Monday, June 30, 2014

Running Sainte Croix

Subtitle: A [rather] busy weekend round and about Lausanne

Saturday Fun in the Sun and by Lake Leman

We journeyed to Lausanne Bellerive outdoor pool complex to test our SUP (Stand Up Paddle).  No photographs .. because we didn't want to leave a camera on the beach.

We should not have worried.  The place was deserted! On a day when normally over 500 people would be there we counted 5!  I mean 5 i.e. less than 10 people.

All went well.

Beach Volley Ball Lausanne

We sat, watched and cheared the Switzerland vs Turkey game.  What are they chanting .. I heard iPod iPod iPod.  Surely that can't be it!  This was repeated many times but I still could not untangle it.

Swiss Wedding
Back walking around we saw a Swiss Wedding.  More colourfully dressed than usual I can tell you.  The first time I saw a stretch Hummer, well in Lausanne or at a Wedding ...

Sunday Running Saint Croix

Our plan for Sunday was the 2 lakes race.  However the Wet Saturday was delayed and so at 02.00 Sunday things were looking grim as torrential rain poured down.

Our alarm  rang at 05.30 (enough time to get to Le Bouveret) and Marcus poked his feet onto the balcony to confirm ... yes continued heavy rain.

Plan B:  Preverenges Triathlon, 09.05 start ... Some hours later .. Continued Rain. No chance!

Yes, just like refusing to board on substandard snow we prefer to run in a good climate.

Plan C: Saint Croix

Agata hand crafted a route which she uploaded to her Garmin Fenix II  GPS watch.   We would use this and a paper map to make a 20Km Ultramarathon test trail run.

After 14.00 according to WeatherPro satellites the weather would be clear.

Ultramarathon Test Run
An ultramarathon is any distance longer than a marathon  (42.195Km).   We plan to do several this year and we need to prepare.  Hence this mountain run today.


  • Run long
  • Run using the equipment you will be racing with: The same trousers, rucksack, gels, food, shoes.   
  • Find out through experience that you and your equipment are a good and capable team.

So we set off to Sainte Croix all loaded up as if for an Ultra Marathon

En route Marcus realised he had on his Asics Road shoes, but what the hell .

 Okay let's start with a bang

What do we aim to achieve on this run?

Sainte Croix is a little bit run down in parts, though some interesting items are for sale like this Panhard. 

After more than 1 hour of ascent Le Suchet approaches

We approach Le Suchet (audio terrible!)

Of course we are not alone.  Others are up there!

Time for a quick food stop.  We've strayed and extended our original route, but we have plenty of food supplies as our packs are test loaded for an Ultra Marathon distance run.

Descent was not so good as Marcus was accidentally wearing Road not Trail shoes.

Er, there seem to be dark skies ahead, but we are 7 minutes from Sainte Croix according to the GPS

Fantastic timing.  Minutes after finishing the run and driving towards home torrential rate starts!

Oh and I'll post more impressions later but so far here is a review of the Camelbak Ultra LR Vest

Camelbak Ultra LR Vest

Marcus: Ran 25Km, drank 400ml of Water+USN Epic Pro mix.  Ate nothing.
Agata: Ran 25Km, drank 800ml of Water,  Ate one SIS Gel Bar.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ramendan 2014

In our Church, that of the FSM  we are entering a very holy time of the year

Ramendan  2014

to be exact.  As if anybody should need reminding

Some definitions
Ramendan is a month of sacrifice in which followers eschew other foodstuffs after sundown, to test their devotion to the almighty noodle.

It should not be confused with any other Religious festival.

During Ramendan Pastafarians do not fast or pray, as doing so would conflict with our moral standards. Instead, Pastafarians focus their dietary efforts on Pasta, noodles, and especially Ramen noodles whilst remembering back to their days as starving college students

In Switzerland
The best noodle-tastic choices that we have found are shown above.

In Harmony with the Season
Of course the summer racing season is now upon us.  Let us look at the list of possibilities awaiting us here in Switzerland

As you can see our Noodly master has of course considered the increased calorific intake that will be necessary to perform best during this exercise intensive month  and made suitable provision.

Now that is a thoughtful deity.

In Summary
To fellow Pastafarians worldwide, enjoy this forthcoming month of Ramendan,  exercise hard, and in the spirit of this festival; look back on your lives and consider how you can encourage yourselves and others toward a more caring, less violent, and dogma free world.

