Saturday, February 28, 2015

Darling, Please come to Bed

Subtitle: My name is Marcus, and my wife is ...

an iPhone user

Since Marcus thinks of Marcus and Agata as a super-techy couple  (that is super-geeky in post 2000 speak) it has been a source of mild perturbation that there may be some cognitive dissonance  in our otherwise harmonious household.

This thought was postulated this evening whilst I was trying to explain the virtues of of the 

Team Win Recovery Project (TWRP) custom recovery Android tool to Agata.

I was mid way through an explanation of what a bootstrap program and BIOS was when Agata looked at me with those iPhone eyes and said:

Did you notice the colour of that dress?

I was going to try and explain the multiple hassles and challenges that this Saturday evening and now Sunday morning has thrown at Marcus:

- The Nexus 5, Lollipop fatal 5.0.1 upgrade error
- The problem downloading the Bacon TWRP image (418)
- How MTP mode under Windows is extremely Motherboard sensitive

But no, all I got was then a further request to come to bed.  In the middle of not one but 2 Lollipop upgrades?  Are you crazy?

TO me I refer to Cognitive Dissonance because whilst Agata is a super techy, when it comes to phones, her  iOS upgrade policy seems to be: when Apple tells you to upgrade your phone OS.  The thought of arbitrarily re-installing, rooting or otherwise tampering with your Phone OS, well it is just a non starter. 


So now it is the early hours and all is well in the techno study. Both primary and backup phones are upgraded and working, and I have even had time to check out that dress quandary. Clearly you need to look at 


Computerphile: The colour of that dress

and smile at this

And now, it is indeed time for bed :-)

NB: Sunday morning update.   I got up late this morning and caught Agata trying to hack her personal website activitites page to perform a custom export using the Javascript console  (Cntrl + Shift + J).   It is at times like this when she melts and not just warms the cockles of my technical heart

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Cost of People

I was interested and entertained to hear that a Japanese hotel has plans to have a variety of robots in their hotel in Nagasaki to better serve you, and also, intentionally dramatically reduce the people count.

For Marcus and Angela, as Engineers we have actually been into and worked in large scale Manufacturing plants.  The size of a modern plant, from food production to Power Generation is truly daunting.

But one thing becomes abundantly clear:

Many machines,  few people.

But much of society still doesn't get a very,  very, important principle:

- People cost a lot of money
- They have lives and complications outside of work, preventing a flawless working record
- They expect pensions
- They don't work 24x7
- At work they may spend significant time chatting, facebooking  i.e. not working

In order to provide a low cost service or product at a price you will expect to pay, from shoes to watches to cars, the fewer people involved in the manufacturing, distribution, sales and maintenance chain the better.

Many people rail against the loss of the /personal service/ they expect at their Hotel, Train Station, High Street Bank,  but are blissfully unaware that behind the scenes their low cost lives are made possible by the people diminished, robot friendly manufacturing and supply chain.

All in all it vectors down to one elephant in an increasingly small room

Too Many People

What I am proposing is the following:

Either select a higher cost, less efficient, more people intensive manufacturing process, where <more> people have on average LESS

Or select a highly automated, less people manufacturing process, where LESS people have more.

Currently we have neither.  We have historically rich societies, borrowing their way into paying for: high tech, less people, cost efficient goods  or [often but not always lower] tech,  made by grossly underpaid people, producing cost efficient goods at the cost of peoples lives.

We have to think now, what should be the maximum number of children you should choose to bring into this world as a family.   It should be a number that will ensure that understands that takes account of future robotic technologies that just don't need people.

Is the number perhaps one, maybe even two, but simple maths says it is not 3 or 4.

A Bad role model

Samuel L Jackson: Population Control 

Sure, the action sequences in Kingsman are quite gripping, but I challenge you to listen and think about what underlies Richman Valentine's rather dastardly plan.  Clearly this will involve you in going to see the film Kingsman

A Good Read

Dan Brown: Inferno

By contrast, and slightly more effort for the reader (than the film) but a different take on Population control is postulated in this ingenious novel. 

Think about the future of our world where robots not outsourcing / cheap labour will provide the needs for modern manufacturing.  If we need less people in even 50 years, this is something that has to be thought about now.

Inferno at Audible
Dan Brown Inferno wikipedia

Kingsman: Gazelle
Wikipedia: Sofia Boutella

Thursday, February 26, 2015

20Km distractions

The Lausanne 20Km run in April 2015 is one of the first  races of the sporting yearly calendar for Marcus and Agata.

An ideal way to prepare is actually to run the course.  Because then you know, especially for a hilly course like Lausanne, exactly how difficult it really is.

How much energy should you divert to the initial flat-ish section of the course?  What speed on the downhills? Actually running it is really the ultimate preparation ...

