Coaching Electronics

Sometimes Time Flies

For some time now I have not posted any blog, any thoughts, any comments, any news.

I have no idea.
Perhaps I have become lazy. Perhaps I have been distracted. Perhaps I have had other things to do. Perhaps I have no time.
I do not think any of the above is the reason why, but sitting here in Italy, waiting for my next course to start tomorrow on Coaching, I have had time to reflect on what has been happening in my life over the last few months, something I have not done for a long time, and I realised that I had been distracted away from things I liked to do, like writing an article here on my blog.
Often we are distracted from our normal routine, by a family crisis, a work problem, a domestic problem, a person who needs help, and it is right that we should devote time and effort to those distractions, but, there comes a time when those distractions resolve themselves, and we can get back to normality.
Perhaps I can now return to normality as many of my distractions appears to have been resolved.
I am back.
Electronics Thoughts Travels

Synchronicity, Bletchley Park, History Unfolding

It was in the 1920’s that the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung first described the the terminology of synchronicity, saying that when two or more events occur together or are linked when there is no apparent reason for them to be linked at that time, things come together by what seems chance, this is synchronicity.

It was early one Sunday morning, the British clock system had been adjusted back to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) that morning, that meant that my clock showed 7:30am, but my body said it was 8:30am, and I had nothing meaningful to do and wide awake.
As a Radio Ham (G8YJQ), I had heard of the RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) National Radio Centre based in Bletchley Park, the war-time home of secret code breaking and the birthplace of the first modern computer. I decided to visit the National Radio Centre.
I often like to revisit the basics, to start again to review, as if I knew nothing about a subject, as it reinforces the foundations of expertise, to pick-up knowledge missed along the way of learning a subject.
I joined a group of visitors, as toured the radio exhibition very quickly, leaving me in their wake as I read the documentation written about the displays, which they skipped over. The exhibition was quite small and a little disappointing to me, so I had finished my visit very quickly, even after a long conversation with a guide and another radio ham.
I decided to visit the rest of the Bletchley Park facility again as I had travelled a long way, to see if the model aircraft of the Italian aircraft (Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero) I had donated, had been used in their exhibition, and no it had not been used, to revisit, to reinforce and relearn what I knew about the site and its’ history.
I joined another small group of people of many nationalities, and we met in the main house to hear the initial opening lecture about the code breakers, setting the scene for the tour. Even though I had heard this talk before, it had been with another guide, and he gave us information new to me. As we wondered around the site, new information was being imparted, especially about the decoding Bombe machines, I had never understood how they worked, I had a concept, but now after the guides talk, I was beginning to understand.
That reminded me of something I had learnt when I first started in the computer field in 1963, sometimes you don’t need to know how something works to use it.
We eventually visited the National Museum of Computing housed in buildings of part of Bletchley Park.
Here the guide explained about Tunny code breaking machines, or as it is also known, the German Lorenz SZ42 cipher-machines.
Two new “Ah Ha” moments came to me, that the cipher machines Enigma and the Lorenz used by the German’s to encrypt messages ran side by side in the Second World War, being two separate systems or methods of transmission of a message, one being morse code the other being teleprinter.
The second “Ah Ha” moment came as I realised that I had heard and read about Lorenz in two different contexts, one was for the equipment to encode messages I was viewing, and the other was for the beams of radio waves the German aircraft to fly along and used to locate targets to bomb in the UK during the war. Both the encrypting machine and the beams were made by the German manufacturer Lorenz, but people had when speaking about the systems, had truncated or missed off what Lorenz model they were talking about, just like saying it was a Ford, but what model Ford, was it a car, was it a transit van?
As we walked around listening and learning, a couple in our group were talking about papers and artefacts that had been left to them by the husband’s now deceased mother and father, and that some of the letters were now making sense, they now realised that they had been written to and by people who had worked in Bletchley Park. These people at Bletchley Park in the Second World War had been sworn to secrecy at to what they were working on, what they were doing or even where they were, many taking their secrets with them to their graves many decades later. I now regret not asking my now departed Uncle Frank about his work in the 2nd World War, because as I research more, I believe he may have had had some dealing with the Bletchley Code Breakers.
Also, the couple told me that they had in their possession, left by the father, many old thermionic valves and parts used by the Post Office in the UK who used to run the telephone service.
Passing on from the Tunny Gallery, we passed into the Colossus Gallery, showing a reconstructed decoding machine, the worlds first digital semi-programmable computer, designed and built by Tommy Flowers, a telephone engineer, who took standard telephone switching gear, thermionic valves and other bits and pieces, to build this worlds first computer of it’s type.
As we listened to our guide about how the British Government, after the finish of the 2nd World War, did not want the secret be known by other powers and especially the Russians of Colossus, and apart from two machines which were sent to the Secret Service’s headquarters at GCHQ, all other machines were destroyed, along with paperwork, designs and drawings.
Colossus Bletchley Park
Colossus Bletchley Park

