Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Sports Review

Agata and Marcus would like to think that we not only try hard, but harder.  

During 2013 we participated in many more competitions than you see below.  Full details as ever are in the pages of our daily Blog  and now also saved for posterity on our website.  So for example to search for all our Marathon reports google

marathon site:maben.homeip.net/static/blog

In the summaries below click on a month title and you will jump to a longer article ..

January:Holiday Runs
For every holiday, or at every home you can be sure that Agata and Marcus will be running. Running is a great cardio exercise during which time we can admire the sights, talk to each other, or tune into our latest Podcast.

February: DEFI Night
DEFI Sportif Lausannois is the name given to a series of Sporting events in and around Lausanne  (the Olympic Capital as you surely know).  Once per year; a celebration for participants of the programme is held and of course we would always try to attend.

The number of events that we participated in depends on our being in Lausanne at the right time but the 180Km Tour du Lac  the Lausanne Marathon and Lausanne Triathlon are races that we try not to miss.

March:Two Oceans 56Km Ultra Marathon
Two Oceans provided our first visit to South Africa and we are sure this will not be our last. CapeTown felt like a home from home.

April:Lausanne 20Km
Lausanne 20Km normally marks the first serious running race of the year, but in 2013 as above we had already ran Two Oceans.  So this year it was merely the first DEFI based running race.  And this year we had 2 hours or so of running in torrential rain. Let this reaffirm our determination should anybody question it.

May: Tour du Lac
This year we were thrilled that the Renwick family  (Pierre, Krissy and Alex) came out to help us and join in the 180Km cycle around Lake Leman.  So often friends talk about coming, but they actually arrived.  A good time was had by all.

June: Les Paccots

There were multiple challenges this month including a trail Paccots Marathon , the Trail de L'Absinthe marathon and the General Guisan Marche Romande.   With that and our daily run or cycling to work left us pretty exhausted.

July: L'Etape du Tour
Although over 15,000 amateur cyclists like us started the Annecy stage of the Tour de France a few weeks before the professionals, booking and executing this race was not easy.  However, Agata kept at it and once we had a confirmed place all the organisation necessary to transport us, and 2 bicycles the night before, and meet up with friends fell into place.  Well eventually.  The Tour was really exhausting and it gives us a new respect for the Superhuman tour professionals, for whom this is just one stage in 21. 

August:GrimReaper  160Km Run
Quite the longest running race of our lives so far.  Agata came in as second woman.  Wow!

During the race Marcus was ahead of Agata once by about 40 minutes but constant naps during the night meant that Agata caught me up and we finished hand in hand; together across the line; easily beating the 26 hour cutoff.

September:Warsaw Marathon
Warsaw is Agata's home town, so it is perhaps surprising that it took us until 2013 to run the marathon here.  The course was flat, the roads familiar and this helped Agata to another Personal Best, sub 4 hour marathon time.

October: Lausanne Marathon

Considering that Marcus often ran the Marathon route  i.e from home to work, a days work, then back from work to home,  the Lausanne could be categorised as a little boring for him.

However the good weather, some friends cheering us on, and even the nod from the local Wine owner who recognised Marcus from daily run commutes to work, made this a special race for us.

November: Two Journeys Home

Whatever the weather; we feel that daily exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.   If we can combine this with a low to zero carbon footprint to get to work, we begin to live the dream.  November runs became more poignant when it became clear that Marcus's current work segment was ending.  With an uncertain future it was time to really appreciate this last month of running and cycling.

December: A week of Swim
Marcus's old joke that his Swimming pool always seems to be full other people has a ring of truth to it.

And now with a [current] change of lifestyle there is the opportunity for a longer daily swim. Long may it continue.

Final Credits
The local canton Vaud Switzerland races; and most Swiss races are only made possible due to volunteers who plan, organise, and provide refreshments, marshaling during a race.  To all these individuals, we thank you.

Extreme thanks: To Agata for most of the organising, getting us there on time, and constant support and encouragement, along the lines of:  we can do this, and we shall do this.  

Piece of cake in fact.

We are not sure what 2014 holds but daily exercise, a smile and trying to remain healthy, and thus not a burden to society will surely be some of our parameters.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Cycle 2013

So despite the heatwave that is upon our home town of Lausanne Switzerland  (6 degrees plus as I speak) I believe that we have now made our last cycle for 2013.

Fairly modest, but in the last days of 2013 we should be allowed a slight taper, right?

