Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Picture of Honda CRX

Like a beautiful picture my Honda CRX has been cocooned in an expensive basement for a number of years. Taxed, insured and regularly serviced, this has been my faithful companion of a car for the last 19 years. In Dorain-esq fashion the years have scarcely touched me or Harry Honda.

Marcus in 2010

And so it is with deep sadness and more than a touch of hesitation that this Saturday I have bid fairwell to my faithful friend. I drive this car less than 6 times per year and it's just not enough. I hardly need tell the prospective owner about the merits of this fantastic car.

  • Good Looking!

  • Over 150 BHP in a bodyshell of only 1010 Kg. A pocket rocket
  • A Hatchback with folding rear seats, we've transported mattresses, home contents, bicycles, wine etc. you name it, Harry Honda carried it
  • An engine that cheerfully still revs to 8500 Rpm with that wicked VTEC howl from just over 5K
  • A naturally aspirated engine that is close to the magical 100 BHP / litre
  • Economical (At least 35 MPG in town and over 40 MPG on the motorway)
  • At 1270 mm high, lower than a Nissan GT-R or an Audi TT
  • 3800 mm long and 1675 mm wide, compact is the word. Great around town, but large enough to be comfortable on the motorways
  • Superb Handling and steering feel

What was missing
Leather seats ripped (design fault)
No Air conditioning
Rusting wheel arches and sunroof if the drain channels clogged
Honda parts are expensive. It once cost me over 100 GBP for a new mirror! My yearly service was often over 500 GBP

The Cockpit

Private plate was included in the sale, not to mention a full years MOT and road tax

No rust to speak of on this side, even after 19 years

Good Looking!

Rust spots on the left hand door and at the rear of the left wheel arch

I hope in time the new owner will recognise the care I have lavished over this car and continue to appreciate and enjoy this fun filled vehicle.

Marcus in 1991 (after 2 months of CRX ownership)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Irfanview enhanced my digital life

It is no exaggeration to say that Irfanview the free graphics format viewer and screen capture tool from Irfan Skiljan has greatly improved my Digital life.

For the purposes of documentation and even blogging it's frequently necessary to take your photos or images, resize, manipulate, rotate of subtly change them. Irfanview accomplishes all of those tasks with ease.

Then today I found you can get a plugin which takes your captured image and OCR converts it into text that you can then save or paste into a document. That is just totally incredible!

Ever wanted to annotate a photograph, resize it, or run a slideshow .. yes it can do of that too.

So don't delay head over to this website now and download your free copy.

The day Technology died

The names of the individuals are hereby hidden to avoid embarrassment.

Whilst at a "friends" mansion who should be at the forefront of the computer revolution, I was shocked when after a weekend I found:

Must unplug everything all the time just in case everything catches fire

There is no server for disk, media or even printing

Wires to all devices are randomly strewn over the floor and behind cupboards at all times

"After 5 years of holding out we recently got DSL in 2008. We thought it was over-rated but really it is quite useful."

We have a printer/scanner but only one person knows how to use it. We make the file, put it onto a USB stick, then transfer it to the know it all who puts it onto his laptop then connects the laptop to the USB printer port.

Stickers from the new laptop remain on the palm rest, the trackpad and the cover.

All computer manuals are lost, although they might be "upstairs in a box" somewhere.

Power bricks, connecting cables going back to the dawn of time are thrown together in one enormous tangled mess

3 generations of old computers lie in the study. Nobody knows if they still work, or what the passwords are or when they were last powered up

Printer paper is "somewhere" just have a look around.

We never throw old batteries away, we just keep them in a big box with the new batteries. It does make battery changes a bit hit and miss, but we survive.

How do people live like this?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Download WOW

Do you notice the freaky download speed above?

I thought all my Internet Connection Christmases had come at once, but it must have been a glitch under Firefox or a freak VDSL burst because shortly afterwards my download settled down to a humble 2.5 MB/sec

Ah well, perhaps next year when the fibre upgrades in our street will finally be used by a Swisscom product we can buy

Monday, July 26, 2010

The computer is not online or Windows Home Server cannot access the computer's hard drive

For me Sunday is never totally a day of rest. Aside from a daily exercise commitment there is the small matter of Administration. Since we now keep any paper document by exception only it is particularly important to check our multiple tens of Tera Bytes of Data is really backed up.

