Thursday, February 28, 2013

Phone Merge

Being rather ill and always quite squimish  I can say that this is best watched when you are in the best not the worst of health.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Marcus becomes as sick as a dog

In true, over the top, positive American tradition I post this happy photograph above.  Unfortunately the reality is that since  early Tuesday February 26th I have been as

Sick as a dog

At first I thought it might be food poisoning but as the hot and cold flushes began to show, and my temperature rose above the normal 37 degrees Centigrade,  I concluded flu.

I checked Mr Internet and found my symptoms

fever, sore throat, runny nose, headache, cough, body aches and pains, hot and cold flushes, lack of taste

According to WebMD  :

So what did I learn?

I am entitled to more sleep

  • If you threaten to come to work whilst sick; any co-workers with young kids will plan to kill you.
  • I don't realistically have one or even two weeks to get better. Who wrote that!
  • I spent hours Wednesday morning Feb 27 about 10cms from a 1.5KW ceramic fan heater sweating it out. Then Wednesday night I used Agata as my heater.  Almost as warm!  So you see, I do have a very HOT wife :-)
  • Our current UltraMarathon training plan for a forthcoming race is in jeopardy.  It was all going so well: over  100Km  ran last week in conditions down to -7 degrees C.

  • After waiting > 3 hours in hospital this Friday.  The staggering conclusion: Yes, you have severe Flu!  Yes, thanks for that.

Bad sleep negatively alters body

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Did you say 2020 or 2030

Ah the shifting sands of indecision.

I read some Monday's back  about the Registers reporting on Hydrogen cars by 2030

Now granted the Register is hardly an authoritative source, but I had been prepared by listening to the 29th January Business Daily podcast on Hydrogen futures.

It's not very likely.  

But the point of this banter is to relate a distrubing, worldwide, kicking the can down the road trend

  • Pick a global problem
  • One that needs international cooperation and that is non trivial
  • Determine a date far enough in the future that is attainable
  • Attainable if we start now and have cooperation
  • Do nothing now
  • Sometime later, kick the can down the road and reset the dates.

At the turn of the century the preferred future date for the implementation of significant, shared global projects was 2020.   

Now a decade of so later the fantasy future date is reset to guess:  2030

The actors on the stage principally follow this methodology
  • We don't really understand enough to solve the problem
  • But we are adept at bringing in high consultancy wages to plan the solution
  • Typically the 80%:20% rule is employed. Practically nothing needs to be achieved initially, but a supposed exponential ramp up is assumed towards project end  (80% of the work gets done in the last 20% of time)
  • For the first 80% of the time then, highly paid planners, organisers, managers, marketers, well can play the system.
  • When failure looms we will have a vast repertoire of external players who prevented us from achieving our goals.

And why does it all matter?

Because these global projects are important, and perhaps if initiatives to curb pollution, carbon production,  energy waste,  water production are not handled well it will be our own future and not just that of our children that we will suffer.

20% renewable by 2020

High Speed 2  2030

Hydrogen Fuel Cars

My What Large Hands You Have

Yet again,  I seem not to be at the exciting Mobile World Congress (MWC).   In our fantasy lives the limousine would have whisked us to Geneva to that private jet and onto Barcelona.

Instead I merely spent an albeit very pleasant day by the airport today on other matters.

What is the news?

Well if you have quite large hands, mobile smartphone manufacturers should be calling you right away.  Your oversized paw will be perfect to normalise the ever expanding phone announcements of this week.

Before progressing I'd confirm that Apple was of course too snooty to attend and surprisingly Samsung have not announced at MWC. Their Galaxy IV is being announced separately on March 14

Meanwhile as the owner of a (PC) Dos Based Mitac 1600AA as shown above I can confirm that there is a finite size beyond which a palmtop or smartphone will not fit into your trouser pockets at all.

Are we there yet?

 4.7 inches

 5 inches

 5.5 inches

 5.5 inches

5.7 inches - ouch!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Childhood Heroes

With the exception of Madonna, now aged 54 I've noticed something terrible happening to my childhood heroes

They are getting OLD

Not only old, but instead of retiring into the shadows gracefully they are intent on making some pretty ill judged attempts to catapult themselves back into the limelight.

3 examples

Sly: Bullet to the head

I'm not convinced.

