Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lausanne 20Km 2011

We are delighted to report that both Marcus and Agata completed the 20Km of Lausanne in good times for both parties.

Special mention should go to Agata because even though she has an extremely painful right arm which is by no means recovered (after the 30Km/h accident of last Sunday) she managed the distance and have an equal Personal Best for this event. No doubt if she was 100% good condition she would have gone faster.

Marcus too had an interesting race. Having mysteriously gained over 5Kg in weight since Jan 2011 the last few days of the week were spent in a desperate weight loss regime. I managed to drop about 1Kg but I did feel those extra 4Kg slowing me down during all aspects of the race

Marcus Race Report: I was in starting block 2 and began running at 18:14. It seems ironic that the 20Km runners seems to get the last (and worst) start of the day with all the kids and shorter runs getting better times. Ironic since it is the 20Km of Lausanne after all!

You will see that the course is quite hilly. We started by the lake and then ran east and towards our first hill. Within 1Km my friend Carsten passed me and pointed out the balloon pace men running just behind me

The above is an example, my balloon man was 01:30. I decided to pass the pace man and hopefully keep ahead of him. On the hills it seems I was going a lot faster than the 01:30 pace man and other Bloc 2 runners but it was extremely difficult going. I blame it on those extra Kilograms!

After kilometer 12Km the route is mostly downhill and the paceman shot past me. His pace was very uneven. I battled hard by sprinting but was not gaining on him. Doing so for the next 8Km would be pretty impossible. By some considerable effort I caught him by Km 18 and just managed to get past him on the last straight of the finish.

This was a great race for meeting people. We saw Rashida and Jose before and after the race. Similarly we also bumped into Andy and Sophie before and after. I met Carsten and Kathy on the race itself. This is pretty extraordinary because the official website claimed about 20,000 people participating. A much greater number that I could possibly imagine.

So by 21:00 we were finished and showered and it was time to visit a local restaurant where we would all compare notes about how easy or difficult we had all found this run.

As usual thanks to the wonderful organisational talents of Lausanne to make this event proceed so effortlessly.

Agata 20Km time == 01:45:44
Marcus 20Km time = 01:27:06
Marcus Drank 200ml of Powerade, ate 2x SIS Gels

Friday, April 29, 2011

Money be not the Root of all Evil

Whilst John Stuart had certainly read many great works of Literature before his tenth year, I had spent many formative years in front of digital creations like this

And so as the years drum on I always take the opportunity to catch up on that classic reading that I skipped in my youth.

The much wiser Agata prompted me to start on Ayn Rand's classic Atlas Shrugged. What an epic, and so fitting in a time when financial folly seems to be coming to a crescendo. I present the following extract that I hope will encourage all readers to learn more by buying the Printed Book, listening to the AudioBook or watching the forthcoming Film (links below your required reading!) ....

So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Aconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor – your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money. Is this what you consider evil?

Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions – and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.

But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made – before it can be looted or mooched – made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced.

To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will. Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except by the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss – the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery – that you must offer them values, not wounds – that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best your money can find. And when men live by trade – with reason, not force, as their final arbiter – it is the best product that wins, the best performance, then man of best judgment and highest ability – and the degree of a man's productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil?

But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires. Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality – the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind.

Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants; money will not give him a code of values, if he's evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he's evaded the choice of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent. The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up by becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and the frauds come flocking to him, drawn by a law which he has not discovered: that no man may be smaller than his money. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

"Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth – the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started. If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him. But you look on and you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money? Do not envy a worthless heir; his wealth is not yours and you would have done no better with it. Do not think that it should have been distributed among you; loading the world with fifty parasites instead of one would not bring back the dead virtue which was the fortune. Money is a living power that dies without its root. Money will not serve that mind that cannot match it. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

Money is your means of survival. The verdict which you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life. If the source is corrupt, you have damned your own existence. Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men's vices or men's stupidity? By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money will not give you a moment's or a penny's worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you'll scream that money is evil. Evil, because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect? Evil, because it would not let you enjoy your depravity? Is this the root of your hatred of money?

Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices. Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit. Is this the root of your hatred of money?

Or did you say it's the love of money that's the root of all evil? To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It's the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is the loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money – and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it.

