Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hen night

K went to a hen night on Sat. It was in the style of the 1940s as they were going to a themed club in town. K, along with a few others, got their hair sorted in the morning and then dressed up. Got to admit - they all looked very nice indeed!

M's new flat...

We went to Brighton today to see my brother's new flat and wish him a happy birthday. The flat is awesome - he has an outdoor area on the roof right outside his bedroom which is just fantastic. We got him a funky kettle that looks like stainless-steel but goes transparent when you switch it on and has a blue light inside :)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The TIKI is everywhere

In Aberdeen at the moment on a day-trip. Spotted this in the airport cafe...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

400D Firmware Update to 1.0.5

Canon released a firmware update a while ago for the 400D. I found a few moments this afternoon to flash mine. First visit and download the firmware here: CANON FIRMWARE. Now extract it to a flash card you formatted in the camera. Making sure you have a full battery (it wont let you flash if the battery is not full) turn the camera on in P mode and go to the menu. In settings2 select the firmware (mine was 1.0.4) and choose to update. Now just follow the instructions - simple!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fingerprint reader

After more than a month of complaining Dell finally delivered the promissed replacement laptop with a finger-print reader built in. It took a while to set up but works pretty well. I can now start my machine and using only a finger log in to windows - nice!

Monday, April 23, 2007

MINI in again!

I was driving over the weekend when all of a sudden the clutch went. I mean, it went! The pedal went to the floor and I couldn't select any gear. There was nothing more I could do other than to push the car to the side of the road. Luckily I was at my destination so decided to leave it overnight before recovery. The odd thing is that after an hour I returned and the pedal was back's been driving fine ever since. I took it into MINI again today - they looked at it with puzzled looks and pronounced nothing wrong. Bit coincidental seeing as it had a new clutch, hydraulics and gearbox only last week.... It felt like I had boiled the hydraulic fluid - the question is HOW???

Friday, April 20, 2007

ICS - live

I spent a few weekends last year designing a website for some friends at ICS. After much word changing it finally went live today. I managed to do all the menus in CSS alone making it quite trim.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My first commercially used photo...

Have a look at the new site for the George Hotel in Cheltenham. Guess who took the photo on the front page :) Shot using my 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM and 400D. Didn't charge them anything for it - just nice to see a shot being used.


I was looking through my ip-cam records and spotted this from 04:00 this morning. OK, ok - it isn't aliens, more a car reversing into a parking slot. Looks freaky though!!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Out with the new and in with the old...

So - I got my MINI back from the shop yesterday evening. The damage was a new clutch AND a new gearbox after only 37k miles (luckily all under warantee). I had to drive to Cheltenham today which gave me plenty of time to compare the old-new-MINI with the new-new-MINI that I had been driving for the last 3 days over 700 miles to Cornwall and back. Lets call them 'my MINI' and the 'new MINI' to save confusion...

So, there were several things that impressed and several that dissapointed on the new MINI. We'll start positively...

SUSPENSION: The new MINI has much improved ride and handling. No more crashing over potholes and far more comfort from the rear when you drive over speedbumps. At the same time it remains connected to the road and confidence building. This is the most impressive thing about the new car.

STEERING: This is by far the WORST thing about the new MINI. The steering is detached and heavy. You have to heave it into a corner at which point it then over-powers and runs off with you leaving you to over-correct mid-corner. After 3 days and 700 miles I still could not get it 100% right. When driving straight ahead the steering feels sticky. A slight movement to one side or the other is not corrected when releaseing pressure on the wheel and as such, especially if driving one-handed, you are contsntly correcting the car. It prooved exhausting over a long motorway drive.

ENGINE: A mixed bag here. There is NOTHING below 1,500 rpm leaving you often caught out at roundabouts. Once the revs rise there is a sudden surge of power (almost turbo-like) which continues to the red-line. The best part is a massive increase in fuel economy. My MINI One managed 45mpg on motorways. The new MINI Cooper managed nearly 55mpg! WOW.

STYLING: Well, there are parts I like (the better designed bootspace for example) and parts I hate (the speedo). Overall the car feels far bigger and heavier from inside. The heightened wasteline reduces perceived visability but seems to reduce the road noise by quite a bit.

So, overall a real mix of likes and dislikes. For me my MINI wins the 'overall package' prize but I expect that when the time comes it will not worry to much to change to the newer one. Shame about that speedo though....

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My new ride

After A LOT of hassle I finally got a replacement car for the week. Turns out to be a new NEW MINI Cooper which is nice. I can finally get an extedned test drive and compare it to my current model. I immediately like the key and 6-speed gearbox and immediately dislike the styling and lack of toys....

It's DEAD!

My MINI is dead. The MINI guy listened to it for 10 seconds and pronounced it should drive no further. Something terminal with the clutch mechanism meaning it needs a new one asap. Am now arranging to have it taken away and a new car arranged. My poor MINI!!!

A small problem...

My MINI is sick. I first noticed a grinding/ticking noise at idle on Sunday from the near side of the engine bay. I figured it was maybe the air-con or something. However, by Mon it was loud enough that K noticed it and you could hear it inside. It dissapears when you press the clutch in indicating it may be the flywheel, cluth release or clutch thrust bearing. A few digs on the net shows this to be a common problem - sometimes on cars straight from the factory. What I cannot find is if it is safe to drive or not (i.e. will my 700 mile trip to Cornwall this week make it worse or damage it further).

I called MINI Stevenage who were the most unhelpful service dept. ever. "Can I bring it in for a 5 min lookover", said I. "Absolutely not" where the actual words I heard back. "We are fully booked due to the bank holiday weekend". I then called MINI Bury St. Edmunds where the service guy talked to me for 5 mins trying to diagnose over the phone. He then offered to look at it if I could drop it in. After explaining I was 60 miles away he suggested I call MINI Emergency Assistance to get them out to look at it. I am now waiting around for then to arrive.

Will let you know what it turns out to be...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Kick the Baby!

You've seen Ike on South Park - well, here it is for real! OK, not really. No baby was harmed during the making of this blog. M was trying to do a handstand and R posed for the photo oppertunity - hillarious!

K got her top off...

It was sooo hot today that K finally took the entire top off her car - side supports and all. We went for a drive to enjoy it - I now want the roof to come off my MINI.

Flash Earth

Check out this simple mapping site - uses the best of all services currently available:

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Lytton Beer Festival

Once again the Lytton is in the midst of one of its beer festivals. With some 40 or so casks on display and detailed tasting notes we had a great night. I *must* remember to have halfs next time so I can remember how the later drinks tasted ;)

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I figured I could speed up my video and image data by installing a RAID Stripe (0) set for my data disks. Only problem is that the SATA ports can either all be RAID or none at all. This, of course, means I have to reinstall the OS with the drivers up front. I tried some trickery but all I got for my efforts was BSOD. So - as you can see the drivers need to be loaded from a floppy - luckily I found one hanging around in my cupboard.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Ciao Ciao!

This week I am in Milan, Italy. Spending a few days with the guys from TeraDP in order to be trained on the web publishing toolset. This will be the final piece of the puzzle after spending the last few months getting up to speed on all the related technology. The flight over was ok (well, as ok as you can get for Ryan-Air) and the bus from the airport took just over an hour - so not too bad. The guys here have recently moved office and the new building is a great improvement. The best bit is the new coffee machine :)