The weather hates me

Filed under: Lotus — iain @ 12:38:51

Monday: Cycled to work. Sunny.

Tuesday: Cycled to work. Sunny.

Wednesday: Cycled to work. Sunny.

Thursday: Drove to work with the roof down. Rain.

Friday: Cycled to work. Sunny.


Please pay in shop before filling

Filed under: Lotus — iain @ 21:18:28

Thus read the sign at a petrol station in the middle of nowhere which I reached with the fuel gauge snarling REFILL.

I went in and asked "What’s with the paying before filling up?"

"Oh you can fill up first if you want."


I got an iMac

Filed under: Geekiness,Lotus — iain @ 21:50:24

I really wanted an iMac. The new ones are a nice spec (1920×1200 resolution on a 24" display for the top end ones) but they aren’t cheap. The lower spec machines look nice but the 1680×1050 resolution on a 20" screen equates to an inferior dot pitch compared to my MacBook Pro.

Having decided that what I really wanted was a big screen, I hit eBay.

A guy had a few of the last batch of the old iMacs for sale, with the white casing before they switched to the brushed metal look. £900 cash on collection from Birmingham. Bargain.

Rebecca and I jumped in the car and hit the motorway. Two hours later we were there. The bloke wasn’t a weirdo and his house was right next to a carpark. Free parking for the win. He had the iMac all set up for me to inspect and it didn’t take long to confirm that it was kosher.

Then the fun started.

First Rebecca asked if she could use the guy’s bathroom. So far so usual after a two hour drive barely 20cm off the ground. Only she couldn’t get out of it. Turns out the handle on the door is pretty stiff and the door wouldn’t open. The result was that she had to call my mobile for assistance.

Then the iMac was too big to fit in the boot. "Why don’t you put it on the back seat?" quoth the guy. "Back seat? What’s that?" I replied. "Oh yeah. Two-seater."

The upshot of this was that Rebecca had to sit with the machine between her legs the whole way home. Hey, I moved house in that car. A single computer wasn’t going to be a problem.


Garmin nüvi 360T: Further thoughts

Filed under: Lotus — iain @ 12:07:06

It’s been over a month since I posted my first impressions of the nüvi 360T. Although I haven’t used it an awful lot in that time I have had a chance to get more familiar with it and I have done one "proper" journey: from Cambridge to Blackburn and back.



Garmin nüvi 360T: First impressions

Filed under: Lotus — iain @ 17:30:21

The very very first impression of the nüvi was favourable. The first thing you see when you open the box is the unit itself. It’s a slim and sleek device and fits neatly into your pocket. Furthermore – although I wouldn’t discover this until later – it attaches and detaches from its windscreen mount assembly quickly and easily. If you’ve ever pulled in at a motorway service station and been faced with the choice of trying to squeeze the TomTom and mount into your pocket or just leaving the damn thing in the car and hoping no one steals it, you’ll appreciate the Garmin’s design.


Garmin nüvi 360T vs TomTom ONE v2

Filed under: Lotus — iain @ 17:30:11

I bought a Garmin nüvi 360T satnav to replace my TomTom ONE v2 which met a somewhat unfortunate demise after I left it "temporarily" on top of my car’s engine, forgot about it and drove off. It wasn’t long before I noticed the funny smell from behind me but that was long enough to melt the unit’s plastic casing and irreparably destroy it.

The TomTom was a very good piece of kit. It was intuitive and easy to use yet boasted a number of cool advanced features such as plotting itineraries with multiple stops and planning routes from A to B via C even if you were operating the unit at D.

It did however have a number of niggling problems. The GPS receiver seemed to take forever to update, leading to common situations where I would be advised to take an exit I was already negotiating, and the Teleatlas maps were, to be frank, rubbish. You can forgive a brand new road not being recognised. When you’re travelling down a straight road that’s been open for several years and the satnav is telling you that you’re in a field and should take the next left, it gets a little frustrating.

