Friday, March 31, 2017
Subtitle: Extreme Washing
We have one simple washing rule in our household. After exercise wash everything.
And Marcus and Agata do a lot of exercise.
An additional washing sub rule is, always have different outside and inside clothing, and when we come home, place that outside clothing into the laundry basket immediately.
So the washing machine in our house is used daily, often multiple times. And therefore the important factors to us are
- Simplicity of Machine Operation
- Large capacity
- Programs enough for Sports Clothes and Casual clothes
- Power saving features
After much analysis we chose Samsung and this machine, with an 8Kg capacity, nice large window has so far been indispensable. Again it is this model WW80H7600EW.
It's best feature is its quiet operation. Literally with the utility room door closed, then next door in the Open Plan lounge we can't hear its operation at all. Fantastic.
So thank you Samsung, another great product and it leads us to really respect your brand, you are a manufacturer of not just Smartphones, but so much more.
Samsung WW80H7600EW Support
Samsung WW80H7600EW Product Page Dutch
Thursday, March 30, 2017
The always working perfectly Logitech C920 webcam that I really have raved about has recently been replaced in the Marcus and Agata household.
With a potential house move on the horizon, and with Agata protesting that she never used this fine device that I handed down to her; I set about advertising it for sale.
A reluctant Sale
Our new 4K webcam is not working perfectly. And I rather wanted to keep this C920 webcam as a backup.
But we are moving, and we are trying for absolute minimalism. So sale it is to be. Hmm.
In Switzerland it's a well kept secret that Electronics is cheap. VAT here is just 8% verses say 20% in the UK. So practically every Computer item is more expensive in the UK, and I don't dare to contemplate the difference post Brexit Article 50!
And because many rich people are in Switzerland they will advertise their cast offs cheaply, driving down the second hand price.
Worse, in Geneva and Lausanne areas live many ex-pats, with company allowances. So when they leave they flood sites like anibis with low cost items to clear.
So overall my sale price was going to be low!
Just give me one excuse
Advertising items on the Swiss site Anibis is the generally accepted way to sell second hand items. But the problems are
- There is a lot of Pay Pal scamming / fraud. I mean that sellers (like me) get emails from people pretending to want to buy your items.
- Buyers are often at the low end of the social market, expecting bargains
- Buyers have a variety of dirty tricks to lower the price even after a deal is agreed in principle
So what is your final price
This is a line that an irritating buyer will trump out to you at the last minute even as they open their wallet. The idea is that although you agreed a price and time, and in our case we have often traveled half the city to sell something at practically nothing, the buyer at the last minute wants an extra discount, using that above line.
I told Agata, should this buyer come out with that line I would cancel the sale and refuse to sell him / her the item.
Did It Sell
We walked about 15 minutes to the rendezvous suggested by the buyer. Evidently he was too lazy to come to our house.
He was a little late
But then he offered me the asking price. 40 CHF. That is a measly 32GBP. So I kept my word (of course) and made the sale. Hmmm.
We Went Shopping
In contrast to Electronics, Food prices in Switzerland are astronomical. Funny because the VAT rate is a bonkers 2.5% on food. I wonder if the 2 principle Supermarket (Coop and Migros) "don't call us a Cartel" relationship is in any way responsible?
Total cost of this evenings modest daily shop. 43.65 CHF
I refer you to the famous quote from Wilkins Micawber for my sentiment.
What have we learnt?
Selling Electronics second-hand in Switzerland will never make you rich.
Food costs in Switzerland are astronomical despite low VAT rates.
If I need an extra webcam in the next 6 months the Internet will hear me scream "I know I should have kept that webcam!"
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Subtitle: Marcus and the Internet Paranoia
There is an alternative to relatively slow copper line based DSL that is all that many non city dwellers of England can take advantage of, or can they ?
Most mobile phone operators in the UK are broadcasting using 4G i.e. LTE normally CAT3 which you can see could give upto 100Mbps down and 50 Mbps up
So we made a quick survey of UK internet providers who provide Data only Plans
Not Phone Plans
Don't confuse Data Plans with Mobile phone plans with data. The latter will certainly give you data to your Mobile. But almost without exception Mobile carriers will not let you use these mobile plans to enable a Data Hotspot.
