Driving Test #1

February 24, 2009 – 17:16

Well as I have let the entire internet know via Twitter that I failed my driving test lets go through some analysis. But first a little bit of information about the Burges Hill driving test center two important things:

  1. The test center does have a toilet
  2. Don’t be tempted to touch the tap in the toilet it fell off when I used it

As for the test itself the results were as follows:

  • Dangerous – 0
  • Serious – 2
    1. about 5 minutes into the test I was approaching another car which I expected to stop and it didn’t I did not slow down enough to be able to safely park and the examiner had to use the brake.
    2. about half way through the test I thought it was a national speed limit (no driveways or side roads for a while and no lamp posts) so I was doing about 38 in a 30 zone.
  • Minor – 6
    1. Control -> Gears – don’t know what this was I probably went round a corner in 3rd gear.
    2. Use of Mirrors -> Change Speed – didn’t look in my rear view mirror when changing gear.
    3. User of Speed – As with the serious I probably went over 30 in a 30 zone.
    4. Progress -> Undue Hesitation – There was a right turn that had two vans parked on either side of the left turn restricting my vision.
    5. Junctions -> Observation – I didn’t check my mirror on the second part of a consecutive turn.
    6. Positioning -> Normal Driving – I probably moved a little too close to the kerb or central markings.

I knew I had failed within the first 5 minutes of the test, that didn’t make it any easier, it was very strange being in a car without Kev there – I have never driven anywhere without Kev. I am going to try and book another test for the Easter holidays after I have had a little more practice.

Driving Lesson #34, #35 & #36

February 23, 2009 – 12:46

Sorry to anyone who was expecting posts on Thursday and Friday time kind of caught up with me, my lessons since last Wednesday have been much better, I still made a few mistakes here and there. Drove under some pressure after one of the Pastors at my church decided to follow us along Church Street and finally left us going up The Upper Drive apparently I handled it well.

So tomorrow is my test thank you to everyone who has wished me luck and said they were praying for me. It is much appreciated, I will probably tweet as soon as it is reasonable as to my result, if I pass it will probably be sooner.

I am nervous, I have had butterflies in my stomach for a couple of days now however I am handling them reasonably well without too many physiological manifestations.

Part of the test incorporates one “show me” and one “tell me” question; these range from telling the examiner how to check the tire pressure to showing the examiner how you would check the indicator lights are working.

In the instance of the former the answer would involve getting the correct pressures from the owners manual, using a reliable pressure gauge, checking the tires when they are cold, check there are not cuts or bulges in the tire wall and ensuring the tire cap is replaced afterwords.

The latter would involve turning on the ignition operating the hazard warning lights then checking all six lights (on a Corsa they are two rear, two side and two front).

There are 16 questions that they could ask, all of which are published on the DSA website.

Right now it is time to find something to occupy my mind for the next 10 hours or so that I don’t fret about the test.

Driving Lesson #33

February 18, 2009 – 19:42

6 Days and counting

That was bad, wrong side of the road and indicating far to long. Could do better.

Driving Lesson #32

February 17, 2009 – 19:23

7 Days to Go

Funny old day today, made one sill mistake that if in a test would have been a fail. Spent a fair bit of time today parking in bays, started off at ASDA, who despite being in the empty part of the car park told Kev he could not teach learners in Car Parks. Went down to Marine Drive and had people driving behind us while trying to park in the bays.

Anyway seem to have got he parking in bays quite well, did one perfectly by accident, still need to remember to keep checking behind me.

Driving Lesson #31

February 16, 2009 – 19:36

8 Days till the test

Got a lesson every day this week, so I am just going to do short summaries rather than write anything at length. Aced turning round in the road again, missed a check on my reverse park and went too close, then too wide then got it right on reverse round the corner. Also had a tendency to drive a little to far right on faster roads, must remember the two points on the windscreen the markings should pass through.

Tomorrow is bay parking more reverse parking and reverse round a corner.

Strange SPQuery Behaviour

February 13, 2009 – 13:31

I have been working on a very simple web part for a long time, the actual code for the web part takes less than an hour to write and merely displays a colour coded letter based on a query from a SharePoint list taking the date as a parameter.

It has taken a long time because of some strange behaviour with the SPQuery object, initially there was a problem with every row in the table being returned irrespective of the query, the odd thing was that if you ran the query in U2U CAML Query Builder it worked and the SPListItemCollection.count method would return 1 suggesting the query was working.

