Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday Sermon: Talking like an Idiot

Talking like an Idiot

If you come from a Christian family which insisted on a pre meal prayer, or perhaps when today in 2017; you visit friends who insist that you follow the same ritual, then  this video is for you.

What thoughts flow through your mind as the praise for the meal is [ultimately] given to God, and not solely to farmers, workers and preparers of this meal.

Alternatively, if you say or are forcibly subject to prayers before meals then this video is also for you.  At the very least I hope that it could make you more mindful of the situation.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Buy One, RetireTwo

Subtitle: Life/ Stuff/ Possession simplification continues

Oh No you Didn't
Friends will know that Marcus and Agata recently made an agonising move from Lausanne Switzerland to Warwickshire England.

Before moving, in fact for a period of over 1 year we went through a:

Please don't buy anything you really don't need

pre-move strategy.  Since we wanted to limit what we would eventually move, and that we absolutely hate duplication and excess  (though of course backups are not only required but expected)

So the absolute worst is:

- You pack lots of stuff
- You painstakingly move it, little by little to England
- When in England you realise some items are in excess, obsolete, so you have to dispose of them now, not earlier


And So
So above Marcus has: The trail shoes I have been saving, so I will use them instead of buying a replacement pair

On the right the 3 set of shoes (2 Marcus and 1 Agata) marked for the recycling Centre.

New Rule: Buy One, Retire Two
So the new (sub) rule is

- Buy one new thing, and discard 2 Worn out  things, example Trail running shoes
- But ideally,  don't buy anything until the old excessive numbers of your old things, example shoes, wears out.

Our continued mantra for life in 2017, no just when we are moving house is:
Simplify Your Life

Reduce the Number of your Possessions

Don't be led by Fashion or Fad

This leads to a less stressed, lower cost, more environmentally friendly form of living.  It is a happier way to be.

Friday, June 23, 2017

DeWalt DCM561 Strimmer

So to cut to the chase: we only own this DeWalt electric strimmer because some Internet research found that it uses the same Lithium Ion batteries as our new DeWalt Power tool!

You can buy this unit without any battery, for extremely low cost therefore you then have a working strimmer that can use the battery pair from the other tool.

It's a winner!

DeWalt power tools can come with larger batteries and indeed this would extend strimmer on time, which is very short.  However the good news is that we have 2 modest batteries for the electric power tool/ drill so one can be charging whilst the other is in use.

 Strimming is such fun both Marcus and Agata are happy to try it

Overall then

- DCM561 is an electric strimmer
- No annoying fluids to fill or Petrol engine which is noisy, smelly and needs maintenance eventually

- DCM651 can be sold without battery so in our case we use those from our power tool
- Run time is only about 10 minutes per tiny battery, but that seems to be enough for our use.   Larger batteries can be purchased, but boy they are expensive.
- Like most decent strimmers there is an auto cutting cord extension underneath so tapping the revolving head on the ground whilst spinning extends the cutting cord.

How to fit the Stimmer Guard

Thursday, June 22, 2017

DHCP, dnsmasq and the ASUS EA-AC87 Wireless Router

Today Marcus and Agata had a more detailed look at the Linux Based Asus EA-AC87 Router and got DHCP working.  And here is how

The Problem Stated
The Asus EA-AC87 is a Wireless router than can also operate as a Bridge.  We use it as a Wirless router in the following way

- We have an Internet Connection
- It passes thru some Firewalls
- Then out into our Home Etheret Cabling
- Then finally into the ASUS EA-AC87
- We setup the ASUS as a wireless router but DHCP has to come from somewhere else

We already used a Raspberry Pi as a custom DHCP server  but today we had the time to start reconfiguring our Network properly.  We recently moved house and made a 'lash up' Internet Configuration, which was not secure.

Today we divided it up and the Raspberry Pi was no longer visible to the ASUS because the ASUS now sits on its own isolated network.

What to do?

