April 2013 in the Life of Ben (Blog)

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April
  5. May
  6. June
  7. July
  8. August
  9. September
  10. October
  11. November
  12. December

31st Scalextric Club (30th April 2013)

Rally and Touring Cars bring door-to-door action to the London Scalextric Club.

We used 5 of the 6 lanes and each race was 3 minutes long.

This is one of my favourite classes as I get to use my own BMW 3 Series racing car.

Brown Lane

Fastest Lap 9.76s
Laps: 16.95
Position: 5th
Crashes 4 big crashes!

White Lane

Bad marshalling knocked me off the track…and didn’t put me back on! Another marshall had to lean over and struggled to do it, at full stretch.

White is the easiest lane so that spoilt my best chance of a really good result.

Fastest Lap 9.89s
Laps: 17.15
Position: 3rd
Crashes 1

Blue Lane

Fastest Lap 9.48s
Laps: 17.95
Position: 3rd
Crashes A small one

Yellow Lane

Held a nice 2nd place for quite some time at the start. Was having to push hard though and eventually had a small off, dropping me to 4th. Held that place until the end.

Fastest Lap 9.28s
Laps: 17.35
Position: 4th
Crashes 1

Red Lane

Fastest Lap 9.42s
Laps: 16.45
Position: 5th
Crashes Too many to count!


Got to the 2nd round of the finals at the end of the evening. Missed out on the Grand Final but pleased to be driving my own car cleanly and competitively.

30th Scalextric Club (23rd April 2013)

Thorbred Grand Prix at London Scalextric Club. Have to say that I didn’t enjoy this class so will probably skip it. Great atmosphere but I’m also here to race!

We did 3 minute races and used 5 out of the 6 lanes.

Brown Lane

Leader got over 16 laps. I caused a tangle with Pete which set us both back a bit.

Fastest Lap 9.99s
Laps: 14.14
Position: 4th
Crashes 3

White Lane

No crashes gave me a much better distance.

Fastest Lap 10.22s
Laps: 16.75
Position: 4th
Crashes 0!

Blue Lane

Finished last but only just behind Bob.

Fastest Lap 9.87s
Laps: 16.90
Position: 5th
Crashes Not sure

Yellow Lane

A good performance, even with a crash.

Fastest Lap 10.09s
Laps: 16.80
Position: 3rd
Crashes 1

Red Lane

Finally getting the hang of these cars but so was everyone else!

Fastest Lap 9.84s
Laps: 17.15
Position: 4th
Crashes 1 small one

Regent’s Park Kick-Around (21st April 2013)

Met journalist Jon, a friend of Fiona’s. He rides the extremely well-reviewed Focus Izalco. His was mainly white so might be from 2010 or 2011 rather than the 2012 model in that link. Either way, it’s a top machine.

We had a delicious meal at The Queen’s Head and Artichoke, each ordering something different as a main course. I had a huge yet high quality pork chop with a few vegetables around it. Very authentic, on the bone and not too lean.

Afterwards we all rode to The Regent’s Park and had a kick-around.

Spring? Just About…

We choose to eat outside as it was just about warm enough at the start. Our optimism was slightly misplaced as service to the outside tables seemed to be a 2nd priority.

We ended up being there a long time but had plenty to chat about, so it worked at a social level.

By the end we were all wearing some combination of coat, woolly hat or scarf!

Local Football Teams

Jon has invited me to play on the football teams he participates on. Having seen the 5-a-side players who use the newly built park on Tollington Way, I’m certain I don’t have the stamina!

Running is such hard work compared to cycling. Especially when you’re dodging around other players or marking a fit striker.

100% Disk Use by Symantec Endpoint Protection (15rd April 2013)

Look out for the processes rtvscan.exe and lucallbackproxy.exe by using Task Manager, Performance tab, Resource Monitor button, then select the Disk tab. They spawn lots of extra processes, some only show up as System by Symantec is behind them!

Symantec, may I suggest that you don’t start a full system scan when a fullscreen application is running? And maybe don’t grab 100% of my system resources for 4-5 hours at a time?

The administrator policy at my workplace does not allow pausing and snoozing of Symantec scans. If your company uses this software, please, let your employees do this.


