I was in West Bridgford today and I noticed this For Sale/To Let sign on a building. At first glance, you don’t really give it a second thought, and especially if you just drive past it a lot. But you notice a lot more when you’re on foot.
Look closely, and the first thing you might notice is the wooden structure holding the sign to the wall. Those beams are very well weathered, suggesting the sign has been up for a while (and thinking about it, the sign has been there for some time).
But it really hits home when you actually stop and look at this potential “stunning contemporary office building”.
Let me just state clearly that the building in question is the one the sign is fixed to, and not the one you can see in the background (that one has already been let according to the sign in front of it).
No. Our “stunning opportunity” involves this windowless, rectangular, and almost monolithic structure, which in its previous life had a completely different function to that being offered here. The two boarded up doors are the giveaway, even without the “Ladies” and “Gents” signs. Better still is the fact that it is less than 20 metres away from Wino Central – the war memorial, where the local down and outs spend most of the day drinking 2L bottles of cheap cider.
It’s a sad fact (in some ways) that public conveniences are disappearing from our city streets. The only one I can think of which is in any way accessible if you’re driving is in Carlton, and whenever you go in it there’s always an old guy with a carrier bag who’s there before you, who keeps looking over his shoulder at you while you take a leak, and who is still in there after you’ve washed your hands and left. And there’s always somebody in one of the cubicles chain smoking (or there’s the rank smell of someone having done so in the recent past). On top of that, about three times a year some twat does something inside – like stuffing a mattress or lawn cuttings down one of the pans – which means they close it for weeks at a time until it gets fixed.
Actually, I avoid using public conveniences whenever I can. McDonalds toilets are the only ones I’ll use (because they clean them regularly and the seats are usually free from urine, which is not the case everywhere else), and on the rare occasions I need to use a cubicle I’ll use the disabled toilet because it has a sink and running water. Men’s rooms are universally disgusting – which reminds me of this Dilbert cartoon.
If there isn’t a convenient McDonalds, give me a field on a quiet country road anytime.
In the past, I’ve played around with various GPS logger apps on my phone. One of the drawbacks to these is that if you want to track something when you’re not present, you have to leave your phone with (or in) whatever you want to track. Of course, you also have to wait until you can get your phone back, download the log file to computer, then fiddle with Google Earth to display the route. There are other apps which allow remote monitoring, but you still have to be separated from your phone and can’t therefore monitor properly. I thought about buying another phone, but that was going to cost surprisingly more than I expected, and carried its own drawbacks and limitatons. So I started looking at various devices on Amazon.
Before I continue, a word of advice: NEVER trust Amazon customer reviews. The people who fill out most product reviews (on Amazon or anywhere else)are idiots – that’s the subject of another article – and what they write is frequently a product of their own inability to operate whatever it is that they bought. Unfortunately, if some twat can’t figure out how to turn something on, then posts a review along the lines of the following:
Started to set this up and got a few texts on activating but can’t go past this. It won’t let me. Got a star because it turned up!!!?
Im still trying to figure out the set up.
Does not work, instructions extremely poor.
And so it goes on… well, you can’t help wonder if you should buy the product or not when you read this kind of thing. I turned to Ebay instead, and it was here that I came across the Rewire Security TK 102-Nano tracker. I was initially suspicious, because it looked like some of those I’d seen on Amazon, but the description made it clear that it had UK firmware and was an official Rewire Security product (a British company). The Ebay trader selling it was called “ematrading”, and the surprising thing was that although Rewire Security sells the unit for £54.99, ematrading (an official Rewire reseller) was shifting it for only £31.99. So I sent for one.
It arrived next working day in a sturdy box with various accessories. As you can see in the photo, the main unit is tiny. Accessories included in the box were:
- charging cradle
- mains USB charger
- USB charging cable
- plain battery cover
- magnetic battery cover
- waterproof pouch
- manual and quick start guide
- CD with software
The package also includes a pre-activated pay-as-you-go SIM card from Lycamobile. You have to remember that the device is essentially a customised mobile phone, and it has to be able to “phone home” on a regular basis. It has to use a 2G card, and this detail seemed to be something which was catching some Amazon reviewers out.
