April 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

Fourth Ride of 2007 (30th April 2007)

I finally fitted the new pedals for my bicycle. The right hand one had been pretty trashed for a long time and I decided to replace it nearly two months ago.

I still had difficulty motivating myself to sorting it and going out but had a great time tearing around the local woodland. Same as all the other times this year.

Stop being a fool and go cycling more often, Ben!

Formula Gran Turismo World Champion! (29th April 2007)

This is an event in GT4 which involves 15 races, each of them 300km long. The car I used is basically a generic Formula 1 car from the 2004 season which I won from the Nürburgring Nordschleife 24 Hours event.

An incredibly challenging event which you can only be competitive in after really getting to grips with the game. You also need to have developed sound endurance strategy, particularly with choosing when to pit and how much fuel to take on.

I blew it around Circuit de la Sarthe by running out of fuel in the first sector towards the end of the race. Thankfully you can continue driving without fuel but the top speed is limited to 80km/h. Still finished dead last but at least I finished.

A big highlight was Cote de Azure, which is basically the world-famous Monte Carlo Grand Prix.

I had a tough time in the final race at Suzuka due to some costly trips through the gravel trap and running out of fuel once more. This time I still managed to win by mastering the extremely technical nature of this circuit to run several seconds faster than the AI on my fastest laps. I won the title comfortable, winning every race except Circuit de la Sarthe to give me 141 points.

Game Progress

I’m now at 66.7% completion.

I passed 50% a few weeks ago and earnt the stunning Jaguar XJR-9 Race Car, which raced before the addition of two chicanes down its 6km straight. This version of the circuit is playable in the game and there’s a 24 hour event around it as well as the version with chicanes.

With Cr13,000,000 to my name, I could buy even the most expensive of Le Mans racers. They cost up to Cr4,500,000 and include the gorgeous Bentley EXP 8.

3rd Blood Donation (27th April 2007)

Four months after my second blood donation I gave again. The advise is that you can give blood up to three times per year, each donation being 12 weeks apart like mine was. (Sorry, there's no anchor for that particular answer in their FAQ.)

My donation went a lot faster this time, taking less than 5 minutes. There was a bit of “splashback” because my veins were so prominent. They have to strike a balance between getting the needle in square and preventing the process becoming the closing scene of Reservoir Dogs. It was just a couple of drops and given how fast the donation was, I reckon they got it perfect.

Fourth donation will probably be end of September or the start of October. Summer will be over by then, so I want to fit in lots of other activities before. Particularly stuff with Fliss.

Going to Internet World 2007 (25th April 2007)

It’s now confirmed that I’ll be at Internet World 2007. Johan de Silva will be my travel buddy. He’s registered at Accessify Forums so us Accessifiers will be a force to be reckoned with on 2nd May:

The Internet World event is held at Earl’s Court, London. First time I’ll have been to that venue, although I have visited London a couple of times before.

Visited Fliss (15th April 2007)

First meeting with Fliss this year was from 2007-04-13 to 2007-04-15. It was brilliant!

We spent most of our time on the sofa in her mum’s living room playing hangman (at which she pwned me) and watching the brilliant Green Wing. We cooked lots of meals together, too.

Right at the start I told her I had a plan for this visit:

Ben:I’ll try my best to complain about stuff less and...maybe you’ll try to, sort of—
Fliss:You know, I’ve been thinking about that. A lot. About being less judgemental and stuff...yeah.

I was worried this would come out all wrong but it actually cleared the air. It didn’t hang over the visit like some contractual obligation either...we got along better than we have for a long time. Reminded me of all the things that make me enjoy being around her.

I chatted with her mum about website accessibility. Turns out she has experience with assistive technologies and human factors in computing. And she’s passionate about freedom on the web.

Her mum’s dog, Scrappy, is now comfortable with me being there. Fliss’s bedsit is now co-inhabited by lowlifes and is desperately overcrowded, so being able to stay at her mum’s is a big relief for both of us. Fliss is hoping to move out to a house share, taking the part her brother is currently in.

I think this was the first time during which she didn’t rant and I didn’t lecture. Being easy-going is something I have to remind myself about each time I surface from the difficult and often frustrating technologies I work in. It’s totally worth the effort.