"Let me give you a tip on a clue to men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.

Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another – their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.

But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride, or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich – will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt – and of his life, as he deserves.

Then you will see the rise of the double standard – the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money – the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law – men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims – then money becomes its creators' avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they've passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.

Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.

Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men's protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it becomes, marked: 'Account overdrawn.'

When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world?' You are.

You stand in the midst of the greatest achievements of the greatest productive civilization and you wonder why it's crumbling around you, while you're damning its life-blood – money. You look upon money as the savages did before you, and you wonder why the jungle is creeping back to the edge of your cities. Throughout men's history, money was always seized by looters of one brand or another, but whose method remained the same: to seize wealth by force and to keep the producers bound, demeaned, defamed, deprived of honor. That phrase about the evil of money, which you mouth with such righteous recklessness, comes from a time when wealth was produced by the labor of slaves – slaves who repeated the motions once discovered by somebodies mind and left unimproved for centuries. So long as production was ruled by force, and wealth was obtained by conquest, there was little to conquer. Yet through all the centuries of stagnation and starvation, men exalted the looters, as aristocrats of the sword, as aristocrats of birth, as aristocrats of the bureau, and despised the producers, as slaves, as traders, as shopkeepers – as industrialists.

To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of money – and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement. For the first time, man's mind and money were set free, and there were no fortunes-by-conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being – the self-made man – the American industrialist.

If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose – because it contains all the others – the fact that they were the people who created the phrase 'to make money'. No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity – to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted, or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The words 'to make money' hold the essence of human morality.

Yet these were the words for which Americans were denounced by the rotted cultures of the looters' continents. Now the looters' credo has brought you to regard your proudest achievements as a hallmark of shame, your prosperity as guilt, your greatest men, the industrialists, as blackguards, and your magnificent factories as the product and property of muscular labor, the labor of whip-driven slaves, like the pyramids of Egypt. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide – as, I think, he will.

Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns – or dollars. Take your choice – there is no other – and your time is running out.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Crucially the wait is over

I hesitate to recommend something that I have not personally tried, but for Crucial I am prepared to make an exception. Last year I made a test buy of the reasonably priced and 6Gb/second SATA III interfaced Crucial C300 Solid State Disk (SSD).

The performance tests, with the all important sustained write speed of over 70MB/sec even for the slowest 64GB disk won me over.

Since then most loyal Crucial customers have been eagerly awaiting the next generation of SSD disk the m4. In the late European hours of Wednesday 27th April it became available.

No doubt competitors will be worried. The m4 series is priced at the same level as the outgoing C300, but delivers better Read (415MB/sec) and Write (>95MB/sec) performance.

I do not think the time is right to place bulk data on SSD that is too expensive, but placing your Operating System, or changing to SSD powered notebook drive will return a great performance boost. Don't forget these drives are now so fast they exceed SATA II (3Gb/second == 384MB/sec) limits, so you really need a SATA III (6Gb/sec == 768 MB/sec) connect so that the drive is not limited by the interface.

So the only question on most customers minds, is which one(s) does one order, and an order be placed before the initial stocks run out.


VMware WHS and Physical Disks

For a period of several years I have never gotten Physical Disks to work correctly under VMware.

To put things into perspective VMware or ESX are hypervisors that I use to install Guest Operating Systems inside my servers. I use VMware sitting on top of Windows Server 2008 R2 (the discussion as to why is beyond the scope of this posting).

When you install a Guest OS there are some choices for the emulated Hard Disk. Logically the best performance, since it would be the least overhead would be for VMware to own a physical Disk. Usually instead you give it a NTFS formatted area in a filesystem, and it creates one or more *.vmdk files, either preallocated with the actual disk space used in the Guest (e.g. 1 file of 100GB to mirror a guest with a single 100 GB C: disk) or perhaps hundreds of individual .vmdk files each upto 2GB in size.

But today, this is how I did manage to use a Physical Disk:

Create the Definition of the Virtual Machine, notice use of PhysicalDrive2 (I chose the whole disk not just a partition)

Make sure you are really sure that this is the correct drive else you will overwrite an entire Physical Disk on your computer!