The Lycamobile SIM card comes with a telephone number – this becomes your logger’s identity. Set up was simple after that using the quick start guide. The first thing you have to do is charge the batteries for 8-12 hours (though they charge normally in much less time). While this is happening, you have to top up your SIM card (I put £20 on mine and got £5 extra free). The card then fits into the logger, and the battery goes on top of it.
The logger then takes a few minutes to identify all the satellites available to it (constant green LED while it is searching, blinking LED when it is ready). At this stage it is ready to use in SMS Tracking mode. All you have to do is call the logger’s number from your smartphone and it replies with an SMS containing its current coordinates and a Google Maps link. Clicking the link opens Google Maps with a pin marking the logger’s exact position to within 5 metres.
However, Internet Tracking mode is the really impressive feature. To configure it you need to download the Rewire GPS app to your smartphone. You add your logger as a named device using its phone number, and your smartphone number as the authorised user ID. You can now go into the Live Tracking Setup screen and send various messages to your logger to set it up how you want it – most importantly, you can choose a logging interval of one point every 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 minute, 30 seconds, or one point every 10 seconds. Obviously, if you choose a long interval then you will not see all the twists and turns of the journey.
Setting up Internet Tracking mode on your computer is also very simple. You need to set up an account at GPSLive (it only takes a few minutes to do this). You have 7 days after that to email GPSLive with your IMEI number to activate a lifetime subscription. All of this is free. All you then have to do is log into GPSLive and you can see what your logger has been doing.
The image above shows my activity over several lessons (the “P” pins indicate where I was stopped either on lessons or in traffic). The image below shows just one time slot, where a pupil was picked up at home but dropped off in the City Centre. I managed almost a whole day on a single battery charge, so that gives an idea of how it performs.
Note that the logger only sends data when it is moving, and it drops into standby when it is stationary (bear this in mind when you are setting it up).
GPSLive holds your data for 90 days, and you can download it as GSR, KML, or GPX files (these are standard GPS logger formats). You can load these into Google Earth if you want to and view your logged routes there.
The big question has to be: how much does it cost to run the logger?
Well, each text message costs £0.19 and it would be relatively expensive to attempt to monitor your logger continuously using that mode. Internet tracking, however, is much cheaper – a whole day, half of it monitored at one point every minute, and half at once every 10 seconds, ran out at about £0.002.
Your best bet is to use SMS only for set up commands – or tracking/locating where you only need a single point.
Note that all of this was achieved without having to install anything on my computer, and the only download involved the free app on my phone. That was when I got to wondering about the CD which comes with the unit. I could be wrong here, but It appears that “TK 102” refers to the chipset used by the logger, and you can buy devices which contain it from many different sources – most of them Chinese. To that end, the CD contains the software and documentation which runs this unit in what you could call the “Chinese mode” – at the very least, this means bad translations and software which appears quite crude. Perhaps this is why some of those reviewers had bad experiences? I don’t know.
What I do know is that you can have this thing up and running using proper English instructions written by an English company, and who are helpful over the phone (I called Rewire Security to register my device on GPSLive). Admittedly, some people might still have problems if they don’t understand some of the key concepts, but you certainly do not need to install anything from the CD. The app and GPSLive are polished products, and both appear to work faultlessly from what I’ve seen so far.
When leaving a village or entering a village how do i know what speed to go on a motorbike?
Someone came to the blog via that exact search term! Is it any wonder the country is in such a mess as far as driver attitudes go?
Diary of an ADI doesn’t even appear in the first 20 pages on Google for that term (that was where I gave up), so you have to admire the tenacity of whoever it was in their quest to find the answer.
In the UK, we have this little booklet, which is known as “The Highway Code”. Somewhere at the back are some pictures of things called “road signs”, and it is the usual custom to affix them to lampposts or other upright structures in order to inform road users of trivial details like imminent hazards and speed limits.
The little booklet is aimed at all road users.
To be honest, I was rather surprised that a motorcyclist should ask this, since most of them treat speed limits as advisory guidance, i.e. the speed to go at if there is a speed camera present.
