Monday, June 29, 2015

Tiny Bluetooth Earphone

This is a review of the YE-106S tiny tiny tiny Bluetooth Earphone/ ear-bud.

An Historical Perspective

Today in 2015 a small rechargeable Bluetooth ear-bud might appear at best,  interesting and ingenious.   I would point out that if you would to arrive to company with this device going back in time from decades, to centuries to 0AD you might be regarded as


A Secret Agent
A Curiosity
A Devil
A God

What came in the almost impossible to open sealed packaging was the Earbud, and at the time mysterious white cable.  No instructions. Oh, and a clear plastic bit that is supposed to fit over the ear

The worst fitting

I removed the over the ear plastic guide as it did not fit.

Then I continued to struggle to get the earbud into the ear.   The main issue is that the end and plastic wing don't go deep enough into the ear.

After a lot of wiggling  it sort of fits. Barely. 

A few hours later I realised that you can plug the other wire into the micro USB port and then have a stereo signal. Duh!

Well, the reason it took me so long?  Because with the ear-bud awkwardly installed the micro-USB connector cannot be plugged in!  If you plug it first then it's impossible [for me] to get the powered ear-bud in at all.


So my list so far is

- No instructions

- Wired earbud is totally unusable
- These are by a decisive margin, the worst fitting and most uncomfortable earphone I have ever tried
- I tried to jog with it.  It felt loose, so I can't recommend it for running.
- Would not pair with my iPod Nano but would pair with my Android Smartphone

On the Positive Side
- It does actually work
- It cost under 10 GBP including postage.  Yes, quite staggering
- It lasts over an hour in testing
- Sound is okay, i.e. not awful, quite okay for speech
- There is a microphone too!

Win Some Lose Some
Due to the discomfort I was initially tempted to offer them for free on the local Swiss Anibis sales website.

But then I had a running race to attend and I thought for the ride home I could perhaps carry the single ear-bud to keep me company.   Yes it worked.  I ran with the earbud in a plastic bag in a pocket, and post race I extract it and tuned into BBC Radio 4, The Archers on my Android Smartphone. 

So it's not totally useless then, just almost useless!


This was an eBay impulse buy.  It is not a great use of my 8 GBP, but in a week with a cycle crash costing more than 80 times that (!!), who is counting.

I can keep it in the top pocket of my rucksack for emergencies, safe in the knowledge that I always have a spare headphone (singular) to listen with.

Miniature Bluetooth Earphone

Sunday, June 28, 2015

When Infrastructure Counts

BBC: Pee Buddy helps women in India

To Marcus, Infrastructure in life is one of the key enablers to society, and perhaps the foundation for a decent life in general.  Infrastructure in your personal life is the thing your Government, your Local Government, your Canton, maybe your Apartment block, et al. provides so that you can live your life more easily.

At work, your Employer provides the infrastructure.  It could be

- A decent canteen
- An employee car park
- An employee bicycle rack, and a shower room, somewhere to store your bicycle clothes
- A stocked stationary Cupboard
- Your work PC's files automatically backed up,  and secured locally in case of theft.

There are literally thousands of examples.  Too many to count.

Here in Switzerland Agata and Marcus have grown used to  ...

- I can walk down the street and find a public toilet
- There are sidewalks (i.e. pavements) that are smooth and well maintained to walk or scooter on
- There are clean streets and bicycle lanes
- There are working traffic lights
- Numerous civic Festivals and events in Lausanne. And all meticulously cleared up just hours or sometime within the hour of finishing
- That if you call the Police they will arrive
- There are street lights
- Garbage is not allowed to be littered or left on streets.
- All legitimate garbage (rubbish) is regularly removed
- There is a decheterie for you to take large rubbish items
- There are no power cuts
- There is a 1Gigabit/second Lausanne wide wired Internet Infrastructure
- There is a 100Mbit/second 4G LTE Lausanne wide mobile Internet Infrastructure
- There are Buses and a Metro and a Local and Intercity Railway service.  It runs on time.  The toilets on the train are clean and don't have cockroaches visibly running around in them.
- Lausanne has numerous drinkable water fountains
- The cold water from a tap at home is drinkable
- In winter roads are cleared from snow if it falls, 24x7
- There is city sewage.  It works, all of the time
- Roads have Potholes by exception, not by rule

And So back to India
Marcus and Agata have it on the todo list to perhaps spend several (more) months in India.   But we know what to expect.

Of course we can talk about democracy, the Indian F1 team, the Indian Space programme, the brilliant and talented and now mostly ex-pat Indians working abroad, the numerous Hypercar dealerships like Porsche.

However I know that if I speak to Middle Class IT professionals or even managers, managing hundreds of people.   They live in sometime squalid accommodation.  Or perhaps a modern gated block.  With a driver who personally takes them, and maybe a bus for their staff,  though potholed streets to their private Generator powered IT workplace.

