Win an iTronics ITB100HD with VanTasks.ie, Man with a Van and Furniture Removals Dublin, Ireland.

Win a new iTronics ITB-100Hd vehicle blackbox DVR camera worth ~€200 with www.VanTasks.ie

To Qualify…
1) You must have “liked” www.Facebook.com/VanTasks
2) Guess the speed (in KMPH) the van is traveling in the following video (recorded with an ITB-100HD)
3) email us with your answer and a link to your facebook profile to enter.

A winner will be selected by random from all winning entries and notified to claim their prize!

Good luck!

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook or Twitter. You are providing your information to VanTasks and not to Facebook or Twitter. The information that you provide will only be used by VanTasks and not passed to any third party.

01.    This competition is only open to residents of Europe aged 18 years or over.

02.    VanTasks employees, their agents, families or anyone professionally connected with the promotion are excluded from the competition.

03.    Winners will be contacted via email and will be required to provide VanTasks with their contact details in order to claim their prize.

04.    Only one entry is permitted per person.

05.    VanTasks decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

06.    In the event that VanTasks receives no response from the winner within 48 hours, it will draw a replacement winner and the first winner will no longer be eligible to receive the prize.

07.    VanTasks will publish the names of winners on Facebook and Twitter.

08.    VanTasks reserves the right to suspend or terminate the competition, extend the closing date or amend these terms and conditions.

09.    VanTasks reserves the right to use entrants’ email addresses for future promotional purposes. Email addresses will not be shared with third party agents.

10.    Prizes are not transferrable for cash or any other alternative.

11.    By entering the competition you agree to accept these terms and conditions.

Painful to Watch: Ambulance behind, red light, what’s your move?

Caught this the other day:

Pretty shocking in my own view, if that was me, I’d be slowly pulling into the oncoming traffic (even though there was absolutely no need and the small car could have just pulled a little left). I know it would technically be breaking the law and breaking a red light, but I think it’s worth it in the case where somebodies life could be in danger due to vital seconds.

Discussion on laws and consequences here.

Painful to Watch: Ambulance behind, red light, what’s your move?

Caught this the other day:

Pretty shocking in my own view, if that was me, I’d be slowly pulling into the oncoming traffic (even though there was absolutely no need and the small car could have just pulled a little left). I know it would technically be breaking the law and breaking a red light, but I think it’s worth it in the case where somebodies life could be in danger due to vital seconds.

Discussion on laws and consequences here.

Is the “rear-ender” always to blame in a traffic collision?

Early Saturday morning saw my first traffic collision (bar the odd bump) and like nearly all rear end collisions, I’ll probably be held fully accountable. But should the blame be all mine? It was a quiet morning and I was on time, driving to my first job. I was overtaking a cyclist and further up the road a woman had her car door open so I stayed towards the centre of the road for a fluid overtake. At the same time, a driver came out from a side road on the left hand side and I jammed on the brakes but slid into their bumper with a thud.

Was I going above the speed limit? I honestly don’t know, I was certainly going a decent speed to overtake the cyclist safely and I definitely believe the other driver shouldn’t have pulled out, but in 99% of rear-end collisions, blame lies with the driver behind so it will be extremely difficult for me to prove otherwise.

I’m not really frustrated over the collisions itself as I don’t believe I’m fully to blame, but what I’m extremely frustrated over is the fact I had video evidence which could have greatly helped my case and it managed to get overwritten! I had only taken delivery of new car black box recorders the day before the collision. These basically record what can be seen from the windscreen and log GPS location and have a G-Sensor built in to monitor shocks and motion. I’ve been using a different model in the vans for the past 2 years or so. I had only briefly explored the software the night I took delivery with footage from the first van I installed the new camera to, which in the time it was in use, drove for 1 hour and parked for 4 hours. The 8GB card included with the unit was only half full. I wasn’t aware it only recorded motion sensed/shocked segments while parked, so really there was probably only 1.5 hours footage recorded to the card, not the 5 I thought. I also bought additional 32GB cards and from reading recording time levels, I remember seeing a 32GB card can hold over 8 hours footage. I mistakenly had it in my head that I’d have more than 8 hours footage before previous footage would be overwritten and thought the footage, since it was a “shock”, wouldn’t even be overwritten, as was the case with the previous unit.

