It’s Been Too Long

It’s been so long since I last wrote that I don’t really know where to begin. Mostly, my life has changed radically during the last 18 months, and it’s been a whirlwind. Those closest to me know all the details… those from further afield… well, email me and I’ll fill you in.

 Suffice to say, there’s no point assigning blame because no-one is blameless. But the new reality is, and we deal with it as best we can.

For my part, I must say that work and life as a general rule are going OK. I still get up every day, still go to work and enjoy what I do (most of the time), and I still enjoy the little things in life like my son, driving my car and just generally trying to get the most out of life. Sure, financial constraints have hit us all recently, and I am no exception. But I make ends meet every day, and I try to make the best of it all. I know I say this a lot, but hopefully I can start updating this page a little more often now that my life has settled into a bit more of a daily routine.

So what’s new with me recently that I will talk about in a public blog? Well, I can start with my car I suppose since I am a pretty much certifiable car geek…

So for those who don’t know, I love to drive. I found a love for driving back in around 1996 when I bought a 1995 Subaru SVX. While a heavy, automatic-equipped coupe it was also an absolute blast to drive. I tooled around in that, then over time found myself in a 1994 SVX with more equipment. Other cars I owned during the last decade or two included a Saab 900 Turbo SE (awesome little car; not fast but handled incredibly) and a Pontiac Grand Prix GTP (fast big car, and handled surprisingly well for a mid-size American sedan). So fast forward to a few years ago and I bought myself the car I always wanted; a BMW 3-series. Yeah, I know… make jokes but the 3-series really has been the epitome of the drivers car for a very long time.

My car is a 2001 BMW 330i, equipped with sport package (suspension, wheels, and an “M-Aero Package”), premium package (leather, a few niceties) and a 5-speed stick shift transmission. Now, this little car has not been without its issues and problems, but now that I’ve been tracking everything since I bought it I can say that I’ve averaged about 26 miles per gallon (US) and had an absolute blast. And despite some occasionally expensive repairs and maintenance (tires, brakes, an oil leak etc.) I have averaged about 25 cents per mile over the last 17 months I’ve been tracking. Not half bad for a car that’s approaching 116,000 miles.

So what is it about the 3-series that draws drivers? Really, it’s a combination of factors. There’s the fact that the car is relatively small, though roomy enough for 4 adults for middle-length trips. There’s also the perfectly weighted steering which communicates precisely what the tires are doing at every moment during a turn… it’s almost like the car will tell you exactly when you can push it harder… and will push back accordingly when you’re about to go too far. It’s that telepathic connection you seem to have, like the pedals and wheel become almost an extension of your body as you drive that draws you in. Particularly if you’re of the mindset that a car should be driven, not just transporation from point A to point B.

Recently, my car has exhibited some symptoms of age; some of the plastic and rubber under the hood has become dried and brittle. So much so that over the weekend I had to replace the lower intake boot of the car when it tore open and began to throw “Check Engine” lights because the engine was suddenly running unexpectedly lean. I imagine if I weren’t the kind of person who was willing to turn a wrench occasionally, my cost of ownership would be quite a bit higher.

Anyway, I have to say that even as I pulled the entire intake out of the car to get to the intake boot, and was leaned over the hood for three hours with my arm contorted into strange and wonderful shapes trying to reach a cable clamp that had obviously been put on the engine when there was a hell of a lot less stuff attached… that the process of actually fixing stuff that goes wrong with an older car can connect you with it in ways you never expect.

I did both the air intake repairs and an oil change (with oil and air filters) at the same time… and driving the car afterward and feeling the car just performing like new is an incredible reward.

And here’s where it gets funny; this car with 116,000 miles on the clock DOES feel like a new car. Believe me, I’ve driven newer cars and have generally failed to be impressed. Despite its age and miles, this car still feels as planted, predictable and solid as the day I bought it… more so in fact because some of the repairs were from stuff the previous owner broke and never repaired.

So I guess this becomes almost a love-letter to my 2001 E46 (internal designation) 330i Sport. This car has traveled a long way with me but never fails to put a smile on my face every time I drive it. The bodywork and design are timeless, beautiful and understated. It never seems gaudy or garish, and can cruise along all day with aplomb… yet when you hit an on-ramp or a stretch of twisty road the car will both accelerate faster than you expect and probably corner better than you can.

BMW owners come in for a lot of flack because they own a car that’s been received as a status symbol multiple times over the years.

You know what? I’m not sure the BMW drivers really care.

Disappointed, Hurt and Tired

Isn’t it amazing? How life just always seems to confirm your worst suspicions, even when you hope for the best. Today has left me feeling bitter, tired, disappointed and incredibly hurt. It’s also left me with a certain sense of inevitability that I had been putting aside (I thought) for the good of those closest to me. It now appears that an attempt at a power trip has taught me that I was wrong to hope for the best from people, and that instead I should just accept that some things I do not and will never have power over, and that I need to protect those things that I do. Continue reading

First Post in almost a Year!

