Sunday, June 30, 2013

Oh the Shame

Google Reader

October 7 2005 - July 1 2013


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sunday Sermon: [YOUR] God did it

Believe me, this has been a terrible week for Natural Disasters, also known as Acts of God

A small selection includes:

UK wet summers

Indonesia Fires

Freak Afghanistan Hailstorm

US Wildfire kills 19

Indian Floods

Hurricane Irene Approaches

Canadian Calgary Floods

Canada thousands displaced

Swiss Winds 39 Injured

SO, in essence this is how it works.

When your GOD does a good thing you can use this as proof of how good, and benevolent your GOD truly is

BUT,  when a bad thing happens to you, or a loved one you must fall back to the doctrine that you are not able to understand Gods Purpose,  nor to have it disclosed to you.  That any immediate pain or suffering you or that you have experienced or witnessed is regrettably justified.

Another possibility is that the results that you have witnessed strongly correlate to the thesis that your god is perhaps merely an imaginary friend.  However,  since you have an unshakable faith in your God [and of course not some other imaginary God], you may dismiss such thoughts as heretical.


Peter Singer on Suffering

One of Our Documents is Missing

Subtitle:Trouble in Google Drive Clown storage land

Whilst filing this months Payslip on my local hard SSD disk [on the master server] I idly thought I would check the Google Drive mirror, in the cloud.


  1. Even though the native Windows Application claimed that all files were in Sync
  2. On the Cloud the payslip directory was different

Actually, I'd sorted out the local hard drive files into years and subdirectories, and just added May's payslip.  But on the Google Drive cloud, all the files were unsorted, and May was also missing


Even though Google Drive tray icon declared sync'd this was not true.

I found this way of switching on debug logs and using my 1999 Free Software Foundation pre compiled UNIX utilities for windows:

tail -f C:\Users\x\AppData\Local\Google\Drive\sync_log.log

to continuosly monitor the log in a DOSbox window.  We are looking for errors.

I clicked on the DOSbox screen to select a character and hence (paused the screen) to view, because the errors scroll past at hundreds of lines per second.

Why Use Google Drive Anyway?
The perceived advantage is

  • On the local computer you store all your datafiles
  • In fact mine are on a specially fast SSD
  • Out of the house you can always browse to   and get any information that you require
In other words you have access to your documents anywhere anytime just using a browser.

Plus if anything happens to your local machine you have a safe backup in the Google drive cloud.

How did it used to Work B4 GD?

Before Google Drive, my personal Data was stored on a 4TB disk with other data.  (Then I split my data to a dedicated SSD with just a \Google Drive folder)

Every day/ week/ month a set of rotating onsite and offsite backups were made to copy disks.

This seemed to work 100% well for well, over 25 years now. Hmm.

The Slow Migration
Until recently I have never used my 200GB of Google Drive storage in earnest.  It was rumbling along at about 10GB without any issue.  Then I incrementally added

  • Copy of my work USB Key  (20GB)
  • My Wiki  (0.5GB but > 100,000 files)
  • Computer files archive  (30GB && > 150,000 files)
  • Last 2 Employers file copy  (50GB, mostly IBM Problem reports and computer problem log submissions)
  • Photograph Library (50 GB)

So in fact we were close to the 200GB limit and nearly 300,000 files.

This is when it went from 100% reliable to a disaster.

Some of the Errors

Scanning Web
<But 48 hours later, on my 24 processor computer, it still says ... Scanning Web, what is it doing exactly, who knows, there is no further information to display>

Download error. -The file on your computer is missing.

unable to sync. This is the Report ID: xxx

unknown error has occured

<Sync never completes even after > 12 hours>

Sorry, Google Drive needs to quit.

The Big Backout
Of course first start with a backup, because with close to 300,000 files it's going to be impossible to check everything!

Next: Move the data out of Google Drive: At first I was only going to move a few directories back to Local Only disk.

But as I started moving directories  (using Total Commander so that all file and directory dates are preserved)  I got angry/ despondent.

How dare Google Drive, screw me over!  I had trusted them.  I invested time in the solution. Now at best I'd salvage all my files, but at worst I'm going to lose data.

More complications ensued:  An intricate set of automated transfers move data to and from different computers, each of which see only a portion of the entire data drive.  Example: Mac Mini runs iTunes holding the Podcast directory.  This is pushed to Google Drive.   Another computer transfers that Google Drive Podcast Directory to a Web Directory and also to the master server.  All these scheduled transfers (via SyncBack and Carbon Copy Cloner) have to be reworked.