So, to answer the question: as you enter the village there is most likely a round sign like the one shown above with “30” written on it. The “30” translates to the number “thirty”, and it refers to the number of miles per hour you are not allowed to exceed. If you look at those dials on your handlebars you might notice that one of them also has a “30” on it (it’s right near the bottom, so you may not have noticed it before), and this is your “miles per hour” dial. The little pointy thing that moves when you accelerate or decelerate should be on or below that as you enter the village, and it should not go above at any point.
When you leave the village, the chances are that you will see another sign. This one is harder to understand because it doesn’t have anything written on it, but instead consists of a white circle with a black diagonal stripe. It means that the national speed limit (NSL) applies, and this is “60” (or sixty) miles per hour on single carriageway roads, and “70” (or seventy) miles per hour on dual carriageways. A “dual carriageway” is a big road with a solid barrier between your side and the side where traffic is going the opposite way. Look closely and you will notice the dial on your motorcycle also has a “70” on it. It’s a bit higher than the “30”, but still far enough down from the biggest number that you might have previously overlooked it.
If at any point you don’t know what the speed limit is – after all, it is difficult to spot these things when you are trying not to fall off on a corner – then you should assume it is “30” until you do.
Note also that some signs have “20” (twenty), “40” (forty), or “50” (fifty) on them. These numbers also appear on your motorcycle’s dial somewhere. The speed limit in a village isn’t automatically “30” every time (it could be higher or lower), nor does it necessarily go up to NSL (it could be lower) as you leave the village. This is why those little signs are so useful.
An old article, updated as a result of several hits recently.
A DVSA email alert (at the time, it was still DSA):
Margaret Malpas, British Dyslexia Association [BDA] Chair, has written an article about independent driving and people with dyslexia.
The forthcoming change to all practical driving tests to include a section of independent driving has led to a useful and constructive collaboration between the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the British Dyslexia Association to try and find reasonable adjustments for this element of the test for those people who have dyslexia.
The article is published at length on the DVSA’s website (see that link at the bottom of the alert).
What this does is put to bed – hopefully, once and for all – the idiotic objections being raised by certain people as part of the hidden agenda they have against the DVSA (via Independent Driving). The DVSA and the BDA are in accord over the matter – discord exists only in the minds of the pseudo-radicals.
The annoying thing is that Independent Driving just expects people to get from A to B unsupervised – and although it provides the details for where ‘A’ and ‘B’ are, it doesn’t care if ‘B’ turns into ‘Z’… as long as ‘Z’ is arrived at safely and correctly (let me explain that: if you take a wrong turn during independent driving no fault is recorded as long as you do it properly, i.e. use MSM correctly). This is conveniently overlooked (or quite possibly not understood) by the radicals.
If someone cannot drive unsupervised without causing danger to others, then they shouldn’t be on the roads at all, and they deserve to fail the test until they can drive unsupervised. This applies to all candidates – dyslexic or not.
Edit: it is worth noting that five years down the line, independent driving has made the test easier for the majority of candidates. Those who are still struggling to pass would have struggled no matter what, and they can’t blame it on having to drive independently.
It is also worth noting that those who created the biggest fuss about it have disappeared off the radar, which is an unexpected – but very welcome – benefit of the change.
Do dyslexics have to do independent driving?
I saw something funny today. I was driving incognito – taking my dad’s car home from the garage – and was leaving the Victoria Retail Park in Netherfield. There are four lanes at this junction, and I was in the one marked for Arnold and Carlton.
As the lights changed, a blue Renault Clio (reg. no. YF53 UVU) did the stereotypical boy racer thing and zipped up fast in an inside lane, then cut sharply across into the Arnold/Carlton lane on the bend right in the middle of the junction. This stupid (and illegal) behaviour didn’t get him very far, because even though he sped off at considerably more than the speed limit, jerking his car all over the road, I caught up with him at the first set of lights at the bottom end of Carlton. He sped off again – still ignoring the speed limits and jerking side to side – and I caught up with him again at the top of Arnold Lane and the junction with Plains Road.
I took a glance over and saw that he was an ugly little spud – typical boy racer with thick black hair, closely cropped, and just one eyebrow, with a typical chav girlfriend of similarly bestial appearance sitting alongside. A driving school car pulled up behind them and he said something to his girlfriend. They both looked round and found something amusing. But then the lights changed and he stalled badly, rolled back, then had a job getting moving again.
