Monday, September 30, 2013

Lausanne Splendor

It is sometimes difficult to appreciate the beauty and splendour of the surroundings of Lausanne, the town in which we currently live.

My eye was drawn to the following Daily Mail article: Daily Mail Lausanne

Living life in Lausanne exemplifies the foreigners experience in Switzerland in general. 

It is a wonderful existance providing you have the money to pay for a Swiss lifestyle. Still so long as it lasts we are very much in like with it.


Welcome to Lausanne
Main Lausanne website
Daily Star on Lausanne

Monday Sermon:Disgraced

Please tell me what the common thread that links three recent atrocities shown above.

It is clearly not race as the hunt for the White Widow proves.

I can fairly comment that no peaceful religion can possibly be behind such activities

Watch the newsclips for yourself

Suspect held over Kenya mall attack

Peshawar Blast

Nigeria Attack

Religions, all religions are tainted by the slur that these actions cast upon the thinking world.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Goodbye to Debtember

Goodbye to Debt-ember, 
Welcome to Octo-pocalypse.

I do study multiple financial columns daily and the above graphic is pretty apocryphal.  Still others are pretty well reasoned:

In summary there are 2 pressing US financial issues about to kick off

a) US Government budget funding

From Zerohedge: "The White House to agree to keep funding the government after the current budget year ends Monday. Otherwise, some of the government would have to shut down. The House and Senate are considering bills to fund the government past the deadline. But House Republicans want to cut off funding for President Barack Obama's health care law as a condition of passing the spending measure. Senate Democrats and the White House have balked. Unless one side essentially blinks, a partial shutdown of the government will occur"

To learn more, this provides a good primer

b) US Debt ceiling

Warsaw Marathon 2013

To paraphrase Robert de Niro  (who in Heat remarked about always being ready to leave at any time)  we can re-affirm our modern day mantra:

Always be fit enough to be able to run a marathon at an hours notice

And so I am happy to report that Marcus and Agata, this Sunday September 29, 2013 ran the Warsaw Marathon. The 35th edition but the first time for us.

Limited Preparation

Until things change in our lives we have insufficient time to follow our exercise and racing passions. So with this excuse firmly in hand and in CAPITAL letters we can say that neither of us did any marathon race preparation.  In fact we were both a little exhausted by the running, cycling, swimming and gym classes we attended last week.  And back at a home in Warsaw we have been busy doing all the usual activities, so no time to put our feet up and rest we are afraid.

Race Report

We did some planning on Saturday night and thought we could get to the race start in the National stadium by Public transport.  So after a 06.00 wake up call we drove then metroed then trained to the start.

As you can see the course is a loop, coming out wst, then going clockwise north, all the way south on the east side then back up north on the west side of Warsaw.   Warsaw itself is of course a lot larger, but we especially like that it covers the area we know well Ursynow.

After a 4 minute delay we got past the starting line.  The start was immensely casual, a large spread out set of runners, not a tightly packed anxious band.  Plus there was no starting gun, we just sort of started!

Marcus strategy: Without a watch  (note to self, I must get a running watch) it was difficult to understand the pace.  Given that Marcus's legs were actually tired at start time I did not know how hard to push it.  I figured that I must not go speeding before 20Km so tried to run slowly but recognised an increasing speed so at Km 12 I had to mentally decide to slow down.   It took about Km 12 to get past all the slower runners in this 10,000 people race, I had started from almost the pack and not in my time category.

I managed to keep calm until Km 32, and then with only 10Km left I managed to sprint the last 10Km.  It was quite exciting to meet the runners who had broken away from me earlier, most seemed now to be slowing down.

I think in the future a running watch would allow me to pace a race better.

Because the course is flat it means you can really concentrate on speed and even the official website promotes this as an ideal place to run a personal best.

And speaking of that:  Agata's Strategy: Wore her new Saucony Kinvara 4 ultra lightweight shoes and had a negative split (get faster at the end) strategy.   It worked.  She ended up with a personal best 03:52, she is now a consistently sub 4 hour marathon runner.   That is impressive to me.