Start the Installation

Oops, it begins to fail

Meanwhile, VMware did make an attempt at partitioning the physical disk

So Startup diskpart.exe and place the whole disk you gave to VMware offlline and rescan it

Now check and indeed the Disk is marked offline

Try installation a second time using the same physical disk and now it succeeds

In my testing this disk is an external eSATA connected disk in a Sharkoon disk dock. It only shows up as Disk2 because that's the way the BIOS found it. If I start the computer up another day with this disk in the dock it could easily not be disk2! And another perhaps valuable disk on the server might be. So this approach has considerable dangers on a system where Physical Disk numbers are not a constant. You are cautioned! Nevertheless the proof of concept worked and now I can do a little cautious experimentation with Windows Home Server, latest version.

VMware How To: PhysicalDisks on Vista and Server 2008
VMware and Physical Disks thread

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A visit to the Hospital

As previously noted, one of us is injured and Agata's arm has shown no sign of improvement. Therefore today we decided that neither of us would go to work, instead we would visit our local hostpital, sports department for some diagnosis at least.

In fact the process started on Monday night, when we thought we would prepare by calling our doctor of General Practice (GP). Well, can you believe it, the answerphone did not inform us of the surgery hours (we called at 23:00) for the next morning but merely that our Doctor was on holiday and could we go somewhere else!

I think as a responsible adult it is important to take seriously the ailments of friends and family. I say this as I recall some of the recurring, and in my estimation inapprorpriate responses from my childhood illnesses and injuries, such as:

  1. Serves you right, this will teach you not to do that again in future
  2. Yes, this is your own fault due to your carelessness
  3. It is God's will that this has happened
  4. Does not look serious to me, wait and it will get better
  5. Take an Asprin
  6. It is Devils influence
And so back to the present, we need a consultation. Please note:
We are not idiots, consultations involve waiting. We therefore prepared and took with us a Laptop with a 3G Internet connection, Food, Drinks, iPod, credit Cards and even a Powerball exercise tool!

Arrival at the Sports clinic in Vidy. Quite honestly it seems to be full of less than sporty people; where is the quality control I ask you?

There seem to be 6 people ahead of us. That can't take long right?

After 2.5 hours of Waiting we get ushered into a room

A nurse arrives and Blood pressure is monitored. She leaves.

A Doctor arrives, mumbles something about an X-ray then disappears and nothing happens for ages. Marcus gets restless! I think it is quite possible everybody has buggered off for lunch and they have forgotten we are in the middle of a consultation.

Eventually though an X-Ray is made and the Doctor re-appears with the good news that there are no breaks, but that it is probably a torn tendon. The advice is (wait for it), let it get better all by itself, though we can have some Ibuprofen pain killers. And a Physio course.

60CHF later (60 USD) we exit a local Pharmacy with some iBuprofen and some plasters. Ah, Swiss prices.

An hour of walking later we arrive at our local hospital (CHUV) to book that course of physiotherapy. We speak to admissions ... they are full until mid May 2011. Unbelievable!

So overall, it has been a day of walking, waiting. If things don't improve dramatically within 10 days then the escalation step a full body scan and possible surgery. So let us hope the damage is not so bad.

Meanwhile on the walk home from the hospital:
We spy on the beautifully small

And the preposterously big

Monday, April 25, 2011

El Modernismo Lausanne

Ah problem solving, it is great. The ideal problem comes to me as initially challenging, almost impossible, but then with some thinking, debate amongst ones peers you find a Eureka moment and a solution.

Contrast that ideal then with the plan for this Easter Monday of doing as little Computer related activity as possible. The plan was foiled when I noticed that the background weekend 3TB disk migration had not gone as planned. Slowly but surely I am migrating our principle home server onto Hitachi 3TB 7K3000 drives. All seemed to have gone well but this morning I did notice that 2 other (2TB) drives had gone missing! After 3 hours of buggering about .....

For others using a Supermicro X8DTH-6F motherboard, please note this about using 3TB hard drives.

Use the latest BIOS, currently R 2.0a at the time of writing
Connect the 3TB SATA drives to the LSI SAS2 2008 SAS controller
Don't connect the 3TB disks to the Intel ICH10R controller
Also if you change any config on the Intel controller go into the BIOS and confirm that the drives are detected as connected.