In fact let's start with 3 UK. They used to allow Hotspot Data Tethering from a mobile phone, but as of 2017 (radical change in terms of conditions) its available in capped form only to subscription customers ....
Three 3 UK Data Only Plan
1 month rolling contract
All SIM plans (20 GB per month is the maximum)
Dongle Plans (20 GB per month maximum)
3 unlimited phone plans
Three used to do PAYG (Pay As You Go) phone plans with unlimited tethering. This is now cancelled
As of 2107 all PAYG plans can have All-you-Can-Eat internet but no tethering. Just to be clear: NO tethering at all
Note Unlimited Internet might not actually be unlimited. Quote: If your plan includes an All-you-can-eat allowance, there are no hidden “fair use policies” within the UK – we just ask that you use these for your personal use only and not for any illegal, commercial or improper purposes. Some limits do apply in our Feel At Home destinations – see three.co.uk/feelathome to find out more.
For Subscription Phone Plans only
Only 30GB can be used as a Hotspot/ Tethering
To repeat: In March 2017 Three allow you to tether from your Mobile phone at upto 30GB per month, but only if you have a contract, not pay as you go.
Still this is stll their best deal since the Data Only Sim is 23 GBP for 20GB monthly and the Phone plan is about 25 GBP monthly for 30 GB
(Jersey and Channel Islands only)
12/24 month contract
+100GB top-up 15GBP
Absolutely the best UK package but only available in Jersey!!
Data Only SIM
50GB per month,
Monthly rolling contract
However note: UK data charge if you've used up your allowance £6.50 for 250MB
Includes 2GB roaming in Europe
EE 4G Home Broadband
EE double speed is upto 100 Mbps down
Some SIMS are single speed only and limited to 50 Mbps down
75 GBP/ month
includes huawei E5180s router
12 Month contract
can take SIM out and put into your own router
EE is a merge of old Orange and GiffGaff
Uses EE network
Virgin Data Only SIM
30 day rolling contract
10GB/ Month Data Only
Plan can be changed between 2GB / 5GB/10GB every month
No PAYG SIM with large data or ability to have the 2 GBP unlimited data
Times are changing fast. With luck in 12 months i.e. by the end of 2017 Mobile networks will have 100GB/month or even unlimited data plans based on 4G
But not today.
The biggest I could find was 100GB/month from EE . This comes in at about 80 GBP/month so lets call it 1K GBP per year. For Marcus and Agata even ignoring the mediocre speed compared to Swiss Fibre, we use over 1TB per month, so to us this would not be a solution, just a band-aid
For less demanding users however if you can live with 100 GB per month then EE 4G Home Broadband is the best that you can do.
Throttle Management UK Mobile Broadband
UK Christmas 2016 broadband deals
For less demanding users however if you can live with 100 GB per month then EE 4G Home Broadband is the best that you can do.
Throttle Management UK Mobile Broadband
UK Christmas 2016 broadband deals
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
This is both a review of the Brother 1222 printer but also a plea to those reading not to print anything except in an emergency
Stop the Printing
In 2017; Print is just behind the Fax machine in terms of obsolescence.
In the Marcus and Agata household we absolutely try never to print anything. As such
- All correspondence is Electronic i.e. email whenever possible
- If there is a convenient paper free alternative to printing e.g. Online Airline boarding passes, we participate
- Even for exhibition entries and the like: bar-codes may be printed to a PDF or similar that you can store on the phone. No real need to print out the form on paper.
Meanwhile: the Brother
In 2016 we were so impressed with the Brother HL-3140CW printer that the Brother brand was top of our consideration list for a really ultra economical entry-level printer.
The outgoing Lexmark is so old that it could have entered a museum. The Brother HL-1222WE is a
- Monochrome Laser Printer
- Print speed: up to 20 ppm.
- Built-in USB and WiFi b/g/n
- Starter toner capacity of 1,500 pages
- The first page in less than 10 seconds
- The toner cartridge TN-1090 and the drum unit as separate components.
- 3-year warranty
- We paid about 80 GBP equivalent
We feel that for those emergency printouts, which I can tell you are almost non existent these days, this sub 100 GBP monochrome printer is pretty adequate.