Ramendan in 2012
2013 An end to Ramendan

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Raidlight Endurance 14 Rucksack review

A brand new Bag

A dedicated Rucksack for specific tasks is not just a luxury to Marcus and Agata it is a positive necessity.

On a running race when I see somebody running with a 'tourist' or general purpose rucksack it makes me positively wince with sorrow.

We use our rucksacks daily, whether it be on holiday with provisions for the day,  whilst travelling to carry our laptops or digital gadgets, or whilst on 100+ Km cycle rides at weekends.

To replace my recently damaged OMM 14  I done much research and come up with the Raidlight Endurance 14 pack instead.

Who Is Raidlight
Raidlight is a famous  (to certainly those in the UltraMarathon community) manufacturer of extremely light sports equipment.

If you browse the Raidlight website you will notice that items all have weights

How perfect!

A general Purpose Sack

Despite it's advertising I don't recommend that you run with this rucksack, unless you need it for a multi day,  several hundred Km event.  At 600 grams it is too heavy ! Somewhat ironic given what I said about the company above.

But the Raidlight 14 is an ideal commute, medium sized rucksack ...

It can accommodate all my triathlon kit above  (assuming I cycle to the event).  For example running clothes, towel, wetsuit, shoes etc.

 On the right a zip pocket large enough for a Nexus 5 phone and credit card wallet.

On top a small zipped pocket, then two separate zips to the main compartment and the place where a bladder might go  (but instead say a jacket/ ipad)

Inside the main compartment a zippable mesh bag and the main compartment is big enough to accomodate a 14 inch laptop and papers.

On the left an elasticated pocket large enough for an iPod Nano.  Also a bottle holder that will just fit a small compact camera.  (For my build a bottle actually hits my left arm so it's useless for that).

2 side pockets left and right.  The compression cords actually prevent you easily inserting and removing items but I suppose they are there for safety.

Other features
Elasticated holders for walking poles
Meshing on the back to hold a jacket

Side compression cords

It's very difficult to find, but well worth tracking down.  The Raidlight Endurance 14 makes for an excellent General Purpose rucksack.  Many features. Price about 100 USD.

Just don't use it for running!

Raidlight Endurance 14

Friday, June 27, 2014

Apple SmartWatch iWatch, the whole world is Waiting

Internally I am quite excited that Apple's iWatch is realistically coming by Christmas 2014.    That's my conservative estimate. But I can wait it out till mid 2015, no prolemo.

But as I have stated before  in Technology Speculation, and in fact; particularly Apple Speculation is a long frustrating road I refuse to join.

The facts of the Fitness Watch or Health tracker market in mid 2014

  • A whole slew of Sports Watches and Fitness trackers now exist
  • Sports Watches look too Specialised for all day every day wear
  • [NB:Smart Watches typically don't integrate sporting function, tell the time in an ugly way, and usually message you something on a minuscule screen that something just happened on your Smartphone.]
  • Back to Sport Watches and trackers ....
  • They are neither comprehensive nor easy to use
  • With care, dedication, quite a lot of money, and lots of battery recharging you can today rig up a working system
  • Marcus uses TomTom Multisport (Watch) + Mio Link (Heart Rate) + Withings Pulse (activity) + Nexus 5 (runkeeper) + Withings (Blood Pressure/ Fat Monitor).  As you can see a slew of products which with some degree of difficultly can usually talk to each other.
  • Agata uses mostly Garmin with some Withings.
  • But your results end up on different Websites, a simple comprehensive view eludes us
  • Some companies like Garmin are bizarrely going closed/ walled garden.  This refers

I certainly give Apple the credit for some years ago transforming the Smartphone Industry.  Apple more than Google with its innovative iPhone,  reliable, capable, /it just works/ strategy set the stage that the whole industry including Google have followed.

Now shortly I would expect Apple to march into the Smartwatch market.

  • Sports Watch manufacturers and Fitness tracker manufacturers must be crapping themselves!  Two words:  Remember Nokia.   From dominant giant, to bought out, skinned alive manufacturer, now running with somebody else's OS.  Oh the tragedy.