Refreshments and Toilets!
There were plentiful water stops though Marcus was expected each to have both water and Powerade which turned out not to be the case.   Marcus drank only Powerade and Agata only water.

Meanwhile Marcus had to make multiple toilet stops due to tummy/ flu issues, but thankfully there were port-a-loos before all refreshment stops.  Better than any Swiss race we have run!

Weather Conditions & Terrrain
Just perfect.  About 12 degrees, so: nice and cool for a easy time.    The course is also a fast one.  Over 90% tarmac with a few sections of cobbled streets and sandy paths through the parks. And flat.

No bumps, scrapes, injuries.  Moderately sore legs but they were sore before the race too!

Agata 03:52 (Personal Best!), Marcus 03:28

We Ate
Marcus ate 4xSIS Gels and then some GU Chomps after he remembered he was carrying them.
Agata ate 4 SIS and 1 Squeezy gel

Warsaw marathon official
Pre marathon diary

Post marathon diary

Friday, September 27, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

In Love with MicroPayments

In recent months we have made several purchases of batteries from eBay. 

In one example I bought 20  (yes twenty) button cells, posted from Hong Kong to Switzerland, for an all inclusive price of LESS than 2 GBP  (pounds).

But I am not remarking on the remarkable postal service or keen pricing in Hong Kong, though both are remarkable.

What makes all this possible is PayPal and micro payments.

In Switzerland Paypal is used infrequently.  Maybe people feel it is too cheap!  But here is the how and why every person should have a Paypal account ...

  • The most widely accepted payment method on eBay
  • As a buyer I pay no transaction cost
  • As a seller you might pay about 1.4%+0.2 GB Pounds . Now that is low!

  • My money is squirreled up in an account but how?
  • You sign up in your local county, example for the uk head over to
  • all communication uses secure https
  • You associate your paypal account with an email address (I use my gmail).
  • You also setup a link to a bank account and/or credit card
  • We typically send funds from the bank account to paypal.  We don't get paypal interest but then interest rates globally are practically zero everywhere, so who cares?
  • Otherwise you can automatically pull money from your credit card if your balance is to low for the item you need to pay for
And that is it!  How can you possibly survive without a paypal (and ebay ) accounts.  Get yours today.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What is that on your wrist?

I have a small confession to make.   I own a Smartphone.

Amongst other things this has an excellent and accurate clock.  And here, at random are the first 10 items I came across this morning with a clock

  1. Bedroom Alarm Clock
  2. Philips wake up light
  3. My Computer
  4. Tablet
  5. Smartphone
  6. iPod
  7. Muji weather station
  8. Microwave
  9. Car dashboard
  10. Wall-clock

So you know what, I don't really need a wrist watch to tell the time anymore.

However, something more than a watch, let us call it a Smart Watch might find a place on my wrist.

I've already commented on how I really don't need something on my wrist that can show me [albeit illegibly] something from my phone like SMS, emails   or alert me to some Smartphone activity.   For that, I'd just refer to my phone directly.  Doh!

But for the purposes of health monitoring and generally data capture from my body   (as opposed to data display from my Smartphone)  I am ALL IN.

The Angel device above has sensors for 

Pulse, Temperature, Blood Oxyyen

transmitting (via Bluetooth 4) to your Smartphone.

So to refer back to my earlier Article.  My list of essential sensors is

  • A primary ability to clearly display the time - it is a watch right?
  • Bluetooth connectivity - user should not have to plug it in to upload data from all of the sensors listed below
  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • Compass / GPS
  • Accelerometer
  • Altimeter
  • Skin Temperature sensor and ambient temperature sensor
  • Vibrator - to wake you gently from sleep state

So the 'Angel' device would be great if it was available now and actually worked.

However as users of the Basis watch have learnt  (12 months late and questionable accuracy) the road from concept to production is lined with more obstacles than just funding.

So I'm still waiting for a decent wrist health monitor, but I firmly believe this is a huge untapped and useful marketplace.  Major vendors [Apple/ Samsung/ an.other] please take note.

One last thing, since I don't believe in Angels I find the name inappropriate, but I am probably in the minority.