After adding a copious number of debugging command, I built up a pattern of what was happening and why. However no matter what I changed it either threw an exception as expected or returned all of the rows. I started commenting out lines of code one at a time trying to find the culprit, eventually moving on to commenting out the Debug.WriteLine statements, until I hit this line:


After commenting out this line the whole thing worked perfectly, I can put the date forward on the server and it will update I can change the source table and it reflects the changes after the cache has been cleared. I have looked over the Microsoft Documentation on SPQuery.ViewXml and can’t find any reference to it actually affecting the functionality of the object.

I have included my code at the end of this post for anyone to see, feel free to experiment with it. If you figure it out please do let me know.

using (SPWeb site = SPControl.GetContextSite(Context).OpenWeb())
 SPList weekList = site.GetList(this.SourceList);
 // sharepoint requires that we use a ISO8601 DateTime string,
 // generate it and insert it into the query
 string mondayOfCurrentWeek = SPUtility.CreateISO8601DateTimeFromSystemDateTime(GetMondayOfCurrentWeek().Date);
 StringBuilder camlBuilder = new StringBuilder();
 camlBuilder.AppendLine  ("<Where>");
 camlBuilder.AppendLine  ("  <Eq>");
 camlBuilder.AppendLine  ("    <FieldRef Name='WeekCommencing'/>");
 camlBuilder.AppendFormat("    <Value Type='DateTime'>{0}</Value>\r\n", mondayOfCurrentWeek);
 camlBuilder.AppendLine  ("  </Eq>");
 camlBuilder.AppendLine  ("</Where>");
 string getWeekCAML = camlBuilder.ToString();
 SPQuery fetchCurrentWeek = new SPQuery(weekList.DefaultView);
 // fetch all of the matching weeks from the table
 fetchCurrentWeek.Query = getWeekCAML;
 SPListItemCollection matchingWeeks = weekList.GetItems(fetchCurrentWeek); // the results of the query should only ever equal 1 if it dosn't something is wrong
 if (matchingWeeks.Count == 1)
  SPListItem week = (SPListItem)matchingWeeks[0];
  WeekType = week["Week Type"].ToString();
  WeekType = SPEncode.HtmlEncode(WeekType); // HtmlEncode the result to make sure it dosn't contain any nastys
  String WeekNumber = week["Week Number"].ToString();
  WeekNumber = SPEncode.HtmlEncode(WeekNumber);
  Debug.WriteLine(String.Format(CultureInfo.InvariantCulture, "[WeekWidget] Found record for {0} as Week {1} - Number {2}", mondayOfCurrentWeek, WeekType, WeekNumber));
  // cache the WeekType for 7 days from midnight on Monday as this is when the changeover between weeks happenswou
  Context.Cache.Insert(CACHE_WEEKTYPE, WeekType, null, GetMondayOfCurrentWeek().AddDays(7), TimeSpan.Zero);
 } // end if matchingWeeks count equal to 1
  // more than one week matched, we can not determine the output correctly
  ErrorText.Text = "More than one week matched in the table, please check the table.";
  LogEvent("More than one week (" + matchingWeeks.Count.ToString() + ") matched in the table, please check the table.");
 } // end else

Happy Hunting

Driving Lesson #30

February 9, 2009 – 21:48

Passed the 60 hours of driving lessons milestone today, which probably equates to about 58 hours of actual driving. What with the first couple of lessons being driven to somewhere to practice, and the end of lessons going over Drivers Records from time to time. Turning round in the road was pretty much spot on, Kev wanted me to make a mistake so that he could ask me to do it again so we would be pointing the right way again. Reverse round a corner wasn’t as bad as usual I concentrated very hard – however I find it difficult to get the observations in and make the changes to steering to get round the corner. Reverse parking went very wrong from the outset – I was phased by a white van and rushed it, getting it all wrong from the outset.

The rain was really quite heavy on the way home, it was interesting to be in that situation but made it very difficult to see and make judgments in my door mirrors. Still figuring out where all of the controls for the car are, it doesn’t seem to quite make sense in my head that the rear wiper is pushing the right control forward and front wipers are pushing it up.

Have booked another 6 lessons with Kev over the course of the next two weeks, one every day over half term. A bit of a drive round on the Monday and then my test on the Tuesday. Starting to get minor butterflies when I think about it, although reading a book or playing EVE gets my mind off it.

