Electrolux UltraSilencer Review

THE ELECTROLUX ULTRASILENCER vacuum cleaner (model ZUSORIGDB+).

Silencer Head

The Machine

Silencer Head

It definitely is a very beautiful and streamlined machine, and it has a very high degree of quality feel to it.
The hose, pipe and handlebar is very good quality, makes no noise and is very comfortable to handle. The power of it is extremely good and its power adjustment works surprisingly linear.

The actual use of it, does not measure up to its visual appearance however. I think the mountpoint of the hose is to vertical and placed to long into the machine. The maneuverability of the vacuum machine is really bad. It is very hard to make it move in a straight line, and will instead tumble from side to side. Navigating though door openings is almost unlikely to happen without the vacuum machine straying of and banging into the doorframe. Very frustrating!

Silencer Head

Even more frustrating is its inability to roll over its own cord. The is actually a slim and very long cable which give very good reach around the house. I think the front wheel is made to small. Even the tiny diameter of its own cord is enough to make it scoot the cable in front of it, and one has to lift it up to clear the cable.

Good

  • Beautiful
  • Very silent
  • Extremely powerful

Bad

  • Unstable movement
  • Bad with obstacles

The Silencer Head

The silencer head is indeed very silent. When vacuuming the machine is almost inaudible. A very pleasing experience for your ears.
The suction from the head is extremely good. This will clean everything with easy, being it hardfloors, furnitures, car seats, carpets – anything!

Silencer Head

There are some serious drawbacks on the silent head though. It is not very flexible and rotates angled on the axis of the pipe. In combination of the oval pipe, which makes it impossible to turn the handle on the pipe, it is almost impossible to twist to reach under couches, low tables and other furnitures. This brings me to another negative point. The head is unusually tall, and too high to fit under my couch at all.
The excellent suction of the head, in combination with my hardwood floor makes it necessary to flip out the brushes on the head. I don’t really like this option, and never had. After a while the brushes clutter up, and just pushes dirt around instead of letting the vacuum picking it up – especially when having pets. Not a fault of this particular head, but on the old ineffective concept itself.

Good

  • Silent
  • Very good suction

Bad

  • Tall head
  • Inflexible movement

Conclusion

It definitely seems like lot of previous learned experiences have been lost, and not transferred on to new products. Or perhaps the product responsible, disregarded other considerations and focused too much on making it ultra silent before usable.
A good vacuum cleaner, but not up to expectations :-/.

Bonus

For my previous vacuum clearer I bought this slimline head, also from Electrolux. This might be the very best head I’ve ever tried. It fits under the lowest furnitures, is highly flexible in its movement, and is on four wheels for unmatched effortless movement and easy maneuvering.

Slimline Head

I use this head instead of the original. It is lifted a bit above the ground, and therefor lets air flow disperse less optimally. This gives more suction noise and reduces suction power, but in combination with the really low noise level of the vacuum machine itself, and its abundance of power, this is a really really good combination.

Garmin Forerunner 610 and Garmin Connect on Linux

GETTING PROPRIETARY ELECTRONICS to work on Linux can be a hassle sometimes. More often that not, companies develops controller software for Windows only, or at best for Windows and Mac OS, but neglects to support the Linux platform. Then us that enjoy the freedom and wonders of Linux is often out of luck, or have to reverse engineer a solution. Fortunately a couple of hackers did just that for the Garmin Forerunner 610.

With thanks to Tigge and Dave Lotton it is possible to download files from the watch and upload them to Germin Connect.

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Tigge have created the tools to connect to the watch and download training pass files from it. Download from github and install:

» git clone https://github.com/Tigge/openant.git
» (cd openant; sudo python setup.py install)
» git clone https://github.com/Tigge/antfs-cli.git
» (cd antfs-cli; sudo python setup.py install)

Now insert the ANT+ usb dongle, and run this command to download all training pass from the watch.

» antfs-cli

The files will end up in the directory ~/.config/antfs-cli/<id>/activities.

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To upload the files to the Germin Connect service, install the GcpUploader made by Dave Lotton:

pip install gcpuploader

Next setup a credentials file for GcpUploader.

echo -e "\
[Credentials]\n\
username=\n\
password=" > ~/.guploadrc

Edit the file and set credentials. When setting the username your must write your e-mail address. Otherwise you will get a login failure *1 .