The last I saw of him, he was speeding off towards Arnold – again, considerably in excess of the speed limit. The driving school car had no such problem moving off on the hill, and I’m sure the instructor would have been happy to give some additional lessons to this cretin, who was obviously in need of them.
I know you shouldn’t laugh at other peoples’ misfortunes, but I have to confess I did choke a little. It amazes me that these people think they’re so good when they obviously aren’t. It amazes me even more that their girlfriends – the ones who will most likely die when the zit-faced driver eventually wraps themselves around a tree – can’t see it, and actually seem impressed by it.
I sometimes find it difficult to comprehend the mentalities of people I share this planet with. This story on the BBC does little to change that.
It seems that some British firm has come up with a system whereby your PIN code(s) – that you use for your bank, etc. – can be set using emojis.
For anyone who doesn’t know, an emoji can simultaneously be any or all of the following:
- a simple icon used to convey several words at once
- a confusing icon of incomprehensible meaning outside Japan (and probably, even inside)
- a way of extracting money from people who aren’t good with words, but who still have a smartphone
Quite frankly, anyone who uses emojis is not likely to be old enough to have a bank account (or if they do, they shouldn’t have). It’s bad enough when people intersperse forum posts or text messages with “lol” as a substitute for a full stop, or insist on typing “u” instead of “you”. At best, it’s just lazy. At its worst, it’s pathetic. But emoticons – or emojis, as they have evolved into – are a hundred times worse.
No one with a mental age above 15 is going to use them. They have their roots in Japanese culture anyway, and as you can see from the brief selection in the image at the top of this article, they are pretty much meaningless if you’re not a Japanese school kid. But even then, who the hell is going to need to use a small picture of a mouse or a puppy in anything other than the most pointless of communications? And what’s the difference between a yellow heart and red one? Jaundice, maybe? Yet people actually pay money for these damned things, even though in a more basically drawn form they’re already part of the Unicode standard (and that’s free).
Laughably, Androidcentral says:
With emoji, users could communicate using few or little words and still have their passion come through. One such example would be the “Reversed Hand with Middle Finger Extended” emoji that allows you to quickly express your emotion without having to say much.
Like I suggested above, anyone who needs to say that very often has a restricted mental age.
Anyway, the “service” being touted in that original article has 44 symbols, and it reckons that that’s better than just the 10 numbers used for bank PINs. Your first thought is why they couldn’t use the letters of the alphabet and punctuation marks as well as the numeric characters, but this is where the dumbing down comes in:
David Webber, managing director of Intelligent Environments, said the system was designed to appeal to 15-25-year-olds.
“Why can’t financial service be fun and innovative?” he said.
The truth of the matter is that said 15-25 year olds really should be encouraged to learn to communicate properly, because once they get to 26+ pathetic cutesy icons aren’t going to cut it any more.
Mind you, the frightening thing is that with companies like Intelligent Environments around, maybe in 10 years’ time we’ll be living in a techno village of the damned, where people can only communicate like this. God help us.
As a footnote to this, the day after I updated it I was in contact with a pupil who has a her test coming up. She wanted an extra lesson somewhere, but my diary was full. However, I got a cancellation on the morning of her test and asked her if she wanted it. After confirming she did, and after me querying her choice of time and the fact she has the attention span of a gnat, she sent me this text message:
I can’t work out if the emoji adds any value to the text or not.
This old post is attracting a lot of hits, lately. It contains a valid point that is valid all the time – not just in the case I described – so I’ve polished it a little.
I had a pupil fail her test on the parallel park (back in 2011). She only got five faults in total.
Now, I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I have never had a pupil fail the test for a reason that I didn’t agree with, or which wasn’t valid. This particular situation is no different – not technically, anyway. My pupil didn’t complete the parallel park properly and finished partly on the pavement, and the examiner is not at fault for failing her.
However… the examiner had chosen a location where the driveways didn’t have a raised kerb (it was one of those you can drive a car over). At the time they were doing it, the heavens opened and there was a torrential downpour. I can vouch for it, because in the waiting room back at Chalfont Drive (this was 2011, remember) I was watching it out of the window, thinking “wow!” after it went dark like someone had just turned out the lights.
