News and comments from Arthur

Studio Ghibli Posters and Programmes

 Friday 25 Aug 2006, 4:21 PM Studio Glibli film programmes

Having almost completed his collection of Cinefex magazines/books, Arthur has had to find something else to buy and has discovered the wondrous delights of Studio Ghibli cinema programmes and posters. Athur has been a fan of Studio Gibli films such as My Neighbour Totoro, Laputa and Spirited Away for some years now. When he went to Japan a couple of yers ago he picked up a back-breaking number of books at the Sudio Ghibli museum and has collected various other merchandise bits and bobs like plush Totoros and Cat-buses, fridge magnets and soundtrack CDs. However whilst browsing eBay the other day, Arthur found people in Japan selling original cinema posters and programmes and he knew at once that he must have as many of these as possible.

So far Arthur has only got 4 programmes from a UK seller and these are nice A4 soft cover books around 30 pages long, each one covering a particular Studio Ghibli film (for some reason the Japanese produce programmes for pretty much all films at the cinema and they can only be purchased new when you go and see the film). Arthur is currently waiting for several posters from the latest Studio Ghibli film, Tales from Earthsea (known in Japan as Gedo Senki, whch roughly translates as Ged`s Tale) and 2 from Howls Moving Castle. Assuming those transactions go well, there are plently more excellent posters to buy in the near future. These posters aren`t particularly cheap either starting around £25 for a 20 x 30 inch poster. It`s going to be an expensive few months ahead...

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The car is back!

 Wednesday 23 Aug 2006, 3:19 PM

Hooray! Arthur has his car back at last. It`s been away for 2 weeks of which only 1 week was for repairs (the other week, the car just sat around doing nothing waiting for someone from the insurance company to come and inspect it). The car looks perfect even though it has had £1200 worth of work done on it(!) and has been cleaned inside and out, not that it was very dirty in the first place as it was only a few weeks old when it was taken away. Driving the car again, Arthur really has noticed how much nicer the old style Yaris is compared to the new one; the engine is just so much quieter (although the sound system isn`t as good in Arthur`s old model!)

The only remotely major mechanical work done on the car was to replace a bent strut (something to do with steering and connecting wheels to axles and alike); the rest was all parts such as body panels, wheel arch liners and alike. Still, as long as it`s just as good as it was before the accident, that should be all that really matters.

Now Arthur has to speak to his insurance company to find out who is taking responsibility for the accident although, as Arhur hasn`t been asked to pay any excess, it sounds like the old man who hit him has admitted full liability. Hooray again!

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Snakes and Banners

 Tuesday 22 Aug 2006, 11:24 PM Snakes on a Plane logo

As you can hopefully see, Arthur has made some updates to his site by adding various banners to his pages. Whilst some people may think that adding banners is detremental to a site, Arthur thinks that they can add colour and interest. Most importantly these aren`t just any old banners; Arhtur has carefully selected what ones to show and each of them are for sites belonging to friend or sites that Arthur himself uses and recommends. At the moment Arthur is receiving no income from banners that point to retail sites; he is simply linking to them because they are good companies. However Arthur may at some point in the future apply for affiliate status for a couple of places.

Arthur went to see the much hyped film (on the internet at least) Snakes on a Plane on Saturday night. The film had already gained cult status based on its title alone, months before it had been released. Arhtur thought the film entertaining but didn`t quite live up to the over the top promise of the title. Sure there were snakes and yes, they were indeed on a plane. But the whole thing was played out pretty seriously and came across more as a disaster move caused by snakes that were on a plane rather than a tongue in cheek all out snake-fest. Arthurs favourite ever tongue in cheek, so-bad-it`s-good film is A Long Kiss Goodnight and had SoaP been like this then it indeed would have gone down as one of the all time greats in cult film history. As it is, it is simply an entertaining couple of hours with a middle section involving snakes chomping on pretty much every part of the human body you can imagine.

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Stupid style sheets

 Thursday 17 Aug 2006, 7:23 AM

Update: Hooray! Style sheets are fixed! It was an easy fix and was all Brinkster`s fault (when you rename files they "helpfully" update any references to that file. Thus adding an "_old" to a filename in order to have a backup copy means that all your web pages immediately point to the renamed file rather than the nice new version you are about to copy into its place).

Bugger. Now style sheets aren`t working properly and every page except the home page looks like it was written in front page by a 6 year old chimp. Arthur will have to sort this sometime in the next few days along with the odd link here and there that doesn`t point to where it should.

The other change Arthur has made is to widen the side column on the right of the screen slightly (and consequently narrow the main content ares by the same amount), Becuase of this a few things in the side column aren`t aligned properly or don`t expand to fill the column and thus look a bit odd. Also in the main content area some thisngs that fitted neatly now don`t fit quite so weel and will need to be resized a bit. All these will be fixed in the coming days.

