Number Plate Failure to Buy

S73VNS Reg Plate

S73VNS Reg Plate

I recently posted about a DLVA Auction I were interested in. As it happens the main plate I were interested in were S73VNS or in plain text STEVENS.

I opened the bidding at £950, and it rapidly hit £1,500 so I hit £2,000 hoping to scare people away, and then another 2 bids came in, £2,100 and £2,200 and it sat there for a while. I debated pushing it to £2,500, but didn’t in the end.

Now a month or so later, I kind of regret not pushing that final 2.5k bid.

The maths would have worked out like this…

£2500 + 20% VAT
£3000 + (8%+VAT)  – Buyers Premium
£3288 + £80 – Assignment Fee
£3368 – TOTAL

As a personal reg and not investment, were about £500 over my personal money amount. Now I have picked up a suitable car to put it on, which were a steal (pending a full check up), I could have swept the £500 out of the car fund.

This is all the assumption that a £300 leap on £2200 would have secured it for me.

WordPress Plugin Errors and Clearing All Plugins

Slimstat WordPress Plugin Error

Slimstat WordPress Plugin Error

A recently plugin which were auto-updated by WordPress didn’t execute properly. I have no idea why or what happened, the logs didn’t show anything special.

This error meant that: 1, My website were down with an error and 2, Even worse that my uptime checker script, failed to notice this. As it happened I were due to update some files and found the site were down, it had been down for anywhere between 3 and 4 hours.

Fixing The Problem

The problem is quite easy to fix, you need to disable the particular plugin or all plugins directly from your database. This is useful not only when WordPress plugin updates go wrong, but times when WordPress is loading blank pages or you’re unable to access the admin pages after a new version of WordPress is installed.

You can easily disable all WordPress plugins directly from your database. This is useful when you have some problems with your WordPress installation such as not being able to log in to the admin area and/or having blank pages.

You need to login to your WebHosting control panel, which is probably cPanel.

From here you need to select phpMyAdmin, which will probably redirect you. From here select the appropriate WordPress Database from the list on the left hand side.

Scroll down the list of tables until you find the one called “wp_options”. I suggest you click on the column names (option_name ^)and set them to Alphabetic. Look for “active_plugins” which should be on the first page..

MySQL Active Plugins

MySQL Active Plugins

In a clean install this will likely have 2 plugins enabled on this list, which are Akismet and Hello Dolly. This means the “wp_options”.”active_plugins” column will look like:

a:2:{i:0;s:19:”akismet/akismet.php”;i:1;s:9:”hello.php”;}

Option 1: Disable ALL Plugins

Simple click the little pencil icon or “Edit” (see above pic), or double click the line underneath “option_value” and delete all the text, and click save/done, so its now empty.

You should now be able to load wordpress without any problems.

Option 2: Selectively Disable Plugins

If you know which plugin is at fault, you can delete that 1 plugin. If you wanted to disable “hello dolly”, you would change it to:

a:2:{i:0;s:19:”akismet/akismet.php”;}

Each item looks like

i:0;s:19:”akismet/akismet.php”;

i:1;s:9:”hello.php”;

This means deleting everything between i: and which is the line for each plugin, ensure you delete the whole section. If you don’t correctly edit it, WordPress to clear the list and disable all plugins anyway.

You should now be able to login again to WordPress.

Option 3: MySQL Query

There is an easier option, and that’s to run a MySQL query like this…

Once the above is completed, you should be able to login to WordPress.

Reactivate WordPress Plugins

Now you can login back in to WordPress, you will need to reactivate all your chosen plugins. I would recommend doing this 1 by 1 so you verify each one is functioning correctly. You should also take this opportunity to delete any unused plugins and update any out of date plugins.

In my case, it were simply updating the plugin, and re-activating it and all done.

Car Shopping and New Driver Insurance Tips

Broken Car Insurance

Broken Car Insurance

I officially only own a car now, one were sold recently. It still seems bizarre, since I passed my theory test, I’m now looking at a car for me to drive. I am juggling between a few ideas…

Update: I now own 2 cars again, Just bought another Car.

