Certainly not a new purchase, I bought it in June 2008. But it has recently been the subject of a bit of attention over the last 12 months.

What Is It?

A 1989 Factory 90 V8 Country Petrol.

I bought it because I previously had a 1981 Series 3 Stage 1 V8 which I got rid of many years ago, and I fancied another one. I’m not a particular Landrover fanatic like many are – but I do like a V8 engine under the bonnet. So I wandered in to Safari Engineering in Yateley and asked dave if he knew anyone with a 90 V8 for sale. It just so happened he did. The blokes nickname was Jesus and he used it as his dog walking car, until the engine had expired (little end failure). Now, a wet dog is a smelly thing, so it took a lot of time and effort, mostly by jetwashing the inside of the car, to eventually get rid of the smell of dog. But the name persists and it is known as “The Dog” in our household.

Over the years, have done many many jobs on it, when I first bought it I replaced the engine, going from a broken 3.5 carb to a 4.0 EFI, which I then later put a megasquirt on. Various welding jobs over the years.

A few years back:


And sometimes I do work on it:

This time it needed a little more work, so I gave it a fairly decent going over. I wanted to fit rear seats to it, but proper, forward facing ones with 3 point seat belts, not the sideways facing ones only with a lap belt.

On inspection of some of the bodywork in the vicinity of where the seatbelts would mount, I realised some work was needed:

The lower panel – easy to replace with a stock item from landrover, but that upper bracket is not available, so I had to make one.

First I made a template in CAD:

And then cut it out in steel:

I think it came out well:

Bulkhead Removal

As is often the way, I then started to get carried away, so I then removed the bulkhead, replaced with a bulkhead brace bar, to give a lot more room in the interior and make it easier for the kids to get in and out:

Body Cappings

And carried on replacing any rust as I found it:

Brand new cappings from Landrover:

It was starting to come together quite well:

Leaky Sunroof

The sunroofs are well known for leaking, so I decided to remove the sunroof entirely. Even though the roof is a bit old and dented, I still wanted the new panel to sit flush and look tidy:

A nice sheet of 1.5mm NS4 ready to cut:

Seemed to go OK:

And fitted nicely:

Quite happy with the end result:

Bulkhead Repairs

At this point, I was looking at the bulkhead. I knew the top corners were a bit rust and I’d put some patches on them a few years back. I decided it was time to do them properly. It was fairly scary how rusty the structures were underneath once I started cutting:

This took a fair bit of work to make:

But came out pretty well. I did both sides, naturally:

The Repaint

As I then suffered a severe bout of scope creep, I decided that as I’d just replaced a bunch of rust with steel, it just wouldn’t do to leave them unpainted. But what colour and how to do it. I decided it might be fun to learn to spray a bit. I did learn a bit – the main lesson being, it’s well worth paying someone else.

Nevertheless, it came ouf OK, although I intentionally did it in white because that’s more forgiving of my errors. All done in cellulose. Would have liked 2-pack, but I don’t have the booth or breathing equipment to do it. Felt like I spent forever filling and sanding – and even then, it’s not a great job!

Slowly but surely, things progressed:

Gradually it started to look like a landrover again:

Apple Carplay

One thing I like in cars is to have apple carplay, plus I wanted front and rear hitchcams to help me line up a trailer first time. But I don’t like the bulky dashboard solutions mosf of them end up with, so instead I found a suiper compact 5″ screen carplay unit which I fitted along with some auxiliary switches:

The slighty curveball here was that the LT85 gear stick is further forwards than the other variants, so I had to modify the gearstick to make it fit:

Somewhere during all this I replaced the gearbox too with a refurbished LT85 from Ashcrofts.

Rear Seats

Finally I was in a position to start fitting the rear seats, using the exmoor trim Loc N Fold ones. They’re really good.