It was only a few years ago that a group of enthusiasts led by Tony Sale, who gathered information from photographs, people who worked on the Colossus, and those you built and maintained them, that rebuilt what we can see today, a working Colossus which can decipher and work as the originals did, and does so for visitors to see today.

Colossus valves Bletchley Park
Colossus valves Bletchley Park


When our guide had finished his talk, the couple’s eyes were alive, as they had some parts, letters, paperwork, documents and some knowledge from the father, who they now realised had worked with Tommy Flowers on the original Colossus, and I urged them to go and speak to one of the guides who I knew had worked on the rebuild and was now sitting in a small office near to the working computer.
I think at first reluctantly the guide listened to them, but he became interested, as here was new knowledge being delivered, and so off they went to another area of the exhibition, only to return with a framed photograph of Tommy Flowers, and in that photograph was the father.
I was witnessing the discovery of new knowledge, the recovery of history.
Leaving Bletchley Park, and a almost two hour journey, I arrived home and settled down to a wonderful hot chilli con carne meal I had made, and switched on the TV. To my surprise the BBC were showing a Timewatch series, “Codebreakers: Bletchley Park’s Lost Heroes“, the story of code breaking and the Colossus, reinforcing what I had learned not a few hours earlier.
Synchronicity. If I had not been bored and decided to rekindle my Ham Radio interests, to visit the National Radio Centre, which happened to be at Bletchley Park, and if I had not continued to do another tour of the park, I would not have had those “Ah Ha” moments, seen many more things, and learnt so much more, meet the couple who had a direct connection to Colossus through the father and Tommy Flowers, then see the TV program.
Electronics Radio and TV interviews Thoughts Travels

I failed to tune in, internet access is a big problem.

For the listeners who tune in to my weekly radio broadcast on a Saturday, (visit web to listen), whatever time it is in your country, I must apologise for not being on air on the 27th August 2011, this program and the subsequent recording will be rescheduled.

