half empty! Only in Lausanne.

The weather forecast all week predicted rain or even heavy rain, but as Sunday drew closer it all came good. It predicted rain from 16.00 [but we would finish at 15:30] and before that it would be dry and about 8-12 degrees C.

Marcus Race report
So the marathon time was 03:21 and although it was not bad in view of the effort put in (== high) I was a little disappointed. I ran the first half of the race in a 03:10 time and then from about KM 24 there was a bit of a dramatic slowdown. I got a little dis-heartened when the 03:15 pace man waltzed past.

In the excuses department my left shoe was loose for the whole marathon so that after only 5Km running I detected a large blister growing. By halfway every step was quite painful, but I thought, "well I am not stopping now!".

This may have contributed to the lack of enthusiasm, but I tried to make up for it in the last 30 minutes of the race when I came up on people who were stopped and exhausted. I stopped a few times to cheer people up and gently prod them to "stop messing around and start running". It seemed to work well. Towards the end of the race I was positively beaming and smiling and I think this got some nice cheers from the crowds on the last few Km.

My last excuse was that it was quite windy on the way back, although since I always wear longs this does not really effect me so much

I ran back to the Bellerive swimming pool and when I took my shoe off I saw a record breakingly large blister on my left foot. Right foot 100% okay.

I then had some time to kill so I thought I might spend it with about 5 other naked men waiting for a shower in the changing rooms. The people already in the showers were in no hurry to get out. A queue in Lausanne, I and my newly found intimate friends were practically speachless!

Agata Race Report
Bearing in mind that we run the New York marathon in exactly 7 days the plan was to run at a marathon pace and generally take things easy. Actually instead of 02:00 I ran a little fast and finished in 01:56 but overall, everything was just great. Weather was a little cold, and I had to wait around for 2 hours in Vevey for the start, but still a great experience and we like to support our home town of Lausanne. Good times.

And in Pictures: (click on each picture for original higres photo)

No really, the carpark was this empty only 1 hour before the start of the marathon. We are living in a village!

Marcus just before the start

Marcus reaches the halfway point in record time.

Post marathon the Perskindol massage tent was in great demand

After a shower I walked back lakeside to meet Agata. What a view!

Agata, the last 100 metres

Agata just before the finish

My very favourite Lausanne supporter

Agata the princess :-)

Marcus marathon time: 03:21
Agata Half marathon time 01:56
Marcus ate 3 SIS + 1 Powerbar Gel and had [only] 5 cups water
Temperature: about 10 degrees, Wind moderate, Conditions: Dry


Saturday, October 30, 2010

All about the Music

I am currently sitting in the study assembling Sunday's Lausanne marathon musical stimulation.

I refer to stimulation because I simply cannot imagine performing any sort of exercise without the power of music to encourage and invigorate me. It not simply that it relieves the boredom of [say] a long cycle ride to work, but it actually spurs me on.

In a wider context whilst 99% positive one can acknowledge and be mindful of the edge of music manipulation.Although I am slightly biased [because Cabaret is one of my favourite films dealing with a frighteningly failure of humankind] I have to continually remind myself not to be drawn into the engaging "Tomorrow Belongs to Me". And then there are the pious who believe that their holy book mandates that music should be used only within religion. See this podcast for details

But lets get back to Sunday

  • The Marathon starts at 10:10 so I can stay in bed till about 08:00 ... luxury!

  • Did I mention the glorious fact that the clocks go back 1 hour at 03:00, so another hour of sleep.

  • We went to Ouchy this evening to pick up the race numbers. So we can go straight to the start

  • I bought a giant 500 gram Carac cake on Friday, but using self restraint I can confirm that I have not eaten any of it yet.

  • As planned I lost the 2.5Kg of weight I put on in the last 2 weeks

  • As shown in the top photo the iPod is planned to be weather proofed in case of rain. The only downside is that I won't be able to stop during the race to shoot any movies :-(

So goodnight and the next report is on Sunday!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Looking back at TRON

Well Wikipedia tells me it was 1982 when I was forced to sit thru it seems like several hours of terrible graphics. I took a girl to this groundbreaking movie, but back then Geekdom had not yet been invented, the date did not end well.

Now it is 2010 I am threatening to take the wonderful Agata to Tron Legacy. Luckily she is also a geek and can therefore appreciate the film with me.

I am going to impress Agata with the part which shows the SolarOS operating system. I feel sure she will be like putty in my hands after that.

So until December 17 2010 let us review all the trailers from today backwards

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nokia 3G Booklet

The Nokia 3G notebook is the ultimately sleek and stylish sub notebook. Although it is somewhat underpowered it's beautiful engineering and flexible capabilities let it gain respect.

I've held out for several years to restrict the mobile arsenal to a powerful dedicated notebook and a Psion (!!). Now the Psion has been retired and the Nokia has replaced it. Precislely how is to be described in another post, for now we'll focus on the additional features that we have installed so it can act as a capable travel laptop.