Angel Project
Buy this watch
Designing a Smart Watch
2012 Smart Watch Survey
Nike designer leaves to A*?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Berry Big Problem

The news that Blackberry, the Canadian Smartphone manufacturer will be cutting over 4000 jobs (30%) of its workforce was not a very big surprise.

Why exactly would you want to buy a BlackBerry [rather than a competitive Android/ Apple/ even Windows Smartphone?]

To me therefore the >15% share drop this last Friday is the culmination of a realisation that BlackBerry's time has been and gone.

There was a day when the security of data held on a BlackBerry because if it's encryption and inhouse location of data servers was second to none.   Indeed this led some Governments including the British, American and Indian complaining that they could not read BlackBerry emails/ SMS etc.   Remarkably BlackBerry caved, giving backdoor access to multiple governments.  At that time I lost all respect for the vendor, though with recent NSA revelations, well it was not just BlackBerry providing unfettered government access!

What are the other factors in the decline?

  • Mostly that the rest of the industry has moved on.
  • A device with a small screen is ridiculous
  • That ridiculous keyboard, I always pitied Blackberry users
  • You could not run all the cool apps the Apple and Android world enjoyed [An android v2 emulator was offered]
  • Blackberry 10 is the Operating system based on the famous but now quite old QNX micro kernel Operating System
  • QNX is a famous minimalistic UNIX like microkernel Operating system bought by Blackberry in 2010
  • Only the latest models namely the Q5, Z10 and up and coming Z30 have specs expected by users: high resolution screens, large memories, fast processors.   All the older models are well just old.

  • Even the latest Z30 is somewhat behind the hardware specs of flagship Android or [even] Apple hardware.   It is following not leading.
Trying to be Positive
Personally I would still rate BlackBerry above a Windows Smartphone,  however I think the market thinks otherwise.

For me  the only two surviving Smartphone platforms will be Android and iOS, the other guys are too far behind.

(Blackberry is sold to Fairfax Financial and others)

(New York Times Info Graphic)

BlackBerry Z10 specs
QNX 4.2.5 OS
QNX 650 Utilities PDF

Monday, September 23, 2013

Waiting for the right moment

Meanwhile over in Crazy Town

Meanwhile if you are not looking for a Sony Z1 mobile phone but are addicted committed to following the Apple ecosystem this video shows you what some people are prepared to do in order to be one of the first to have the latest [Apple] phone.

As some guy once said

Retire, relax, enjoy your family. It is just a phone. Not worth it.

To my darling partner Agata.  If you ever see me waiting in line for hours for a new phone, technology item, or anything really, then please feel free to reprimand me immediately.

(Don't try this at home, well at all in fact)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I thought the Z1 was just a car

As I cycle around Lausanne I have had occaision to bump into a dark blue coloured BMW Z1.

This 1990 roadster is of course famous for it's vertically descending doors


In fact I digress.   The Z1 moniker  has been taken by Sony

For their latest 2013 Smartphone.  It was announced in September 2013.

However already we see rumours circulating about the  Sony Z2 SmartPhone .  Those of you who don't understand Research and Development (R&D),  Testing and Manufacturing cycles might be put off therefore from even considering the Z1 [phone] which is by all first accounts a truly remarkable product.

I think it is really shame on the R&D developers who feel a leak to Esato or XDA Developers  will oh so briefly put them into the spotlight of fame.


Here is a case of technology being it's own worst enemy. Apple is probably the only technology company who has it right in this regard.   A predictable twice yearly phone upgrade and absolute silence in-between.   Stop with the rumours please folks, they just discourage consumers from making a rational choice in today's marketplace.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sunday Sermon:Universal Religion

Armin van Buuren  is a world renowned DJ and music producer.

He recently presented a 3 hour special mix on BBC Essential Mix and was described as the "World's number 1 DJ"

Interestingly enough he has produced a series of 7 albums called Universal Religion.   What are the views on music from some mainstream religions?

