Sunday, May 31, 2015

Monday Sermon: Ex Machina

Ex Machina Trailer

This post is like the film, at first glance simple.

I'd like you to pay for tickets and go and see the film Ex Machina (at the Cinema), or at worst order the DVD/Bluray for home viewing. And right now.

Ex Machina is a film about Artificial Intelligence (AI).  Now, a lot of claptrap and negative sentiment has been voiced from the Good and the Great, warning about the potential negative consequences of AI.

Here is a quick summary

- Marcus spent a dedicated 12 month+ period building Lisp/ Prolog AI Engineering systems as part of my Masters [back in the day]
- I've watched the progress of Interactive Search technology.  Actually IMHO today it is pretty good, though not in any way thinking, conscious or able to pass the Turing Test
- Amazon Echo,  Siri, Cortana, Google Now  are examples
+ Film: Transcendence positive about AI
- Stephen Hawking warns about AI
- Elon Musk warns about AI
- Nick Bostrom warns about AI
- Woz warns about AI

But it gets heavy
Philosophers, The Religious, Academics and Intellectuals have different takes, slants or viewpoints on what Consciousness is. And how this singular human facet really sets us apart from other animals.  

Apart from the dumbed down religious explanation  (God did it, end of thinking, start of wonder) we just cannot all agree on what it is, it's constituent characteristics, and how we come to have it.

And so instead of heavy academics, which you can study later, I suggest an initial journey via Ex Machina.

Why I regard Ex Machina as brilliant

- Beautifully Simple
- Simple location, simple setting
- Layers of meaning
- A shared journey between us the audience; and Caleb
- Something you can watch with friends and then use as a intellectual catalyst for a thoughtful debate.

Film 4 Special Interview

The Dancing is precisely irrelevant
Ex Machina: Dancing

But the expression on Caleb's  (Domhnall Gleeson) face is not

Best Haunting Quote:

One day the AI's are going to look back on us, the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa, an upright Ape, living in dust, with crude language and tools, all set for extinction

Followed By
If you've created a conscious machine, it's not the history of Man, that's the history of Gods.

Now please, just watch this movie, then discuss

You can ping me your opinion via Google+


imdb Ex Machina

Transcendence: Trailer 1

John Searle and Consciousness
John Searle 1984 Minds Brains Science
Sunday Sermon: Transcendence
Amazon Echo review

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Journee Lausannoise du Velo 2015

Pre race waffle, Saturday morning

This is a report on our attempt at the 150Km cycle race/ tour known as

Journee Lausannoise du Velo

The route has changed a little from last year of 2014

Well first we had to get up at 06.00 in order to get to the race start by 07.30.  Actually ..

By the time we had picked up our race numbers, made some final checks to the bicycles it was about 8am.  We are 30 minutes late already!

NB: not sure why Agata did not get a low fancy number like Marcus.

 Agata Bicycle

 Marcus bicycle

 So many people but it was a nicely organised chaos

Let's GO

Stop 1: 40Km

 No toilet facilities provided, but when you have to go well anywhere will do

 Marcus on the line!

 Just one more square!

 Many team entries like velosprint here

 Now that is more like it.  Take me to the Gruyere cheese and the Swiss chocolate

 We are nicely topped up with liquids and food.  Time to head off.

OH: Race strategy.  Well to us this is not really a race.  We are happy to pootle along in our own good time.

Additionally Marcus would like to bring forward his usual excuses

- lots of wind

- much time expended eating Gruyere cheese.  Just one more slice I keep feeling
- the hangover from Fridays   fete des voisins  is quite literally in my mind right now.

We continue ...

Stop 2:  Mount Vully

The Mount Vully stop is at KM 80 and is at the end of a several kilometre climb.

 A good range of Chocolate remains.  We must therefore be one of the first to arrive!

