Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Empathy is the capacity to share or recognise emotions experienced by another sentient or fictional being.
As humans endowed with the abilities of language and thought; we are able not just to witness emotional situations but experience them through the spoken or written word.

And so it was great pleasure that I have just finished the novel

Alice Peterson: By My Side

Synoposis: Cassandra Brooks wishes she could turn back time. She'd go back to that morning and retrace her steps. Her boyfriend, Sean, would still be with her. Her mother wouldn't be nagging her to plan a new future when all she wants is her old life back. 

But when Ticket, the most loyal golden Labrador, bursts into Cass's life, she dares to dream that she can be happy again, that maybe she has a future after all? 

Charlie Bell is single. Why can't he commit? Following his latest break up, he finds himself sitting next to a young woman called Cass on a flight to Colorado. 

She is unlike any woman he's met before...

Many of us who live in the predominantly comfortable and affluent Western Europe. However we are only an Internet click away from scenes of real desperation, hardship and inequality present in less developed countries.

Yet, prejudice and misfortune is also present at home.  Ms Peterson's book can help you put your life and circumstances into context.


Alice Peterson: By My Side

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Sermon: EbolApocalypse

Simian Flu

This is possibly an alarmist posting with no substance but I was just reading the factual news reports about ...

British Ebola patient comes to the UK

US Ebola Patient Kent Bradley thrilled to be alive
(Quote: God was reminding me he will give me everything I need to be faithful to him)

When I cast my mind back to the spread of Simian Flu as shown in the above Planet of the Apes film trailer.   With my best Religious conspiracy hat on I conjectured:

  • Your God has decided that humanity cannot be saved and so a new unstoppable Virus will become a worldwide cleansing reality forthwith.
  • Only the chosen few will be treated with special Experimental drugs and survive
  • So for example the extremely religious Kent Bradley could be an advanced surviving example.
I tried to think of the best Virus Apocalypse movies I had seen in the last few years  (Zombies are excluded since I hear that they are not real :-)

(NB:not really zombies by modern standards)

28 days Later 2002

I am Legend 2007
(Omega man remake, but great)

28 weeks later 2007

Of course my personal Apocalyptic favourite is not Virus related, it is Religion based of course.  Since the above Movies are based on plausible events the best way to chill out IMHO would be to watch the movie below.  Clearly, it is based on fantastical events that could not happen, or maybe, you respectfully and religiously disagree?

[Warning: This Movie contains Adult themes and a sh*t load of Bad Language]

And if all of this is a bit cheezy then above is a more intellectual TED snippet.

(But personally I think that you would all be better served by ordering a copy of Rapture Palooza right now)


Monday, August 25, 2014

Cutting down on email

For over a year now Google's /new/ mail format has separated your inbound mail into categories

Primary, Social and Promotions   (as well as Spam of course)

Then recently I heard about a Google initiative to place /unsubscribe/ notices into the Promotional emails.

So I have taken note.

Every day I goto my promotions tab which contains bulk emailing from Retailers I might no longer be interested in.

I consider ALL emails and if I don't wish to continue to receive I DO  unsubscribe.

Since Marcus and Agata have publicly stated that we have pretty much all that we need it would seem to be disingenuouous of us  to encourage retailers to try and flog us stuff we don't need.

So goodbye to as much of that advertising as we can turn off.

Ah, that's better.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lausanne Triathlon 2014

Pre Lausanne Triathlon Video Diary

As residents of Lausanne we feel it is our duty to participate in the yearly Triathlon.  This year was the 20th anniversary.

We had a choice of the Sprint or Olympic Distance courses on this Sunday opting for the Olympic meaning 1.5Km swim, then 40Km bike, then 10Km run.   All this comes at a cost. About 300 USD (260 CHF).  Welcome to Switzerland!

This year, Marcus actually studied the route.

Getting Up
The Sprint Triathlon started Sunday at 08.00 at which time we were definitely still in bed.   So some hours later we got our cycling kit on and free-wheeled from our house at the Top of Lausanne down to Ouchy Lakefront.

Pre Race
A queue to get into the setup area, in Switzerland!  Marcus is shocked.

 It might look busy but to me it was a little empty

Marcus is religiously in his long clothing as protection from the Sun

Agata just stands around looking good

Marcus Report
Marcus had a lot of fun!   A nice slow swim was followed by a hugely time-wasting transition in Marcus tradition.   

I'll catch them on the bike I commented to all bystanders as usual!