To quote from the Buddhist tradition:
Music gives us the capacity to express the deepest feelings of the human soul. Whether through holy hymns or sincere chants of praise, it is capable of lifting our minds to an almost sublime state

To quote from an Islamic Explanatory Text
In conclusion, avoid all singing, music, gatherings of entertainment, except for gatherings of melodious remembrance of Allah and His Messenger. And, be cautious if singing and music which are of spiritually happiness (not material) and also leads one to remember Allah and only listen sparingly if one could not avoid it at all.

To quote from a Marcus Tradition

You can theorise till you are blue in the face.  But take a cross section of religious and non religious people to a [non alcoholic] rave and watch them all have an excellent time. People can then return to consider whether their internal conviction and experience can be wrong.

So  start with a YouTube Search  then get out there for a test drive

BBC Essential Mix Armin van Buuren
Amazon Armin van Buuren store
Universal Religion chapter 6
The Orb - Peel Session
The Orb - loving You
Leftfield - Dusted

Islam and Music

Friday, September 20, 2013

Oh so Happy

The United Nations has published it's World Happiness Report 2013

It has been nicely summarised at Moneyweek

Of surprise to Agata who had thought the many of the poorest nations of the world were happiest.   And of surprise to Marcus who found that Switzerland is #3 in the happiness chart!

In fact I would recommend that you read or at least skip-read this 154 page document comprising these sections

As British living in Lausanne Switzerland, my initial comment was just

Bah Humbug, and that be an end to it

But then I started reading the report, and it is really most interesting, and my initial cynicism has been totally removed.

Give it a read!

World Hapiness Report Online
World Hapiness PDF

Oh, the lost hours

Yes, my lovely and usual rational wife Agata has joined the Apple iOS 7 zombie nation.

I think joy of tech summarises the situation nicely

Let us hear it for 1990's style 2D Graphics and bright colours.   Who needed that new old 3D polished interface anyway?  And the swipe up Control Centre interface, rather similar to the established Android Swipe down Control Panel don't you know.   

Imitation is the sincerest ...

Joy of Tech 1902

VMware Network Connection Failures

First a moment of praise, awe and thanks to VMware, a software program owned by EMC.

It allows you to take your Intel based PC or Apple computer and provides you an empty Virtualised copy of a computer into which you can install your Windows, Mac or even the venerable OS/2 operating system.

You can create disk space efficient  (thinly provisioned)  installations of a New Operating System to test a particular application, or even just create a Virtual Machines to safely and isolatedly run my different Linux test operating Systems like Ubuntu 13.10  before they hit production. 

I had stuck with my licensed copy of VMware 8 on my primary server but clearly had not quite checked everything on my upgrade.  So today when I fired up my Windows 2008 Server, inside my migrated Windows 2012 Server.

No Network!

Now I recall that one of the roadblocks to Windows 2012 server was a re-installation of the Intel Pro Set Drivers.  With it came the removal of the VMware Bridge Protocol interface

This is a layer which is inserted into the Real machine's Operating System  (Windows 2012 in this case) which talks to the VMware Hypervisor

A good way to proceed is then to attach a physical adapter to a particular network .  Here I show you how VMnet4 is attached to the Intel 82576 Planar Port 1 of my Server motherboard.

Note:In fact in my other more secure installation the host  (i.e. physical server) does not even use that Ethernet card and need have no native IP address on it.   It's used purely by the machines inside VMware.

The last step is to attach this network to the profile of your Virtual machine   (this one running Windows 2008 Server, in a 32GB disk image, with 2 processors and a miserly 2GB memory)

Now when the Guest boots I choose to set a hard IP address, gateway on my virtualised NIC card  to get out to the real world, which is done  via the Bridge Protocol driver on the Card I have 'attached'

So, all is well again my guests can connect to the Internet. And when I have internet connectivity in this 21st Century world, I smile :-)

Troubleshooting VM Networks

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Film Night

I've commented on what I regard as the unholy triumvirate of Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis before this year.

But as I pondered the truly awful Escape Plan trailer  at timecode 01:20  it got dramatically less plausible

Arnold popped up!

I could not quite believe it.  A terrible Stallone movie I can accept, but with Arnold too?