Hard Drive Failure! (13th April 2007)

Just as I was about to shut it down last night, our upstairs PC locked up. The hard drive continued to spin but started to make clicking sounds. The mouse still moved the cursor but all programs stopped responding. Eventually it crashed with the traditional blue screen of death.

I reset the computer thinking it might have been a software thing. But the clicking continued even as it tried to boot up. After getting part way through, it eventually stopped saying it couldn’t find the primary master or something, obviously meaning the hard drive.

The next day I told my parents about it and we decided to call the PC bloke who had helped set up our network. I have to leave to visit Fliss now so hopefully it can be sorted out. If he can’t do it, we’ll take it to a proper data recovery outfit.

Calthorpe Broken in Opera and Firefox (8th April 2007)

The header for Calthorpe Park School was broken in Opera. This is because Opera is stricter about the size and position of float’ed elements than other browsers.

The result was the header spanned about 75% of the page with everything in it bunched alongside everything else.

The fix was thankfully simple: setting width: 100%; on the #utility container and using clear: left; on the #logo image. This works in the usual suspects:

However, there was a slight issue with Firefox. To prevent the search form wrapping over several lines if there wasn’t enough space to have it alongside the utility links, I was using white-space: nowrap; on the <fieldset>. This also was using text-align: right; and Firefox was clipping the right edge from the Search button.

I found that applying the CSS to a <div> inside the <fieldset> worked perfectly:

#search div {
 white-space: nowrap;

So a bit of fiddling was involved to accomodate browser bugs but I was worried that a major rebuild of the header would be in order. These fairly straightforward workarounds were a big relief! Browser incompatibilities wouldn’t have helped our chances in the most accessible website category of the Hantsweb Awards 2007.

Third Ride of 2007 (5th April 2007)

Just a quick saunter down past the swingbridge to the first wharf. Went over the canal via the bridge the road takes and turned left down a lane which wiggles its way to the canal. It goes over a humpback bridge near a lovely cottage and I carried on to where it crosses the canal again, at the swingbridge. Rode back from there on the towpath.

I left at about 6 o’clock and the midges were out in force. They don’t bite (well, not noticably) but feeling them bounce off my face isn’t such a pleasent experience. Late afternoon is probably the latest you can go out and avoid them.

Still, it was a relaxing ride on the whole and the evening was lovely and warm. Feels like Summer has already started...which I suppose it has, since we are past the equinox and British Summer Time has started!

Visiting Fliss Again (4th April 2007)

We’ve arranged to meet at her place on 13th April until the 15th. It’s been a long time since we last saw each other. Hopefully the weather will be nice so we can play frisbee in the park and go for walks.

Renewing projectcerbera.com (2nd April 2007)

This domain expires on the 22nd of July this year.

I’ve arranged with my long-time host D & S Hosting to renew it for ten years. Although I’m not active in GTA modding and nobody reads this blog, I like having a place to put my thoughts in order and record my experiences. It’s nice watching it grow.

Second Ride of 2007 (2nd April 2007)

It’s a really sunny day and there’s a gentle wind. After doing some work and having lunch, I thought it would be nice to go for a cycle but didn’t feel motivated to go and do it. But once by bum was on the saddle I was peddling away merrily.

I rode along the towpath for a while before reaching the wharf in Fleet. It was pretty bumpy so I went up the access ramp to the big junction. Got pinned on a traffic island for a while and my bicycle barely fitted between the kerbs. Eventually I got across and merged onto the road, heading towards Fleet Pond.

There’s a steep track through the woods near a reasearch facility between Fleet and Farnborough. Pushing hard on the pedals and leaning far forward, I can just about ride up it in the lowest gear (L1).

On the way down I decided to freewheel without braking. Remember me telling you how steep this track was? I built up a lot of speed on the way down and forgot there’s a bit of a chicane at the bottom. It has camber changes and exposed roots with a crest on the entrance for good measure!

Luckily, my recent addiction to GT4 has refreshed my understanding of racing lines but even so, I felt the front wheel drifting a little as I went over a crest in the first turn.

Very real physical danger is quite a thrill!

On the way back I sprinting off at some traffic lights and kept pace with a Volvo cabriolet for quite a distance. Must have been going nearly 30mph for a couple of hundred metres!

Going for that cycle has really put a smile on my face. Hopefully this blog message will remind me of how great the great outdoors can be.