Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Farewell to Ingvar Kamprad

Marcus says a fond farewell to IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad.

I can think of few companies who have had a more profound and positive effect on billions of people in such a simple way:

Home furniture.

In my lifetime IKEA has become the standard to which many DIY / home assembly products must meet and its high standard that continues for the most part to exceed its competition.

For over a decade Marcus and Agata lived less than 2Km from Mr Kamprad.   We never met him, although a friend sat next to him on a plane journey back to Switzerland.  Mr Kamprad travelled discreetly in economy.  It was comforting knowing that he lived nearby :-)

Mr Kamprad, we miss you already and hope that your IKEA creation continues boldly into the future.

Assemble In Peace

BBC reporting

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Review: Montane Minimus Smock

Trust me  140 grams is light for any Anorak.  But believe me this is a review of the Montane Minimus Smock.  And it has some additional features.

But Why?
A ski jacket with insulation could easily weigh 500 grams and even a regular shell jacket would normally weigh 300 grams.  I invite the reader to go to their kitchen scales immediately and weigh your own jacket!

During the course of a day depending on your level of hydration and before or after a meal your weight can vary by at least 500 grams.   So justifying the purchase of a say 300 gram lighter jacket, in daily life, is difficult on purely saved weight grounds

But in 2018 Marcus and Agata will attempt some more severe Athletic challenges. And there, on an endurance race, every gram counts.


- Not only is this jacket 140 grams, in size small

- It is waterproof to 20,000mm rating

- It has taped seams

- It has a half zip only, less weight and less things to go wrong

- Large zippable pocket on front

- There is a waterproof hood too (yes and still just 140 grams)

In Pictures

It did not come with a stuff sack, but believe me this jacket folded is only just a few centimetres long.

I've tested the jacket in rain but not yet sustained torrential rain.  Let's just hope that is the way it stays.

The Minimum Smock is a fine jacket for any Ultra Marathon runner and it costs about 120GBP mail order with a list of 150GBP.   Available via Amazon or from the Manufacturer direct

Monday, January 29, 2018

Series Dysfunction

I hope most people can recall with me the wonderful rush and the feeling of almost ecstasy you get when you discover a new broadcast TV series.

Hopefully it is one that you and your partner can watch and share together, er or probably Binge watch from an online source such as Amazon Prime Video.

Marcus and Agata had Orange is the New Black, or Mr Robot in common.  But I never really got into Greys.

And so today Marcus is briefly an Amazon Prime Video widow again :-)

Agata has found that Grey's Anatomy did not finish in 2016 after all!

Series 13 started in 2017

Series 14 is the latest  and not yet fully broadcast

Let me just say she is utterly glued to the television.   

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sunday Sermon: Unconditional Love

Presented with too much further comment, except to say that I would personally recommend subscribing to

And with that may the peace of rationality be with you, for ever and ever.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Everything Stops for Cream Tea

Jack Buchanan: Everything Stops for Tea

Marcus and Agata have trained hard during the last couple of weeks.  So at the end of January after only a gentle cycle ride we reached breaking point.

The Three Horseshoes in Wixford is on our cycling path and they offer Cream Teas.  So we headed in

We had a delicious break and reward for the afternoons cycling.

We are thinking that in this area of England which is Warwickshire many Pubs offer this delicious dining experience.   Further reports to follow :-)

Professor Elemental: Everything Stops for Tea

Friday, January 26, 2018


Hey Siri, How Much!!!!

I know, you just spent 1170 GBP  (1631 USD) on an Iphone X Smartphone and a fast charger; but somehow your wallet is not empty and you want more.

You need more.

You have watched the film

For a gob-smacking 319 GBP today you too can order and then soon receive an Apple HomePod.

But wait, don't buy two of them because the Stereo support is not implemented yet, so for your money you can only have Mono et Mono :-)

Here is the CNET review

Brian Tong (CNET Apple Fanboy) information

And Finally
In 2018 Apple has a nice new Apple Mac Pro to sell you too but in the interim please contact me,  I have some Magic Beans that I am convinced you will find most interesting.

