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STROBE
S2 licensed
My wheel has sat for what seems like ever in the corner of my living room, on top of that pile of stuff you should really find a home for but never get round to doing.

With a part of real life turning a bit shitty right now, I found myself thinking about a time when life felt simpler and less burdened. Last night I found myself staring at the wheel. I free the trapped USB cable, slide the keyboard to one side, plug in the Driving Force Pro and let it do it's little rotation dance. Still seems to work fine. Now where's LFS? Oh, I'd better download it and unlock it. There we go.

Wow, the new Westhill is looking good. Pity my driving isn't. Never mind, let's go online and I'll figure out my way round.

Oh, there isn't anyone online. Not racing, anyway. Yes, it's late in the evening, but I'm in Europe. And there's nowhere to race other than demo BL1 servers. Hmm. I'll try tomorrow.


So I tried tonight and had some races. I was slow, struggling around at the back of the grid. I'd lost my touch and was having to relearn it again. But then as the tracks changed, first from WE2Y to KY2 to AS7Y, some synapses started to fire again. I began to remember where I needed to dab the brakes to shift the weight and settle the car, where to run the kerbs and where the last braking points were. And when did the XRG get ABS? It felt reassuring and also somewhat disconcerting that after so many years, there was still a place in my brain that told me how to drive certain tracks and attack certain corners. I wondered what the funny smell was and realised it was the dust in the wheel getting hot from the FFB motors.

As I scrapped for positions at the back of the field around an Aston configuration I barely ever drove in a car I never specialised in, real life weighed on my mind again and I shut down LFS and detached the wheel. I was 23 when I first started with LFS S1. How time flies. My little sejour back into LFS felt like a window into a previous time, because unfortunately that's what LFS is. The feel is still there which is what counts, but everything else looks and feels dated, as if it is, like me, 10 years older but prefers not to think about it.
STROBE
S2 licensed
I miss...
  • Famous names from the early years of the game. Somewhere in my mind I have vague, hazy, fond memories from 2003 - 2007 of racing against famous or distinctive liveries of the likes of DSRC, Afri-Cola, and those guys in red with "Plantronics" across the rear bumper whose name I can't remember. Not to mention of course, what I think of as the "classic" big teams that dominated early seasons of MoE.
  • Hard to put a finger on, but I just recall a feeling of community on the track back in the early days. LFS was something different, and great, and most of all it was new to everyone. People were still learning things, finding new ways of having fun, distinctive new teams getting created, new leagues being started every week, etc. There was a camaraderie and enthusiasm on the track that had long gone by the time I gave up waiting on LFS and retired my wheel to the cupboard last year.
  • Active development. When the game was new and relatively basic in many areas, development was quick with significant results. I know it's the law of diminishing returns - the more sophisticated it gets, the more and more work is required to implement the slightest changes to the required standard - but I always felt an anticipation of where LFS would be headed, and what would be added to it.
  • As much as I enjoyed driving in the CTRA, with hindsight I have a certain fondness for the pre-CTRA days. It seems a strange thought now with all the insim programs, points scoring systems, controlled cruise servers etc, that at one time all we had, and all we needed... was just a plain old LFS server.
STROBE
S2 licensed
Excellent episode - in fact it felt more like an episode from the earlier seasons of "new" Top Gear, i.e. they were actually talking about, having fun in and enjoying nice cars (instead of smashing stuff), and what's more, they drove some cars on the road, away from the test track!!! Rubens is a top bloke too.

I so want that Maserati in black.
STROBE
S2 licensed
Never mind the small army of police wielding G36s, sniper rifles, armoured cars, and the RAF Tornado on patrol in the skies above. Gazza is here to save the day!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new ... to-offer-his-support.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2 ... paul-gascoigne-raoul-moat

And sorry if it makes me a heartless bastard, or a keyboard warrior, but I can't see any good coming out of this if he remains alive. I'm sure none of the individual officers want the burden of having to take his life, but as an entity, the police should demonstrate no hesitation in pulling the trigger if the situation requires it. He's murdered an innocent man simply because he was going out with his chavvy ex-girlfriend, seriously wounded the ex-gf herself, and attempted to murder an unarmed, innocent traffic cop.

