Thursday, August 31, 2017

Getting Baked

Marcus and Agata and 5 million other people in the UK sat down to watch the Great British Bake Off

The Blame Game
Whilst it was totally our fault to have missed the Tuesday night start of the Bake Off television series we sought to blame somebody else. 

Our thoughts came back to our wonderful friend and talented cook Sandra, who in 2016 introduced us to the Bake Off Series. Sandra, even though we are separated right now, it was surely your duty to alert us to the Tuesday night beginning of the series!

The Setup and the Allure

2 professional cooks, 2 helpers invite 12 contestants to bake 3 dishes each weekend over successive weeks.   In 2017 there will be 10 weeks so over this time you build up your knowledge, attachment and hopes for particular contestants.  It is this level of intimacy which gives #GBBO 'Bakeoff' its staggering 10 million plus viewing figures per episode in 2016.

Oh The [online] Player
Due to our inattention or as Marcus would say sorrowfully not being prompted by Sandra we had to watch the first episode using the Channel 4 online player a day late on Wednesday night.

Assuming you have paid your UK television license  (we have) and live in the UK  (we do) then you can watch it here too

Okay so there are multiple  (4?) sets of 3 minute adverts that you have to watch, i.e. you cannot skip them in the player.   And a sort of bitter sweet chicken commercial Marcus did not really like  (on first viewing it seemed funny, but when you thought more deeply then not)

The Flora commercial was intentionally at an ear-splittingly different volume to other commercials.  Do they pay extra for this crap, because it pissed us right off.

This week

Steven became star baker, and Peter was last and will not return next week.

Reminder you can watch it all here

Next Week

We will be better prepared.  Google Calendar entry made. Alexa and Google Home are alerted.  We think we might invite around  some neighbours, or maybe a UK to Switzerland shared video session.  (technology!!)

Official Website
GBBO 2017 Episode 1
The Great British Bake Off


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Our First Time Trial

Yes, the title says it all,  Marcus and Agata participated in our first Cycling time trial.   Here is our report on the evenings activity.

Our Wonderful Neighbours

In our new house located in Wixford England we don't just have an idyllic quiet country location, we also have a ready built community of athletes.   One neighbour, Leon Field is probably too modest to broadcast his famous duathlon credentials but we appreciate his introduction to the Cycle Time Trialing.

The first step is to arrive on time and sign the register and pay a small fee.   As you will see this pays for the cakes to be consumed later.

The course is on open Roads as apparently are nearly all events in the UK meaning you have to compete with other road traffic.   In the UK this means cycling in the company of some motorists who believe that bicycles should not really be allowed on public roads at all.   I'll just leave it there.

Everybody gets a number.  I got number 4 meaning that I start at 19.03,  4 minutes after the first person at 19.00 and thereafter people start at minute intervals.

I am proud to say that Marcus cycled round the 5 mile  (8Km) course casually but towards the end I actually put an effort in

Time was 13.11 and although slower than I thought this was not bad for the first ever and not the slowest on the night.  Agata had a similar time,  just over 14 minutes.   The second fastest woman.

Since this is England the post race celebration included a woman with a Tea Cosy  :-) and also lots of fruit cake.   Marcus had multiple slices as one might expect.

At race end we discussed numerous reasons with the professionals as to why we had not gone faster.   Marcus had his usual infinitely long list.   

Our overall action plan is of course to just keep cycling year after year. Sooner or later everybody else will have died out and we will be in an age category alone, thus guaranteeing a first every time :-)

Thanks to Leon for introducing us to the Cycle TT and to the staff of Reddich Road and Cycling for their organisation and making us feel most welcome.


Donald Trump's most notable characteristic: Humility

It is a total shocker, I never knew until now.

See Also
Mac Davis: Hard to be

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Haircutting our way to Riches

Having moved out of Lausanne for the foreseeable future  Marcus and Agata have today made a cost benefit analysis of well Haircutting.

You see when we arrived in Switzerland all those years ago we were totally shocked by the price of a Mens haircut.

Of course in England perhaps part of the price might include a long conversation with your Hairdresser, but in Switzerland Marcus would not really understand the French.  Making the Value Add a value minus.

The stages of Need

 Marcus looks in the mirror and feels that his sideburns qualify him for an extra in an 1970's movie remake. 

