Who Let The Dogs Out, Who?

There is talk of a law coming in UK Wide, which is already (I believe) in force in Wales, where dogs must be properly secured within the motor vehicle. This law will not only apply to dogs but to any and all animals, which must be safely secured for every journey. Obviously there will be some leeway for emergencies, and mistakes but I wouldn’t expect too much leeway. 

Rules 57 of the Official Highway Code states: “When in a vehicle, make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving, or injure you, or themselves if you stop suddenly (aka Crash)”. Having unrestrained pets in a vehicle is putting drivers at risk of being distracted. There is no official penalty (at this point) for this offence within the Highway Code or Law of the Land, should you be pulled up (currently) or cause an accident you would be charged with “Driving without due care and attention”.

Dire Consequences

This comes with Nine (9) Penalty Points and up to £2,500 Fine, and should it be an extreme or serious breach, you could be forced into a compulsory ban, and forced to get an extended re-test of both theory and practical test no matter how long you’ve been driving. If you haven’t already been subject to the New Drivers Act (2 year probation period) you would then become subject to that for a further 2 years.

This would put you a new driver with 9 points on your provisional, once you pass, it would only take 3 points to put you up to 12 points and another ban for 3-6 months. You would then need to do another re-rest. It would be a horrible situation to be in.

Even if you wasn’t banned, 9 points would put you 1 offence away form a ban, or if you already had a speeding/red light/mobile phone offence it would result in a ban too.

This isn’t even the worst of it, if you cause an accident or are in an accident which is caused by an unrestrained or unsecured animal / pet, the odds are very high your insurance could refuse to pay out. 

Basic Guidelines

There are some basic guide lines for when travelling with pets or animals within a vehicle.

1, Don’t allow your pet to ride with its head hanging out the window, its potentially dangerous and cause injury.

2, Ideally keep your pet in the rear of the vehicle with a barrier net

3, Always carry a large bottle of water (5 litres, £1 from most supermarkets) in case your pet overheats and needs to be rapidly cooled down in an emergency.

4, Keep a water bowl and water available for your pet.

5, Use Sun Shades on the windows when its warm/hot, and the sun is bright.

6, Never leave a pet in a hot car.

7, Don’t feed your pet within a few hours of travelling to avoid car sickness.

8, Pack your pets favourite toys, or blankets to give your pet a sense of familiarity.  

9, Consider carrying a pet first aid kit for emergencies. 

10, Never drive with the Pet on your knee or the drivers side of the vehicle. 

Dog out of Car Window image by freestocks.org.

Grenade Hydra-6 Chocolate Charge

Grenade Hydra 6

Grenade Hydra 6

In my ever growing pursuit to make the protein numbers up in my daily marco’s, I’m always swapping things, adding things and dropping things to make it all work. I have been having a Micellar and Iso/Hydro Whey mixture just before bed for ages to add a slow trickle of protein to feed the muscles while I sleep.

I mix Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Casein with either Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydro Whey or Gold Standard Isolate Whey which were my go to products, but the results aren’t amazing. I have tried Extreme Milk Chocolate and Double Rich Chocolate and various others along with Chocolate Supreme Casein and the flavours as stand alone products are good, but when mixed they are not quite meshing together.

Think of it like mixing Heinz Beans with supermarket own, they won’t quite mix, its the same idea with the proteins.

I decided I needed a properly blended version with the same flavours adding to both by machine.

The Taste Test

I opted first up to try Grenade Hydra-6, its a 50/50 mixture of Micellar Casein Protein and Isolate Whey Protein.

I were a little surprised by the taste, it takes like, you know how you get chocolate cookies which are pale creamy in colour, and you get cookies which are dark chocolate coloured, they taste more like the darker colour cookies. I’m not talking about like Oreo cookies taste, but maybe that colour, its definitely a chocolate chip cookies taste. You can taste a few pops of different chocolates which are very nicely blended.

