Diary Of An ADI

A Driving Instructor's Blog

This one is so sad that it’s funny! The Broadway Hotel in Blackpool apparently charged a couple £100 via their credit card because they posted a negative review of their stay there on Trip Advisor. The hotel even had it written as a clause in their small print that they would make such a charge if anyone said bad things about them.

If you look them up on Trip Advisor, Broadway Hotel has a 2-star rating, placing them in 858th position out of 894 hotels in the area. Out of 256 reviews, over 200 customers rated them as “average” or worse (147 rated them “terrible”). Assuming they charged all of the “terrible” voters £100, the hotel will have netted a cool £15k – or over £25k if they didn’t like being rated as anything other than “fantastic”.

As it turns out, Broadway Hotel has now scrapped the “fine” clause after Trading Standards went sniffing around. There is no mention of any refunds, though. The wording in the article clearly states that they will stop doing it “in the future”. However, by implication this means they shouldn’t have been doing it in the first place, which implies in turn that any “fines” already levied were invalid.

The reason it’s so funny is that you really couldn’t have ended up with a worse review as a result of trying to engineer a good one. Even better is the fact that my neighbour’s cat could have sussed that such a ploy was wrong on just about every front imaginable, and that it was only a matter of time before it backfired on whoever thought of it. And you can’t help wonder why Broadway Hotel didn’t put as much energy into just fixing the problems as it did trying to hide them through what would be tantamount to extortion if you wrote it into a film script.

extortion

Law. the crime of obtaining money or some other thing of value by the abuse of one’s office or authority.

The obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under colo[u]r of official right.

It remains to be seen if this is the end of the matter now that it is clear Broadway Hotel was overstepping its mark.

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According to this Classic Rock interview it doesn’t look like Rush will be touring in 2015 at the moment. It’s not definite that they won’t, but the fact that they’ve not decided yet is. Something is going to happen, that’s certain. It’s just a matter of when. Geddy also talks of “itching” to get back to the studio and record a new Rush album, and he says Alex feels the same way. Geddy Lee of Rush

Incidentally, my R40 Boxed Set arrived today, It’s a beautifully packaged product and I’m looking forward to some quiet time to go through the 10 DVDs it contains.

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TickWell done Anna, who passed today with just 3 driver faults. She now joins her boyfriend, Clive, who passed a couple of weeks ago, with a shiny new driving licence. They’ve already got a car (bought as soon as Clive passed), and as they’re expecting their first child in the new year this was important to both of them. Anna even said that if she failed today it wasn’t the end of the world because Clive had already done it and so transport was no longer an issue for them.

It’s nice to be able to make a difference to peoples lives like this.

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An email alert from DVSA warns learners how they can save money by avoiding scam test booking sites. DVSA doesn’t refer to them as scams, but that’s what they are – even if they do actually book your test for you. If you book your test thinking you’ve done it using the official route then you have been scammed.

The theory test costs £25.00 (down from £31.00 from October 2014). The practical test costs £62.00 (or £75.00 on weekends). If you get asked to pay more than these prices you are being scammed. If you don’t get a booking immediately, or if you cannot choose the date from a list, you are being scammed. You should only book through GOV.UK.

As DVSA says (in the link embedded in the email), it is difficult to know when you are on the official site and when you’re on a scam site. Many of the scammers deliberately make themselves out to be the official DVSA site, and ALL of them want to purposely mislead you to take your money, no matter what words they have put in the small print now that the hounds are on to their scent.

If you see a misleading advert on any web page, you can report it here. Don’t be afraid: do it. ANYONE who is trying to handle test bookings for you other than your instructor is a scammer one way or another (and if your instructor tries to charge you a fee for doing it then he’s a scammer, too). It’s best we all report them.

DVSA says it is “working with the search engines” to have misleading sites removed. This is funny, since most of the scammers will have paid to get themselves to the top of the searches in the first place, and I can think of one very large search engine that is particularly averse to removing anything that affects its revenue in any way. So good luck with that one, DVSA!

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Here’s the first Philae image from the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (taken from the ESA website) by Philae – the small lander which touched down yesterday,First image taken by Philae from comet surface

It’s quite intriguing. After a lifetime of being told that comets are balls of “dirty snow” it looks pretty rocky. It also looks pretty solid, even though we’ve been repeatedly told it’s more like a big sponge since Rosetta arrived earlier this year.

