No more www

Following a link in the WordPress Dashboard, I stumbled upon the No WWW website, which explains why we should all drop the prefix www. on domain names. As I had a mixture of both, I went through all my posts/pages and updated them to reflect that philosophy. If you come across something that stopped working, I would very much appreciate that you contact me and tell me about it.

An ode to the left lane

My new job is so local that I can almost see the office from my bedroom window. Commuting to work will consist of a 5 minute walk (and 10 minutes to recuperate ;)), instead of driving 65 miles each morning (and evening of course). One thing I will definitely not miss… the middle lane morons.

Middle lane f*cking morons

They really make my blood boil, and make me wish I’d drove a big old uninsured Ford F150 with whopping big bull bars, just so I can shove them out of the way with force. Why is it so damn hard to move back into the left lane when you’ve overtaken the car in front of you?

Left lane, I salute you!

The sun always shines on TV

After a month of agonising waiting I can finally reveal…

I’ve got a new job! Woohoo!

Dilbert

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Revamp

A change for the better? I think so :)

Mr Popular

And then to think I never had any friends at school ;)

Seems that some MAKE users have finally found my website, and in the space of three weeks have discovered my old TiVo project (as reported on MAKE: Blog) and the digital picture frame laptop (as reported on MAKE: Blog). Won’t be long before they discover the Xbox IR mod too and break my bandwidth limit for this month :D

Buy me :)

Pride and joy

See the ad on PistonHeads or eBay

Aaargghhh, the tension!

There’s only so much a person can take, and I think I can take no more…

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BRISKODA Czech Trek 2007

So we drove all the way to the Czech Republic just to go to a museum? You bet we did! :D

Wednesday, 12th of September

Meeting up at Dover01:00 Nick and I started our journey, which saw us meet up at the Dover terminal around midnight. A slight delay with the previous ferry meant that we couldn’t join the queue until later, but at least ours would be going on time.

On the ferry09:00 Here we go! The journey has finally begun, and we were looking forward to a day of driving… Once off the ferry, it was a fairly straightforward journey to the Dutch/German border where we met up with Glenn and Mark. We still don’t understand how some got lost on the route :D

Arrived at the Czech border16:00 Another couple of hours later, and with Nick and I sharing the driving (or should that say, tearing down) on the German Autobahns our progress was good… so good in fact, we thought we would be the first to arrive at the German/Czech border. You can imagine our surprise when we arrived to find Will and his little yellow Fabia parked up already!

18:00 We finally made it to the hotel, and after dumping the bags into the hotel we went to find our “secure parking”. It seems that secure has a different meaning in the Czech dictionary, so we ended up having to park the cars in front of the hotel…

Thursday, 13th of September

The Old Town Square11:00 An early start (Nick snores as much as I do :D) today as we head into Prague to do some sightseeing. There is no avoiding the tourist attractions, so we act like them. We visit Charles Bridge, the Astronomical Clock and many, many touristy shops.

14:30 Later that afternoon we visited the Staropramen Brewery, which, tasting experience aside, was rather underwhelming. Oh well, at least we got some free beer ;)

Friday, 14th of September

Skoda Museum10:30 A short drive to Mladá Boleslav today as we are visiting the homeland… the Škoda Auto Museum. A great selection of previous models and their history, but I think most of us will remember it for one thing… our tour-guide ;)

After the Museum, we briefly (read: rushed) through the factory next door, and whilst we were waiting on our Czech SkodaHome friends (to guide us to Mimon airfield), we were greeted by a big-shot of Skoda who was wondering why there were 20 UK Skoda’s parked up :)

Mimon15:00 Finally, the much discussed, legendary, Mimon airfield… and boy was it good! A stretch of tarmac as wide as three expanded M1’s stitched together and about 2 miles long meant we were able to push the cars almost to their V-max. I managed to do a couple of runs hitting 150mph before a white Felicia bearing the words Policie told us to go away :( Nick had just pulled out to do his run, so he was properly gutted. We’ll have another go after Doksy though :)

21:30 The whole group went out for dinner at a restaurant. Although it seemed a great idea at the time, it turned out to be a bit of a disaster. They totally couldn’t cope with 40+ rowdy customers and although the alcohol was served pretty quick, the food lagged behind :(

Saturday, 15th of September

Doksy10:00 Welcome to Doksy, home of the tuned Skoda. It was reassuring to see that they’ve got barry boys too ;) Although I do quite like the rally oriented older models, restored to their previous glory.

14:00 We’ve joined a convoy of about 100 Skoda’s to drive a small (!) route and scare the locals… Loz has quite a pretty voice ;)

Mimon group picture15:30 More Mimon action! This time without any interference of the local constabulary, and with plenty of runs for everyone.

Sunday, 16th of September

Jewish quarter11:00 Time does fly when you’re having fun… it’s the last day already! Steve, Hayley, Nick and I decided to team up and visit Prague again, although it wasn’t for long until Nick and I got bored of waiting for Hayley and her crystal addiction ;) so we split up and whilst they continued shopping, we went to look for the Jewish quarter.