Its a little thicker than just Hydro Whey or Isolate Whey due to the casein, which is thicker and grittier normally, but the Whey smooths it out and makes a nice shake. The casein I think is a darker chocolate taste. Its really smooth without being blancmange like, some I have tried end up almost like a blancmangey-porridge and stodgey.

One of the points I really wanted to point it, I mix my shakes up in advance, and often they separate, and look lucky. The Grenade Hydra-6 doesn’t separate, least not in the 6-8 hours between my mixing and drinking. This means you could make up 2-4pt in a milk bottle and keep it in the fridge for a 24-36 hours to save having to wash your shaker constantly.

Authenticity

Grenade Plastic Seal

Grenade Plastic Seal

I bought this one from Amazon, and when buying from Amazon, I only buy directly from Amazon mostly because you’re dealing fully with Amazon and their A-Z Promise is rock solid. I however still always check authenticity and the date printed on products I buy.

Not that the dates are the be-all-and-end-all with protein powders. At a recently body building show, I were talking to a rep from a huge multi-national protein company and he were saying as long the powder is kept dry, sealed and stored at a constant temp away from sunlight it should be good for a year over expiry easy.

Either way I always check the plastic seal, Grenade, Optimum Nutrition (the 2 products here) both both a printed/branded plastic tamper-proof seal on the neck. This increases the seal but is also the first step to ensuring its not been tampered with or counterfeit.

Next, once you remove the seal (in ON’s case) or break the seal (in Grenades case) and unscrew the lid, you come across a hermetic sealed cardboard lid sealed to the bottle which ensures freshness and a further guarantee against having been tampered with or counterfeit.

Both the Plastic Seal and the Paper Lid are part of the authenticity, fake products virtually never have these touches, be sure to check. You will also notice the lid is also embossed or relief printed with the companies logo or name, and the print is crisp and clear.

Password Security Tips

Failed Login Attempts Steven

Failed Login Attempts Steven

I don’t claim to be an expert in the field of passwords but I have always followed some basic rules. Rules which a few websites have found causes issues for their systems but more on that later. I was recently discussing passwords with a few people and they were moaning “These days you have to have capital letters, numbers and punctuation and more craziness, different passwords for each site and how do you even remember them all.” to which someone said “I used the same password for everything, a pets name (pronoun) and and a date near enough for them”, it was bizarre. Most agreed that they used a similar formula to the above, so Spot1966 or something. 

The similar formula being a Name or Word followed by a Date, usually Year, which makes it so easy to work out and should a system be compromised which has stored more information you could be in trouble, if they get your password and email its double dodo. This prompted me to write this article with my unique take on the matter.

The above image is the login attempts for my blog, I don’t know what time frame WordFence tracks if its weekly or monthly, but that’s with the login page being hidden, not standard, with captcha enabled and a hidden field. Without those steps it used to be 1,000s of attempts. Password Security is Important.

For the purpose of this article I’m going to assume your password is Password, and show you how to evolve this into something really hard to crack. I wouldn’t recommend using password by the way even with how hard we’ll make it to guess.

Custom Language

I work on a basic set of rules which makes up my own custom alphabet, which incorporates L33t Speak, Text Speak and Abbreviations (Ininitialisms), and mash them into a mnemonic or sorts. I don’t mix and match them as I go, I chose a set of rules and stick to them. Its hard to explain without telling you my exact combination so I’ll give you a character map of sorts, lets start with an alphabet.

Hacker Screen

Hacker Screen

L337 $p34k

A = 4 or @
B = 8 or 13
C = { or (
D = l) or I)
E = 3 or £
H = I-I or l-l (i or L)
I = ! or l (L)
K = I< or l<
M = lvl or /\/\
N = l\l or IV
O = 0 or ()
P = []o or 9
Q = O, or &
R = 12 or l2
S = 5 or $
T = 7 or -l-
V = \/
W = \/\/ or []v[]
X = >< or *

You’ll notice I have used Uppercase i and Lowercase L, or ) and }, other times I have provided 2 different options 4 and @ for A as an example. Choose 1 and stick to it, otherwise you’ll end up confused, and forget your own unbreakable password.  

