Sunday, May 27, 2018

Gruyere Running 2018

So yes, it is time for the yearly Gruyere Running.   This is the 6th edition of the run.   How did Marcus and Agata get on


In retrospect an absolute disaster!  Marcus did not have breakfast and we were all too busy getting race numbers for tomorrow's Cyclotour around the lake and then distributing them to other people.

As a result Marcus started the race de-hydrated.  I know, how stupid is that.  I found this out because at Km 3 I was forced to consume my Race Gel that I had calculated I would take at Km 8.  It was an emergency 


The whole of the run was charmingly rustic / rural.  Meaning its in a very villagy area,  we love Gruyere anyway for the cheese, even the presents looks and probably are sourced from local providers.  Really fantastic

Oh and you can sign up on the day, meaning that in the case of bad weather you can just stay in bed or decide not to participate

Today however it was anything but cold and this would come to haunt Marcus in the race

Race Report

So I started from the back which is always a pretty dumb thing to do, especially if at Km 3 or thereabout there is a single track part which the competitors I was behind were walking.

Practically speaking then it is almost impossible to catch the front runner since they will not have walked increasing their lead.

So at this point I got a little grumpy and decided to go for it.  Actually doubly stupid as I realised that I had started somewhat dehydrated and in this heat things were rapidly going downhill

KM 4 - 12
I really went for it and thought that I was really moving past many people with moderate effort

KM 13 - 20
What a disaster!  After a feed station around KM12 at the end of a big hill I was not expecting  (because I did not study the race profile ... idiot!)  I was basically done!   I managed to keep going on the flatter sections that represented this latter half of the race, but naturally most other people were accelerating and did so, flying past me.

I made up some time on any descent where by some miracle I was always quicker than other.  Remarkable since native Swiss normally descend like rabbits and my UK roots mean I am still a little wary.

KM end
There is a hill at the end.  I waddled up it like a pensioner on their last legs.   I was overheated,  dehyrated and a little cross at my slowness. Still the majority of the race was great, so beautiful that for a time I actually switched off the Musical entertainment  / assistance just to take everything in.

I Finished

I was initially okay but then due to lack of water I felt exceptionally tired.  I had to lie down.

Marcus Recovers
Surprisingly after seeing my darling wife, she was as I suspected only minutes behind me, and drinking some liquid I made a complete recovery.  I am smiling and feeling fit again. How about that then

 One Last look Around

Husband, take me home.  And so I did.

Tomorrow rumour is that we might be cycling upto 180Km around the Lake, in the yearly Cyclotour race .  So an Early night I think  (although it is midnight now and I have to rise at 5am hmm).


Yep,  too slow gromit!!  > 15 minutes slower than last year! The Garmin graphs are not helping as they are not baselining well but I don't have time to correct this now.

Official Gruyere Running

Saturday, May 26, 2018

So YouTube has Shortcut Keys

Marcus and Agata spend a lot of time in front of a monitor or TV screen watching video.  But increasingly practically none of it is live broadcast TV.

In fact I just cancelled my current 150+ Internet TV channel subscription which saves me over 100 GBP per year

What has replaced live TV programming?

a) TV programming via BBC iPlayer or Channel 4

b) YouTube

And to speak of the latter I just bumped into this helpful article about YouTube hotkeys

Of course there are hotkeys.  Why didn't I check this before!


Click on the above video and try out number 1-9 and the right arrow or l (for Lemon) key  to seek forward 5 secs or left arrow to seek back.

Absolutely fantastic.

These shortcuts will save me soooo much time with the number of videos I watch daily.  How about you?

And to celebrate, my favourite video of the moment, one that you should of course definitely not skip any parts of.

John Mayer: New Light

Friday, May 25, 2018

Not Dog Walking

When a friend asked us to take care of her gorgeous Australian Shepherd dog, Agata and Marcus thought


In order to save Petrol, money, the Environment (et al) we made efforts to cycle from home but this resulted in Marcus looking rather strange.   But hey,  why ruin the habit of a lifetime :-)

Just next door we appear to have the absolutely stunning views of the Swiss Vaud vineyards against the backdrop of Snow capped Swiss and French mountains.

Saffy is now fully grown so she has a new super comfortable harness to which we attach a traditional yellow elasticated lead that wraps around Marcus's waist so we can run together handsfree.

It never ceases to amaze me the quantity of expense and also weird vehicles you see on Swiss mountainsides.