In the evening we swapped the Italian for the Chinese and had a food-feast for peanuts. I could easily live here ;)

Monday, 17th of September

Traffic07:30 Back home again :( The journey went smooth, although traffic around Frankfurt and Brussels was appalling, so we didn’t make an earlier ferry (for which we initially would have arrived in time for).

20:01 On the ferry we heared that Chris had been stopped for speeding in Germany, receiving a €400 fine. Ouch! Those who took a small detour around the Nürburgring had to settle for the midnight ferry and by the time they arrived home, I was almost ready for work again :( Bring on next year!

Enjoy all the pictures in the gallery

Not long now

Only one day in fact :)

Czech Trek Route

The car is ready, the camera has been charged and the suitcase is (almost) packed… Bring it on!

Whoohoo!

Just received a call from APS… the car is ready! I’ll be picking it up tomorrow morning and with 5 working days left (about 600 miles of commuting miles) it gives me plenty of time to make sure it doesn’t fail on the way to the Czech Republic :)

I’d like to express my biggest gratitude ever to Nathan, Ed and Andy over at APS for sorting me out in such a short time with no notice at all.

Last straw

Having just received the quotes to get the gearbox replaced again, I’ve decided that once it has been repaired and has seen me through the Czech Trek, it will be up for sale. Owning a modified car is not without its pitfalls :(

Oh, and happy birthday to me ;)

Noooooooooo (repeat ad infinitum)

Can you flipping believe it? With less than 2 weeks until the trip to the Czech Republic the gearbox is broken again!

Czech it out

Only two weeks now, before we set off to the Czech Republic to visit the Škoda Museum and the Škoda Tuning show in Doksy. As there will be 20 cars going, I thought I’d make myself a bit more visible on the road ;)

Stickered up for the Czech Trek Stickered up for the Czech Trek Stickered up for the Czech Trek Stickered up for the Czech Trek Stickered up for the Czech Trek Stickered up for the Czech Trek Stickered up for the Czech Trek Stickered up for the Czech Trek

You can see the rest (and more) in the gallery

Edit R.I.P. 1989 – 2007

Edit

We will miss you lots!

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Dell Ighted!

Just checked my card balance today, and I’ve just received a credit for £11.75 from Dell UK (in case you’re wondering why they would issue this, see this post for the reason). Will they add the 2nd refund later, or have they conveniently forgotten it? To be continued… ;)



Update 23.8.2007

Still no sign of that promised 2nd refund… A polite email is already heading their way :)

Update 4.9.2007

Finally! This morning (after chasing this for the past month) the 2nd £11.75 arrived on my credit card. About time too!

Red Bull Air Race

Red Bull Air Race visits London

I thought it was kind of odd to come across so many Seat Leon’s with Red Bull Air Race decals on them, but now I know why…

They’ve been practising for most of the afternoon, despite the appalling weather, and the sound of the plane engines going pfhooaaar, pfhnaaaar the whole time is really starting to get on my nerves. How am I supposed to concentrate on my work with such distractions?

Dell Icious!

Dell Dimension C521A few weeks back I bought a nice new Dell Dimension C521 baseunit (AMD X2 3600+, etc, etc) to replace my homebrew server with the intention of running several VM’s on it using Ubuntu as the operating system of choice. I’ve been using Ubuntu for quite a while now (deflecting from Gentoo as that proved a little more maintenance heavy than I was looking for) and so I had no intention what-so-ever to use the included Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic installation that came with the PC. As there have been several successful reports in the media of people getting a refund for the forced Microsoft inclusion, I though it was worth a punt over here too.




I contacted Dell UK using the contact form on the website and wrote to them the following:

Hi,

I’ve just taken delivery of my Dimension C521 which came with a copy of the Microsoft Vista Basic operating system. As I will be using the Ubuntu linux operating system, I have not agreed to the Microsoft EULA and installed Ubuntu linux on the PC. Could you please forward me an address where I can send the Microsoft Vista Basic operating system CD to for a refund? Please note, I am not looking to return my PC, just the accompanying Microsoft operating system.

I hit the Submit button and the website told me to expect a reply within 24 hours…

So imagine my surprise that I received a reply within 4 hours from Dell:

Thank you for contacting Dell on-line customer care.

Please be informed that you need not return the CD and I will arrange for the refund of £10, which is the cost of the CD.

I will call you on 27th July with an update regarding the same. If you have any further queries do not hesitate in responding directly to this mail and I will be glad to assist you further.

Woohoo! Result!

Of course, by now I had realised that I had forgotten to mention the Microsoft Works 8.5 CD that came with the order, so I replied with:

Thank you very much for the quick reply. Is it also possible to receive a refund for the Microsoft Works 8.5 CD that came with my PC? Again, I am quite happy to return the CD unopened to you if you forward me an address to send it to.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained ;)

Sure enough, within 30 minutes another reply arrived:

Further to your email, Iam also arranging for the refund of £10 for the works CD. I will call you on 27th with an update regarding the refund.