Password can now be [email protected]$$VV012I) in full L33t speak or 9a$$w0rd in a sub-set, or [email protected]$$wOrd, thats a capital P and Capital O, like I said pick and choose which letters you want to change, and use them every time. I would suggest 2 vowels and 6 consonants, so in Password I chose AOPS to change, so I would always change AOPS in other words too. 

One issue I had was, one website I used didn’t allow special characters as the first letter, so my password started with an $, it caused so many problems with half the website accepting and half not. The password were so complex not even the system accepted it heheh 😉

Initialisms

This is where the magic happens to take your password to Password 2.0, the next level. These are nearly unbreakable passwords, and they employ an old learning method called Mnemonics and Initialisms, that is a sentence shortened to an Initialism, you should be careful not to let your mnemonic/initialism become an acronym, you don’t want it pronounceable. 

I often chose a quote from a film or a poem, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” for example. This would give you Arbaonwsas (Google this, its known, don’t use it) which is already a bad ass password (but maybe in some word lists), now lets L337 speak it to the next level. 

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet = Arbaonwsas = @[email protected][email protected]$ = @12840IV\/\/$4$

Make it as complicated as you wish, you may have noticed I switched from @ to 4 for my letter A, that’s because I chose to use @ for Capital A and 4 for Lowercase a just to make it even harder. Remember your new alphabet, use it. 

Text Speak

You can throw a little Text Speak in too, I generally only use a few pieces, just to mix it up. If my Sentence or Quote has the words Are, You or says OK or similar, I will employ some text speak like:

Are = r
You = u
OK = k

You Talkin’ To Me ? You Talkin’ To Me? = Ut’2m?Ut’2m? = U7’2IvI?U7’2IvI?

Try your own, I always try to not choose something that’s massively popular and go for someone from a film or book I enjoyed and then L33t it, Text It and Mnemonic it up to the next level of unbreakable password. 

Hopefully this has been helpful, I have included some random words below to help you get the idea. 

Angel = @ng3l
Coconut = C0c0nu7
Steven = 573v3N
MobilePhone = M0b1139h0n3
Speaker = $p34ker
Laptop = L4pt0p
Mother = M07h3r
Sports = 5p0rt5
WordFence = W0rdF3nc4
Twitter = Tw177er
WordPress = VV0rd9r3ss
Computer = C0N\9u73r

Really make it as complicated as you wish, take a peak at Ashley Madison Password List and be sure you don’t use similar names. 

Strongest Of All Time #SOAT

Zydrunas Savickas and Bill Kaz Kazmaier

Zydrunas Savickas and Bill Kaz Kazmaier

I was listening to the Worlds Strongest Man PodCast (yeah I’m late) and they were talking about the Strongest Of All Time Strongmen, and only Eddie Hall pulled an old school strongman out of the mix (Louis Cyr) where as most others were concentrating mostly on WSM guys, which is an understandable mistake to make given the context. Brian Shaw refused to name a 3rd but gave mention to Mariusz Pudzianowski and some others, he was the only one to mention the dominator too. 

In short most people said Bill Kazmaier, Jon Pall Sigmarsson and Zydrunas Savickas. The latter is the more interesting one because these are his peers and they are name checking him, which is a huge thing. It would like like Jenson Button saying Lewis Hamilton is the best driver of all time. I was really surprised that they named an active strongman, but equally I loved that they did. 

Colin Bryce made some good points about why Brian Shaw may not be remembered for the monster that he is because he doesn’t really show off and doesn’t finish events if he doesn’t need the points. Basically he doesn’t play the crowd, he’s playing just for points and the win. I say for no reason because last years WSM 2016, there were a moment where Thor and Eddie agreed to end it on the deadlift and take equal first points. Eddie played the points because he has dislocated his fingers and we know he could have done more but he played tactics due to injury. Zydrunas on the other hand near enough threw away his win by going for a world record log press, and often shows off his brute strength. 