I'm so upset that we have cut our losses and dived into the DVD of a Good Day to Die Hard

Relatively speaking this must be better right?What did we think?

  • Well it is Agata's second viewing . She managed the first 50% of Good Day previously before switching it off.
  • Well, we found out John McLane has a kid
  • I still get a bit confused between John McLane and John Mcain
  • We learnt that the bad guys were really after money after all, how disappointing
  • I learnt that the entire McLane family are completely indestructible
  • I am pretty convinced this movie will trump any Escape Plan movie.

Out of 10 though, /good day/ is only about a 3.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

No Taper, BIG Problem

FOMC  is an acronym for Federal Open Market Committee

The members are:

These fine folk set US monetary policy and in particular their 45 billion dollars monthly in treasuries and 40 million dollars monthly in mortgage backed securities purchases.

In banking terms this is known as Quantitative Easing or to give it a more common term

Printing Money

Here is today's bombshell

Traders could not quite believe their luck

Mo free money, we like the sound of that!


So to me it's like you are the parent of a tearaway, uncontrollable child.  In the last month or two he/she has declared that their habit of spending about 85 billion dollars [per month] on crack crap, really is about to change.

Then bold as brass they turn up today, as arranged and disappoint you.   They will keep handing out that money.

A reminder of how much it is.  It is 250 US Dollars per man/ woman/ child    per MONTH, every month.

Madness redefined.

Barry Ritholtz: The way a healthy economy grows is people earn money and go out and spend it, the way a UN-healthy economy grows is people borrow money and go out and spend it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Honey, I broke the phone

A moments carelessness and my perfect condition Nexus 4 mobile phone  sustained this damage:

To look on the bright side the fall from about 1.5 metres, whilst rapidly spinning onto rough concrete was broken just a little by the Zagg shield coating, and certainly the back Zagg coating is all that is now holding the shattered back of the phone glass together.

What did I learn?

  • The phone is about 9 months old and that is young for me
  • I had no intention of replacing the phone for years, but now I must have something ready to replace this unit

  • I know this should not work but I ordered a few cases from eBay.   The best one is now firmly attached.   It is a thin, flexible, soft blue plastic case.  It totally hides the shattered back and my brain is so gullible that after 1 week I was convinced that all is well
  • With the case on the front screen protector kept bubbling so that is now removed, but the case has ridges on the front which affords some protection
  • To find a similar case search eBay for   MERCURY GLITTER PEARL JELLY CASE ULTRA THIN
So I'm still very much in like with Mr Nexus 4,   but I have to start looking around for a replacement.  Sudden death could happen at any time.   It pays to be prepared.

Chromebook supports Bluetooth Audio

Yes, It has happened as of August 2013, the chromeOS  i.e the Linux based operating system that Google supplies for ChromeBook computers now supports Bluetooth audio.

I am pretty sure one of the motivating factors was that owners of the 1000+ US Dollar Google Chromebook Pixel found previously that whilst a Bluetooth mouse or keyboard could be connected   (but why would you want to?), a Bluetooth audio headset could not.  How embarassing.

So how is it today

I am currently on chrome verion 30 or thereabouts.

These two headsets are defined

And yes they now (at last) work!

Initially I had trouble pairing the Logitech headset, the fix is to hold the track-forward and volume up buttons to force it into pairing mode (fast blinking) with of course the input slider in the Bluetooth position.

After that it worked immediately (so Logitech H800 headset is even more useful now)

Thanks google, but not before time.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Don't mention the War

One of the most wonderful features of the English language is its flexibility.

And right now John Kerry needs all of it.

Having passionately proclaimed the /let's go to war/ with Syria viewpoint we are now at the stage of

/wait, now let's not go to war/ with Syria.

BEFORE ... Let us bomb

DURING ... Now About turn

Tense US Russia Talks


NOW ... Let's make a deal
US and  Russia agree deal  (did they ask Syria?)

AFTER ... 
Clairvoyants, please contact us to fill in this section [but then you knew that already, right?]

Personally I believe if the US can find a justification NOT to goto War they will now take it, but I think in the long term  i.e. 1 month horizon, it still looks like inevitable military conflict to me.