For example, I paused the Virtualised WebServer to perform an image level backup. Under VMware you simply need to copy the static .vmdk file(s) and you have a backup. Other backups where files are automatically moved from machine to machine are typically performed using Syncback. Then it came to checking client PC backups to Windows Home Server (WHS)

This is the annoying error message that you get when you try to backup a machine whose hard disk you have changed.

Attempt 1: Server code update - fail

Updating the WHS code to the latest level and then rebooting the server. Re-ran the backup from the client. Still the same error.

Attempt2: Uninstall client software, reboot, reinstall – fail

I uninstalled the WHS client software, changed the hostname, changed the static IP address and rebooted. Then reinstalled the WHS client and tried a backup again. And

  • It did not work
  • WHS managed to cleverly change the hostname of the existing backup node from hamster -> ham i.e. it figured out this was not a new machine, well and hence the failure since WHS server still believes a hard drive volume is missing.

Attempt3: Registry manipulation. - success

Like attempt 2 but: uninstall WHS software, delete WHS HKLM key, change hostname from ham-> back to hamster, reboot, install WHS client

Okay here are the HKLM registry entries left after WHS is uninstalled.

After the reboot you point to the network share on the WHS server and run setup.exe

On WHS client reinstall you need to specify where the WHS server is located. In my case not on the current subnet the installation program on the client can not find it. So you place a manual entry in the clients c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts file and then specify that name in the box above.

Oh, now is a good time to go into Windows Task manager and disable any disk defrag. We don't want to further reduce the lifetime of the Solid State Disk (SSD) for no performance improvement.

Now the big test .... run a client backup again:

Wonderful the WHS backup is proceeding again fine. Since I first changed my computers name from Hamster to Ham, which did not work, now that I have reinstalled WHS on the client (after deleting the WHS registry) I'm able to out the hostname back ham -> hamster and have the WHS server create a new node called hamster. So the old hamster backups are all stored under node called ham (WHS renamed it), and all new backups are stored under hamster. In this way I keep all the old backups which is an improvement on procedures shown on the Internet which involved losing all your old backups.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Teh Bible

In teh beginnin
Ceiling Cat maded
teh Skiiez an
da Erfs n stuffs

Nissan GT-R road test

Despite it's sometimes chav like following the Nissan GT-R is beginning to grow on me. I keep bumping into them in Lausanne town and the muscular lines start to appeal.

So we finally made contact with Mr Prola of Promocar SA in Geneva to arrange an all important test drive of the GT-R. Mr Prola was an excellent salesman and was neither sycophantic nor condescending and gave us a lot of time to inspect 2 vehicles he has on demonstration and the opportunity for both Agata and Marcus to conduct a test drive.

A very practical and Japanese styled engine bay

An impressive front end

Agata plays with the multi function computer

There is actually room in the back for Marcus and Agata in comfort (cf the Audi TT which does not have either the necessary leg room or headroom)

The boot opening is 99cm wide

The internal depth of the boot is about 73cm

The boot has no compartments but is fully carpeted

This is a Bose Bass speaker vent

Under the Passenger floor mat are a few tools, but no jack. The GT-R has run flat Summer or winter tyres.

View from the side

Sexy Back

Underside of the car is carefully sculpted to support regular airflow

The front clearance is 12.5cm. By comparison the Audi TT is 18.5cm

The 20 inch 285/35 wheels are standard issue. The colour depends on the Premium or Black edition model selected. Winter tyres and rims are available at about 7000 CHF. Pressure sensors feed back to the onboard computer.

Next Steps
The next step is probably going to be a weekend GT-R hire. This would determine if it is possible to live with such a car given its practicalities and impracticalities. Hire is here

Good to Know
The 2 Homologation numbers for Switzerland are 1NA437 (MY09) and 1NA477 (MY10)

Rear seat does not fold as it did on previous GT-R

Rear Seats are actually tall and deep enough for an adult to sit on

There is no spare tire, or even a jack supplied with the car. Run flat tyres enable you to drive 80Km at 80Km/h to get you to a garage. Tyre pressure monitors are standard

The multifunction computer is oriented towards driver information, but also is the interface to the Satnav and a sophisticated Audio system. There is a USB socket to interface an iPad and a 10GB hard disk based storage that digitises any music CD inserted.