--- Arnie:The Last Stand

Hopefully some irony 

Bruce: A good day to Die Hard >>

One of many trailers! Official Trailer #2

Car chases

So what can I say,  all three action heroes are trying to hammer home the action.

  • Best acting: Arnie
  • Most explosions: Bruce
  • Deepest Voice,  Most tatoos, worst acting: Sly

I will have course have to watch all three movies so I can deliver a more considered verdict :-)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday Selection

Instructions: Play fullscreen to your local fundamentalist preacher and stand well back

Physics vs Kitty Interpretation

Guns Save Lives

I had to include more than one image.   I am afraid I had a choice of many

For a more mindful interpretation of the situation please listen to

Grass Roots North Carolina
Pistorius must live with conscience

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Apple Nano and alternatives

With the untimely demise of my fairly new Apple Nano (gen7) I've been wondering if I could jump out of the Apple iTunes music eco system entirely.

Here is what I found:

Note: not just 1 device!
As the proud owner of a Nexus 4 smartphone why not just use that?

Anybody who exercises frequently WILL require more than 1 player.

Race player: Smallest and lightest possible
Swimming:   Waterproof Player!
Gym:             Able to select the music you want  (needs a display!)
Office/Travelling: Able to listen/view and download podcasts/ music /media  (needs Internet)

Hardware Alternatives
NB:(1CHF  swiss franc is about 1 USD  US dollar)

Archos 14 vision

At less than 50CHF I nearly bought one as a test. Very compact, with display, and radio. Only cheap looking construction and difficult to select volume and track buttons whilst cycling has stopped me so far.
manufacturer link
weight 25 grams, volume 45.4x45.4x10.5=21642

Sandisk Sansa Clip+

+ Capacity upto 8GB
- A bit cheap looking!
+ clip good for races?
+ weight 24 grams, volume 34.7x55x15.33=29237

Apple iPod Nano
+ Bluetooth connectivity to speakers and headphone
+ sync to multiple devices using iTunes
+ Minimum holes (headphone and lightening) good sweat resistance
+ very small 
+ controls allow to pause/play, volume up/down whilst cycling
+ able to play videos if desperate
+ Weight 31grams. Volume 76.5x39.6x5.4=16358

Apple iPod Touch
+ It would be a change from the iPod Nano
- The size: Diffcult for races
= The size: probably okay for gym, but how sweat resistant is it?
+ For training: Can use runkeeper app natively to record runs/cycling
-- cost.  May only select 32 and 64GB versions.  With associated super high cost.
- Weight 88 grams. Volume 123.4x58.6x6.1=44110

After extensive googling it seems that only iTunes has the killer feature which is that it will synchronise all your podcasts and music and media to multiple devices.

If you tell iTunes to keep only unread Podcasts for example, then listening on one Apple player will mean the Podcast is immediately deleted from the server copy and from all syncing devices on next sync.  Simple. Logical. Great!

Example: There are many Android Podcast managers (e.g. Dogcatcher) but if you have multiple devices you need to download to each! and then another mechanism to any non android players  (like those above).

And this is just for Podcasts, same would be true for music content.

It's such an obvious and fundamental requirement, I can't understand why no music&podcast manager can do this.

NOTE: I'm going to fully document the hybrid iTunes and doubleTwist replication solution shortly.

The Relative Cost Argument
Whilst the Apple Nano gen7 costs 180CHF in Switzerland one should see this cost in relation to Swiss prices:

A weeks food shopping for 2 == 350 CHF
A tank of petrol == 120 CHF
1 skipass for 2 at Champery = 114 CHF
Dinner for 2 at O'pur Lausanne = from 120 CHF
A 1 hour massage for 2 = from 180 CHF

So you can see that if this weekend you went shopping on Saturday, had dinner than skiing on Sunday, followed by a massage, the cost of a new Nano would be the least of your worries.

And So with much reluctance, the winner is:

Apple Nano, 16GB, black.

Back in Black Baby

Friday, February 22, 2013

It was nice while it AAA lasted

Having accidentally forgotten to spot anything to do with the sub prime mortgage racket,  Credit ratings agencies are playing a new game


And so,  please everyone, let us hold a moments silence for that once proud AAA credit rating of the United Kingdom (UK)

The UK is now downgraded to Aa1

The rationale is here

Meanwhile in Switzerland
Where the Swiss government has disgracefully prevented a floating CHF currency exchange rate since 2011 by printing money (to weaken the Swiss Franc).