#Option1 == Buy another Raspberry Pi and configure it on this new subnet

#Option2: Sneak into the ASUS EA-AC87 Router

I found it is possible to Telnet into the router and use your web credentials to give root level access, for us, the user admin

I had a look around at the UNIX filesystem and found some relevent scripts:
Some Scripts
cd /scripts
quantenna # ls -l dh**
-rwxrwxr-x    1 root     root          908 Aug 21  2015 dhclient_restart

-rwxrwxr-x    1 root     root          898 Aug 21  2015


CUR_MODE=`call_qcsapi get_mode wifi0`
if [ "${CUR_MODE}" != "Access point" ] ; then
        echo "Not AP Mode"
        exit 0;
LAN_PROTO=`nvram get lan_proto`
if [ "${LAN_PROTO}" != "dhcp" ] ; then
        echo "Not DHCP client"
        exit 0;
sleep 10
nvram set reset_lan_client=0
while [ 1 = 1 ] ;
if [ -e /tmp/dhclient.leases ] ; then
        CHECK_IP=`cat /tmp/dhclient.leases |grep fixed-address|awk '{print $2}'`
        if [ -z $CHECK_IP ] ; then
                # echo "DHCPD not found, set LAN to and start dnsmasq"
                if [ ! -f /tmp/ ] ; then
                        ifconfig br0
                        dnsmasq -z br0 -l /tmp/dnsmasq.leases -F,,24h -A /
                # else
                        # echo "DNSMASQ existed, keep waiting DHCP server"
                nvram set reset_lan_client=1
                echo "*** found DHCPD, IP is " $CHECK_IP
                killall dnsmasq
                exit 0
        dhclient -4 br0 &
        sleep 5

So I found some dhcp scripts which made use of the dnsmasq command   So all we need to do is start that up then, right?   I had to research dmsmasq on the Web since I never heard of it before.

quantenna # /usr/sbin/dnsmasq --help
Usage: dnsmasq [options]

Valid options are :

-a, --listen-address=ipaddr         Specify local address(es) to listen on.
-A, --address=/domain/ipaddr        Return ipaddr for all hosts in specified domains.
-b, --bogus-priv                    Fake reverse lookups for RFC1918 private address ranges.
-B, --bogus-nxdomain=ipaddr         Treat ipaddr as NXDOMAIN (defeats Verisign wildcard).
-c, --cache-size=cachesize          Specify the size of the cache in entries (defaults to 150).
-C, --conf-file=path                Specify configuration file (defaults to /etc/dnsmasq.conf).
-d, --no-daemon                     Do NOT fork into the background: run in debug mode.
-D, --domain-needed                 Do NOT forward queries with no domain part.
-e, --selfmx                        Return self-pointing MX records for local hosts.
-E, --expand-hosts                  Expand simple names in /etc/hosts with domain-suffix.
-f, --filterwin2k                   Don't forward spurious DNS requests from Windows hosts.
-F, --dhcp-range=ipaddr,ipaddr,time Enable DHCP in the range given with lease duration.
-g, --group=groupname               Change to this group after startup (defaults to dip).
-G, --dhcp-host=<hostspec>          Set address or hostname for a specified machine.
-h, --no-hosts                      Do NOT load /etc/hosts file.
-H, --addn-hosts=path               Specify a hosts file to be read in addition to /etc/hosts.
-i, --interface=interface           Specify interface(s) to listen on.
-I, --except-interface=int          Specify interface(s) NOT to listen on.
-j, --dhcp-userclass=<id>,<class>   Map DHCP user class to option set.
-J, --dhcp-ignore=<id>              Don't do DHCP for hosts in option set.
-k, --keep-in-foreground            Do NOT fork into the background, do NOT run in debug mode.
-K, --dhcp-authoritative            Assume we are the only DHCP server on the local network.
-l, --dhcp-leasefile=path           Specify where to store DHCP leases (defaults to /var/lib/misc/dnsmasq.leases).
-L, --localmx                       Return MX records for local hosts.
-m, --mx-host=host_name,target,pref Specify an MX record.
-M, --dhcp-boot=<bootp opts>        Specify BOOTP options to DHCP server.
-n, --no-poll                       Do NOT poll /etc/resolv.conf file, reload only on SIGHUP.
-N, --no-negcache                   Do NOT cache failed search results.
-o, --strict-order                  Use nameservers strictly in the order given in /etc/resolv.conf.
-O, --dhcp-option=<optspec>         Set extra options to be set to DHCP clients.
-p, --port=number                   Specify port to listen for DNS requests on (defaults to 53).
-P, --edns-packet-max=<size>        Maximum supported UDP packet size for EDNS.0 (defaults to 1280).
-q, --log-queries                   Log queries.
-Q, --query-port=number             Force the originating port for upstream queries.
-R, --no-resolv                     Do NOT read resolv.conf.
-r, --resolv-file=path              Specify path to resolv.conf (defaults to /etc/resolv.conf).
-S, --server=/domain/ipaddr         Specify address(es) of upstream servers with optional domains.
    --local=/domain/                Never forward queries to specified domains.
-s, --domain=domain                 Specify the domain to be assigned in DHCP leases.
-t, --mx-target=host_name           Specify default target in an MX record.
-T, --local-ttl=time                Specify time-to-live in seconds for replies from /etc/hosts.
-u, --user=username                 Change to this user after startup. (defaults to nobody).
-U, --dhcp-vendorclass=<id>,<class> Map DHCP vendor class to option set.
-v, --version                       Display dnsmasq version and copyright information.
-V, --alias=addr,addr,mask          Translate IPv4 addresses from upstream servers.
-W, --srv-host=name,target,...      Specify a SRV record.
-w, --help                          Display this message.
-x, --pid-file=path                 Specify path of PID file. (defaults to /var/run/
-X, --dhcp-lease-max=number         Specify maximum number of DHCP leases (defaults to 150).
-y, --localise-queries              Answer DNS queries based on the interface a query was sent to.
-Y  --txt-record=name,txt....       Specify TXT DNS record.
-z, --bind-interfaces               Bind only to interfaces in use.