Short Term Plan

Buy an older car, perhaps a 2004-2007 plate, keep it for a year rack up the no claim bonus and experience. This will be a smaller car, and not as useful to lump my gym weights, kegs, logs and other stuff around. Once the year is up, I’ll have a year under my belt which reduces my insurance by approx 8%, the no claims discount will take approx 20% off, nearly cutting a third off my insurance.

I can then buy a more suitable car with the reduced insurance.

Medium Term Plan

Buy an decentish car, perhaps a 2008-2011 plate, keep it for 2-3 yr, rack up multiple no claims and years of experience.  This will be a larger more practical car, able to move all that I need to move but not quite my ideal car.

By the my current estimates 3 yrs experience knocks approx 12% off the insurance and 3 yrs no claims knocks 35% off. These aren’t applied concurrently, so its not like £1000-47%=£530, its more like £1000-12%-35%=£572.

I at this point, would be able to buy a lower trim/spec ideal car, with affordable insurance.

Long Term Plan

Buy the type of car I want, with a lower trim and slightly older registration to reign in the insurance.

I would need to bite the bullet on the insurance, VED and initial costs, but solves all my problems with the other plans. The numbers make it clear, this is a really really bad idea.

Its likely I will need to do Short Term, Medium and Long, or at best Medium and Long plans and progress.

Costing Projections

Ford SuperDuty F450 Super Ranch 2017 Model

Ford SuperDuty F450 Super Ranch 2017

Current costings on an average run of the mill “dream region” vehicle, not allowing for price increases, inflation and blah, based on “fake” information entered into various comparison sites. So I basically set the years of experience, and pass date back 1 yr and increased NCB by 1 yr each step. The figures are levelled off between 2-3 comparison sites, but don’t allow for cashback or other incentives or my age increasing, which in retrospect I should have increased my age by 1 year as well.

Costing Chart

Year 1: £3,700, 0 NCB, 0 yrs XP.
Year 2: £2,900, 1 NCB, 1 yrs XP.
Year 3: £2,200, 2 NCB, 2 yrs XP.
Year 4: £1,900, 3 NCB, 3 yrs XP. (I have no idea why the drop seems small).
Year 5: £1,2o0, 4 NCB, 4 yrs XP.
Year 6: £1,000, 5 NCB, 5 yrs XP. (again not sure why the drop is small, but seems to be a pattern)
Year 7: £800, 6 NCB, 6 yrs XP.
Year 8: £750, 7 NCB, 7 yrs XP.
Total: £14, 450 over 8 yrs.

From Year 7, the drops are small, about £50 per year and it floats around that same price. Not much difference really, I anticipate, about 10% rise each year on top as well. The medium term price cuts the long term prices down about 40% off the top leaving £8,670, the short term plan, into the medium term plan, into the long term plan gives me about 60% off the long term plan leaving £5,780 over 8yrs. Hefty savings to be had with some shopping around and compromises.

Realistic Plan

I think I’m going to have to find a sub group 6-8 vehicle, which fits my absolute basic needs, which is a little like short term plan 2.0, perhaps a Honda Jazz, Toyota Yaris and at an absolute push Toyota Corolla or an older Gen 8 Civic perhaps, maybe even a Vauxhall Astra. I could make do with a VW Fox, but oddly not a Polo, shoulders are just too wide.

So I think I will have to bite the bullet on an older car for the year, and possible move on again.

What is amusing is, I can get insurance on a 1999 plate, 4 litre, Convertible Chevrolet Camero with a custom reg plate, for LESS than I can on a 1.6 litre Ford Focus, the minimum excess is £3,000 but still, how does that happen. A 4 Litre Red Convertible Sports car costs less than a bloody baby engined Focus ? Its actually cheaper to insure the Camero on a provisional than the Focus too.

Final Thoughts

Unless your 6 n a half feet tall, with huge shoulders and a bit of a gut, the trick is go for an old around 15-16 yrs old, group 3-4 car, like an V/W/X-Reg polo/fiesta, you can get that insured for about £500 on provisional, and about £1,400 first year insurance.

Failing that a 2009 plate Kia Picanto, 2009 Toyota Aygo/C1/107, VW Fox, 2012 Skoda Citigo, will all come in around 600-800 on provisional and 1300-1600 on fill license.

