Friday, 28 January 2011

Freya's curiosity

Freya looked up at our mantelpiece last night and pointed out a picture of Emma one of my other daughters and said
"who is that?"
and Andrea said

"it's Emma, your other sister" ...
"Ohh did she come to my house ?" ....
"No you haven't met her" ....
"Will she come to see me later at my house?"...
"We don't know what she will do Freya"....
"Why?..She is my sister like Lauren is my sister"...
"Yes she is..."

”Maybe she will come and see me soon….”



Turned away from the picture and settled down to sleep cuddled up against Andrea…..



There isn't a lot you can give answer wise to a curious three year old when she asks about her sister(s), we didn't even mention Rhiannon her other sister, she was confused enough as it was not having met her other sister who belonged to the mysterious face on the mantelpiece…

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Running & Stuff

Well the running was done by my uber fit wife who smashed her previous half marathon record at Helsby and did it in under 2 hours... which is no mean feat...Well done Andrea :)


The stuff bit is driving her to Newtown with two kids basically a two hour drive up through mid Wales on the twistiest roads imaginable dropping her off at Morrisons car park for Roger her dad to drive her up to Liverpool with just enough time for a drink of coffee and a sticky bun then ground hog day drive back for another two hours....Thankfully Freya remained asleep for practically all the way up but woke up about half way back and I got the incessant "are we there yet ?"

The worst part though was having to do it all over again the next day.... it's the train next time for my uber fit wife.. it was quite possibly the worst 8 hours I've had to endure in recent history....never again (and not in a Sean Connery Never say never again style.... comebacks are always bad news).

We stayed overnight at our friends house up near Newcastle Emlyn and I attempted to fix their brain damaged computer... it started when they got infected with some trojan downloader a few days previously, So after talking Nicola through running some software something equivalent to bleach, it got rid of the viruses but they had damaged the operating system quite badly......

So I installed Ubuntu 10.10... but it didn't want to behave Linux is far more picky about integrity than Windows and you know immediately if something is wrong and after testing the memory it failed on several blocks.....

So I advised to get new memory what I didn't realise was that the computer had been stored outside in the damp prior to its recent history and rust flakes had developed on the bits of mild steel that were in close proximity to the motherboard...

I'm guessing it was disturbed when the new memory was installed some of these rust flakes were scraped off and nestled in amongst the tightly packed electronics and were causing it to freeze...

I tried everything to sort it out but I had to admit defeat eventually.... the last resort  was to advise taking it to a garage with a high pressure air hose and blowing all the crap off the motherboard and hopefully whatever was shorting it out.... Although knowing Nicola she'll probably just buy a new one.... either way she's another convert from the dark side of Microsoft Windows and now runs Ubuntu 10.10 as does her son on his laptop.... well considering the majority of their problems were caused by viruses that will be a thing of the past...

Personally I wouldn't EVER use a Windows pc for banking or any electronic transactions even with up to date virus protection and if people knew how insecure Windows is they wouldn't either ....they are just too open to attack and very insecure in comparison to Linux.... Although a Microsoft fan boi might disagree on that one....whatever...

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Katie Price splits from Alex Reid

Anyway onto more interesting things in that we are moving (again)... We knew the place we have now was only short term until we could find somewhere permanent, thankfully the new place is only just down the road (literally about 200 yards) so at least we won't rack up 180 miles on 16 or so trips... I'm hoping to get some of Lauren's friends helping as well as the two teenagers because they were conspicuously missed in the last move, which won't happen again....because I nearly did myself a mischief the last move, way too much lifting over too long a period...

Where we live now is hideously expensive to run heating wise at nearly £100 a week in heating oil and what with the cold snaps we've had recently I'll be glad to see the back of it, not to mention the endless Himalayan stairs upto our bedroom on the top floor....

Xboxboy won't be with us for much longer he will have moved onto more exciting things in the Army, so our family is shrinking in the near future, he's going to army fitness twice a week to build up his stamina for his selection, I think he's beginning to regret his sedentary lifestyle over the past few years....ahhh well

The sullen one has had her date for her tonsils out but she has to wait six weeks, which is a good thing really because she has raging toothache and has been to the dentist today (that and another one has to be taken out to allow for a brace) obviously too many teeth... although she's going to a Swansea clinic to have them out because dentists freak her out... so it's a rubber mallet to the back of the head and a pair of molegrips.... if only she knew how much more brutal they are when the patient is out cold, she'd opt for an injection any day...