There are Power Cuts, and the Internet may be similarly patchy.

In many streets of some major cities rotting food garbage can stand for weeks

And whilst City infrastructure is patchy, it is at a whole higher level than that of the countryside.

Pee Buddy
The Pee buddy   as reported by the BBC simply gives the Indian woman the equal opportunity to pee over a dirty toilet, or in the street, the latter is something that the Indian man is very capable of.

The General level of Indian Infrastructure is simply bloody unacceptable.

But please, don't take my word for it.  Book a holiday in India yourself, not via an all planned travel company.  Just a flight and an initial hotel.  And by all means send us the results.

Pee Buddy helps Indian Women
Indian monsoons cause havoc
Artist Pothole Protest
Pee Buddy official
Pee Buddy YouTube

La Romandie Classic 2015

subtitle: Marcus crashes the Romandie Classic

Last minute booking
We were fleetingly told about this race but forgot about it until 2 days before.   We learnt that for an extra exorbitant fee we could sign up on the day.  And so ... Marcus and Agata trundle off to Aigle in Switzerland.

We actually parked just outside UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale)   Here Agata is to be see brewing up Chai Tea from Twinings.

Just before Romandie Classic

 Time to go!

Marcus Crashes

The first part of this race is an untimed 40Km cycle behind a pace car. That was fine. And then, about 200 metres from the start of the timed 14Km hill ascent,  Marcus fell over.

In retrospect my bicycle front is covered in some translucent gooey liquid.   It's probable that this was on the road and I slid on it, down into the tram line, that I had already spotted and was cycling I thought carefully to avoid. After falling and sliding I was promptly run over by the cyclist behind me.  Ouch.

I did eventually get some antiseptic would dressing.  As you can see I took it like the sensitive youth that friends would say "Yes, that is Marcus"


Remarkably the Velo assistance car was just behind us at crash and a nice man stopped and tried to adjust my rear wheel.

It was however hopeless.  The rail track had warped the wheel and the best we could do was open the rear brakes so they did not rub against what is now a wheel that will shortly be put in the Dura Ace scrap pile.

Yes it was flippin here.

Instead of calling it a day, Marcus convinced Agata that he would instead cycle on the wobbly wheel, and that we'd worry about the steep descent with only one front brake later!

We finish

Report from Leysin finish

 Prizes and All of that

We were not quite last   (well the accident meant we started about 15 minutes late, and I am proud to say that we caught a few people up and overtook them!)

We clapped the last finishers.

 And then a real treat.  We waited for the Tombola prize draw!  Our uber high priced entry tickets qualified us and the prizes ranged from a tour of UCI to a new bicycle.  Pretty good.  We didn't win but Marcus commented that it was at least 30 years ago when he last entered his local village tombola in England.  Took me right back.   How quaint Switzerland really is.

Coming out on top?
After climbing the last 14Km on the timed stage from Aigle to Leysin Marcus was surprised to find that his right side body pains, currently believed to be spine and disc related seems to have abated.

Now it could just be the adrenalin, or maybe the fall has magically reset some part of the spine and Marcus has unwittingly done a self Osteopathic reset.  Time will tell.  To be continued!

Learning Points
I've been selling numerous /sub optimal/ items on the Swiss sales site Anibis recently.  This crash reminds me in a less than perfect world, maybe I should keep these spare parts around, just in case.  After all, I'm selling them for peanuts.

Wearing long cycle clothing turned out trumps again for Marcus.  Cuts and abrasions would have been so much worse in shorts or short sleeved gear.   I'll continue by long wearing.

Accidents aside,  Marcus and Agata had a wonderful time.  We shared the weekend with Carsten and Kathy who are most knowledgeable in all things sporting and fitness so this was an added pleasure.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Centenary Course Run Lausanne

IOC CIO Centenary Run

Subtitle:  Another healthy day in Lausanne

We were tipped off at the last minute that there was a Centenary Run to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 

IOC  (International Olympic Committee)

which of course is located in our home town of Lausanne.

We are about to start.  It is 19.45 and the temperature is over 25 degrees C.  Marcus waits until the last moment to put his second layer and mandatory run course T shirt on.  It is going to be hot, hot & hot.

Warm up exercises lasted forever.  Since we were already boiling and had run about 3Km down from home we just stood by looking on.

19.45 ... run starts ...

So Agata and Marcus had a fantastic (though super hot) time.  Thanks are due to Kathy Zimmerman for getting us the last minute tickets.

The points to note are

- The run was let by a motorcycle man doing just under 10 Km/h

- So there was no need to rush, but some people still kept bounding past only to come to a complete halt with the rest of us on parts of the course where there was a restricted route

- In other words, the course weaved thru Lausanne and at some points came literally to a walking pace and even a stop when the route was too narrow.

