All entries for May 2005

May 31, 2005

Motoring week: Second entry

Well it's about a week on since I last published an entry in this category, so here goes…

It's been a mixed week really, as regards motoring. Until Saturday morning, I didn't think I'd have anything to write about at all, which was beginning to worry me as it would have been an embarrasing flop on what is only the second week of existence of this category. My fears were unfounded. Saturday morning at about 7AM, seriously tired and buzzing on exam stress, I had the most fantastic drive ever into university, achieved by the good weather, lack of traffic, adrenaline being in my blood anyway and not least because I've been given the Matrix Reloaded soundtrack by someone who didn't want it. In goes disc two at the maximum volume my car stereo will put out before distortion (which is a fair bit, since I have a non-standard ICE install), and oh. My. God. Everyone who's into driving and music like that found in the Matrix films should try this when fired up, and see what the effects are. I truly didn't care much about my exam by the time I got to uni, which in retrospect was probably not a good thing…

Also of course, the new series of Top Gear continued. I was out on Sunday evening (went to Birmingham to see a show with some friends to celebrate the end of exams – a lot of boring motorway driving there. The show was quite interesting though and I think I scared George for life on the drive to my house, I ended up covering the journey from Canley to BI to Chris's house in about 35 minutes, including a 5 minute stop at home, which is some going), so of course the video recorder was set instead. I didn't like the Maserati MC12 all that much, I personally think the styling's a bit off, and for the money I'd get a Zonda Roadster instead. Or maybe a fleet of XJRs! But I liked the used car feature – was oddly enough considering a Jaguar XJS to replace the Escort this autumn. The shortlist is an XJ (the X300 - built from '94 to '97, preferrably a supercharged 'R'), XJS, X-Type 3.0 or a Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo. Right now I'm leaning towards the Nissan, as the XJ and XJS are both a bit suspect on maintenance costs (the XJS in particular has reliability for day-to-day use and fuel economy concerns), and they both only really come in autos, although a select few manual 4.0 XJSs are around. The X-Type is still a bit new and will therefore depreciate heavily from purchase, and in any case is significantly more expensive than the others to start out, so that's mainly what's putting me off that. Comments on helping me with a decision welcome!

This week I'm off to Silverstone Thursday to see F1 testing, and on Friday it's a 2 hour drive home to Somerset. Should be quite a bit to blog about next week then, and the week after that it's the start of my summer job, so I'll have plenty to talk about as regards driving, though of quite a different sort!


May 28, 2005

And we are done!

Follow-up to Shamelessly copying from From tractors to reactors

At last, exams for this year are over. Overall I think they went ok considering, I'm very interested (and impatient) to get my results, which I think are out on the 23rd June. Lessons learned: actually do a bit of work on your hard courses during the year, don't leave all coursework till the night before, and consider revising more than 24 hours in advance for the more taxing exams. Results to be posted when they come! Off to look at some Formula Student stuff now after Qualifying, party tonight, Formula Student tomorrow, monday and possibly tuesday, wednesday morning I have my IC engines presentation to do, thursday it's off to Silverstone to watch F1 testing, then friday I'm going home!!!! Wooo! Then the job starts on the 13th.

May 24, 2005

New category!

Well this is a new category I've created. I've had the idea for a while now, and have finally decided that the time has come to do it, after much debate over whether a blog is admissible evidence or not. Essentially, I'm going to attempt to summarise interesting things that have happened in the world of cars and my personal driving experiences over the period since I last posted an entry (probably about one a week). Note: to over 99% of the population, I appreciate that this will be a very dull and boring category. For those who are bored by it, my apologies. This is just my sad, geeky motoring journal section really, and I apologise profusely to those who don't give a damn!