And so Marcus set off in his lunchbreak with this test in mind. How did it go?   Oh dear:

I was supposed to walk down to the start by the lakefront but by the time I had reached  Place Ripone I was running. Hmm

 Lots of urban regeneration going on here

The CRAP stalls were unfortunately fully in swing although I'd say it is a better kind of rubbish on sale here than in many other countries!

 The flying carpet stall was sadly deserted.

I approached Renens.  Now I will offer a free dinner to anybody who can tell me how long this van has been there and why!

Although it looked sunny it was actually very cold. About 2 degrees Centigrade I estimate

The Renens open air pool looked fantastic.  But Closed :-(  I think it opens in May or thereabouts.

I was so close to the 20Km start but I got totally distracted.  I found the EPFL University running track instead.

Almost deserted. It has a lake and mountain view.  Just totally stunning.  I found the icy cold air actually helped me to run faster.  I practised Fartlek training here and thought I would totally give up on the 20Km route training plan for today and just run home the scenic way ....

Man with guitar, by the lake, strumming along, looking over at the Snow capped mountains.   Tough life.

I thought I would do some endurance /run in the sand/ training

Next, I passed the darling wife's office to say hello to Agata.  As can be seen she was very busy and did not have time for that romantic lakeside walk.

 I saw some interesting Engineering exhibits.  

Now every year we pay ECA insurance money against natural disasters and fire.

I find they are spending my money on fancy cranes.

They have also ammassed a large quantity of kindling and firewood.  What is going on!

I continued my lakefront run.   Killer views of the mountains in the distance. It does not get much more beautiful than this.

 The countdown to the next Olympics clock ... 1079 days it says

As I got near Mon Repos I noticed I had passed 20Km running already.  So I'm going to stop now and finish the day with a long swim.

I will make the 20km route test another day I hope.

33K steps today (and the swimming).  Surely that is enough exercise?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The right way to Cook Pasta

How to sauce Pasta

I put back bestofyoutube into  my list of Feedly RSS subscriptions   and what do you know,  one of the first videos I watched was actually useful

England and Pasta
You should probably know that many decade moons ago in England Pasta was not a common meal.  In fact it had not traversed the English Channel and landed at all.

In England I was raised on the pre-McDonalds fast food diet of:


And so it was a big surprise many years back when my then flatmate came back from a University exchange in Italy.   I'd left college by then, but apart from the works canteen, sandwiches (and Chips from the chip shop) were prime meals for me.

And then I was shown that an equally fast and much tastier meal was Pasta and Sauce.  Why had this secret not been shared in England?

Anyway since that day I've made pasta: boiled in pan, drained, put back with sauce in pan, stir, serve.

However: Watch the video for a slightly better way.

First impressions: tastes a little better indeed!

Agata comments though:  those extra ingredients are adding fat, so we will have to see.

Marcus comments:  Clearly pasta is not just a food but a divinely and heavenly food to the faithful.  It's preparation should not be taken lightly.  Ramen.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

21 Again


The title does in fact refer explicitly  to Marcus' daily steps goal which for 2015 is now upto to 

21,000 Steps Daily

Thank you Garmin
I reported on Feb 16th that my Garmin 920XT watch was absent, being repaired at the watch doctors. During that dark time there was no step monitoring. Now it is back and step counting and activity monitoring are back on. Wahoo!

How many steps?
In this Internet driven world of often violently differing opinions I find surprising agreement that 10K  (10,000) steps is a good target.

NHS: 10,000 steps

Since both Agata and Marcus have athletic pretensions for 2015 we adopted elevated targets.

Marcus:  Well in 2014 I thought if I'm supposed to do 10K steps, then as athletes we should just double it  ... to 20K.  And for 2015 I thought, it has to be more than in 2014, hence 21K.  On a regular day: simples. Some days I can even reach into  the 30's or 40's

Agata:  I let the Garmin adaptive step count decide (based on my historical step counts).  Currently it is set at about 16K steps daily.

So 2015 then?
I think we documented on this blog the more than 20 competitions that Marcus and Agata enrolled in 2014.  Now no podium greatness was achieved, but Marcus did have plans in 2014.

However the Cycling accident early on Thursday April 10,  2014 really crushed everything.  Despite running a Marathon a week later with busted ribs, overall, the years performance was grim.

The Outlook for 2015?

- Both of use have all our bits working

- Marcus hole in foot has healed
- We will both soon have all the time we can imagine to train hard and fast, every day
- So essentially time will not be a barrier
- Marcus has had a resurgence of his breathing difficulties, that needs to be fixed before any decent speeds can be achieved for any sport
- We both have body systems that favour long distance competitions, we'll never be sprinters, but we can always keep going

- The Race calendar for 2015 is being populated right now!