The Good features

Beautiful aluminium underbelly with the side ports left to right: audio jack, 2xUSB2, HDMI out

Left to right: power button, door hiding SD slot and SIM slot, USB2, power adapter

Recommended Setup and Installations

Overall rule is: Dont install anything you dont absolutely need. lean is mean. Software bloat will slow down this already pedestrian system.

  • Garmin Mobile PC allows you to have US or European maps installed on your Booklet and use the inbuilt GPS for positioning
  • GPScontrol allows you to switch on / off the GPS. Remember that the GPS only works when you have a data SIM installed
  • Skype to make phone calls and communicate obviously
  • Combined Community Codec Project and Player (Using this you can play movies smoothly and output them via the HDMI socket to an external monitor). VLC is fine for audio but not fast enough for video
  • AVG anti virus although any anti virus is a performance killer

Performance Tweaks
  • Disable all services that you can
  • Disable all unecessary tasks
  • Readyboostand Superfetch is off
  • Defrag hard drives
  • Install an alternative browser e.g. google chrome and remove Internet Explorer
  • control panel, Windows features and leave only Windows Fax and Scan, Windows Gadget, Windows Search installed
  • Selective Windows startup, all non relevent services disabled
  • Don't be a muppet and try and swap in an 1.8" SSD (which has higher power consumption)
  • System restore points are switched off completely

Comparison to iPad
  • The booklet runs flash and you can install Chrome or another capable browser. Browsing on the iPad leads to frustration. Even Google reader does not work correctly on an iPad, && did you ever try filling in forms with dropdowns ... nightmare!
  • Movies played with VLC on the iPad look better than with CCC player on the Booklet
  • iPad has instant on, Booklet is about 3 seconds from standby
  • When in bed or at a table you dont have to hold the Booklet screen up, it sits on something called a keyboard which acts like an inbuilt stand :-)

Comparison to 2010 MacBook Air
At first glance the Macbook should totally crush the Nokia but then you realise:
  • The Nokia is less than half the price
  • It has a SIM slot and a SD slot
  • It has an inbuilt GPS
So the Nokia can be used as a navigator and a portable internet station whilst travelling (of course you can tether your Android but not iPhone easily. But then probably only in your local country. If you step into another country that would be expensive so the Nokia SIM slot is still advantageous).

Resume windows from hard disk 60 seconds (includes typing in poweron password)
Shutdown busy system all apps 120 seconds
Shutdown with no apps running 21 seconds
startup no boost: 7s passwords, 48s cursor,59 s welcome, 88s desktop sound
Sleep 8 seconds
Resume from Sleep 3 seconds

In testing readyboost using a 150X SD card or a fast USB2 plug did not provide any statistically relevent speedups. So it was backed out and the Superfetch service disabled.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

CoolerMaster SNA 95 Power Adapter

I think this amusing photograph says that in the name of science I am quite prepared to look stupid for 30 seconds whilst I check the polarity of my new CoolerMaster SNA 95 Power adapter.

Actually it is all HP's fault. The HP Envy 15 which is now about 1 year old comes with possibly the worlds largest Notebook power adapter.

To be fair when you are running an Intel i7 processor with 8 threads, 8GB memory and a 1920x1080 screen you are going to have to make some sacrifices in power consumption. But there is no excuse for not writing the polarity of the power plug on the end of the HP power brick.

Probably it is a sort of standard, but hey, I thought it was worth getting out the multimeter, the crazy magnifying glass headset to check it all out. So yes the outside is negative and the inside is positive and the voltage is 19V.

It is currently charging (with at least one ominous message) we will see if it can manage to complete the charge since this 95W adapter is underpowered compared with the gargantuan 120W of the original HP adapter.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Huawei E585 Unlock

If you do a Bladerunner zoom in on the black Huawei E585 mifi router pictured here on the left you will notice that it has the word Sunrise and not 3G on its OLED screen.

(Oh yes, a mifi router is a gadget that allows you to put a Pay as You Go 3G DataSIM into the gadget and share the resulting Internet connection wirelessly to all your Internet connected gadgets. See here)

We bought the Huawei E585 in London last weekend as an upgrade to the Huawei E5830. Apart from the OLED screen the specifications might seem similar but the E585 has just a powerON button and just works. The E5830 has many buttons, confusing graphics and so whilst we thought previously it was perfect, we are now better informed.

On return to Switzerland inserting my Sunrise dataSIM I soon confirmed that the unit is locked. And so this is a happy ending story about how to unlock it (for a small fee).