My pupil was quite upset at failing, as they usually are. In this case, though, I had a lot of sympathy, because she said that she couldn’t see the kerb and had finished perfectly straight otherwise. Apparently, she asked if they could go somewhere else, but the examiner had asked her to continue.
The pavement is the pavement, and you can’t drive or stop on it, and especially not in reverse and on your test. But it does make you wonder why some common sense couldn’t have been exercised by the examiner, and the manoeuvre repeated or resumed after the rain had stopped – perhaps in a new location with a clearly defined kerb. Other examiners sometimes allow ordinarily serious faults to pass because the drive was otherwise excellent (I have no argument against that), so when you hear of things like this you .
No matter how long you’ve been driving, in order to parallel park properly you have to be able to see the kerb! If you can’t see it, you can only guess where you are, which is dangerous. Furthermore, if you can’t “feel” the kerb (i.e. detect if the wheels nudge it) you can’t react to it and correct it. My pupil had no chance – there was rain on the windows, rain on the mirror, rain on the road, no visible kerb line, and no physical kerb to feel with the wheels.
Expecting a learner to do a parallel park as if they were wearing a blindfold in such poor conditions – conditions that 99% of all other candidates don’t experience – is wholly unreasonable. It’s no wonder stories about “quotas” start circulating when an examiner basically forces someone into a fail like this.
I repeat, this article refers to a test in 2011. I can’t even remember who the examiner was, or if he (it was a “he”) is still working.
Most people will have seen the news this week, where a supply teacher in Bradford was stabbed by a 14-year old thug.
Well, the little animal who did it was in court today and he’s obviously been remanded in custody. In fact, the minutes leading up to the stabbing were most likely the last he will ever see from the outside of a prison – certainly if there is any justice in this world. People like him are soulless and are best kept away from society permanently. Quite frankly, the same goes for whoever dares to claim responsibility for bringing the little dickhead up to be like this in the first place (and any siblings who share his, shall we say, “radical” views).
What was amusing (if you can find any sort of humour in something like this) was that he cannot be named “for legal reasons”.
Someone should tell that to The Sun. They have a front page and a double spread with photos of the thug as he was being arrested. They have printed everything they can about him, including his name and probably – if I look closely enough – his inside leg measurement. There’s enough information to carry out identity theft!
The problem is that their actions could easily be used by the little scumbag’s defence team as having prejudiced the case, making prosecution either more difficult or more costly (perhaps both).
This was first flagged (officially) back in December 2014, and the initial email warned that from 8 June 2015 the paper counterpart of the licence would no longer be valid.
DVSA has issued an update now that the deadline is imminent (as of this update, it is now in force) – and this is aimed at ADIs.
As an approved driving instructor, this will mean the following for you and your pupils:
When presenting for lessons
You can check your pupil’s photo card licence for ID purposes. However if you want to carry out further entitlement checks you can do so by using either of the following:
- ‘Share Driving Licence’, DVLA’s new online driving licence enquiry service
- DVLA’s existing telephone, post and intermediary enquiry services
This user guide gives further information about how you can carry out further entitlement checks.
This user guide tells your pupils how they can share their driving licence with you.
Several things are apparent from this. Firstly, ADIs only really need to check the photo card for ID purposes (which is precisely what I said in the latest issue of ADI News (June 2015)). But if they still want to play James Bond and find pupils’ inside leg measurements, those two links in the above quote provide the means and the explanation for doing so, because it turns out that the new Show Licence system allows temporary sharing of the information. I’ve given step by step instructions on the Information page.
The DVSA email makes it clear that entitlement checks will have been carried out at the time their test was booked. Examiners will not be doing any additional checks on the day of the test other than looking at the photo card. I suppose that ADIs come in earlier in the learning process and have slightly (and I mean “slightly”) more reason to want to check entitlement – the View Licence service shows penalty points and disqualifications.
One significant change is the fact that pupils are going to have to send off their licences on their own when they pass if they have switched addresses at any point. Fortunately, they won’t have to pay for it and they can do it online or by post – I’ve given more details on the Information page.