There is standard fixed (not adaptive) cruise control

The Boot is fully carpeted and could hold a set of golf clubs. However I'm not totally sure a bicycle would fit even with both wheels removed. The boot has no cubby holes or compartments

As with many supercars there seems to be quite a few pop, clicks and whines at low speeds.

There are controls to change the mode of the car, stiffening up the ride and changing the shift times of the Dual Clutch gearbox. It does not lower the car in any way though.

There is a proximity ignition key. Therefore you can keep your key in your pocket and start the car by only pressing the start button. This radio key disassembles into a physical key to unlock the car in case of a remote failure. Once locked there is no visual indication (e.g. flashing light on door).

Mirrors can fold by pressing a switch. The steering wheel can adjust in/out and up/down. The DSG paddles are fixed to the steering column (not to the steering wheel). Both front sets are fully electric to move. There is no passenger memory system (i.e. no matter which key you use, you'd need to manually move the seats into position before driving off). The glove box is the only cubby hole and it's not cooled.

Swiss spec includes: heated front seats, automatic lights, dual zone Air conditioning,

There are Xenon headlamps but no LED running lights

After initial service at 2K the service interval is 10K Km. More major services every 20Km. In Switzerland there is a 3 year manufacturers warranty. For customers of Promocar Geneva a complimentary pickup and delivery service is available.

The 2010 spec upgrades were

Inroduction of GT-R Model year 2010 will start from December 09. This will bring some small changes in the technical features and appearance of the car.

Changes in the performance
As a result of complying to Euro 5 emission certification level the CO2 emissions will be slightly lowered to 295g/km and the combined fuel consumption will be 12.5 l/100km. The change will not however affect the maximum power output of the car. Please note that these figures are pending the final European homologation that should be done in December 09.

Changes in the technical features Here is a list of changes to occur on the MY’10:

By changing the front spring and damper rates, the ride comfort is improved, while handling becomes even more dynamic thanks to improved responsiveness and more accurate control of suspension movements. At the rear, the stiffness of the suspension radius rod bushings has been increased, giving improved feel and responsiveness during cornering.

To improve cooling around the rear of the car, two additional NACA cooling ducts have been added to the carbon fibre underfloor diffuser which will provide additional cooling to the exhaust and gearbox. Furthermore, a new, larger diameter pipe connecting the oil cooler will reduce gearbox temperatures.

The logic controlling torque distribution between the front and rear axles when the GT-R is manoeuvring at low speeds just after start-up, when fluids are cold, has been altered to reduce rear-axle ‘binding’. Furthermore, the logic in the gearbox has been changed to give a later downshift from 6th to 5th when being driven in automatic mode, but a more aggressive downshift pattern is adopted when changing down from 4th to 3rd and from 3rd to 2nd gear. Another small, but significant update has been to the front transmission mount, which has been stiffened, reducing vibration through the driveline under high-load conditions.

Brake system:
The balance of the electonic brakeforce distribution bias has been moved slightly rearwards, giving greater braking stability in dry conditions, while a change in design of the rear brake cross spring has reduced noise and a modified air deflector increases rear brake cooling.

The battery capacity has improved from 45 Ah for 20 hour to 52 Ah for 20 hour, which also increased the battery weight by 500g.

Other changes • Wider navigation screen (from VGA type to wide VGA) • Gun metallic finish added around speedometer and rev counter • Darker finish to Nissan & GT-R emblems and wheel centre caps • Double clear coat on front and rear bumpers (previously single coat) giving a deeper colour finish • Head rests shape changed slightly • Additional rear seat insulation for improved noise and vibration inside the vehicle

Nissan GT-R brochure 2010 UK
Nissan GT-R CNET review
Nissan GT-R walk around
Inheritance, a short film
Nissan GT-R Owners Manual 2010 US
Nissan GT-R Multi Function Display Owners Manual 2010 US
Nissan GT-R Service Guide 2010 US

Notes: All photographs in this blog post are uploaded at original (high) resolution. So click on any picture to view more detail.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mariana at 21

We stepped out tonight towards the big lights of Lausanne to celebrate the birthday of our friend Mariana Briseno. A great time was had by all. As you can see above, Lausanne centre Saturday evening. Busy ?

Arrival at Le Nil Blue, Ethiopian cuisine



A bag so expensive it comes inside another bag

The Birthday cake arrives

Group Photo

Nice ceiling

A walk back via our local and just a little scary church

Mr hedgehog says hello