All posts by MrDaz

Darren Jamieson, aka MrDaz, is the Technical Director and co-founder of Engage Web and has been working online in a career spanning two decades. His first website was built in 1998 and is still live today.

My car, my car, my kingdom for MY car!

This is my first real rant, which is in essence what this site has been created for – but I’ll keep it short to break you in gently.

Right, I went to Manchester in July for a reunion with Uni pals, and a serious bender. All went well, if not a little dark at times. It was the return trip where things started going pear shaped.

I drove back down the M6 on the Sunday, ignoring the Motorway warning signs declaring the road ahead shut. Not delays now, shut. Can’t be, surely?

Oh yes, it was shut. Seems that there was a major crash in-between two junctions, and everyone had to get off at Stoke on Trent and divert through there. Wouldn’t have been a problem, only there were road works there constructing a new bypass to cope with all of the frequently redirected traffic. It took me hours to get within touching distance of the Stoke city centre, when I noticed the car in front was smoking badly. I barely had time to laugh loudly when I heard a bang, and my car stopped.

It was my car that was smoking. Arse biscuits.

BMWs are not supposed to break down. I had to wait over 2 hours for the AA to show up, only to tell me what I already knew in that the car couldn’t be fixed at the roadside as the radiator was shattered.

I then had to wait for a truck to take me the rest of the way back to Newport , South Wales . It was 4:15pm when I broke down, and gone 9:00pm before the truck arrived due to the traffic.

Sodding hell or what?

We arrived at my garage of choice, in Newport at just after midnight where I left my car. This is where it gets really bad, pay attention. I returned the next day after work, having borrowed my dad’s car – complete with lecture on the stupidity of going to Manchester for nothing more than a piss up. I dropped my keys off at the garage, the Hillcroft garage in Langstone, for your reference, and returned home.

Just after 1:00am that night I received a phone call from the garage (boy they work late I thought) only to be told that they’d had a break in, someone had taken the keys I’d dropped off a few hours earlier and my car had been stolen.

Oh, it’s getting good now… but it gets even worse yet.

So my BMW Z3, complete with broken radiator, has been nicked? No problem, might be a blessing, I needed to sell it anyway. After contact with the insurance company I felt better, as they were going to ensure that I received the money for the car by pursuing the garage and their insurance company.

Sadly, the estranged wife got wind of this, and as the policy was in her name, she instructed the insurance company not to speak to me.

WTF???

That’s right, I now couldn’t talk to them, as she was trying to claim the insurance money… on MY CAR!!! Naturally I cancelled the direct debit. What use is paying for insurance I can’t claim, on a car I don’t have?

About 2 months ago I received the most unexpected phone call of all; the police had found my car!

I know; I was shocked as well. However this has kind of stuffed things up a bit, as I’ve since bought another car. Plus, and this is the worst bit; the garage have had the car sat in their workshop since then, refusing to touch it until their insurance company decide what they’re going to do with regards to fixing it, or writing it off and paying me the cash. Naturally, they’re not doing anything.

So my car is in limbo, the garage is failing superbly to do any work and their insurance company can’t be bothered to do anything at all, the whole while I’m down around £6K or one BMW Z3. Maybe I’ll get it back before Spring 2007, so I can sell it for the Summer. It’s a convertible remember, and they don’t sell well during the Winter.

Lessons learned here? Don’t ignore Motorway signs, insure your own car and never get married. Also don’t use the Hillcroft garage in Newport, or Royal Sun Alliance as an insurance company. At least I’ve taken something from it.

You’ve failed your highness, I am a Jedi

I pondered long and hard on this one. I’m going to a Halloween party with a mate in Leeds Uni, and couldn’t decide what to go as. I looked at replica Michael Jackson Thriller jackets on eBay, but they were all in the USA and none had any sizes listed. I tried asking a few questions to one of the sellers and had the standard American response of a few words that failed to construct a sentence, or convey any information, let alone answer my questions. I figured sending this person money would be a mistake.

So, I had my back up plan of going as Doctor Who (the Eccleston incarnation) but that’s kind of a cop out, as it basically means going as myself. It would have been a good costume mind, very life like.

There was one nugget staring at me though. The Jedi costumes I saw at Collectormania a couple of weeks back. These things range from £230 – £430 though, steep eh? But you can’t put a price on being a nerd, and I certainly can’t. The only decision was do I go for the Obi-Wan or the Anakin version?

After much soul searching, and a quick poll of the office, I plumbed for Obi Wan. This doesn’t mean I’m a good guy mind, I just like to look inconspicuous… yeah right.

So, this thing should arrive by the weekend, and when it does you can be sure I’ll have some pics up here of me wearing it. Followed by some pics of me going to the shops in it, and going to work in it.

You think I’m kidding don’t you?

Almost there, we’re into the final stretch

Well – the gallery on this blog is now in place, and finished so photographs can be added, and comments can be posted on each one. I’ve only to finish the system that allows Blog users to edit the variables and images on the site and I can start cloning this site for others.

The first recipient of the Blog will be Duh_Prez from the Transformers forums, who will no doubt turn it into a spam fest of epic proportions. Other members of the forum have already made their interest known, and have formed an orderly queue for a site of their own.

Eventually this blog will form part of the bigger plan, which is a website called www.TheWebKit.com – that is currently being branded by Not Jones. More on that one soon.

Build the Blog, and they will come

An interesting idea has arisen (courtesy of Duh_Prez from TheTF.Net forum). As this Blog site has been built already, I could very easily offer it to the community within my network. There are many people in there who would relish the carte blanch that a blog such as this would give them.

So… with that in mind, I aim to construct a blog syndication for TheTransformers.Net shortly so that the users of that site can have their very own blog, just like this one. They’ll be able to run their own blog site as they see fit, under their own sub-domain, and even skin the site however they choose.

Is there a point in me doing this I hear you ask? Of course there is, but as ever with me, the point is hard for the uninitiated to see.

It’s there though, trust me!

Page Rank 6 for Transformers!

Page Rank may not be the most important thing in the world, but it’s nice when you get one above a 5 – and TheTransformers.Net has just received a PR6 in the latest Google update. I imagine much of this is due to the recent SEO contest run by v7n.com where TheTransformers.Net finished 7th out of several million results. You can see the top ten results here. This was achieved in part due to the online TF community all supporting the website with backlinks, hence the PR increase.

All makes sense now don’t it?

Google and MTV Video

Google recently completed a trial of new video content in their Adsense program, and one of my sites: www.thetransformers.net was selected by Google to trial the ads. Flattered, and slightly intrigued I ran the ads as they requested, expecting some content relevant to my site to be filtered through.

Unfortunately I only received one video link, that never updated, for Sponge Bob???

Suffice to say it wasn’t a flying success, and the video seemed to slow the site down radically as it loaded.

However, last week I received a parcel from Google! Some branded tat perhaps, like the stuff they send to their top publishers? No, it was strangely a lava lamp. Not quite sure of the relevance of that one, but then the video ads themselves were a little wide of the mark for my content, so I’m not really surprised. Nice thought though, thanks Google!

News of the MTV / Google deal can be read on the BBC site here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/5254642.stm