Cars are expensive things

Thankfully this year I havent had to pay for my car’s MOT/Tax/Insurance, my dad has. This is the last time he is paying for my car fully – next year its split 50-50 and the year after it’s all down to me.

The car was due its 60,000 mile service and I knew that a few things needed looking at so was expecting it to be fairly expensive but not as bad as it was.

First up was the road tax which was due before 1st Sept 06 which cost £175.00

Then when it went to Peugeot the following costs were racked up:

  • Carry out 60000 mile service  – £107.73 + VAT
  • Change engine oil – £24.38 + VAT
  • Enviromental charge – £4.00 + VAT
  • Fuel Line Cleaner – £11.95 + VAT
  • Sundry Items?? – £5.95 + VAT
  • HOUSG PLUG SE – £1.05 + VAT
  • OIL FILTER – £7.92 + VAT
  • Carry out MOT Test – £44.15
  • Labour – £261.63 + VAT
  • 4x Brake Pads – £45.80 + VAT
  • FRONT BRAKE DISCS – £87.12 + VAT
  • ANTIFREEZE – £13.05 + VAT
  • WINDSCREEN WIPER BLADE – £6.88 + VAT
  • RADIATOR – £143.668 + VAT
  • BRAKE FLUID – £4.77 + VAT
  • WTR OUTLET HO – £21.19 + VAT

Thankfully the VAT on the service was taken off as I had a nice voucher so the total for the first half was £162.98 and for the MOT+parts came to £736.10

I also have to get the insurance done at the end of the month which is going to cost approx £500

Therefore the total cost of keeping my car, and myself, legal for another 12 months is £1574.08

Facebook bows to criticism

In a letter to all of the Facebook members, Mark Zuckerberg has admitted there were privacy issues with the new FB setup and that they “have been coding nonstop for two days to get you better privacy controls.” Zuckerberg and the rest of the FB team have not removed the feed or mini-feed but have, instead, allowed people to choose what information is viewed on their feed.

I am glad that the features have remained and as i mentioned in a previous blog if you don’t want to look at people’s feeds then why not just minimise them and they will all disappear.

You can read the full letter here

Why all the anti-Facebookness

Anyone who uses Facebook will know that recently it has been through a massive facelift, with the introduction of new features such as the Feed and mini-feed as well as collapsable sections of the FB pages.

These changes have been met with much criticism as they are invading privacy and they should be removed because people cannot possibly bear what is going on. There are groups with over 500,000 people in protesting about it and I know that one of my friends has joined nine groups that protest against the new features. How do I know this? Did I find it on the feed when I logged in? Yes. But I could have found this out by simply clicking onto his profile and seeing that he is a member of these particular groups.

As the founder of Facebook stated in the site’s blog this new feature doesn’t make FB any less secure than it already was. “None of your information is visible to anyone who couldn’t see it before the changes. If you turned off your wall to non-friends, no one who is not your friend will be able to see a post on your wall. Your friends can still see it; it hasn’t changed.” Surely the point of the feed/mini-feed is that you can more easily see what YOUR FRIENDS are doing.

Now I am not saying that the new Facbook features aren’t without their flaws. The general layout of the profile pages is now more cluttered and less easy to navigate but these can be worked on. The ability to minimise sections you don’t want to read allows you to clear the pages up.

I have just discovered that if you minimise a particular section it will stay minimised for any profile you view. Even if you logout and back in it remembers what you did. If you don’t want to read people’s mini-feeds you can hide it. If you don’t want people to know who you are friends with then don’t use Facebook or MySpace or MSN’s Profile system. This latest update to FB has been an attempt to allow its members to more readily see what their friends are up to. If you are not a fan of what the site is then don’t be a part of it.

Orange SPV M600 is here

my new phone has arrived and as usual I have ignored the “please ensure you charge your phone for at least 16 hours” advice that the people at Orange always give.

So far it has worked really well. I have put all my contacts into Outlook 2003 and they are synced with the phone. I had a slight problem when the phone tried to call +4401372****** (my home number) and found that this wasn’t dialing. After a quick edit of the phone book to remove those number-breaking 0’s I now have a full set of contacts on my phone again.

I have also found out that the phone isn’t powerful enough to support Skype mobile which is a shame as I had planned to let my phone double as a WiFi Skype phone when im at home. Instead I shall just have to make do with the normal dialing of numbers and talking over GSM rathar than VoIP.

I could always try to get an M3100 instead which has the 400Mhz processor and see if that is any better than the M600 – but that depends on whether or not Orange are willing to do it as an upgrade phone.

I have 7 working days to try this out now and see whether or not I want to keep it

New phone tomorrow but why didn’t someone tell me about the other one…

Each year around the start of May I start to decide what the latest must-have mobile is. I currently have the Motorola V3 RAZR which has served me very well until now. It has been able to take any abuse from me spliing things on it to accidentally throwing it across the floor. It’s only recent floor has been that the battery life has been reduced from around 5 days to 5 minutes. As soon as a call is made it starts to flash “Low Battery” and beep every few minutes to remind me that if I don’t plug it back in soon then it will have no battery but it is happy to waste its precious resources and tell me this. As a result it spends most of its time connected to the mains and when I go out I hope that if anybody tries to call me it will be for about 10 seconds otherwise they will be cut off.