And so back to our step count.   Yes, our individual goals seems pretty reasonable and so we have to ask: 

How many steps are you walking/ running daily?

(Wednesday night)

Monday, February 23, 2015

No Advertising including Superfish thanks

An interesting scandal to hit the security forums in the last week is the

Lenovo Superfish debacle

Of course the last week has been pretty traumatic for Security generically.

What is Superfish
Superfish is a visual search technology

Similarproducts uses this technology to add something into your web browser to analyse images that you are browsing and  display similar products /that you might find helpful/ ?

Too Much Advertising
Marcus and Agata already receive both quantitatively and qualitatively far too much advertising.  Since we are both heavy Internet and Browser users we are bombarded by constant streams of basically CRAP!

It's not just being particular, we are very particular, often not price sensitive, we prefer to intensively research our own products, thank you very much.

Example:  We have researched buying a Motorhome for over 18 months now: we have visited trade fairs, dealers, compared spec, done test hires.   The last thing we need is some dumbo web algorithm putting up it's great idea based on one days web search.  Piss off!

What is the Security Hole
Apart from the basic concept of Superfish and it's implementation being extremely offensive to us, there is also a security hole!

Quote: It is easy to extract the Superfish private key to its root CA certificate. This private key can be used to generate SSL certificates that a nefarious website can use to masquerade as a legit site.

More Examples

I began to think of more examples of infuriating advertising that assaults Marcus and Agata daily:

  • Our UK English TV programmes advertise a variety of quality and inexpensively priced goods we cannot buy because for now we are in Switzerland.  It is bloody torture.
  • The Swiss TV adverts in Swiss German:  A language that we have no idea with what they are talking about  (we can muddle thru the French only)
  • A vast array of paper crap in the letterbox with special offers for stuff we don't need or want
  • Billboards with again: stuff we'll never even consider
  • Internet sites stuffed with often dodgy advertising despite an array of tools like Add Block Plus and Disconnect.Me designed to shield us
  • Calls from companies offering to lower our mandatory Swiss Health Insurance.   Recently they have been calling our VOIP number.   How did they find that!!
  • YouTube pre-roll on Television.  In Switzerland we get a small set of boring and unfathomable Swiss-German adverts  in our French region of Switzerland.

So Advertisers
Marcus and Agata already sift through over 500 RSS articles daily.  Every day.  That is over 3000 articles per week including topics, products and services that we are interested and passionate about.   We ask you to send your advertising gimmicks elsewhere.   Thanks in advance.

Snow for the Weekend Madam?

Friday was an astonishing 10 degrees C plus in Lausanne Switzerland.  So we were rather sceptical as to whether the Snow forecast for Saturday could possibly be real.

07.00 Saturday it was raining

09.00 Saturday it was snowing heavily

By 13.00  a thick coating of snow was absolutely everywhere. And so we had only a limited time to make our snow run. Limited because the Swiss snow-ploughs are so plentiful and efficient that within hours they are normally out clearing roads and possibly slightly clogging pavements.

Some sensible preparation:  Full winter clothing for sub zero temperatures.  Hat with brow to deflect snowflakes. A quick water hydration and Powerbar calorie intake.  Waterproof Salomon Speed Cross 3 trail shoes and to the left of them my red Raidlight gaitors that keep snow out of your shoes by forming a seal around the shoe base and ankle.

Let's run!

Cars are struggling and wheel spinning their way up a nearby steep hill. Even with winter tyres.

Most people know never to drive a BMW in the snow.  This woman was actually sliding down the hill. She looked scared.

 At the local roundabout a Lausanne transit bus had just glanced into the side of this Ford Focus, blocking the roundabout.

We did not want to venture too far but in these road conditions we figured that the roads would be pretty deserted. So a modest 10Km route was sketched out

 The local surroundings look so beautiful in the fresh snow.  Remember ALL this snow is less than 4 hours old!  

In Switzerland what could be more natural that to stop to chat to the local snow plough man!

Our run only lasted one hour but as we came back home we noticed the snow ploughs were out in force:

Marcus dons a shovel!

After we finished the run Marcus came back outside to feed our cats and found a nice lady clearing snow from the driveway.

Naturally I offered to take over. (She explained we pay a fortune call out fee for the Concierge to clean the access ways but he seems not to have turned up).  

I thought, what could be better exercise?  I spent an hour clearing snow and finished the day wonderfully aching in all the right places.

And Finally
We finished off the weekend with a trip to the cinema to watch Kingsman.   Now just two things

a) Can you guess the normal price for 2 tickets (without free ice creams offer that was not available ..)?  Yes it is 39.20 CHF.  That is just 27 GBP or 41USD.   Yes in little old Lausanne, big prices thank you very much

b) Kingsman apparently has a controversial ending.   But we could not find it.  Anybody?

Kingsman trailer

Kingsman Bar Scene