Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sunday Sermon: The Creation of our Universe

David Christian: The History of our world


After you have watched the above 18 minute video you have to see that one religion's description of the world being created in 6 days about 6000 years ago is absolutely incompatible with a Universe that Science believes was created some 13700 million years ago.

You can research the [Christian] biblical claim that the Earth is about 6000 years old  here

Other religions have other ideas on the Age of the Earth.  Please consult Wikipedia here   Notably  Islam does not give an age for the Earth however the Quran says that it took 6000 years to create the Earth.


To me, when I consider the thousands, or even millions of independent Scientific discoveries that have come together all supporting this Theory of our World, it's like the interlocking pieces of a great big jigsaw puzzle.

This Scientific Theory is so much more credible and believable than a vague set of contrary ideas written down in a Magic book in a time when humankind had not even the idea of simple mathematics, or pi, or even the knowledge of Electricity. 

Watch the video and see what you think.




Friday, November 28, 2014

Social Media, Security and a Petrol Station



Alan Parsons: The Voice



Today it seems that social media requires us to surrender the ownership of our most private photographs or writings to them, a corporation, and for the most part we seem happy to do so .....



My Background
The following tale is unfortunately a true story.

Marcus's parents were over vigilant of personal information, and this could make even a simple journey to the Petrol (Gas) Station both awkward and time consuming.


Back in the day in England there was a phase Petrol station attendants wrote down Car Registration details on fuel sales in order to combat fraudulent sales.


Unfortunately my parents had complained to Barclaycard that this was a violation of personal information stealing since it was not part of the Credit card agreement and so armed with a letter to declare the same, post petrol filling began a long standoff between my parents (with letter) and filling station attendant (who had written down the registration as per their instructions).

After upto 30 minutes of arguing the station attendant would normally back down, and the letter from Barclaycard was tucked away safely until the next fillup / confrontation!


This is but one childhood example that made Marcus and Agata promise to ourselves to never be bloody minded and hide information from anybody unless revealing it would honestly compromise our security or well-being.


Be mindful about what information you share, but never be bloody minded.

Some of the big snoopers are?


Google reads the text of your personal emails to better determine what advertising to send you


Facebook

Tracks your activity whilst you are logged on.  And unbelievably also tracks your activity in the browser after you have logged out


Our assumptions

Our main assumption is that as law abiding and quite boring citizens we don't have anything to hide.  So via this blog or social media or sports sites we are perfectly happy if you want to look at our cycle races or rides in the last 12 months or our holiday photographs from our motorhome adventures in 2014.  You can even dive back a few decades and check Marcus's University notes on Political Philosophy or Electronics.  It's all online and out there to be read.   

Of course, if you are a bloody minded person, who cheats and performs illegal activities, you might not consider being so open. 


Counterpoint
The world is quite full or twats and malicious people who often because of jealousy or spite are determined to cause grief to you via their illegal acts or their representations.
It seems such hateful people have nothing better to do, and rather than aim to do better for themselves are content to put others down.  So one can not afford to tell everybody everything.


Be mindful and aware

Some of the big fight backs
Some of the measures that we would recommend to stop 3rd parties from taking information we would recommend include

Google Permissions

Check which websites have access to your Google based data.  Revoke the ones that should not have access to your information.

Device Specific Passwords

When a website asks you for your Google credentials give it an application password instead.   You first need to create it using the above link.

Location Aware Applications

Certain Smartphone applications like Runkeeper or Strava may publicly display your location over time.  This is also true of any photograph you publish publicly from your GPS enabled Smartphone  (Google+ strips this information I note).  So consider if you want this information to be private you need to restrict who can see the location information embedded in any shared or Internet broadcast photograph or Smartphone app giving public access to you.

Application Permissions
When you install a PC or Smartphone application make an attempt to understand what rights you are surrendering to the writer of the application.

Facebook Disconnect

Install this Chrome extension to prevent Facebook snooping

Disconnect
Prevent other websites from snooping in on your information


Adblock Plus
Install this Chrome extension to prevent Advertisements and popups from appearing everywhere and at the very least causing your webpages to load more slowly!