-Z, --read-ethers                   Read DHCP static host information from /etc/ethers.

Man Page

-Z, --read-ethers
Read /etc/ethers for information about hosts for the DHCP server. The format of /etc/ethers is a hardware address, followed by either a hostname or dotted-quad IP address. When read by dnsmasq these lines have exactly the same effect as --dhcp-host options containing the same information. /etc/ethers is re-read when dnsmasq receives SIGHUP. IPv6 addresses are NOT read from /etc/ethers.
-O, --dhcp-option=[tag:<tag>,[tag:<tag>,]][encap:<opt>,][vi-encap:<enterprise>,][vendor:[<vendor-class>],][<opt>|option:<opt-name>|option6:<opt>|option6:<opt-name>],[<value>[,<value>]]
Specify different or extra options to DHCP clients. By default, dnsmasq sends some standard options to DHCP clients, the netmask and broadcast address are set to the same as the host running dnsmasq, and the DNS server and default route are set to the address of the machine running dnsmasq. (Equivalent rules apply for IPv6.) If the domain name option has been set, that is sent. This configuration allows these defaults to be overridden, or other options specified. The option, to be sent may be given as a decimal number or as "option:<option-name>" The option numbers are specified in RFC2132 and subsequent RFCs. The set of option-names known by dnsmasq can be discovered by running "dnsmasq --help dhcp". For example, to set the default route option to, do --dhcp-option=3, or --dhcp-option = option:router, and to set the time-server address to, do --dhcp-option = 42, or --dhcp-option = option:ntp-server, The special address is taken to mean "the address of the machine running dnsmasq".

I had a lot of difficulty figuring out the precise syntax of the command to be run.  In general you can put options into a file but since this is supposed to be a trivial command we thought a single command line would be best.

Unfortunately bad command line syntax kept producing a crashed binary with the message

Segmentation Fault

Until finally I read from the Man Page the proper way to specify options.  Unfortunately since the Asus uses Busybox a cut down Linux command line it does not respond properly to the command

dnsmasq --help dhcp

So I got the following information from my Linux booting Laptop.

dnsmasq --help dhcp  
Known DHCP options:
  1 netmask
  2 time-offset
  3 router
  6 dns-server
  7 log-server
  9 lpr-server
 13 boot-file-size
 15 domain-name
 16 swap-server
 17 root-path
 18 extension-path
 19 ip-forward-enable
 20 non-local-source-routing
 21 policy-filter
 22 max-datagram-reassembly
 23 default-ttl
 26 mtu
 27 all-subnets-local
 31 router-discovery
 32 router-solicitation
 33 static-route
 34 trailer-encapsulation
 35 arp-timeout
 36 ethernet-encap
 37 tcp-ttl
 38 tcp-keepalive
 40 nis-domain
 41 nis-server
 42 ntp-server
 44 netbios-ns
 45 netbios-dd
 46 netbios-nodetype
 47 netbios-scope
 48 x-windows-fs