A 2006 Honda Jazz, 2007 Toyota Yaris, 2009 Toyota Corolla, 2010 Vauxhall Astra will all hit 1,000-1,100 on Provision and £2,000-2,200 on full license for the first year.

Its also worth waiting about 3 months after you pass before you get a car. I took a quote on a 2010 Vauxhall Astra Active 1.4L, and assumed I had a provisional, passed that very day, and passed 62 days previous, and passed 125 days ago, and all assumed no named driver experience, and 0 NCB, here’s how it worked out…

Provisional: £1,220
Passed Today: £2,470
Passed 62 Days Ago: £2,200
Passed 125 Days Ago: £2,097

All on the same car, the same is also true on various cars I tried. Once you go above insurance group 15 or below group 4, the differences are way smaller but still apply. But waiting a few months, could save you 8-17% off the top depending which car I tried.

Ford F450 Image Courtesy of Ford Motorcars.

Red Crash Images Courtesy of Duchesssa.

Penile Shrinkage In The Gym

I did debate whether I really wanted go here, but I have since had the discussion with a few other guys and they had noticed but thought nothing of it. They thought perhaps it were cold, the supplements, too tired or some other random thought.

Non-Essential and/or Luxury Tissue Shrinkage is the medical term or Penile Shrinkage. Personally I think the science guys needs to get out more, non-essential ? Luxury I guess depends how far from the floor it hangs.

When you are working out, especially heavy resistance (weights, strongman, etc), circuits and load bearing exercises or activities your muscles swell with blood. This “Pump” as its called, results in muscles holding up to 10 to 20 times more blood than when your sat on the sofa chilling with the latest Lucifer.

You have probably guessed where this is going, in my best grease “where does the pollen go” voice, “Where does the blood go from” ? Well almost any part of your body which isn’t being actively used, starting with luxury tissue, then non-essential tissues, all donate blood, this blood is sent where its needed most by your body.

Less Lunch Box More Snack Box

There are various mechanisms at work here, not only the muscles needing more nutrients and oxygen, but also you’re cortisol levels raising, adrenalin is blocking dopamine, testosterone spikes, growth hormone releases and more. I’ll include a few links at the end for further reading, but its kinda interesting how we are “primed”.

This reduced blood volume can be extreme as making you look almost prepubescent downstairs. If your one of those guys who likes to wear spandex, lycra, cycle shorts and the likes, its time to cut the flirting unless your not really working out to your maximum potential, in which case, GET OUT THE WAY FOOL!.

Otherwise your reputation may not be based on the size of your muscles, athletic prowess but more having a snack box where there should be a lunch box.

The role of adrenalin blocking dopamine, is the same sort of effect you get when using popular fat burners like Stackers and T5s. The precursor of sorts to adrenalin, causes a fight or flight response which in turn murders appetite, primes the body for action and prepares you for intense activity. The more natural effect means that blood can’t pump back until the adrenalin effect is overcome and dopamine becomes dominant. This means it doesn’t matter if a smoking hottie decides directly in front of you, is The Place to do her squats and bent over rows there shall be no wind in the sail… I’m talking about you EF Blondie 😉

Further Reading

This article explains why your muscles need more blood during exercise, worth a read to understand the process.

This article covers mostly stress and depression along with penile shrinkage is interesting since many of those factors associated with heavy gym work apply. Such as cortisol, nitric oxide and testosterone production, I suspect training triggers some of those same processes and has the same effect.

Ultimate Guide to Storing Fresh Produce

Black Banana left in Fridge

Black Banana left in Fridge via WikiPedia.

I have to admit, I’m not great at eating fresh vegetables, more so than I am at fruit. Getting the vegetables in isn’t usually too bad as I keep an array of frozen veg in the chiller, and various microwavable vegetables in the fridge.

Knowing what to store, where, isn’t always easy. We’ve all made the mistake of putting a banana in to the fridge and seen what happens (look left). Often the banana in fine on the inside but the skin doesn’t look great.