Pink Floyd : Money (at Earls Court)


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Upgrading the Petzl Nao Battery

Petzl Nao and Nao+ represent truly excellent Trail Running headlamps.  And hey, if you have the funds you can buy a Nao+ and use it for trivialities like a torch for emptying out the bins, or taking the dog for a walk, but it would be a waste.

There are now 2 principle versions of the torch

2013-2016 Nao  
2017  Nao+  including Bluetooth  (red colour on front) and red battery back with red rear LED.

The Bluetooth model connects to your Smartphone via an app which you use to change the modes of the Headtorch and solves the problem or having to install a program on your PC/Mac and connect the torch which was time consuming and fiddly.

If you have the money (135 GBP) the 2017 Nao+ is still the ultimate head torch. 

Note that on some races a rear Red light is mandatory and so the Nao+ is pretty unique in providing a one stop solution.

I reviewed the Nao here, please read the review to understand about reactive lighting.

Enough of the fanboy PR

Both Nao and Nao+ suffer from a crippling issue

Replacement Battery Cost!

Predatory Pricing
For both the Nao and and Nao plus, Petzl does not offer a replacement battery, you have to buy a battery in a housing.

Now that is expensive!  But most of my annoyance is the very proprietary design that I shall explain.

This is my original Nao battery removed from the waterproof housing.  In fact it is a 18650 battery whose cost is under 5GBP.  But wait,  they tagged on some electronics

Yep, so you can't just buy a new 18650 battery unless you are further prepared to disassemble your existing battery and solder back these electronics.   I know, unbelievable

Further inside the housing are more electronics

So you can't either connect a new 18650 to that either

Really really annoying

Battery Compatibility

To make matters worse the new 2B battery for the Nao+ is shown to be incompatible with the earlier Nao.  So if you buy an old style battery in housing today and then buy a Nao+ tomorrow you can't take that expensive battery collection to your new headtorch.

Well apparently :-)

The Workaround

You need to order this 3500mAh battery from Amazon UK for under 20 GBP including shipping.  It is a battery with the necessary electronics attached.  You will open up your existing housing

Original Petzl battery on top and below the one I received from Amazon

I marked the batteries to avoid confusion and here is the new battery in the Original waterproof  (notice the seal) housing.

The Testing
I thoroughly tested the Amazon bought battery with both my 2012 genre Nao headtorches.   Absolutely everything works, by which I mean

- The new battery is inserted into  the old existing Nao compartment

- I charge the lamp battery via a standard USB socket as before

- I connect the battery to my PC laptop and configure it using the Petzl program as before

- The battery is recognised but the extra capacity is not (3500mAh vs original 2300mAh).  Therefore the times reported in the configurator I assume will be easily beaten by the new battery.

- In a rundown test, using Constant Mode, both wide and far beams on, new battery, 4 hour battery life predicted

Time    Bat Life
15:52   99%
19:00   32%
20:19   Low battery flash
22:54   Still going, wide beam off
00:16   Still going, only far beam on
01:51   Still going!

So in this practical test, starting with Constant mode, 10 hours later I still have the far beam  (long range) light on, dimmed but on.

Now in reactive mode the torch will use either the short range wide beam or the long range focused beam.  So typically you get greater battery life than a similar constant mode.   I am pretty sure therefore that the same test repeated using reactive mode would give a 12 hour+ result, assuming it was on Long beam only during the test.

What does it all Mean?

- I recently wrote  about preparations for our long Ultra Marathon

- I estimate worst case I need 14 hours of lighting

- Using these replacement enhanced batteries I believe that one torch and 2 batteries should be sufficient

- By race rules I still have to carry a second torch and its spare battery, but this can be minimalist.

