Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Sermon: The God Particle and CERN

In the Summer of 2012 Scientists announced with high confidence that they had identified the Higgs Boson subatomic particle.

Not surprisingly illustrations of what is called the /God Particle/ closely resemble the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I shall leave the reader to draw the inevitable conclusion. RAmen.

In homage to this discovery Marcus and Agata have for some time been on the waiting list to visit CERN and learn more about Colliders and sub atomic particle theory.   We can now reveal that we have had an introduction

 This year CERN celebrates it's 60th birthday

Part of a small group

The Synchro Cyclotron

Colliders contain common components and we were explained the basics by an in depth talk about the Synchro Cyclotron shown above.

Besides an informative video that overlays the actual Cyclotron our Physicist guide encouraged us to ask any question to clarify our understanding.

There are multiple Colliders at CERN

 The Collider mural

 Collider detector building blocks

Talk of Boson

Particle discovery at the Atlas collider displaying the common components to all colliders

We thoroughly enjoyed our Physics based tour which was made professionally and our Physicist guide was a great source of technical information.


Richard Feynman: Pleasure of the New

CERN at 60
Higgs confirmed
Key to the Universe

The force holding the Universe together?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Agata gets Dura Ace

This is the story of Agata's recent Bicycle upgrade to more [Shimano] Dura Ace.

Deserve it, really we do!
Before we get onto the detail, you need to read this section! Otherwise you could imagine this is merely a tale of two rich kids with another toy.  But no.

Firstly neither Agata or Marcus are kids and are funds are increasingly limited!  Secondly, we really make use of our bicycles and do a lot of cycling.  How much? Well, Marcus put significantly more than 5000 Km last year and I am sure Agata is in the same ballpark.

We need quality componentry on our Bicycles, parts that perform and won't let us down.  As Engineers we favour the lightest, best Engineered parts we can find, but they must be durable!

Shimano Dura Ace is just that!

Goodbye Ultegra
Agata's bicycle initially came with Shimano Ultegra components on a Ribble EM2 frame.  In 2006. That was 8 years ago!

Over time there have been multiple Dura Ace upgrades and today it is time to upgrade the Front Chainwheel and Bottom Bracket.

 Dura Ace 7900 Hollowtech Double Chainset

Notice that the teeth sizes are specially sculpted in some places.

 Different crank length are available.  We stick to the short 170mm.  The shorter the crank the higher the force per revolution your legs will need to produce since the moment is less.

The underside of Dura Ace 7900 Hollowtech II

 Removal of the bottom bracket needs a special spanner. Actually to insert the new Dura Ace 9000 bottom bracket you need a new spanner or use the plastic insert supplied with the 9000 bearing.

Some considerable time later the Ultegra Bottom Bracket removed and the new 9000 bracket greased and ready to insert.  Then simply insert right Chainwheel, attach left pedal and tighten to 14Nm. Put pedals back on, and test cycle...

Oh yes,  I of course renewed the Chain also with an original 7901 .  It is best practice always to renew the Chain when one makes changes to the Geartrain.

Looks so good!   We will be testing shortly.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Another Sick Disk

My now 6 year old plus Virtualisation Server normally boots up from Bios  (20 seconds) and then  to load it's Operating System  (30 seconds) for a total Boot time of under 1 minute.

Not bad for a /server machine/  which is designed to run 24x7 without a break if need be.

So a boot time of over 15 minutes, and, after pressing C-A-Delete at the login window to Desktop in another 20 minutes this morning had me thinking.

Probably, something is very wrong!

Last week whilst fixing another problem I noticed the SMART disk status indicators on this disk looking very unhealthy,  now I realise that things have got dramatically worse.

It's interesting to note that this was not a (Windows) Operating System disk issue, just an unrelocatable error on a disk on which backups were stored.

Yet, it's breakdown had caused the issue.  How do I know? Well, removal of this faulty disk and a reboot of the system without it put back the boot time to 50 seconds.


Now, of course all Microsoft Windows systems, certainly since XP have a centralised and well organised Application, Security, Setup and System logging system that you can refer to anytime.

So from this we can instantly see the issue.

So I got to thinking how about other Operating Systems manage.

IBM's AIX has a well established but proprietary facility shown using the errpt command.

This article shows you some features

Apple OSX

Since OSX runs UNIX under the covers we can look in the standard syslog area /var/log/system.log to check for disk errors.

OSX also has the diskutil command that can be used to list and check  disks.

Centos 7 Linux

Centos runs the /usr/sbin/rsyslogd program writing to /var/log/messages


Writes to a file called /dev/log/main

Back to fixing my problem

  • I Removed possibly failing disk

  • Tested with HD Tune Pro, shows bad Logical Blocks for sure
  • Place a new disk into my Virtualisation Server   (Another old Apple branded disk, this time 500GB! . Will surface test for sure ...)

  • Testing full surface of disk. It took over 2 hours but I think this time is well spent.

  • Re-setup this disk as a target for backups ! :-)  Note that your disk is formatted and any drive letter removed. So caution

    (After completion you can always put a letter back onto the disk and then use it for other purposes in addition to the backup)

I have a huge library of hard disks but the majority of them are now about 30 years old (and working!). These disks are used sparingly but hard disk error rates have improved so dramatically that it is still quite a shock /to the system/ when any modern hard disk failure occurs at home.

Many of us are now moving to SSD disks for reasons of speed and these disks have a known and limited lifetime! [Having said that my last 3 hard disk failures in the last 12 months were from spinning disks.]

So I really should prepare myself for this to be a more frequent occurrence and be prepared to fully recover from it

My Windows server has an excellent Centralised Error log which I can view graphically.

SMART disk errors get reported there and I should not need to invest in a special "look at my SMART disk errors tool, please buy me" application

HD Tune Pro is however an excellent [chargable] Benchmarking and checking disk tool which also checks SMART, and I would recommend it

Most other OS, today based on UNIX/ LINUX use the traditional syslog facility or variant thereof to receive disk errors that the user must then interpret.

Hard Disks have a finite lifetime and you should make 100% sure that any data you care about has a backup.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Race #3 Chavornay, Tour du Pays de Vaud 2014

Chavornay Report

Just a small report from Chavornay  which is race number 3 in the Tour du Pays de Vaud series 2014.

 The facilities at Chavornay were the best so far.

There seem to be a lot of people coming tonight

We are not at the back but nowhere near the front

Race start is delayed so we start counting time and admiring the shirts of fellow competitors

The first serious hill and many people are slowing down

<I stopped again to take more photos but they are all blurred. Hmm>

Last Bridge and fellow runners cheering

Agata crosses the bridge

750 metres to go

 Last bit of Concrete path

Grassy straight to the finish

Agata finishing

And the proud finishers are:

Agata 45:08
Marcus 39:31 
From the heart rate you can see Marcus made an effort for a change, but must try harder next week!