Cab Heat

I also decided to add another heater to give a bit more winter heat in the cab:

Oil Cooler

And made some proper brackets for the oil cooler:

Finally

So with it all back together, here’s where we are today. Still on the original chassis, I will replace that one day, and I need to do new roof lining and carpets in the cab. But looking smarter than it was, I think:

Aria Resorts St Helens caravan site is on the Isle of Wight. At the end of 2018, all customers on the site were not offered a pitch renewal and everyone had to move off the site.

It wasn’t handled by Aria as well as it could have been at the time – but the site was well overdue redevelopment and it didn’t really come as a shock – although it was still a disappointment; we’d hoped for at least one more year.

2 Years later, we’ve just bought a caravan with the same company that threw us off last time. Why would we do that?? Are we mad? Possibly yes, but the reasons are also pretty compelling.

Location

We love St Helens & Bembridge end of the island. There’s lots of vans in many locations on the island, but we like that it’s:

  • Walking distance from Bembridge Harbour (especially Brading Haven Yacht Club, The Best Dressed Crab)
  • A small park – 92 Vans total, not crammed in, nice and secluded with a good bit of greenery.
  • A quiet park – Some of parks have a lot of laid on entertainment. We don’t need this – we like peace and quiet and doing our own thing.
  • Walking distance from Bembridge beach
  • A short walk from the green at St Helens

This is an honest photo (taken from trip advisor) of the park, in this case, looking up the middle of the park at some of the lodges. Not your run of the mill, crammed in, holiday park:

Cost

It’s important to consider not just the upfront cost, but also the ongoing costs.

When we compared costs to the nearby Nodes Point, their pitch fees for what we considered to be one of the worst pitches on the site (overlooked by the bar) – £7,000. St Helens £4,500.

On a like for like basis, the van costs are not disimilar – but over 10 years, Nodes point worked out in excess of £25,000 more expensive for an inferior pitch. Parkdean sites do lay on a lot more entertainment, have their onsite restaurants and so forth – so you do get more for the money – but for us as owners, it wasn’t value.

The Van

We liked the van – a Regal Seascape. Vans have come on a long way over the last few years, and Aria were offering a central heated, plumbed in (gas, water & electrics) van also with double glazing. It’s a great van, well made and has a great feel to it.

The Agreement

You read horror stories from some of the pitch agreements. The one we signed was reasonable and fair, plus any Steve (The sale manager we worked with) was open to tweaks to get it just right.

The Sale Process

There is no pressure. Steve is much more interested in making sure the location & van are right for you than squeezing you in to a sale you’ll later regret.

Summary

The proof is in the pudding – since we bought, we’ve not had a hint of buyer’s regret. Quite the opposite, we look forward to every visit and can’t wait until we’re back down there again. Thank you Aria for reinvigorating the site and bringing it back to life again.

Tableau’s pretty cool, right? Self service BI for departments tired of waiting for years for the EDW to come online. Connect to the source systems, mash it all together – WOW – we have some BI!!

Nearly – but not quite. Tableau’s absolutely fantastic at getting started – finally, giving departments some good quality BI and getting people away from hacking reports together using Excel & Powerpoint – and for many organisations, that’s enough.

But – there’s a bunch of gotchas.

(more…)

Has anyone actually talked to the CFO?

I was running a course last week and a particularly challenging requirement was raised by one of the attendees. No-one in the organisation had been able to work out how to solve it – but we weren’t talking about creating Skynet either – it was a simple request to create a balancing line on a report. The gotcha was that the balancing line needed to be computed on the fly depending on the viewpoint of the report – so was going to take the team quite a bit of effort to build in. More cost and lead time – but with not “that” much apparent benefit either.

The interesting thing was – no one had actually talked to the CFO to understand the background to the request, nor explored any alternative options.

(more…)

I’ve recently been using the platform services API a lot – it’s really really powerful to help reduce the TCO – you can dynamically scale the up & down as needs arise – for example, scale it up during batch processing periods to get the batch to run quicker, but scale it back down again during normal BAU.

When you combine that with automated starting & stopping that the API also offers, this creates a compelling TCO!

