Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Google Nexus event 2015

Google: Nexus event September 2015  (82 minutes)

Subtitle: Not what but where.

To levelset,  Google had its largest end user announcement of Phone and Tablet hardware for all of 2015 on Tuesday September 29th.   If you somehow did not know about it then read on and pretend that you did.   If you did know about it, then below are some carefully chosen content to direct you quickly.

A word to Apple Users
Even if you are convinced that your Apple Smartphone and Apple devices ecosystem are the best, I hope you might want to open your mind to what Google,  the company that is almost certainly your search provider, and probably your Email provider,  and significant app provider;  has in store.

The Delivery
The above 82 minute presentation was not perfect, it came complete with a couple of technical glitches.  But it was refreshingly delivered, in earnest, straight to the point, no nonsense terms.  

Also, unlike the Apple events that I've been forced into,  there were no whoops, cheers and clapping sounds every 30 seconds from fanboy and fangirl attendees.  Respect.

What was announced then?

Verge: Google Nexus event in 7 minutes

IF you only have 7 minutes of your time then watch this single Verge video.

else ... apart from the main official video at the top screen which is the big kahuna at 82 minutes long ...

2 Beautiful Android Phones   5X and 6P 

(32GB 5X 429 USD, 64GB 6P  549USD)

Comment: With 12MP rear cameras and larger pixels, the 6P is using the 7.81mm Sony IMX377 sensor

Updated Chromecast

Chromecast allows you to send or cast content from your smartphone or web browser typically to your TV via HDMI.  Unless you SmartTV already provides this function (e.g. Samsung) then IMHO you'd be insane not to gen1 have one already  and current ownership or not, the new gen2 device is unbelievably capable and even better value.

Oh and also Chromecast Audio

Pixel C Android Tablet

A beautifully Engineered 10 inch tablet with superior keyboard support. It's not a Chromebook. It does not run ChromeOS.

Android Marshmallow features

(Smug comment):  I have been using Marshmallow 6.0 Android for about a month now. It's a nice upgrade to 5.x 

Production code upgrade to existing Nexus devices in October 2015.

Getting Product

- First try your local google Play store

- Next try your local Computer Retailer,  e.g. in Switzerland Digitec.https://www.digitec.ch/
 (nothing so far!)

NB: Stoic Advice
Whilst what was announced was great, I'd always caution the reader to think of requirements and need, over greed and having to have the latest thing.  

If you pass that test, and think these products are for you, I'd still take my time to order the phones or tablet, there can always be wrinkles.  But for the Chromecast(s) I reccomend to order now!

A Musical Ending (Daft Punk: Derezzed)

You know Apple gets to have those big budget musical finales.   So I just added mine too.

Further Links

MKBHD Nexus 6P 5X ImpressionsInitial DXOmark 6P analysis


All Two Much

Until recently our Fiat Ducato had no radio and as a stop gap measure we bought a second Logitech UE Mini Boom Bluetooth Speaker

We previously raved about it here

Now that we have installed a Pioneer Car Radio  it has been liberated,  et voilĂ ,  we now have two units at home.

And via the UE Mini Boom Android application you can join the two speakers together and have them play your music in Stereo or Double mode.

How fantastic is that.

I like the now pretty much defunct UE Mini Boom speakers even more now.

Wait,  I feel a song coming on ...

The Cars: Moving in Stereo

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday Sermon: Survivor

Presented without too much further religious commentary.

Joel 02:31
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the lord come.

Acts 02:20
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

Supermoon' coincides with lunar eclipse

Wait, what's that you say, give me a song?

Beyonce: Survivor


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pioneer MVH X380BT Car Radio

Pioneer MVH X380BT pre fitting

This is a review and a strong thumbs up to the Pioneer MVH X380BT car radio that we have installed and now tested in earnest for a few weeks ....

Our Requirements
It has been over 10 years since Marcus and Agata have stopped using CD's as a medium for listening to music.   In fact Marcus checked and it is about 15 years since I finished digitising my entire Vinyl music collection and following that with my multiple hundred CD music collection.

It's now all in MP3 format, stored on hard disk, Google Play Music, and Cloud Backup.

So I was delighted to find that in the Car radio world you can now buy a 1 din Radio unit which has no CD player at all.

After some research we bought a:

Pioneer MVH 380BT

The most fantastic thing is this unit fits into a standard 1 DIN fitting but is only a few cm deep, i.e. short because there are no CD player moving parts or electronics.   Just fantastic! Oh, and did I mention the price ... 100 CHF in Switzerland which is about 60 GBP.  Un flippin believable.


You are not going to believe this, but after arriving at our garage to fit this technological masterpiece, we found a hole where the aerial plug in the dashboard did not fit.


Obviously in Switzerland we had no chance to buy this locally so it was back to ebay.

We bought this for 1GBP!  Including Postage.  How do they do that?

The Fitting

2 weeks of waitin later after postage from Hong Kong.

 It's basically plug and play.

- Plug in the aerial via the ebay'd adapter plug
- Plug in the 2 square blocks coming out of the Fiat Ducato hole into the back of the radio

The manual says that if your ignition does not have an accessory position then to rewire a power connector.  We don't and we didn't.  It's not necessary for us.