So I tried hard on the bike and it was pretty good although on one lap my chain fell off on a steep hill loosing me some minutes, plus I ran out of fluids.  Still I had my cycling kit on (longs) so I felt very comfortable.

Women started 10 mins after us so any women running with us Men are fluppin fast!

Last corner before the course split to finish or another lap

I finished the bike and went onto the run.   I could not find any gels  (post race, they were found inside my rucksack). 

After the first half lap a nice man overtook me and I decided to use him as a pace man as he sped past many people, I tried to follow.  I managed it as I was not so tired.   

I bumped into Medalit and her daughter who were volunteering at the Water Stop.  (Water no Iso .. really Lausanne!)

There was only 1 water stop but the course was 2.5Km long  (4 laps) so probably this was okay.

Finished the run in good time I believe. 

A quick dash to the transition area and then back to the course to locate Agata who was running also.  

Agata is Spotted!

I went into husband stalking mode running about 100 metres behind her and taking care not to trigger any of the race sensors  (since I'd already finished and it might cause complications).   

Whilst stalking Agata I noticed a man seemingly halted so I stopped to give him some time attention and massage and eventually got him up and running and ran with him to the finish line.

So all was good,  Water was cold but not freezing. Air temp was about 20 degrees and it was dry.

Thanks to the Lausanne Triathlon helpers (Medalit was there are great as usual!) and the town for putting on such a well organised event.
Met many nice people on the Triathlon, just one example.

We cycled home and straight into a celebration dinner.

Marcus post triathlon report

Summary:  A wonderful Sunday afternoon exercise in our beautiful home town of Lausanne.

Food and Fluids

Marcus: 600ml Fresh Orange Juice mixed with SIS Hydro tablet and water,  2 SIS Gels
Agata: 700ml USN mix + 1 SIS Gel

Agata time 03:09
Marcus time 02:40

(Er , this run includes finishing, getting a drink, running back for the camera, oops)

Lausanne Triathlon results
Triathlon official website

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Happy Birthday and all of that

First and foremost it is Happy Birthday wishes to my sister Angela, shown here, well it seems just a few years ago.

I did contemplate this morning however, /why do we celebrate Birthdays/?

I suppose in our younger years Governments dictate that certain acts may only be legal after a certain age.   The right to drive a car or motorbike, marriage, joining the army,  just a few examples of age restricted activities.

Today for Marcus the only thing is left is the Government's promise of a pension and since we have lived and contributed Internationally it varies 

[Aside]: Our cynical view is that Government's promise to pay a substantial or any pension at all cannot be counted on.   This can seen by the British Governments shift in retirement ages and calculation basis as the working contributing youthful population shrinks and the freeloading remainder grows. 

So after about the age of 20 and excluding Pensions; Birthdays to us seem pretty irrelevant.

Health and Well-being is no longer Age related.  It is primarily determined by the foods that you eat, your comfortable [or not] Country environment, and the lifestyle you choose (if you are lucky) or the one that is variously imposed on you  (if you are unlucky)

So what do I recommend for you on this Birthday?

  • A day when you get to do exactly what you want  (well within the Law obviously!)
  • A day when you are not working  (unless that is your choice)
  • A day when others are more pre disposed to pamper you than normal

Happy Birthday Angela

So to conclude, Happy Birthday Angela!

On this day in History

Friday, August 22, 2014

Regeneration, Health and Smiles

It is not just the cliche of it being Friday that has had Marcus smiling from cheek to cheek this morning.

In a timely coincidence not only Doctor Who's rejuvenation is to be completed  ( this Saturday August 23 at 19.50 British Time) but Marcus's rejuvenation is in Advanced Recovery.

Since April an unfortunate cycling accident has left Marcus with chest pains which I feel now are at last beginning to recede.

What Is making it Better?
A combination of thanks are due to

  • Time, the Great healer
  • Agata the wife for continuously reassuring me that it will get better.
  • Kathy and Zimfit for her customised recovery training programme
  • My local Physio Energy  for those deliciously painful manipulations  (still ongoing, thanks Ann!)
  • Some credit to Marcus for putting in some serious exercise

Indeed this morning (and most mornings) I am able to put in the 40Km  early morning cycle to continue to train and rebuild those scared muscles, senses and sensitivities that were savaged during April 2014.


  • NB: No witch doctors, shamans, religions, deities or Imaginary friends were involved in this recovery

To all the above parties.  Thank you!

The Extra Big Smiles
I don't only have the continued support of my wife Agata but another powerful secret weapon.   