Please be informed that you need not return the CD. If you have any further queries do not hesitate in responding directly to this mail and I will be glad to assist you further.





How easy was that? It is comforting to know that true customer care still exists, although it would have been a whole lot easier if Dell UK just provided a tick box on their website to decline the operating system when ordering.

The last of the Cannonballs?

Cannonball Run Europe 2007Could today’s start of the Cannonball Run Europe be the last one to be held in the UK? It has almost certainly been toned down after the Gumball 3000 was terminated earlier this year after 2 people died in Macedonia. No stickers, no burnouts and pretty much no exotic cars apart from a few. I’m not sure if we’re going to bother to find out when next years event is going to be.

See for yourself in the gallery

Packed up and left

Yup, it’s another one of those I have moved posts… Will I ever find myself a permanent home?

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Driving god

Well not quite, but I’m getting there ;)

taking a break

See the pictures in the gallery

DS Automotives

Just wanted to say: THANKS! Despite the attempts of Royal Mail to sabotage my cars clutch fitting, they persevered and got it ready with plenty of time to spare for the trackday. Go visit them and buy something expensive

Geared up

After two weeks I have to admit defeat and give up my quest for a 6 speed gearbox to replace the broken 5 speed. Once again Dave comes to the rescue by offering his old 5 speed and Sachs clutch for a friendly price, so tomorrow the car will be towed/pushed/driven to DS Automotives where they are going to do the work. Also asked them to replace the front brake pads as one of them is bordering dangerous. At least I’m now going to be ready in time for the trackday

FIA GT series

Silverstone was home to the FIA GT series this weekend, and we were there to witness it all. Although the weather wasn’t particularly spectacular, it was dry and I still managed to walk away a lobster.

I tried for ages to get one of the fire spitting Lamborghini’s on my D50, but my photographing skills are none existing, so I settled for this Aston Martin instead ;)

Aston Martin

You can view the other 298 pictures in the gallery

Cooked

KaputOh deary me. Yesterday was just an ordinary day, but the ending was far from it. I set off for home, driving as normal (like a granny ;)) and once on the M11 I started to shift up through the gears until I had to change from 4th to 5th. Except that my gear stick was not to be persuaded to move out of number 4… at all :(

KaputI managed to get all the way up to J20 on the M25 in 4th gear, but getting onto the A41 turned to be impossible without stopping. Fortunately I was able to get going from standstill (in 4th!) but halfway up the A41, I got stuck uphill in a traffic jam which meant I had to admit defeat until the traffic cleared. I could not afford to stop too many times along the way.

After an hour or so I went on my way again and this time I made it home (eventually) with only 1 long stop at the bottom of the A41. By the time I had reached home, the clutch was completely burned out. Smells lovely though… NOT!

Moving again

Just a quick note to say that the website is going to be wrapped up and moved again sometime in the next couple of weeks. Colin has ordered a brand spanking new server and tomorrow we’ll make the first steps towards the installation of it. I’m very tempted to ditch the whole Mambo, uhm Joomla installation and go for WordPress. I’m using WordPress on another site already, and it is slightly less difficult to maintain… or I may just leave it as it is. Can you tell I haven’t decided yet?

Adding infrared to the Xbox

Xbox XIR Easy KitThe original Xbox makes, after a great games console, a fantastic versatile media player with the help of Xbox Media Center, or XBMC. You will need to chip or softmod your Xbox (there are a million guides/opinions on the internet so do some Googling) and a copy of the XBMC application. To fully appreciate XBMC, you also need to buy the DVD playback kit which allows you to control the Xbox using a remote control. The only problem is that Microsoft in its infinite wisdom decided that it doesn’t need the facility to switch the Xbox on remotely. As we are a generation of couch potatoes that is obviously not on!




Various solutions have been invented, but by far the easiest and most elegant one is the XIR Easy Kit, available from www.XIR.us. At $35.65 (£18.68 at today’s rate) it also makes it a bit of a bargain, so there really is no reason to fiddle with anything else.

You can read the pictorial here

Booked

Just booked the Hullavington day with Motorsport Events. Let the countdown begin ;)

Hullavington

Not sure how you pronounce it, hell-of-a-tone, but it’s the venue of the next BRISKODA trackday. Friday the 1st of June we’ll hopefully have 30 or so Skoda’s tearing up the track and burn some rubber. It will also be the first opportunity for me to put the car on the track and see what she can do. A shame it isn’t Bruntingthorpe, but as that has been closed down by the residents on grounds of noise levels, it will have to do :)

Merry Christmas!

Snow

Only 2 months late ;)

We suffered the biggest snowfall in ages (granted, that doesn’t take much) and after spending 3 hours on the road to travel 12 miles I had to admit defeat and return home

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