Finally upload all files:

~/.config/antfs-cli/3894281250/activities» gupload.py -t "running" *.fit
File: 2015-02-20_16-38-36_4_3.fit    ID: 707690585    Status: SUCCESS    Name: N/A    Type: running
File: 2015-02-24_17-46-28_4_4.fit    ID: 707690640    Status: SUCCESS    Name: N/A    Type: running
File: 2015-02-25_18-18-04_4_5.fit    ID: 707690660    Status: SUCCESS    Name: N/A    Type: running
File: 2015-02-27_17-26-12_4_6.fit    ID: 707688520    Status: EXISTS    Name: N/A    Type: N/A

As seen from the output, already uploaded files are skipped, so if not wanting to specify each file specifically, the *.fit wildcard works perfectly fine. Note that gupload.py supports other taggings than running. Run gupload.py --help for more information.

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Side note:
For the version that I downloaded (GcpUploader-2015.2.21.3 I had to patch it to accept login with the credentials file:

--- gupload.py.orig     2015-02-28 14:03:14.223948320 +0100
+++ gupload.py  2015-02-28 16:24:35.738408614 +0100
@@ -92,7 +92,7 @@
       self.msgLogger.debug('Using credentials from command line.')
       self.username=myargs.l[0]
       self.password=myargs.l[1]
-    elif os.path.isfile(self.configCurrentDir):
+    elif os.path.isfile(configCurrentDir):
       self.msgLogger.debug('Using credentials from \'%s\'.' % configCurrentDir)
       config=ConfigParser.RawConfigParser()
       config.read(configCurrentDir)

If not wanting to venture into patching, gupload.py also accepts credentials as arguments (see gupload.py --help for more information).

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Addendum: Dave Lotton recommends that instead of GcpUploader, one should use the tapiriik service instead…

F1 Timing App 2013

FOR THE 2013 Formula-1 season I though I would treat my self with buying the official live timing app: ‘F1 Timing App 2013’ by Soft Pauer Limited. At season start it costed around €22 – a hole lot of money of a one season app. So I had high expectations, but I quickly discovered that the app is utterly superfluous and added zero value to the Formula-1 watching experience

The app promises the following features:
★ REAL-TIME TRACK POSITIONING ★
★ FOLLOW YOUR FAVOURITE F1 DRIVER ★
★ LIVE TIMING DATA ★
★ LIVE LEADERBOARDS ★
★ DOWNLOAD RACE PACKS ★
★ LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY ★
★ EVENT COUNTER & NOTIFICATIONS ★
★ KEEP UP TO DATE ★
★ COMPLETE FORMULA ONE ACCESS ★

The last one I don’t really know what means, but otherwise it sounds awesome. In reality only the Live Text Commentary have any grain of value (it displays some additional official insights into important events happening in the races).


The prime feature of the app is the realtime visual overview of car positions on the track.
Track Overview
It sure did sound great, but unless the race evolves into a train-set of cars, the actual overview clutters due to the overlap. And when watching the race, it isn’t really an information abstraction that is needed.


The secondary high profile feature of the app is the live timing overview.
Live Timing
This would have added great value some many years ago – before the TV transmission began showing equivalent information. You don’t need a costly app for what you can already see on the TV.



All in all, a costly app that has appalling scarce value. A lesson learned, which I will not repeat

Learning How To Run

OMG, I DON’T know how to run properly :-O. That was my realization when I attended a 5 hour training course in barefoot running this weekend, hosted by Claus Rasmussen (Posemand.dk).

“What?!” you might say. “Running is a no-brainer, just get up, place one leg in front of the other in a fast pace. Everybody can do it”. Well think again! Everybody can do it alright, but most have not learned the proper way of running. Running may seem simple but there is a fine technique to it. Shortly described the proper style involves near-flat footed landing and having a tight and balanced body stature when a foot has ground contact.

To see how proper running should like, bring attention to the very best of runners, like marathon runners or sprinters. One example is Haile Gebrselassie. When observed in slow motion it is quite clear that he has a perfect style. As video documented by Claus the proper running method is actually an inherent “knowledge” in small children, i.e a very natural way of running. But then ,for almost everyone, it gets suppressed later on (via influence by imitation and footwear etc).


Proper Running

Claus’ strategy (my interpretation) for achieving better running was very simple:

  • Learn the proper technique of running.
  • Use barefoot running as a tool for (re)learning how to run.
  • Continue to run barefoot to let the body express its natural flow of running to avoid future injuries.

After some background theory we were first filmed running in our normal footwear for progress comparison later on. Then began the training for improved running. Is was a basic exercise but hard to master (basically it boils down to bringing your heels straight up, relaxing and letting your body do the landing).

Before

Before

After

After

When looking at my before shot, it can be observed (1) that I tilt a bit forward. It is clear that I land full bodyweight on my heels (3), and also my landing stand (2) is very wide, giving unbalance and energy loss. In the after shot I have bettered my vertical line, lands flat footed and have narrowed my range.

My full progress as recorded by Claus can be seen here. It looks a bit funny/weird, but it feels right. And when the technique is learnt properly, one can begin adding speed so it begins to look more natural.