I can think of some countries, such as those starting with "United States" and ending in "of America" where the law enforcement agencies would, quite rightly, decide to "take care" of such a guy.
STROBE
S2 licensed
Rofl. Quality coverage from ITV.
STROBE
S2 licensed
Quote from DevilDare :What about the Sony A330? Is that decent DLSR for a newbie? Thanks.

As a Sony user I wish I could recommend it, but I think it's awful. It's probably a good camera... if your hands are half the size of the average person. The grip and ergonomics are horrendous.
STROBE
S2 licensed
Whilst not belittling the scale of the potential (and growing) disaster with BP in the Gulf of Mexico, apparently more oil is spilt every year in the Niger delta by American oil companies.

Something which the US administration, media, etc don't seem to find so interesting, which makes their finger-pointing at BP rather hypocritical.

None of which changes the fact that I really hope the leak is capped pretty damn soon. As already said, we're running out of the damn stuff. Some suggest that the depths and efforts oil companies are having to put into their drilling suggests that peak oil may be approaching faster than anticipated. Oil companies are putting huge resources into extracting from seriously deepwater oil fields that are relatively minuscule. So even aside from the environmental concerns, we don't want to be pissing it into the sea.
STROBE
S2 licensed
Quote from Stiggie :good representation of what polaroid filters are for.

I usually find they have the desired effect when placed fully over the lens so that the camera meters through the filter. Otherwise, all you show is increased saturation due to the 2/3rds of a stop of light they block out, and little to do with the actual polarising effects.
STROBE
S2 licensed
Haven't posted in a while, but fortunately I have had the camera out recently. I was asked by my gym to shoot some images for them, which I duly obliged.



Bit different from my usual shots, but nice to do and was a good experience, learnt plenty from it too. The full story and a couple more shots I've put up on my little blog (which I thought would help make me post & publish photos more often, but I still seem to need more discipline!)
STROBE
S2 licensed
I'm curious, so I have a quick question for y'all.

With all the vocal opposition to the tories on here, is it conservatism in principle that you consider the anti-christ, or just the Tory party in it's current state?
STROBE
S2 licensed
Quote from thisnameistaken :I honestly think that a coalition of all other parties excluding the Tories would work.

It would work at driving this country even further into the ground, I'll give you that.
STROBE
S2 licensed
Quote from trebor901 :if i shake it you can hear something rattling inside so i'm gonna take it to our local camera specialist and see if they can do anything with it to save me having to send it to Tamron who dont actually have a UK hq for repairs

I'm going to risk insulting your intelligence here and check that you're actually turning the zoom ring, not the focus ring.

It seems an A17E is a 70-300, not a bad lens for the price, but most definitely not an internal zoomer. Sounds broken to me. Intro2020 are the UK agents and distributors for Tamron, but as always your first port of call should be the place you bought it from, it's up to them to replace or repair.

(EDIT) Fantastic pics DWB - I went to a bike race last year and discovered how bloody hard it is to pan and focus on little things moving that fast! Looks like you've done a great job. But I still hate you for the glorious light that seems permanently present in your part of the world. Grrrrr....
STROBE
S2 licensed
Quote from Intrepid :...the state to have complete control your health and well being. In effect own your body. So they have all that data and information and all that power...

The thing is, they don't. The govt tried to get the nation's medical details into another Big Brother database, which was made to be opt-out rather than opt-in. Because most people only care about who's going to win Britain's Got Talent, virtually everyone would automatically be opted in. Fortunately a small enough stink was raised that it's temporarily on hold at the moment. Some people don't care about it, but when you consider it, it's a hugely significant shift. Your medical records, looked after and updated by your GP, would be transferred and handed over to the control of the state. The idea of central government needing control and ownership of the nation's health records is one which I find very creepy.

The NHS is in a poor state, make no mistake. Billions have been thrown at it by the NuLab govt, albeit much of it through PFI which our grandkids will be paying for, with little regard to efficiency and planning. However, the thought of a purely private system is horrible. The free nature of the NHS does make some people take less responsibility for their own wellbeing - you can generally spot them, they're the ones lined up outside the lung ward sitting in the wheelchairs, having to go outside for a smoke. Makes me wanna grab a fire extinguisher to put out their fags, then bat 'em round the head with it. But most people do take care of themselves, and the NHS is there for them too. Like me. I'm pretty healthy (bar occasionally overdoing it on the old vino) and go to the gym and keep in shape and don't eat much in the way of crap. But when I overdid it in the gym, I damaged my knee cartilage and the NHS fixed it for me.