Often when I travel, internet access is a big problem.
In todays modern communication, (today being August 2011, how time flies when I read my first entry in this blog), new ways of connecting to others are emerging all the time. Some of the best, Skype, MSN, Blackberry, SMS, all require access at some point to the internet in some form to make instant connections. These connections via the internet could be by the mobile phone providers eventually routing a call or message from a receiving station say in the USA, into the internet system, then in the destination country from the internet into their transmission station to the persons receiving the call or message.
On an iPad or tablet computer a similar system could be employed or through WiFi, when the device or computer has the ability to pick-up and transmit radio signals, enabling connections to the internet, or there is the hardwired ethernet cable, where there is a physical wired connection to the internet.
All the above require a node, an access point from the computer or telephone, and without it you are lost. 
How often am I without communication as my mobile phone cannot locate a cell?
How often is it that I cannot send or receive emails as I cannot find an internet connection?
Many times. Often it is as if I am in the middle of no-where, no civilisation.
But then there are times when there is access, but because companies, individuals place restrictions on accessing via their node, perhaps by the radio frequencies or passwords I am again internet-less. I agree in principal as the  infrastructure, the equipment needs to be provided and paid for.
But, as in many cases, service providers overcharge for this access. 
Take making and receiver telephone calls when out of one’s own providers country, they are making a fortune out of travellers, data access via smartphones and tablet and mobile computing is excessively expensive.
Then there are the hotels that already have the access points, so the infrastructure has been paid for and they pay a set fee to the internet service providers for access, yet charge their guests extortionate prices for access, maybe 25 euro per day.
Yesterday I was returning from Spain to the UK, and my slot for the radio broadcast coincided with me being at the airport in Malaga preparing for boarding, but I would have time to do the interview.
Although I have a UK internet dongle for my computer, I could not afford nearly one hour international data connection charge to the USA. I tried to purchase a Spanish providers internet dongle at a cost of 49 euro, excessive cost, but non were available, so many travellers had my idea.
Surely there would be access via WiFi at the airport?
With half an before my slot, after booking-in and going through security, I sought internet access, and the only one available was Telefonica, the biggest Spanish broadband and telecommunication provider. I was able to access their login page or registration web page and found it very confusing as it was in Spanish, another language I do not speak, then I eventually found a tab for the English language, but pressing the tab I received the message in Spanish, page not available.
Fifteen minutes to go.
Not to be outdone, I asked a Spanish lady for help, who could not quite understand what I wanted, one hours worth of access to the internet. “this is not possible” was her replies to my requests, and her friends agreed with her.
Ten minutes to go.
I knew I was right, one hours worth of internet access is available.
I persuaded her to keep helping me gain access, and I led her through the web pages, until we found a registration page, for name and other details. A great debate took place as to where I placed my first name and my family name, plus other information.
Five minutes to go, still time.
I came to the entry of passport number, now I had to find my passport. People around me wondering what this madman was so anxious about.
Done, three minutes to go.
Credit card ready.
Assess refused, I needed a Spanish passport.
One minute to go, and there was no way I could gain access to the internet and my radio program.
Oh poo poo.
Modern communication works, “IF ONLY”.
Sorry for not making the slot.

Slingbox to Telewest or Virgin Media TVDrive

I love gadgets and to be able to watch UK TV when I am travelling around the world.

I am a firm lover of Slingbox, as I travel abroad a lot and watch UK TV in the hotels via my PC. I also have a home in Malaysia, and with Sling Turbo and Sling Catcher, I can watch UK TV on my 32″ Malaysian TV. OK, when I sit down to watch TV in Malaysia in the evening it is early morning in the UK (8 hours difference).

The problem arose when I was say in Turkey and wanted to watch BBC1 and my wife was in the UK home wanting to watch ITV1, two different channels, there would be a fight as I changed the channel and she changed it back.

To overcome the above I rent a second cable box from Virgin Media which is dedicated to the original Slingbox Clasic.

I decided to experiment with the newer Sling Media Solo attached to the other Virgin Media (TeleWest) TVDrive cable box.

I have my TV connected to the TVDrive via the HDMI cable. That leaves output available from the TVDrive to the Singbox Solo via the SCART (A/V, SD), S-Video, or Component (SD) outlets, and I spent even more money on more cables to try to get remote viewing via the PC working.

I could obtain a very acceptable video and audio signal on my PC remotely, and from my remote PC, control the TVDrive cable box back home, i.e. turn the cable box on and off, BUT, there is no text overlay, i.e. menu, information, shown on the PC when hitting the remote control on my PC, YET, the text overlay appears on the TV back at home.

The answer so far is before leaving home switch the output on the TVDrive to SCART, but then my wife complains about the quality of picture she is watching on the home TV.


Not the answer. Back to the drawing board.

Great product, great service from Sling Media, but I cannot believe I am the first one to have this problem.