In recent months it seems the currency floor of 1.20 CHF per Euro has been strengthening (getting worse).   Perhaps the printers have some spare inks and need to make it even easier for Swiss exporters at the further expense of the entire Swiss public.   Thanks Swiss National Bank.

Apple Users

I ask you.  Is it true that Apple Computer users will just buy anything?

Automated tablet cleaner

Because if it is I have a few magical beans you might be interested in.

Or my more practical suggestion would be to save up for a Chromebook Pixel.

I wonder what they played at the launch party?

Chromebook Pixel Specs
(Don't forget the 1TB Google storage free for 3 years)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Like T3 but free

This is partly an advertising plug but also just a sanity check on Gadget magazines.

In the old days the magazine T3 was pretty much the sole printed source for new technology releases.   Whilst the copy  (content) was not exactly high brow, once you had past the distasteful cover page the insides were informative to anyone but a specialist in their reviewed area.

Later we have had Stuff Magazine which continues to produce similar content, and is now available in Apple online formats.

However in 2013 there is a newer, more frequent kid on the block and it is free!  It is Distro magazine from Engadget.

To conclude

  • If you are totally fed up with the sexist T3 front page
  • If you would rather have a paperless (environmentally friendly),   free technology magazine, published weekly
  • Then please select Distro

Issue 78 is here

Distro Magazine

Socratic Dialog

In fact what follows is not a Socratic dialog, it is merely some moral reasoning.

My Apple Nano recently suffered a premature death.

The question I asked Plato, is it permissible and perhaps even justifyable to try and get a free replacement .....

So you say your Ipod Nano is dead?

Yes, well at first, having been washed clean in the machine for 30 minutes the unit powered on.  But the screen actually looked waterlogged and the touch screen was dead.

So essentially the unit powers on but you can't control what it plays.   Like a poor mans iPod shuffle!

I think it could be acceptible to ask Apple for a new replacement

But your carlessness and not Apple's product quality were to blame

I am going to say that it has stopped working, and that as it is only 6 months old I am entitled to a new replacement under warranty

So you are going to knowingly lie then?

I shall be economical with the truth. You might call it a lie, but it is sometime justifyable: In order to avoid detection the family sheltering Anne Frank lied to the authorities in order to keep her alive.

So you are comparing saving the lives of an innocent Jewish family to your carleless behaviour, which is entirely your own responsibility?

OK you are right, that's pretty lame.  Despite the fact that Apple overcharges for it's products;  I did choose to buy it.  The product is not waterproof, so if in my stupidity I break it, then I should take responsibility for my actions.

So how would you get another player

I guess I would save up and then buy another one.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

An unsociable experiment

For 2 weeks now I've been carrying out an experiment at a customer site where I work.

I am sad to report the results are not encouraging

Someone was good enough to bring in some quality cups and saucers, but you know, after usage, they need cleaning.

You see even though I do usually fill the coffee machine with tap water daily, provide a (free) supply of milk and sugar, and also offer free (within reason) Nespresso capsules to anybody who asks, well there is a limit to my generous spirit and unpaid cleaning duties.

So for 2 weeks I thought I would see if anybody else, or perhaps even the users themselves might have the presence of mind to clean up the <disgustingly> dirty coffee cups.

Sadly no.

Perhaps I have it all wrong. Here are some comments from the team:

  • Did you ask anybody (else) to clear up the mess?
  • I'm not a cleaner
  • I don't get paid to do this kind of s***
  • I have more important things to do
  • It's just not important, move on

In fact, these are not excuses merely wesel words. I think we can all learn from this metaphor as to the culture and spirit of cooperation of some corporate environments.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bits to Twiddle

I just love it when I find out new features of my existing computers. For example the command


Produces the above pane that you can explore

But then I found out about some of the Google Nexus 4 (well pre OS 4.2.2) contains some extra settings.   One example is to conjure up phone settings using 


Hello LTE  (amongst other things) ...

And just when you are thinking that this only applies to Electronic gizmos:

I've owned this Condor bicycle for almost 15 years.  But I only found out about the Campagnolo quick release brake mechanism that is located on the handlebars a few months ago!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

An expensive night out at the DEFI

The city of Lausanne  (home of the International Olympic Committee as I am sure you are all aware) organises a yearly set of sport events that fall under the DEFI.