Not Used
In the box was a wired microphone that would allow you to use the unit for hand free smartphone operation.  We don't use that.   If we get a call whilst driving the passenger takes it!

All the Benefits then

 Agata's Apple iPhone connects via the standard Apple cable or wirelessly using Bluetooth.  You have the option to select music control from the iPhone or Car radio Interface

Removable front for security

Marcus connects his Apple iPod Nano or Android Smartphone wirelessly via Bluetooth, selecting music directly from the device.

Since in Switzerland we have an unlimited Internet SIM connection this means I can use Spotify to play any music, anywhere, anytime through this unit

Oh yes and again

- Unit is inexpensive
- No moving parts i.e. CD player mechanism
- Very small and light
- Plug and Play

The Pioneer MVH 380BT is a fantastically simple, inexpensive and capable car radio which can also accept a direct wired USB music player or Bluetooth.

All stations are now GO!

Chemical Brothers: Go

ebay Radio Aerial connector

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Mysterious Ways

The Prolog
I prefer life over death, I want people to live longer not shorter.  I'm upset when people die needlessly, especially if it in the pursuit of something fantastical and unlikely that is believed for the most part only our of sheer circumstance [of birth].

This week in Religion
They say the placement of a lightening conductor on top of a Christian Church is clear evidence that /the faithful/ actively set limits on the power of their own God to keep believers and their property safe.

But this week in Islam. Well.....

This week, in Islam, an all knowing and powerful God allowed the death of 717 pilgrims to the Hajj as well as the injury of at least 863 people.

Here are some articles that you can read

700 Killed at Hajj pilgrimage

Saudi Arabia orders probe

Hajj Stampede multiple links

A Restatement

In the secular i.e. religion free world view, there is no covenant between a human and their God(s).  But for a religious person, you perform certain actions, and there is a reward.  Not only limited to, but normally including: 

01. Heaven / Afterlife  - Usually a place where you will spend an eternity with loved ones (or rebirth)

02. Protection - You God improves your life chances, perhaps by better health, longer life, and certainly from protecting you in general.

So it is clear to me that in this model God has the power to improve your daily life.  And so in the ultimate, if you die what seems a horrible and painful death, God at the very least had the power to prevent this happening but chose not to.  

Back to the deaths of the Pilgrims

What can we make of this situation?   Here are some opinions that some people have put forward:

- We can't begin to understand God,  the fact that God has allowed Pilgrims to die or to be seriously injured, is part of a plan that mere humans cannot understand and should not try to rationalise.

Submit to the will, that is all

- The Pilgrims died as they had just or were about to, perform a violent action of throwing stones. This is a sign that the [followers of Islam] must renounce violence.

- God only provides benefits to this world, and so by definition these actions must have been the work of the Devil or another, non Islamic God.

- Clearly the Islamic god does not exist

- Clearly no Gods exists including the Islamic God

- The Islamic God is surely false,  but my God is much more credible

- I think therefore I am, and therefore I am not Religious any more

- Religion is Mental

And Some Other Notes

- Every Muslim with the means to do so must travel to Mecca at least once during their lifetime. Although Muslims are welcome to travel to the Saudi city of Mecca at any time during the year, the official pilgrimage, or Hajj, occurs over a five-day period from the 9-13th of the 12th month of the Muslim lunar calendar

- Muslim doctrine has it that bodies must be buried before the sunset or at worst in less than 24 hours. This dogma has led to dead pilgrim bodies being bulldozed away in this instance.

- Should a man die there are restrictions put upon his wife, not limited to:
Only men can attend a Muslim burial
The wife is forbidden to re-marry for usually 4 months after husband death  (Iddah )

A follower of Islam or not, what do you feel that this tragedy says about Islam and the Islamic God?

Is the Hajj mandatory?
Hajj on Wikipedia

Fate: Our choice or Allahs?
Islam: Are we predestined?
The Tremendous Rewards of Hajj 
Can a Women attend a Burial?
Hajj Stampede multiple links


Friday, September 25, 2015

Farewell to the Crashplan Cloud

Subtitle: Oh Crashplan

Marcus has been a moderately happy user of the Crashplan cloud backup service.

I wrote about it here in January 2015

But there have been some important changes to our lives:

- We made the mother of all upgrades to our Internet connection
It's not for full pubic disclosure yet, but suffice to say that Crashplan is now uploading at less than 1% the upload capacity of our line.   As an exercise to you the reader then look at the above graphic.  Calculate our upload speed!  Yes, it is quite insane

Whilst our Internet connection has got faster and faster, now to a quite unimaginable degree, Crashplan speeds have just stayed static.

No good!

- We plan a future mobile lifestyle

If we are at home less then ultra fast upload and download speeds for backup when we are here become critically important, because when we are back we need to resync everything.

- I had to restart the backup

Using some additional techniques to make our Crashplan backups more secure meant I had to restart the uploads from scratch.  

As you can see (from above graphic) it will take almost 80 days for this new backup to complete and that assumes 24x7 on for the upload server, which is not the case. It's more like 8-12 hours daily. So it will take considerably longer in fact.