What did I learn?

It has been a slow and biased journey getting to Google Drive

I did start slow and when Google Drive had only a few GB of data and tens of thousands of files it worked 100%

Trouble is it does not scale well!

With over 150GB of data and about 300,000 files it just seems to stop working.  To qualify:

  • The Synchronise task keeps running for over 12 hours, without completion
  • Studying the diagnostic log shows that gdrive was hanging on files that it could not access (file permissions).  But there is no normal view to this special ASCII diag log.
  • On several occaisions it wanted me to disconnect and reconnect the account. Meaning a full file resync, i.e. re-upload almost 200GB data.  Absolutely ridiculous
I have been biasedly giving Google the 'benefit of the doubt' hoping they would fix these issues.  But 12 months on, no.  And just check the forum for other people's views

Request for Improvements
  • Google Drive should 'just work'
  • Should give clear indications about what it is synchronising and clear error messages
  • Ability to confgure upload/ download rates
  • Prefer synchronisation of some directories/ particular files
  • Verify and correct mode
  • Display what is actual synchronising in real time

For now all is back to spinning storage. So I'll start again looking at the Google competition which includes

DropBox - Replacement for Google Drive

Amazon Glacier - Archive storage

Crashplan - Backup to the Cloud

On the Google Forums, people speak most highly of DropBox.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Stop with the Advertising

I believe Sony has revealed that it is proposing to place micro advertisments on the fingernails of a Wimbledon tennis player, which will help promote their latest Sony Bravia X9 higher resolution televisions.

Now ignoring the very important issue as to whether their plan holds any logic  (i.e. will the broadcast quality of the video stream will be below a.n.other brand of HD TV) it brings to mind the perennial problem of advertising.

I absolutely can find all the marketing and technical detail for prospective purchases I need using

  • Personalised RSS feeds
  • Opinions of techy friends
  • Googly research

What I really don't need,  and don't care for includes

  • Large building drape advertisements   (doesn't this obstruct the view for residents!)
  • Banner ads of any kind inside a browser page
  • Popup Ads that need acknowledgement before your webpage loads.
  • Google Ads anywhere e.g. in gmail   (Adblock plus anybody!)
  • Adverts/ Offers on the Petrol Pump screens/ pump handles
  • Ridiculous Swiss, unrealistically fantastically priced and uninspiring average tech paper mailbox spamming
  • Huge digital hoardings at the side of Sports events like football making it difficult to concentrate on the game
  • Adverts on the tops of my Chinese or Indian Takeaway Box
  • Emailed product offers, which turn out to be available for shipping only to the USA, amazingly we don't all live there, other countries of residence are available.
  • Pre Roll and Post Roll adverts when I try to watch a video.   [Pre Roll for example is an advertising video prepended to the video I thought I was going to watch on its own.]  Interstitials as the professional say.
  • Large static bill boards in towns or by the side of large roads.    Grossly inefficient and by today's standards a bit of an eye sore.

Thanks to fellow frustrated friends for helping me generate this list! And,  don't hesitate to send me more peeves.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Bigwig meeting

Despite being terribly busy at that work thing I have to admit  that I freely attend the Bigwig corporate meetings.

First off these meetings are Compulsory but that does not stop a large part of the technical population poo-pooing them with rationale like:

  • I am definitely not going
  • I have more important things to do
  • The company will make the same choices whether I go or not
  • You can tell me what they said anyway

Personally,  I'd like to hear first hand if the upper management in our Company, who surely does not know me from Adam, has some cataclysmic action plan than will surely change the way, or even if I continue to work for them.

What then is the etiquette for the meeting?

  • Men, have to wear a tie
  • The event is video recorded.   Hence it's entirely inappropriate to fall asleep during the meeting, and for me be in direct line of camera sight.    So sit in a middle position, with plenty of surrounding people cover!
  • Make sure the cellphone is on mute
  • The smartphone should be charged!  Sometimes the business speak is so removed that you actually need to Google some of the acronyms as the presentation unfolds.
  • Get there on time.  Contrary to the national stereotype, here in Switzerland most of my meetings start late.   But this is not going to be one of them
  • Take some food!  The meetings can last upto 2 hours and once you are in you cannot leave.   In fact, make that water and food.