Stop3: 110Km
We missed it!   I shot past and when Agata caught me and explained that we missed a refreshment stop we agreed to continue anyway

From Km 80 to 110Km where were strong winds.  At this point Marcus was on windbreak duty and we cycled just as a pair not in any group.

Stop4: 140Km

A final stop 10Km before race end.  Well we were not in any hurry so of course we stopped and refilled our water bottles which were empty

Another wonderful day.

Good weather helped us.   We cycled together in a pair at our own slow pace, which was fine since we were not in any rush today.

Along the way we had the pleasure to travel in the beautiful Swiss country (canton) of Vaud which has been our home for many years now.

It was a familiar pleasure.

The modest entry price and good facilities provided added to the practical pleasure of the event.  Thanks to Canton Lausanne and the various Sponsors for making it possible. 


151.98Km cycled
06.20.24 Cycle time (not including stops)
24.0 Km/h average speed
1921 metres elevation gain on course

Marcus Drank 600ml Grapefruit juice + 100ml fizzy water

Marcus ate so much Gruyere cheese and Swiss chocolate that he actually lost count.  He also ate 2 SIS energy gels
Agata ate 2 SIS energy gels, Powerbar Shots
Agata drank 1000ml water


Marcus still has a spinal injury that prevents him running however it's not affecting cycling at all!
After race, neither Marcus or Agata were still or in any cycle related pain, good!
Despite Marcus covering up to combat his sun allergy a full day in the sunshine had me rushing for the after-sun to combat his stinging face at days end. Oh so fragile!


Journee Lausannoise du Velo
All photos on Google+
All photos on Picasa Web

la fete des voisins

Every year in our Apartment block in Lausanne Switzerland in May the residents hold a party called

la fete des voisins   (May 29th 2015)

If it is good weather then tables are installed in the garden and without music (intentionally) some food and drinks are put out and all people in our Apartment are encouraged to attend.

In times of bad weather the same setup is held in our underground car park.

This year we fully attended and many of the residents made special efforts to talk to us in English (instead of their native French) due to in particular to Marcus' limited language abilities.

We had a wonderful time and some meaningful talks with our neighbours.  I even discussed important topics like the cats that I feel empowered to feed every day.

There was plenty of wine and nibbles and some of the residents had made some brownies and some custard pastries.

But it gets better

I had always assumed that this was just /a nice thing to do/. But it turns out that the initiative is actually led from the local council or so called canton.

- In advance of May 29, you register
- The canton (i.e. local government council) turns up with juice, salad, carrots, wine, pastries, cheese.

Oh yes and balloons and paper place-mats.

It is just frikking incredible!

In summary then, Lausanne continues to be an amazing place to live.   The local Lausanne commune actually mandates, well encourages us,  to a have a yearly party and this helps you meet and bond with your neighbours.

Just fantastic!

Lausanne fete des voisins

Friday, May 29, 2015

Garmin Forerunner FR 920XT GPS Sportswatch

This is a status review of Marcus's Garmin  Forerunner FR 920XT GPS Sportswatch.

If you are a busy  (time poor person) skip to the section /Quick Start Guide/

Background & Submission

For at least 10 years of quite intensive exercise I have never owned any Sportswatch.  I was the sort of runner or cyclist who just did a race and went at the speed / pace that felt right on the day.

But in 2014  I got a TomTom Multisports watch.  The watch had some teething troubles and was not as fancy as my wife Agata's Garmin counterparts.

After about 12 months of nagging constructive criticism from Agata, Marcus has caved and bought Garmin too!

My Requirements

- I want to use the same watch for Cycling, Running, Hiking, Walking and Swimming
- For some sports (e.g. Swimming) and most races it's not possible or sometimes race legal to carry a phone, so the device must work on it's own without a smartphone tether
- Small and Light
- Needs to communicate with Bicycle sensors
- Would be nice to have fancy Swim statistics
- Heartrate monitoring
- Battery life must last at least 15 hours for ultra events
- Step tracking
- Don't need smartphone notifications

The 920XT does all of the above with heart rate monitoring connected to my wrist mounted Mio Link and additional Cycle stats from Garmin ant+ monitors

Front Screens Widgets

When used as a watch, i.e. outside of any activity there is a basic Clock screen (not shown).   You can replace this with a custom  (user written) Clock app.  I show the one I now use at the top of this post.  There are also:

Steps (Garmin Builtin)   It never says more than 100% which is disappointing

Notifications (Garmin Builtin) from your Smartphone over Bluetooth.