Don't get me wrong, there's lots of downsides to the NHS - the public sector inefficiencies, some appalling staff, astonishing headcount of employees, the simple financial cost - but Britain would be a lot worse off today without it.
STROBE
S2 licensed
Not sure which way I'll be voting on 6th.

In principle, I'm a mix of conservative & libertarian. People should be left free to achieve their best and be rewarded for it. Other than the obvious aspects of keeping law & order etc, the state has no business meddling in people's lives. I despise the way the state today has wheedled it's way into every aspect of life, from parenting, morals, social engineering, ridiculous "green" policies, surveillance, etc. The current govt despises the people it is supposed to represent, and considers them the enemy. What gets me even more annoyed (and to be frank, scared) is the proportion of the population that is quite happy to be hand held and told what to do "for their own benefit/safety/etc" - it's quite depressing just how many people simply want to live way beyond their means, in a mountain of debt, living from paycheque to paycheque, thinking only about how pissed they can get at the weekend, and hoping they can recover in time to watch the X Factor with a tikka masala in front of them.

Bit like the government then, really.

Government to me should be small, efficient, wholly accessible and openly democratic. The public sector should pay as little as possible in the interests of taxpayer efficiency, and benefiting the private sector that funds the public sector.

So in theory, I should vote Tory. Except for one small problem. Some of them are a bunch of crooks and David "Dave" Cameron is just too fake and stage managed for me to believe him. He gave a good performance in the final tv debate, but it was all rehearsed. There was no determination, no passion, no anger in his voice when he was hitting Gordon Brown across the face with all of Labour's abject failures in the past 13 years. It's just political games and pointscoring to them.

I like some of the LibDem proposals regarding freedom and civil liberties (no DEB, no ID cards etc), but I can't vote for them because they want even more to do with Europe (I want less, much less - get as far away from Greece as possible!), and they want to get rid of Trident which is just sheer lunacy.

I can't vote for Labour because I'm not stupid.

Who's left? UKIP?
Infinity Bridge
STROBE
S2 licensed
Nice new footbridge a short drive from me:



Further images and comments are posted on my photo blog. It took me while to get warmed up after standing around taking these...
STROBE
S2 licensed
Quote from Bob Smith :Close ups:
http://bmp.thefloatingwidget.n ... s/Pothole%20-%20above.JPG
http://bmp.thefloatingwidget.n ... le%20-%20with%20ruler.JPG
http://bmp.thefloatingwidget.n ... s/Pothole%20-%20depth.JPG

Show location (only useful if you're local):
http://bmp.thefloatingwidget.n ... le%20-%20from%20north.JPG
http://bmp.thefloatingwidget.n ... le%20-%20from%20south.JPG

Jeez, that's not much of a pot hole. There's a worse one on Sandyford Road which wallops my rear suspension every morning; and a recent trip up the A1 in the early morning for some dawn photography of the Northumberland coast had an "oh shit" moment when I hit part of the A1 beyond Alnwick at 80mph where the road could be best described as "unsurfaced". Another outing with the camera to Derwent Reservoir (which turned out to be a wasted trip anyway) found me on B-roads where it was perfectly safe to travel a lot faster were it not for the fact that my eyeballs were almost being shaken out of my skull.

It feels to me as though the country's entire road network needs resurfacing, but it's never going to happen while councils are spending so much of our cash on executive salaries, outreach workers, diversity officers, propaganda etc. Not to mention the council's maintenance, surfacing, and gardening crews I see are always doing sweet f.a., or driving as slowly as possible from one job to the next.
STROBE
S2 licensed
Quote from DeadWolfBones :...with Eneloops or good quality 2500 mAH batteries you should be getting roughly the same battery life (500-600 shots per charge) as you would with a proprietary battery.

I'd be most disappointed with 500-600 shots per battery on my DSLR using a proprietary lithium ion battery. I've taken 600 shots before and only used half the battery. And since my vertical grip contains two of the things, I can have a long weekend away and not need to take a charger with me.