Andrea is off to Helsby Half marathon this weekend, I'm dropping her off in Newtown and her dad is picking her up there and taking her up north...and all three of them are running it that being Andrea, Roger and Dorothy.... myself and the kids are going over to a friends house and I'm fixing their computer and having a few vino's (much more civilised)

FOMO boy still hasn't ridden his new bike he got at Christmas because he refuses to wear a bicycle helmet....(so uncool apparently...of course being in hospital with a smashed in skull or dead is way cooler) it's something he isn't going to win... they never do win anything these days.... you'd think they would have got that by now

Friday, 14 January 2011

Getting Beasted

Xbox boy is having his first beasting today, on the first part of his Army selection... he has to run 1.5 miles in 11 minutes which for somebody who's only exercise since leaving school has been running for a bus when late for work or flicking his thumbs to "call of duty" on the Xbox...


I'm sure he'll do ok he's a long streak of lanky bacon, fairly fit.... at least I hope he is... Andrea took him out the other day at the pace he wanted to run at and he came back quite a bit knackered, and that was at 12 minutes to do the 1.5 miles, but I guess he didn't have the big bad beasting bloke shouting at him (which he will have to get used to during basic training)...

Anyway I'm really proud of him having finally made a decision that will change his life for the better... but he's far from out of the woods yet, he's got a long way to go before he can call himself a soldier.... but I'm sure he'll make it.

Andrea joined another running club last night called TROTS based in St Clears, it makes sense really she had a long way to travel to go to her other club in Newcastle Emlyn and being much closer to the St Clears club it just made sense to join them. Anyway she really enjoyed last night even though it bucketed down for most of her run.

I'm suffering from a touch of post viral fatigue after my wrestle with the swine flu virus, I was shattered yesterday I could hardly keep my eyes open....I've got to say I wouldn't wish it on anybody it is a really nasty Flu... the biggest problem I had was trying to sleep at night and when I was coughing every half hour to the point of nearly vomiting it's not a pleasant experience nor is it easy to get any shut eye.

The rest of the family are ok, Freya started playschool last week and she seems to be enjoying it, although we are getting a bit of attitude off her from time to time but nothing we can't handle.... she has the most delightful turn of phrase such as "conkernuts" which of course is coconuts and "sosseridges" which of course is "sausages".

She has such a vivid imagination and likes nothing better than to get her doctor kit out and ask "are you poorly?" ..followed by.."I said...are you poorly daddy?"... then she insists on using her plastic stethoscope on you with the V of the stethoscope pointing up wards on top of her head... she then proceeds to remove bizarre things from your body with a spoon or any other implement she can find in her doctors case, the other night she pulled a butterfly from my thigh and announced "there you go Daddy all better now I've taken the butterfly out of your leg"

She is quite barking mad that little girl but an absolute darling with it.....

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Bring out yer dead......

You may have noticed that I have placed an IPv4 counter on my blog... What does this mean ? Well are you sitting comfortably ? 

Then I'll begin.....

A long long time ago (around 1970) when the internet was but a wee spark of an idea in some  dope smoking Unix guru's hush puppy wearing head. 

(hey man that's  just a galactic idea...I mean whoa computers talking to each other over thousands or miles ....far out man groovy baby .... pass the joint....) 

They didn't envisage that it would be only slightly less popular than breathing or water in the years to come.....Consequently they only thought that the addressing scheme used by most sites now would be more than fine.... and in it's time who would have thought it would take off the way it did ? 

Currently it's defined in something called Internet Protocol version 4 or IPv4. This has an address space of about four billion entries..... Yup and in a time honoured fashion just like those near sighted hippies of silicon valley underestimated how many bits would be required to count up to midnight on 31st December 1999.... we've hit the same digital wall as the millennium bug but on a much much much larger scale... 

We are quickly running out of numbers.....

Unless you've had your head stuck in the sand for the past 3 or 4 years you might have heard something about IPv6 which doesn't have this  trivially small 4 billion limit.... 

So how many addresses can IPv6 handle ? 

The short answer is: lots. The long answer is: an unimaginably huge amount. in fact a mind blowingly mahoosive number that makes you reach for the paracetamol each time you try to get your head around it....
.
It has been calculated that the IPv6 address space can handle about 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses. That's enough for every person on the planet to have trillions of IP addresses without any fear of that pool being exhausted. Or to put it another way that's "about" one IP address for every square millimetre of the Earth's surface (including under the oceans).... 

