A minor bump in the road!

Failed my theory test this morning.  By THREE points (one point from the multiple choice section, two points from hazard perception).

I did a reasonable amount of revision.  I’ve not read ALL the books I’ve bought.  I’ve read the sections I thought relevant, and tried to remember all the signs and symbols.  I don’t understand why I need to know precisely how many feet is  needed to stop in time given certain weather conditions (I’d prefer to measure in car lengths + how hard to put my foot on the brake x hazard perception = how well I will stop).

I will likely never tow a caravan.  I can’t drive on motorways supervised because the law says I can’t, and thus I have to rely on my memory of other people driving on motorways plus a bunch of other dos and don’ts.

I find the whole multiple choice theory test to be silly.  But if I found that silly, the hazard perception video section is even worse.  People who are experienced drivers have found it to be a PITA and potentially inaccurate.

The idea is to point out impending hazards just by clicking when or when they’re about to occur – the system isn’t interactive and modern as a Ford Model T: yes, it works, but it’s not terribly efficient or very well made for the modern motorist.  The whole test is incredibly dull.  You have to wait for each of the 14 clips to load fully (the system appears to be run on Windows 7 or, shudder, Windows Vista).

But the important this to take away is that It doesn’t go anywhere near to replicating a real driving experience.  You know, the kind of driving experience you’d get by actually going out in a car with an instructor and how not to cause (or be part of) an accident!!

For starters your view is very limited.  You can’t see out the left and right windows.  There are no mirrors.  When your virtual car is turning corners or going around a roundabout, it’s most unnerving!  You have no peripheral vision.  You’re looking straight on.

The clips are actually computer generated.  This gives the whole experience an additional level of hyper reality.  Some of the CG characters we encounter look to be floating.  And as for the sheep – they were unintentionally hilarious.

The DVLA’s idea of testing people at this stage seems terribly out of date.  With Virtual Reality making its mark, you’d think that DLVA would be working with the best games and VFX developers to produce a test which you could take wearing a VR headset and a button.  You could replicate an entire car – with the ability to look out both windows, look at mirrors and so on.  You could replicate any hazard safely without the student (or instructor) getting hurt.  Plus the tester could generate completely random situations instantly, giving the test a bit of an edge.  No two tests would be the same.

But the current system is just horrendous.  That said, plenty of people pass their theory test first time, so it can’t be all bad.  I just have to go back, re-read the material, and hope that I’m a bit faster at clicking a mouse (and not a terribly comfortable one at that) at times that are deemed acceptable to somebody, somewhere at the DVLA.

BONUS Hazard Perception Video

Can you spot the hazard in the following video?  Click anywhere on your screen – it doesn’t matter because it probably won’t be registered anyway, or if it does, the tiniest flag will pop up somewhere (another bugbear – the video UI is awful – to the point where you have to read the contents of a physical green folder at the start of the test to tell you that the mouse vanishing is normal).

The answer?  I’m the hazard: one should never fire a rocket launcher at one’s car after it breaks down.  You should call your local mechanic instead.


Almost ready to take my driving test..

.. but Guildford learners unable to book driving tests due to ‘increase in demand’.  And just when I think my driving has improved enough that maybe 5-6 more lessons are needed before I’m ready for practical testing.

But I’ve yet to do my theory test – that’s next week.

Mustn’t put the cart before the horse!

Book ’em Danno!

Okay, but my name’s not Danno (it’s Raymond Luxury Yacht)..

I’ve taken the first step in getting my full driving license – booked the theory test via the Government services site.  Ironically the tests are administered by Pearson Vue, an American company.  But they drive on the other side of the road!

August 2, 8am – just before I head to work.  That gives me a little over a month and a bit to revise and make sure I understand all the major signs and to brush up on my hazard awareness.  Mind you, if I’m learning on the job during the practical lessons, I’m doing it wrong.  And speaking of the practical lessons – they’re a mixed bag.  On one hand I’ve nearly had a head-on collision when checking my mirrors parking outside my house – the other time was not letting a van exit the roundabout (“the roundabout’s MINE – ALL MINE!”).  And let’s not forgetting almost flattening a cyclist when I “guessed” how far behind he was when overtaking rather than using my mirrors.

Sigh.  Roll on autonomous cars..

The Tex Avery Collection (DVD box set)

As a kid, I was a big cartoon fanatic.  Loved them.  I particularly loved watching them with dad.  Nothing made me happier.  Out of all the cartoons, Tex Avery was perhaps my favourite director of them all.  His Droopy and Screwball Squirrel cartoons were some of the silliest, craziest, funniest stuff ever.

So I was delighted, after a particularly stressful week, to discover that a DVD box set exists of some of Tex Avery’s best cartoons.  It’s not exhaustive by any means, but there’s enough material here (6 discs, 17 cartoons per disc) to last quite a while.  Interestingly, this has never been released in the UK.  It’s a Dutch/French release with English/French audio and Dutch subtitles.  Thankfully you can turn off the subtitles and watch the thing in English.

I tell you this – last weekend I have never laughed so hard in my life.  They’ve still got it.  They’re still super crazy, super silly and utterly surreal.  And they are as funny as hell.Sure, Avery tends to recycle a lot of the gags many times over, but overall it’s still as fun as it ever was regardless of whoever is being smashed around the head with a mallet.

WARNING: Contains nuts.
WARNING: Contains nuts.

It’s not just the silly gags either.  The animation, the character design, the sound effects are all top notch.  It’s hard to believe this quality was possible – especially when you consider that many of these cartoons were released during wartime.

I think the next thing on my sights – maybe after I’ve passed my driving test.  IF I pass my driving test, is the complete Looney Tunes collection.

You’re never too old (or young) to enjoy a good quality cartoon.

Slow road to.. Woking

There has been an unusually large number of Arriva bus learner drivers on the road this week, all of them apparently on the rush hour bus from Knaphill Sainsburys to Woking train station.

Now, I can understand that drivers will need to learn the route and get used to the fare system.  But is it really a good idea to do this when man, woman and dog are using the bus to get to work first thing in the morning?  I’ve been delayed by 15-20 minutes each time.

Today was the worst day by far.  The bus turned up nearly 10 minutes late.  As we sauntered at a leisurely pace around Goldsworth Park, picking up new passengers as we went, we were eventually overtaken by another bus heading in our direction.

As we made our way along Lockfield Drive, we were rear ended by a car.  I certainly felt it being sat right at the back along the back row.  Although at first I thought the bus had caught the kerb, but nope, a car had run into us.

Mutiny on the Buses. Or rather, we were given a bit of a bashing on the bottom by a car.
Mutiny on the Buses. Or rather, we were given a bit of a bashing on the bottom by a car.

Thankfully we were able to overtake the other bus before all this happened, and therefore didn’t have to wait long before it caught up and were able to catch that for the rest of the journey into Woking town centre.

Having missed my usual train, and the following one after that, the third train was late.


I do wish teleporters existed.