Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Nürburgring Web Cam


German local time (UTC/GMT +02:00):

This is a live web cam image at the start of the famous Nürburgring track in Germany. The image is updated every minute or so.

Click here for current conditions and a schedule of events. For information, check out Ben Lovejoy's website.

There are a lot of sites that have a collection of pictures from the web cam. Here are a few from earlier this year:



Sunshine Again

The sun finally came back today--although it's not going to stay long: rain is forecast for tomorrow. I've been itching to see the effects of the polarizing filter I bought. This is the result:


The filter really cuts down on the glare and makes it easier to see the true World Rally Blue colour.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Nikon D50 - STI Guage Sweep Pictures

I took these pictures in the garage this afternoon while the kids were napping in the car. I'm not sure which I like better....

STI Guage Sweep 1
STI Guage Sweep 2
STI Guage Sweep 3

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Last Shot

Yesterday the weather turned nice and I was able to take one last shot of the carbon fiber roof spoiler with the old digital camera. Yes, "old" because I bought a new Nikon D50 digital SLR in Bellingham. Even with state sales tax, I saved about $200 CAD versus buying in Canada. Also, there's no duty charged on cameras so when I crossed the border, I simply paid GST/PST which I would have paid if I bought it in Canada anyway.

When I got home I immediately set the camera to take RAW + JPEG shots. But when I downloaded the RAW files to the computer, I quickly realized that I was getting in over my head since the RAW files are not processed at all. So for now I'm just shooting JPEGs and letting the camera do the work for me. It seems that I don't have to do any of the retouching/fixing that I needed to do on my old point and shoot camera.

I'm looking forward to using the camera and learning more about taking better pictures. I appreciate how quick it is to focus and snap a shot, which is really important when you try to capture spontaneous moments. I guess I was ready to take the next step to a DSLR because I'm already wanting to try out the manual settings.

Here's a couple of shots I took with the Nikon D50:


Saturday, May 20, 2006

I lost 2 pounds in 10 minutes!

Installation of the carbon fiber roof spoiler was really easy and the fit of the new part was excellent. The weight of the stock roof spoiler is 1.750 kg (+/- 5g) or around 3 lbs, 14 oz. The carbon fiber one is about 0.820 kg or 1 lb, 13 oz.

The only problemn is today's weather. It's overcast and a bit rainy so it's hard to see the texture of the carbon fiber unless you're up close. Here are a few pictures. I used a flash in the last picture to bring out the texture more.



I'll post up sunny day pictures as soon as I get a chance.

2006 Subaru STI: Carbon Fiber Roof Spoiler


I picked up the carbon fiber roof vane yesterday after work. Rush hour traffic was terrible, but I was able to make it there and back in plenty of time. It was actually my first time in Point Roberts, WA. The whole process of receiving the package and bringing it back to Canada was quite smooth and the border guards were quite pleasant to deal with. And it only cost me $2.20 USD :0) for the shipping services. I'm sure if I had a courier company bring it across for me I would have paid a lot on brokerage fees.


These are the first pictures. The actual weight of the carbon fiber is about 820 grams (1 lb 13 oz). I'll be installing this after breakfast and it will be interesting to see how much the stock steel one weighs.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Greetings from Illinois


The part I ordered is in transit and on schedule. It passed through Illinois yesterday.


Last summer I drove through Chicago on a road trip from Thunder Bay, Ontario to Washington, DC. I was particularly excited because even though it was my first time in Chicago, I felt that I was familar with the city already--especially the skyline along the Chicago Harbor. Back in the early personal computer days (early 1980's) I did a lot of flying in and out of Meigs Field on Northerly Island using Microsoft Flight Simulator. You can find out more about the History of Microsoft Flight Simulator at Wikipedia. Click here to open this placemark in Google Earth.


So last summer when we drove through I-90/I-94, I felt like I was re-visiting one of my childhood retreats and it was strangely comforting seeing a building for the very first time in person and knowing exactly what was behind it. I have fond memories of crashing into the Sears Tower many, many times:

Saturday, May 13, 2006

At the speed of electrons


In stark contrast to my dealings with the local Lordco store down the road from my house (see the blog entry here), it was a pleasure to deal with RavSpec Online who happens to be thousands of miles away, across the North American continent in New York.

I recieved an email today telling me that the part I ordered through a group buy was ready to ship and would I please send the final payment. I had a question about the actual amount so I emailed a reply and within minutes I received a response. I promptly sent my payment through PayPal and the product was processed through UPS the same afternoon. Whoo-hoo! I'm so excited. The custom-made carbon fiber roof vane should arrive next week just in time for the long weekend!

Friday, May 12, 2006

I hate poor customer service

Lordco is a local automotive supply store. It's an alternative to the national Canadian Tire chain. Lordco has quite a few locations around British Columbia and they are able to order a lot of different things. However, I'm thinking they're working in a different time scale than the rest of us....

My saga began six months ago in December 2005, shortly after I purchased our Subaru Impreza WRX STI. I wanted to get a new set of all-weather mats because although the ones I bought at Costco provided adequate coverage for the front, they were very ineffective in the back. Husky Liners have a good reputation and are sold in pairs with the front and back separately. I went to Lordco to order a set for the rear. They don't stock an item like that so it was back-ordered and the ETA was 6 weeks.

Through to the end of January, I still had not heard from Lordco. When I talked to one of the sales guys he could find no record of my order. So he said he would place the order right then. Unfortunately, it was back-ordered so it wouldn't be for another 6 weeks or so.