Now I added the following user written Widgets which bring my toplevel screens (visible outside of any Activity) upto the level of Agata who has a Garmin Fenix 3 which has the following apps but written by Garmin (and looking better) as standard.

NB: 920XT is thin and 62 grams light.  Fenix3, better software, but gi-normously big and also heavier.  I wear the 920XT 24x7 and I tried with Agata's Fenix3 and I could not  (too heavy and big) 

Heart Rate Chart

Atmospheric Pressure


Step History

Activity Screens

As standard a number of Activity types are present:

Each activity has a number of pre-defined things you can manipulate e.g Pool Size and Stroke Detection for swimming.

There are a large number of activity types that I deleted on the watch e.g Open Water Swimming that I can add back as needed.  It makes current menu scrolling faster.

Example Hike Activity Screen

Here I am in the middle of a Hike:

I configured 3 custom screens plus a tracklog and Clock screen in my hiking activity.

The ability to precisely customise what metrics you want, their size, and on what screen is a seemingly simple feature.  But it's MISSING on many of the competition!   

The watch has a special strap holder that prevents the strap from coming out during exercise.  Again, this was a defect on some other Sportswatches

Custom Activities
Programmers can write alternate activities and these appear along side the list of Garmin standard Activities like Run, Hike.   

Example: Heart Rate Variability

Custom Data Fields

Programmers can write custom Data Fields and these can be selected as part of any activity to put into a screen or part of a screen. 

Example: Graphical Elevation

So in my Hike activity as shown above I could then select an additional single screen and just populate it with 1 data field of Graphical Elevation, a data field that is only there because I added it via the app store.

Other reviews

A longer and more comprehensive feature review is available (of course) from DC Rainmaker here

Quick Start Guide
Read this to get upto speed asap

- Buy the 920XT.  I recommend Wiggle for International, if you are feeling generous and live in Switzerland

- Get watch and sign up to Garmin connect.  Put in all your data like age, height, interests
- Consider buying an additional charging dock.  Say one fixed at home and one for mobile travelling
- Install Garmin Express on your main PC/MAC.  You will use this to primarily transfer activity data and update watch firmware
- Optionally install Android/iOS app.  Then you can talk to Watch that way and also send millions of annoying notifications from phone to watch face
- Install a custom Watch Face from the App store
- Install Widgets, that are shown at the top level, when not performing any activity

- Install Applications (eg HRV ) these show up like another preprogrammed activity eg Running
- Install Custom Data Fields (e.g. Graphical Elevation) these can be used in any Activity
- Remove all Activities you don't need (e.g. open water swim), you can add them back later as needed
- For each of your chosen Activities e.g. Running setup the exact Data Screens you prefer.  By number of screens, the order of them and what is on each screen



Garmin 920XT full review DCR
Garmin 920 Apps

Oh .. and Apple Watch  (AW)?
This is a tangent I could ramble on about for hours.  Here is the honest summary so far

- I know at least 1 friend with one.  He will soon be sick of my questions
- Apple made great emphasis pre launch on the Sports tracking, healthy lifestyle angle of the watch, a promise not yet fulfilled
- Still the lack of inbuilt GPS meaning Smartphone tether makes it unsuitable for any half serious athlete
- You could therefore use it for Run and Bike training when you could also be carrying a Smartwatch and your /other/ device for the rest, but most athletes would reject this out of hand -> 1 device for all is desired
DC Rainmaker water proofing tests have been very positive.  (Congrats Apple)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Oh Eurovision 2015

Mans Zelmerlow: Heroes

From a childhood family event to a modern day tragedy.   This is how I feel about Eurovision.