 Back to that view again

 Today it is over 25 degrees.  Saffy is absolutely boiling

 It might be for my toursistic benefit but I find a local council operated Cleaning lorry.  I do like out mountainsides clean.

 There are an infinity of water troughs around however this one is Eau, not potable: not drinkable.  In an emergency we would drink from it, today we'll find drinkable fountains.  Keep running

 Agata leads the way again.  I would recognise that silouhette anywhere.  I like.

 A brief rest at the halfway point, obviously for Saffy's sake and not her unfit running companion

 Time to turnaround and run back

Keep on running.

And so another exhausting day is complete.  We are all happy  :-)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Beautiful Attention to Detail

A message to Designers Everywhere:  Form and Function

Marcus and Agata just can't help ourselves.  We try to say,  oh that item does not matter,  we will just visit our local DIY store and find any timer.

But we like to do the job right and so in the middle of our current House renovation we say:

We don't just want the function, but wherever possible a beautiful form too.

The Timer
Now you might say, sure, just buy the most expensive product, you can't go wrong.   But actually we do have a budget and whilst beauty is somewhat subjective, most of know it when we see it, and I'd say most people do agree.

And so to the humble Electronic Mains Timer

This was our initial selection

And I thought that I'd made the right choice with this fairly simple model above.  We paid real money and took it home.

But then,  my heart was stolen by this little cute Steffen 1204426.  I mean it is so small and bijou and has so many features.  How could I resist?

Now, bear in mind Swiss deliveries and I did have to wait about 5 days, but now it is here, and as every Swiss knows, nothing happens immediately here.

And So
Marcus and Agata would say, don't fill your lives full of ugly or good enough.  Take your time, use the Internet, your judgement and experience to choose mindfully.  Always mindfully.

A more expensive Detail: 720S

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

GDPR: We Salute You

Style Council: Ever Changing Mood

Today Marcus is trying to select some Upbeat,  Thoughtful music.  And why?    Because General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR ) is blowing my mind and in a good way

Read about GDPR

Essentially GDPR is EU legislation and it if forcing people I have electronic subscriptions with for the most part to contact me and ask me if I still want their crap delivered electronically to me

Some Examples

See You Never
For the most part they send me an email asking for permission to send me stuff.  And if I don't reply  (er, yes exactly) I am rid of their annoying electronic mail forever.


Who said the EU never gave us anything here in the UK, or perhaps Switzerland :-)

Squeeze: Cool For Cats

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Dear Smartphone Manufacturers

Oneplus 6: Review

Dear Android Smartphone Manufacturers.

I've noticed a disturbing trend.  Nearly without exception you are trying to produce extremely powerful Smartphones with a laundry list of features and facilities that will mostly not be used (or valued) by even the most dedicated consumers.

You are giving away these phones away to Tech journalists at product announcement who then write up very favourable reviews.  

They then are not usually the ones who actually have to save up the now commonplace almost 1000 USD, or sometimes over, to afford this technology.

Feature Lists

Headphone jack aside (it's use in 2018 is still debatable) lets quick summarise what Marcus would rank as desirable and maybe even useful:


Decent Sound
Speakers loud and clear enough so that you can listen to an audio book or conduct a quality hands free conference call without the need to attach a Bluetooth Speaker.

Water Resistance
An official IP rating that means you can take it out in the rain and be confident that it will not short circuit and die. Or that after use without a case a failure will not be rejected warranty repair for reasons of sweat / water ingress.

Screen to Body Ratio
It means a notch to maximise screen display and it means thin bezels for the same reason

64 bit Android

So not 32bit android then

Sensible Pricing
Given that Adults  need to buy their own phones and usually assist or buy their children's, it means a phone that is not outrageously priced.   I'd say over 500GBP or 800 USD / CHF is just too expensive.  Especially as the next gen phone will be released in 12 months. And believe me the Kids will insist on the upgrade.

Not just a square box but something with some real design inspiration.  Luckily, nearly every 2018 smartphone I can imagine seems to rise to this spec point.

Just in case I actually want to keep my phone for more than 12 months I expect it to work flawlessly for a minimum of 2 years, and have regular OS security update support throughout.

Better Cameras
My last and most important point.

Since the death of point and shoot cameras your Smartphone is your point and shoot camera, and for most people, now your only camera.

The camera hardware and its app is the most important non phone related function on my Smartphone, period.

So if every phone could have a Huawei P20 pro setup or better then this Smartphone world would become something exceptional indeed.

Total and Utterly Pointless

4K Displays
Most peer reviewed research points to 300 pixels or dots per inch as the limit of human vision.  As such, 4K displays make absolutely no sense on a small Smartphone display.