My Strongest Of All Time

I am aware there are guys moving nearly 4x their body weight, and Olympic lifters with amazing numbers but I’m sticking within the spirit of Strongman and the extremes of human performance 🙂

Arthur Saxon Bent Press

Arthur Saxon Bent Press

Author Saxon – Arthur Saxon were born nearly 100 years before Worlds Strongest Man even existed, he nearly envisioned the WSM TV Format and some of his world record breaking feats still stand today.

There were no steroids, no growth, no intimate muscle knowledge or training techniques, very little body building knowledge existed. Still his feats are impressive, even more so for a man his size.  

There were so little available knowledge that Arthur Saxon (and his brothers) wrote a huge amount of the available literature at the time on how to get fit, strong and healthy, how to build a better body and generally documenting physical culture.

Much of the 100 year old advice given in his books (which are copyright free now) is still relevant today and even being touted as “new ideas” by modern science. 

Arthur invented the Saxon Side Bend which is one of my favourite core and abdominal moves, he used to eat like a beast, drink like a fish and even went to war with a dapper moustache.

What A Man! 

Zydrunas Savickas at Body Power 2017

Zydrunas Savickas at Body Power 2017

Zydrunas “Big Z” Savickas – The greatest in a long line of Lithuanian strongmen, having just turned 40 years old and holding 4 Worlds Strongest Man titles (matching Brian Shaw), with only 1 man holding more titles (The Dominator). Big Z is obviously the king of current day strongmen with even many of his peers saying the same thing.

When others struggle with events at Worlds Strongest Man, you see Big Z thunder up, the ground shaking under his steps, the crowd wide eyed and he lifts the weight like it wasn’t even there an shows his peers hows its done and strolls away.

I have met Big Z a number of times at various events, a fairly quiet man, doesn’t catch all that you say due to the language barrier and noise at the events but a really really nice guy and quite funny too.

At Body Power 2017, Bill Kazmaier did the forearm flex for a photo and Big Z stood up and did the same and his forearms are HUGE and made Kaz’s look normal size so Kaz took a step closer to the camera and pushed Zydrunas back a little and just a little fooling around between 2 legends of strongman.

 

Bill Kazmaier at Body Power 2017

Bill Kazmaier at Body Power 2017

Bill “Kaz” Kazmaier – When it comes to one of the early days legends of strongman, its all about Bill Kazmaier, while Jon Pall may have been the showman it were Kaz who were the berserker powerhouse.

I will always remember his eyes bulging out like Jim Carreys Mask Character and him slapping himself in the face Rowdy Roddy Piper style getting the rage up. 

Much like Eddie Hall having broken the 500kg Deadlift Barrier for the World Record, Kaz were the first man to break the 400kg Deadlift barrier for the World Record.

The fact they have Bill doing the commentary for world strongest man is awesome for me, along with Magnus they add some informed colour in to it. They KNOW what they are they talking about and what it takes. 

I’ve also met Kaz a few times and he’s also a really nice guy, and gave me a little interview a few years ago. I did want to get an interview for my blog this year when I spoke to him but he were just so damned busy when I met him, maybe next time. 

The Feats

I haven’t really gone on too much about what they have done and what makes them the strongest because you guys can read my Arthur Saxon post and the other 2 guys are well wrote about online so I won’t cover them again. 

This concludes my strongest of all time strongmen #SOAT.

AutoData Reports the Top 10 Serviced Cars

AutoData has released its annual Top 10 Serviced Cars of 2016 a few months back but I’m still working through my backlog. This really important information, it puts slant on used car buying and packs a punch. AutoData has access to about 67% of the auto workshops in the UK, and all which are using AutoData’s online services, so its a fairly comprehensive data set on the scale of things.

One of the things which screams good car, isn’t really about how many millions have been sold, how many you see on the road, or how long its been in production. Its when you see plenty of the on the road beyond 6 yrs old, when the warranty’s have run out AND they are worth spending on by having services and upkeep. No one regularly services a banger, its good money after bad.

