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Archive for June 2007

Streetcar!

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After a really long time of planning to do so, today was the day I finally decided to give Streetcar (www.mystreetcar.co.uk) a test drive. I joined this service just about a week ago after doing some cost comparisons and finding that it is actually cheaper than renting a car for short durations.It is possible that it may be cost effective in the longer run as well, but the short duration condition came from comparing the least possible costs of the two.

So how was the experience? well I enjoyed it. Streetcar’s part of the job was done quite smoothly and the car was pretty clean and well maintained. The service asks customers to check for damage and log it in a log book provided so that they know which users were not responsible for the damage. The cars are equipped with a radio, a connection to hook up an iPod/MP3 player, electric windows, AC etc etc and are quite comfy in that regard. 

I decided to take a spin at the god forsaken hour of 4:30 am for two reasons

1. I did not have any fixed agenda other than just trying out the system, so I wanted to minimise costs and that is best done by booking at god forsaken hours(I booked the car for 2 hours and drove around about 23 miles for the princely sum of 2.49 GBP).

2. Truly fun driving possible by not having to share road space with anyone else 🙂

Come 4:30 I held the smartcard against the sensor on the windscreen at which the car beeped and lights flashed and there was a moment of “omigosh” before things settled down and I realised that I had in fact not triggered the burglar alarm by mistake. The procedure is that the smartcard unlocks the car for the first time. The user then has to enter a PIN into the onboard computer and once thats verified, the key is released from its lock in the glove box and then the car is yours to use. During the booking, the car is locked using the key and only when the car is returned do you put the key back in the glovebox, get out and lock the car using the smartcard again.

The only hassle was me to figure out some of the controls of the car. I had never even been inside one of the VW Golfs so it took some hunting to find the controls to switch on the headlights. Then there was another long struggle to figure out how to engage the reverse gear, a struggle made all the more interesting by the fact that there was a metal barrier in front of the car and about 6 inches space to act as margin for error while gauging if the car is moving forwards or backwards. After spending about 15 minutes making mistakes and crawling forwards millimetre by millimetre(what do you expect with a total clearance of 6 inches?), I did manage to get the car into reverse and pull out of the parking lot.

With these two out of the way though, the whole experience was quite fun. I have always had this sort of “loyalty” towards the German carmakers (one of my idiosyncracies) and hence I liked the Golf for no particular reason. Having driven one, I now have to say that it is quite a fun car to drive, capable of good speeds, good handling and a stable, solid feel. Which means that my loyalty to it has just been cemented 😉

Overall, I am quite impressed with the whole concept of car clubs and the ability to rent cars by the hour. Comparisons are inevitable with how the concept fares against owning a car for oneself or against renting a car when needed. All three schemes (owning, car club, renting) have their own advantages and disadvantages which maybe I will describe in another post as I dont feel like lengthening this any more, but I am glad that car clubs have found a niche market to cater to and I hope they do well!!

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Written by clueso

June 16, 2007 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Read my lips….no more exams!!

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Well the original saying was actually “no more taxes” but I dont think George Bush Snr. would sue me for plagiarism.

 The point is that today I finished the last of my exams for the MSc which I am currently in pursuit of. For the umpteenth time in  my life I find myself in a post exam void, where one seems to have nothing to do and all day to do it. Today was spent in watching 4 episodes of Friends and 6 episodes of “That 70s show” and clearing out my drawers of all the scrap paper that I have been collecting over the last few months. Tomorrow I shall probably start on some of the projects which I orginally decided to do at the end of the testing times.

 1. try to figure out how to customise my blog a little. I am still grappling with adding a blogroll to this theme.

2. find out who owns the Mercedes SLK200 that I always see parked outside our department. If its a prof, then I am willing to give a career in academia a thought.

3. Maybe read a book. been a long time

 4. something else.

 Sure cant think of anything else. maybe as I find things to do I will expand the list.

for now, I am gonna sleep 🙂

Written by clueso

June 2, 2007 at 9:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized