Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Not all That Jazz

I am quite sure that our positive credentials for Swiss Civil mindedness will be reinforced when we say that we have just supported the Cully Jazz Festival 2011, and, we do not especially like or understand Jazz music.

I cycle or run through Cully almost daily. Cully is a small lakeside town about 5Km east of our home of Lausanne. So the plan was hatched for Agata and I to cycle from our respective workplaces and together Visit the Jazz festival.

Marcus's Hi tech bicycle parked discreetly behind low tech fountain. This maybe Switzerland but you can never be too careful.

Dezaley wine for sale at the Hotel du Raisin

Vin Blanc Rouge ... a new Cully creation

We consult the music board and find to our horror, tonight is Musicians night off. How quaint, ... I mean I day break in a 2 week festival, that's only reasonable right?

We locate the central refreshments tent as the rain begins to fall

Agata and wine are re-united. Smiles toward a long lost friend.

Next stop, the obligatory festival crepe

We did our duty, we supported the festival. The heavy downpour of rain meant that Jazz music listening was kept to a bear minimum and we scurried back through Lutry and Pully on increasingly wet roads to reach home safely as ever.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Passionate about Weight

Most athletes will tell you that losing weight (but not strength) is one of the key attributes for a good competition time.

Well Marcus and Agata are not athletes but we are very weight conscious! Obesity lowers life quality, shortens your lifespan, costs the state (and hence taxpayers) money to support the disproportionate health problems, and increases your Carbon Footprint. And so to counter this the very smart Agata ordered me a rather ingenious present which arrived this weekend.

An Internet Connected Weight Scale

It might sound like nothing, but for those of you who track your weight (say) twice daily this device makes the process really really simple ... As the graphic says

  • Stand on the scale

  • It measures your weight, Body Mass Index, Fat Content

  • It sends it to an Internet Website you previously setup (via its G series wireless link to your Wireless Router)

  • You can then use a regular Browser or iPhone App to display your details

  • You can also add Blood Pressure and Heart Rate

  • You can link this information with Google Health (er now I know there is Google Health!)

Overall I am thrilled with this device. Our existing weight scales were over 5 years old and measured to 0.2Kg. This scale measures to 0.1Kg (100 grams), saves our Weights automatically on a Website, and will help us track our weight and Blood Pressure over time.

Thanks to the rather clever Agata for finding this device and delighting me with a surprise purchase and delivery.


Keyboard Upgrades

I'm not sure what the pre Computer revolution equivalent of keyboards presents is but it could be wallets.

Growing up, my aunties would always hand deliver or post their ideal Christmas present. Usually a purse, or in older years a Leather wallet. It could be that they thought I lived in a crime filled town where wallet theft was commonplace. Let's just say that as a teenager I had more wallets than fingers and toes.

And so back to Keyboards. I have amassed stack of them and rather like the wallets analogy it seems on first glance to be quite rude to throw them away.

But no more! We are upgrading our Keyboards at home and surplus items will be sent directly to Silicon Heaven. What did we learn?

  • Personally I like the keyboard to be wireless, but the technology does involve say 2 weekly battery changes. Be prepared! Use rechargables. (Some models include a rechargable docking station, but that starts to be counted as clutter to me)

  • I want a small keyboard. Full size keys of course, all 12 Function keys, or certainly 10, but a numeric pad is definitely not necessary.

  • An integrated mousepad is a good idea for an occaisional keyboard, but for a dedicated keyboard you use all day, then go for a separate mouse

  • Wireless keyboards are ideal to control the lounge computer from your sofa. But take note, the wireless range is finite, and some Operating Systems wake up (from sleep) with CAPS lock or SHIFT on, and this can make your password entry via your wireless wonder infuriating.

  • In foreign parts you might be able to dodge the local (e.g. Swiss French Keyboard) and install a UK or US one, but you will never find them locally!

  • In debug situations a US keyboard is always useful. Keep one handy for when your rescue DVD/ USB stick inexplicably assumes you live in the US and only understand a US keyboard

So this is in

The fantastic Keysonic 540 ALU wireless keyboard. The top is a Solid Aluminium, so strong there is no need for ridiculous aluminium edges next to the keys. Keys have full travel and are full size. Great Engineering. 1Kg of solid!

The new keyboard, a freebie. It is now attached to our DMZ server console. Slim, beautifully shiny and good enough for occasional use. Multi-lingual too, but not usefully so for Switzerland!

This remains

The Cherry keyboard with PS2 end is so beautifully petite. It controls the 20 something year old IBM XT 286. Ah.. the days when the IBM Employee purchase scheme both existed and sold well priced items .. I shed a tear

The Keysonic KB-ACK-540RF keyboard attached to our Lounge TV with Linux. Good looking, small and functional. Available in UK and US formats.

My HP Business laptop. Thankfully they did not submit to the Sinclair ZX81 keyboard madness that Apple now pedals on all it's laptops. Wide keys, with edges that your fingers can hit quickly and accurately

The baby Nokia Booklet 3G travel notebook is like an Apple cast from a solid aluminium block, and also has an Apple style keyboard. The keyboard pitch is only 16.7 mm making typing a precision effort. If you have large hands or fingers, then don't try this keyboard

And this is out

The old compact server keyboard. It has done its time, and he and all other other keyboards are being dispatched to Silicon Heaven.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Too Bee or not to Bee

Ask any Swiss skier of snowboarder and you will have the answer. Yes, they will tell you, it has been an absolutely terrible season. You see it has not snowed enough and it is just incredibly warm.

Last Friday the temperature at Vevey was above 10 degrees during all daylight hours and then Saturday it reached 15 degrees Centigrade.

So hot in fact that a little friend invaded our study late Saturday afternoon. Our first 2011 bee. After safely capturing him for photographic purposes he was dispatched back outside.

I feel a warm summer may be approaching.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Agata && Marcus in search of Chocolate

In order to get fit for spring there has been a Chocolate embargo in the Marcus and Agata household for some weeks now.

But, as if to escape on a technicality we did hear about the Cailler House of Chocolate in distant Broc. Broc is just over 40Km away from home so we hatched a cunning plan.

Why not pootle over to Broc on our Bicycles, go for the Chocolate tour, eat as much Chocolate as possible, then cycle back home. And that in a nutshell was what we did this Saturday afternoon.

After just over 2 hours of cycling effort we complete the 42Km journey from Lausanne to Broc.

The English tour is 30 minutes away so there is time for a relaxing Nespresso and a huge chocolate bar.

We browse the Cailler chocolate wall. It's like the Nespresso Coffee wall of the Boutique store in Lausanne, but more interesting.

Almost time to start the tour. In the line we have the chance to look at some Cailler and Nestle history.

The tour comprises an audio visual presentation, for us in English. The quality of the presentations is very high, almost stunning. Motorised displays are equally impressive.

Some example old world chocolate making machinery

Some old logos

There is a miniature production line to show us what goes on in the rest of the (much larger) factory. Here chocolate logs get dipped in a molten chocolate bath.

Coming out of the bath, also coated in Nuts

Double Bobbins ensure that a continuous wrapper stream is available at all times for Chocolate wrapping

En route to the Chocolate tasting area we wander through the factory itself and notice a rather large VAT of chocolate.

That is a lot of Cocoa

At last we enter the Chocolate tasting area.

The Femina samples

Now is the time for Agata to start Chocolate sampling

Marcus, chocolate master

And finally, how many calories did we burn? Enough to start the Saturday evening indulgence perhaps?

Well yes, we believe so.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Unlocking the iPhone

The good news then is that at last the iPhone 3G is unlocked. Of course it was not easy. The procedure when it works is:

  • Wait for 2 years after iPhone purchase

  • Call Swisscom and ask for an iPhone unlock

  • Swisscom speak to Apple and presumably pass on your iPhone Serial Number to be unlocked

  • Apple make a note of this fact at their iTunes server site

  • When you connect your iPhone with iTunes you get the above nice logo

These are the Swiss Instructions

In real Life (IRL) the procedure was not so smooth. Initially Swisscom told me they could unlock the phone interactively. They sent me a special unlock SMS, which did not work. Then because I transferred the Ownership of the mobile account to Agata, when Agata next spoke to them further confusion ensued.

Well things are now better and the procedure at the top has now worked. The only question is, who gets the gift of our perfect condition, Zagg coated, Apple iPhone 3G?