Each of the events for example Triathlon, Marathon  are entered into a paper card   (no computers here!) and at the end of the year participants get to celebrate their achievements at the DEFI soiree which was Tuesday February 12th.

SO, how did it go?

  • Shorter and more interesting than in previous years!
  • Not sure about the sponsorship?
  • The freebie, is a rather cheap sort of holdall. Well it's not impressive!
  • The prizes given out were reduced.

  • A 5 year old child provided some entertainment

  • IMHO the improv was useless.  Past years had more impressive jugglers and acrobatic acts.

Overall I feel the organisers have probably faced cuts with the DEFI program which has stunted their enthusiasm somewhat.

Our certificates!

An expensive end to the evening

On the plus side the hors d'oeuvres and wine were free.

On the down side, after running about 25Km Tuesday morning in my exuberated return post DEFI state I managed to wash my Apple iPod in the washing machine.  I think it's dead Jim.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I'm feeling a little horse

Of course I am talking about the Horse-Meat scandal that is currently thundering through the UK and EC media.

What are the facts?

  • Foodvest (the Findus Group) owns the Findus brand in Nordics, France, Germany and UK.
  • Some of Foodvest's products have been found to contain trace elements of Horsemeat, others labelled as beef to contain majority amounts.
  • The Swiss company Nestle previously owned the Findus company from 1962 to 2000 and still owns the Swiss (now unrelated) company of the same name. It's products are not affected, but with the same Findus brand name it could well be tainted.
  • UK scares about  bute (phenylbutazone) are ridiculous! The horse meat that is contained in any meat mis-labelled was intended for safe human consumption.  Horse meat is just another meat in Europe.  Only the UK has an mental allergy to horsemeat.

Give me an analogy?
In the financial sector sub prime mortgage debt  was combined with triple A rated debt and sold in packages.  Over time these packages were combined with others and it became impossible to tell which packages contained the lower grade sub-prime debt.

And in the world of lowest cost meat supplies it has also been difficult to tell administratively the genealogy of meat supplies.

So why am we so amused?

  • With smug mode set firmly to ON, Agata and Marcus can say that our decision not to eat meat wherever possible continues to pay off handsomely.

    In the 21st century there are more modern ways to get your protein and although we sacrifice the great taste of meat we feel it is the progressive thing to do.
  • Switzerland and our neighbour France are both countries that see nothing unusual about eating Horse meat.  Let me restate it.  In Switzerland, Horse meat is frequently on the menu at the multi Billion dollar headquarters canteen of my customer.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Triathlon Bars

Clearly I am not talking about a drinking establishment that you frequent after having performed a Triathlon.   No, I am talking about a contraption that you add onto the handlebars of your bicycle, which despite the extra weight should make you go faster!

I've been using these on my old Condor training bicycle for about 1 month now. I am quite impressed  - by crouching over the handlebars and pulling onto them as you pedal, yes you can cycle faster.

I've resisted the Triathlon bars for over 10 years now, mostly because to be effective they should be on a custom tri bike where the gear changers are relocated to the bar ends.  But this means a dedicated triathlon bike, and I consider that too much of an extravagance.

 The Token bars are 2 completely independent units

You firmly clamp each bar to the handlebar.   This 13 year old plus bicycle has the old standard 25.4 mm handlebars.   Not the 31.8 mm new standard.  So fitting here is a bigger test on the reduced diameter.

 The arm pads velcro on so can be taken off for cleaning

The extension can be varied in and out.   Reducing the extension means the bars go more to the right, too far to the right will hit your knees as you cycle.

In this simple device the triathlon bar is just a passive aluminium bar.   On a proper tri bike the gear changers can be on the ends of the bar.

So what did I learn?

  • Well this experiment has cost me about 30 GBP
  • It is only a Proof of Concept
  • It actually works!   I can definitely cycle a little faster, not only on the flat but also up any incline even steep ones.
  • I'm still learning how to use the bars and feel a little wobbly on them.  I don't yet have the courage to use them seriously  whilst sprinting, in the wet, or down any hill!
  • I could get some fancier bars and add  them onto my Production Scuro bicycle
  • Or in fact buy a dedicated Triathlon Bike

Token TK9741-2 Aero Clip On Bars