Brazilian Grand Prix


(Oops, this is a bit of a late post, sorry!) The final race to the season tidied things up nicely with Alonso taking his second championship and Renault also retaining the constructors. Race wise, there only seemed to one person out on track trying, Schumacher.

It looked like a stunning fight back was on the cards, but unfortunately ended early after Fisichella’s front wing nudged Schumacher’s back left tyre whilst he was overtaking. That caused a puncture that meant he had to pit and was then just too far back to make anything of it… although finishing 4th was impressive.

I felt though that Alonso didn’t really try. He was just happy to trundle along and make sure he finished in the top 8. Admittedly it’s easier said than done, but a bit of a tousle wouldn’t have gone a miss. However it did show that level of consistency that has enabled him to keep the championship again. I’m very dubious about Alonso’s move to McLaren given they’ve pretty much done nothing of note since Mikka Hakkinen left. Perhaps Alonso can help McLaren focus in a way that Kimi hasn’t?

Now I couldn’t finish off my last post of the season without some discussion about Schumacher. 200px-Schumihill1994It’s probably very obvious that I’m not fan and that I’ve always disliked him, however I do note that he is an incredibly skilled driver. As to my reason for disliking him, it stems back over 10 years ago to how he won his first world championship in 1994, which was about the time I first started properly taking an interest in Formula One.

Schumacher had made a mistake in the Adelaide Grand Prix which meant he was going to retire. All Damon Hill had to do was finish the race to take the championship, but Schumacher deliberately drove into him therefore taking it on points (see here). And it is also primarily why he was so disliked in this country. Add to that his other moments of unsporting behaviour (Monaco this year!) and you can see why he was a love him or hate him driver.

With that aside, it’s certainly been a riveting season with plenty of ups and downs. As to whether it’ll be the same next year without Schumacher and the numerous driver team changes remains to be seen!

Images from Wikipedia (here and here).

Trick or Treat?

Looks like I got tricked! Nice Skeleton suit though…


Oh and the Wickerman burning was pretty cool.


And yes I am hopelessly addicted again to World of Warcraft. I’ve started again playing as an Undead Warrior and I have to say it seems a lot more fun and interesting than when I played as a Human Paladin. I don’t know whether it’s because I know how to play the game pretty well now and so don’t have to learn as I go along, but it does seem like there’s more going on.

Triton have gone tits up

This took me by surprise when Vondur pointed it out last week and I’ve done a bit of reading up on it since. Seems Triton, the “digital delivery and digital rights management service”, which was used to distribute, amongst other things, Prey suddenly closed at the beginning of the month. The website,, is now a Go Daddy link spam site, which is pretty damn quick even for them! 

It looks like anyone who bought anything off there is pretty screwed since Triton needs to be activate it to load… but of course there are means and ways of getting around it ;). Voodoo Extreme has funny piece on the situation and the Wikipedia entry has even been updated.

I’m glad I didn’t buy anything on it, it looked dodgy to start with. It’s USP was that you could start playing a game before it had fully downloaded, but I don’t know how usable or useful it was in practice. Other than that it didn’t offer anything over Steam, other than a lack of content.

Unfortunately Vondur was silly enough to get Prey via it… but on the plus side, 3D Realms are sending out boxed copies of Prey to all affected customers. You don’t need hindsight on this one to say 3D Realms should have gone with Steam!

Degree results!

An innocuous looking brown envelope arrived in the post on Saturday morning, postmarked Blackburn. In it were my final results for my degree… and I’m proud to say that I now have a B.Sc. (Ordinary) in Internet and Information Technology, with a grade of Distinction.

It’s certainly not been the cake walk I thought it was going to be and it wouldn’t have been possible without Kate’s and my works full support. Together they made it a lot easier to focus on doing the work involved.

I’ve been doing the course part time for the last two years and the last year in particular has been hard work. The first year was a real joy, I had a year long group project and worked with a couple of chaps who were highly motivated which really helped push me along. The second year just wasn’t the same and to some degree infuriating.

It’s ironic that the module I enjoyed the most, Website Design & Management, I got my lowest mark of 62% (why I don’t know, it’s never been explained to me), whilst the module I really, utterly, despised doing, Computer Communications, I got my highest mark of 84%. Although with the latter, I think that high grade might have something to do with my excellent comparison of bit stuffing to stuffing a turkey (hey, I was having a hard time making one of the assignments interesting).

