Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sunday Sermon: Slow Dancing in a Burning Room

John Mayer: Slow Dancing in a Burning Room

In 2016, this is simply the state of the World that many of us inhabit.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Something for the Lausanne Weekend

Molotov Jukebox: Something for the Weekend

As part of Marcus' mission as unpaid Lausanne and Canton Vaud advocate  I'd like to promote three wonderful things to do this weekend around town

Even if there was /nothing on/ there are plenty of healthy outdoor activities to participate in, for example hiking in the mountains.

Instead this weekend:   Here are 3 choice events happening

Lausanne Carnaval

I witnessed the setup on Friday afternoon.  Basically the Carnival is a huge street party with the focus on food.

Here is the Online magazine  to read

Tour de Romandie

Many big international Cycle names take part in this Pro Cycling race in Switzerland.  On Sunday May 1, it passes within a few Kilometres of our Lausanne home.

(Note to self: Stay off the roads, we don't want to embarass those Pro's as we shoot past them :-)


In the Spirit of the Slow UP movement, which means /take things easy, relax and have a good time/   our Canton of Vaud has a LavauxUP.

I think our Canton is too posh to join the trifling SlowUp brigade.

On Sunday this weekend the lake road between Lutry and Vevey is closed to traffic.   It is open to Pedestrians, Cyclists, Scooters and Skaters.

There will be a few attraction tents serving food and alcohol

The idea is that you get to Lutry then using any of the above transport mechanisms  (i.e. not a car) you head out towards Vevey, or perhaps start at the Vevey end, and head towards Lausanne.

Lausanne is making it ridiculously easy for us to go outside and have a wonderful time.   All part of the Swiss mentality that we really appreciate, and think that we contribute to.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Testing, Waiting, Watching, Thinking

Subtitle: I Analyse

Marcus has a project this week, and that is to answer the question:

Why does my computer take so long to do things? Answer

a) It is doing a lot of things I don't give it credit for
b) There really is a configuration problem
c) Something else


Like most people, funds are not infinite.  And there comes a time when throwing money, and perhaps large money at a new computer or car or possession or thing is not the best way.

The first step is decent Analysis

And so on my principle workstation cum server, that runs Windows and UNIX and Linux and SAP and well just about anything you can imagine, and all concurrently, I have spent a day with the Windows Resource Monitor.

Sexy right?

Well quite. More than its AIX or Linux or UNIX counterparts it is very easy to understand. It is not so simple as to be dumbo (OSX Activity Monitor, are you listening !) but it's intuitive enough for me to quickly find out why my solid, but ageing (5 years+) workstation that recently is simply grinding to a halt ...

Installing two New Microsoft Builds this week  Windows 10.14322 and Windows 2016.TP5 which seemed to take an eternity, highlighted the problem.

I notice that throughout the day the aggregate Hard Disk Activity on the system rarely goes below 60MB/second. It often hovers around 80MB/sec and for long periods is well over 100MB/sec.  I mean all day.   What is going on.

Google Music Manager, what are you doing!

 Okay I see a defrag running at 150 MB/sec

And Windows Storage Spaces Tiering Agent is sucking 130 MB/sec

Making Linux media and installation is resource hungry.  But then Ubuntu 16.04 is calling

Before falling over Google Drive client really goes to town reading all the local files on the source area

Oh and using 1.7GB memory.  I never saw it get past 2GB memory.  Maybe this is the bug that is causing to constantly crash?

Yes well, only 150K files to sync, but after a few more files this whole process will crash

 VMware tanks, that was not supposed to happen

The chrome Canary browser even with few tabs open keeps reading and writing files ALL the time.   Despite the latest tweak to hard link the user directory to a very fast NVMe disk, it is constantly draining resources

Numerous programmed and user file copies daily pull down the system

Syncback, a copy and backup program runs over 10 schedules and moves hundreds of GB or upto TB daily. And pushes it to cloud where necessary. Again slowing system. Look how many concurrent files are opened! Mind boggling.

Oh and I should mention that for nearly everything except for a photo bitmap/jpeg the AVG virus scanner needs to check every file against its always increasingly large Virus Database. Again monstrously resource eating and time consuming.

VMware is sometime frantically consolidating files bringing a VM to a standstill.

So far the analysis goes like this

- Google Music Manager, why is it always reading my static music collection and fiddling around with its local database

- Google Drive. Is it crashing when it gets to using 2GB of local Memory? I'm still trying to get it sync'd and I need to manually restarted > 12 times per day. Crap right? Both frustrating, annoying and I consider giving up soon

- Syncback: Are all the daily transfers necessary. Since Synback compares each and every file, maybe .rar unused file collections from tens of thousands -> 1 file. Would save a lot of comparison time.