Since in this household we are printing about 10 pages per month this cartridge will probably last forever!
Rather like we commented yesterday, we live in a time of excess manufacturing, where prices for consumer goods at the entry level are so ridiculously low, if that is all you require, you can really live very cheaply.
Monday, March 27, 2017
As previously documented Marcus and Agata are in the implementation phases of a move. And there is nothing like this life change to literally make you question which of your possessions, friends and things that you think you hold dear, are actually important .. or not.
Yesterday we just sold the above Karcher Steam Cleaner.
It's a good example of something that had to go ....
- The Karcher Steam Cleaner, is what it sounds like, something that can steam clean surfaces.
- For example you can clear mould off the patio, or using the Steam make sure your tiled kitchen floor is sterile and super clean
- Like every single purchase we have make; we researched the topic, the manufacturers, the models. I mean that we spent some effort in choice. This was not a random "Oh it looks shiny and perhaps useful honey" purchase
- During our ownership however we did not use it many times, in fact it looks like new
- It does take up space
- I can't think of a time where it's use was essential, i.e. without it, we would never have been screwed
Why Today It's Wise to Gamble
In contrast to Marcus and Agata's parents generation in Europe, or indeed today in some parts of the developing world where products were scarce, today we live in a time of excess production.
And constantly falling prices.
To us it does not make sense, only by exception, to store multiple, i.e. duplicate products in any home, because these products are only an Internet order away.
This is especially true for products based on technology which tomorrow tend to be cheaper and higher function/ faster than today.
The exceptions then are limited to
- You have this thing, but manufacturers are cheapening up the replacement thing. So then buy more today
- The item you use and need and will need more of will actually cost significantly more in the future
- The item you have, just won't be made in the future
Down To Then
- 1 active computer system each ! Almost heracy since Agata and Marcus are both IT people
- 1 bicycle each. Again, unwarranted longer term, since we cycle over 5K per year.
- Minimal Sports Clothing: Yes, until we are down to are last pairs of clothing in some categories, no more Sports Clothes until we really have worn out our existing collections.
- Marcus now owns only a handful of formal clothing, down from over 15 suits and over 40 top quality business shirty
Our joint household new purchases committee is in statis! I am no longer browsing
- The daily Scan
We strive to reduce our inventory not grow it no matter what bargains are presented to us.
Our list of Surplus sales is of course currently here
Here is further proof. Where once there were two large racks of Computers, now there are none.
So clean, so Zen. We are loving the new found simplicity and reduction of choice.
David Sylvian/ Japan: Nightporter
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Be one religious of not, most people in Western Europe take Sunday /off/. It's a time of reflection, larger [than usual] lunches, a time for meeting with friends and family.
So this Sunday, Marcus and Agata are relaxing. Do join with us in spirit, and we mean that in the most Secular way possible.
Take That: Patience
Johnny B Goode (RIP Chuck)
PM Dawn:Set Adrift
Paul Young: Every Time You Go Away
Saturday, March 25, 2017
At first it might seems strange to have the word Celebration in the title, but really it is correct.
After over 6 months of failing health Marcus has finally a diagnosis, and a expensive cocktail of drugs to combat this infection
If I tell you there is some sort of feel good Art Installation at the Doctors you can imagine that I am sort of concerned about the Invoice that is coming my way soon.
After the tests and scans and doctors consultancy I have visited the Pharmacy for Drugs and this was a true 'pocket lightening' exerience
How Healthcare Works in Switzerland
Just a quick reminder how it works in Switzerland re medicine.
First I'm talking about residents, not visitors.
- By Law you must enroll in a Private Health Insurance
- This is costly but by selecting a 'franchise' you can elect to pay the first X CHF of any treatment yearly.
- Even with the maximum Franchise the cost per month is astronomical
- If you are working then Accidents are covered by your Employer
- If you are not working then you pay an increased premium so that Accidents and Illness are covered by you
- But with our Maximum Franchise it means we have to pay all these drug and scan and doctor costs personally, oh and the Private Health Charge.
- On the plus side once you have seen the Doctor the system works efficiently and Scans and Consultants can't wait to see you and send you a very large bill.