- As a paranoid Android I will aim to open up the used battery at the 50% checkpoint and place a fully charged older 2300mAh battery into the housing so I can start the last half of race with guaranteed lighting

- I can tweak the profiles so that there is a 6 hour Reactive profile (7 hours)  and a more powerful  Constant Mode  (4 hours) profile pair.  So that I can run with Reactive and switch to brighter Constant for more difficult Race sections.


In Summary
This 20GBP replacement battery will revive your original Petzl Nao headtorch to full health in 2018
Petzl Nao+ from Wiggle UK

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Not the end of the iPhone X

I can't quite believe it but on first glance this is an article about Marcus supporting Apple, something I rarely do.

However this week has seen some ridiculous headlines.

Irritable News Syndrome
I do have some wiggle room in my brain for Speculative News stories, but rather like the WMD Weapons of Mass Destruction fiasco,  from one new report can generate a torrent of speculation, inaccuracy and stupidity

It's mostly a case of Tech Journalists trying to get a Click but these articles are known to be >99% stupid.

In this instance I am referring to a torrent of articles whose titles might proclaim the cancellation of the Apple iPhone X. Like this:

A Message to Apple
Apparently iPhone X sales have been a little slow.  No Shit Sherlock, have you seen the price?

I have this brilliant and infallible way to make the iPhone X your best ever selling phone.  Drop the price from 999 GBP (64GB) model to a maximum of 600 GBP.

- You will still make a profit
- And you can even simplify manufacturing and stop selling and manufacturing the iPhone 8

iPhone X the good Bits
Bearing in mind that I loathe Apple's high and mighty attitude, their closed environment and their constant desire to make their products not only different, but unserviceable and incompatible from Industry standards whenever they can.

Well I can give Apple credit for

Their FaceID technology.

It is certainly interesting, though personally I find the current fingerprint readers, especially with back location, superior in concept to any front sensor based system.  But maybe there is some argument to made for FaceID.  Certainly its a lot superior to just using a regular Front Camera which is what the competition proposes

Form Factor
It's certainly beautiful to the eye and to the hand.  One can argue if this is at a cost to serviceability, but the former is still valid.

I continue to be amazed at how Apple's CPU designs remain competitive in a marketplace in which it has less than a 20% Worldwide presence.

No test I have ever seen has called found any major defect with the camera, compare this to other flagships like Essential phone or Google Pixel 2, they all had their hiccoughs

So Please
Technical Journalists stop taking the piss.    Meanwhile I leave you with these sad songs, just to further hype the cancellation mood :-)

George and Michael: Don't let the Sun

Faithless: One Step

Spice Girls: Goodbye

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

In Modernity: Even the Chants are Better

Gregorian Chant - Deum verum

Somebody just tipped me off that there is an entire YouTube channel dedicated to Chanting Music.   The above is one of the most popular videos.

Here is the YouTube Channel description for Callixtus

Yes, but

It is just one further example where ancient is less than modern.

For me, there is no wisdom of the ancients

Even the music was inferior.

Life for the majority was brutal and short.  I don't deny the soulful beauty of the sound   (NB: I'm definitely not recommending the meaning in any of the translations).

But to Marcus:   Modernity wins.

Enigma: Principles

Omen Remix

Everlasting Lust Mix

Monday, January 22, 2018

National Running Show Birmingham 2018

Subtitle: Grade score D, Must try harder

Marcus and Agata review here the time spent at the /National Running Show/ 2018 which is here for the first time in Brummyham.

Real Consumers

One of our personal focus' today is sports and Athletics.  We are necessarily and enthusiastic informed consumers in this market segment.

So we were really looking forward to this event.  Marcus even made a shared Google Keep list with Agata for some of the things to pickup.   I thought there might be a wide selection.


Below are the logos of who was presenting

So it might look attractive but on actual entry it became clear that it was full of Particular Race exhibitors (e.g Trail attack race Alcester 26 May 2018) and that nearly every major vendor name I can think of was absent!