My other activity at this time is to see if Orange can give me more minutes/texts than i previously had and, at the same time, reduce my monthly bill. I tend to find that this helps a huge amount when trying to get the latest phone for free! However this year Orange refused to budge and when I threatened to leave for another network they told me that they had already put me on their best plan last year when I was upgrading from my V600.

So, i’m not getting a better deal on my calls but maybe they will give me a free phone anyway – afterall I have been with them for 7 years now. No. In order to get the same model phone (V3i) just with a slightly upgraded camera I would have to pay them £50 for the privilege. Furthermore if I wanted to have a more powerful phone such as the Nokia N80 this would set me back £120. It was then that I remembered about the phone one of my friends had. The O2 MDA mini was a PDA smartphone running Windows Mobile 5 and would let you send emails as well as make calls, send text messages, take photos etc. The closest phone Orange had to the MDA was the SPV M600 which was the same size, looked the same and had similar features. The only noticable difference was that the M600 didnt have the qwerty keyboard to aid in message writing. The M600 also would have set me back £100 so I decided to leave it until after my exams and then see what was happening when I got back from Durham.

Upon my return to Leatherhead I found that the M600 was no longer in stock. I phoned Orange every couple of days to see if it was available – No luck. They said they would contact me when one came into stock – i missed their call. Checking the Orange website I noticed it had come down in price and was now free – it was still “Out of stock”. By now it was too close to my holiday in Africa. I decided that there was no point ordering one in case it arrived whilst I was away. Instead I waited and on my return the answers were the same – out of stock.
Now, after almost four months of waiting for the phone to be available a chance call to Orange this afternoon has revealed that it is IN STOCK and will be free. I have agreed to a 12 month extension of contract (I’m not about to throw away 500 mins and 120 txts/month) and I will be able to take receipt of the precious at some point tomorrow between 9am & 5:30pm.

I was overjoyed that this was now available to me but upon finding a link to the phone for this blog I have discovered that Orange have now made a shinier precious that is the same size and dimensions as the M600 and features the qwerty keyboard that I had wanted. The Orange SPV M3100 is the same as the MDA mini except they have put different coloured plastic on the front and back. If I hadn’t checked to for the link in the full Pay Monthly section I would not have known about it. I now want this phone!

Thankfully I am allowed a 7 day cooling off period to decide whether or not I like the phone. If, after the week, I am dissatisfied with the phone I have decided to upgrade to I can arrange to have it sent back to Orange and trial a new one! I will try to see whether or not the M3100 is available as an upgrade. If not then I may try the old “Well I could leave and rejoin Orange” tactic to see what happens!

Either way I will eventually get a nice shiny smartphone to replace the battered old V3.

Intel Core 2 Duo & Windows XP Professional Corporate

Well this works fine

No problems with the install, no broken USB, no audio issues!

It seems that there is just no software available for Windows XP Professional x64 so I guess I will have to send this back to Overclockers and try to exchange it for a copy of 32-bit Windows XP Professional as this just seems like a much better option at the moment. I just hope that the PC will still be able to make full use of the available resources!

Intel Core 2 Duo & Windows XP Professional x64

What a waste of time that seemed to be

Intel’s brand new motherboard doesnt have RAID, XP Pro x64 doesnt seem to have working USB support, all is going down the pan for what was looking at being a very nice new computer for my neighbour.

The system is fully cased up and looking very nice but I am suffering from the problem of the 64-bit architecture of WinXP being completely incompatible with any of the other pieces of software most “normal” people would want to run on their computer.

Now I am by no means a fan on Symantec or their Norton Products (give me Sophos all the way) but for a “normal” home user it is the best of the standard products available on the market. There is however no support for Norton Internet Security 2006 in 64-bit Windows. Having checked the Symantec Website I found that “Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition 10.0 will support Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions, available today“… But I don’t want “Corporate Edition” so I did more digging and found an article entitled Compatibility of Symantec consumer products with Microsoft Windows operating systems which stated that “Windows XP Professional x64 Edition or Windows 2003 Server – There are currently no consumer products that are compatible with Windows XP Professional x64 Edition or Windows 2003 Server.” Bring on GriSoft.

GriSoft is my second favourite AV engine (after Sophos of course) as it has a free version that can be loaded onto most computers and provide decent anti-virus protection for no costs. However after downloading and copy a number of files around the HDD I was told that only the paid version of GriSoftAVG supports x64. Time for the big guns

Sophos would, at least, do the decent thing of installing but I found myself unable to start up the InterCheck Monitor which meant that I had no onaccess scans available. Another worthless installation.

Next I tried to install the Intel chipset drivers off the supplied driver CD. This not only refused to install the audio drivers but also successfully managed to break the USB root hubs for all USB ports on the system. Which in turn meant that I thought the system was hanging on boot as I was getting a NumLock light on the keyboard through the KVM but no mouse activity. I plugged the PS2 keyboard and USB mouse from my brothers PC into the new system and I had working KB but still no mouse.

A quick trip to the Intel site to get their Chipset Identification Utility proved that Intel can’t recognise their own hardware, either that or XP x64 was preventing it from detecting properly, so I searched by mobo part number and found the BIOS update, chipset drivers and other software. Flashing the Bios has helped speed up boot time but not solved the faulty USB problem.

Checking Microsoft’s XP x64 FAQ’s there is no support for 32-bit drivers in the 64-bit OS as this would cause everything to fuck up.

As there was no RAID setup I was able to use the second hard drive to install 32 bit XP Pro onto to see if this would be any better behaved… It’s installing now so will publish results soon