AA batteries have their uses, but they don't belong in DSLRs imho.

Back on topic, I'd have to agree with the Pentax K-x as being the best entry level within the indicated price limit. The only downsides that I'm aware of are a lack of focus point indication in the viewfinder (a dealbreaker for me personally, but probably not for many people), and a more limited choice of lenses - even if some of those lenses are excellent. Remember when you buy a DSLR, you buy into a whole system, and you'll need to research which system offers the most things you want. Look at things like lens selection, future body upgrades, whether features like weather sealing or image stabilisation are available, etc etc.
STROBE
S2 licensed
Quote from Velociround :Just some pics I have taken.

Could you make them a bit bigger for me?

@ Highsider: Beautiful photos. Although I don't generally like faux blur on the background, I must admit it works on these and gives the images some pop. That shot that spanky quoted is brilliant. What shutter speed was used? And where do you find a car park with such clean, white floors?!

Here's one of my own taken recently.



Pretty decent panning attempt, if I may so myself (at least, compared to my other efforts. :shy Unfortunately I seem to twist the camera as I pan, giving them all wonky horizons, and upon straightening the shot, the tail has just crept out the frame.
STROBE
S2 licensed
I think you just need to look here.

But nonetheless:

City, Country: North East England, UK
Time (local): 20:22
Weather conditions: Dark and wet
How you feel about it: Needing the lights on and the roof over my head.
Sunrise at Holy Island
STROBE
S2 licensed
Finally, I've been out somewhere with the camera this year! I'm going to make much more of an effort in future to take photos and process them and post them, otherwise they all just sit on my hard drive.

Sorry for the watermarks, but blame the upcoming Digital Economy Bill and the orphan rights it contains - I'm not letting anyone take my copyright, no matter how shit the images are.

Anyways, these were taken a couple of weekends ago, looking out at Holy Island (Lindisfarne) off the Northumberland coast.





More of the series and some sunrise tips have been posted on my new little photography hobby blog.
STROBE
S2 licensed
Lovely shots there DWB. Very jealous of your D700 - I wish Sony would bring out a D700-style camera.

Quote :

How many megapixels does that beauty have?
STROBE
S2 licensed
Haha, that first hula hoop shot is awesome, really conveys a sense of fun and light-heartedness.

The choice of gritty urban location for the second shot isn't an obvious choice for me, but it certainly shows off your lighting skillz once again.

Good stuff.
STROBE
S2 licensed
Sorry Spanky, I've not got any pictures, but I have just found a photography-related story that I found amusing. It's also a bit political, I'm afraid.

The Party of our Grand and Glorious Leader, NuLabour, has in their infinite wisdom started a propaganda flickr group entitled "Change We See", for people to upload photos of all the wonderful things NuLab have done. The Party has helpfully started it by uploading photos of health centres, renovated tower blocks, community centres, stadiums, and many other things no doubt built under PFI.

Less helpfully, the proles started uploading their photos - of police officers, cctv cameras, their stop and search forms, billboards and propaganda, and all other paraphernalia that characterises our increasingly Orwellian police state.

NuLab's zealots have worked to remove the offending images, but they appear to be fighting a losing battle. Not only is their official group now peppered with images NuLab don't want you to see, but there is another group set up called "Change we are not allowed to see" where the anti-Big Brother images have free reign.

I may get some images of the phalanxes of static ANPR cameras polluting my local roads and contribute those. At least I'll have an opportunity to get my camera out.
STROBE
S2 licensed
Quote from SamH :Gah.. not happy about this, but...

Yeah, I thought you'd say that, but after a stressful day and a few glasses of wine I felt like saying just what I thought.

Y'see, I never said he has no right to use a DSLR, but simply suggesting that if he's not arsed about image quality or handling his kit in a way that won't gouge the front element of his lens, then is he really looking at the right kind of system? Hell, my previous camera & kit lens got dropped, covered in salty spray, and so on. When I got it, it was my first DLSR but I'd bothered to learn enough about it so that when I was sure I wanted an SLR, I knew about the system and I knew that things such as screw-in filter thread sizes were (amazingly enough) available on the lens manufacturer's websites.