Last last Saturday night Marcus and Agata were making some last minute adjustments to our bicycles before the cycle Race Tour du Leman

But today,  Thursday, thanks to the wonderful Internet I'm able to full catch up the full compliment of average and some truly awful songs.


+ Lots of singing in English
+ Lots of glitz - appropriate for this event
+ International competition in better rather than worse taste
+ Some spectacular promo country song videos
+ Sensual songs, but in a good way
+ This year just for a laugh Australia, that well known European country sneaked in too.
+ Greece submitted an aptly titled and suitably sombre: One Last Breath

- Some really awful songs
- I'd highlight the UK entry as upbeat but awful.  Bad retro redefined.

United Kingdom Entry

As expatriates from the UK we still feel we have to support the UK entry.

So what did we (the UK) enter?

Electro Velvet: Still in Love with You
(A song which is retro and not in a good way, and with lyrics that had me saying no by the end of the first verse.)

Just about anything else would have been better.  Here is one not random, yet UK based sensual and delightful selection from Marcus

Years and Years: King

Dear UK Eurovision team, please contact me next year to avoid submitting 2016 dross.


All Eurovision 2015
Eurovision 2010

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Anatomy of a Fraud

(Our fantastic Samsung NX200 camera, packaged up ready to sell)

In the last month Agata and Marcus have been the target of attempted fraud.  And unbelievably to us, last week,  it was attempted for the second time.   It's time to make this public.

Are We Okay?

Luckily, by Marcus's persistence or maybe design I've not lost anything more than my time.


We are selling a large number of items on the Swiss sales website   Our items are listed here

Motivations for our sales include
- Reuse by others of items we no longer need or use
- Effectively recycling then
- All adverts are carefully made
- All items carefully tested and working 100% perfectly
- We don't sell faulty or crapola or misadvertised stuff
- Prices are between reasonable and bargain
- The money we get from any sale is really tiny all things considered.

Elements of this Scam

- This is a Paypal related scam where the buyer offers to pay via paypal.
- The goods that they want to buy are irrelevant, the game is to get you to post the goods, then sting you with a condition, which if you don't agree to mean you'll get nothing
- Faced with the proposition of losing your goods without any payment you are tempted into their trap involving you the buyer sending them money ...

Scam Setup and Execution

3 people

Bogus Buyer
Idiot seller (me)
Third Party (destination of gift)

The third party could potentially be innocent, but I think this is unlikely. More likely part of the criminal team who will deny all knowledge if questioned by police (plausible deniability)  & this is also so the buyers identity is not known.

a - Bogus Buyer offers to buy my camera

b - Buyer offers to pay via Paypal

c - I accepted

d - I receive a fake email from  (spoofed) saying that intention to pay me has been made by paypal

e - I don't check the email sufficiently or visit my because being an idiot/ kind soul I am trying to make the last post to send them the item   (Don't know if this is their timing intention)

f - Seller says item is a gift so please post to Third Party at a valid Swiss Name and Address

g - I take item to Post office.
LUCKILY I decided with the value to insist on signed delivery.  Interestingly bogus buyer asked me NOT to do so but I thought, for this value I want a signature.  Maybe that saved me

h - Lucky#2: For signed items in Switzerland you MUST fill in a special label and attach to packet.  I never normally quote my full address (being paranoid) but in this case I did, perhaps because of larger value.

i - I send the buyer confirmation that item is posted, via tracking receipt.  At this point they know I am committed.