Fast forward seven weeks to March 22, 2006 when I finally got a call from Lordco and went to pick up the mats. Unfortunately, the second guy had ordered front mats, when I wanted the rears. No problem, I said. Let me just see how they fit in comparison to what I have right now. I gave him my cell to keep while I took the mats out to the STI. They fit great so I bought them. But I said, I still want a set for the rears. No problem, the guy says. I'll order them for you. Oh, they're back-ordered. It will take another 6 weeks....

Fast forward another seven weeks to today. I go back to Lordco. A girl helps me. She checks on the computer and can't find any record of the order. Who did I order it from? she asks. That guy standing there at the end of the counter, I say. How long ago was that? More than a month ago--it was back-ordered. Oh, she says. She makes a call to someone to check the back-order paperwork. Nothing. So what does she do next? She calls the guy I ordered it from--yes, on the phone, she calls the guy not doing anything at the end of the counter who's standing no more than 30 ft away from us! She asks him in a really low voice if he remembers ordering some Husky mats for me. She whispers, "for a Subaru." It's so comical that I can't help but pretend that I can't hear what she's saying. I look over at the guy and he's looking at me and he starts to flip through the parts catalogue on the counter. They're both talking as if I can't really hear what they're saying! The girl hangs up and says to me, "Yeah, it's back-ordered. He'll call you when it comes in."

Uh, yeah. As I walk away I see the guy madly flipping pages in the catalogue. WTF? He's ordering it now? What are the odds that he's going to order the right part? I'm not crossing my fingers. In fact, I think I'm going to give up on Lordco. Wait for my update in another 2 months....

I'm all for supporting local businesses like Lordco, but isn't waiting more than half a year for a set of floor mats a bit unreasonable in the age of Web 2.0? This sort of business practice exhibited by Lordco is so sad, it's laughable. I wanted to spend my money there, but they're definitely not making it easy!

Friday, May 05, 2006

New Interpretation


A couple of weeks ago I was in Vancouver and I took some pictures of the STI (see New pictures, old camera). I was waiting for a break in pedestrian traffic and this woman just happened to walk into one of the shots. This particular picture has become of my favorites. I posted it on Nasioc and someone did a little Photoshop retouching. His interpretation is what you see above.

On a side note, I got a chance to push the STI a little bit more today. I went into a slow tight corner a lot faster than I would in regular car. As I approached the mid-point I thought for sure the STI was going to understeer and I would have to apply the brakes or exit the corner wider than I anticipated. Since everything was clear, I decided to stay off the brakes and exit wide if needed. To my surprise, the nose tucked in, so I applied some more throttle and the STI never wavered from the exact line I wanted. I was quite impressed :0)

Here's an explanation I found at IWSTI about how the STI is setup:
It is not understeer. It is the front limited slip differential. When power is applied the diff begins to lock. This slows down the outermost wheel and that pulls the car to the outside. When you lift off the throttle, the diff is in more of an unlocking state and the outside wheel can turn more than the inside. This gives a tighter turn when you lift off the throttle.

From someone else:
A couple months after I got my car, I went to Laguna Seca and the instructor with me commented on how well you can steer the car with just the gas. Come in a bit too hot, let off the gas, let the nose tuck in, then roll on the throttle again. You can pretty much keep the steering wheel in the same position and adjust your line with the throttle. Fun stuff.

One more thing: the warmer weather means driving with the windows rolled down and I love hearing the rumble of the boxer engine :biggrin: !

Thursday, May 04, 2006

21 21 21 Great Blogs To Read !!!

21 21 21 Great Blogs To Read !!!

I'm very flattered to be included on this list. Check it out, I'm number 619!

2006 Riding Season

The warmer weather has returned and last week I was able to remove the extra liner from my motorcycle jacket. A couple of mornings have still been a little chilly, but that's what makes the heated grips so nice. I've also noticed a lot more riders on the road which is nice because it feels less lonely :0)....


Tuesday was also the one year anniversary of the purchase of my Suzuki Burgman. I remember when I was signing the final paperwork at the dealership they had asked me if I wanted to insure it. It was a bit of a surprise to me because, unlike for cars, ICBC doesn't require that motorcycles be insured when you take it off the dealer's lot. Being the newbie that I was, I had the Burgman fully-insured for just over $1200....

When I got my insurance renewal papers this year, I did some research on optional coverage and found a much better deal. ICBC was going to charge me $946 which includes collision and comprehensive and $2 million 3rd party liability. Coast Capital offers motorcycle insurance but doesn't give coverage if you have had your Class 6 license for less than 5 years. (That information should really be stated on their web site. I only found out after waiting for someone to call me.) Beacon quoted me $325. I finally went with Megson Fitzpatrick in Victoria. I heard a lot of people mention them over at BC Sportbikes and they emailed me a quote of $216 for "All perils" and a $1000 deductible. That was way better than ICBC. I chose a high deductible because I would probably pay for any minor damage myself anyway. Since Megson doesn't offer 3rd party liability, I bought it from ICBC for $36. So, the final result (both basic and optional coverage):
  • Canadian Direct = will not insure mega-scooters
  • Coast Capital = rider must have at least 5 years experience
  • Beacon = $644
  • ICBC = $1262
  • Megson = $537
I saved over 50% by going with Megson Fitzpatrick.

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