Ok so interesting stuff that happened… Well last week I was on my way in for an afternoon exam (think it was my Design Techniques and Management last thursday) and spotted a DB9 had caught me up! Royal blue, gleaming… God it was gorgeous. Had to turn the radio off and wind the windows down to hear it shoot off at a junction… But anyway. Had an interesting couple of moments yesterday – going into uni at about 7:15 for FEA, had a worrying point through a village. I was half on the throttle in third gear around a corner, accelerating slightly, when the front all of a sudden decided to start pushing rather unexpectedly. A quick throttle lift-off corrected it, complete with lift-off-oversteer abound. I put it down to damp roads, but on the way back discovered that there was a huge loose gravel patch there that I hadn't spotted, because it was small and the colour of the road, which the rain had disguised. I thought it was a bit odd getting that much push at the speed I was going! Saw an accident just after that spot this morning too, old mini had a smashed up front end (right wheel assembly mostly), and a Jag XJR X300 had been going the other way with what looked like rear-end damage. God knows how that one happened, but there they were at 7:15 merrily exchanging details… Only other point of note is I saw a Massey 8480 and Cat MT865 coming the other way in convoy yesterday when on my way back from FEA. Not a sight you see every day!

In non-me car news, the new series of Top Gear started on Sunday. If you missed it, where were you! It's also now repeated Tuesdays 7–8. It was a truly fantastic episode, the Merc CLS was sexier even than I was expecting, Aygo football was hilarious (I can't believe they did that with ten brand new cars!) and the end Range Rover Sport vs Challenger 2 feature was just one of the best ever. And they chained themselves to a few buses in response to Greenpeace's Land Rover invasion. Which was comic genius!

And thus starts my motoring diary.


May 17, 2005

Revision avoidance

Writing about web page http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/lornagriffiths

Some quizzes I nicked from Lorna…





You Are Incredibly Logical


(You got 100% of the questions right)

Move over Spock – you're the new master of logic

You think rationally, clearly, and quickly.

A seasoned problem solver, your mind is like a computer!








Your English Skills:



Punctuation: 80%

Spelling: 80%

Grammar: 60%

Vocabulary: 60%

So my exam's going to go well tomorrow then…


The film quiz!

Writing about Another baton was passed. from Et tu, Bloge.

Hey everybody, look how well my revision for my next (tomorrow!) exam is going…. :-S

Last film I saw at the cinema
'Sahara'. It's fantastic and everybody should go see it. Although the book by Clive Cussler (favourite author of yours truly) was better. People should go and read this too

Last film I watched on DVD/on computer/TV etc
Watched The Italian Job yesterday afternoon to wind down from first exam. So much for Heat Transer revision Si :-(

Films I'm looking forward to seeing
Well obviously Star Wars Episode III, also want to see xXx 2, Bourne Supremacy (still haven't watched it!) and Hitchhikers Guide. Doubtless there's loads here that I've forgotten to mention

Total number of films I own
My DVD rack is 47 high and full, but the top 6 are TV ones and not films. But then I have a couple of boxed sets that aren't in the rack, so 46 DVDs in total here. And several tapes and films on my laptop from CD - -...

Five films that mean something to me
Like Victoria, I'm just going to put 5 of my most favourite films here.

1. Top Gun (a.k.a. Top Flop in my household) – This has to be my all-time favourite film. Some of the most impressive aerial photography ever shot, lots of aeroplanes and jet noises, and a kick-ass soundtrack. What more could you possibly want in a film?

2. Lethal Weapon 4 – The best of the Lethal Weapon films, of which I am a huge fan. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover are at their best here playing off against each other in an action comedy role, and Chris Rock adds further comic entertainment

3. The Matrix – Who could leave this out? Truly mind-blowing when first released because it was such a leap forward in the experience of a film. A bit of a different plot and another good soundtrack make this an all-time guaranateed classic. And god knows how many times my friends and I have watched it on film all-nighters. Good memories

4. Black Hawk Down – A moving modern warfare story. It's a very impressive film to watch, yet at the same time manages to not over-dramatise the situation and just tell it how I'd imagine it really is – all about the men on the ground, and not very pretty

5. Cruel Intentions – Just to prove that I'm not a total action junkie. An interesting plot and strong cast make this another favourite film of mine. And one of my all-time favourite soundtracks

Other mentionable films: Independence day, Good Will Hunting, Ocean's Eleven, The Fifth Element

Passing the baton...
I feel the need to vary the list ever-so-slightly, so:

Chris
Simon
Anna
Laura
Matt


May 16, 2005

This is why I view the green and liberal movement in a negative light

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4550593.stm

This was headline news on Midlands today at 6:30…

In case you can't be bothered to click the news link, Greenpeace invaded Land Rover's production line today and chained themselves to some of the vehicles on the line, halting production and causing a great big publicity mess. Now, I have nothing wrong with people who disagree with my opinion. That's why I debate things. I respect other people's viewpoints. But this kind of unlawful protest is not on, and does nothing at all for the protesters' image in the public eye (few rational people I think would condone unlawful behaviour such as this) and, more importantly, nothing for Range Rover. It creates a negative public image which is very hard to shake. And who benefits from this? Builders of the prius you might think? Not at all. People who will buy a 4×4 are spending £60k on a Range Rover will still spend £60k on a luxury 4×4, because that's what they want and they aren't going to be persuaded otherwise by a bunch of nutcases in orange boiler suits. They'll just go elsewhere to a company with a better public image if they get supply problems with their cars. So the only people that benefit from it are the likes of BMW, Mercedes etc.

So really, what's it all for? Well, the environment lobby have long had a war on the motorcar, and in recent years their scapegoat has been the 4×4. Now, put aside all your preconceptions for a moment if you will, and observe the following points:

  • 4×4 has got nothing to do with a vehicle's emissions. It is in fact the referring to the vehicle's drivetrain. The Audi A4 quattro is a 4×4. I don't have a figure to hand but I'm sure Chris will come up with some very environmentally efficient figure to prove the 2.5 litre diesel engine is a relatively good engine for the environment
  • Off-road vehicles have to be higher up than standard vehicles for ground-clearance. This makes them less aerodynamic, as they have more air resistance. Also, due to their rugged construction, complex drivetrains etc, they weigh considerably more than a standard saloon car. This makes them heavier. The increase in weight increases fuel consumption, and requires larger engines to extract acceptable levels of performance
  • While you can argue successfully that it is not necessary for many people to have an off-road vehicle, this is besides the point. It's not necessary for someone to have a 32" widescreen TV instead of a 14" TFT one, which would use far less electricity, but that doesn't mean that we should all buy 14" TFTs. The fact is, it's a matter of personal choice and taste. If you don't like that taste, then tough. It's someone else's right to buy a product legally available on the marketplace
  • The suggestion that off-road vehicles add to congestion is absurd. A big off-road vehicle has the same sized footprint as any large car. A small off-road vehicle takes up about as much road space as a smaller car – I wouldn't call a Suzuki Jimny a road hog
  • The fuel consumption of many off-road vehicles isn't that great. Fact. See above for reasons why. But that doesn't make all off-road vehicles fuel inefficient. And a large Range Rover isn't going to get that much worse economy than a large saloon like an Audi A8 or Jaguar XJR - do you really think someone with money and taste is going to buy a Prius instead of a Range Rover Vogue if they're banned? No. They'll go straight to their nearest Mercedes dealership and get an S-Class, or equivalent product
  • The advantages of off-road vehicles are rarely mentioned. They are high-up (many prefer this driving position), many are spacious (the Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90 both have 7 seats for example), they make exceptionally good towing vehicles due to their power and weight, the ground clearance is good for speed humps, the ride comfort is generally very good, many of the more expensive vehicles are offered with fantastic levels of luxury and build quality… The point is, many people like off-road vehicles for their plus points. Some of them can be met by other cars (which aren't a whole lot cheaper or more efficient anyway), some can't. Stop waging your unjust war by scapegoating a product range unfairly, specifically giving a British industry a bad name, and endangering British jobs in the process.

All reasoned comments welcome :-)


May 15, 2005

Musical meme

Writing about Musical meme from Syncspeed

Thanks for this from Simon – gives me something to do at 3AM I guess.

Total volume of music files on my computer
Accoding to windows explorer, 21.5Gb and 4,962 files. A respectable effort

The last CD I bought was
Britney Spears – Greatest hits. Insults to a minimum, if you please

Song playing right now
The Calling – Wherever you will go

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me
Here we go…

1. Summer of '69 - Byran Adams This takes me back to younger days, and is generally a great feel-good and pick me up song that's always guaranteed to put a smile on my face and inject cheerful thoughts.