j - Next morning early, bogus buyer emails to say there is a problem sending me paypal money

k - They claim that Paypal won't accept the funds until my account is upgraded. So they have ADDED 450 CHF francs to my sale price  (450 + 270) = 720 CHF and this balance will be paid by paypal after I first send them some 450 CHF paysafe tokens:

l - I need to goto a tobacco or other shop in Switzerland.  Buy 450 CHF of paysafe tokens and send them the codes  (effectively sending them 450 CHF)

m - Once they get my 450CHF they will instruct Paypal to send me te 720 CHF

m2 - They implied that paysafe and Paypal are working together necessarily so

n - I called paypal.  They explained there is no account upgrade, which I pretty much knew from his first email and the paypal emails which I can now clearly see are faked. 

o - I told Buyer to pay via paypal or return goods and that I did not care if they already paid paysafe, not my problem.  We exchanged many emails, he kept insisting on payment from me first of the 450 CHF

Clever Bits
This is an attempt extort money from me, the seller of a product!

I traced their IP to outside Switzerland

I liaised with the Swiss Post office to check that the ex directory Swiss name and address is valid, is receiving mail at that name, but we don't know if the destination is an innocent party or part of the fraud.

I found the destination person on facebook, printed out their whole bio, I found their education, job history. I messaged them. I found their parents name and address, their parents quite important jobs.

I intend to take it further, via the police, I need to more closely analyse the internet headers of the emails that I have saved.  They are spooking not just paypal but also paysafe, both using gmail addresses.

Meanwhile I already raised a case with Google.

I got the camera back, that package and other signed letters sent to the Swiss address were refused. (I also sent an identical non signed for letter, that presumably was delivered). 

It is possible that the third party target is innocent, but in this case to refuse all attempts at contact  (facebook, post, email) I find suspicious.

A week or two later this happened again!  Right I thought, now I can investigate.  This time the fraudulent emails are theoretically from  (but mail headers show otherwise)

- I have a precise record of all conversations

- I've established the domains and website that have sent me the emails
- I've reported to Google the illegal activity of any gmail user
- I've made requests to Internet bodies to determine certain information that must be presented publicly
- I've reported to Paypal the illegal activity and offered to work with their fraud team
- I've portscanned the domains with illegal activity proving that activity is coming from inside not from hacked unsecured servers
- I've knowledge of the ISP's of the illegal domains and ultimately owners
- All this information will be passed to the Swiss Cybercrime division
- I will also inform the Swiss Police

Summary Points

- Don't be in a rush to please when the Buyer has done nothing for you

- In Switzerland we traditionally trust buyers and send items prior to payment, but let's insist on prior payment before shipping for foreign transactions or ones that are suspicious.
- Check inbound payment emails from Paypal carefully
- Research the buyer on the Internet, no history or trace can be regarded as suspicious
- If it is Paypal then logon to your account and check pending transactions from the https screen.
- Insist that you send the item to the buyer and not a third party


Anibis safety link
Anibis Fraud Guide
Report Google Gmail abuse

Swiss online purchasing scams
Cybercrime Complaints Form CH

Name and Shame

I'm writing down the exact names of the wankers that I have dealt with here.  I'm excluding the precise names of the third part(ies) involved, since it's just possible though IMHO extremely unlikely that they are innocent. Yes, what a nice guy I am.

IP address of senders  <but it's a tor networks so hmm>
82,239,104,165  Tours, Centre 37100, France

Names Used
Marie Charlotte Poligny
Xavier Stanton
Gaelle Vachet

Email addresses of fraudsters


Delivery Addresses

3rd party address: Ms C D, Ruelle du Chapitre 3, 1950 Sion, Switzerland
3rd party address: 6061 Montignies sur Sambre, Belgium?
3rd party address: Avenue Henri-Golat 12 B,1219 Ch√Ętelaine

And, Unbelievably Idiotic Emails

Yes, well looking in the calm light of day the emails look like shit and has several formatting and other errors making it look questionable.  Example

On the style front we have

- Inconsistent amateurish use of fonts

- senders paypal account ( not matching in any way the senders email (
- Odd highlighting
- Analysis of the email body shows a host of other email addresses inside the HTML.  Let us name in total