In the middle of watching a TV show from my Freeview HD USB stick, this anti-virus software decided to run it’s scan. And it used almost 100% of the disk resources to do it.

So I’m going to moan about it for a while.

This brought our TV show to a gradually degrading, then stuttering mess of unintelligable audio frames on a blank screen. We couldn’t finish the show later because the scan ran all evening.

It’s such an obnoxious thing to do. It ruined our plans for a quiet night in front of the TV. All anti-virus programs I’ve used in recent years don’t run themselves if a fullscreen program is open. This is obviously better!

When I left it alone for while, the laptop went to sleep. I had to wake the laptop and put it in Presentation mode for the scan to continue running. That means my morning routine is also ruined because I can’t pack my bag tonight.

It Changes the Registry

Why has it done this? More settings to research…although I can’t do that now because the scan is freezing up Firefox for seconds at a time.

Event Computer User Logged By Description Date and Time
Configuration Changed BEN-LAPTOP Administrator System New Value HKLM\SOFTWARE\Symantec\Symantec Endpoint Protection\AV\Quarantine\ForwardingEnabled = 0 2013-04-15 12:19:17
Configuration Changed BEN-LAPTOP Administrator System New Value HKLM\SOFTWARE\Symantec\Symantec Endpoint Protection\AV\Quarantine\ForwardingPort = 33 2013-04-15 12:19:17
Configuration Changed BEN-LAPTOP Administrator System New Value HKLM\SOFTWARE\Symantec\Symantec Endpoint Protection\AV\Quarantine\ForwardingServer = [Empty] 2013-04-15 12:19:17
Configuration Changed BEN-LAPTOP Administrator System New Value HKLM\SOFTWARE\Symantec\Symantec Endpoint Protection\AV\AdministratorOnly\Security\UseScanNetDrivePassword = 0 2013-04-15 12:19:17
Configuration Changed BEN-LAPTOP Administrator System Changed value HKLM\SOFTWARE\Symantec\Symantec Endpoint Protection\AV\Storages\Filesystem\RealTimeScan\APESleep from 30 to 5 2013-04-15 12:19:17

Alternative Programs

AVG was bearable but still not good enough. Windows Security Essentials has been alright. It does lag the startup for a minute but I usually Sleep rather than Shut Down the laptop.

It also seemed to be fighting with Windows Security Essentials as MsMpEng.exe started creeping up the Disk tab in Resource Monitor.

The sad thing is the company I’m now working at only allows ‘protected’ machines to use their network and I’m due to be there for 3 months.

Alternative Settings

Can we negotiate a profile of settings which provides adequate security without making the machine grind to a halt every Monday evening? If so, why don’t Symantec set that as the default? Stay tuned to find out…

Tuesday evening would be OK. The machine tends to sleep all evening on a Tuesday. It could wake up the machine and run after a prolonged spell of sleep while plugged in after office hours but before typical bedtime.

That would be the smart and polite thing to do.

Adam Buxton at Kings Place Festival (14th September 2014)

Relaxed start to the set which soon picked up. Customary reading out of YouTube comments in funny voices. Some stories and skits. One highlight was fighting the different versions of Keynote and deliberating whether to report the issue now or later.

Early days trialing new material and he turns this into part of the set, with a section about how a £6.50 ticket isn’t going to be at the level of a proper comedy set.

Lots of laughs with some other emotions for variety. The hour flew by.

Repaired Gloves and Pyjamas (14th April 2013)

Proud to say that I have successfully sewed the end of the thumb on my gloves back together. Also sewed a button back onto my pyjamas.

Glove Ski Clip (29th May 2013)

Clipping them together and draping them off my rucksack shoulder strap is so convenient! I really missed this ability after it broke. Kept dropping one or two at a time, fumbling for keys, dropping other stuff and so on.

Stitched the bits together and all was well. For a little while, at least.

A few weeks later and I snapped it again! This time I ran the thread through thicker parts of the remaining fabric, further apart. Also used fewer stitches and this seemed more sturdy.

Still Holding Up (23rd August 2013)

All repairs still going strong!

Cycling South Around Central London (13th April 2013)

For the next 3 months I’ll be working South of the River Thames. At 9-10am I experience total gridlock trying to get down Woburn Place. The 5 lanes of unmarked traffic around the crescent-shaped bit of Aldwych was OK thanks to changing lanes before entering it.