In better news Arthur is cycling again as his bike has now been fixed. Even getting that done wasn`t without its dificulties. He took it to a local shop who didn`t have any decent parts but they said they could order them in so Arthur could have a look at them and decide whether he wants to go ahead or not. The next thing Arthur knows he gets a call saying his bike is all fixed and ready to go! Fortunatley the parts were OK (not brilliant but they will do). The pedals are a bit chunky as they are BMX pedals but hopefully this will mean that they will be a bit stronger and will last longer than 18 months which is pretty much all every other set of pedals Arthur has lasted. Also, for some reason, all chainsets seem to come with hideous plastic covers these days, which make them look twice as big as they actually are. Still, Arthur is sure that once these new parts are all caked in grease and grime it will look OK.

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New server

 Wednesday 16 Aug 2006, 9:42 AM

In an effort to improve the uptime of his website, Arthur has had his pages moved to a different server with his web page hosting company Brinkster. Being on a shared server means that Arthur`s website is at the mercy of what other users are doing on the same server. And it would appear that the old server was full of chimps who would fill the memory with crap meaning that any attempt to connect to a database would result in not a fat lot happening and the page totally failing to load.

With a bit of luck this new server will be a bit more stable meaning pages will actually load at a decent speed. Unfortunately Brinkster insist that it is not possible for Arthur to have multiple virtual directories on his website even though he had 4 or 5 before the site was moved. Thus some things on his site are being a bit weird at the moment such as borders are missing from film review images and no data can be written to the database (this will stop ranking and alike from working properly).

Thus Arthur is going to have to make some changes to his site in order to solve these minor problems and this could take a little while to do (especially as Arthur is rather tired at the moment and, after watching Neighbours when he gets home, all he wants to do is go to bed rather than sit in front of a computer screen trying to solve problems that didn`t exist a week ago).

On the plus side though, Arthur hopes to make a few little graphical tweaks to make the site a bit sexier; he`ll have to see how it goes.

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Loan Car

 Saturday 12 Aug 2006, 2:26 PM

Well Arthur now has a loan car whilst his is replaced. It is a 1 litre Toyota Yaris just like his old car but it is the new shape Yaris that was released alomost a year ago.

When Arthur found this out he was a bit annoyed becuase he didn`t really want to drive the new version because he knew he`d get jelaous that he had the manky old model rather than the nice new version. However, rather unexpectedly, the new model has turned out to bit a bit of a disappointment and overall Arthur prefers the old version he owns.

The biggest difference seems to be that the new model has a 3 cylinder engine and even though it feels a bit more powerful than Arthur`s old model, it sounds terrible. The steering is heavier and the interior is a bit more plasticy. Plus the car feels a lot larger (especially wider) even though it is in fact only a little bit bigger. And there is less driver leg room and head room in the new model too.

In fact, now that Arthur has driven the new shape model and inspected it more closely it has a lot of similarities to the Mitsubishi colt, the other car Arthur was considering buying. They both have a 3 cylinder engine, have a similar shape and the interior dashboard layout is similar too. And both feel very big even though they are small cars. Arthur suspects that both cars may share some common designs and parts.

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Car insurance headache

 Monday 7 Aug 2006, 2:50 PM

Well, as predicted, Arthur has had nothing but headaches trying to sort his insurance out for his damaged car. Firstly he phoned the insuarnce broker who took all the details of the incident. They then transferred Arthur to a third party accident service they use who also took all the details. They then said "now we need to sort out a courtesy car for you" and transfered Arthur to yet another company who once again took all the details of the incident. Then Arthur had to speak to the the insurance underwiters (the company who actaully provided the insurance) and guess what, they too tokk all the details too.

Then the fun started when the courtesy car people lost the request for a car and nothing turned up. And the insurance company said they wanted some independant little repair shop to do the work despite the fact this would invalidate some or all of the various warranties on Arthur`s new car.

At this point Arthur discovered thast Toyota offered a free Accident repair helpline to deal with all this so Arthur called them and thought this was the answer to taking all the stress and hassle away. Unfortuanatley it wasn`t that simple as Toyota said that they couldn`t recommened the local Toyota dealer that Arthur had bought the car from (this dealer is 1/2 a mile fvrom Arthur`s house) and that the nearest approved dealer was 20 miles away! (it sounded like there was some sort of dispute and thus Toyota head office were revoking certain approved dealer privileges).

The one thing Arthur really needed was someone to look at this car and say it was OK to drive (the wheel had been hit and thus whilst it seemed to drive OK it needed looking at to 100% confirm this). It was too far for the Sandhurst Toyota people to come out and Toyota couldn`t officially recommend Arthur`s local dealer becasuse of the problems previosuly mentioned!

In the end the Toyota accident helpline suggested that the RAC could come and have a look as everyone gets a years free RAC membership as part of the package you get when buying an new or used Toyota. Even that wasn`t a 100% clear cut case though as, becasue it had only been a few weeks since Arthur had bought the car, the RAC membership hadn`t been processed and completed.

However the RAC were fantastic and could see that there was something in the pipeline so just gave Arthur the benefit of the doubt.

They organised for a callout on the phone there and then and said it would be 20 minutes before someone arrived. Well once Arthur got off the phone he went downstairs and made himself a sandwhich. No sooner was the sandwhich made than the phone rang and it was the RAC engineer who said he`d be there in 10 minutes.