Pupils with EU/EEA licences will need to apply for a D91 form before they can book their tests. At the moment, I cannot find any reference to D91 other than in this DVSA email. That must be on its way.
You should destroy your counterpart after 8 June 2015 (I’d wait until 9 June if I were you).
Edit: I noticed someone on a forum complaining that pupils wouldn’t be comfortable entering their National Insurance number in front of the ADI on a laptop in the car. Erm! I don’t think that’s how it works.
What happens is that the licence holder (pupil) generates a code at home, or wherever they would normally access the system, using the View Licence feature. They send this code to their instructor, who then uses the separate Check Licence feature to redeem the code (the ADI also needs the last 8 digits of the pupil’s licence, which they should have anyway). The code is valid for 72 hours and can only be used once.
The system is designed such that non-essential confidential information is not compromised. The pupil shouldn’t be doing it in the car with the instructor present, and the instructor shouldn’t be requesting that they do so.
Edit: I noticed on another forum – and in spite of DVSA setting out clearly how to do it – someone complaining about having to handle NI numbers or obtain “printouts” from pupils.
Look, people! The pupil logs into a special site and obtains a share code. They give this share code to their instructor, who then logs on to a totally separate site using the code – not their NI number – and is then able to see their licence details.
Yes, the pupil could print the code out. But they could also text or email it – the email option in particular allows cut-and-paste of their share code. It really isn’t rocket science.
Edit: I’ve had several tests since 8 June and examiners are definitely not asking for the paper counterpart. You can dispose of yours without any worries.
Only a few days ago, I wrote about how a notice had appeared stuck up on just about every wall in the building which houses the Beeston Test Centre informing driving instructors that they MUST stay in the waiting room while their pupils are out on test, that they MUST NOT go into the reception area, and that they MUST pass through the reception quickly when entering or exiting the building in order not to be seen by anyone who might be visiting.
The tone of the notice suggests that typical visitors include royalty, senior politicians, and the non-corporeal figureheads of most major religions.
Shortly after I published that article I received an email via the Contact Form from an instructor in this area. Here’s what he or she says (the email address doesn’t make their gender clear):
I saw your story about those letters at the Beeston test centre and thought you would like to hear what happened to me today.
It was a nice day and I went into the reception to get a coffee so I could go and sit outside. I saw the reception woman come in and I could feel her standing somewhere behind me. I assumed she was waiting to make sure I didn’t sit down anywhere so I ignored her. I picked up my coffee and went to the door. As I was just outside I heard “excuse me, excuse me”. I turned and said “yes” – spilling hot coffee all over my hand as I did so. She just said “THREE cups? THREE?”
What I had done is use three paper cups nested inside each other because the coffee from that machine is very hot and you can’t walk far without having to put it down. Unable to bitch at me for sitting down in the foyer she decided to go for something else. Like I said she was standing behind me just looking for something to complain about. I just said “its because the coffee is hot. Why don’t you put up another notice about it?” and walked out.
I’m not sure if I would have been as diplomatic. All I can say is “three cups! I mean, THREE paper-bloody-cups”. Someone call the police.
One thing I didn’t realise is that the woman in question is new. I never had any problems with the previous receptionist, who was quite friendly, nor did I encounter any loud or noisy instructors. However, it would appear that this harridan is prepared to lie through her back teeth to get what she wants, and from what I have been able to pick up from others ADIs have been smoking, crack-dealing, and plotting bank heists using a 500W PA system just outside this woman’s lair. Such has been the nature of the justifications given to DVSA prior to posting all those notices. Whenever I sat in there, I saw very few other instructors. What I did see, though, was an endless stream of noisy and dirty workmen and delivery boys.
DVSA is a tenant of the Beeston Business Centre just as much as anyone else. I can only assume that this vicious woman – who never seems to do any work – is either prejudiced against them and/or learners and instructors, or is just a bitch to everyone who works there.
The centre manager needs to get his act together quickly. He needs to remember that he (and his staff) work for the tenants – it’s not the other way around. It sends shivers down my spine, because it reminds me so much of some of the scumbags I used to have to work with. All it takes is one promotion, one single change in their job description, and their ego runs riot, sprinting miles ahead of their actual ability.