I decided that the Garmin unit, which had received favourable reviews, couldn’t be worse. Although the TomTom is a nice product, if I’m cursing it every time I use it then a change is definitely on the cards. Especially if I’ve just incinerated the thing.

It isn’t fair to make a direct comparison between my old TomTom ONE and the nüvi 360T as the the comparison is not like-for-like. The 360T is more comparable to a TomTom Go 510, offering a hands-free mobile phone kit, an integrated FM traffic receiver and various other goodies. It also comes with maps from Navteq and carries full European coverage. My TomTom only covered the UK whereas the more expensive TomTom ONE Europe also boasts European maps from Navteq.

Keeping these differences in mind, I set out to see how the nüvi stacked up against the TomTom. For these posts I’ll be assuming that the reader has some familiarity with at least one of the products.


A new level of worthlessness

Filed under: Lotus — iain @ 22:42:39

I realise now that I never really knew how useless the headlights on my Elise actually are.

I thought I knew. I knew that they were worthless. I knew that several times while driving at night I have had to physically check that the buttons were presesd and that the lights were, in fact, on. I strongly suspected that there’s some hidden circuitry which detects when the car is in front of a wall, another vehicle or something else that the lights should reflect off. In this case the circuitry activates the lights. On the open road, however, it switches them off.

The thing is you’d never know because they’re so worthless that you can’t see the beams on the road at all.

I thought, dear reader, that I was fully acquainted with the inadequacies of my headlights.

But I was wrong.

As I will be driving to work next week, and starting off early in the morning when it will be dark, I decided I should take some steps to improve the headlights. Thus I bought some "extra bright" Xenon bulbs from Halfords.

Fitting the bulbs is, as you would expect, a hassle. You have to get down in the wheelarch, unscrew a mudguard, pull out a grommet, unclip a retention mechanism and slide out the bulb. This I did. In the wet. Lying on a towel so I didn’t get my clothes ruined.

And when I’d done it I found that the bulb I’d just pulled out was the exact same model as the replacement I’d bought.

Only now do I appreciate the full worthlessness of the headlights. I already knew they were bad. Now I know they don’t get any better.

I’ll have to splash out on a HID kit (and installation). I can’t afford it but I’m going to have to.



Filed under: Lotus — iain @ 22:03:33

Today was the first time I saw my parents since I bought my Lotus Elise in December. It was a lovely sunny day and they were both looking forward to seeing the car and going for a drive.

In their earlier days my parents owned an MGB when it was the latest and greatest thing so I was sure they’d understand my decision to buy a light and nimble sports car for the sole purpose of enjoying driving. When you’re 17 years old driving is cool because it’s what adults do and it’s fun. Then you drive to work every day for a few years and it becomes a necessary evil. I’ve always lived within walking or public transport distance of my work and never owned my own car. I wanted something that would remind me of how I used to enjoy driving rather than let me in on what everyone else feels about their daily commute. Hence the Elise.

I took them both for a drive around the same route. Some fast corners, a few slow villages high streets and some fun twisty bits. My father drew the short straw as we got stuck behind a few sheds on his run whereas my mother saw the road mostly clear of traffic and we managed to get up to speed. They both asked more or less the same questions along the way. Why that car? Is it fun? How much was the insurance? The technical specs. My father couldn’t believe it only has a 1.8l engine and puts out 118bhp. That power goes a long way in a small, light car.

Surprisingly, they both turned down the invitation to get behind the wheel although my father really had to force himself to say no and he did note that swapping seats might make it easier for him to exit the vehicle once we arrived back home. He has arthritis in his left leg so manoeuvring himself into the passenger side was a struggle. In contrast my mother surprised me when, despite her protestations of it being too low and impossible to enter, she was in and out without too much bother.

We all had a splendid time and, as I knew they would, my parents absolutely understood my motivation for buying such a lovely car.

Powered by WordPress