- Chrome Browser: Need to compare it against Firefox. Currently Chrome canary seems like a real resource hog.

- AVG: AVG Anti virus needs to read every potentially executable file on read to check it does not contain a virus. This is an additional burden to any file based transfer. But seems unavoidable.


Writing the above has been rather stressful and depressing. So John Mayer to the rescue.  Chill.


Windows 2012 Performance Tuning

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Flat Pack

This post concerns attention to detail.  It makes the baseline assumption that you already recycle, but frankly that is not enough.

Marcus spent some years working in and with Retail Supermarkets. Part of the training was


Essentially at Stores or even at Head Office every Cardboard Container, every Pet Bottle was flattened before disposal.


Because this leads to very high density waste storage that can be more efficiently transported and recycled. Let's check our Apartment here in Lausanne Switzerland ...

Our communal paper waste last evening.   Observe some lazy tosser who could not be bothered to flatpack his wine carton, but others have done so.

 Our latest purchase, a Bee Hotel

 And flatpacked

 Of course this also applies to all Milk cartons

And any PET that we consume  (we have mindfully reduced consumption to the occasional bottle of fizzy water only)

Flat-packing is a step along the journey to carefully recycle goods.  But let us think about the basics

Pre Requisites
Considered and Careful consumption.   Just because you can does not mean that you should.

Consideration of total Energy and Resource costs of everything that you buy or use.

Gifting of used or no longer useful items

Recycling of daily household Produce.  In Switzerland we subdivide into PET, Aluminium, Cans, Glass, Paper, Raw Uncooked Food, General Household.

You need to perform the sorting yourself and place into the separate refuse bins.

In Switzerland PET recycling must be done at Retail Supermarkets i.e. there is never a PET recycling at Apartment home by Law, so this requires extra effort

Flatpacking is an enhancement to PET, Paper and General Household disposal

Recycle Carefully, Consider your consumption, and wherever possible Flat Pack.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Cloud Storage in 2016

Dropbox: Project Infinite

In a single day, that is 24 hours I can upload over 200 GB of data.  But drum roll, that is using our backup Internet Connection which is

A mobile phone.

Our main Internet connection is so much faster, I can't even disclose the actual speed.

Our transition to Unlimited i.e. uncapped Internet Data plans and practically Unlimited Transfer speeds has been part of a careful plan.

But it is ruined in 2016, because our current Cloud Providers are still unable to sell us working products at reasonable prices, here in Switzerland.

2016 summary, Frustrations Included

+ Currently my #1 Cloud Provider
+ The 1TBbyte plan is 100 USD per year.  Pricing Plans  That is reasonable
+ Project Infinite as above looks interesting
(This is not a new idea.  Hierarchical Storage Management with ADSM aka IBM's TSM had this concept over 15 years ago)
- You can only have upto 1TB
- For more storage, apparently unlimited, you need to goto Business and that is 5 or more users, which is 720 USD per year.
+ Dropbox client ALWAYS works for me no matter how many files I throw at it.  I tested it with over 1 million files.
+ Upload rates upto 10MBytes per second have been seen in practise
+ I upload regularly single files over 30GB in size without issue

+ Currently a reliable product
+ I favour the 1TB account which is included free with Office 365
+ I bought Office 365 and only use OneDrive since I have already bought the Office Suite separately.
+ Seems to work well, though not tested to exhaustion as with DropBox or GoogleDrive

Google Drive

--- Unfortunately it DOES NOT WORK in synchronising my files
--- The Google client just crashes
-- There is no know way to report the problem or get Google to fix it (well I reported it to the official Google Forums of course)
-- I was using the alternative Insync Pro client to synchronise my files but that also stopped working 6 months ago  (after Insync enhanced their client)
-- Insync support have not been able to fix the problem

-- I think I've isolated the problem in synchronising thousands of small files with like long filenames.  If only there was an error log I could look at, or that Google could look at, or documentation on command line options.  Apparently that is too much
++ Upload speed has exceeded 30MBytes/second before the Google Client crashes
+ Price for 1 TB is 120 USD per year which is reasonable

Amazon Cloud
Infinite uncapped storage available.  For a cheap price.  But only in the USA.  Thanks for nothing Amazon!