Zibri did not work
What should have worked was:
He does not say how much to contribute which I found most annoying
  • The Paypal transaction will generate a long transaction number which you will need
  • Plug your E585 switched on into your Windows PC
  • You should automatically install the drivers
  • In device manager make sure that the device is disabled
  • Make sure you can tracert i.e Usually the E585 establishes itself as and rewires the DNS meaning that left as is Zibri's program won't be able to contact Paypal (via your other internet connection) to verify the Paypal transaction number you are about to enter.
  • The idea (when working) is that you will run his UnlockE585_v2.exe program, enter the Paypal transaction number which the program will then check via some sort of API to Paypal.
  • In practice you start his program and enter the Paypal transaction number. I was not sure to include the leading hash (#) character or whether case sensitivity was important. So I tried all combinations.
  • After you enter the code do you press Enter? I thought yes, there are no instructions on the web
  • Shortly afterwards I would get errors like this (and others)
  • On the plus side Mr Zibri did reply to an email but still no good. But,his web instructions are not clear, the program is not clear, so I was more than happy to cut my loses and seek an alternative.

With DC-unlocker here are the steps to do the (paid) unlock

  • You are going to need your windows PC with a USB port to plug in the E585

  • Download the latest client dc-unlocker-client and install it

  • Plug in the E585 and run a detect

This makes sure it can see your unit, else buying the credits will be futile
  • Goto the website and figure out how many credits is a E585 unlock. It is 15

  • Buy the credits: we used Paypal and it asks you to choose a username and give a email address

  • In your email click on the link to unblock the account with the userid you gave

  • Wait for a second email which contains your password

  • Go back to the still open client unlocker program and enter your userid, password, then from the top button press Unlocking
About 10 seconds later the unit is unlocked and on restart is able to use the Sunrise SIM.

The cost of this little operation was less than 20 euros, now we can use the E585 worldwide to share a DataSIM 3G connection wirelessly. My travel notebook has a SIMslot of course whereas Agatas iPad ... well need I say more!


Carac Catchup

The picture here is of a giant Swiss Carac cake. Now that it is started I expect its remaining life time to be blissfully short.

The Swiss Carac reminds me of a family story I tell of the humble Brussel Sprout. Whilst they are both green you might think that may be where the similarity ends. Except for the fact that for some years in England I politely refused the Sunday brussels sprouts without having ever tasted them.

Then one Sunday lunch I relented. Absolutely delicious, and I've spent many years trying to catchup my lost Brussel sprout intake. And so the same is true for the humble Carac cake. I've seen it in the Swiss patissery for years but never tasted it until now.

The carac cake contains a pasty paste, a chocolate paste filling and a green icing top. It's Swiss and absolutely delicious. Let the catchup begin.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Cold Study

Yes, the cold weather is drawing in and never more so than in what you might think would be my warm study at home. But the study runs very cold. The new server computer has a staggering 8 large cooling fans and is optimally controlled by a
Winbond W83627HF controller. Even so, the heat output is impressive and the Study window needs to remain open at all times to cool things down.

Now that the external morning temperature is below freezing the whole study and therefore my poor feet are also suffering.

Luckily technology is at hand and I introduce the most wonderfully warm

Let me tell you the benefits
  • It has a solid rubberised base
  • They pack flat and 2 slippers weigh only 246g
  • They are not unattractive
  • Really really warm
The only downside is that they are quite expensive, and if you live in Switzerland, well you will have to guess the size since I doubt they are available except by Mail order. So get ready for winter and stay warm!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

IT Skills

As unemployment looms I was beginning to think about any heroic and unconventional qualities that might put me ahead of the competitive IT (Information Technology) pack. And in a Eureka moment I encapsulated it:

Determination (and associated Time Distortion Field)

Sleep Resistance

Time Distortion Field: "I am coming in 5 minutes!"
This is the infuriating response that I give to Agata when she aks me if I am ready to leave the apartment. In practice for an IT person it means: If absolutely nothing goes wrong, and my workstation executes at light speed then in between 5-50 minutes, there is some possibility that I will be ready. Otherwise like my 1960's Ferrograph 1/4 inch tape loop I will periodically repeat the "coming in 5 minutes phrase", as with true grit and determination I attack the problem at hand.

There is therefore the implication that I am optimist and that in just 5 more minutes the majorly complex and inscruitable IT task that I am executing will successfully be concluded, without error, and with full documentation

Sleep Resistance
Sleep is quite delicious but seems to be an activity that is ranked a lower priority than any IT task. Most evenings on return from a busy IT day there are a multitude of home IT backups, scans, configurations, downloads and installations to perform. And every day they seem to finish between 01:00 and 03:00. As a guide, if you are still working on an IT task and the night disappears and the dawn arrives, you are going to be really tired at work that day.

Other than that, decade after decade, century after century my IT brain and body runs at maybe 5, usually 4 and sometime 3 hours sleep nightly.

So, to potential employer: Yes in additional to those traditional skills such as Professionalism, Product Excellence, Documentation, Attention to detail, I can also offer [the above] 2 more.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

3TB where art thou

The journey towards high density disk storage continues. Until today 3TB disks were manufactured only for inclusion into manufacturers pre built external drive units.

Now WD has broken ranks to announce the first retail 3TB bare drive. The Western digital 3TB Caviar Green has arrived.

Unfortunately only 3Gb/second (i.e. 384 MB/second) interfaced but for a non SSD drive this is not such an important factor