I think I may eBay some more stuff, may be my mother

Started at a reasonable time. Something slightly different today, chasing a memory issue which causes a problem as it’s not mapped to the GPU. The main question still exists about what the hell it’s trying to do accessing the GPU anyway. Joy. Walked Sasha, probably at the only time when the weather wasn’t shit. It was cold again today. Went to Combat. We did the new one. Liz is leaving, I find she’s fine, other people find her irritating, I find other people irritating, I’m sure she will be irritating elsewhere. Came back and did a bit more work. Think I’ll go to bed, very tired still from the weekend, want to get a reasonable start tomorrow.

Whatever you do, don’t throw the bloody thing into the ground

So today started early again. No problem with that. I was the first to arrive in the car park at just gone 8:15. We cracked on at about 8:45, the only one missing was the Russian guy. We had a chat about a few things and then moved down to the hangar where we went through all the pre-flight on the R22. We used G-OJAN, which is the helicopter I fly. We found a couple of interesting things wrong with it which were quite worrying. It was absolutely fascinating though, the detail that had gone into the design and the redundancy of the systems. A couple of hours passed very quickly, we had a tea break and then Dick’s laptop blew up, literally. We went through a whole shit load more of stuff. Then we had a lunch break, I managed to cobble together another laptop with slides and things. After lunch we went through the operating manual and lots of numbers. We were asked a question about available power and how to calculate a few things. It all revolved around landing in the garden of a girlfriend, who’s daddy had a prized 400ft Beech tree. So we all did the calculation, picked up the GF and then all died and crashed into the tree. The one thing the whole room forgot to take into account was the weight of the over eating bitch. It’s all in the flight planning. Last part of the day was taken up with watching the R22 being safety tested to produce a thing called the ‘height / velocity curve’. Which is a diagram which contains things called ‘avoid areas’. This is to allow you to take off safely and also be able to recover in the event of a failure. The only problem is, someone has to come up with these figures. In 1979, when the helicopter was designed, two poor test pilots had to fly it at different heights and different velocities. Now as they had to simulate the ‘average’ pilot, they also had to incorporate a 1 second delay before they did anything. Considering the rotor only has the potential energy for 1.1 seconds they have fairly large testicles. So they fly at say 100ft at 50Kts and throttle chop, so killing the engine. Then wait one second. Then try and land it. Then they do the same thing at 40Kts etc. To the point where they crash. At that point on the video, where its just hit the deck, broken both skids, and slid alone the tarmac a few hundred feet you can hear Frank Robinson say ‘That’s where we’ll put the X on the graph then’. It is testament that it’s quite a hardy beast as these two test pilots got out, dusted themselves down and just got on with it. I still have the flying practical to do, which should be good fun.

At the end of the day I shook Dicks hand. He said, ‘Thank you for saving my life with this bloody laptop’, I replied with just, ‘Thank you for hopefully just saving my life’, and we parted ways.

Statistically, Out of the group, I’m the most likely to die

So started this morning far too early, but it was fine. Had a quick breakfast and a coffee. Jumped in the car and made it to Staverton in plenty of time. We all sat in the front room, it was like waiting in a morgue. Anyway we all got upstairs after ‘Dick’ (Richard Mornington-Sandford) had got setup. We went round the table and introduced ourselves. I was the only non-ppl holder, everyone else was a qualified pilot. I mentioned that I took up helicopters after karting for ten years was beginning to take quite a physical toll. Richard then said that I’d gone up his list of people who will die ‘quite a lot’. I’ll rant on this in a bit.

Course, I must admit was absolutely fascinating, learnt a huge amount of stuff which will hopefully keep me alive. This chap is a bit of a male chauvinist, doesn’t like the French and not too keen on the Germans. At one point he asked who was married, I just didn’t go there….. Total respect for the guy though. He has survived an engine failure in an R22, twice. Has 20,000+ hours on all sorts of shit and is ex. airforce. There is one thing I think he was very wrong on though, and we did discuss this after the session today….

The assessment of risk….

He instantly thought that just because I raced karts, that I was a big risk taker. I don’t agree with this for a number of reasons. His point was that we ‘always drive on the edge’, that point is very much correct, but that doesn’t mean to say we haven’t assessed the element of risk. I raced a kart for ten years, never had a serious accident, okay then you can say, ‘oh well you’ve had accidents’. That in racing I’m afraid is unavoidable. Mainly because you cannot depend on ‘what the other guy does’. In that ten years, I had one accident that was caused by myself. That was probably close to 500 hours at race speeds. I maintained my own kart, I never ever had one mechanical failure or one engine failure, as far as I know I was the only team (There is an I in team) that achieved this. It was all to do with assessing risk. Does this part need replacing? Do I take that line through the corner? It’s all assessing risk. Does Lewis Hamilton have a death wish? Does he always put his life in danger? No, I don’t think he does. He does what great race drivers do, he assesses risk, he is not prepared to die for a race move. In a kart I built up the experience to be able to assess risk. In a helicopter I have no plans to do anything different. I certainly will never attempt to put a helicopter ‘on the limit’, because the risk factor is far too high. You have to operate within your limits, the important thing is to know where you’re limits are. At one point in the day he asked ‘How many people didn’t break the speed limit on the way up here?’. I was the only one who raised my hand. I left plenty of time, I was in no hurry. I could have belted up the M5 at 160MPH+, I didn’t. I plodded up the M5 at 60MPH, saved fuel and listened to the news.

We had this discussion. I did describe that fact that I’m so paranoid about dynamic roll-over that James has told me I’ll never get one, because it’s always at the forefront of my mind. I also described by ‘two part’ take-off technique which is the same one he recommended. I was very attentive and asked questions. He told me after are little chat, ‘I think you’ll be just fine’. Statistically, just by going on this course I’ve reduced my risk considerably for myself and my lucky passengers. I put my name down for the course, no one told me to, Captain James doesn’t even know I’m doing it.