Some of the Vendor Foundations Already Laid

Apple: Chicken Fat

So what is the big picture?
Initially one or all three of the above will promise to work with established fitness manufacturers

Some fitness manufacturers will open up and participate

Immediate term: SmartWatch products will need a SmartPhone to operate.  This is great business sense, you need to buy the Watch and the Phone for maximum function.

Fitness watches are safe short-term then.  They can export data to Apple/Google/Samsung interfaces for collection and App based reporting.

Longer term,  Google and Apple and Samsung will have consumer based SmartWatch hardware that will bypass/ ignore/ obsolete established fitness manufacturers offerings and operate as a complete substitute.

Sales (of say) an Apple iWatch or Google LG Watch with standalone functionality will explode  at the expense of traditional brands

Apple (example) will no longer need the fitness manufacturers and will /concentrate/ on their own hardware

Still the Fitness industry only has itself to blame

  • Backbiting, not constructive competition between vendors
  • Lack of support of Android platform in multiple cases
  • Lack of Bluetooth LTE support
  • High product fees or yearly subscription recurring charges for products and services

If Apple comes up with something only moderately decent I'll gladly trade in the sometimes [not well meaning] incumbent manufacturers who have had the marketplace all to themselves for over 5 years now.

Come on Apple    [I can't believe I'm saying that!!]

TechCrunch: Multiple Sensors

Thursday, June 26, 2014

6TB lands, but expensively

As a passionate Compute Storage Guy   (well somebody has to be),   I've been monitoring >5TB Hard Disks for absolutely ages.

They have arrived, buT, bUT and BUT.

Stepping back:

Mach 2014:  I was salivating as drives were already announced, just not quite shipping

May 2014:  Well it was my Birthday (excuse #1) , but mostly I was fed-up of waiting and voted for 4TB drives

June/July 2014:  They arrived.  BUT BUT BUT

How flippin expensive?

Swiss 4TB
Hitachi 7K4000 == 190 CHF

Swiss 6TB
Seagate  ST6000NM0024 == 490 CHF

Hitachi Deskstar H3IKNAS40003272SE = 122 GBP

Seagate  ST6000NM0024 == 411 GBP

So, in summary.  To all of you who have waited for cost effective  6TB drives, think again.   4TB should be your choice for the immediate future.

Marcus in Smug Mode

And, given the stability of that disk drive manufacturing shrine  (Thailand), I would stock up sooner rather than later.

Still working Michael: There is no eXscape

Michael: Love Never Felt So Good

With my passion for music it is perhaps surprising that I have not yet commented on Michael Jacksons latest album


1. "Love Never Felt So Good"
2. "Chicago"
3. "Loving You"
4. "A Place with No Name"
5. "Slave to the Rhythm"
6. "Do You Know Where Your Children Are"
7. "Blue Gangsta"
8. "Xscape"

Of course there is no need to buy the album! You can listen to all the tracks on YouTube for free quite legitimately.  I never understand how that works.

What I would say is this

BBC Documentary: Michael

Michael, during your lifetime, sometimes you acted weird

Chris Rock: Another Kid 

Sometimes you acted questionably

But I feel embarrassed and sad that even beyond the grave you seem to still be working with the release of your latest posthumous album.

Michael Jackson: Smooth Criminal Munich

Personally I think your musical catalog was just fine already.

I really hope unlike some other less talented deceased musicians (Notorious BIG comes to mind )  you won't be pushed into releasing more!

I remember the good times:
John Mayer: Human Nature

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

IBM 7249 PowerPC Thinkpad

Subtitle: A story with a happy ending.  

Are you sitting comfortably?

Then let me begin.

Hard Lives
All the computers in the Marcus and Agata household have hard lives.  Whilst of course all our gadgets truly know that they will  end up in Silicon Heaven after a lifetime of service, my IBM PowerPC laptop's ascencion is postponed.   She is again alive after a 15 year rest....

What is a PowerPC ThinkPad
[Disclaimer: The following opinion is my own.  You might disagree, but then of course you would be wrong :-) ]

Even in the late 1990's the large and then still dominant computer company IBM thought though other companies like Microsoft or Sun Microsystems who were making computers could never overturn IBM's long term objectives in the industry.

Two of them were

a)  OS/2 would not just a  success but a dominant desktop OS

b) PowerPC computers could really overtake Intel

And so the IBM PowerPC Thinkpad was born.

