March 2007 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

De-skanked Hands (23rd March 2007)

The GP I visited last month figured my heads were getting bad because they were losing the oil which keeps the surface healthy. She advised I wear gloves when washing and then use a special moisteriser afterwards. However, the moisteriser said to “wash normally” before applying it. I took this to mean not wearing gloves since that wouldn’t be very normal unless you have a vinyl fetish!

But they weren’t getting much better, so I’ve tried wearing them throughout. And it worked! I guess my shower gel was the cause and the gloves now protect me from it. It’s so nice to have hands which aren’t like sandpaper!

Blog Headings (23rd March 2007)

There are lots of interpretations of HTML headings. On this blog, I assumed that only one entry would be added each day and put the date in the <h2> which starts the entry. But if there are more entries, things stop making sense.

For example, take the headings from A Gift To Myself entry:

This needs to change.

I don’t think the date is the most important part of a blog entry. People will generally be interested in the topic being written about because it matches their interests or whatever. When it was written is secondary to that.

I think each entry should get an <h2> but the date shouldn’t appear in it. I can put this in a <p> at the start, like a lot of blogs do.

There are a lot of blog archives to apply this change to. But I think it’s worth getting headings right.

Seeing Fliss Again (23rd March 2007)

My parents may be going out of town for a couple of days but they aren’t sure when. Fliss said she’d like to come over when they do so we can go cycling, like her visit last Summer.

Calthorpe Site Map (19th March 2007)

On 2007-03-13 I asked the folks on Accessify Forums what is the Best way to provide a Site Map. I got a lot of great feedback and on 2007-03-17, the new Calthorpe Site Map went live.

It’s a huge improvement and I want to apply what I’ve learnt to the Site Map on Project Cerbera.

Motorsports Seasons (11th March 2007)

British Eurosport have a lot of great motorsports series. MotoGP had its first meeting this weekend and is a real spectacle. The WTCC starts next weekend and I’m looking forward to it. WRC has already done a couple of events but I missed a lot of the coverage.

Spring has already Sprung (11th March 2007)

A few weeks ago I meant to write a “Spring has Sprung” type of entry but didn’t; so I’m adding this instead.

First Ride of the Year (11th March 2007)

Went cycling along the towpath of Basingstoke Canal with my dad this afternoon. Noticed my bicycle has a pedal which looks trashed and is missing a set of ball bearings but we went anyway. It rode fine but I want to get a replacement set of pedals before I get back into regular riding this season.

We went past the swingbridge and went inland at the next bridge. We detoured along a track which runs through the nearby woods. This was very muddy in places even though there has been lots of sun recently. But we got through it fine, despite being out of practise.

Afterwards I sat on the back of the Velocette while my dad was at the controls. We stopped at a garage to get petrol and the machine was reluctant to start up again. After about 20 minutes (and a couple of chocolate bars) it had cooled down enough to cooperate and we returned home.

Participating in W3C’s HTML Working Group (10th March 2007)

I followed the help for joining the group. I’ve completed steps 1 and 2 now. There are already many Participants in the HTML Working Group. A lot of them are names I recognised from blogs and projects related to markup.

I think I’ll mainly be observing and making everyone else look smart. Hopefully my perspective as a working web developer will be useful to the development of the language.

Progress with GT4 (9th March 2007)

Buying GT4 was totally worth it. Completed all the license tests at silver except Special License, for which I need silver at the graduation test. Started doing the Driving Missions which are like the application of the license theory in race scenarios.

A-level Courses Website (9th March 2007)

Yesterday and today were spent making tweaks to a website which lets people search for A-level courses. Not allowed to name names, as has been the case with a lot of work which has come my way recently.

The tweaks included XHTML compliance and cross-browser CSS, which are my specialities. They are done now and I’ll be getting 13 hours pay for it; a grand total of £195.

This means I’ve earnt back my most extravagant spending spree in the same week!

A Gift to Myself (7th March 2007)

How would you celebrate receiving your first four-figure payment for a website job? On 2007-03-05 I did it by purchasing the following totally unnecessary items:

The total cost was £125, making this the biggest spending spree of my life. But the cool thing is this was an affordable spree. What’s more, it was affordable because I earned this money doing something I enjoy and which I’m bloody good at.

Thoughts on GT4 (7th March 2007)

I adore GT2. I’ve played it for years and even now I’m finding cars I haven’t race-modified before. The number of car setup aspects you can tweak strikes a perfect balance between being so simple as to be useless (think Need for Speed) and being so exhaustive that it would be easier to set up a 1940’s milling machine. There is enough subtlety to the physics to mean I’m still breaking lap records I thought were sheer flukes as I mature. The music is a sheer disaster compared to the original Gran Turismo but turning that off is easy.

So GT4 has a lot of live up to, in my eyes.

My first impressions were good. The interface is like OSX with conventional WIMP widgets. The options page is available at key locations throughout the game, so you don’t have to go all the way back to the main screen to find it. And it’s pretty.

Control and Despair

However, my first experiences with the controls were a disaster. This is less precise than using a wheel but makes for a wholly playable experience in spite of this. I found the low-powered vehicles you start with in GT4 incredibly frustrating to drive like this since they are so sensitive to steering angle.

With the PS2 the directional buttons are analogue and GT4 uses them for analogue steering. I’m used to pressing the directional pad and letting the console figure out what angle to set the wheels at.

This ruined the game for me. It was no longer about getting a feel for the car and reacting to it. It was about trying to figure out where the massive dead zone of the directional pad stopped and the fraction of a millimetre of analogue range began. This nearly caused me a nervous breakdown. The game seemed at unplayable. The biggest spending spree of my life had got me a massive dissapointment.

License Tests

I started doing licenses in the hope I’d get used to it, not believing I would. But this is exactly what happened. I now adore GT4 after just a couple of days and having only done the license tests!

I spent ages getting full gold on the National B license. After that I’ve been running through the other tests, only aiming for silver awards but got gold through good fortune a few times. I’m doing this because you get free cars which can be raced, rather than spending my 10,000 credits on something which might not turn out to be useful. I am going for silver award on the Special License now. It also unlocks more courses and events.


Having legendary real-world circuits like Suzuka and Circuit de la Sarthe with up-to-date cars, including the class-winning Bentley Speed 8 LMP-1 race car is money well spent.