I have tried many other providers.  Recently I tried ASUS Webstorage.  But I found a buggy client, a host filesize limitation of 500MB (useless), and a Web Client that also did not work much of the time.  Normally I'm a fan of ASUS for their no nonsense working Hardware.  But their webstore was merely /nonsense/

Right now, my future hope is on DropBox.   It would be wonderful if Dropbox could offer individual users unlimited storage at a fair price and also allow features like /Infinite/ to provide better utilisation of local storage.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Musical flashback: A Trick of the Tail

Genesis: A Trick of the Tail interview:

Ah, Spotify is a wonderful thing.  Whilst out for a run I decided to revisit an earlier time and dial up a beautiful Genesis album:

A Trick of the Tail

And suddenly there I was, musically transported back to 1976. A troubled time for Marcus,  and I do recall therefore, that music, was an even greater escape then, than it is today.

I think Genesis and albums like  /A trick of the Tail/ helped set me on the track to mindfulness, something that I hope has continued to the present day.

And so, I urge, I will, I cajole you to give the album a listen.

Steve Hackett/ Genesis: Entangled

Genesis: Squonk

Genesis: Mad mad moon
Mad mad moon lyrics

Genesis Robbery Assault and Battery
Robbery Assault and Battery lyrics

Genesis: Ripples
Ripples Lyrics

Genesis:A trick of the tail
Trick of the tail lyrics

Hackett/ Genesis: Los Endos

Trick of the Tail Amazon
Trick of the Tail on Wikipedia

Spotify: A Trick of the Tail

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Lausanne 20K 2016

Marcus just before Lausanne 20Km 2016

Our second road race of 2016.  A wonderful time was had by Marcus and Agata....

Cold and Colder
Much to Agata's amusement I was planning to run in my Neoprene diving gloves.   Well it was 1 degrees C when we go up this morning. And yes, I did run with them!

 Relaxed before the race start

This year the events were spread over 2 days.  Nevertheless I have never seen so many people entering either the 10Km or the 20Km race distances.

Marcus Report

Race Plan

The idea was to run at an average sufficient to get close to 01:30 which for 20Km means over 13Km/hour which is fast for me.  Especially since this is a hilly-ish course.

I did look at the race map, but we have done the course many times before so we know that it's a slog up to the Cathedral and we climb over 250m on the course.

I only took one SIS gel on the grounds that this is a /mere/ 20Km run and nothing more substantial was going to be necessary.

Upto the Cathedral
The race started well with my music playing nicely and my Garmin and Microsoft tracking devices switched on at start sans issue.

There was nobody to /lurk/ behind at my chosen pace so for a change I had to use my watch as a guide and I tried to keep to <13.5Km/h on the flat and ascend hills as quickly as possible.

All seemed well and I got to the Cathedral which is about half way surprisingly easy.  From there it is mostly downhill so at this point me, and just about everybody else takes the opportunity to speed up.

Km 15 Choking
Providing a superb Runners excuse, if only for this event I could have run faster .... I took on a energy gel from an aid station at Km 15.   But somehow whilst trying to consume it I choked.

I had to stop and cough my guts out.  Entirely my fault

Km 16 - Pace Man is found
Just 4km from the finish I noticed a man with a fin on his back reading 01:30 and realised there was a pace man and I had a chance to better 01:30.    I caught and then overtook him

Speed and Thoughts

I finished easily and within about 60 seconds I was no longer breathless thinking, surely I could have run faster!  I am sure every runner thinks this, but what I mean is that last year I was positively exhausted at the end.  Hmm.

I ran back to collect my stuff after the race before meeting Agata and friends.  However I had sweat so little that I could not be bothered to shower there and then.   Should have tried to run faster!!

Agata Report
Despite my right leg injury I braved the cold and was flying.  In fact a personal best at 1 hour and 41 minutes.  And the course is hilly!  So there.

And also at Km 10 by the Cathedral it started snowing!  Yes it was that cold today.

Of course we bumped into Medalit, our good friend who had also run the 20Km.  Lausanne is such a cosy town that way.

Marcus after the 20Km Lausanne

We both had a great race.  Agata had a Personal Best and was thrilled.  Like all runners we are sure we could have run faster!

20Km Lausanne official
Agata Marcus Lausanne 20K 2015

Marcus time 01:27
Agata time 01:41
Another 30K+ step day each for us.  Great.

It was frikkin freezing < 5 degrees most of the time and with the odd unexpected flutter of snow!