Just about to setup with only light thermal clothing

And back home, both bicycles are nicely cleaned and ready for a winter sleep.  This year, with these exceptionally warm conditions, perhaps a shorter sleep than usual.

I checked with Runkeeper and looks like I (Marcus) recorded about 5000 Km of cycling for the year.   Agata made a similar number.   We are quite happy with our endeavors.

And that as they say is it for 2013.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday Sermon: Feeling Oh so Old

I am not saying the world would be a perfect place if the following issues were erased.  But to me it would certainly be a more understandable, and I would venture, a better place.

1. Sagging Pants

In our current home of Lausanne, if I knew the good French for "You look like a complete twat and do you need the money for a belt"  I would probably be having more conversations with random, unknown members of the Public

2. Backward Caps
Where do I begin!  If you don't need to keep the sun out of your eyes then wear a different cap like a beanie.   

Even more idiotic than the  backward cap is the sideways cap.

3. Bulk Typing without a Keyboard  (Ipads vs Chromebook)
In the 1970's few people except secretaries could touch type.  By about 1990, and certainly year 2000,  children learnt how to type using all their fingers.  Now suddenly in 2010+ despite this valuable skill; the trend is to carry round keyboardless computers which limit our input to single fingers dancing around the screen a la 1970.  For bulk input use a frikkin physical keyboard!

4. What you, the State and now even the World owes me (regardless)
It is true that as countries develop and become more prosperous; the aims, aspirations and expectations of its' citizens sky-rocket.  But in return for that State provided safety net of assistance and minimum housing, food, and social benefits, the state expects you  a) to become educated b) not to seek to break the law c) get off your arse and actually work whenever possible.

5. Taking Religion too seriously
In England at least the Church of England was; and still is, famous for, well, being flexible.  Not only were most things allowed, but nobody took religion that seriously.  The thought that you were entitled to run over a person, then attempt to hack his head off with a Meat Cleaver, in broad daylight, all because your Religion seriously advocated a Holy War.  Well not in the 21st Century Church of England.

6. About an album per day/week
Listening to or buying 1 new Album per week used to be considered excessive.  Today many listen to the equivalent of over 1 new album per day.  More is not necessarily better.

7. Driving in the Cold Weather
It used to be that with 2 wheel drive, Summer tyres, no ABS, people would still venture onto Snow Filled roads and get to work.  However today even the smallest snowfall has Weather Station reporters advising that you should stay at home.  Just in case your 4WD, Snow Tyre Equipped, electronic Gadget laden car or you; can't take the stress, then; take a day off, why don't you.

8. Social Media
The idea is that whilst at work you might be entitled to spend any time you deem necessary to interact with friends over the Internet using site such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus/Chat, Twitter. Conversations normally revolve around the smallest trivia in your own life or that you have heard reported about a celebrities life.

9. Calling People Bitch
Using the B-word, the N-word or even terms like sick, repeatedly in conversation.  What does this achieve exactlly?

10. Large Headphones

Wearing large headphones whilst outside running or walking in town.    Please .. no.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Agata's assimilation is almost complete

What a Christmas surprise I am having when I find my wife was not content with the Mac Mini I had given her, she is sneakily upgrading it to OSX 10.9 , that is Mavericks.

Agata's old Mac Mini died recently, we think due to over-heating.  We had reformatted it to only run Microsoft Windows since we wanted to use our once sophisticated Dell SX2210T touchscreen, and OSX does not support touch. I suspect the Power Management was not as good and one day it finally overheated catastrophically.

I have a now spare Mac Mini which I had used this as a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to work at my last job, because the computer they supplied me was pathetically slow.

Now that that job is complete; this Mac is liberated and has been donated to Agata.

You may recall this was previously upgraded to SSD by us.  It was torture.

Whilst I am somewhat proud that my Geeky wife is now using a UNIX computer as her primary workstation I am equally worried that she now has an Apple computer, phone and tablet.

Although they are all quite old models, I feel Apple is making a stealth takeover in the Marcus and Agata, home IT infrastructure.

I must work harder on convincing Agata about the Nexus 5 with Android 4.3.

The Nexus 5 is just fantastic! 

Day 0: 5 days of Nexus 5

Friday, December 27, 2013

Get that Job

Unfortunately this post contains absolutely NO good news.  But it does talk about moral fortitude.

Summary: It is absolutely futile to look for a job between now and January 01 2014.