However, without that low mark in Website Design I wouldn’t have been motivated to do MPQ Archive. It was a combination of annoyance that the code I’d written for that module was so lowly regarded and my peaked interest in QExpo and Quake at the time that got me to do it.

As to what to do next, well I’m taking a year out, which was my plan even before the car crash (all that has done, is re-enforce my decision). I would like to go on and do the honours, and have been offered a place on the course at Blackburn College, but I’m unsure as to whether I’ll continue there.  There are various reasons for not going straight on to the honours, primarily because I’m a bit burned out from it all and secondly it’s another two years work. There is also some really interesting stuff coming up at work that I want to give my full attention.

And whilst I might grumble at some of my individual module marks, the overall result is good and it’s a nice feeling to have that all that work now counts towards a proper qualification. Plus, it ticks another item off my to do list :)

6 weeks on…

…since the crash. So where are we at? Well, health wise I’m not bad. My bruises are mostly gone, same with the aches, pains and general stiffness but I still have odd lump in my stomach but they’re going. Unfortunately the rest of the process hasn’t been so quick or particularly pleasant. I’m still without a car of my own, and will most likely be for a couple of months. So I’ve nabbed Kate’s car until I get one since I need it to travel to work (which is 15 miles from home).

I’ve found it to be a very drawn out process (unfortunately going on honeymoon hasn’t helped since that gave the impression I wasn’t bothered) and when you’re looking for an insurance company you don’t tend to look for one on the grounds of how quickly they can get you back on the road when your car is written off, but a balance between cover and cost. 

But anyway, it took nearly two weeks to decide that the car was to be written off and this was because the cost of repairs (yes, they calculated it) was very close to the value they use as the limit for writing it off. Given I had a new car the logic is pretty simple. If the repair cost is more than 60% of the list price of car then it’s written off and then one of two things happen. A cheque for X amount is written or a new car replacement is given (the latter being some fancy option on my insurance policy), but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

In my case the car’s list price was about £17.8k whilst the repair cost was estimated to be £10.9k (yep, 10,900 pounds). 60% of the list price is £10.7k, so there was just £200 in it and insurers don’t like spending more than they have too, so I can kind of see why it took so long, but I had to keep calling the various parties involved to get updates since no one appeared to be talking to each other. In the process I heard a scary story of there just been a couple of quid in favour of repairing and that’s exactly what happened. Personally I’d have refused to take the car back (and I would have done in this case if they’d repaired it).

There have been further complications because it’s a company car, which means I’m not the legal owner of it and this caused lots of confusion to begin with. It also means the company I work for is involved, as well as a hire and finance company (who are the legal owners of the car). I’ll not go into too much detail because it’s complicated, but essentially it took another couple of weeks to sort out what they wanted to do. Plus my work will be out of pocket since we’ll need to get another car.

I’m also pretty pissed that the other party hasn’t admitted liability (their insurers are doing their own investigation into it). Their logic on this was that the diesel (or whatever was on the road) caused them to lose control of the car and crash into me so technically it wasn’t their fault. The police don’t see it that way and neither did the witness. If they had admitted liability straight away then I’d have had a hire car until I got a new car… and unfortunately until they do I’ll incur various expenses that perhaps I’ll be able claim back. 

And speaking of claiming… that means solicitors. Hmmm yes. Don’t get me started. I was assigned one by the insurers to start a personal injury claim (hey, everyones doing it) and spoke to them last week to just keep them up to date with progress and they couldn’t give a monkeys. Great! I’ve also been given a date for an independent medical exam in November but by then whatever injuries I have will have gone (hopefully?). Plus the fact the surgery is a good 10 miles from home in a place I’ve not been before… and if I didn’t have Kate’s car how would I (easily) get there?

What’s annoyed me most though is the amount of time and effort I’ve wasted having to sort this mess out by speaking to various asshats and incompetents given I haven’t done anything wrong! Plus it’s caused disruption at work. Fortunately, work has been incredibly good about it all and on the plus side, I’m slowly getting it all sorted!

