New Driving Test is Finally Here

I’ve blogged about the new driving theory many, many, many times before, but the big day has finally. The big day is 4th December 2017, its not only the theory test which changes on this day. From 4th December you’ll be able to have driving lessons on the motorway. 

L Plate

  1. A new set of 21 Vehicle Safety Questions to be added. Questions about the engine, screen wash, where controls are, etc.
  2. New Manoeuvres added such as reversing and rejoining traffic, parking on the opposite side of the road and more replacing paraelle parking and reversing around a corner. 
  3. Independent Driving increased from 10 to 20 minutes. this is where you are told to follow road signs to destination of the instructors choosing. 
  4. You must safely set your Sat Nav to a location given by your instructor, and follow the instructions as as part of your test. 

You can also now have driving lessons with a qualified driving instructor on the motorway, but its down to your instructor to decide if they feel you are ready for it. You CANNOT go on the motorway with friends or family, only instructors. 

Ridley Scott May Have Killed the Alien Franchise

I was just reading an article about Ridley Scott saying “I think the beast (Alien) has almost run out, personally”, its not exactly clear if he means the current Alien Arc is tired (storyline), and they need to jump forward, of if he’s suggesting there is no where else for Alien and its over for another decade or two until its rebooted. 

Alien 1-6 Boxset Amazon

Alien 1-6 Boxset Amazon

 He could also mean that he’s out of idea’s and doesn’t know what to do next. I would hate to think this is what he meant, since many of his movies are easily deep enough to become trilogies. I could think of 100 different ways to take Alien from Alien: Covenant Arc. I do like the idea that the David droid and not the creators are responsible for the modern day Alien Xenomorph, and I’m somewhat pissed off that the creators was never explained nor explored beyond them being killed wholesale. 

He did say he’s been doing lots of TV and Movies, with 6 movies coming out this year alone, as a result despite him previously saying his Alien Arc would be a Quadrology all these other projects and the slightly negative connotations by “almost run out”, and Warner not confirming any future films, it could actually be the end. 

If this happens, I think I’ll skip the next reboot, since this story has been left wide open at the end, and I hate films which do that. The Golden Compass is the biggest culprit which always comes to mind. 

The Alien 1 to 6 Box Set is high on my Christmas List. 

90% of All Car Radios Are About to Stop Working

The government is looking to permanently switch off analogue radio broadcasts, switching over to digital transmissions, specifically DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasts). This is much like the big switch over for TV’s from Analogue to Digital (Freeview). 

Car Infotainment System by Ingo Joseph

Car Infotainment System

The official statistics show that just 10% of car drivers listen to DAB, compared to 50% who listen to DAB at home, this has been interpreted to mean that 90% of cars on the road do not have DAB radio capabilities. If the government go ahead with the switching of transmissions from analogue to digital the odds are very good that you will no longer have a radio in your car. This means you’ll have to almost exclusively listen to CD/Tape/MP3 or shell out for a new stereo / head unit. The latter option won’t be available for many motorists, for example the last 3 cars I drove including the current Honda Civic and Audi A4 the head unit is built into the dashboard along with the infotainment and the head-up displays. Adding DAB is simply impossible without manufacturers stepping in to provide an upgradable central unit. Currently a replacement central unit for the Honda is around £2,000, you can only imagine how much a DAB Upgrade would cost. 

Matt Hancock who is the governments Minister of State for Digital, is urging manufacturers to make DAB the standard for ALL new cars, but kind of neglects the 27,000,000 (27 MILLION) motorists who don’t have digital.  

Traffic Announcements

I have tried to find some information on TA/TIM/TP, but its not clear if they will switched off along with the analogue transmissions. These work by embedding a small amount of digital data within the FM frequency range, which would indicate that when the FM Transmissions are retired Traffic Announcements along with TIM/AP, will all stop working. 

Its also not clear if all frequencies FM/AM/MW/LW will all be switched all at the same time, or slowly phased out or the exact plan of action. I suspect more will come out over the coming year, if TV is anything to go buy it took about 2-3 yrs for it come to fruition. Given cars are anticipated to be replaced every 3-5 years, I would guess a similar time frame would be suggested.  

It has been suggested this plan could be put in action as soon as next year, depending on how quickly the government push ahead. I think a notification would come in the next year then a transition period, so I think 2020-2022 are most likely deadline. 