Electronics NLP Thoughts

Energy Saving Lights, becoming environmentaly friendly

Let me continue on from Light in our life, Energy Saving Lamps, LED’s and incandescent light bulbs.

The filament type or incandescent light bulbs in the house in Bukit Mertajam, Malaysia, keep on blowing or failing. This is perhaps as they are cheap and low quality, and we have many bulbs in each light fitting. It is a constant battle to replace bulbs. 

Each bulb is 40 Watts, so in the photograph below, there are 13 bulbs, equaling 520 Watts of power consumption. Lowering that by 80% by fitting Energy Saving Lamps would be quite a saving in energy consumption and money spent on electricity. OK, there is the initial outlay to purchase the Energy Saving Lamps.

In one room, three light fittings in BM house,
two ceiling each with 6 bulbs
one wall light with one bulb.
520 watts.

As an experiment I decided to replace one ceiling light unit of six bulbs with Energy Saving Lamps. Each Energy Saving Lamp being 9 Watts, equivalent to 40 Watts in the incandescent light bulb, that is the same amount of light.

Once fitting new lamps, the change in the light was amazing. Pure white light, daylight, compared to the old filament lights which gave a yellow tinge to the light.

Then I noticed that two of the Energy Saving Lamps appeared much dimmer than the other four. Looking into why, thinking I must have purchased different Wattage lamps, I found that there are two types of Energy Saving Lamps, “Daylight” and “Warmwhite”.

Now that is something I did not know existed, two types of lamp. Look at the lables next time.

As I tested the lamps by switching them on and of, why I do that I have no idea, there was a load bang, and the trip switch on the main power supply to the house triggered, and the lights went out.

Investigating I found that one lamp had failed.

Oh Poo Poo. Buy cheap and you get cheap.

In the longterm, is it wise to by cheap, as the product never lasts long?

As I removed the failed lamp it fell apart, revealing the electronics inside.

Wow, it amazed me how many components were there. No wonder the lamps cost so much.

The internal components of an Energy Saving Lamp

That made me think.

How much energy has there been expended to manufacture the circuit board, each individual component?

How much manpower with its’ associated power consumption was used to put the circuit board together?

I realised how little I knew about the workings of a Energy Saving Lamp.

And that got me thinking about other things to follow.

Um? I wonder if we go through life like that, only looking at the finished product, the outer skin, not knowing how it works, what makes it do what it does?

Books Electronics Thoughts

Being in the right place at the right time

I seem to have some knack of being in the right place at the right time, not all the time, but often enough for me to take notice.

Many years ago, after years of working for computer manufacturers and end users, I was ready to leave the computer industry, to try something new.

I had an interest in how the human brain worked, after all, I had been trying to replicate it for many years, getting computers to emulate what humans were doing in the offices, hospitals, hotels, etc. I also had an interest in hypnosis, how did it work, what was the process.

I happened one day to pick-up a newspaper on a train, one I never usually read, and I scanned through it, noticing an advert by Paul McKenna selling his course to learn hypnosis. That course was my first introduction to hypnosis.

Why did I pick that one newspaper on that one day and see that advert, for something that has led me on a very successful new career.

Why was it that I received an email from Ormond McGill and Jerry Valley inviting me to a course in LA to learn Stage Hypnosis? Me, not others in the UK.

Why is it that I have worked with the greats of personal knowledge learning, Tony Buzan, Richard Bander, John Grindler, Win Wenger, Gianni Golfera, and the many more people?

Here in Bukit Mertajam, Malaysia, I had set-up the new Sling products, SlingCatcher and SlingTurbo, allowing me to connect to my cable box in the flat in Norbiton Hall, Kingston upon Thames in the UK to watch live British TV and listen to live radio.

I happened to key-in a channel, I never listen to the radio via the cable box, and there was Tim Lichfield broadcasting on Absolute Radio (listen live) in the early UK hours.