- So sad
Of course it will sad to go, especially as I have invested over 1000 hours of upload time in keeping these cloud backups valid.   All of that will become just wasted effort.   You can't just 'take' your cloud backup to the next provider,  obviously you need to start from scratch with a new provider.

- I raised a ticket
I don't really want to go, because functionality is okay.  It is just that the speed sucks when compared to the raw upload capabilities of (say) Dropbox and Google Drive or even iDrive.

So if technical support has any magical solutions I am all ears.  I have however read the forums and done my research so unfortunately I doubt that I am missing something fundamental.

Cancelling Crashplan


So I both deleted all my data at their server end and followed it up by deleting my userid.  There were several "are you sure" prompt messages


The service was and still is excellent

There is forum support and even one-2-one technical support

Crashplan does enable you to backup and restore your files

The cost is quite modest

There is no limit to what size of backup space is available to you on the host.  It's unlimited.

There are abilities to backup multiple computers to your single Cloud Crashplan account for a relatively small extra cost

There are some clever initial data seeding abilities  (now also available with other providers) to send them an initial dataload on a disk,  available only for US users (last time I checked)

To me they have everything I need except the speed which at say 5Mbps upload is woefully too slow in 2015

Whilst iDrive is not perfect it's my current preferred cloud provider


Thursday, September 24, 2015

15W LED Replacement Bulbs

It is really great news.   At last LED lighting technology has reached a non compromised threshold.   Today I can really replace my existing 50W Halogen spot lights with LED lights of an equal or even brighter lighting power.

We have followed and implemented low Power  lights in our home for some years now.  In fact the last implementation was using IKEA 9W flourescent lights as shown above.

IKEA has withdrawn all flourescent lights in 2015 so clearly we started looking for a new strategy

Some Existing Options
Our existing 9W IKEA standard that was brighter than any LED lamp at the time  (5W)

Prior to IKEA we had used single 5W LED's shown above (bulb on the right is the new 15W light to be discussed shortly).   However the 5W were no match for the outgoing 50W Halogen and when the trade up to IKEA 9W was made it was just about okay.  But still a little dim.

The new 15W LED

The current bulb is 5 x 3W units for a total of 15W in a single GU10 style package.  Other packaging formats MR16 E27 are available.

Now 15W LED lighting technology is affordable and available.  A simple visit to eBay will show numerous direct suppliers who can ship directly to you for about 2GBP per light including postage.   

Yes, it is completely bonkers pricing.   We have now fully upgraded to 15W units and I believe this is the last upgrade we need to make until lights actually start to fail.  And the lights are rated at 50,000 hour lifetimes. (over 5 years continuous on, or 50 years if I use it for 2 hours per day!)

15W LED lights eBay

Old American Cars

Part of the 'old' American dream was surely the ownership of an American car, at least this is how it was sold to me in my childhood.

So it is perhaps no surprise that I had planned to buy an American Corvette and Camaro and import it back to the UK when it became clear I was quitting the USA and moving back 'home'.

The more realistic truth about the classic American car is that

- It looks great

- It usually has a problem with corners or high speeds in general
- It drinks petrol quickly
- Its reliability is well, a disaster
- Its technology seems to be set in a time-warp, with big inefficient everything, dashboard and upholstery and colour schemes that time forgot
- In the UK the steering is definitely on the wrong side of the vehicle

Still for all the faults, the American marketing machine has embedded into my small brain a lust for American motors.  So the other day I passed a Swiss garage full of them I had to start snapping

I suppose these days most American realise that the American car and the American muscle car are all of impractical and inefficient, but in my heart, if I had the funds, and a spare garage, then one of the slots would still contain some American Muscle.

David Bowie: Young Americans

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Choosing my Smartphone Case

As Agata has told her friends,  Marcus chooses everything carefully.

Living in Switzerland even the above case for my OnePlus phone took weeks to arrive.  But arrive it has.

- The case is functional and covers the edges of the phone

- OnePlus backs are removable so one could argue that you con't need a case, but then an impact is only protected on the back,  falling onto the glass screen or metal edges would still lead to disaster

- This case protects the screen, well just a little and certainly the edges

- I think this case shows off Marcus' sensitive side

- Here is the ordering link.   5GBP. It seemed too good to be true ....

The Problem
2 weeks later.  The case fell apart.  With no drops or misuse. Cracks on the edges.  I am gutted.  STUFF4, a UK seller.  Useless!  So I've gone back to a backup case, from China. Moskii Premium Case.  That has now lasted a month so far without problems.   Just a plain and smooth grey, but hey it works right. And it has a wonderful matt finish and just right firm yet a little bit flexible texture.

What did I learn?
As usual, eBay sellers from China, or Hong Kong with over 10,000 sales and free shipping worldwide normally deliver exceptional value and also quality.   My UK supplier had neither.  I much prefer missing out the profit taking middleman and going direct to China for my goods.  I encourage others, wherever possible, to do the same.

Oneplus cases from galaxyshoppingcn
Moskii Premium OnePlus case