I would say this dataset is bordering on definitive, the only larger dataset is the governments log of all registered cars, and perhaps the MOT log. I don’t believe these 2 potentially larger datasets would be more helpful. You MUST have an MOT, and it MUST be registered, but neither says its a good, reliable car or well looked after vehicle. However a voluntary willingness to spend, to service and maintain says the car is worth the effort and probably well looked after, hence being a better dataset for your car buying arsenal.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is, when there are very few cars left on the road of a hugely popular (in its time) car, it usually means total nightmare or many faults. Without further ado, here is the list and later on in this post I’ll point out some examples of popular cars gone so very wrong.

Autodata Top 10 Most Serviced 2016
Position (2015 Pos) Make Model Year
#1 – (1) Ford Focus (2004-on)
#2 – (6) Vauxhall Astra H / MK5 (2004-on)
#3 – (4) Peugeot 206 (1998-on)
#4 (New) Ford Transit (2006-on)
#5 (New) Vauxhall Corsa D / MK4 (2006-on)
#6 (New) Volkswagen Transporter T5 (2003-on)
#7 – (2) Volkswagen Golf V / MK5 (2003-on)
#8 (New) Peugeot 307 (2001-on)
#9 – (3) BMW 3-Series (2005-on)
#10 – (5) Renault Clio II / MK2 (1998-on)

Once you remove Working vehicles and the evergreen BMW, you’re left essentially with half a dozen of the most popular cars in country, Focus, Astra H, 206, Corsa D, Golf V,  Clio II and 307 (larger class), that’s a really rock solid selection to find a used car from. Its also includes 3 of the cars my own extensive research lead me to (Focus 2006-2008, Astra 2007-2010 and Golf 2007-2009). 

It would have been nice if they had differentiated between iterations of Focus, 206 and others so you could get an idea of the mk or series, much like with the Astra mk H, Golf mk V, but beggars can’t be choosers.

My local independent garage swears blue by the 2008-2010 era Ford Focus, this is to the extent that he talked me out of buying a Hyundai i20 off him, and he didn’t even have a Focus to sell me. It would be interesting to see raw numbers like Ford Focus, total number, number of each year, number of each engine, but the dataset would be huge, useful as you could rule out problem engines, problem boxes etc but so very huge.

Previous Year Drop Outs

I thought it maybe interesting to include 2015’s Top 10 Drop Outs. I suspect in the Top 20 you would find some of the following, the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo, Honda Jazz, Honda Civic, Audi A4, Audi A3, Ford Mondeo, Merc A-Class, Nissan Qashqai, and maybe a Citroen C4 in there. A few of these dropped out of the top 10 since 2015, I didn’t think the Passat were that popular, I’m surprised the Fiesta Dropped out, its always hugely popular. 

AutoData Top 10 Most Serviced 2015
Position Make Model Year/MK
#7 Volkswagen Passat  
#8 Ford Fiesta  
#9 Ford Mondeo  
#10 Audi A4  

I am somewhat surprised none of the Japanese, Korean or other Eastern Marques made any sort of entry, I though the Kia C’eed, Honda Jazz, Honda Civic or Hyundai i20 would have made the list. Perhaps they don’t use AutoData at the marques dealerships.

As someone in the process of buying a(nother) car, I have been searching long and hard, and have paid the price for some mistakes, and this data tallys’ quite well with my own research so I’m sharing the data with you. Of course don’t take this as written in stone, but if you’re looking for a car in this class (small-medium car) then this data should hit the nail and give you a solid starting point. 

When Popular Cars Go Bad

Scrapyard Cars

Scrapyard Cars

A few examples I have experienced first hand are like the early model Fiat Punto, they were like buses, two at a time everywhere you looked, the Canary Yellow were so popular, and it was horrid. Now you rarely ever see them on the road due to the diabolical electrical problems, they used to go up the road like a damn disco. The early Ford Escorts pretty much fell apart with rust, I remember the boot floor and rear wheel arch turning to thermite ingredients, the Capri were almost as bad. 