Marcus drank 3 times, half cups of Powerade.
Marcus ate 1 SIS gel and then choked on a Powerbar Gel
Agata had no food, and a 3 cups of Powerade


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sunday Sermon: Learning in 2016

For the second time in just months, another one of my musical icons, namely of course Prince has been removed from my Musical Landscape.

Although as I discussed earlier, Prince's online presence is basically zero so what I have in my music collection is a fair few rips of original CD's that I bought > 10 years ago.

But this post is about learning.

In 2016 most of my learning is derived from reading articles online, found from Google Searches and so since Prince's  religiosity was of the Jehovah Witnesses faith I took this an an opportunity to learn more.

Whilst I don't ever consider one book or one source definitive; one can follow the likelyhood of truth by considering the weight of evidence that is presented on the Internet and cross checking it.

For me Jehovah's Witness and Mormonism represent two of the /older/ contemporary Christian based modern variant religions. Ones that make a variety of unlikely claims and religions that impose a awkward set of constraining behaviours on their followers.

For Jehovah Witness I already follow the excellent YouTube channel called John Cedars.  This is hosted by Lloyd Evans, who IMHO is the voice of reasonableness personified.

Prince and his faith as a Jehovah Witness

I think in viewing this 15 minute video you'll learn some interesting things about Jehovah's witness and for more information I would invite you to watch other videos on this channel and of course do more research for yourselves.

Friday, April 22, 2016

An Exercise in Good Design and a Copy

Subtitle: An old Skool Copy: Msde in china

Marcus and the Clone

The story starts with the premature failure of my Knog Blinder Cycle light.   This has failed after about 9 months of gentle use  (well, not used in Winter at all) and I opened a support case with the Australian Knog, who have promised to send a replacement under the 2 year Warranty.

It's been 2 weeks and nothing has arrived and since Marcus is now down to one rear Cycle Light, my sense of paranoia kicked in.   I need a working backup!

Cycling Light Parameters

Some of the features I look for in a Rear Cycling Light

- Red Light, 
Since white is illegal in most EC countries

- Ability to have a constant not flashing light.  
Again, flashing is in fact illegal in most EC countries, but saves a lot of power.   Since I'd rather be legal the light needs to have a solid light mode, ideally with varying levels of output

- Ability to have a really powerful rear light
Be easily seen and in bad weather conditions turn up power to be clearly visible even at distance

- Waterproof
Mounted on rear frame stay or seatpost it is going to come in contact with a lot of spray

- Rechargeable
One of the most important features.   Non removable battery means waterproofing is easier and your running costs are basically zero.

- USB recharge
A micro USB would be prefered but so far I've only found full size and mini USB.    Min USB gives a small socket that needs to be waterproofed.

- Can be operated with Gloves on
I always wear cycling gloves, not only as weather protection, but also get knocked off and hit the tarmac protection too

- Fast to apply and remove to Bicycle
Less time dithering about at beginning and end of a ride.

All three lights shown below meet the above criteria.

Even More Parameters

Of course, it's not all about functionality.  A good light would also

- Look Cool and chic

- Be interestingly different

- Not overheat

- Have a decent lifespan

Moon Comet and the Clone

The Failed Knog Blinder

The Moon Comet, which I still love, and still works

The Moon comet and the Clone light that arrived.  Can you see the problem!

The Problem
The Clone light that arrived had one rather major problem.

It attaches to the rubberised clip via an interlocking plastic square on the body of the light.

For the Moon Comet that square is not screwed on, it's a part of the moulding of the body of the light.  It cannot fall off.

But for the Copy that arrived, it actually fell off (thankfully) after I mounted the light and I was wheeling the bicycle outside.


The Fix

Was obviously to disassemble and then find a longer self tapping screw and screw the plastic square back more convincingly.

Here is re re-screwed light.  And,  it survived the first morning ride, since 2 weeks and counting, no replacement Knog Blinder arrived in the post

A word to the Cloner
You charged me 5 GBP including postage from China to Switzerland for this light.

That is simply astonishing!  So, bravo for that.

However I suggest you further optimise your design.

- Mould the square plastic mount to the top of the light.  As per Moon comet design.  You will also save one small self tapping screw.

- I suppose keep the 2 other cheapo self tapping screws that fix the light together.  The moon comet has more decent hex screws, but ordinarily they will never be opened.

- Get a grip with the labelling.

3.7V 500mAh
Made in China

Come on!

To remind everybody of the cost differentials

China clone - 5GBP including postage
Moon Comet from Wiggle UK  - 20 GBP
Knog Blinder - 60 Euros (45 GBP ish)

Waterproof LED rear light, ebay