The van which had the crash was installed with an iTronics ITB100HD first thing in the morning before I drove to a job. The previous unit (Xdriven DRS1100) was hardwired in and they use the same voltage and same size connector so I simply replaced it with the new unit. Unfortunately, each unit has a different overwriting system. I had the crash 5 minutes later and as I was on the way to a job, with the above assumptions, let it record as I knew I may be still in a little shock and thought it would be good to have the camera rolling. As my job involves loading the van with furniture etc, every minute the van was parked was pretty much recorded due to the high sensitivity level and customers and I moving around in the cargo bay loading items. After 6 hours I unplugged it as I didn’t want to take any chances. Unfortunately due to my mistakes and misunderstandings of the new unit, it was too late.

Below is a video recorded as I revisited the scene. The car came out just where the green car on the left is protruding.

 

Is the "rear-ender" always to blame in a traffic collision?

Early Saturday morning saw my first traffic collision (bar the odd bump) and like nearly all rear end collisions, I’ll probably be held fully accountable. But should the blame be all mine? It was a quiet morning and I was on time, driving to my first job. I was overtaking a cyclist and further up the road a woman had her car door open so I stayed towards the centre of the road for a fluid overtake. At the same time, a driver came out from a side road on the left hand side and I jammed on the brakes but slid into their bumper with a thud.

Was I going above the speed limit? I honestly don’t know, I was certainly going a decent speed to overtake the cyclist safely and I definitely believe the other driver shouldn’t have pulled out, but in 99% of rear-end collisions, blame lies with the driver behind so it will be extremely difficult for me to prove otherwise.

I’m not really frustrated over the collisions itself as I don’t believe I’m fully to blame, but what I’m extremely frustrated over is the fact I had video evidence which could have greatly helped my case and it managed to get overwritten! I had only taken delivery of new car black box recorders the day before the collision. These basically record what can be seen from the windscreen and log GPS location and have a G-Sensor built in to monitor shocks and motion. I’ve been using a different model in the vans for the past 2 years or so. I had only briefly explored the software the night I took delivery with footage from the first van I installed the new camera to, which in the time it was in use, drove for 1 hour and parked for 4 hours. The 8GB card included with the unit was only half full. I wasn’t aware it only recorded motion sensed/shocked segments while parked, so really there was probably only 1.5 hours footage recorded to the card, not the 5 I thought. I also bought additional 32GB cards and from reading recording time levels, I remember seeing a 32GB card can hold over 8 hours footage. I mistakenly had it in my head that I’d have more than 8 hours footage before previous footage would be overwritten and thought the footage, since it was a “shock”, wouldn’t even be overwritten, as was the case with the previous unit.

The van which had the crash was installed with an iTronics ITB100HD first thing in the morning before I drove to a job. The previous unit (Xdriven DRS1100) was hardwired in and they use the same voltage and same size connector so I simply replaced it with the new unit. Unfortunately, each unit has a different overwriting system. I had the crash 5 minutes later and as I was on the way to a job, with the above assumptions, let it record as I knew I may be still in a little shock and thought it would be good to have the camera rolling. As my job involves loading the van with furniture etc, every minute the van was parked was pretty much recorded due to the high sensitivity level and customers and I moving around in the cargo bay loading items. After 6 hours I unplugged it as I didn’t want to take any chances. Unfortunately due to my mistakes and misunderstandings of the new unit, it was too late.

Below is a video recorded as I revisited the scene. The car came out just where the green car on the left is protruding.

 

When do parking violations cross the line?

pay and display permit

Notice anything wrong with the parking above? I took this photo after a neighbour phoned me to say my car was blocking the entrance to an apartment complex car park. I was on a job at the time and fortunately it was local but I still had to temporarily abandon it to return to move the car, thinking maybe the handbrake wasn’t applied properly and it rolled back a few feet making it impossible for any cars to enter the car park. The lady on the phone was abrupt and hung up before I even finished speaking so I came back quickly.

It sounded like the same lady who rang me one night around 1am complaining that my van was parked outside her window. Bear in mind this is a public road and my van was parked in a regular pay and display area with a valid permit. Driving back I was hoping it didn’t roll back into another car and cause any damage and that I didn’t get a fine but when I arrived back the above photo is what I was met with, just as I had left it. I turned back around, snapped the photo and quickly drove back to the job, only a 15 minute delay thankfully. I didn’t even move the car.

Now there’s absolutely no obstruction caused by the manner in which my car is parked, I could fit my biggest van into the entrance of the car park no bother. I’m not entirely sure of the legalities of part of the vehicle body extending beyond the marked area of parking so I’m going to pop this on boards.ie and try find out!

In-Van Entertainment, Free Giveaway! House Moving Dublin-Ireland-UK-Europe!