Passwords

Marcus and Agata try to have different passwords for every account.  So if any account is compromised a hacker trying a different account will get precisely nowhere.  We hate and abhor single signon.   What a stupid idea!

The other golden rule.  For every online account you have e.g telephone voicemal, never leave settings at a default.

And finally

Social media Interactions
Consider that  anything you say online even in a private forum can be rebroadcast usually without your consent or knowledge.  Also, what you say online today can have an almost infinite digital lifetime and can be rebroadcast years later to your very possible considerable shame.    

Be mindful but not bloody minded,



Links

Facebook ad tracking
Facebook web tracking








Thursday, November 27, 2014

They killed our PostOffice


Marcus may come across as in incensed local/ small town boy but I am simply crushed/dismayed/upset at the proposal to close our local Post Office.

As I have remarked many times previously

For example

Here  and here


Almost all of our non food shopping comes to us via Mail Order.  And as such the Post Office is probably the single most important retail premises to us for many kilometres.

So this morning when I received this flyer telling me they were closing down and re-opening in March in the local Pharmacist  I was really upset.


If you read the flyer it says that they will give the staff alternate employment locally which is something.  However I am going to miss the polite

   
Ah, hello Mr Bennett


That I receive on my almost daily visits there.  It took a couple of years for me to achieve the status from some  (but not all) Post Office staff  to forgo the ID card check for certain packages, since by now I think I am their best customer.

So I have Christmas deliveries only to look forward to and then next March they shut up shop.

Now I know how many British people felt 20 or so years ago when numerous local village Post Offices were closed in England.

Again, a very sad moment for us.





Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanks for the Giving





It is my recollection that Thanksgiving in America goes all the way back to a festival initiated by George Washington proclaiming

"A day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts and many and signal favours of Almighty God."


But like all the best traditions  IMHO; the meaning of Thanksgiving has morphed into a more appropriate and often secular ceremony on the last Thursday in the month of November each year.


Also note that Canada has a Thanksgiving too, but strangely its always a few weeks before the American one.  Hmmm?



What happens in America then?


The story told to me via American movies and of Marcus's time living in America was:


Extended families do indeed come together.


Many Americans travel long distances to be with close friends and family





Then do really usually eat a turkey and other meat based foods


Families do indeed have a good time and stay together till at least Sunday.


There is indeed a few days of extreme goodwill and community which may often be absent at any other time of the year.


In other countries where Marcus and Agata have lived we notice that this same pattern happens normally only at Christmas.  But for Americans  (and Canadians) Thanksgiving free's up Christmas to be the family centric and not extended family hook up.


Pretty smart thinking I would say.


Meanwhile ....



Watch out for Black Friday

And, if you did not know,  the Friday following Thanksgiving is named Black Friday, a day ushering the start of an American shopping frenzy in the run up to Christmas.

It's now also available in Britain too.

What is Marcus and Agata's take on this event?

Well, in principle if you had prepared your Christmas present shopping needs ahead of time and just bought everything you needed for Christmas (and not more) on Black Friday you would definitely be

/quids in/


Trouble is, the advertisers have realised this and come up with schemes and incentives for you to spend infinitely more than you can possibly need.  Our recommendation is therefore



  • Please don't die laughing if I say: consider need over greed and want.  Having said that ....
  • Ahead of time, plan for something that you really fancy (for yourself, or a Christmas present to others)
  • Search for that thing on Black Friday
  • Limit yourself to that one purchase, don't get carried away!
  • It's similar advice to all gambling and overspending hearts.   Quit while you are ahead.



Overall,  I respect Thanksgiving as practised in America.   Thanksgiving has nicely morphed into a both religious and secular tradition allowing extended families with even mixed faiths to come together and share experiences for one period in the year.





Links

Thanksgiving at Joy of Tech

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Nice ringtone



Chris Rock: Ringtones


It turns out that the future is not quite as apocalyptic as Chris Rock suggests.

On Android   (Oh and surely iOS?)  you can use any .mp3 file as your ringtone.   How is that?





  • I downloaded the .mp3 file here
  • I started Airdroid on my Google Nexus 5
  • Then went to the PC and used the upload function from the PC component of the Airdroid interface to upload the .mp3 file into the /Ringtones directory of my phone
  • I rebooted the phone



  • For Android Lollipop: Settings, Sound and Notification, Phone Ringtone



I have to thank the Indian dazeinfo site  for pointing me to the wonderful Ringtone   (don't get me started and say awesome!)  which you can play in full ...