Future Protection

Pure Highway Dab Radio Kit

Pure Highway Dab Radio Kit

The take home here is that, if you’re looking for a new or nearly new or pre-owned, I would seriously factor in, if the infotainment system is digital incorporating DAB Radio.

The good news is many modern systems are using mobile data and mobile wireless (MiFi) which means they download traffic data, mapping and even stream audio from the internet. 

There is also the option of using a DAB Converter Kit (right), which plug in via AUX, Bluetooth or even Local FM Transmission. This works in the same way that Handsfree Converters work. A little research showed that there are Hands Free Phone DAB Radio kits, Speed Camera DAB Radio Kits and various other multi-function DAB Radio Conversion Kits. Maybe now is the time to go Hands Free Phone, iPod Connectivity, Spotify and DAB in one fell swoop, this Alpine DAB Kit will fit the bill. 

Alpine EZI-DAB Hands Free, Spotify, DAB Radio.

AutoDAB Hands Free, Digital Radio.

Cootway DAB, SD Card Player, Bluetooth Hands Free.

Yinuo 5-in-1, DAB Radio, SD Card Player, Bluetooth Hands Free, Fast Charger, FM Transmitter.

 

A Da Vinci Painting Once Sold for £52 Now Expected to Clear $100 Million

How would you like to turn to £52 / $60 into around £100,000,000 (One Hundred Million) ? Int he late 1950s someone purchased a piece called the “Salvator Mundi” which means roughly “Savior of the World” for around £52 at auction. At the time it was suspected or rather hoped it was a Leonardo Da Vinci but had been classified as being by one of his students or assistants rather than the old master himself. 

Leonardo Da Vinci - Salvator Mundi

Leonardo Da Vinci – Salvator Mundi

Originally thought to be by Giovanni_Antonio_Boltraffio, but over a decade of intensive research by experts in the field, they have now declared it a genuine Da Vinci, and transformed it from the £52 (approx £450 in todays money) into £100,000,000 dollars. There are reports of a few times its changed hands, but the prices seem to have varied wildly with no fixed points. Given it changed hands as a Boltraffio rather than a Da Vinci  it doesn’t much matter. You can read some of the prices in this article

It does seem the current owner has held it since the mid-2000s and has spent the last decade having it verified by the experts in the old masters. I tried to get an estimate on how much money has been spent on trying to authenticate the paintings origins, but I came to a dead end multiple times. I can’t imagine it was cheap and hell of a risk too. 

What is interesting is, this could well be the ONLY Da Vinci painting held by a private owner, the other 19 paintings are all in museums, this fact alone means this truly a unicorn in the painting world and may drive the premium by as much as £50,000,000 extra.

One website claims there maybe a conglomerate of 1,000s of people some with deep pockets, some not so deep who will club together and buy shares using blockchain technology, which could cause a major upset if it succeed. 

You read about how Blockchain technology is affecting the art world in this Forbes Article

 

Image of the Salvator Mundi courtesy of Wikipedia

Main Dealer Car Satisfaction Scores

I posted a while ago the results of the AutoData most serviced cars in the country survey, which I interpreted to mean cars worth paying out to keep solid. Old bangers an wrecks don’t get serviced they get run into the ground. A perfect example of this is in this months Car Mechanic magazine, where a car has never been serviced nor an oil change, just top ups until the conrod has smashed through the engine casing, terminal death. 

Honda Civic mk10 Blue

Honda Civic mk10 Blue by Honda

This dataset is collected from 8,300 people from all over the country and it was carried out by What Car? Magazine. All of people surveyed use a main or franchised car dealer (i.e. Honda, Toyota, Lexus, Vauxhall) to service and maintain their motor vehicles. In this survey the people were asked about the Staff (Polite, Attentive, Helpful), Quality of Workmanship and Skill of Mechanics, and of course about how they felt regards to Value for Money provided by said dealer. These 3 Major Points giving each franchise an overall percentage score of how satisfied the car owners are with the servicing of their car by their cars main dealer.

Lets be honest for a minute no one is going to be surprised when the top of the chart is basically an advert for the Land of the Rising Sun’s car making ability (Japan). 

What is a shocker is that the more expensive marques where you expect a better service and a higher standard, only the British Jaguar made the top 10. Aston Martin only just scrape in the top 15, all the others are half way down the table, Merc and Porsche barely avoid the bottom of the barrel which is a surprise. 