Just some of the reasons in my IT world

  • Work is winding down to zero over Christmas.  Employers are not hiring now, in January at the earliest.
  • The Christmas change freeze i.e. we dare not touch anything because a significant part of the workforce is away, is upon us.  This includes interviewers!  Give it up.
  • Suppose you did land a job, you would have to start and compromise Chirstmas!  Would not the time be better spent with intensive New Year preparations

But believe me I am still trying 

Don't call us

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Radio Times

To go by its literal name

The Radio Times

would be a publication that lists the schedule of Radio Programmes in England.

In fact this is how it more or less started out as I remember

It was a weekly to guide to BBC broadcasting Radio Programmes

Then later,  BBC Television was added

When ITV  (Independent) Television started broadcasting there was a similar magazine called TV Times, so you had to buy both paper magazines

Then in a merge  both BBC and ITV television programmes were included in the same magazine and BBC radio too.

The biggest upheaval in my memory was the change to separate out the TV from the radio programmes in the same magazine.  The days TV and Radio were next to each other, then in a shocking change, the week of radio programming was separated out to the end of the magazine.

I mention all of this because I recently found an early 1974 issue!  Of course it is now scanned....

And the full scan is here

Radio Times May 1974


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Reasons Greetings 2013

To our friends and family Marcus and Agata wish you Reasons Greetings 2013.

You have no doubt seen the many Seasonal signs

Now let us take a moment to rejoice

Peace on Earth

And Good Noodles to All Men and Womenkind

Christmas Heatwave ... for some

Here in Lausanne,  we are about to have a very HOT Christmas.

The peak temperature today will be 10 degrees C, on December 24th. Quite incredibly warm.

I then anxiously checked the Portes du Soleil webcam ...

There does appear to be snow, somewhat of a surprise, though now Agata and Marcus are not the greatest Boarders anymore, a run up a snowy mountain .. well that could be something.

Meanwhile  back home in England ...

Well up North it is indeed VERY windy, with the weather improving for Christmas day.

Stormy pictures from the BBC are here

Notebooks and Tablets for Christmas

There is /almost/ an infinity of choice when it comes to modestly priced (and performing) laptops and tablets for Christmas.

Our shortlist:

HP Chromebook 14

Whilst not perfect the price is quite low.   The annoying factors for this Chromebook are
a) No Backlit keyboard
b) No touchscreen
c) Heavy as hell!

Dell Venue 11 Pro

a) 2GB Memory and 32bit Windows

Acer Haswell Chromebook C720

Not as athetically pleasing as HP Chromebook 11 (2013) , but works a lot faster

Microsoft Surface 2 Pro

Actually quite good!

Asus Transformer Trio

A real trendsetter
a) High resolution screen, but rather small
b) Spinning Hard disk - dumb!
c) No Backlit Keyboard

Lenovo Touch U430

Looks good to me
a) Not uber expensive
b) Ethernet Port
c) Available with 8GB memory
d) Backlit Keyboard
e) Lowres screen but it's large
f) Faster processor and highres screen models not available anywhere!

Hopes for 2014

  • Decent Chromebook, with a higher spec not a lower price
  • Apple to enter the touchscreen Laptop market  (or do they just want you to buy both a tablet AND a laptop?)


02 Advent Calendar: Preparing for Christfsmas

Get ready for the Holiday!

An Engineers Guide to Cats 2.0

Monday, December 23, 2013

Annoying Gadgets

Although I love Gadgets, they do have to be useful.  And so I've made a list of a few things I hope never to  own

1. Ferrari 458 (aka F451)

It will just catch fire, or break down.  I don't need that level of uncertainty.

2. Portable USB Battery Packs

I use something called a power socket.  Unless you are genuinely away from mains power, yet with capacity to carry a heavy just in case charged battery around all the time ...  It is just ridiculous

3. Small Emergency Torch

Get a Smartphone which has includes a flash.  Come on!

4. Seat Belt Cutter

Each human being in a Western Country is likely to be trapped in a car whose belts do not open less than once per lifetime.   It's just something that we don't need

5. Keyfinder

Whistle within a few metres and the Keyfinder responds. Within a few meters is the clue to its uselessness!

6. 5 minute Mask

You may detect a pattern here. With no exceptions that I can think of today I am against carrying or keeping any /just in case/ gadget, where the just in case might happen about <= once in my lifetime. 

So if you send me any of these for Christmas,  Ferrari included I promise to return them.