My hair starts sprouting up all over the place

It is really time for a good clipping

 It is so terribly important to choose the right plastic cutter offset!

I can literally feel the grams disappearing as Agata perfects her cut

Another Wifely Duty
Marcus is indebted to Agata for her meticulous hair cutting that she had made about once per month for at least 10 years now. But it is a shared benefit really :-)

+ Agata gets the husband to look exactly like she wants!
+ Husband is not manhandled by some woman hairdresser
+ The ginormous cost saving as shown below
+ Done at home it is also a tremendous time saver
+ Agata does the job with famous precision to a degree of obsession.  Marcus likes!

Cost Benefit Analysis

Haircut 12 times per year
Cost of a cutter is about 100 CHF lasting 4 years
Haircut saving per year is 40 * 12 - (100 / 4) = 455 CHF i.e. 370 GBP

Thank You

So thank you Switzlerand.  Thanks to your totally bonkers Haircutting costs we can say that in 10 years we have saved over 4500 CHF i.e. 3700 GBP.

In fact the cost of Swiss Haircutting is more than the 'Dollar Per Day' economic metric.  Now there is something.

And with over 100 Haircuts to her credit this classic song and video seems appropriate

Haircut 100: Boy meets Girl

Monday, August 28, 2017

SUV Ownership

Subtitle: The Ethics of SUV Ownership

Marcus and Agata have been very fortunate to have had unlimited use of a fancy Lexus RX 450h Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) for over 1 week.

We have always been rather opposed to SUV's in principle and now was a chance to find out if our hostility was justified

Live and Let Live
One can easily and coherently argue that your choice of car should be your own preference and not subject to the distain of another.  The counterpoint could be, that if everybody decided to use unsafe/unsightly/inefficient/(delete as appropriate) cars it would lead to chaos on the streets and huge waste to society.

Can you imagine what country I am already thinking of now!

You can argue that my SUV is no less efficient than a Range Rover or Rolls Royce and therefore should not be treated as the target of animosity

One Thing
Marcus firmly believes everybody deserves to have a passion or one thing that they focus on.  So suppose you are an otherwise very economical and cautious person.  But you love cars.  You might disproportionately save up to buy your most favourite of cars: an SUV.   Then good luck to you

Bad Reasoning
If you believe that buying a SUV gives you a better chance of survival in accidents, which you are always having then perhaps you should instead become a better driver.  Today size is not a measure of crash safety. Even the smallest of cars are tough these days,  a Smart is one of the toughest for example.

Not Appropriate
If you buy an SUV and live in a crowded city, or are a single person without the need of load space, then ask yourself is having an SUV just going to be a total pain or waste of time?

Rather Appropriate
If I was living in a country with wide open spaces and roads.  If I also needed to carry loads or people, animals or stuff requently.  If I needed something smarter than a Pickup and tougher than a saloon.  Then a SUV might be a more appropriate choice

And So
With that said we are about to test this SUV for over 1 week.   The parameters of the test are

- Economy  ( I know, expectations are low!)
- Does a Hybrid transmission really improve things
- Gadgets and Gizmos in a Luxury 2017 car
- Drivability in towns and on narrow country roads
- Ease of Parking
- Load Carrying
- Acceleration and General Umph!
- Handling round corners given its high centre of Gravity and Weight  (aaargh)

With that said, we are collating the information from our tests.   Quite exciting really ....

To get you salivating or perhaps shouting NO NO NO, I have scanned the manual of Lexy and you may find it here

Lexus 450h brochure

Lexus RX 450h introduction

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday Sermon: Civildam gig cancelled due to terrorism warning

Police in Civildam have confirmed that they have cancelled a concert of a band called the "Fuckwits: after receiving Terrorist threats.

It's true: Detective Canard was quoted thus.

Yep, a Religious Group called:   The Total and Utter Fuckwits,  left this message

NO peace be unto any heathen claiming that the use of the word "Fuckwits".  We are quite simply " Total and Utter Fuckwits" and use of our moniker is never permitted.


What indeed is this world coming to?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Engineers Fix the Bosch DA50 Sensor Secure Iron

This is in fact a story about stereotypes but hardly one that re-enforces them.