Playstation 2, SlimlineSo 4 years ago I had an idea that putting a slimline Playstation 2 and a little screen in the van would be a nice addition to my service, especially on longer trips where I’ve customers in the van with me. This would let them play games and watch DVD’s too! How many times was it put to use and make an impressive impression on my customers? None! 🙁

So I’m giving it away free for anyone who wants it. You get a Slimline Playstation 2 and a little monitor (like the ones you fit to the back seats for the kids). Quality is pretty poor but as my friend says, secondary use is the best form of recycling. Unfortunately I gave away 2 perfectly good remote controllers after having forgotten about the Playstation, just last Saturday, but I have another lying around, although it’s not in the best shape!

Available for collection today in Dun Laoghaire/South Dublin area on a first come, first served basis. Pop me a mail, comment on FaceBook or however else you want to get in touch to claim 🙂

How to use GPS and Google Coordinates

I started this off as a post on boards.ie but thought I’d pop it here as it ended up being more like a blog post how to by the time I was finished!

As a man with a van who has to travel to new addresses far and wide, the most efficient, accurate and easy way to get somewhere is using Latitude and Longitude coordinates. Unfortunately not many people are aware of such a system and just how easy it makes it for the likes of myself to find an address.

With phones with built in GPS and maps readily available from only €39, I’d consider it an extremely valuable tool for anyone, especially in Ireland where so many houses can be in the middle of nowhere, with no post codes and only a road name which could go on for miles. I’ve read a few threads here of people complaining about failed deliveries from couriers etc because they simply couldn’t find the house.

Google Street View makes it even easier too. I’ve freaked out a few customers over the phone asking things like “is it the one with the yellow door?” after they tell me their address 😀

It’s simple to go from looking up an address to arriving there with your GPS.
1 – Go to maps.google.ie
2 – Search, zoom and pan until you find the area location.
3 – Drag the little orange man in the zoom bar to the exact street if available. Navigate in street view until you find the exact point.
4 – Click the link button just to the left of the pan buttons, you’ll be presented with a link URL and within this URL you’ll find the coordinates in decimal format. The dublin area is generally around 53.000000,-6.000000 numbers. You can also get the exact coordinates by right clicking any point on the map (while not in street view) and clicking “What’s here?”. The coordinates will then appear in the map search field in the format as above.
5 – Input these numbers to your GPS or have them available to give over the phone etc to anyone who may need them. Make sure you choose the correct format on your GPS. It must be decimal format (on Garmin you’re looking for h ddd.ddddd°). Also, just to note, your GPS may have North, South, East and West settings rather than + or -. Anything above 0 is North or East and anything below is South or West.
6 – Double check the route before you set off to make sure you have inputted the coordinates properly and they lead to the correct area as one little mistake could lead to a huge difference in distance.
7 – Set off and you’ll eventually arrive within a few meters of the selected coordinates.

Your GPS device should also be able to tell your coordinates and this is a great way to share your location to anyone you may be meeting who also has a GPS and most smart phones should have a “Share My Location” option built in.

It’s unlikely coordinates will become a standardised way of sharing addresses, for the next generation or two anyway. Although the coordinate system is nothing new, handheld consumer devices being able to take advantage of them is and maybe they’ll be more widely implemented in the coming years.

Like, Review and Follow VanTasks!

Vantasks social follow twitter

I’m currently trying to build on a number of avenues backed by customer feedback and support as outlined below and would very much appreciate any amount of help from anyone I’ve completed a move for!

http://maps.google.com/maps/place?cid=9529551243965522023 – Place page on Google where you can rate and review the service you received.
http://FaceBook.com/VanTasks – Like us for updates, regular competitions, raffles and promotions. Suggesting friends to “like” us would be greatly appreciated too!
http://Twitter.com/VanTasks – Follow us for tweets and updates on traffic, transport and general ramblings.
http://VanTasks.ie – Add us to your Google +1’s by clicking the +1 button at the bottom of the page.

Mention your own website, page or business and I can like or follow you too, as well as adding a link on the VanTasks feedback page along with your review, great for SEO!

Any support will be greatly appreciated 🙂

Winter Tyres, Do We Need Them in Ireland?

It all depends on the individual and what you actually use your car for, there isn’t a simple yes or no answer.