But the South edge of it, heading Westbound, is total chaos with unmanaged weaving into Strand (A4). Terrible road surface on Strand, too.

So this route is extremely slow and cyclist unfriendly. What are the alternatives?

First choice I’ll try is Gray’s Inn Road.

Why Not Farringdon Road?

For the past month or so, the South half of that Farringdon Road contra-flow has been closed. There’s a diversion through side streets:

  1. Change down to a low gear. You’ll need it for the next bit!
  2. Turn right into St Cross Street. (Wait for a gap in the traffic caused by a pedestrian crossing further South.)
  3. Haul up this road and wait for a diversion sign on the right. It points left, taking you down Hatton Gardens.
  4. Arrive at the Prince Albert Equestrian Monument, which forms a roundabout.
  5. The traffic light is very, very, very slow here. Admire the monument while you wait. Admire it some more…and repeat…
  6. Turn sharp left, slightly more than 90° onto Charterhouse Street. Don’t be fooled into taking the more visible 2nd turn - that’s the A40!
  7. Green cycle route down the left edge is quite nice.
  8. At the junction, you’ll need to turn right. It has green block for cyclists at the front. If you’re nervous, you can wait for traffic to stop and use that to get into the right-hand lane.
  9. Wait for the lights to green again and make your right turn once it is safe to do so. Technically it’s a box junction but expect some beeps from behind if you don’t edge forward into it!

This is OK for running errands but I won’t be commuting that way! Way too slow now.

I guess Crossrail needs those extra 2.5 metres along its construction site. It sometimes turned into a pond anway, where the drains were blocked by access ramps.

5.5 Miles: Holloway Road–???–Blackfriars Bridge

A very familiar road running parallel to the East of my normal route.

It’s straight on at every junction to the very end and I used to go left here in Winter 2011 to my place of work. Now I’ll loop around Charterhouse Square and rejoin Farringdon Road via a bit of wriggling.

The rest of the route is business as usual and therefore very familiar! Streetview can teach me the new bit of wriggling.

Route Confirmed! (22nd June 2013)

I did the

Windows Phone 7.8! (12th April 2013)

Finally it’s arrived on Vodafone UK! The process I experienced is just like the short description of upgrade experience by another Vodafone customer.

Official version numbers say OS version 7.10.8862.144 is newest and that is what I now have.

My phone told me there was an update and Zune told me it was OS version 7.10.8779.8 which isn’t Windows Phone 7.8, weirdly.

However, it did 4 updates in total, one after another. The final one is Windows Phone 7.8! Took about 1.5 hours in total.

First Impressions

Lost my accent colour, it’s an over-saturated blue called Cobalt instead of the cyan of my case.

The default tile size is much taller as it extends wider, moving the shortcut to apps list from a right-hand gutter to below the last row of tiles.

This means I can’t sneak the top of the 5th row into view. I can’t quite see all of the 4th row.

After reducing sizes and re-arranging tiles, everything fits on 3 rows. This is perfect when scrolled to the bottom as I see the shortcut to Settings and the top row starts just below the status area.

After doing that, it’s really neat!

Restarting is Good?

Have animations gotten smoother throughout the phone now? Might just be the placebo effect. Restarting the phone probably helped it, maybe that’s all it was. I should restart my phone every week or two, most likely, just like I do with my Windows 7 laptop.

Remember when you had to restart your PC every time you finished using it? There was no Sleep in Windows 95 and I only started using Hibernate a few years into XP.

Itame at Wagamama with Fiona (11th April 2013)

Last time we went they didn’t have Itame. This time they did. Fiona wasn’t feeling hungry at first but spotted something on the menu after we’d been there for a while.

I seem to recall she found a drink which was very nice. We both felt better after this sort-of date night.

We got a window seat looking out over the little shopping courtyard. It has a huge metal sculpture at the entrance. There’s oodles of bicycle parking over the road but it still tends to be almost full!

29th Scalextric Club (9th April 2013)

Classic and Can-Am were whizzing around the London Scalextric Club tonight.

Steve lends me a very neat little Gulf prototype, possibly a 1970’s short tail Porsche? It has a small black Ninco motor IIRC.