It turns out that Philae’s fixing harpoons didn’t fire on landing, nor did its securing screws manage to bury themselves in the supposed icy surface. So it is just sitting there in a low gravity environment and – it would appear – on the edge of a steep drop. Fingers crossed that it stays put and does what it is programmed to do.

It also seems that when it first hit the ground (the one reported at around 4pm yesterday), it bounced hundreds of metres and took a further two hours to land again. Then, following a smaller bounce, it landed once more seven minutes later and finished in its current location.

Note that ESA images are larger than the one I’ve put here (I resize them to fit the page).


The latest news is that Philae eventually settled in the shadow of a cliff, and this may affect how well it can charge its batteries since the solar panels are not fully illuminated. One of its feet is apparently off the ground. The first bounce took it about 1km back into space before it landed again 2 hours later. After a smaller bounce, there is a suggestion that it is resting against a wall of some sort. It may even be lying on its side.

Although Philae weighs about 200kg here on earth, the very low gravity on 67P means that up there it only weighs about 1 gramme, so it could easily be thrown into space again, especially if comets vent anything like the one in the film Armageddon did. Having said that, one thing we HAVE discovered is that comets – this one certainly – are nothing like we have believed them to be for the last 100 years. There is also a worry that attempting to use Philae’s drill might move it, though this might be tried to positive effect when battery power begins to fail and all other data are obtained. Another possibility is that as 67P nears the sun then there may be more light and Philae will wake up.

You have to remember that there was only ever a 75% chance of success with the Philae part of the mission. Rosetta itself has achieved 100% of its goals, and if Philae never manages to drill, the images sent back by it mean that it has been successful beyond all realistic expectations. The entire mission has been the most spectacularly successful since Apollo 11 in 1969.

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I’ve been following the Rosetta mission with interest, and today it has reached its peak as the main Rosetta probe discharged a smaller probe – Philae – to land on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.Philae seen from Rosetta shortly after release

The picture here (courtesy of ESA) is good enough – it shows Philae shortly after it was released by Rosetta to start its descent. Just imagine that this is happening around 500 million km away (it takes half an hour for the signals to reach Earth).

Some of the other images of the comet itself sent back by Rosetta have been incredible for their detail.

The mission overall has been impressive by virtue of the fact that Rosetta has bounced around the solar system for 10 years picking up speed and chasing down the comet, finally meeting up with it in August this year. The probe has travelled somewhere above 4 billion miles in total, and caught up with an object travelling at around 34,000mph and a third of a billion miles away!

And incredibly, after all that, Philae has successfully landed as of just after 4pm GMT on 12 November 2014! Well, half an hour before that, allowing for the signal transit time.

This really is an historic occasion (and I remember watching the moon landings when I was a child).

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An email alert from DVSA advises that next year – no dates given yet, though somewhere between January and March is mooted – Leicester’s Gipsy Lane test centre will close and tests will relocate to the ex-VOSA building on Cannock Street. Driving tests should be booked as normal in the meantime. The new location (or old, depending on how you look at it) will be refurbished before tests move there.

I’m sure the usual vipers will see something negative in this. However, since DSA and VOSA merged to become DVSA, having separate facilities would be stupid, and the new location is less than 2 miles away from the old (existing) one.


As an update to this, DVSA is asking for feedback on the move. I don’t think they want to know if you like the idea, but rather what your views would be on a gradual switch.

Obviously, only those who use the test centre really ought to be completing the questionnaire.

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TickWell done Clive, who passed first time last week with just 6 driver faults. His job means he has to get up very early and being able to drive means he will now be able to have a few hours longer in bed. On top of that, he and his girlfriend are expecting their first child early in the new year and being mobile is going to be very important in the coming months and years.

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TickWell done Lucy, who passed with just 6 driver faults last week. She’s another one whose job meant that being able to drive would make life a lot easier. That, and being able to take her son to football practice.

She’s been fun to teach, and knowing she’ll now be able to get around makes me feel especially good.

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TickWell done to Sy, who passed a couple of weeks ago first time with 9 driver faults. We managed to iron out the stampy foot in the end!

He’s already bought a car and will now be able to take his wife and kids places they couldn’t go before. It’s these sorts of details that make this job so enjoyable. And he is planning a motorway session in the near future.

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