Let me Sell it to you!

  • This is a Thinkpad laptop system circa 1996
  • It has a 32bit PowerPC processor i.e. totally incompatible to the Intel x86 processor
  • It's modular design allows you to open up

The laptop in about 5 seconds.  You will see that the hard disk (left), the CDROM (centre) and the battery (right) are all removable in seconds.

A truly brilliant design!

  • There is an 800x600 Colour Graphics screen driven via a Western Digital 90C24A controller

  • An Internal SCSI hard disk and an external SCSI port for external devices like disk or tape
From left to right the power socket, serial port, parallel port, Display port, floppy port, SCSI port. Amazing.

My Knight in Shining Armour
In England I had 2 PowerPC laptops.   When I moved from London I [stupidly] junked one and took the remainder and all parts to Switzerland.

10 years later I realised the laptop no longer booted.

15 years later I had sold a broken Apple Mac Mini to   Terunobu Akiyama.  I think the transaction was good for him and some months later he emailed me saying that he had just noticed that I was selling my broken Thinkpad also.

He wrote to me and offered to try and fix it for me, and even pay the postage.

A week later, my dead Thinkpad is resurrected.  Teru, I cannot thank you enough!   After his positive and selfless act I am smiling cheek to cheek.

More hardware Photos

 BIOS easy Setup

Booting IBM AIX version 4.  The most logical choice for this machine.

Obviously the logon required me to lookup my password for this machine from 15 years ago.  Of course my passwords are always randomised, different on every machine, and change frequently.  Lucky then that I keep some extremely precise records.

Here is the Hard Disk removed  (in just seconds) from the Laptop

 External 1.44MB floppy diskette

 CDROM drive

A solid underbody!

BIOS Screens

Wait, is that the top-secret resident monitor or did I eatabug

More Reports to Follow

Now that my baby is again working I would like to test out other Operating Systems that this wonderful machine is capable of running.

Yes, it can run other than IBM's AIX   (32 bit)

It should be possible to run PowerPC binary versions of

Microsoft NT
Solaris 2.5.1
Some variants of Linux
IBM OS/2 Warp

So if you know where these binaries are then please ping me so I can evaluate them. 


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tempo Bluetooth Thermometer

After all the trauma of getting run over  recently, countless calls to /can't be bothered/ Insurance Companies and still agonising pains ...  Marcus thought he would treat himself to a

Tempo Bluetooth Thermometer

What is it and why did I order it

It is a weather protected temperature sensor that talks to your Smartphone using Bluetooth.

Potentially then I can wake up in the morning and check the temperature on the balcony and then decide what clothes to wear for the morning exercise.

The device can store upto 24 hours of results and therefore so long as you check the unit once per day a results history is built up on your Smartphone app.

In other words the App keeps all the results and can display them in table form, or more significantly export them.   

Exports are in PDF or CSV, and the target file can be sent to Email or DropBox or Clipboard, Bluetooth etc

The unit is small, the included battery lasts 1 year, on the back is an activate button.

 The Android app display has a few options


The unit shows promise.  It's able to show me the temperature where tempo is placed using Bluetooth without issue.  The generation 2 smartphone app now allows for full history recording meaning that I can keep a local temperature record as required.


BlueMaestro Tempo Thermometer

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Best Rejection

Some of us have long memories.

The chance to create a positive impression even during rejection is noted and appreciated by me.

And so I have to commend

Rothschild Bank

For their recent superb rejection letter to me after I applied to them for employment.

What was so great?

  • They sent back a reply quickly using first class post
  • They actually bothered to reply at all
  • Their reply was in English, polite and to the point
  • It was  concise
  • They did not return my CV
  • They enclosed their letter in a plastic wallet backed with some card.  It felt like a little present as it popped into our post box

So this reminds me, that, even the process of rejection is something that can be done well.  Well done Sirs.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday Sermon: Stretch

To start with a cliché ...

None of us are getting any older

And whilst in our youth we might have taken our health for granted, perhaps as the years march onward, more care and attention is needed.

Most of us will not live to the age of 200 years.  Of course there are exceptions:

And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.
[King James Bible: Genesis: 09:29  © God ]

Agata's employer it seems has not only provided her with her own lockers and shower facilities but sent staff advice on stretching thus

How very thoughtful.