The Aygo/C1/107, the early versions at least had a transmission made out of rubber bands, which literally died for a giggle. I’m not sure about the current models. I once saw a garage were buying them with a failed tranny for scrap, then fitting the uprated 190mm gearbox from the Toyota Yaris which isn’t made of rubber bands and reselling them as rock solid runner.

The Mercedes A-Class, the old 2002-ish Auto, the Gearbox ECU were a known fault. Due to the whacky way its set out you have to lift the whole engine out of the vehicle to get to the transmission. This means its silly expensive not only for the parts being a Merc but also in labour costs. While on gearboxes the more recent M32 Gearbox in lots of current cars means they are often resold at the first sign of slipping, then they are reconditioned by garages and sold out again.

Its always worth checking into known faults, check ebay and breakers to see how many of your car are for sale for parts or repairs, and figure just how bad the fault it. This is also a good indicator of parts availability too. 

Future Updates

I have fired off an email to AutoData to see if they will A, reply to a small time blogger like myself and B, provide me with the top 20 for a few years so I can do a more inclusive plotting. I will ask for 3 to 5 yrs so I can build a better image, I’m also hoping they will give me actual numbers so I can attempt to place them in an all time top 10, least the ones with more than 1 year beyond top 20.

I’m not sure they will already have that data or even if they will provide it for free even if they do.

I will of course report back with any replies I get. 

Beetle Mechanic Photo by Gratisography, Scrapyard by Emmet.

Stanley “Stanless Steel” Pleskun

Stanless Steel Strongman Movie

Stanless Steel – Strongman Movie

Its been a while since I posted about Arthur “The Ironmaster” Saxon, but there are plenty of other guys who I admire. One other such man who I admire does simple but zany feats of strength. Many of these feats remind me of the old school strongmen, and absolutely of the early days of The Worlds Strongest Man when they was ripping phone books in half, bending iron bars on their heads, lifting huge amounts of money (coins) in boxes and more recently throwing washing machines.

The one which made Stanless Steel so famous, is that he’s believed to be the only man on the planet who can bend a Penny with his bare hands. Its not 100% clear where this penny is from, but either way the size, limited surface to get leverage and small grip space makes pretty much any penny bending impressive. UK penny’s are made from copper mostly, and US penny’s are made mostly from Zinc, and the EU Cent / UK Penny are made of Copper coated Steel. 

Zinc is softer than Copper and Steel, so the US Penny should be easier than the UK penny, but either way its impressive. I have tried with the UK 2p which is double the size so better leverage and still didn’t even make a mark on it, using pliers and my hand I could make a slight bend but no where near bending point.

Using 2 pairs of pliers is fairly easy, I would like to try with varying lengths of leverage. This would enable me to work up to the strength, certainly be a fun and interesting training tool, Pleskun achieves his leverage by using a towel. I assume this is to reduce the grease and sweat on his on fingers rather than enhance leverage. 

Stanley "Stanless Steel" Pleskun under a car tyre.

Stanley Pleskun Under a Pickup Truck

Some of the other feats are fun too, bending a kro-bar, a wheel brace and various other metal bars, a more interesting one would be where a 4×4 pick up truck drives over his body with the director of the Strongman Movie driving it. 

I haven’t watched the video yet, but along with Eddie Halls, CT Fletchers and various others they are on my play list, been watched or in the process of being watched. I’ve watched Eddie Halls, and I’m half way though CT Fletchers My Magnificent Obsession, I have Generation Iron 2 and Stanley Pleskun’s Strongman ready and waiting.  Its worth watching Generation Iron and Pumping Iron as well. 

As best I can ascertain the Strongman video isn’t a happy or fun story like Eddie Halls road to being the strongest. The movie is very much in the same vein as Mickey Rourkes The Wrestler, showing the dark underbelly or the sports-entertainment industry. The place there dreams are either dead or dying. It sounds like a really sort of sad movie, Stanley is just a guy who happens to be really strong and born in the wrong time, he should have been in PT Barnums Circus or the travelling freakshows of old. Perhaps he would have been a contender along with Sandow and Saxon on the strongman circuit.

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