 49 x-windows-dm

So Finally

dnsmasq --bind-interfaces br0 --dhcp-leasefile /tmp/dnsmasq.leases --dhcp-range,  --dhcp-option=3,   --dhcp-option=6,

When the above command is run as root on the Wireless router then its DHCP server is enabled and clients such as Google Chromecast Ultra and Google Home  which share this home network can now get a valid IP, Gateway and DNS and hence work.

Ah,  wonderful.

We like the EA-AC87 Router

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Solar Urticaria

Subtitle: Marcus wimps out

If you have followed Marcus and Agata's efforts at exercise and Athletics you will have noticed that without exception Marcus is always fully covered.

Yes, no shorts or T shirts for Marcus.

Today in England it is a stonking 33 degrees C and this has been the case for 2 days already, with similar unusually hot weather predicted for this whole week here in Warwickshire UK.

So on the Monday morning Cycling training run, long trousers and a long sleeved cycling top was the standard.

Because experience has shown that direct exposure of arms, legs or torso direct sunlight for just a few hours bring up large rashes and bumps with aggravated itching.

The 30K ride was 'blisteringly hot' but fully clothed, I only got sweaty not bumpy and rashy.  Marcus' condition seems to be similar to that of somebody with  Solar Urticaria

Sunlight Allergy

So I want to throw out a message to other Athletes, who during sunny weather can cool down more than Marcus, in Shorts and other suitable clothing for 15 degrees C plus weather.   If I could wear the clothing that you take for granted then I really would,  instead I try to smile  [and sweat] along in long sleeves.

Envy you,  yes I do, really.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Microsoft copies Apple again

For years Apple Computer has strived hard to build beautiful, powerful, but deliberately feature lacking and most definitely; hard to impossible to repair laptops   (well and pretty much everything).

It is my sad duty to report that Microsoft has now more than copied them resulting in a staggering, well staggering bad 0/10 repair ability score for the 

Microsoft Surface Laptop

Surface Laptop teardown

You can read the report here

One More Thing
If you care about repairing Apple, most of the world knows that you start with a subscription to Louis Rossmann You might even learn something about life on his channel too.

Louis talks Surface

Monday, June 19, 2017

OCD Carpet Fitters: Don't Hire Us

Part of the move to England involves relocating our substantial sports equipment collection.

Most athletes will tell you that the right quantity of anything, be it Scooters, Wetsuits, surf boards, skates is (n+1), where n is the number you currently possess :-)

For the last 2 years, and I am not kidding, we have forcefully restricted our purchases.  To basically zero.  It was hopped the attrition of constant daily exercise might make some items actually wear out, therefore they could be discarded sans guilt and not relocated to England.

But there is still substantial goods and it has now all been self moved from Switzerland.  Really a considerable effort.

For the time being the above Container is the new Athelete equipment home.

It is No Cave

This is certainly not a climate controlled, secure basement cave that we have been used to in Switzerland.   But it is  dry, secure, and whilst there is currently no Electricity,  it is ours for now.

Hobbling & Hot

Post Maverick Race,  Marcus has a blister so painful he can barely walk and today it is 33 degrees C in the shade.  Nevertheless it is time to renovate the container

- We removed the Crap

- Marcus strimmed a path to the container

- We oiled the locks

- We researched on the Internet Industrial carpeting, and ordered it

- We bought double sided Carpet adhesive tape

- We continued cleaning and cleaning and cleaning

- We remove nails and other unsafe obstructions on walls and floor

On Sunday afternoon it was finally time to carpet

Here you see Agata obsessively cutting the industrial Astro turf flooring just right so we can make a professional floor.    Ah, sometimes perfectionism and OCD really have a place in this world.

It was then time to slowly carry several hundred Kg of Sports Equipment from the current location, in the blazing Sunshine to its new home.