OK… second post. :P

Well, I just got it confirmed and totally official; I’m going to VMworld this year in San Francisco! Woohoo! I can’t wait. I had a fantastic time last year meeting up with old friends and making new friends while I was at it. It was a truly incredible experience, at least in part because VMware are quite open to allowing competing vendors in.

There was a recent brouhaha on the blogosphere about the exhibitor agreement containing language that seemed to indicate that VMware was preventing competitors showing off their products… but it appears that was mostly generated by someone else trying to drive traffic to their own site. Figures;

1. Create a virtualization blog
2. Post deliberately inflammatory article
3. ???
4. Profit!

Hmm, now I know where I’m going wrong!!! Woohoo! Time to drive some traffic to my site with an inflammatory article about something no-one reads! Like newspapers ;)

Quick Update

Life has taken loads of turns of late… for the better, and the worse. Still, I’m surviving, getting by and am actually still alive.

To who’ve emailed lately wondering if I’m OK… thank you… I am. It’s just been rather hectic and trying to respond to all the people who’ve been in touch is tough… but I WILL be in touch with all of you. I’m hoping to add much more to this blog going forward… and yes, I know I’ve said that before… but this time I’m serious.

More content coming up… stay tuned…

Definitely out of it

Well, another blog entry… though sometimes I do wonder if anyone reads my prattlings.

I’ve been depressed lately. That’s part of the reason I’ve not been blogging. That and the fact that in order to combat the depression I’ve not been home much. As a result, since I don’t get online from work since I actually now have a job that requires me to actually DO some work (unlike my last one in which I was busy but could do the job blindfold).. well… that leads to blog stagnation. And that’s not a bad thing… it just means that anyone who DOES pay attention is not getting many updates :)

So what’s going on that’s making me depressed? Oh… the usual. Money worries, economy worries… plus there’s then the feeling that I’m suddenly surplus to requirements at home and not really needed any more. I know that’s not a fair thing to say, but it’s the way I’ve felt recently.

There’s other stuff of course… and those who know me best already know what they are. But the thing that kills me is that I have every reason to be happy, but I’m not. Anyone else feel like that occasionally? Sad thing is, I really don’t know what to do to fix it.

So for now, I’ll just blog occasionally when I have stuff to say. I just installed Flock on my Mac to manage my blogs and social networking stuff… awesome browser tuned to a VERY specific purpose and I think I like it. I think I’m going to use it to see if it’ll help me keep up with my Facebook, LinkedIn and other social network profiles that I have scattered all over the place.

Until next time… ciao… and email at the usual place if you wanna chat or give me feedback. Or just comment :)

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Back in the Saddle

Yay! OK… for those who’ve followed my automotive adventures to-date, my car blew a head gasket back in January. Because of finances and stuff I had to hold off on repairing it because I already had three vehicles and didn’t feel fixing my E46 was worthwhile. For those who don’t know, an E46 is the internal BMW code for the model of 3 series I have; See here for more information if you’re interested in learning more about the E46.

 

Well, I got the money together and in March I put my car in the shop to replace the head gasket, seals and stuff. 

 

Fast forward… four weeks. Ack! Yesterday morning I got the call that my car was finally ready. I’m not happy about the time it’s taken to get it all back, but things are definitely better now that I can go get my car :)

Continue reading

Hacked, By Jove!

Well, OK… maybe not. Maybe I was just hacked by someone with a script and a desire to build his bot army. Either way, this site was hacked over the weekend. Yay. I think.

Apparently, there’s a bug in Coppermine (which I happen to use to host the picture gallery) which is currently allowing a scripted hack. This hack inserts an invisible frame into every page that hits some script, the usage of which is not known by me since it was down when I got hacked! I found a lot of good info here about exactly the hack I was hit with, but not much about what it actually does.

So, what did this mean for me? Well, it means those people I promised last week I’d send them email… well, I will this week… promise! I spent a good chunk of yesterday (Sunday) going through my site, securing it and cleaning up hacked pages. It affected every HTML and PHP file that was owned by the user that Apache runs under. Easily fixed; remove write access to the Apache user to all its files… it doesn’t need to write anything anyway!

Unfortunately, at the moment the fixed version of Coppermine (1.4.16) is not yet available through Gentoo’s Portage… so I must either download it myself or wait until it hits Portage. I think I’ll wait; keeps my system nice and clean and easy to work with :)

So, if you see anything amiss on the site, PLEASE let me know. I didn’t feel like cleaning up WordPress or Coppermine, so I reinstalled them both on the site then secured them. So things may not be exactly as they were last week… but it ought to be close enough.

And if you visited my site after 9:19am on Saturday morning, make sure you scan for viruses and/or trojans! That’s when the hack hit.

That’s all for this update. End of line.

Busy ^3

 OK, it’s been too long since I posted but things have been hectic. I don’t get time to sit down and write posts nearly as often as I’d like simply because life is too busy to believe.

I do intend to post the second part of my trip report real soon, but I do have some updates on life in general that I need to put in. Continue reading