This morning my two hours was transformed from /merely/ exercise to almost unrestrained joy, laughter and celebration as I listened to:

The Marriage of Figaro by Beaumarchais

Extra plaudits then
BBC:  Thank you!  My world would be /mauvais/ without your continued supply of rich programming.

Windows 2012 Server Recovery

Synergy, Windows Update and Oops
I have been a quietly happy user of Synergy  a small software product that allows you to use a single keyboard and a single mouse over multiple computers.

At one time I used it between a Windows Server and OSX server computer.   These days it is between 2 Windows Computers

Within the last week I've applied various Microsoft Patches but it took me some days to realise that on my slave (and old) Virtualisation PC, something was not right

Synergy works from the Keyboard on the /master PC/ to this slave PC  but the top row of keys above the number  (e.g shift 1 is !) does not work.  Shift 1 gives 1

Too Much Haste
I tried to install the Synergy 1.5.0 release but reliably got this error

The system cannot open the device or file specified

First I tried looking at a detailed installation log using this debug

msiexec /i synergy-1.5.0-r2278-Windows-x64.msi /L*V c:\tmp\synergy.log

So in a bad move moment, I deleted the 1.4 Synergy installation and tried to install the 1.5.0 again

Disaster!  It would not install

SO NOW: I had a Synergy-less system and no means to install it.  Flup!

Go To Bed
As the night rumbled on we past midnight, then 01.00 and a variety of other desperate measures ensued.  Checking firewall, selectively un-installing fixes based on Synergy problem reports

The Windows system seems to become less stable with Explorer hanging, and C-A-D not working from a primary keyboard  (well Synergy is gone, so I mean the only keyboard!)

At 02.00 rather than battling on I made the sensible decision to sleep.

When tired and desperate, this is really the best time NOT to keep working on a frustrating problem!

The Big Recovery
Next morning I had a brainwave, since I am making regular backups, why not just restore the entire system, onto a new disk, the new disk would eliminate disk errors that I saw last night.

This is the target backup disk, yes it is there

And there is a nightly scheduled backup.   I was rather lucky in that my disastrous delete of Synergy was about midnight and the backup ran at 20.30. Whew!

Okay the Virtualisation / Development server is now at least 6 years old.  But still going!!

 Take out the existing OS disk  (right) and replace with another disk labelled OSX you will notice.  This was inside Agata's now defunct Mac Mini  before it failed.   

Find replacement disk and blank it  

DISKPART> sel disk 8
Disk 8 is now the selected disk.

DISKPART> list part

  Partition ###  Type              Size     Offset
  -------------  ----------------  -------  -------
  Partition 1    System             200 MB    20 KB
  Partition 2    Unknown            117 GB   200 MB
  Partition 3    Unknown            619 MB   117 GB
  Partition 4    Unknown            697 MB   118 GB

DISKPART> sel part 1

Partition 1 is now the selected partition.

DISKPART> del part 1 override
(done for all partitions)

New disk inserted and data disks removed leaving only blank OS disk and Backups disk inside

For this Gigabyte computer press F11 at BIOS for Boot menu and boot from inserted Windows Storage server DVD

(I was going to make a USB key from my .ISO library image but I actually found a server 2012 real DVD so I save myself work)

 From the booted DVD choose to repair the system and follow graphical screens to select a valid backup

 Select disk to restore onto

It takes about 10 minutes nightly to backup so this can't take long right?

After over 30 minutes I had lost patience again!  So I went for a little nap.

When I came back I had a Server logon screen and after logon the Synergy logo was back!  Fantastic.

Synergy is not yet fixed, but I can hobble along with the wonky keyboard until hopefully things improve!

Check Dodgy Disk

I thought that I would check the old SSD that was removed which seemed to have been hanging the system.  Was it the OS or the disk?

C:\Windows\system32>chkdsk /?
Checks a disk and displays a status report.