Barefoot Running

BAREFOOT RUNNING HAS become quite popular, and now I have joined in on this running trend.

Last summer I saw Martin Toft running in his fivefinger shoes. They looked weird :-D but I was also quite intrigued of the concept of down to basics running. Martin seems to be quite hooked on the barefoot running concept and I’ve followed some of his blogging.

The idea of barefoot running is to nay the modern shoes, and return to the natural inherit principal of running barefoot (or with only very thin shoes). The theory is that this would make you a better and more natural runner, and reduce the risk of injuries significantly. I’ve been prone to get lots and lots of injuries during running, so the last “promise” was the sales-point for me.

So the shoes (Vivobarefoot Evo II) are bought, but first I have to unlearn old running habits, adopted from modern cushioned running shoes. An exciting and well run spring ahead I hope :-)

Vivobarefoot Evo II

Folded a Thousand Paper Cranes

I FOLDED A thousand paper cranes. Japanese legend believes the cranes will grant you a wish. The daughter of a couple of friends of mine, were up for confirmation, and so a gift of long life and good health seemed like a good idea ;-)

1000 Cranes

A few of them was made of money and mixed into the lot ]:->

1000 Cranes

I gave the cranes as a gift in a big box

1000 Cranes

Interruption At Work Created A Mishap

INTERRUPTIONS AT WORK is a frequent occurrence but generally its not a big problem. This time however the unavoidable loss of focus on what you was doing before, gave an unpleasant surprise.

I was adding some new functionality and had just written the following:

switch (state) {
    case Step3:
        configuration.length = 10;
        break;
}

Next I added a line to specify the configuration data on index zero. With the intention of doing this for the remaining nine data indexes, I copy-pasted the first line and incremented the index.

switch (state) {
    case ConfigureTask:
        configuration.data[0] = 
        configuration.data[1] = 
        configuration.length = 10;
        break;
}

But this was at the exact moment a colleague asked a question. To figure out the answer I had to browse around in the same file I was just editing. Not finding the complete answer there, the hunt led on to opening a bunch of other files. Eventually the situation evolved to a discussion using a white-board.

Now, even though the above code is incomplete, it compiles to perfectly valid code!. What the above code does is to initialize configuration.data[0], configuration.data[1] and configuration.length to 10. Naturally this behavior was never the desired behavior for that code…

Later, returning to my workstation, I had completely forgotten about the unfinished implementation I worked on before. In my mind it was already done and I proceeded on other things that would eventually allow me to run some basic tests for the new implementations. The nature of the code is to delegate a state dependent number of black-box data to a task. The receiving task is found by peeking into the first byte of the black-box data (configuration.data[0]). Unfortunately ’10’ is a perfect match for the first task to be configured. So when unit-testing, at first everything seemed to be okay.

Later some strange behavior appeared, for which I could find no good reasons. Eventually I found the faulting situation in great dismay.

This kind of logic errors is the kind that can become extremely difficult to find, and I’ve learned my lesson: if leaving in the middle of writing some source code, be sure to quickly add some non-code that will not compile.

TheCamp 2009

THE-CAMP 2009 WAS the third time I’ve dedicated a week of my summer vacation at TheCamp.
As mentioned in previous posts (TheCamp 2008 and TheCamp 2007) its a week where nerds meet to have fun, eat lots of food, drink beers and hack with ones own projects at will. This year we were 50 participant of a wide variety. The youngest participant was an (circa) 14 year old gamer, the oldest participant was a lady of 73 years of age wanting to acquire some more Linux knowledge. This year the female participant count was raised to five – a pleasant trend.

As the previous years I came with so many projects to do, that I knew I would not finish them all. I’ve been wanting to learn functional programming for a while. My intention was to learn Falcon, but one other participants had a task of learning Haskell, while another was proficient in the language, so I joined in on Haskell. I only had time for a brief encounter, but I’ve ordered some books and can’t wait to seriously dive in. I had brought some work with me, where I managed to clean up some unit-test and functionality-test code. Linx have had my interest for a while now, and I managed to do a prototype porting, of a client-server application of mine, to use Linx for IPC instead. I wanted to try out Mono on a PowerPC evaulation board, but LTIB didn’t really want to run on my Debian unstable install, so I ended up playing around with OpenSuse 11 on a Sun Virtualbox 3.0.

Virtualization was in fact the “great big thing” in this years guest talks. Asbjørn Sloth Tønnesen held a talk about Xen, Niklas Q. Nielsen held a talk about OpenVz. A third person (Svenne Krap) gave a short informal introduction to KVM. Poul-Henning Kamp held a talk where he apposed the increasing use of virtualizing the hardware.