Back in the Day
Marcus and Agata are amongst other things both Professionally qualified Engineers.   But we remember back in the day at University a seemingly endless stream of requests for fixing assistance.

From kettles, to bicycles to Cars there was an implicit assumption that our Vocation was Engineering and it was our duty to assist, of course for free those around us who had got into difficulty.

Given the pay scales of Professional Engineers especially in the UK perhaps they were indeed trying to prepare us for a lifetime of hardship, being un-appreciated and poverty.   Hmm.

Back to Today
We recently wrote up our initial experiences with Auction Sites in the UK, complete with some warnings about buying crap.

In our new home in England we did need an Iron.  So our initial elation about winning an auction for 2 new irons was diminished when we found

- Iron 1: Working but buckled heating plate
- Iron 2: Not working at all

And so the Engineering plan was put into action. Remove Heating plate for #2 and reattach to Iron #1.

Marcus was optimistic that the base of the Iron could be removed on it's own.  In fact, you have to bloody dismantle absolutely everything to remove the base.    A time to test our patience ...

We were spurred on by the fact that if we failed we would have totally wasted our money on 2 irons and that did not seem like the outcome that we had hoped for.

These are all the parts left over and we have to take them to the Recycling centre in due course

 Yes, the finished product.  WORKING!

Learning Points
Yes we look back on those 2 x 5 year Engineering courses.  Complex Mathematics, long hours, lab sessions, all that pain.

For once we helped ourselves fix a problem for ourselves and not others.  And though it took bloody ages we succeeded.

And Finally

Fellow Engineers will realise the stereotypical irony of the situation which is that after our efforts, and successful re-assembly we have a single small ball bearing left over.

Yes, no idea where it came from.  Total Mystery.

Bosch DA50 Manual

Friday, August 25, 2017

What [TF] Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Regardless of what I think about Hillary Clinton I am going to read this book.

Especially if you are a bully you know the moment well where you push and push your opponent psychologically or physically until hopefully they lash out.   This enables you to claim the 'moral high ground'.  The other person is then just plain crazy or unbalanced you will claim.  'See, they are not fit' to hold a position of responsibility.

To Marcus,  the British Public decades ago and now the American public are both guilty of the except for game.

The pre-requisite is a World Power who due to changing world circumstances is really not on top any more, or for much longer.

Citizens of the empire or top dog continually ask themselves?  Why aren't we #1 anymore.  Surely this can't be our fault?

And then the answer comes back:

- A new self assured leader pronounces.  Yes, indeed my citizens, you are still the best.   It's just those other people with their crooked practices that are holding you back.

The immigrants, the Bad Hombres,  The unfair tarrifs.

It is not at all that other markets are more competitive than you, that they have lower costs, that their employees work harder and for less, that they innovate today and in fact you only copy, that you have been borrowing and living beyond your means for decades now.

No, not your fault, it is those other people.


Either way on September 12 2017 you will get Ms Clinton's view on WTF happened.

Because despite SNL you lost.

No really: you lost

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Some Thinking Required

Because if you really like thinking, then forget Philosophy 101. Or that single Religious book whose proponents claim it to be the greatest literary work [in the world] with an immortal language.    Pah!

What I would classify as Computer Science || Infrastructure Design is where all the thinking and counter thinking is done.

Where countless individuals have striven to make this world a more secure and reliable place for all.

Stream Ciphers (securing)

See Also
Hash Algorithms
Public Key Crypto
Encryption and Huge Numbers

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Review: Amphiro B1 Water Energy Monitor

For some time we have admired and tried the Amphiro B1 Energy Meter

If you use a shower instead of a Bath you will already be saving a huge amount of energy, but exactly how much you might ask?

Amphiro works with any shower hose with a 1/2" half inch diameter in which case this device can attach in literally minutes.  It uses kinetic energy from your water to power the device, and quite simply:

- It measures the water flow in Litres
- It measures the temperature and hence calculates the energy of the water in kWh
- The best version the B1 has Bluetooth so that you can obsessively / smugly or simply curiously use an Apple or Android App to monitor your shower Energy Usage.

In Switzerland you can order it online for about 85 CHF

See Also
Amphiro Documentation

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Oreo Eclipses The Rest

Image may contain: night

Countdown to Monday August 21, 2017 14.40 Eastern US Time has been and gone. What has the world has been waiting for?