MetroGnome Remix



It's so good, that if I delay picking up the phone when you call, I am just chillin out to the ringtone.


(NB: Here is the Christmas version )

Links

.mp3 file to download
MetroGnome YouTube channel
iPhone metrognome Christmas






Monday, November 24, 2014

Assos Jingo G1 Cycling Helmet



Subtitle: Possibly worth the [considerable] wait / weight

This is a review of the Assos Jingo G1 Cycling Helmet.   I freely admit this post rambles, because quite honestly to me there is not much to say about road cycling helmets!

Assuming the helmet is manufactured in a reasonably non shouty colour to me it normally comes down to the Weight. My basic rule of thumb is that in 2014 anything that is less than 200 grams is pretty impressive.  



At 188 grams this is a very lightweight helmet

Things I am pretty sceptical of!


  • Airflow: Some helmets claim to have special designs to channel more air onto my head.  Hmm. Really?  Well for winter not such an advantage anyway
  • Aero: Special aero design helmets, but they are very heavy!
  • Integrated:  Glasses clipping onto to a helmet.  Looked good until again I found the helmets heavy and the vendors I checked you could not get spare glasses (say if they broke)
  • Techno Lights: Stuck on the back of the helmet.  Again weight and I can simply clip on my favourite Moon Comet on anyway
  • Heart Rate:  I saw some designs that could try to measure your heart rate.   I think I'll wait to see if the reviews say it is reliable and able to talk to my monitoring devices.


A considerable Wait!
My cycling accident was in April 2014 and being ultra paranoid I had decided to replace the helmet after my mid speed acrobatic crash into the ground.  Yet I had to wait until October 2014 to receive my new Helmet. Why?

Well I know of only one Lausanne high end Cycle shop in Lausanne unlike my former home town of London where chains like Evans and specialists like Condor give you a decent chance to walk in, test and then buy your dream helmet.

But in Switzerland (as usual) it was impossible to find any lightweight helmets at shops I visited without regard to price. And since I thought Assos was a Swiss brand, oh, the Irony burns deep.

What are the factors then?

So to summarise the factors for Helmet choosing for us:



  • Sub 200 gram weight, so that our head never gets tired even after a long ride





  • Non shouty colours if possible

  • A ratchet mechanism at the back preferred to micro adjust the tightness



  • If possible  (never seen it so far though, ever!) a simpler mechanism to feed the straps to adjust for length.  [I know you only do this the once, but honestly it is always a flippin palova]





  • Some sort of clip or quick release buckle.  In this case adjustable.  Nice.
  • Supplied with replaceable internal pads is nice, with one spare set you can change them at 6 months, assuming that you plan to change your helmet after 1 year.

Overall the Assos helmet took 5 months to arrive, but now that it is here it is a welcome change and slight upgrade on




 the Giro Aeon  which I had previously moved to because my Giro Prolight was no longer in manufacture


Links
Wiggle Assos G1

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I have the Cases





As most people know Marcus and Agata live in Switzerland. The country that the supply chain forgot.    

Consequently before I fixed my Google Nexus 5 phone   (by upgrading to Android Lollipop) I had already set in motion to change my Android phone for something new.


And now I am the proud owner of 2 new phone cases!  Phones of course are still not available.  But at least I have the cases.




Can you guess what phones they might be?  One for sure is a monster.


The Two phone strategy

These days a smartphone I regard as essential.  Indeed when I'm faced with a friend or acquaintance who does not have one I get slightly ratty/ irritated.

I would only make exception for old people who don't have or refuse to have Internet access of any kind.  They are excused on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

I suppose the only thing worse than not having a Smartphone is knowing somebody who has one but has never configured it for even email or the Internet.  Again, I unfortunately speak from experience.   These people really do exist.

For Marcus and Agata we think that we'll settle on a strategy of a primary phone and a backup phone for emergencies.


But I still don't want one

Here are the arguments that failed to persuade the guilty few, you know who you are, friends for sure, but arguably very stubborn people who against all odds just refuse to smartphone ...