Adding VSeWSS 1.3 Solutions to Source Control

February 5, 2009 – 11:35

Having done a little experimenting with Visual Studio Extensions for WSS (VSeWSS), I wanted to start actually developing features for our intranet site. I try and add everything that is even slightly important into source control (Subversion). VSeWSS creates normal looking solutions, however when you deploy your project to a SharePoint site it created an additional directory alongside “bin” and “obj” called “pkg”.

This “pkg” folder contains the manifest.xml, soloution.xml and feature.xml files that are used to create the feature to be deployed into SharePoint. Initially I was including this folder in my commits however, I noticed that any tweaks made to feature.xml were overwritten when you deployed the package again. After some searching around I came across an article that suggests deleting the “pkg” folder under certain circumstances. From this I assume that the contents of the “pkg” folder is generated each and every time you package and deploy your solution (or indeed project), thus it does not need to be added to source control.

While writing this post I did come across another blog that suggests adding the “pkg” folder to source control. There does appear to be little advice out there regarding VSeWSS and Source Control. I would be interested to hear others experiences on the subject.

Snow Havoc

February 2, 2009 – 20:58

Today was a very bizarre day, it seemed to me that the whole country ground to a halt (electronically too). I got a text message at 0630 this morning telling me to stay in bed as the school I work at is closed. After a slightly more gentle wake up than usual, I discovered that the local bus company had suspended services, twitter was going mad with snow reports from the UK, someone even came up with a Twitter & Google Maps mash up.

As it turns out Brighton and Hove was not alone London also had its bus service suspended. It seems that much of Brighton and Hove wasn’t gritted because it was too cold. In the end my driving lesson was canceled because they roads were just not safe.

Why is it the whole of the south-east of England ground to a halt? we weren’t prepared! Brighton and Hove’s reasoning for not gritting the roads was it was too cold, what does the temperate have to do with it? the answer is that a 1:9 salt to water solution lowers the freezing point of water to -6c whereas a 1:4 solution lowers the freezing point to -16c (Source). Why this wonder of modern physics escaped those responsible for salting roads I do not know.

So the council not gritting the roads is the reason for the havoc caused by snow flakes, no probably not, I suspect the lack of preparedness stretches from the biggest to the largest. How many people in the country have supplies of water, heat and light in their house. A couple of large bottles (say 2 x 4 liters) of water will typically last one person about 4 days, have you got that much water at home… I don’t think I have. Have you got enough candles or glow sticks to allow you to move safely round your house after dark? How long will it take your house to get dangerously cold when there is no heating and it is -6 outside? Do you have any way of generating heat, cooking stoves candles can these be safely used inside? Can you prepare any food without power, do you have an non electric can opener any more? I have glow sticks and a manual can opener, not sure how much food I have in the house – cold baked beans would work but you can’t survive on them.

What would happen if it was more serious than snow, what would happen if you were in New Orleans on August 29th 2005 would money do you any good. What would happen if you only had a £20 note, would anyone accept it – would anyone have change. I am taking it to extremes now, however today has taught me a lesson there are some things you don’t think about until it is too late.

On a cheerful note, Catherine and I spent a nice day together we built a snow rabbit (or perhaps cat) went for a walk and spent some time together. As far as I’m concerned today was a free day, a gift, and I enjoyed it.

Driving Lesson #29

January 26, 2009 – 23:20

Today was not my best lesson so far, generally my driving was quite poor, I seem to have forgotten some fairly important things like using the hand break and putting the clutch down. I did change my driving position within the car as I was in quite a tense position which dosn’t give me the best view in the world, not sure if that affected it but it may have done.

I am still having problems reversing round corners, despite spending some time today reading back my old notes I couldn’t really do it today either, it is a bit to analog for my digital brain. Kev had another way which might help, and was certainly a way of getting the job done.

  1. ratcStart reversing back, slightly further than you would do if you were making small incremental changes.
  2. Make one full turn of the wheel to the left.
  3. Wait until the kerb moves past the center line in the left mirror.
  4. Straighten up
  5. Wait until the kerb moves past the other side of the center line
  6. Repeat from 2 – 5 until round the corner

It is by no means the ideal way to get the job done, however it is passable and it might lead on to me being able to reverse round a corner without major problems. I hope to be able to get another 10 more lessons in before my test, which I can confirm is on the 24th February. Which is four weeks tomorrow, half term is before the test so that should give me some extra opportunity to practice.