The Top 10 Most Satisfying Dealers

One of the more interesting facts which this survey carried out by What Car magazine revealed is, that the older the car the less attentive and satisfied customers are. However the top few manufacturers, especially Honda which were singled out provide a high standard of workmanship and value throughout the lives of the car regardless of the age of the vehicle. 

  • Honda – 91.2%
  • MG – 90.9%
  • Lexus – 90.2%
  • Hyundai – 89.9%
  • Dacia – 89.5%
  • Ssangyong – 89.4%
  • Subaru 89.3%
  • Kia – 88.9%
  • Jaguar – 88.8%
  • Toyota – 88.8%

The Full List

The full list of 34 Dealers is below. 

  1. Honda – 91.2%
  2. MG – 90.9%
  3. Lexus – 90.2%
  4. Hyundai – 89.9%
  5. Dacia – 89.5%
  6. Ssangyong – 89.4%
  7. Subaru 89.3%
  8. Kia – 88.9%
  9. Jaguar – 88.8%
  10. Toyota – 88.8%
  11. Mitsubishi – 88.5%
  12. Skoda – 88.4%
  13. Mini – 87.3%
  14. Susuki – 87.2%
  15. Aston Martin – 87.2%
  16. Renault 86.6%
  17. Volvo 86.6%
  18. BMW – 86.2%
  19. Ford 86.0%
  20. Seat – 85.5%
  21. Mazda – 85.5%
  22. Fiat – 85.2%
  23. Peugeot 85.1%
  24. Nissan – 85.0%
  25. Audi – 85.0%
  26. Vauxhall – 84.8%
  27. Land Rover – 84.7%
  28. Volkswagen – 84.7%
  29. Mercedes-Benz 84.4%
  30. Alfa Romeo – 83.0%
  31. Porsche – 82.9%
  32. Citroen – 82.1%
  33. Smart – 81.8%
  34. Jeep 75.6%

 

Aggregation of Marginal Gains

I was talking to someone today about saving money, and building a cash reserve. A cash reserve is what I call a slush fund, which is an old habit. Its a back up fund, which sits between contingency, and savings. I have day to day money, contingency for when potentially expected but unwelcome things go wrong, then slush fund, then savings and finally investments. 

Growing Money

Growing Money

The slush fund is sort of a side step, in thats its not designated for disaster, its almost like free money which can be used when in a jam, or when I want something, any use I want.

In this particular conversation I was explaining my rather simplistic take on the Aggregation of Marginal Gains, this is the theory that if you improve / reduce / increase / save just 1% on everything you do, the sum total will end up being impressively large.

The first change I made on this journey was to pay my household bills and fuel on a cashback card, originally it was the Santander 123 Cashback Card, now I use an American Express Card which offfers a flat 1.5% (the new AmEx offers 1.25%). Looking at just my basic (off the top of my head) bills. 

Quick Break Down

Nominet Bill – £80 per year
Council Tax – £15
Petrol – £30
Car Tax – £2
Car Insurance – £20
MOT + Basics – £1
Car Service – £3
Car Maintenance – £3
Water Bill – £7
Weekly Shopping £30
Meals / Nights Out / Etc £30

Already £200 for basically doing nothing I wasn’t already going to do. If you use Cashback Sites and Loyalty Schemes you can probably add another £50 on there, Shell Card, Sainsburys Card, Waitrose Card, Etc. Then there are shop based cards such as the Sainsburys Credit Card, Asda Credit Card and others. Someone (who works for one such company) told me about a trick where you close the card after 18 months, and reapply after 2 months so you get the new user deals and bonuses. 

Amazon Crunch

Amazon is a big spending point for me, as a prime member, I make a point of choosing No Rush Delivery which gives me a £1 credit towards music and movies. I currently have about £40 of Credits which I use to buy any music or books I want to read. On top of this I use a cashback card for purchases which adds another £50-60 a year on to my total. 

This spend covers new phones, bits and pieces for both personal and work, christmas and birthday presents, every day items, you name it I buy it from Amazon. 

Looking at my credit card cash back totals for this year, and we’re 9-10 months in and I’m approx £430 up just on cards, if I account for cashback sites with car insurance, credit card applications, mobile phone contracts, broadband, gas and electric swaps, I must be at least £1,000 up in the slush fund.