To put it simply, if you’ll be driving a lot over the colder months and need to travel on wheels out of necessity and can’t use public transport or other means of getting from A-B, then winter tyres will be a good investment. A decent set of winter tyres will cost upwards of €300, this is a cost many of us could do without but the key word is investment. If you spend the money now, you could avoid spending much more through repair costs or insurance premiums if you lose control and end up with even the most minor repair or respray. Not forgetting to mention your safety and health. You can plan to buy tyres, you can’t really plan for what could happen without them.

I’ve actually had this blog post saved as a draft since last year. I decided to give the tyres a proper test and then publish it when the time came around again to be considering the purchase.

My personal experience is that even though in Ireland, we may not get the extremes of Nordic countries, the tyres themselves make a huge difference. I regularly do runs which cover the length and breadth of the country taking me on a full circle of Ireland in 2 days. When faced with road conditions like we’ve had in recent winters, although the roads themselves may not be so bad, the combination of the weather, with the inexperience of Irish drivers in such conditions, with not having adequate tyres can only lead to delays and this was certainly the case in the last 2 years with huge traffic jams throughout the country. I was able to make much better progress feeling safe in the knowledge my winters would allow me to use the snow covered, untreated overtaking lanes and even overtake safely and efficiently on clear stretches of single lane traffic and I believe I shaved at least a couple of hours off my journey. I could also feel the difference on the untreated roads and was able to get to destinations my wheels were preventing me from reaching the previous times without the winters.

This is a video taken with a dash-cam on one of the vans. The first half was taken just before getting a new set of All-Season tyres fitted, the tyres on the van at the time were summer tyres that were near the end of their life anyway and the difference between the two can be seen best in the stopping distance and control at the start and end of the video:

Bearing in mind the new tyres were all seasons as opposed to winters, winters would even out perform the all seasons and you’d see an even bigger difference.

So why did I get all seasons on this van? I knew this van wouldn’t be getting the same use over winter as the one I fitted winters too and it also wouldn’t be getting much use over the summer so there was no real reason to have either winter or summer tyres fitted and opted for All Seasons instead. I believe this is definitely the best choice for a vehicle with similar usage, the all seasons did a great job on the snow and ice and handle well in the wetter conditions too and because of their compound, they won’t wear out quickly in summer months like the winters would.

So in conclusion, it really just comes down to the mileage you’ll be doing over the year and the winter in particular.

Currently have a set of Summer tyres fitted and predict high mileage and necessary journeys over winter and summer? Get Winter Tyres!
Currently have a set of Summer tyres fitted and predict necessary journeys and average use spread over the entire year? Get All seasons!
Currently have a set of Summer tyres fitted and predict average mileage over the winter and journeys you can do without? Leave the car at home!

Currently have All Seasons fitted and predict high mileage and necessary journeys over the winter and summer? I think this depends on the type of journey you need to take, will you be in a rush, travelling on untreated roads etc, then it’s probably best to get a set of winter tyres and keep the all seasons for the warmer months!

If your current tyres need replacing soon anyway then it will be a simpler choice, high mileage over summer and winter, get winter, average use, just go with all seasons.

Points to note:
We don’t generally have summer’s hot enough that will wear a set of winters or all seasons as much as they would wear in hotter countries so in a lot of cases, all seasons would do the job fine. Any type of high mileage and journeys planned that will take you off the main roads then a set of winter tyres would definitely be a wise investment!

If you think you’ll have the same vehicle as you do now for the next few years, then it’s definitely a wise move to get a set of winters. Having a set of each is the optimum choice and rather than wearing down your current set and buying a similar set and wearing them down and then buying another set, it would make a lot more sense to get a set of each as they will last longer in their specific seasons, create a safer driving experience and if you’re changing back and forth as the weather demands, you’ll be encourage to rotate the front to back where you might neglect to do so otherwise. Rotation is advised to prolong the life of tyres with the tyres with the most thread depth going at the back for better handling.

Winter tyres should be used in temperatures 7 degrees Celsius and below, once the temperature picks up again in Spring, it’s time to put the summer tyres back on and keep the winter tyres in suitable storage.

First attempt at a rage comic :P

Getting on the internet meme train, this is a regular occurrence so thought I’d put it in Rage Comic form!

Furniture Removals Dublin rage

🙂

Pay and Display Experiment

So recently some roadworks were completed on a local street which is covered in Pay and Display parking bays. Most bays and markings are still fine but one remains unmarked. Today my friend is in the area and we decided to test it out and park his car without a ticket in the newly surfaced area which had no markings or sign at the time of parking. The wardens are like snakes around here and it’s rare you’d get away with parking without a ticket.