By the time this has been figured out the time had crept up to noon. Nevertheless we determined to make the 5Km walk over to the El Modernismo exhibition at the Il Fondation de l'Hermitage Lausanne. Here is what we saw:

Even the buses are now trendy in Lausanne

Is this a Swiss thing ... not an Ariel farm for UFO detection but outlines of new Building construction.

Agata manages to smile even though only one arm is working. What a hero.

Clearly some Swiss have no respect for a Doctor Who inspired phone box. Marcus is saddened.

Agata tries to point to the map. I think on Tuesday at least one of us is going to be spending a lot of time in the local hospital diagnosing the arm trauma.

Click to enhance and see the Chalet Swiss Restaurant

View over Lausanne

Finally arrival at l'Hermitage. Unfortunately no photographs are allowed so first ...

The above is the official programme (click on images to enlarge)

This is the official brochure from Fondation de l'Hermitage (click on images to enlarge)

At last, our civic duty is complete. So now it is time to walk home and time for a well earned Dinner!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Doing Absolutely Nothing

To misquote terribly: Easter, What is it good for? Answer: Doing absolutely nothing.

Yes, we are most proud to announce that the pursuit of doing absolutely nothing has at last been followed in our household if only for 1 day. One of the driving factors is that the Easter vacation is 4 days long, giving us the flexibility to postulate the fact that after 2 days vacation (aka like a weekend) the next day is still not work but another vacation.

Absolutely marvelous! Of course since we are both consultants it is a mute point, since we don't get paid holidays. So in fact, had we taken a four day holiday at any other time, the financial consequences would be the same, plus the shops and streets would not be so crowded.

Nevertheless we are enjoying ourselves. Here are some of the better activities for the day

  • I stayed up till at after 04.30. If I'm going to work I need to be in bed by 03.00 latest. Staying up late is a real luxury, feel like I am a student again :-)

  • Economical quantities of sensibly priced and tasteful wine from Aldi were consumed

  • I had time read the 300 baud magazine online

  • I had time to read up all my unread issues of EVO, Cycling Plus and Linux Format. Brilliant

  • We made another trip down to Aldi. It was deliciously inexpensive

  • The weather was upto 25 degrees Centigrade with about 10 minutes of rain in the evening

  • We went for a long walk into the heart of the big city of Lausanne. Here are some of the things we saw.
All roadworks are paused during the vacation

The local information board reminds us the the 20Km Race is just next weekend

We are following the fox trail Lausanne path where possible

It seems that the local Airlines are evolving

Playground Swiss styly
Tree protection, Swiss style

In the distant corner sits a Hot rodded Honda CR-Z. Perhaps he should have waited for the forthcoming Mugen Supercharger.

We are walking into town along our secret route, now under construction

Open Kitchen, Swiss style

We look at the innovations displayed at Hood cycles

After exploring Lausanne for over 5 years we finally find a Launderette!

The first of many Harley Davidson bikes

At last we are in the main high street in the big city we call Lausanne

Currently a quality 40M pixel camera like the Pentax 645 is quite expensive.

It makes the current prosumer 18M pixel cameras like the Canon 60D look quite affordable

Another Harley

And another one, in fact Lausanne is practically Harley town

Arrival at Ouchy by the lake

The latest fire truck from Nyon

Can you believe it. It is a sculpture of Tin Tin made from coloured eggs. Apparently it has taken 3 days to construct. What happens to the eggs afterwards, that's what I need to know!

A full on summer atmosphere in Ouchy park, and it is only April

Agata by the lakeside farmers market
Arm update: Agata can't raise her right arm at all, if nothing improves we are going to spend a day queuing at casualty soon.

Beautiful Ouchy Lake

The cakes that marcus bravely resisted

Volvo advertising, Swiss Style

Meanwhile in a faith based dimension far far away

Chorale (Easter Cantata). Music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach and orchestrated by Leopold Stokowski. Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Oh Death, where is thy sting? Where, Oh Grave, is thy victory? The resurrection promises Life beyond death and abiding Hope eternal

(NB:Easter is a Christian festival. Other religions are available, most probably your religion is that which you were born or married into. Christianity teaches the resurrection of Jesus into Heaven at Easter, alternate religions promote an equally plausible Heaven )