So at some point this year there will probably be some media outcry that the internet will grind to a halt.... and that McDonalds will go out of business (one can hope) .....much in the same way jet planes were going to fall out of the sky on New Years Day 2000..... However the truth is that it might get a bit patchy....some sites won't be accessible if they switch over to IPv6 and you're still on IPv4...until they iron out the crinkles......

This means ISP's will have to get their fingers out and upgrade all their equipment to support IPv6 and in the interim we (meaning ADSL and Cable users) will probably be NAT'ed (network address translation) which will mean some bit of fancy kit will translate the IPv6 numbers into IPv4 numbers and vice versa .... although eventually we will have to migrate to native IPv6....

I can see a bumpy ride on the horizon :)

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

It passed the MOT

What a shock !!!

none of the advisories
none of the faults


Moral of the story is


DON'T USE KWIK FIT FOR ANYTHING !!!


And I saved loadsamoney !!! :)

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Kwik Fit MOT

A word to the wise..... DON'T !!! 
it failed on three points 



1) Rear Coil Spring (Fair enough)
2) Emissions
3) Brakes (balance)

SET RANT MODE = ON

Now I knew the catalyst had to be at temperature to "light up" and start working and it seemed the MOT tester was blissfully unaware of this fairly important point needless to say it only just failed on his emissions tester....

Now I've been and witnessed a fair few MOT's in my time and I was starting to get a little suspicious of this testers motives, but lets recap for a second

it failed on a rear coil spring, Emissions and brakes

Call me a cynic but isn't that Kwik Fits bread and butter ?? The rear coil spring was a given it had snapped off at the bottom, no arguing with that one, but the brakes ?? when it had only recently had new discs and pads fitted less than 6 months ago ????...

So not being one to lay down and take the bill for new discs/pads and a catalytic converter even though I was warned that if I drove it away I would lose the "special" prices .... I went to my usual MOT tester whom I couldn't get an appointment with previously hence Kwik Fit..... and told him the sorry tale.... 

He agreed the rear coil spring was a given, but he doubted the other failures..... so he told me to whazz it up the road for about 3 miles in third gear at high revs to really toast the catalytic converter and then he would put the gas analyser on it .... 

low and behold it came out as a pass, not only that it came out bang on the manufacturers specifications, he also inspected the brakes and said there was nothing cosmetically wrong with them and that light surface rust was not a failure of any braking system and was more to do with the amount of road salt about than anything else....neither was it a fail nor should it have been an advisory.....

So I'm off to my usual MOT tester tomorrow and he says as long as the rear coil spring is replaced (already done that today as was the front wheel bearing) it will pass with flying colours and the other advisories are purely cosmetic rubbish in order to get in business for Kwik Fit....

And as a small footnote, I knew the nearside front wheel bearing was shot..... it sounded like a Wellington bomber over Dresden, and despite the MOT tester wiggling the wheels and rotating the wheel whilst jacked up he didn't spot it, not only that he took the car out for a drive with it sounding like a Wellington bomber and still he came back and didn't mention the bearing noise (and that would have been an automatic fail) 

I had the new bearing on the back seat ready to fit after the MOT thinking that it would fail on the bearing alone .... but alas he couldn't even spot that.... 

So another recap.....it failed on all the things Kwik Fit make their money on, the only thing he couldn't fail were the tyres because they are very obviously brand new....

I am appalled that an MOT tester is allowed to operate like this and am wondering if a freedom of information request into Kwik Fit would highlight if the MOT testers were actually on commission for any failures that get fixed that day....

Had I stupidly agreed with him the costs would have been

£165 catalytic converter (that's normal price not Kwik Fit price)
£86 for two discs (nothing wrong with them)
£25 for pads (nothing wrong with them)
£276 + 20% VAT  .... FOR NOTHING !!! they would be removing perfectly serviceable parts !!!!

I am seriously underestimating the prices here I was hearing £500 - £600 on the phone to other customers who's cars had failed the MOT with similar problems one guy was quoted £375 for a set of discs and pads because they were scored NO NO NO scored discs are NOT MOT failures.....

Give them a very wide berth.... my advice at a push if you desperately need a tyre fitting then go, other than that forget it.....

Anyway here's the complaint I fired off to rip off Kwik Fit central I will have to see if it bears any fruit... but I won't hold my breath.....