Yep, First and Foremost:   Google Android O of course.  

Version 8.0 Android Oreo

(And secondly a Solar Eclipse travelling over the USA on Aug 21 2017.)

Here are some important Oreo links

Oreo Promo (Feelgood only)

Getting my Oreo ... 

The Android Upgrade Dirty Secret


You don't have to be paranoid to realise that getting Android Oreo (i.e version 8.0) will largely depend on whether you own a Google Smartphone or are buying a new one.

It's an open secret that Smartphone vendors bar none have not been currently interested in providing the latest Android OS for their Smartphone back-catalog. 

The promised future 2017 exception seems to be Nokia ,who because they are/ will be shipping stock Android on their products mean they have some chance to provide you the customer an Android 8.0 Oreo upgrade path.  And they promise in a timely fashion too.

Factory Images

The official Google images are available here for

Nexus 5X
Nexus 6P
Nexus Player
Pixel C

Pixel and Pixel XL

And Finally
A word for the other event of August 21st 2017.  That eclipse that travelled through the United States of America.  By my reckoning it is the second large object/event  to have cast a shadow over this land in 2017 :-(

Pink Floyd: Eclipse

Monday, August 21, 2017

How Others Live

Subtitle: A lesson in Tolerance and Understanding

A while back Marcus and Agata managed to convince a close friend to come and stay with us in Lausanne Switzerland.  By convince we mean that for about 10 years our friend had claimed to be 'too busy'  to see us, but eventually she 'fitted us in'.

Part of our hidden agenda was to show her how we live and maybe some of our lifestyle choices that we had wanted her to consider  (in the last 10 years!), might mean more face to face.

Well and now it is our turn!

Our Way, Not the Only Way
This week it is our time to consider.  We are visiting some good friends.  First to say this is a successful family/couple and this is relevant because they are not making life choices based on 'can we afford to feed ourselves' this week.  Marcus and Agata are enjoying seeing how they live and in turn this could feed back to change our lifestyle choices

Because we are big enough to imagine that Our way of living is not the only way. 

We think over time any couple / family can go down the rabbit hole of thinking their choices are the correct ones, and that other people are 'just a little weird and misguided'.

So Far
This is a random list of  Contemplation Points

If you are a city slicker it's easy to imagine this is the only and superior way.  But living in the countryside is just different and we are not just talking about the sights, sounds and smells.

In this countryside sometimes they actually close the roads using mountains of woodchips.  How crazy is that

This family has something calls books.  Agata and Marcus have given all ours away in an effort to become more mobile. We try only to read online in 2017.  Should we go back to that paper?

Cupboards and cupboards full of a seeming jumble of food choices.  I have never seen so many different teas!   Maybe we need more food choices in our lives?

Whole sets of extra and un-matching cutlery and crockery.  So much variety.   We have restricted ours to just what we need and precisely calculated (matching) additions that for friends visits.  Do we need more and more after all?

We both have open plan houses.  We agree on something, though they have a 3 floor open space.   Tremendous.

We both have architectural features consisting of lots of cracks.  Let us hope the Architects and Engineers who built our properties know what they are doing.

Making tea the slow and old fashioned way.  Maybe it tastes better though.   I would say that it takes ages to get a cup of tea and the washing up is horrendous.  But still, worth thinking about, because now we have the time :-)

So much extra footwear that Marcus almost feels faint.  Agata and I restrict ourselves to only what we need and will fit in our tiny shoe cupboards.  Maybe we need to be a little less regimented and let it all hang out?

Oh and the wiring is very casual everywhere.   Perhaps this is another way.  Maybe we don't need to velcro everything to be super tidy?

Instead of just talking about a Hybrid car they actually run one.  Okay it's the side of a monster truck and the economy is yet to be proven, but it is just amazing in so many respects.   We need to look at this technology more seriously.

There are a host of other differences and similarities not listed here.  But it is soooo interesting to see how our friends have made a go of living their lives in a different way to us

In Summary
So Yes: What I am saying, is go and spend a week or even a month living with a close friend.  Approach it with an open mind.  See how they live.  It might just teach you something.

The The: Kingdom of Rain

(A rather weak segway, but this video  reminds Marcus of the time he spent living in New York in a warehouse of an Artist )