So, yes, I know all about ‘risk’. I look forward to the second part of the course tomorrow.

“Collection only”, does not mean you can send a courier and expect me to pack everything for you

Started this morning rather late. Anyway, trying to polish off my presentation and upgrade ‘Visual Studio’, reasonably successful, other than it won’t talk to Perforce. Walked Sasha. Went to Pump, which was taken by Ann, who is lovely, even if the contents of tonights class wouldn’t look out of place at a morgue. Did a bit more work. Got very irritated by people on eBay. Speakers say ‘Collection only’, you turn up and shove them in your car. I will not ‘carefully pack them’ so you can send a courier, and I’m not expecting them to fucking America, I’d rather just dump them at the tip.

Early start tomorrow, off on this safety course.

So how long does it take to assemble a TV cabinet, all fucking night

So yesterday all was fairly normal apart from the bug I’ve been working on for weeks looks like an SDK/hardware problem. Anyway, Dillon went to daycare, Sasha got walked, I went to Pump. After more work I got all the boxes out of the garage. Then spent the next four hours assembling two speakers and a glass TV stand. Which does look very nice, but took fucking ages to get right. Got the amp installed and connected it to CD player, gave it a quick blast. Speakers sound okay, need to set it all up.

So today was all about finishing the first draft of the presentation slides. Which I did indeed do. Then installing SDK updates, which turned out to be a right pain, as support for VC2010 has been dropped and I don’t have any later versions. One the company needs to sort out. Popped out and picked up the missing centre speaker I was waiting for, also took back three meters of cable and got a £45 refund on it (yes it’s bloody pricey). So now I have a bit more setup to do and then I’m going to give it a blast tonight.

Still debating about projector screens. Yes, I’d like one which came down automatically when projector is activated etc. But I can’t really justify spending £500 on a bloody roller blind. Amazon seem to do one which has good reviews for just over a ton, and it’s motorised, and it’s huge.

So as my fear of engine failure increases, a plane goes down over the Alps killing 150

Woke up this morning to the radio alarm, with an A320 going down in the Alps, killing all on board. And that’s a very reliable aircraft, bit of a mystery that one at the moment.

Got up and got on with it. Managed to get my ‘bug’ down to one draw call. So set that off to support. Spent the rest of the day doing battle with power point. Got the demo of the latest one. Managed to produce twenty-five slides so far. Walked Sasha in the rain. Went out for a walk later in the rain. Did two hours of studying meteorology, I now know what wind is. Disassembled the TV unit, I’ve tried to book that all to be collected. TV is currently on the floor, I may assemble the rack tomorrow. Richer Sounds has the centre speaker in, so I may go and pick that up Thursday. Jamie has been busy with my credit card, we almost have a holiday booked.

About ten days in and still have a flashing bloody tile cache

Got up late. Usual Monday morning, couldn’t do bugger all. It was freezing as well. Walked Sasha, wasn’t long today, too cold. Went to Combat, gave that a good effort. Then came back and did a couple more hours, managed to narrow the problem down a bit more, still there though. I really have to get on with these presentation slides tomorrow, they need to be in by the end of the week. Been looking at projection screens as well, another bloody minefield that is. Did clear up some of the living room, I’ll try and do a bit more on it tomorrow.

Second fishing exposition takes ten minutes

So got up, had breakfast then took Sasha out for an hour. Then it was onwards and upwards on the DIY front. Cut out another section of wall and drilled down. Opened up the floor again and got working with my ‘fishing rod’, got the wire on pretty much the first attempt. Hooked it all through. Apart from almost sealing my torch under the floor it all went pretty much without a hitch. Next job is the lighting. Went out for a walk. Went over to Jamie’s mothers in the evening, managed to drive clean past the motorway exit. So fairly successful day. Need to get the lighting and the screen sorted next. Lets try and get it all done over the next few weeks.

I walked in the shop and was completely ignored

So started off with breakfast and then took Sasha out for her walk. Came back and made my Tool station list, plus printed out an email from a certain online retailer. Then I ventured off into town. Walked into posh hifi shop. There were three salesman babbling over by a till. I walked round for a bit, then walked out. Crossed the road, walked into Richer Sounds. Perused for a bit, then accosted by a salesman who asked if I was okay browsing or would like some serious sucking up. I went for the second option, after about an hour of negotiation which eventually involved the manager, who is a jolly nice chap they got the price down to twenty-five quid lower than the internet. So I then bought some rather over-priced speaker cable, a sub cable, oh and a TV unit. Went to Tool station. Relocated the car. The manager and I then managed to get two dirty great speakers, a sub the size of a mini, plus an amp into the Astra. I was well pleased. Came back and went for a short walk. Then started the very long process of testing the old kit, photographing it and then sticking it on eBay, which is now all done. Now almost mid-night, must be time for a bath.

So I’m going to go into a top end hi-fi shop dressed like a tramp and see how I get treated

H-Tile, you will be the death of me. But to cut a very long (many days now) story short I think I may have found the cause of my mystery. I’ll wait until Monday to find out though. Spent all morning fixing another bug which was causing everything to go red. Walked the dogs with Jamie lunchtime as the weather was really nice. Got in touch with captain James, we’ll start to do stuff again after Easter. I can then do about four flights in a week. Went to Pump.

So I’ve got a good quote from an online retailer for the amp and speakers I want, including cables and bits, with delivery. Now, I’d much rather give the business to a local shop, so I’ll try one tomorrow. If they don’t provide enough sucking up then they can go get fucked. It will be very ‘Pretty Woman’.