However – the purpose of this post of to highlight a bug in the PSM Client API documentation. We actually run our own python wrapper rather than use the PSM API Client – but that’s the benchmark. The documentation for the PSM API is here.

A normal PSM command to scale the environment up might be as follows:

psm analytics scale -s OACESSDEV01 -c payload.json

And the contents of the payload file according to the documentation is as follows:

{ "components": 
    { "analytics": 
        { "shape":"oc4", 
        "hosts":["oacessdev01-bi-1"] 
        } 
    } 
}

So this scale command will tell the platform to scale the platform to an OC4 shape – 2x OCPUS, 4x VCPUS. Unfortunately it doesn’t work (it did last month, so it’s obviously a recent change – but a bit of a gotcha if your using this API!) – we get the following error:

Error: 
{ 
    "details":{ 
        "message":"Failed to submit job to for the scale operation.", 
        "issues":[ 
            "[Invalid [analytics] parameter [hosts] contained in request payload.]", 
            "[Invalid [analytics] parameter [shape] contained in request payload.]" 
        ] 
    } 
}

Fortunately we’ve been writing our own wrapper for the API in Qubix Cloudbridge, so we know the insides of the API. The format of the payload file has changed, it now needs to be:

{ "components": 
  { "BI": 
    { "shape":"oc4", 
      "hosts":["oacessdev01-bi-1"] 
    } 
  } 
}

Note the word “analytics” has changed to “BI” – and everything now works!

 

 

Is it time to say goodbye to the RFP?

I spend a good bit of my time writing RFP responses and I don’t mind saying that a little bit of me dies each time a complete one. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t stop doing them and I never put less than 100% effort (If you know me, you know that’s the only way I can work).

But I also know it’ll be really hard for us to win one. It doesn’t matter how much effort I put in. It doesn’t matter what I write. Why is this? Why is simple to answer – but fixing it is a little harder.

We’re in 2017. We’re in the age of the smartphone – the device in your hand isn’t just a bit more powerful than the computers that sent man to the moon – it’s millions of times more powerful. And it costs a few hundred pounds, maybe a thousand (And as I’m also a bit of an engineer and do all my own maintenance on cars – that’s more than I spend on some of my cars).

But we’ve become so used to getting so much for so little and to be made so easy for us – people lose sight of value.

So when I do an RFP response, I’m being honest. I will say yes to everything – because I infer that if you’ve asked if something is possible, you want it, and I’ll make sure we can do it. And if I can’t say yes, there’s no point in responding, because someone else will.

But what about if it IS possible, but the cost benefit to you is low – it won’t save you much time, but it adds a lot to the cost. I can think of a smarter way of doing it instead, but involves a process change rather than a system change – how do I get that across in an RFP? I can’t! I can bring my experience to the table, but I also need to know the specifics of your business and your team to find the best answer and an RFP doesn’t have the scope to do that.

How does a supplier get chosen based on an RFP? The RFP is a box ticking exercise :

The questionnaire

  • Can the product do what we want?
  • Can you implement the product?
  • Can you provide references?
  • Are you the cheapest?

 

 

We probably won’t be the bottom line cheapest. But here’s a promise I can make:

You will get the best value, most stable, appropriately featured and fastest delivered solution.

What do I mean?

Firstly – time to value. We’ll start producing results that add value to the business faster than you can blink!! Well, maybe not blink….but faster than you’ll believe or expect.

Appropriately featured – we’ll focus on the biggest pain points and quick wins first. Let’s have a profound positive impact on the business as quickly as possible! But – always -with a goal – we’ll make sure we’re all agreed on where we’re going and what the target end state is – so that everything we do aligns with short, medium & long term goals.

Fastest Delivery – if there is a shortcut, we know it and can use it. But we also know the traps – and will avoid those too.

So while the headline implementation cost might look a little higher, the time taken for you to get value out of the solution, the long term viability of it in your organisation, the perfomance and the flexibility – we can win every time. If you want a box ticked, the big SI’s can help. But if you want to help transform, improve and accelerate your business – talk to Qubix.