No Nike, Addias, Asics or Salomon.   Not a single large retailer, for example Wiggle.

We made the best of it


I spoke with the UK distributor about the likelyhood of the release of a smaller Trekz Air  Like a Mini Trekz Air.  Not in plan so far and we got to talking their Air and Titanium product range.

For those who don't know their range are Bone conduction.  So wearing these wireless your ears are completely open and therefore these are the only headphone type that can possibly (at Race director discretion still) be used in UK competition races.

Trekz Air



Marcus already uses 2XU for running and Wetsuit in Triathlon.  So I asked and got a quick update on the 2XU range which I don't follow too closely.   Was shown 

MCS Running tights
Propel WetSuits

Not the biggest range on display but hey at least 2XU were exhibiting and happy to talk.



Marcus did not yet buy the Furoshiri, wrapping sole shoe, but I really wanted to.

With limited disposable income I need to wait for my existing Sandals to wear out before using these as beach, sand, fast lacing, low volume shoes.

It is basically a Vibram style rubbery sole with some 2 straps with velcro fasteners.

Quite a few colour styles and a range of sizes (though quite basic i.e. S M L XL XXL , not incremental by each EU size number for example)

These shoes retail at about 90 GBP and should NOT BE USED for any sort of distance running.   But they are eye catching and minimalist and would be great say on a sports holiday as you move between hotel room and pool for swim training, or walk to beach for Open Water.  In other words I could use them like fancy sandals or flip flops.  Quite a steep price to pay, so only consider if even at discount ( 75GBP lowest seen) this purchase makes sense.

Vibram Furoshiki

Food Stalls

I counted less than 5 food stalls and only 3 gave me freebies.  And save from Erdinger there was not a single big name.  No SIS, 

Interesting & Innovation

- A variety of speakers at the end of the hall with really motivating and well presented talks.  Acoustics were awful though.

- 3D gait analysis from Run3D, a spinoff from Oxford University

- The 24 hour running race in Alcester, May 26-27.  Interesting because its very close to us here in the UK

- Agata found and liked Taikatea a green organic tea

- An interesting project to try and help you convert race T shirts into memorable blankets.  Here

- ImpactMarathon organising a marathon in countries like Nepal, Kenya at which you also volunteer by giving your time to help with local issues.

(Literally saves the day)

 Without our very positive experience at Saucony the whole show would basically have been pants.

After waiting in line for some time, during which we got to try out some Saucony shoes the idea is that we would do a 1 minute treadmill session.

After the run we got the chance to enter a competition on the condition that we did a Facebook / Instagram Like on Social Media.

And at this point Agata won a decent prize.

A free pair of any Saucony Running Shoes.  Wahoo!   This was a great present as we will both be using Saucony on our next UltraMarathon and we value the brand as a good specialist, true to the sport manufacturer.

Really thanks Saucony, you made our day!

Entrance was 10GBP per person on the day and 12GBP for car parking.   So a couple would face a 34GBP outlay plus the cost of any food and drink bought at the event  (well there were precious little samples being given out!)

A Lot Missing

- More exhibitors
Simply not enough to see.  It was small scale indeed.  Not a single large retailer,  not a since large Shoe manufacturer  (Saucony I count as specialised), no major Food and Nutrition retailers, not a single Sportswatch / GPS manufacturer.   Hmm indeed.

- Better acoustics
Everything was in 1 hall.  Meaning trying to listen to the presentations was between difficult and impossible

- Samples
Only a smattering of Sports Nutrition vendors and most were not even setup to give free samples.  This is the basics people!

- Not Kidding
After leaving this show we literally had to drive to Decathlon Coventry.  No really!  There we were presented with an infinitely larger collection of footwear, running clothing, sportSwatches, nutrition and energy food.  All the things we had hoped to see at the above show :-(

Next Year
Dear Organisers, please read this and and correct.  Next Year it needs to be bigger, a lot bigger.