CHKDSK [volume[[path]filename]]] [/F] [/V] [/R] [/X] [/I] [/C] [/L[:size]] [/B] [/scan] [/spotfix]

  volume              Specifies the drive letter (followed by a colon),
                      mount point, or volume name.
  filename            FAT/FAT32 only: Specifies the files to check for
  /F                  Fixes errors on the disk.
  /V                  On FAT/FAT32: Displays the full path and name of every
                      file on the disk.
                      On NTFS: Displays cleanup messages if any.
  /R                  Locates bad sectors and recovers readable information
                      (implies /F, when /scan not specified).
  /L:size             NTFS only:  Changes the log file size to the specified
                      number of kilobytes.  If size is not specified, displays
                      current size.
  /X                  Forces the volume to dismount first if necessary.
                      All opened handles to the volume would then be invalid
                      (implies /F).
  /I                  NTFS only: Performs a less vigorous check of index
  /C                  NTFS only: Skips checking of cycles within the folder
  /B                  NTFS only: Re-evaluates bad clusters on the volume
                      (implies /R)
  /scan               NTFS only: Runs a online scan on the volume
  /forceofflinefix    NTFS only: (Must be used with "/scan")
                      Bypass all online repair; all defects found
                      are queued for offline repair (i.e. "chkdsk /spotfix").
  /perf               NTFS only: (Must be used with "/scan")
                      Uses more system resources to complete a scan as fast as
                      possible. This may have a negative performance impact on
                      other tasks running on the system.
  /spotfix            NTFS only: Runs spot fixing on the volume
  /sdcleanup          NTFS only: Garbage collect unneeded security descriptor
                      data (implies /F).
  /offlinescanandfix  Runs an offline scan and fix on the volume.

The /I or /C switch reduces the amount of time required to run Chkdsk by
skipping certain checks of the volume.

C:\Windows\system32>chkdsk k:
The type of the file system is NTFS.
Volume label is littlepaw.

WARNING!  F parameter not specified.
Running CHKDSK in read-only mode.

Stage 1: Examining basic file system structure ...
  409344 file records processed.
File verification completed.
  5012 large file records processed.
  0 bad file records processed.

Stage 2: Examining file name linkage ...
  493232 index entries processed.
Index verification completed.
  0 unindexed files scanned.
  0 unindexed files recovered.

Stage 3: Examining security descriptors ...
Security descriptor verification completed.
  41945 data files processed.
CHKDSK is verifying Usn Journal...
  40467064 USN bytes processed.
Usn Journal verification completed.

Windows has scanned the file system and found no problems.
No further action is required.

 121886719 KB total disk space.
  90076784 KB in 293275 files.
    156316 KB in 41946 indexes.
         0 KB in bad sectors.
    522383 KB in use by the system.
     65536 KB occupied by the log file.
  31131236 KB available on disk.

      4096 bytes in each allocation unit.
  30471679 total allocation units on disk.
   7782809 allocation units available on disk.

So /unfortunately/ the disk checked out clean.  I will use HD tune to check the disk further. But notice the /perf and /spotfix and other new chkdsk options.  Must investigate that.

What about Baremetal Linux Backups?
With my renewed interest in Linux  I am building up a forest of Linux systems I better get my Baremetal Linux recovery sorted out.  I have neglected this so far.   Blog Post solution to follow shortly.

Summary and Learning Points

  • I waited a week before applying the Windows Update, but clearly this was not enough
  • It took me a long time to find the error and when I did I over-reacted and deleted the Synergy program, which had I thought about it was unlikely to be the issue
  • Because I am taking a daily full OS backup, automatically scheduled by Windows I was easily able to recover my system
  • It is of course not enough to backup, occaisionally you should test the restore.  I've already tested a full OS restore on this system in the past so I was pretty confident, but to those readers: when did you last test a full OS restore (or perhaps a test restore of some backups you make to the cloud?)
  • Although I was impatient that the restore was taking over 30 minutes (since the backup takes only about 10 minutes) it did fully complete within an hour, which for about 60GB was not too bad I suppose.  More patience Marcus!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tour du Pays de Vaud Run #2: Mezieres

Mezieres Pre run waffle

Subtitle: Mézières run #2 Tour du Pays de Vaud

We arrived just 20 minutes before the race, just enough time for Agata to reherse her /crossing the finish line pose/.

Local cropping celebration

I seem to recall that Mezieres course has at least one bottleneck, meaning that if you don't start from the front you will be behind people walking.

So this time Marcus and Agata started from the front and we saw our friend Laurent (waving) also had the same idea.

 Music on, let's go!

 First part of the course was farm roads, tarmac

 Course soon changed to grass and then forest tracks

(I stopped and took a lot more photos but they were all blurred!)

2Km from finish

 Princess Agata is spotted

 750 metres from the finish

Agata up to the last hill

500m to go 

Last hill

Last turn before stadium

 Agata racing to the finish line

Post race poses from Agata and Marcus

Another great evening out running, this time with company. Fantastic!

Marcus time 37:08
Agata time 45:11

(#Mitigation: Both Agata and Marcus had already put in some hours of exercise earlier in the morning so we were quite tired before race)