We finished stage#1 at about 21.00 Sunday night.  Absolutely exhausted.  To be continued!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Maverick Run Gloucestershire 2017

Subtitle: Marcus takes a Shortcut :-(

A report on the 24Km Innov sponsered Maveric run near Sudley Castle from June 17th in England!

 Although Marcus and Agata are quite exhausted from the last stages of our move from Switzerland to England, something that has been months if not years in planning (and finished but some days ago, ) it was already time to put best foot forward for our first trail race in England for years.

 As good planners we arrived a day early to a nearby campsite (Hayles Fruit Farm ) a day early and the challenge therefore was not to eat and drink too much the night before :-)

Day of the Race
We had some help from Jenny and Alana, meanwhile Julie is running too.

 Marcus had a last minute look at the route, though this should not be necessary because I have a GPS route loaded onto my new watch.   However as we will see, things did not totally go to plan :-(

Marcus Race Report

A mixed up race as follows:  We really had been busy moving house all week so absolutely no running preparations were made.  Marcus thought the run was going to be trivial however in the 33 degree plus heat it was most definitely not.

The first 5Km of race we were 'stuck in traffic' as all the distances of the race from 7km to 24Km got stuck at 3 turnstiles.   Starting from the back of the race was definitely not a good idea.  It sort of works when you slowly want to run past the field of others and there are no obstructions. However in the case where the front runners don't get stuck at 3 turnstiles and you do, it is rather difficult to catch up.

 Navigation proceeded smoothly until about Km 16.

 I had just past the last split for the 2 shorter races and saw up ahead a whole stream of other runners.  Time to catch up I thought.

In so doing I stupidly followed the runners in front and then my GPS watch showed me that the remaining distance started to increase.  So I stopped and ran back up a steep hill 100m to check with the next competitor.  She said it was straight ahead and she stopped a nearby driver who confirmed it.

So I continued.   It turns out the wrong way :-(   At least 6 people went this way and it cut about 3.5 km from the course.   So Marcus finished in about 2 hours,  when it should have been about 2 hours and 20 mins or less.   Hmmm.   I was gutted.

This was the first time I had used a Garmin route on my new watch, next time I will trust it and not the other runners,  or the farmer who gave the wrong instructions.  So sorry to cheat on the distance :-(

Meanwhile of course, Smartypants Agata got the route right and finished in about 2 hours 40.

Agata finishing here

It is All over!

There was Maverick Beer

And a combined Medal and Bottle opener.  Nice.

Given the 33 degree plus heat, Agata had to take a nap

 Julie streadfastly sat thru one of the worlds least therapeutic massages,  ever.

The Weather

Can I explain that it was 33 degrees C in the shade.  This is ridiculous weather for England.  Too flippin hot.  If we had wanted this sort of nonsense,  Agata and Marcus would have stayed in Switzerland,  where I might say we had an air conditioner in the house.

That Blister Then

Seen here Marcus' Salomon SLAB Sense 3 soft ground shoes.   Ultra light shoes,  front (not heel strike) design, thin & so great for narrow tracks.  One small problem

 For any run over 8Km  the fold on the left side of the shoe reliably causes a huge blister.

Since this was a training race for a much (much) longer distance one only some weeks away, Marcus needs to urgently retire these shoes and buy and test something that is not going to shred his feet to ribbons !

Goodnight to All

Post race, the pre race Alcohol ban was lifted.  We celebrated indeed.

Thanks to Kathy, Jenny, Alana, Julie, Archie and Henry for making this a wonderful weekend.

Sudley Castle Maveric Run

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Google Chromecast Audio

Subtitle: Still sounding good with JBL Creature II

So, Marcus and Agata bought this JBL Creature II mains powered speaker in 2005 no less.

It is still working 12 years later.  During that time it came from Manufacturing in China, to our home in London, then jumped to Prilly in Switzerland, spent a further 10 years in Lausanne Switzerland and now back to England.

I suppose the thing with Speakers is that if they continue to work well, why change?

Why Change?
Today most of our Audio is streamed via the Internet and so one way is to buy a Wifi, BlueTooth  or natively Chromecast enabled Speaker.

Or instead the Chromecast Audio.