2. Leaving on a Jetplane - Jewel Reminds me of many things, including Dad (unsurprisingly) and generally of those that I've parted company with. Good for a contemplative mood.

3. My immortal - Evanescence Another contemplative one, quite a bit sadder than Jewel but with much more power. Better for those low moments to remind that others are in the same boat, and to channel emotion through the music.

4. Night on Bare Mountain - Modest Mussorgsky One of my all-time favourite classical pieces. I thought a bit about which one to put in here, but this one really sums up what I like in classical music – a lot of power, drama, with variation into the quieter bits. Great for writing reports to, driving, just general listening…

5. At the river - Groove Armada This is such a gloriously chilled track. Although for many it will probably be more relevant to holidays and Ibiza, for me this represents a lazy summer evening in the garden with a barbeque and some friends, or watching the sunset on the horizon while out combining or ploughing. Both wonderfully peaceful and content memories for me, and places I love to be transported back to.

The five people I'm passing the baton onto

Lucky you guys…

Enjoy!


May 14, 2005

Shamelessly copying

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

Well I'm meant to be revising and have nothing better to do, and when I came across this I thought I might as well give it a go…

In case you don't visit the trackback, Chris has listed all his modules, with targets and predictions for marks. I've given overall predicted percentages for each module inclusive of coursework, the mark in brackets is what I would hoped to have gotten had I done the coursework and exam to the standard that I should have:

ES30A Fundamental Fluid Mechanics I&II: 70% (Target 85%)
ES353 Heat Transfer Theory and Design: 80% (Target 90%)
ES379 Finance and Accounting: 70% (Target 80%)
ES380 Design Techniques and Management: 75% (Target 85%)
ES384 Internal Combustion engines: 70% (Target 90%) (Damn that coursework)
ES385 Fundamental Finite Elemement Methods: 75% (Target 85%)
ES386 Dynamics of Vibrating Systems: 70% (Target 80%)
ES388 Design of Machines: 80% (Target 90%)

Average: 74% (Target 86%)

There is then of course the third year project to add on to this, which has double the weighting of the exams. I am hoping for something in the region of 60 to 65% on this. After the Seymour formula (multiply overall percentage by 1.1) has been applied, I'll be content to walk away with 80%. We shall see how it goes…


Blog social: Post–social analysis

Well last night I attended my second blog social. T'was fun, got to meet most of the hardcore bloggers last night that weren't at the first one I went to. Well I say meet…

I decided to once again totally ignore Simon's advice that blog socials are all about walking about, talking to people, running out of things to say and moving on to more random people, and as per usual sat down and waited for some poor unsuspecting victim to either start conversation with me, or leave themselves exposed for me to jump in on a conversation with them. To start with, I briefly met Kim, who seemed lovely. Then Jill and Victoria turned up. I'd met them before so caught up with them, and narrowly avoided (at least I hope I avoided!) offending Victoria again when I was inquisitive about the relevance of Classics. Not that I was rude or insulting you understand, just inquisitive... Was cool to catch up with them anyway. I learned later on in the evening that Victoria has rather scary (well it was scary to me) independent eyebrow control... Also probably scared the lot of them (and Mia (another new lovely person who I met) too) when discussing cars and aeroplane fuel consumption rates with Simon. Sorry about that guys, but you really shouldn't have led me onto that sort of subject or let me carry on! Also had a good chat with Luke, a chap I forgot the name of, and also Thomas made a second appearance.

All in all, a fun and relaxing evening. Hope to see you all at the next one guys!

On a seperate note, was shocked to discover this morning that I am one of Warwick blog's top 30 contributors (by volume of comments). For the top 50, check out the list here.


May 05, 2005

The bastards are at it again

Writing about web page http://www.transport2000.org.uk/news/maintainNewsArticles.asp?NewsArticleID=244

They obviously haven't read my previous entry because they're apparently cranking up their campaign to have Top Gear replaced with "third gear". Hah! They should learn perhaps a basic fact about cars, that third gear is almost always less efficient than Top Gear. I have no problems with sticking with third gear - that'll take me well over 100 on any decent car anyway (even a lowly Honda NSX will hit 90 in second). And would you look at their alternative! I don't think I need to say anything else…

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