Arthur put the phone down and went to rewind the video tape he`d recorded Neighbours on earlier that day (unfortunaltely he`d pressed the wrong button and it hadn`t recorded) and Arthur consoled himslef by finishing his corned beef sandwhich, but before he could eat the last bite the doorbell rang and it was the RAC mechanic to look at his car! Short of having a car mechanic camped in your front garden you really don`t get much faster than that!

The engineer had a look at the wheel and recommended using the spare wheel instead (a special compact tyre called a spacesaver that is only guaranteed up to 50mph and 70 miles). The tyre was swapped and Arthur could use his car safely again.

For the first time that day Arthur had received what he considered to be excellent customer service. The mechanic got top marks on his little tickbox questionaire that he asked Arthur to fill in. Arthur certainly knows who he`ll be buying breakdown insurance from in the future. Hooray for the RAC, Arthur`s gold star customer service company of the day! Arthur`s insurance broker, underwriter etc. get the brown poo award for being nothing but a headache to deal with (if things continue to go badly they will be named and shamed once the claim is sorted).

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Broken Car! Grrrr....

 Sunday 6 Aug 2006, 8:07 AM The damage to Arthur`s nice new car

Fucking, cunting, wanky fuck-socks! Arthur wasn`t best pleased that his bike was broken yesterday, thus taking out one of his main modes of transport. However that doesn`t even begin to compare to how pissed off he is right at this moment after someone crashed into his nice new car in the car park of Morrisons!

Athur hasn`t has a car accident in around 10 years, yet 3 weeks after getting his nicest (and most expensive) car ever, someone goes and wrecks it! Some old man apporachiong a junction in the car park got his accelerator and brake confused and instead of slowing down accelerated into the front wing of Arthur`s car. Fortunately it was a low speed accident and no one was hurt but Arthur thinks it will be quite an expensive repair to his car as there is damage to the passenger door as well (it won`t open more than 8 inches).

Arthur wouldn`t be so bothered if he believed for a minute that it will all be sorted out sensibly but Arthur knows that insurance companies are twats and the old guy`s company will try and make out the blame was 50/50 even if the old man says otherwise. Arthur now also gets to find out just how good his insurnace company are. Whilst they are nice and cheap, the real test will come when they sort out his claim. Arthur is particularly looking forward to their guaranteed loan car that is subject to availability (how can it be guaranteed if it is subject to availabiltiy!!!???). So far Arthur is not that impressed; when he called them up he was put through to a satellite office who just logged a few basic details and the main office will call him back tomorrow to process the claim properly. Arthur suspects he`s going to have a few difficult weeks ahead.

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Broken Bike

 Saturday 5 Aug 2006, 7:18 PM

Despite recently buying a new car, Arthur is trying to cycle around where possible. However, along with the recent extreme heat, Arthur hasn`t been out and about too much due to his bike breaking.

In the past few months Arthur has had several spokes break. The first time it happened Arthur just took it to a shop and paid £10 for a repair. But when it happened again Arthur decided to fix it himself. As it happened on the back wheel, Arthur discovered he needed a special tool to revoce the gears on the back wheel so that he could unthread the old damaged spoke and fit a new one. Arthur had been recommended an online bike shop called wiggle that did everthing for bikes at good prices, so he ordered his special tool from there for a bargain £5, postage paid. Unfortunatley it turned out not to be such a bargain as, despite saying "fits all shimano cassettes" on the website, it didn`t fit the one on Arthur`s bike as it was about 0.5mm too big! Arthur ended up finding just what he wanted in Halfords just down the road for only £1 more. Typical.

Anyway, having replaced his spokes, Arthur thought he`d have a decent period of trouble free cycling. However it was not to be. For some reason Arthur gets through pedals like most people get trouhg mints in packets of polos. The bearings wear out and start making nasty cliking noises before they need replacing altogether. In the 8 years Arthur has had his bike, he has got through 4 sets of pedals and all have failed in exactly the same way. And about a week ago exactly the same thing started happening again. Now Arthur usually carries on cycling for a while putting up with the clicking noise but this time something very odd (and expensive) happened. After a week or so of making clicking noises, the bearings in the pedals suddenly went quiet again. "Excellent" Arthur thought, "the bearings must have worked their way back into place or worn down enough to stop making that nasty clicking noise". But whilst cycling to the shops today Arthur noticed that the right hand pedal felt wonky. Stopping to have a look he saw it was loose where the pedal screwed into the crank arm. Popping into a conveniently located cycle shop a few hunderd yards down the road from where he had stopped confirmed Arthurs worst fears; the pedal bearing had stopped working and had been trying to rotate inside the screw thread on the crank arm. This had stripped the crank or of its screw thread and the pedal was only attached top the bike like a ball and socket type of arrangement. The only fix for this is to replace the entire crank assembly, front gears and pedals which will cost at least £60! Buggery, cunts and pissflaps! All that just for a clicking pedal!

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