What was so interesting?

  • The meeting was uber high level.  I mean all business and no techy.   In the prolonged question and answer session if I had posed a question with any of the words Operating System, AIX, SAN Storage,  I think any of the presenters would have had blank stares.

    It reminds me of the career path I never chose.
  • Initially I found one of the Bigwigs  talking in cloud like, generalised sentences.  But he settled into his pitch with a real passion and quite won me over.
  • There was lots of talk of SKUs.  I know about Stock Keeping Units!  I felt good.

    Then, they  started talking about MOGE.  After about 10 repetitions I challenged my colleage to ask what a MOGE was!  We were both too chicken.   I now know it  is Marketing and Other General Expenses
  • I asked the wife and she said her companies favourite acronym was BPWATS: Business Problem We Are Trying to Solve.
  • We entered the Headquarters into an area that was full of large, plush offices and smiling people, moving in a kind of slow motion.  Again, far removed from our Technical Department
  • I finished with lunch and a visit to the company shop for some chocolate and an energy bar.   It cost 50 CHF total  (about 53 USD) because that how much lunch costs here in Switzerland.
  • I returned back to my office early afternoon and settled back down to my workstack.  AIX tunables like j2_metadataCacheSize  set with the ioo command   and how it is called in a chained set of Korn Shell scripts, with the reported results tftp'd to a server, feeding a web-server from which users can determine graphically the compliance of almost 2000 servers.   Yes, the real world then.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Moved to Feedly

I cannot understate my annoyance and disappointment at my once favourite Internet company Google for discontinuing  its RSS service and companion Google Reader.

Since Google's announcement a few months back I have of course surveyed the alternative services and switched

To Feedly

I think both my actions and my annoyance [at Google] are common to many millions of other users

Feedly allows you to:

Sort your feeds into groups

Change the way you look at your feeds including line view,  grouped and full view

Mark all feeds in a group read (the tick)

Refresh the view

And more

Keyboard shortcuts to jump from one article to the next quickly.

You can save particular posts and then review them later

You can email posts to friends or send them into a social network

Access is via a WebBrowser or on Android via a dedicated application

To Summarise:  Feedly has completely and seamlessly replaced Google Reader.   Shame on you Google.  And three cheers for Feedly.

Even AOL has RSS
Feedly picks up

Monday, June 24, 2013

It was the Pedals

For at least 2 weeks now there has been an annoying kind of creaking noise emanating somewhere on my [race] bicycle.

First to notice that the creak/ rumble/ click means your pedal stroke is slightly less efficient

Second, it is every so embarassing if you pass a fellow cyclist, he or she is thinking: sure that guy may be passing me, but his bicycle sounds like a mess!

Bicycle squeaks and creaks are not always easy to locate.

For example a rhythmic creaking sound you might presume to be coming from the Front chain wheel or cranks might instead be coming from your seat.  Because you move your base cyclically as you pedal.

Attempt #1
So,  after 2 hours of of crank disassembly and reassembly, with careful attention to bolt tightness as measured by a torque wrench .. result ...

Seems fine!

1 day later .. misery.  It is fine on the flat, but under load, not fine. Creak remains.

Attempt #2

Replaced Speedplay Nanogram pedals with Speedplay Titanium pedals from the backup bicycle.

1 day later .. Success!

Good news:  Nanogram Pedals definitely the issue

Bad news: Nanograms pedals, definitely the issue.  I am gutted.  I'm not buying another pair!   Not exactly a bargain I can tell you.

Solution & Learning Points
I'm ordering a new Speedplay Zero bearing kit from Wiggle. [May be able to scavenge parts for Nanogram] I am also tempted to order a replacement Speedplay Zero Titanium  pedal set because the learning points surely are

  • Speedplay Nanogram are described as for race day only.
  • I'm pretty sure I used them for less than 2000Km, and they are exhausted

The Nanogram pedal bodies are made of carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic 
Instead of the standard two cartridge bearings and one needle bearing found in each Zero pedal, each Nanogram pedal uses one ceramic bearing, one cartridge bearing, and one needle bearing.