Some produce loves the fridge, Others love the sunlight, others just fine on the counter top. The odd one needs a little prep like a brocolli with a spray of water or avacado with a little oil.

I came across this chart a week or so ago by MyFitnessPal and honestly, I think its amazing.

My love of printing Cheat Sheets is already established, I think this one is being added to the fridge door to remind me.

The article also covers some other tips, such as paper bagging fruit with certain apples so speed up the ripening process, so check out the article as well as the infographic.

All-in-One Guide to Storing Fresh Produce by MyFitnessPal

All-in-One Guide to Storing Fresh Produce by MyFitnessPal

Infographic by MyFitnessPal.

Building A Domain Drop List

Well here comes part 2, of the guide. What Do You Need is Part 1 which details the requirements, application process, etc. This article assumes you have Nominet Membership, EPP, DAC and Zonefile Access along with suitable hosting.

Drop List Building Applications

You could do this in 1 large application to handle it all, but I think that’s a mistake. Writing a collection of small tools each with a simple job, reduces server load and risk of timing out. Not to mention makes it easier to handle.

So first things first…

A Simple Database

You will need a simple database to hold the list and dates…

id(int), domain(varchar(136)), dropdate(timestamp), updated(timestamp) on update).

How simple is that database… I haven’t posted a database schema, since you may want to add Tag, Creation Date, Expiry Date, even break it down to show Keywords or Extensions, or anything else you require really. You could also include things like domain length, if it exists in other .UK family extensions and much more, so I have just given you the absolute basic.

I would personally include the domain length, the second level family extension, and possibly creation year.

Loading The List

The first small application is one which can read the 10.5 million names in the CSV and load these into the database. The odds are a shared hosting account wouldn’t be able to handle this kind of long resource hungry process, hence why you’ll need Suitable VPS hosting or similar.

This application is as simple as…

This can take anywhere up to half hour I would guess, depending on the power of your server and available memory.

In order to add domain lenth, you would need to have added a length column to the database earlier. Once that’s done either with the MySQL command char_length() or the php command length(). The easiest would be…

You could just as easily do…

You’re choice entirely, adding the extension would work the same way.

Obtaining The Drop Dates

When the domain names are loaded into the database, you will need another small application to read them one by one or in clusters, poll them with the Nominet DAC, and populate the database with the returned data. Since I posted a Dac Query Snippet already, I’ll just link to that, and you can add in the MySQL and the loop yourself.

You could use something like

I have selected the limit of 1400, this will take approximately 5 minutes at 200ms / 5x per second allowing for latency. A simple CRONJOB set to load the script every 5 minutes and you’re golden. You can do smaller or greater amounts but it will eat memory and resources potentially making the server sluggish. Experiment a little but remember to adjust your CRON and bear in mind the DAC limitations.

Assuming you have used my DAC Query Code and added the extra bits. You will need to use an SQL Query to extrapolate the dropdate from expiry date which is returned by the DAC. I’m going to assume you have moved the expiry into a variable, but you can work on the array value too.

The above query updates the dropdate, where the domain matches, and adds 92 days on to the returned expiry date to create the expected drop date. You can add any other data you want based on the DAC output by adding to this query as you wish.

DAC Limitations and Rules

Now would be a good time to discus the Rules and Limitations of the Domain Availability Checker (DAC), the DAC Usage Instructions are here too.. You are limited to polling 432,000 queries per day, with a maximum of 16 names per second (1,000 per rolling minute). By queries that means ‘#limits’ or ‘#usage’ or actual domains they all count. Go over either of these limits and you will be blocked from DAC access until your quota recovers on a rolling 24 hour basis.

IF you do happen to hit a block, then the DAC will return a result like…

A simple if…then trap, will be able to detect this and convert it from the number of seconds (35065) into a human readable time frame, I used to use this old code snippet.

Well that’s your drop list, built and populated with a little expense, a chunk of time and some basic coding, much of it done for you.

Depending on the efficiency of your code, server latency and some other factors, it could take up to 26 days scan the whole zone file, by this point your database would be up to 4 weeks out of date. This is because the zone file is 24 hours old when released. Part 3: Maintaining A Drop List, we will deal with this problem and work on updating the database.

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