- It is 30GBP including Postage from Google UK

- The Chromecast Audio will make a Wifi link from your source device, e.g. Android Smartphone, and output a signal via the supplied stereo 3.5mm cable to the input of your wired speakers.

- In our case the  JBL Creature II

- In general therefore you can choose the best and perhaps superior wired speaker for you and are not limited to a Bluetooth/ Wifi enabled one.

- In 2017 the setup is via the Google Home application

Off Topic
In our new home we have an Internet connectivity problem and the only freely available Internet is via the Smartphone.  So I am delighted to comment that of course Chromecast Audio does not use any Internet itself.   (Unlike Chromecast for TV's which of course does).

Chromecast Audio just receives a sound stream that it is sent from another compatible device over the WiFi Intranet link, which can be 2.4 or 5Ghz.

As it stands then; I can stream BBC Radio 4  (what else !) from my Smartphone to the Chromecast Audio without penalty.

The IT Rule
2 Simple Rules when performing any sort of IT task:
a) Never put the computer case back on 
b) Never attach the Velcro wire tidies
until the solution is working and burnt in.  So the above wiring mess will be resident for the next few days at least :-)

Overall,  Chromecast Audio,   is a great deal and really recommended.

Chromecast Audio Specs

Friday, June 16, 2017

Guilt or Not Guilty

Always be mindful about those less fortunate than yourselves, just remember though,  there are limits ....

Drama of the Week Podcast

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Lausanne: Say Goodbye

Simply Red: Holding Back

For now, to simply say

That we have left Lausanne, Switzerland, for how long, who can say.

We are missing the Good friends,  The Weather, The Beautiful Countryside.

All countries have their imperfections but now is not the time to dwell on those in Switzerland.

Time for the heads of Marcus and Agata to be held high and look forward to the best future that we can make for ourselves in our new home.

We always believe that the future is ours to Create.  We absolutely reject the [predominately religious] assertion that only faith in an invisible unknowable entity can be the path to our best future.  Humbug to that.

To finish on a more upbeat sentiment

The Weeknd: Feel it

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Switzerland: Last Swim

The clock is ticking and it's about 24 hours before we leave Switzerland for a new home, and to return, well who knows.

In honour of one of the best reasons to never leave Lausanne Switzerland,  I am talking about Pully Plage Swimming pool we made plans for a last visit.

As usual it began to be complicated, because well we don't have a car in Switzerland any more.

But we have 2 fantastic scooters.  Trouble is that the weather is 25 degrees plus, making scootering even on the flat hot work

Maybe it is a portent of things to come, but Marcus' new cashpoint card wont let you withdraw money less than 20 CHF.   Yes Switzerland is affluent

We just made it to our local bank for the last time.  They had some nice property suggestions for clients.  Namely 2 properties, starting at 15M CHF.   Indeed Lausanne is a wealthy kind of area.

And so at last to that wonderful Swimming Pool.   Pully Plage!  We will not forget you & feel the your charming inviting us back to Lausanne, but when?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Switzerland: Last Hike

We are indebted to our friends Sandra, Margaret and Paulina for making our last hike in Switzerland a memorable one.

In less than 48 hours we will leave Switzerland, but given the 25 to 30 degree weather that is the summer here this year, we felt the call of the nearby mountains and could not resist one last hike.

We planned a hike from a Moleson village which is near the cheese town of Gruyeres upto a local peak.

Going Up

Coming Down

As the above statistics show we took it very easy, choosing to walk not run the course.

Our team is Margaret, Paulina, Sandra and Agata

 I am happy to report that these cows were clean.  I mean Swiss clean.  Possibly tourist cows :-)

 Some traditional Swiss horn blowing.

 When you take it easy there are lots of smiles

Views and Wildlife


Arrival to the summit, the cable car station, the thing that old people use; is behind us

Some pretty damn fantastic views.  Switzerland, we are really going to miss this!

Not just views but plenty of aerial action too

 Do you think we can agree a route down?

 Almost back to the start, just time out for a Butterfly stop

It is about 20.00 and we are back home.

A great day, made possible by beautiful Swiss scenery and wonderful friends.  We are going to miss everything terribly.

Beatles: My Friends