How is it going
So it is day#4 of my drug regime. I'm taking everything faithfully on time as requested by the doctor.
Some of my drugs are just enablers, i.e. they improve lung function, but as soon as you stop taking them you'd relapse. Well because they are not attempting to cure anything.
But other drugs are anti-biotics, so hopefully they will kill all the bad (well and unfortunately good) things. Then I have to rebuild using my body's chemistry.
To celebrate we have been trying to put in at least a 10Km run daily and perhaps even throw in some walking and Cycling.
Photographs here from Marcus' venture 'up North' to Avenches
Everybody is smiling!
With my already improved lung function running becomes somehow easier, well I am not gasping for breath whilst jogging. Got to be a plus right?
Well, I really feel an improvement, and I hope within one month to be back to full athletic potential.
Friday, March 24, 2017
Marcus and Agata are still in the process of changing their lives. Today I'll talk about Marcus' long association with
The IBM Announcement Letter
I have been a regular subscriber to and reader of the IBM Announcement Letter feed since 1985. Yes that is over 30 years people !
What is the Announcement Letter?
As a young IBM Systems Engineer the explanation was:
When any IBM product is announced, upgraded or withdrawn it will have an accompanying text based announcement letter
Back in the day it was part of my many duties to print the ones that were relevant to my customer, in those days IBM Mainframes; in order to keep them abreast of new technology. In those days there was no customer based Internet, though there began to be the ability to directly link to a public version of IBM Internal Databases.
So inside IBM there was a database called ULET and that was accessed using the VM operating system based service called HONE or UMIS.
IBM Customers, and I mean big IBM customers could dial into a companion IBM database called PLET
This was the position in about 1985 - 1990.
In those days IBM was well ahead of the game, but in 2017 other manufacturers have basically caught up.
Some Changes but basically the same
- Today the whole database is available on the Web
- You can search it just like you could 30 years ago!
- Announcements are normally on a Tuesday and the Summary letter is published the same day
- There is usually one letter a week. So in the last 30 years that is some 1500 plus summaries, and assuming I follow up 5 articles per summary, it is over 7000 announcement letters read and committed to memory.
- Announcement letters may include tables but are generally just text, i.e. no pictures.
- The Sections are still pretty much the same as 30 years ago
- There is still a summary Announcement letter, I am email subscribed to that
- Inside the summary email are a one line title and a link to click thru to the individual detail
- The short code for the announcement letter is still
AANN-NNNN example AG17-0024
- Every Announcement letter can be downloaded in PDF format
- This is the search Page Screen
So Why the WriteUp?
After 30+ years of always reading the Announcement Summary and then following up every interesting individual Announcement letter by reading it in full.
Well, it is time to stop :-(
Some of the letters still interest me but the majority do not. The move from Real Hardware and Systems level software to the majority of service related, partnership related, and waffle related announcements makes me shed a tear. And besides, it's no longer my job to know, and my interaction with IBMers who might ask me some question which I can amaze them by replying to are gone. I mean, these days they can simply just Google it, as can any end user.
I will miss just a little the Announcement Summary, but I must learn to change my perception & look forward to all the time that I will save. Time that can now be spent on very probably Athletic and non Computer related activity.
Bon voyage IBM Announcement Letter.
Rodgers and Hammerstein: Goodbye
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Any act of terrorism is no joking matter, so to first state the facts of the attack on Westminster Bridge, London on Wednesday March 22, 2017
- A car drove into a crowd
- Over 20 people injured
- The attacker then got out of the car and fatally stabbed a Police Officer
- The attacker was shot dead
- Subsequently 2 of the injured people are pronounced dead from their injuries
The problem with this type of terrorism is that the implements of the terror were physically just a knife and a car, items that are available to most every family living in the UK.
I re-iterate the problem, the issue. It is this: when even the smallest segment of your resident population or those you allow to enter have a world view that is so alien to that of the 'the man in the street' these attacks cannot be entirely prevented.
Such views include:
- The end justifies the violent means
- That violent acts carried out indiscriminately against random inhabitants are justified ' in support of the greater cause'
I don't feel people should joke about this kind of terrorism, nor speculate as to whether this is a Religiously motivated crime until further evidence is available.