In fact did you hear the one about the man  (it's always a man) who had a 4K Smartphone but only a HD computer display.   Yep, now that's just sad.

>128GB Storage
My Smartphone is still only a staging area for Photography, Music and Maps.  But even if I kept a full years worth of all of that, it would come to nowhere near 128GB of data storage.

In fact now that my Movies and Music are mostly streamed, my data requirements moving forward are getting less for local devices

> 4GB Memory

How many lazy, badly written applications could you possibly have open concurrently to use up 4GB of memory?

CPU Power++
Modern Snapdragon 845 CPU powered Smartphones are quite impressive technically speaking.  But most users will never use a fraction of this CPU horsepower. To users: install CPU-Z (or equivalent) and verify this for yourself.

Just one More Thing

It's the OSlevel stupid!
Not just ideally but at a minimum your 2018 Smartphone should be on Android 8 Oreo with a manufacturer promise to swiftly i.e. before year end, implement Android 9.  Nothing else is acceptable.

Having a 2018 Smartphone which only runs Android 8 or exceptionally even worse Android 7, means your Hardware is under utilised and your Software environment pre-historic.

Frequent OS Updates

It means your vendor takes the monthly Security updates from Google and makes them available as soon as they can for your Smartphone

Android P Again

Android P promises to be a major yearly advance in Android, say compared to Android 8 Oreo for example.

Android Sandbox, Jetpack

Maybe you will more convinced if you watch the above video and others from Google IO 2018, available from the Google Developers channel.

And So
Right now there is no perfect Smartphone that I can recommend

- The Huawei P20 Pro is Camera astonishing but is stuck on Android 8 and is not on the Android 9 Beta

- The Huawei Mate RS improves on the P20 pro but again is not on the Android Beta 9 List

- The Samsung S9 seems just bad value, compared to the OnePlus 6, also no Android 9 beta or statement to upgrade

- The OnePlus 6 is on the Android P Beta (really, congratulations) but is compromised on the Camera,  Speakers, Water Resistance, Battery life, lack HDR

- The Google Pixel 2 anything is nearing end of life, so you'd be buying last year's phone.


Android P Beta Devices

256GB Samsung S9

LG V30 breaks 900 USD

Monday, May 21, 2018

On this Birthday 2018

A sincere thanks to everybody who has pitched in towards Marcus' birthday 2018

The Competition ....

This year I really felt that I was being upstaged by not one but two significant events.

Saturday saw the UK Royal wedding between Harry and Meghan.   Since our invitation must have been lost in the post Marcus and Agata watch a little online then came back later and via BBC iPlayer sat down and watched the ceremony again.  Thanks to the fast forward button  ( I cite long, surely over time American Pastor going on and on and on)  it proved enjoyable viewing.

On Sunday  I faced even stiffer competition from God.  As a recap for Heathens, and people who believe in the 2000+ other religions and none.  Christians believe

The Passion   Jesus gets crucified

Easter Resurrection   Jesus rises from the Dead

Ascension   Jesus rises up to Heaven

Pentecost  Holy Spirit comes down to Apostles

So Marcus' birthday is right in the middle of this Pentecost event.

I mean what are the flippin chances

A Great Birthday

So casting aside the above two upstaging events.  On the Birthday

- Present were not received.   Thank You!  Everybody knows that we have the basics to survive, plus Marcus is so bloody particular buying him a present, well it would really be rather tricky

- Some Alcohol and cake and Chocolates were consumed.   Well, since I operate a Summer pre Race Chocolate fast, this was something different indeed

- The company of Good friends.  yes there was

- Special attention from my partner Agata.  Yes there was!

- There was some cycling.

- There was quite a lot of swimming   

- The knowledge that I am another year old, and that nothing has dropped off,  or broken, and that Health is certainly on the up

A relaxed,  stress free Birthday.   Cannot wish for more.

Altered Images: Happy Birthday
ICE T: Good Day
Giorgio Moroder: 74
John Mayer: Who you Love
Salif Keita: Dance
Moby: The Lonely Night  (not :-)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Sermon: Just 14 Thoughts

Before a worrying large minority of people that I know get into the [Holy] spirit of Pentecost  I thought I would publish some alternative viewpoints.

Celebrate and tolerate our differences right?

Now I tried to reduce it down to a prime 13 but failed.  And so:

And the last one reminds Marcus that he reads the Bible and other religious texts more often than most.   (about Figs then )