  • You can just use it as a regular phone!
  • But it knows the numbers of all your friends from the Internet Mail addressbook
  • It has a maps application
  • It has a compass
  • It has a Clock and Stopwatch
  • It has a Diary
  • It has a notepad for shopping lists
  • It can tell you the weather and traffic
  • It can track your fitness steps/walks/runs
  • You can use it as a camera
  • You can use it as a barcode scanner
  • You can use it as a flashlight
  • You can use it as a video recorder
  • You can browse the Internet
  • You can show Pictures and Videos that you took to your friends
  • You can listen to music or the radio
  • You can send email
  • You can talk to Social media like Facebook
  • You can store files on it like a USB key
  • It costs less than a days pay

So in short we'll be a two smartphones per person couple shortly whereas some misguided friends are stuck at 0.  Really.






Walking in the Clouds




Whilst Marcus and Agata are still quite ill we are trying our level best to keep moving and active.

With the weather at about 6 degrees we set off on a walk in our local vineyards, only about 20 minutes drive from our home in Lausanne, Switzerland.






Basecamp, Riex, Switzerland.  Our mission is to walk up, and up, and up.



 It is literally so misty that the Lake is pretty much invisible




 Vines are now harvested and sleeping until 2015




 Getting higher and actually in the clouds!




About an hour later we are quite literally above the clouds.







 Check the fine print on the number plate :-)








Once again Switzerland provides for some stunning views. Quite superior to our home countries Marcus and Agata muse.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sunday Sermon: The very Abbreviated Bible







Prologue
Not all of us have had the time to read the Bible.  Of course it is actually a good read, although if you want to ignore many of the ugly parts  and use it more as a moral text I would sincerely recommend 

The Jefferson Bible


But if you just want an overview, here is one from Reddit



GENESIS
God: All right, you two, don't do the one thing. Other than that, have fun.
Adam & Eve: Okay.
Satan: You should do the thing.
Adam & Eve: Okay.
God: What happened!?
Adam & Eve: We did the thing.
God: Guys
THE REST OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
God: You are my people, and you should not do the things.
People: We won't do the things.
God: Good.
People: We did the things.
God: Guys
THE GOSPELS
Jesus: I am the Son of God, and even though you have done the things, the Father and I still love you and want you to live. Don't do the things anymore.
Healed people: Okay! Thank you!
Other people: We've never seen him do the things, but he probably does the things when no one is looking.
Jesus: I have never done the things.
Other people: We're going to put you on trial for doing the things.
Pilate: Did you do the things?
Jesus: No.
Pilate: He didn't do the things.
Other people: Kill him anyway.
Pilate: Okay.
Jesus: Guys
PAUL'S LETTERS
People: We did the things.
Paul: Jesus still loves you, and because you love Him, you have to stop doing the things.
People: Okay.
PAUL'S LETTERS PART II
People: We did the things again.
Paul: Guys
REVELATION
John: When Jesus comes back, there will be no more people who do the things. In the meantime, stop doing the things.
THE END
Wow, guys. Thanks for the gold, the kind words, and the upvotes!

2014 Winter Tyres





Peter Gabriel: DIY


Agata and Marcus concur that today, Saturday 22nd November has been full of surprises.   Mostly of the jinxed variety.  We shall spare you all the details!


Let us just say there were multiple challenges today. Not all have been resolved.


However,  we are pleased to say that one thing that went 100% according to plan was:


DIY:  Changing of Winter Tyres






Goodbye to our Summer Tyres




Marcus is instructed by Agata to make sure the wheels to be removed are clean before removal.  I goto the Car Wash





 Even the rears are cleaned





 Winter boots from our Cave


Marcus also saw fit to mop our garage space.  It's cleaned every six months by the minions, but that is not enough for us.


 Agata is expected to participate!





Ah so nice and clean before our Winter Tyres are mounted





Marcus is in charge of the mounting.


And so after only about an hour all is changed.   The old summer alloys are clean and resting until 2015 when the temperature hits about 10 degrees.

Now we are off on a little test drive ..... vrooom.






Links
2007 Why winter tyres?