In the context of a peaceful and multi-cultural and open society that the UK and London is particularly proud this kind of terrorism is particularly despicable.
Free speech is acceptable but when the motivations of this attack are finally known, those who have supported; and continue to support this kind of action, via either social media or any sort of public forum should be marked and tagged as the sick and depraved. Such people are not welcome and should be permanently removed from UK society be they UK citizens or not.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
It time for day #3 of our review of the 2017 Geneva Motorshow. Today the task is to talk about the biggest disappointments or horrors. And what better way to start than with:
For 2017 Honda have made some minor tweaks to their existing Hot hatch. Overall I did not think they could possibly have made the car any worse than the 2016 issue, but sometimes Honda is just full of surprises.
Okay the wheels look good, but look at the amateurishly attached body kit around the wheel-arches. Unfortunately we are just getting started.
Perhaps the most ridiculous design aspect is the gaudy and rather unnecessarily large rear spoiler. I think the rear light clusters have been changed to make the back look even more stupid. And then there are the uneven exhausts.
Any prospective owner should perhaps Google the 2 effects of a rear car spoiler (laminar flow and downforce) and understand the size of the benefit they have at the legal speed limit in your country.
In order to guarantee the car is slow to accelerate, more difficult to drive in traffic, and slower around a track only a manual gearbox is available. Brilliant Honda. Not. Do I have to buy a NSX to get a Dual Clutch gearbox from this company? Well, yes, apparently so
The 2017 Honda Civic Type R is a travesty compared to the original compact and functional Type R. Over the years the styling has not just got clumsy but is not fit for purpose, well if we define purpose as a nimble sportscar.
The car is now elephant sized and with 5 doors.
They never thought to develop 4 wheel drive, only a large spoiler.
Please don't buy this car, because then Honda may change its design to something that Honda sportscar owners really want and not this fat ugly blob.
A prototype produced literally just down the road from our home in Lausanne. But technical details at the show and on the web are so scarce I thought it might actually be a wind up. But Swiss, so surely not! The specs above don't seem to add up, 1000Km range and a 500W solar roof. Send me one to test!
Zenvo TS1 GT
Apart from this Clarkson video I have no evidence that the production car actually exists. There is a website to describe this Danish, 1000BHP plus hypercar but no test reports or owner stories I can find on Google. So I think though I have seen it for some years at each yearly Geneva show, I suspect it is not yet ready for actual production. Hmm.
Most years at Geneva they turn up with some bonkers prototypes. This year the Exhibitor told me this was made in only 17 weeks. We knew of an acquaintance with a Prowler in Swtizerland and the car did not have Swiss legal headlights so could not [legally] be driven in the dark, I wonder about the above.
Points can be awarded to yourself if you can instinctively identify these cars without looking.
Inspired by Fashion?
Dawn: Inspired by Fashion.
First I principally object to any design that is 'Inspired by Fashion'. Inspired by what is right, what is good, what is clean, what is best Engineered might be alternative design points I would be comfortable with.
As such I was amused to see the calibre of people that I observed at the stand
Perhaps these Gentleman could spent less money on their phones and more on their trousers.
For all the photographs that we took at the Geneva Motorshow, at higher resolution please check this link
So that is it for another year. We still rate Geneva as the best Motor Show in the world based on Manufacturer attendance, Stand layout and number of Premieres. Please consider attending with us next year :-)
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Welcome to day #2 of Marcus and Agata's Geneva Motorshow 2017 coverage.
Today we'll look back to Exotica that we saw, that was notable.
Including cars that we would buy and enter into our automotive stable if we had the ca$h, the garage space and the time. Currently however, we feel we only have one of those commodities.
Just past the cloakroom at the entrance to the accessory hall at Geneva Motor Show is a shop selling memorabilia constructed from metal objects welded together. This is the third year I remember it being there. Fantastic stuff.
As you walk into the Exhibitor halls you must first pass thru the 'Trade like' accessories hall with oil from Motorex and machinery and tools.
Ever since Tata bought UK Jaguar Cars in 2008 it became an International player on the automotive stage. Hopefully sports cars like the Tamo can make it into production. Maybe an Indian manufacturer can appreciate the value of a small light and inexpensive sports car.