Tim Lichfield DJ on Absolute Radio

I had taught Tim Stage Hypnosis a couple of years early, and found him to be a eager learner and a great guy.

I dropped him a line just to say hi, only for him to give us a mention on air. Strange to be able to listen be involved with something from the other side of the world.

Why did I happen upon that radio channel?

There will be a reason I know, either for Tim or myself.


Electronics Travels

Norton 360 v Kasperski Internet Security

I have written about may problems with the Internet security, virus and spam software offered by Symantec called Norton 360, of how the software would not stay active, protecting me against virus and spam attacks in previous blogs. See entries My ‘annus mirabilis’, A day of travel , and I hate Computers .

An old friend, Nick Milonakis, a Greek national, A blast from the past , sent me a recommendation for a new software called Kasperski.

I have loaded and used Kasperski internet security now for over a month, and all my troubles with Norton 360 have disappeared. Thank you Nick. I can now go to the airport, get on the WiFi and surf the internet, download my emails.

I had never heard of Kasperski before Nick told me about it. But walking around a local PCWorld shop, I spied a display of the software. On asking an assistant about Kasperski software, he said that in his opinion, and the awards it had received, it was the best on the market. He added that one offering had dropped in popularity, (Mcfee) as they were not keeping-up with protection against new virus and spams, and that Norton 360, seemed to have lost the plot, that they had problems which were not being resolved, whereas, Kasperski were on top.

Why then were PCWorld still promoting Norton’s software on every shelf?

Why were PCWorld offering half price deals on Norton 360?

Perhaps they have a special deal from Norton, giving them more profit.

Perhaps they have a contract to sell so many packs.

Perhaps there is more commission to be earned by the sales people.

Perhaps they know that the general public often do not complain if things do not work.

Perhaps they know that Norton will bring out a replacement in a few months, so the problems will disappear.

Perhaps they know that the vast majority of purchasers will not realise that the software does not protect their computers as the package purports to do.

Perhaps they have buried their head in the sand, hoping the problems of Norton 360 will disappear.

I recommend Kasperski internet software from my own experiences, and you can by it from Amazon, or download it from Kaspersky.

  Buy from Amazon                                  Download from Kaspersky

Books Electronics Travels

To empty my Brain

With the long hours I do presenting and training, continually calibrating with the participants and translators, working out my next move, my future moves, my language, I need space in the evening as I am exhausted, my brain needs to relax and switch off.

A participant once said I am like an actor whilst I train, but on top of that, I am the writer, the producer, the director, the theatre manager, the stage manager, sound engineer and catering manager. It is true.

But I love my job.

In the evening, I could have a relaxing meal and conversation with someone I know, or take a wrap, Simit or sandwich back to my hotel room.

I can switch-on the TV, but mostly there will be only two English language channels, CNN and/or the BBC. Once you have seen the news once, that is it, I do not wish to see it again, and again, and again.

If the hotel has free internet access, then I have a great solution. Slingbox.

Slingbox from Sling Media, is a way I can watch British TV anywhere in the world for free, it will change the way we watch TV in the future I am sure, the same as VoiP and Skype have changed the way we can telephone the world at very cheap prices or for free.

Slingbox is a box full of electronics looking like a block of chocolate, that connects to your satellite or cable TV box in your home, then to your broadband connection, not your computer but the router. The Slingbox is then given its’ own internet address, which is secure, that then allows you to access and control your satellite or cable TV box, downloading the TV signal to your computer logged onto the internet anywhere in the world.

You can control which program you wish to watch, in fact it is just like having the home TV controller in your hand.

The main trouble for this is if someone else is watching a program at home and you want to watch another channel. But that can be fun.

You can get the Slingbox here  

Electronics Travels

Skype and Dualphone 3088 – Follow Up

Since my troubles with Skype and the Dualphone 3088 blog (click here to read), I have some good news.

I persevered with trying to solve the connection, not finding the base unit problems, and eventually the base unit found the internet through the router. I kept the handset and the base unit switched off for a couple of days.

