Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Dear Samsung S8 Owners

This is a clear unambiguous message address directly to Samsung S8 owners.

IMHO: Under no circumstances should you put down real wonga and upgrade to the Samsung S9 phone

First: Some S9 droolary

And here are the reasons why

- It is far from perfect
- It is going to cost you 900GBP+ for the S9+ model
- They put the fingerprint sensor back somewhere sensible, you are not going to reward them for that right?
- It's almost visually identical to the S8 especially from the front
- Anandtech's initial CPU analysis does not look Good
- The flippin Apple iPhone X CPU still seems so much faster!
- That stupid Bixby has a dedicated button on the phone that you can't reprogram, what a waste!
- They kept the headphone jack :-(
- They include a pair of wired headphones ... a joke in 2018
- Glass back and front is a smudge magnet, thus you will normally case & hide its beauty
- Iris scanning wont match iPhone X
- No commitment to support Android P Q?

On the Plus Side
+ Having a Smartphone camera with 2 fixed Apertures (f1.5 & f2.4) .  Well bravo, a first (if we exclude oddities like the Panasonic CM1)
+ Photo App upgraded with object recognition and more
+ S8 trade in programme?
+ Gigabit LTE  (though no carrier broadcasts it!)

So to Summarise.
At the very least wait to see if the new dual aperture mode camera provides significant improvements or not.  Then, even if it does, and even if you have somebody who will give you a reasonable resale on your S8, can you justify the upgrade delta cost?  

Especially if it is your money, not your Parents money or your Companies money.

Samsung S9 specs
Samsung S9 official webpage

S9 vs S8 Android Authority
MKBHD S9 first impressions
Samsung S9/9+ official vid
Don't Buy it
Do Buy it
Tech Chap, S9 worth buying?
Check Asus Zenfone 5Z instead

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Britain to enter New Ice Age

Subtitle: Overstatement Overstatement Overstatement

For those of you outside of the UK you will not have been subjected to the seemingly 24x7 coverage of

The Beast from the East

This is a cold weather spell where some parts of the UK will temporarily drop below 0 degrees C.

As you can see from the photograph above, taken at about 18.00 on Monday evening, it might be cold-ish at -1 degrees. But no snow and relatively clear skies.

In Switzerland

The only chance to experience snow on the roads was on the first day of Snow falling.  In fact within hours all major and most minor roads would be fully cleared of snow.

The whole country did not go into a panic, with wall to wall TV coverage of what it might go down to, and how you should perhaps stay at home, check on a neighbour, or raid the Supermarket to stock up on supplies.

I recall writing this in 2015 re Switzerland and Snow

Back to the UK

Telegraph: UK's worst winters

Met Office: Yellow Warning

Our Measures
Marcus and Agata are nothing if not prepared.

- Our main gambit is that we have Winter Tyres on our Audi 4 wheel drive car.  Winter tyres are seemingly unknown to about 99% of the UK population.  More fool them

- We have standby backup e-Bikes ready and charged that can we feel cope with mud and snow.

- Marcus recalls that in Switzerland he used to run the 20Km to work, in even deep Snow, oh and then back again.  Our nearest Supermarket, Waitrose is less than 5Km away.   I think we are safe for emergency supplies. Using Leg Power only.

- In the even of local Power failure we have a motorhome, equipped with Gas Heating and Cooking, and bottled water.

We intend to spend the coming week laughing at the BBC and Independent channels attempts to big up weather that would not even register as 'a cold day' in many European countries like Germany, Belgium or Switzerland.   

And in the Movies

It might even be time to watch a few movies, ones with ** real snow ** thank you.

Day After Tomorrow: Freeze



Monday, February 26, 2018

Cars from 2017

Marcus is still very much in like with cars.  Particuarly the older still running variety.   Here are the pick of the crop from 2017

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sunday Sermon: An Effective Team


Subtitle:  Saturday Night / Sunday Morning  #HomeAutomation #TechIn

Marcus is providing the Network support. 

And Audio Support

We are both reading and learning

Agata is seen here Programming Python, whilst holding an ESP8266 and eating Ice Cream. 

Our mission overview

(that we shall explain in detail later) is to enable a Garmin Mobile device to talk via Bluetooth Smartphone intermediary to a Samsung Smarthings Hub, which talks to the 32 bit micro-controller ESP8266 and finally to Heatmiser neoHub Generation 2.   Because?  Because for  Home Automation in 2018, well the setup and configuration is anything but automated :-(

We are an effective team 

In a time and place not so far from here

Oblivion: Not an Effective Team

See Also
Sigala: I feel it coming

Kungs: This Girl
Disciples: On My Mind

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Caravan Camping and Motorhome Show 2018

This is a somewhat lazy review of the Camping, Caravan and Motorhome show 2018.

The management summary is:  Lots of exhibitors, though a few with mediocre products so telephone check Exhibitor for something you expect to see there first.  It is at the NEC Birmingham England.  Last day is Sunday Feb 25th.

I rate this review as lazy because I leave it to the reviewer to do their own web research (instead of moi) to look into the interesting things that I found.

Let's get Started

 Some Tent Pornography

Some Caravan Pornography

Since Marcus and Agata are purely interested in Motorhomes and Accessories we realised that this show was only going to be about 1/3 rd relevant.  Still we went ahead.

It is spread over 5 Halls at the NEC Birmingham.  It is 10 GBP at the door and the ticket price includes parking.

Apart from the Exhibitor stands inside there are Food Facilities and a stage for lectures/ talks.

Our Interesting Finds


We absolutely love this quality brand the the c-compactline was the motorhome we might have bought if the our Dethleffs T8 was not found to be more suitable.  Because it is lighter and lower and has only 1 set of beds.