2011 Winter Tyres
2012 Summer Tyres







Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rooting the Google Nexus 5 Smartphone




Further to my last posting where I upgraded my Nexus 5 phone to Android 5 manually  (necessary to fix my charging problem) it is now time to /root/ the phone.

What is Rooting?
Perhaps watch this video  but essentially some applications need superuser access to the phone i.e. without any restrictions, and so I decided to root the phone.


Rooting is accomplished below by replacing the bootloader program boot.img by a custom version of the program

If you follow the XDA developers website  you will see that user Chainfire  is probably the leading


How to Root your Nexus 5 



  • This process assumes that you already installed on a controlling PC the necessary minimal adb software and thus you know how to make a connection from your PC to your android phone.   This post
  • Next you have upgraded your system to Android 5.0 right?  Just checking
  • Download the bootloader and controlling script here  (generic page) and link for Nexus 5
  • I unpacked the files into the same directory as the adb files from a few days back C:\Program Files\Minimal ADB and Fastboot



  • Then shutdown the phone and restart  (hold down volume and power button)
  • Now connect your phone to your PC via USB cable
  • I tried the fastboot devices command to check that my PC can talk to the Nexus 5. (It should return the serial number)
  • For windows now run the root-window.bat program that is just really running these 2 commands


tools\fastboot-windows.exe oem unlock
tools\fastboot-windows.exe boot image\CF-Auto-Root-hammerhead-hammerhead-nexus5.img

(Here we will run the different fastboot-windows.exe program supplied with this .zip file)

Actually I ran the commands manually and since the phone is already unlocked the first command failed as expected


Next the bootloader is downloaded and kernel modified etc.


ALL DONE!

Okay, you can double check you are rooted because you will see the SuperSU application magically appear in your app list.


Close but no Cigar
One application that needs root permissions for certain functions is airdroid.    It allows you to control certain aspects of your phone remotely without using cables    (For me not everything is working but you get the principle right?)


Summary
Right now rooting the Nexus 5 with Lollipop OS is fantastically easy thanks to the work of others.  I recommend that you consult XDA developers website periodically for interest and also subscribe to their YouTube channel.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Not betting on Tony



A dear friend came to visit last weekend.  After the usual pleasantries like /how was your trip/, I asked:

What do you think about Tony?

And then it became abundantly clear.  Sue did not listen to the Archers  I was shocked to the core.


What is the Archers?
The Archers is a 15 minute daily radio Soap opera broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 19.03 UK time each day.  It's also available for download, or via iPlayer or via iTunes podcast as shown in the links below.

Originally billed as a story about "everyday country folk" it started as a series set in the [fictional] village of Ambridge, a town near Birmingham in the Midlands of England.

The title derives from the Surname of the principle family "Archer" but of course today the cast includes a vast range of non Archer characters.


Why listen to the Archers?


  • It reminds me of simpler times in England
  • A serial where a balance of usually nice and just occasionally sad things happening
  • A series where overall; good things happen to good people
     
  • A series set in real time  (1 year later, the characters are 1 year older!)
  • Over the years you can follow the Archers family, they sort of become your extended family
  • Whilst the main emphasis is country living the series deals has also dealt with issues  of inequality, poverty, discrimination, religion, sexism and racism.
  • For those at home the afternoon broadcast  (at 14.00 UK time) is an opportunity to have take a 15 minute break with a cup of tea and relax from the rigours of the day


All in all there is no better introduction to the British psyche than to listen to the Archers.


What about Tony?

Tony Archer was recently seriously injured by a bull and although he is in hospital with severe spinal injuries it's my personal theory that his days are numbered.

Why?

He's been in the worst of health and suffered a Heart Attack in the series.  Recently Colin Skipp, who played Tony for 40 years retired and David Troughton took over.

My theory is that things are not working out and that Tony's demise will have Rob Titchener   (the partner of Helen Archer) taking over instead.



How can you put things right?


  • Clearly you need to start listening immediately! Your commitment is just 15 minutes per day, 6 days per week.
  • You will pickup the who's who of characters as you go along, but this link can help
  • Links below for your best listening mechanism.  Since I now live in Switzerland I use the iTunes way.







Links
The Archers Wikipedia
The archers listening link
Archers Podcasts
Archers on iTunes

Discuss the Archers