To us, the monster powered 850 HP cars typically based on Mercedes donor cars are just ridiculous, but the more modest Smart Brabus, although possibly the gateway drug car to your Brabus addiction almost makes sense.
Morgan continues to produce its retro contrarian cars and we recall our extended tour of the Morgan factory in 2016
Much time spent at the McLaren stand gawping at the beauty of the 720S. Recently released, if we had the finances then it would surely be a buy.
And McLaren if you are reading this, you could even considering handing one over. After all, we are very careful owners, supportive of the Brand, and we'd reduce the average age of your customers which as I watched potential buyers at Geneva seems to be at the Geriatric level :-)
I did not pay much attention to the Valkeyrie until I watched Harry's most recent video. So it's going to be a production car for thin compact people. Hello Aston! Call us.
Apart from the obvious flaw to an American Supercar: We forgot to install a V8 engine, this car is I'm afraid unacceptable for a second reason:
In true American tradition this is a Huge, Huge car, with little usable space. It makes the Nissan GT-R look compact! 4.76 metres long.
Still you can have fun with the configurator https://www.ford.com/performance/gt/#configurator
And rest assured that with all the hype; all cars are sold until eternity to a mix of speculators, chancers, collectors, and a few actual drivers.
Ford Focus RS
A genuinely great car, with all the things we like Hatchback, 4WD, Dual Clutch and even a low-ish price. If you can believe that the car won't fall apart soon after ownership and you can stand being pestered by young boys asking 'how fast does it go mister' every time you park in public, this could be a great daily driver.
A much smaller stand than in 2016 and unfortunately for us full of cars without roofs. We no like! Who would have thought the Zonda would still be around in 2017 but as the pictures show: it is.
Definitely a Supercar worth owning, though I think it's as delicate as a China vase.
Extremely impressive stand but with a Turbine and Electric power I was very confused. I read the press release but what exactly is powering that turbine. Many unanswered questions! My advice to Chinese manufacturing would instead be: produce an elegant simple light electric supercar for the masses, like well, your native population. I am pretty sure your Chinese Elites will go for more traditional European branding and not you.
At one point Marcus shared garage in the UK with not one but 2 Noble car owners. I always liked the brand. But over the years the cars got more powerful and less practical. Discounting the even more stupid roadster the above hard top is massive yet when I looked in the boot there was an enormous exhaust and engine and no luggage. Really Noble, really?
David Brown Automotive
The Speedback GT is a remake in spirit and enhancement of a classic Aston Martin design. The car is indeed beautiful but the exhibitors seems intent on chatting to each other rather than showing potential customers the car!
The price is about 600K GBP if you are interested after reading this
They had these great bar stools and table which they would sell me for about 12K Euros. We are in need of same but this is outside of our budget even our dream budget
What you see is the 2007 CTT and this to Marcus is almost perfection. Today I would point you towards the 2017 CTR
For those sensible enough not to take their expensive road car / Supercar onto the track, where disaster often occurs, and you may find your insurance does not cover it, the sensible answer is to buy a Radical.
This year Radical displayed only its Race cars but more conventionally you can buy your own road illegal i.e. track only car.
Montiverdi is a famous (well to me) brand of Swiss manufactured Sports car. Founder was Peter Montiverdi. Since the brand died in 1980 or something I was astonished to see a Montiverdi sign in the Geneva Motorshow 2017.
I had a long talk with the exhibitors. And if you only remember one thing it should be that the collection is moving to Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne (please don't confuse this with our home town of Lausanne!)
So remember: Collection moves to Lucerne. The old museum in Berne is now closed but not everybody seems to know this. Tut tut. I think these Geneva exhibits are actually en route post show.
To Marcus, Gemballa (not to be confused with Gambela) is like an upmarket RUF.
The attention to presentation is just superb
At Geneva they had a Gemballa Avalanche which starts off life as a mere Porsche 911 Turbo
As with any 911 conversion the base practicality of the original car helps the mad upgrade converted car to some degree driveable on real roads and in real town centres.
A wonderful time viewing the exotics. The folks at the RUF stand were the most helpful and accommodating.