We did 3 minute races and ran 5 of the 6 lanes.

White Lane

Just squeaked 3rd place despite 3 crashes. Typically action-packed first race.

Fastest Lap 9.17s
Laps: 18.85
Position: 3rd!
Crashes 3!

Blue Lane

There was a pile-up on the main straight towards the end of the race!

Fastest Lap 9.56s
Laps: 18.15
Position: Not sure
Crashes 0!

Yellow Lane

Rino crashed 3 times but his first one was my fault. He finished 3rd.

Fastest Lap 9.43s
Laps: 18.35
Position: 2nd
Crashes 0!

Red Lane

Fastest Lap 9.63s
Next Fastest Lap 9.64s!
Laps: 17.05
Position: 4th
Crashes A small one

Brown Lane

Fastest Lap 9.42s
Laps: 18.35
Position: 2nd
Crashes 0!

Blue Racer Damaged by Pothole (7th April 2013)

Hit a huge pothole on Seven Sisters Road in the junction with Holloway Road. It bent the rear rim, making it splay outwards.

Repairs Completed by Hadron Cycles (17th April 2013)

New wheel was fitted today. Also had to get new rear cogs (only £10) as the old wheel had a super obscure, old fitting. Even Sargent’s & Co struggled to remove them to replace the broken spoke last year.

£47.50 all told.

Hadron did reset the brakes and made sure the gear ratios matched what was there before. They’ve adjusted the cam action on the shifters so it’s a much longer throw now. Good for accuracy I guess but I might move it back a little for quicker shifts on a stop-start city ride.

All tyres properly pumped up. There was no puncture so that was a relief.

It’s given the dear old heap a new lease of life! Rode it around the local roads, went and did some shopping, it even got better whilst I was out. Very pleased.

It’s not a dirt-cheap bicycle to keep going. But it was only £50 to buy, so the value for money is good enough overall.

Motorists have successfully claimed £60 and £80 for pothole damage. I have photos of the pothole and the damage so might have a look into that…yet more admin!!

All part of being a grown-up, eh? *sigh*

28th Scalextric Club (2nd April 2013)

NASCAR roars into life at the London Scalextric Club tonight! My favourite class as everyone uses the same cars one the same lanes. A true test of driving skill. We were a bit short on people tonight as it’s not part of the championship. So we have 3 drivers on at a time, with 1 clear between each of them. They do a 2.5 minute race then shift over by a lane for the next race. The next drivers go on after that.

Testing my BMW GTR Racing, upgraded by Terry

Last week, Terry had swapped the motor for the best one the chassis (and the rules) allow. He’d also adjusted the gearing but after a few runs it started sounding unhappy. He identified there was a meshing issue with the gears and suspected the pinion may have shifted.

This evening I noticed my only contemporary slot car ready on my usual table. I helped build the track and eagerly took it for a spin.

It really shifts! The gearing is very sharp now and I was struggling to control the wheelspin on the cold plastic. Even though the track is now fully painted, the cold reduces the grip considerably.

After several laps, the car and I were getting faster. A combination of me warming up, the car warming up and the tyres clearing the track. I wiped them off and ran it some more, it kept getting better.

Ran in a few more lanes and really like the performance. Next step is to make it turn like the pro cars do!

Green Lane

Horrible car on the worst lane! At least it’s out the way early. Leader got 14.30 laps.

Fastest Lap Not sure
Laps: 12
Position: Probably last!
Crashes Not sure

Brown Lane

Fastest Lap Not sure
Laps: Not sure
Position: 2nd
Crashes Not sure

White Lane

My fastest lap of the evening and a decent distance, using the best car on the best track.

Fastest Lap 9.99s!
Laps: 14.35
Position: Not sure
Crashes Not sure

Unknown Lane

A pair of crashes cost me the chance of a good distance.

Fastest Lap 10.23s
Laps: 13.80
Position: Not sure
Crashes 2

Yellow Lane

Fastest Lap 10.19s
Laps: 14
Position: Not sure
Crashes Not sure

Red Lane

Gave away a very close 2nd due to crashing! The guy who beat me crashed twice but if I’d just kept it on, I might have just stayed ahead. D’oh!

Fastest Lap 10.60s
Laps: 13.60
Position: 3rd
Crashes 1