  • My initial Nanogram disassemble achieved nothing.  Pedal bearings seem loose i.e. worn out. Seem to resist the bearing tightening attempt.
  • Part of the Nanogram weight saving is lighter Titanium screws for the foot cleat.   I keep that if I move to Titanium Zero pedals. (since I don't change the cleat)

  • Agata and I both have different yet exquisite pedals.   I am on Speedplay, but I'd put a shout out for Agata's preference Crank Brothers Eggbeaters, which use even smaller [though unfortunately different] cleats to the Shimano SPD.

Speedplay Titanium
Speedplay Nanogram
Speedplay Zero bearing kit

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sunday Sermon:Putting a Religious Foot In it

Like any organisation a religion needs members.

And so it's unfortunate for them when by their own unmovable and by now quite outdated standards they [mainstream religion] excludes an increasing segment of the population.

In this post I would ask you to consider your position on Gay Marriage and Homosexuality.

You could be gay or be good friends with someone who is trying for Gay Marriage and if your Church/ religious leader insists you make a choice between a lifelong personal Gay friend,  or an infinitely durable though imaginary friend, well:

you might just choose the former.

Catholicism and Gay Marriage
Pope Denounces Gay Marriage

Islam and Homosexuality

A reasoned discussion from the BBC

Hinduism and Homosexuality - conflicted

TO summarise,  I have not found any mainstream religion which supports Homosexuality,  this is in opposition to the Law, and hence wishes, of the people in most Western Societies.

Wikipedia maintains a good list

Meanwhile, there is [of course] one religion which embraces different forms of sexuality:

FSM and homosexuality  - FINE
FSM revelation

Russell Brand interviews Westboro
Chris Rock - Gay Marriage
Mormon activists confront their prejudice

Marche Romande du General Guisan 2013

Subtitle: 15 kittens, 38Km Walking, 2Km trotting, 2 Glasses of Wine and the Sun.

At the 2012 DEFI Celebration speak it was announced that the 40Km famous walking course of General Guisan would be included in the 2013 Lausanne DEFI

(The DEFI is the sporting calendar of events that Lausanne puts on yearly, whose participation scores you points with Lausanne council keeping score)

Henri Guisan  is one of Switzerlands most famous soldiers.

Several reasons why we wanted to participate

  • It's part of the Lausanne 2013 DEFI programme and we want to score the points!
  • We like to do our bit to support Lausanne sporting
  • We researched the weather and it was going to be sunny, & > 20 degrees.
  • It's in line with our Marathon per week (or similar), summer exercise schedule
  • The cost of the event is only 10 CHF: never has a Swiss event been so reasonably priced

Let us start with the course which opens at 07.00 Saturday June 22 at Mezieres.

First the administration.  As you can see the latest technology is on hand: pen and paper :-)  The price for two admissions, including late surcharge and ceremonial glass was a stunningly low 20 CHF   (compare that with 180 CHF for last weeks marathon, a more usual price)

And here are the two contenders.  Team number 26: Marcus and Agata.

Our first sign.   Most signs are permanent, you can do upto the 40Km route at any time by following these directions.

 Tiny Horses

 Our first control point of which there will be many

 A new style post box for Switzerland.  We do approve.

 A sign warns us of killer squirrels.  We are scared.

An early Carrera resting

Marcus's feet are overheating.  Time for a pitstop

Most of the early road crossings are manned by the Swiss military, often accompanied with military vehicles.

2 of the 15 kitties that we spotted on our journey.  Obviously there are looking away!

Control point and basic refreshments. We are treated to a modest beef soup, water and apple segments.

The main 20KM stop.  Free refreshments to participants and the opportunity to buy lunch.  We press on (since our food is in our rucksacks) and overtake a lot of people!

 Another sleepy graveyard

In the 25 degree plus heat the 30KM route split has been a long while coming!

Our entire route has been a journey thru small towns and rural settings like this one.

A resting Porsche 928

 Vintage Citroen

Milk production plant

 Gingerbread House

At KM 36 there was a surprise.   The commune of Auborange had prepared a covered refreshment tent with drinks including wine.    Of course we felt obliged to stop and say hello, without regard to our race time!  A drink or two later we continued.   Great Hospitality

KM 40 at last we have finished!

Time to pickup our commemorative glass for this the 44th year of March Romande du General Guisan

We are quite tired!  Puffy hands from Marcus and general tiredness from Agata.


Marcus drank 1Litre of Epic Pro fluid from his Camelbak Octane LR rucksack, expended 2269 calories in 07:13 hours whilst climbing 940 metres

Marche Romand du General Guisan
2013 Guisan Brochure