Still we recognise the superb build quality, attention to detail and the thin-ness i.e. 212 cm only width of the c-compactline range.


 You might ask,  how can you tell at a glance that the Motorhome is more like the standard 230 cm in body width.  Here is a Dethleffs example, look at the position of the body relative to the wheels.   Far inward means, yep it's a fatboy vehicle, and something that Marcus and Agata do not like.

Frankia Case Study

In our humble opinion you would have to be totally B*****t crazy to buy any 8.5 metre long motorhome for use in the UK.   But let's see what I would get for the 145K GBP, yes I do mean 145,000 pounds

 Layout, click to enlarge as usual

 Looks like a huge Cave right?

But somehow they only fitted a single mountain bike in there.  Ridiculous.  Either the setup team is lazy or it does not make the 2 bicycle test.  Bad show either way

 The inside is a Palace.  But remember this is 8.5 metres long and a fatboy 2.3 metres wide.

 Bed may slide down or tilt up for pre snoozing reading mode

 Yes, that is correct.  The bedroom has a radiator.

 And the sumptuous bathroom has a radiator too!

 Beautiful shower, but it is 145,000 pounds remember.

Wonderful looking lounge, but yes, this table did wobble, well a bit.

You can check the official webpage but for us it has mediocre cave, and a 190 BHP motor on a 4600Kg plus motorhome is going to make for some slow motoring.   The 8.5 metre long and 2.3 metre wide body is going to give me a heart stopping 30 minutes as I trundle down the usually far too narrow last mile to the UK campsite.   You all know it is true.  And finally the height of 323cm is going to guarantee me kittens if I ever park it on a windy mountainside.   A fine bit of kit, but not at all for us.

Westfalia Kepler One

If I had to select a 2 metre wide and 2 metre high motorhome van then Westfalia would be at the top of my list.  The Keplar One is a new design that includes a toilet and sort of a shower.

So first remember that this is a 5.3 metre long, and only 1.9 metre wide and 2 metre tall van.  That is really small and many compromises are made.  Some include

-  It is a popup, meaning there is room for two but the sleeping area will be chilly, so this van is best in hot climates

- There is an integrated toilet.  Quite an achievement

- Via some intricate arrangements near the toilet there is a sort of shower.  You can stand up and hold a shower hose and if you are careful, probably with some practise and swearing you will be able to have a shower.  But really not not easily, and being quite short, I mean under 180 cm tall and slim will help

- You get 50 litres freshwater and 19 litres toilet and 2.75Kg Gas.  All these small by Motorhome standards.

- I saw prices over 65K pounds, so like most VW conversions you pay for it.

Just a moan to say there were hardly at the show at all. Pity because even though (the fools) dropped manufacture of our excellent T8, which has the separate shower and toilet, and a positionable bedroom from lounge, and a large cave, and a 215cm width, you know I could go on.  Well, yes they had a dealer with 2 not very interesting models. Disappointing.

Adria Compact Plus SL

Yes it is a Motorhome which is only 212 cms wide and a lowly 278cm tall, and 2777Kg light.   We like.

 As you can see,  the wider you are the less room you have to manoeuvre

 Combined Toilet and Shower :-(

 Has a nice third seat as well as the standard ability to rotate the driver and passenger seat

 The sink is a drop down, so that would get very annoying and I would always be worrying ... is something going to break.

 Well sized cave.  Definitely get 2 full size road bikes in there.


Our Swiss Gas standard motorhome still needs converting.  To explain, Gas bottle sizes and connector vary over all of Europe.  We need at the very least to replace the bottles and then have new connection leads from the Cylinder bottles to the Dethleff Truma pipework.

One alternative solution is to fit 2 Gasflow bottles, some cabling to the existing Truma and and clever bit which is a filler socket since these bottles are refillable from many UK forecourt petrol stations.

 You can in principle use different sizes but most people will go for 2 x 11Kg bottles.

 This would be the filler mechanism and plate that you need to mount somewhere.  Most people don't want to cut a hole in the side of their motorhome though I hear legislation is going thru in the UK to make this mandatory i.e. cannot mount inside cave on the frame of motorhome or door (in the future).

The regulator at the top will connect to our existing Truma CS unit if we choose to go ahead

Simple Solution

 The alternative solution is to buy a different connecting cable from the Truma unit to the UK Calor Propane bottle standard.  Then goto a Garage and buy 2, 13Kg Bottles.


Selling LED strips and some innovative lights for cupboards amongst other things.  We liked this stand!

AOB. Mirrorguard

 This stand sold a cover for the mirrors so that when you hit or are hit by something then your mirror is likely to survive.

They also sold a product to put cup-holders at the bottom console of the motorhome.  We need that but when we tried our flask as opposed to the much thinner stryofoam cup in picture.  It did not fit!!  This rather blew the credibility of unrelated the mirror guard product above. Hmm.


To the non super Techy visiting this stand is a must as they can provide you with a Europe wide Internet solution.   This includes special aerial and advice on what carriers to use.

Obviously Marcus and Agata have researched this ad nausea already so for us not useful.

But just to remind:  Good Internet in the Motorhome allow you to

- receive TV
- Do Email and Surf
- Online Movie and Audio streaming
- Mapping and Routing and Planning

To us without a decent Internet connection we would be totally screwed in 2018 so really recommend a visit to this stand if you are going to the show

So then

The NEC show, this one was a decently big show, though for us more motorhome manufacturers would have been desirable.  Regardless there were really a lot of accessory and product stands,  the entry price is decent and the parking is free.  So if you have the time and are interested in Motorhomes, Caravans or Camping then it is worth attending in our Humble Opinion.