Japanese Grand Prix

1.  ALONSO        Renault      +1h23m53.413s
R.  M SCHUMACHER  Ferrari      +16 laps (DNF)

Whoop, whoop, whoop! What a grand prix! After Saturday’s utterly depressing qualifying I was expecting Schumacher to put the championship beyond the reach of Alonso. As it turns out it was a gripping race. Alonso had a level of pace that was totally unexpected due to what looked like Bridgestone getting the better of Michelin (the complete opposite of last weeks race in China).

The Toyota’s qualifying stunt didn’t help with their occupying of the second row which pushed Alonso back to fifth. But given their cars are lemons, Alonso dispatched them pretty sharpish. Massa chickened out on lap 3 and let Schumacher ahead into first. But Alonso was catching up quickly, with some hot laps when Massa pitted he leap frogged him into second. Schumacher upped his pace and and it was pretty much even at a gap of 4 to 5 seconds. A second place would have been a good result for Alonso but an amazing stroke of good luck crept in and Schumacher’s engine expired just after his second and final pit stop with just 17 laps to go.

And what a body blow that must have been to Schumacher. His last engine failure was at Indy in 2001. There is still a very slim chance that Schumacher can take the Championship but he’ll have to win the last race and Alonso will have to either retire or finish outside of the points. The end result would be an identical points score of 126 each with Schumacher taking it by number of race wins (Eight versus seven). But Schumacher has conceded that the title chase is over and he’ll be concentrating on the constructors championship. Like Damon Hill, I don’t believe that for a second. It’s just not how he works.

Race aside, one thing that knarked me was the awful coverage ITV had of the race. Part of it was out of there control since the actual direction of cameras is done by a Japanese race director (although I thought they now had a team that travelled around to each race to control the footage?) who kept tracking Toyota’s and Honda’s for obvious reasons, but ITV seem to have an amazing ability of going to a break when something crucial was about to happen. A prime example is that as Schumacher’s car grenaded itself, it went to break. I’d love to have Grand Prix coverage without adverts… although I did record it on Sky+ so was able to skip ’em.

Anyhoo, just less than two weeks until Brazil which is an unpredictable track both in layout and weather. Plus the fact that Alonso had a major crash there back in 2003 (see 3min 36sec on this vid, 1min 40sec is pretty good too :D). If it’s anything like the 2003 race it should be a cracking finish to the season.

Easy automatic WordPress backups

Can’t get much easier than this and I’m amazed no one has explained it properly. Basically with the install of a simple plugin you can get your WordPress database automatically backed up and emailed to you everyday.

If you have WordPress 2 you’ll already have the WP-DB-Backup plugin. Make sure it’s activated and then download the WP-Cron plugin (by the Scott Merrill, also the author of the DB Backup plugin). Extract the zip file locally and upload the files straight to your plugin folder (/your site/wp-content/plugins/).

Next go into the admin section of WordPress, then Plugins and activate it:


Once activated, extra options will appear on the Manage / Backup option:


Before plugin activated


After plugin activated

Make sure you’re happy with it’s setting and click submit. And that’s all there is to it!

Site b0rkage

For some reason my blog has been having trouble loading for the last day or so. I raised a support incident with SiteGround (my website host) who replied that it was probably a networking issue from where I was in sunny old England (ignoring the fact that peeps from America and Russia were unable to view it either).

A bit of investigation narrowed it down to it being a problem with the mySQL database for WordPress. It seemed to be just that database since I have a couple of others (MPQArchive and Gallery 2) and they were working fine. I tried to get at it via various routes (cPanel and phpMyAdmin) but no luck, they all kept timing out (web based access is such a crap idea, I’d like to use the mySQL command prompt to connect to it remotely and manage it that way).

But anyway, I decided the best thing to do would be back it up, nuke it, recreate it and then re-import the data. Obviously I couldn’t do that and my existing backup was a month out of date, so I emailed the support desk again to ask them to back it up for me (I was polite and everything) and they oh so helpfully pointed me to this page:


$20 to back up a fecking database?!?! As it turns out I went and tried the site again and it miraculously came back up… I’m still none the wiser as to what caused the problem and what fixed it but I’m definitely going to look into running a regular cron job to automagically back up and email me the various databases since SiteGround were pretty useless.

I suppose that’s the reason the hosting is so cheap, for anything other than routine problems they’ll charge you for it. Which really, is no different from having to ring premium rate phone numbers for tech support. Sigh! (You don’t get something for nothing).