SET RANT MODE = OFF

"I had my BMW booked in at 12pm today at Pensarn in Carmarthen for an MOT and everything went well until it failed on emissions, it also failed on a broken rear coil spring. I was however suspicious when the tester stated that my brakes were imbalanced and that my discs were borderline/in need of attention, he soon retracted that statement after I told him that the front discs and pads had been changed less than 6 months ago at a BMW garage, they are in fact gleaming as you would expect at only 6 months old, he then stated that maybe they just needed a little clean up, rust on discs or pads are not covered under the MOT as long as they pass the brake test which he seems to think they didn't when they both equally pulled 220 kg is beyond me, not happy with his findings except for the broken rear coil spring, which I accept I went to my "usual" MOT tester based in St Clears, low and behold it passed it's emissions after having it's catalyst warmed to the correct temperature and not only did it just pass it was well under.

I am in two minds to get VOSA involved in this because it's disgraceful that a car other than it's broken coil spring, which has now been replaced is failed because the tester didn't know what he was doing. He didn't even know what a mass air flow sensor was when I was questioning him about the emissions failure.

I would appreciate a full refund of my £30 MOT fee as it will go towards a MOT test centre which isn't swayed by commercial profit, had I accepted his findings I would now be considerably out of pocket having to buy the discs/pads and probably catalytic converter in order to pass the MOT, I'm surprised he didn't fail the tyres as well but that would have been very hard considering they are new. Dick Turpin was at least honest in that he held a pistol to your face before asking you for money.

Sincerely

Derek Brabrook"

Monday, 10 January 2011

MOT time is with us again


It was booked last week with Kwik fit mainly because they had a deal on for £30 which isn't bad, alas like all things car related once the car knows its going to be tested it starts to selectively fall apart our BMW was no exception to this rule...

on the day of the test I did my usual quick run around the car checking the lights and the last thing I checked was the screen water jets... needless to say they just dribbled.... "Ahhh no problem" I thought it's probably out of water....NOPE

so ensued a mad dash around various car parts emporiums in Carmarthen to track down a new washer pump which ended up in GFS car parts in Swansea.... I told him the registration and he chirped "we have two types in stock" so I told him to get both and I selected on the type of connector...went out to the car and started to remove the offending washer pump only to find that it wasn't going to be that simple....in fact it was completely different to the one I was taking out.... Bugger !!! What is worse is that the old pump when it was replaced WORKED PERFECTLY !!!.... so I took the replacement part back in and got a refund and raced back to Carmarthen for my 11am appointment with the MOT inspector ....

I presented myself at the front desk gave my name and registration number and announced my 11am appointment only to be stared at blankly and told no you don't have an appointment today.... "have you checked the date on the booking form?" so I rang Andrea and after a bit and a moment of silence she announced "it was yesterday not today"

I apologised to the Kwik Fit man who I suspect spoke some Mandarin to me in reply (just like the one in the advert) Well I think it was Mandarin and left.... Oh Dear

"Never mind" I thought shit stuff happens, mistakes can be made and laughed it off....after all what is the point in getting upset about things you can't change ???? you idiot

It turns out the washer bottle had algae in it and every time the pump sucked it got a big mop of plant life blocking it.... so I bleached the tank to death (and unfortunately my favourite Nike green hoodie) and refitted it .... problem solved....

However......
Roll on the next day after we had rebooked our appointment at no extra cost and on starting the car and rolling down the road we had the familiar Dresden bombing raid sound.... yup our nearside front wheel bearing was on the verge of shuffling off to the wheel bearing place in the sky....FAN-FRICKEN-TABULOUS...

So I've spent the weekend finding out the part we need at the cheapest possible price and I will have to dust off my spanners yet again.... The only problem I can foresee is that I haven't got a bearing puller and I'll need something to pull the internal race off the stub axle other than that it should be a fairly straightforward job.... being an old hand now at bearing removal and re-fitting......at least I won't need a 50 ton press to press the bearings in......

So lets hope the MOT man doesn't spot any play in the bearing or its a fail :( it's more about avoiding the retest fee than not getting the bearing replaced !!! fingers crossed :)

in fact I might just take it back to the  rip off merchant  garage that fitted the ABS sensor in the first place on that side because it's making the noise from that very same wheel and make him squirm .... hmmmmm not that the abs sensor is RIGHT behind the bearing housing ......

Vorsprung durch Technik .... bugger that's Audi not BMW ...... in which case

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