Thursday, 28 December 2006

Mister Slimm versus Jeremy Clarkson

Just watched a rerun of the Top Gear Christmas 2005 episode with the film where Jeremy Clarkson takes an NSX around Laguna Seca in Polyphony Digital's brilliant PlayStation 2 driving game Gran Turismo 4 and then takes a real NSX around the real Laguna Seca in Monterrey, California, USA.

I know when I watched it first time, I thought, I'll have a bash at Jeremy's lap time. I never got around to it, though, and it didn't help that I hadn't made a note of his lap time, anyhoo. This time with finger hovering on the pause key I made a note of his lap time and tried to determine which car settings he had used.

The circuit was selected from the World Circuits menu in Gran Turismo mode but the car was selected from Arcade mode. I imagine the reason for this is that the circuit selection is more visually interesting in the Gran Turismo mode than Arcade, so I decided that Jeremy had performed the lap as an Arcade Mode Timed Run. This left only the tyres as the setup question and I suspect that he chose the default Sports Medium tyres. The other arcade setup options are more related to drivability with a gamepad than actual car performance.

His car (in the game) was a NSX '01 though it is reported that he had to use a more modern Acura-badged NSX in the real-life attempt. According to the video, the real-life attempt also used the car's standard tyres (at least, they were treaded).

I drove my runs according to strict rules of sportsmanship so any lap where all four wheels left the track (demarked by the white lines, this includes Turn 1 - the start-finish curve) I made sure I slowed down and let the ghost driver pass and finish the lap ahead of me. Jeremy also appeared to drive a clean lap without cutting Turn 4 or The Corkscrew.

His time in the game was 1'41.148, a time I figured would be a bit ho-hum because of an entirely unjustified prejudice concerning his age and curly hair.

I was wrong. It is an entirely respectable lap and it took me nearly half-an-hour to beat it. I hadn't played the game for several months but even when I was re-acclimatised to the game (I had previously been playing Ridge Racer V, very different) I was still not nailing the lap satisfactorily.

Eventually, I got the following lap times and, it should be noted, an increased respect for Jeremy Clarkson's Gran Turismo 4 ability. I also thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. It was a pleasure to revisit this superb driving game.

Gran Turismo 4 mode

Arcade Mode
World Circuits: Laguna Seca
Honda: NSX '01

Lap times

GT4 Jeremy Clarkson (unknown tyres): 1'41.148
Laguna Seca Jeremy Clarkson: 1'57
GT4 Mister Slimm (Road tyres): 1'44.615
GT4 Mister Slimm (Sports Medium tyres): 1'40.580
GT4 Mister Slimm (Sports Soft tyres): 1'39.963

Photos and links

1'40.580 (Sports Medium)1'44.615 (Road)

Microsoft Access 2002: Complex forms load really slowly

After a Microsoft Access wizard left two of my databases in a corrupt condition (an undocumented feature?) I felt fortunate to be able to reconstruct them by importing the objects into a new MDB file.


Annoyingly, my forms were now taking an age to load. As soon as I loaded it the first time I remembered that this was a problem I had come across before and had discovered the solution. A bit of brain-wracking didn't help (it just hurt). In these situations I say (if you have the time) to do something else and leave the problem floating around in the back of your mind and in the normal course of events, you might remember what it was. Normally, for me, this is either:
  1. when I leave the house (which isn't very often)
  2. when I'm sitting on the loo or in the bath
  3. when I've gone to bed
Three days later and, poof!, I remembers. It's an Option.

Tools menu -> Options -> General tab page -> Name AutoCorrect. Uncheck Track name AutoCorrect info.

Voila! Decent speed in complex form opening.

Panasonic AX100E: brightness flicker problem

(Make sure you read the entire post.)

After a couple of years of saving and selling a load of stuff on eBay, I'm in the fortunate position of being able to purchase an HD projector. I've chosen a Panasonic AX100. Naturally, however, every silver lining has a cloud...


My previous projector was a Panasonic AE200. I got this as a replacement for a faulty AE100 and I was delighted with it from day one. However, the time was approaching to consider selling it before a new bulb purchase became urgent or buy a new bulb. Because it didn't support HD I decided to sell the projector and put the money toward a shiny new one.

Brightness Flicker Problem

Disagreeably, a week or so after getting the AX100 a nasty little gremlin raised his head in the form of a picture whose brightness alternated every couple of seconds when used in Eco-Mode.

Agreeably, a search of the web brought about a DIY solution:
  • Put the projector in Normal mode for about fifty hours.
Splendidly simple. And, you know, it worked. I'm now happily using the projector in Eco-Mode for a further few days and all seems to be well. Terrific.


This didn't solve the problem permanently. About 50 hours bulb life later, the problem returned. It is less intrusive and more intermittent now but still there and still disappointing.