- There was only 1 water stop at 5Km.  Now I know the run is free and also we got a T shirt, but I was hoping for something more tasty than water!  Call me grumpy

- We finished the 11Km in just over an 70 minutes as planned.

But there is more
Agata and Marcus believe in daily exercise.

So we scootered to Agata's work meeting in Central Lausanne late in the morning.

We then thought for lunch that swimming would be appropriate so we scootered a few more Km 

to the beautiful Pully pool, which is just by the lake.

We swam a few Km.  Pully pool is 50 metres and never full. We had a lane with at most 3 other swimmers. Luxury!

Now, time to go car and bike spotting (by the pool)

We had time to get back home after swimming, where let's say it's a little more countrified.  Then we put in some good work, administration and planning until the above IOC night-time run.

So, to summarise

Another beautiful and busy day in Lausanne, a place we regard as almost paradise.

Higher Res Picasa Album

Friday Financial Miracle

Genesis: Jesus He Knows Me

With a debt of over 320 billions Euros, it is now admitted by all sides that Greece cannot pay back this debt.

Regardless, the Greek plan would have more money leant to it.

I would sincerely like to ask the IMF (Intenational Monetary Fund) and ECB (European Central Bank) if they have ever taken a course in basic mathematics, or had say a personal relation whose idea of paying back Peter was to borrow even more money from Paul.

It is said that by definition a Religion has a God (or Gods) who is able to overturn the laws of Physics. Or in this case 1st year Economics and Mathematics for 12 year olds. And so, perhaps those wise people of the Abrahamic faiths could start a few prayers so that all debts can be magically repaid, and we can all live happily every after.

Otherwise I can't see this working out well, with the worst case scenario of further good Euro money being thrown after bad.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bluetooth Support for Microsoft Windows Server 2012

This article documents my attempts to add back Bluetooth back into Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2. (64 bit).  I'm using Standard Edition in this example, but I feel my experiences should apply to any 2012 R2 variant.

Remind me About Bluetooth

5 years ago or so Bluetooth was a joke [to me]. All the Bluetooth devices I owned were a complete pain to use.  Not only power hungry, but the software to connect (say) from my Bluetooth keyboard to my phone did not work reliably.

BTLE  Bluetooth Low Energy aka 4.0   changed everything

And then vendors, especially low cost from China have flooded the market with working low cost devices.

Read my review of the Bluedio Q5 headphones.  Under 20 GBP including shipping.  Absolutely ridiculously good value.

What is the Problem?

For reasons presumably to annoy people like Marcus who use Windows Server 2012 R2 as a workstation Operating System, not having Bluetooth becomes an increasingly big deal.

I have a smorgasboard of devices like Speakers, Smartphones and Smartwatches that might like to connect using Bluetooth.

But you may recall that Microsoft surgically extracted the Bluetooth software stack from Windows 2012 Server.   Hmm.

Putting it back

  • You will need a USB Bluetooth  capable USB key. I have some really ancient ones e.g. Gigabyte GB-BTD02 (may not hat 4.0 in fact) also I just ordered an ebay noname here
  • Find this file on the internet using google search  TC00442200F.EXE

    This is the Toshiba Bluetooth stack

  • I used Winrar to unpack this file to these files and then after a virus check ran setup.exe to install
  • Here are some setup screens:

When asked to install device press Cancel and after setup completes reboot.

  • Tweak the install

You will need to add a TestVersion Name, REG_DWORD value 1 into the registry here


  • Check Device manager
Plug in your Bluetooth Key

 With my ebay Bluetooth CSR 4.0 key physically installed , device manager now shows a Bluetooth Device manager entry and some meaningful tree branches.

Oh yes, did I tell you the Bluetooth key cost less than 3GBP including postage from China.   Yes, really!  It is bonkers.

  • Now connect a device

I switched on my excellent Logitech UE Mini Boom speaker, put it into pairing mode  (press Bluetooth symbol on top), then clicked on the Bluetooth icon on my Windows Server installation

I followed the New Connection prompts after pressing the button.  I successfully added the speaker, then set my default speaker to this and voila.  It only worked!

I kept going and added in a sooper dooper Sony Bluetooth headset (which has a microphone).

Trying to add a /New Connection/ from the Bluetooth tray application does not always work correctly. Variety of errors about "service". And that is the kindly caution.   In other words, it is a bit hit and miss.  However, once the device is added, then subsequent connection seems to be more stable, but still not bulletproof.

I am just over the moon to have Bluetooth working.  I've been struggling along with my capable but ordinary and averagely comfortable Logitech H800 headphones because they have a dedicated USB (non Bluetooth) wireless connection.  

But now, I can use any decent Bluetooth Headset, and it gives me the ability to choose the one I want, or say broadcast the sound to the room next door with the UE Mini Boom 


eBay working Bluetooth 40 key   < 3GBP !!