Since then the Dualphone 3088 has performed well, allowing access to free communication to other Skype users around the world, and I consider some of the cheapest international calls available.

Now I would recommend this unit with the latest software download.

Electronics NLP Travels

Skype and Dualphone 3088

I am a technoholic. I love gadgets. If it fits what I want and new, I must have it.

My NLP strategy is simple. V,K,A,K. Looping around K and A, until I get that internal urge.

I also am a firm believer in VoiP (Voice over the internet Protocol), especially Skype, ( (Pronounce without the “E” on the end).

Skype Me(tm)!

This technology allows people with internet access, speakers and microphone, and a computer, to talk for free as if it were  normal telephone, using free software. I also allows people to chat via the keyboard and screen.

An advantage of Skype is that there is a free version for your PDA or mobile phone. If you can find a free WiFi hotspot, and your phone is capable of connecting, you can make free or cheap calls.

Perhaps not all your friends are on the internet, do not have Skype installed, then what do you do?

Use your access to Skype as a normal phone, calling you friend’s landline or mobile phone with SkypeOut.

This service connects you to the internet, routes the call you wish to make over the internet, then it emerges near your friend landline phone, in what ever country they live, thus you only pay for a local call (approximately, sometimes cheaper), and the quality is just as good as a normal telephone line.

You can even purchase a special Skype telephone number, SkypeOut, you can call mine 0208 816 7962, and as long as you are logged into Skype on a computer, anyone can, call that number, and I will receive it, no matter where I am in the world.

This is all very well, but it requires a computer to be on all the time. Expensive and I am thinking, Global Warming.

So I come across a new product, the Dualphone 3088 a phone that you can connect to the normal PSN (Public Service Network) landline, and via a supplied transmitter base unit, which is attached to the internet router, becomes a stand alone Skype phone. 

Now you can receive and make either a normal telephone call or cheap Skype calls from the same wire free hand unit.

I have to have it. I set it up, and it works. For three weeks. Then it will not connect to the base unit for internet access. 

After 35 years in the computer industry, having studied computing and business at Brunel University, I have a little knowledge of software and hardware. I can build my own radio transmitters and receivers as a Radio Ham, call sign, G8YJQ. 

I tried everything I know to resolve the problem. I reset the base unit, the handset, the two routers I have installed, remove the power supply, re cable, and reread the installation manual and advanced trouble shooting  web pages. Nothing.

I contact the manufacturers support helpline. They give me instructions that cannot be achieved, to change settings of the base unit, but that can only be done if I have a connection, and I do not. Me thinks a standard reply to problems that they send out.

I search the internet for a solution and come across a Dualphone 3088 forum, where users of the unit post comments. It is full of complaints. Yes there are many with the same problem I have, but no answer of how to overcome it. I find a similar forum on Skype, and yes entries are there too with the same problem, and no answers.

Obviously there are a major faults in the Dualphone 3088, hardware (firmware) or software, and they have been known for months.

Yet, these two companies continue to promote and sell the unit. Why?

Undaunted, I spend hours trying to get the Dualphone 3088 to work.

Why wont the base unit connect to the router, yet the landline function works?

Why wont the base unit reset, even after removing the power supply?

Then success. I did nothing different to what I had done many times, the base unit connected to the router, and then the handset connected to the base unit.

I am back on-line.

Sometimes it is better to wait until the new has become old, all the faults have been found and corrected, a new release has been issued.

Sometimes it is better to wait unit the price comes down. First releases are often very expensive, as the suppliers try and recoup their investment.

Wait until you have reviewed feedback from previous users, ask others, look at web sites. for my training.

Will I ever learn?

Skype Me(tm)!Phillip Holt’s Skype name nlpnow.

Other offerings of VoiP are MSN (, Fring (, EQO (, SoonR (, AvanTiMobile (, to name but a few. Many ISP’s (Internet Service Providers)  also offer their own version of VoiP.