Generally there was many excellent talks this year (to many to describe in detail), but here is some details on a few:

Bo S. Sørensen held a very entertaining talk about Android. He gave an overview in the evolution of smart-phones, and introduced the available Android phones. During his 45 minute talk he demonstrated the Android development tools by creating an application that could extract where his fotos on his phone where taken (if equipped Android phones stores the GPS position as meta data for each photo), and show the positions on a google map. As a side note: working daily with embedded Linux, it was with much envy I saw how seamless and easy the development environment integrated with the actual hardware. It was impressing to see how easy one could switch from running or debugging directly on a phone or in a Android emulator.

Palle Raabjerg ranted (friendly) about keyboard layouts. He’s a bit fan of the Maltron ergonomic keyboards. Martin Toft spoke about his experiences with bug fixing Vim at Google Summer of Code 2007.
An then there was Thomas Bøgholm… The two public television stations DR1 and DR2 are experimenting with streaming all their broadcastings in Linux friendly high resolution streams. So Thomas records and stores everything streamed from those two channels. Some might think this a the work of a crazy man, but I think it is an awesome (and crazy) thing to do. He’s made some software for automating the procedures, and got the software released under FOSS friendly license.

A very special event was celebrating the 40’th year of the moon landing by having a midnight outdoor movie display of the Apollo 11 mission. One of the TheCamp participants had bought a book where the authors had done a lot of work piecing together two movies of the moon landing mission. The first movie was the last 30 minutes of the decent and landing on the moon, the second movie was an almost 2 hour movie of Niel Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin working the moon. I’ve only seen small clips from the first moon landing, and it was first when seeing these movies that I really got my eyes up for the amazing achievement that was performed 40 years ago. I was very much awe struck. The same could be said for a revisiting participant of American (U.S.A) origin. He was convinced that he had seen everything there was to be seen of the Apollo 11 mission, but this movie had quite a few bits and pieces that was new to him. He went strait to amazon and bought the book :-).

This year we also had a visit from a public television station that did a daily broadcasting from different summer arrangement around the country. They didn’t have the first (or n’th) clue about computers, so they mainly wanted to hear “IT-jokes” (they didn’t understand a single one of the jokes) and filmed the days special event of hardware-throwing.

So TheCamp proved again to be the highlight of the year. I’m definitely going next year ;-).

Upgraded From WordPress 2.2.2 to WordPress 2.7

WORDPRESS 2.7 UPGRADE from WordPress 2.2.2 done with no problems.
I was somewhat worried that my old theme would break on the upgrade, but It appears to be working. Well, I got at little issue with the Wp-Syntax plugin. I upgraded the plugin and now my GeShi style overrides do not work anymore – guess that is things one discover when doing infrequent upgrading.

I’m looking forward to working with this new WordPress version and exploring its added features.

Fixing VW Passat Intrumental Panel

THE INSTRUMENTAL PANEL on my 1992 VW Passat was giving some strange readouts on the electrical indicators and warning lights. At first I thought that something was wrong with the temperature censors, so I had en engine block censor changed. That helped nothing, but then other errors began to emerge. For example, the temperature gauge and diesel gauge would sometimes showing erratic values, jumping from one setting to another or just showing obviously false values. The overheating warning light would signal after just starting the engine, or having run only a few kilometers or the headlight settings would indicate the opposite of what was actually set. This recording shows how the gauges head for endpoints and the headlight indicator changes, when switching on the headlights and instrument panel lights.
All these issues turned my suspicion towards an electrical error in the instrumental panel; and sure enough it turned out to be an electrical fault. The instrument panel circuit board is connected to external components via a big multi-connector. The soldering for this connector were broken and needed re-soldering.

Steps take to make the instrument panel work correctly

To get the instrument box out, the steering wheel has to be unmounted first. The rim around the panel box can be awkward to pull out, but start but pulling the right side first and when that detaches the other side follows easily. The panel box is top mounted with a couple of screws.

When pulling out the panel box the speedometer cable will detach from the box. When refitting the panel box, position the lower part panel box in an outwards angle, and the panel can then be tilted into upright position with the speedometer cable guide right into place.

The speedometer guide is unscrewed in counter-clock wise direction. At the right side of the back cover is a multi-connector. When removing the internal circuit board, this connector has to be unlocked by prying a thin screwdriver (or other fitting tools) into each of the two locking mechanisms.

After opening the box, the gauges are removed. The speedometer is corner screwed while the two other can carefully be pulled of their mountings.

The problem in this case, was the multi-connector slot (here seen from the connector side)

Visually inspecting the pin soldering revealed that most of the pin soldering had gone bad. To fix the instrument panel the soldering had to be redone.

This panel, or variations of, is common to most VW’s of late 80’s and 90’s models and apparently this type of error is not an uncommon failure in these circuits prints.

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