Of course pros abuse their kit. I probably would too, if I was a pro. But as a hobby, it's purely a luxury, not a profession or an income. I treasure my gear and go to great lengths to protect it because it cost me significant sums of money. So this idea that scratching a lens is somehow "unavoidable" suggests to me that the owner isn't really bothered about looking after their luxury hobby equipment. Which makes me ask, "what do they want it for?"

Quote from SamH :Eh!? If Jack wants to chuck money at a camera, some memory cards, and some protective filters then what is wrong with telling him about filter screw threads and sizes? Does he HAVE to memorize a cameras for dummies manual before we allow him to pitch a few simple questions (or venture into SLR photography at all)? He wants to protect his lens. A UV filter will help. The nanocrystal coating and a petal hood will do the rest. He's beginning his photography journey and I think supporting advice rather than disparaging comments are called for.

I think of it more as "tough love" than disparaging comments. DSLRs are a bloody money pit, as I will readily attest to myself when I look in my camera cupboard at all the bits I've bought. Too many people think that simply buying an SLR and some bits and pieces will make their photos better, but it's the photographer that matters. What's wrong with making him sure that he actually needs and wants an entire DSLR system rather than, say, an advanced compact or bridge camera instead?

Quote from SamH :There was a time when I was that guy, though. I spent many thousands on camera kit of various qualities over the years, and it was 20 or more years before my "photography epiphany" - that it's up to ME to get the photo, not the camera, the bag, the jacket with the lens pockets, the slave flash units and the rest. But that journey was my rite of passage, and the lessons I FINALLY learned from, decades later, all still count and I use them all, every day I go taking photos. I'm afraid I just can't accept that Jack's learning curve should be dictated to him. He's looking for a starter DSLR, tips on precautions and advice on hardware. I'm honestly at a loss to understand your fervour.

Jack's learning curve should only be dictated by him and his ability to understand what the camera system offers, rather than being spoon-fed solutions on this or any other forum.

When he says, "I was up at 4am to photograph a dawn sunrise at the coast and my lens got covered in salt spray, what's the best way to clean it?!" then that is rather different to what he is saying now, which is effectively, "I've not even pressed the shutter yet on my DSLR which I'm still to receive but what should I use to stop me putting a big scratch in the front of my lens?"
One is an example of wanting to take a picture regardless, the other is an example of getting kit without knowing how or when to use it.


Quote from SamH :Well.. I thought the same.. but then I realised, on a less gloomy day, there wouldn't be any headlight trails to capture

Well, yeah, I figured that, but thought a similar shot a bit later on a brighter day would achieve the desired effect - just at that stage when drivers have their headlights on but the sun is setting. Obviously not an option in the current climate, but I hope you take more in better conditions in spring/summer weather.

Quote from SamH :I would have liked an ND32 but my camera has a prohibitive problem with noise on exposures over a minute or two. I think 45 seconds is about my limit, really, before the image is speckled with red noise dots. I picked up the two ND8s so I could mix and match.. I wanted to be able to take longer exposures while holding a shallow DOF. I'm going to look for an ND16 because I think when the weather turns up, I won't be able to get the longer exposures even stopped down to f/22 or greater (I think f/32 is my limit at 105mm). At 18mm, though, multiple filters are beginning to visibly encroach on the corners.

Yeah i think every camera risks more noise/speckles with longer exposures. Mine offers the option of taking a second "exposure" with the shutter closed, to identify the hotspots and then subtract them from the real image, but this means doubling the time taken for the exposure i.e. a 2 min exposure is followed by a 2 min capture from the sensor with the shutter closed, total image time is 4 mins which is quite restrictive so sometimes I switch it off. The corner vignetting is always a pain, hence why I bought a wide-angle holder which only accepts one P-sized filter, which means I can't double up on filters, but I guess you can always crop slightly.

Quote from SamH :[edit] Jack's new lens WILL come with a cap, and if it doesn't he'll still need to see the screw thread size before he can buy one. When the salvaged strap cuts his neck, with the weight of his DSLR, he'll go buy a wider one.

Exactly. He'll learn whatever he needs from experience by giving it a good go and finding out, like everyone else.

Where were the water shots taken, out of interest? Quite curious as I should at least make the effort to take such shots with my ND8. High Force is the obvious subject, but having the time to get there on a good day is a different matter.
FGED GREDG RDFGDR GSFDG