When last winter was upon us and the snow was thick, I was personally told by somebody in the council that my van wouldn’t be clamped as long as the snow remains and the markings aren’t visible. There’s also a UK website I remember dedicated to helping people fight their parking tickets and incorrect markings are a big “get out clause”.

Will update with the result 😉

Pay and Display Experiment

 

Update: 2.5 hours elapsed with no fine issued. 2.5 hours in this area is akin to a full day in most areas as there’s wardens passing every hour at least. If there’s any further updates I’ll post back 🙂

Does a Reva G-Wiz fit inside a Ford Transit?

Last month after helping a customer relocate to London, my “Ethic Ranger” friend and some times helper, decided to make the most of the empty van space back to Dublin and in the interest of promoting the use of electric cars in Ireland, put his mind at winning an auction on Ebay for a G-Wiz Reva electric car, his bid was the winner so off he went to the UK in a regular Long Wheel Base, High Roof Transit 350, with two ramps which I usually use for Piano transport and straps in tow.

The same night he won the auction, the car was already posted for sale on some popular Irish classified sites and he had a buyer lined up before he even disembarked back in Dublin. It was probably the best value in its class available in Ireland, after all, this wasn’t a venture for profit, but more for the good of the Earth! To give you an idea, this is the same guy who’s currently on day 15 of a 21 (at least) water fast, that means he’s had nothing for the past 15 days but water! He’s also eaten 70 bananas in one day before and can do a very respectable amount of chin-ups, only using the middle finger of each hand. He can also easily win in a 3 on 1 basketball game with a banana in one hand while dribbling the ball in the other, amongst other things from this Lithuanian farmers son!

The buyer kindly recorded the unloading upon delivery and we got footage of the loading process too. It was a bit low on battery so needed a bit of a push to get up the ramps 🙂

A funny looking car and turns a few heads when driving around, makes people smile and in terms of economy and depending on your usage of course, could be a wise choice of transport for some. Here’s some info pulled from the original advert if any of you are interested in getting your hands on one!

Tax cost 31Eur/year

No need NCT ;

Reva G-WIZ 2006 Automatic Electric Vehicle ( AEV )
it’s quadricycle ( L7E ) category vehicle ;

Right-hand drive;
Automatic;
Regenerative brakes;
CO2 emission 7.2g/km (if Airtricity is provider) ;
Power Locks;
Immobiliser;
Distance central lock w keypad ;
You can Turn on heating from distance with same keypad ;
4seats (2adults + 2kids till 12years);
Black-Grey Leather seats (95% it’s not a real leather, so suits for Vegans);
Weight 665kg (395kg car and 270kg batteries )
Load capacity including passangers is 270kg also ;
Length: 2640mm (Smart For Two is 2500mm), Width 1320mm

In UK, they are very popular, in London some places exempt from parking, exempt from taxes and can be charged for free;

This is best selling electric car in the world so far;

REVA has a safety record second to none, with over 80 million miles driven by customers globally and over 4,000 years of ownership with one reported serious injury (As on January 2011) ;

Cost 1.85Eur of electricity/100 km to drive
(or cheaper at home… Depending on your electricity rate it can be as cheap as 1p a mile to run. At todays petrol prices thats the equivalent of nearly 600mpg, yes you did read that right! ) ;

If you driving an average 1000 miles/month with ~6.5L/100km, it can save you 130Eur/month ; So it pays out very quickly.
Also imagine 110Litre (22pcs of 5L canisters) in your room, that’s amount of petrol will be burnt EVERY MONTH.
Crazy on what we voting our money!

Plus another 20-40Eur/month saving for cheaper Taxes, No NCT needed and cheaper insurance
( All REVA’s are Group 1, the lowest price insurance group. Ask me for advice, where to insure, i called 15 companies in May’2011 ) ;

So easy 150Eur/month saving.

Need 8 hours charging to full ;

Since the REVA does not have an engine, clutch or gears, or a carburator, radiator, exhaust etc, the maintenance cost is low. Estimates show that the maintenance costs of REVA are 40 % lower than that of a small car over a 3-year ownership period.

Speed is up to 67km/h (did myself…manufacturer says up to 70) ;

This can be charged from any normal 13Amp mains socket, charge lead included (standard industrial socket plug in to the car).

It never needs petrol, just a little distilled water to top the batteries up now and again, it is great just driving straight past petrol stations ;

This is as close to free motoring as you can get, its cheaper than the bus or train and definitely cheaper than any car or motorbike ;

For more information: http://www.goingreen.co.uk/

Also Ireland planning to install 3500 charging stations by December 2011