Monthly Archives: August 2013

Going to the Dark Side?

Yesterday I did something I swore I would never do.

I got a FaceBook account.

I have written before of my vehement disdain for FaceBook, and of why I would never get one. And yet, here I am with a FaceBook page.

Sort of.

No, you can’t be my “friend”

No, I will not “like” your product, service or company. Not unless you offer me money, anyway.

No, I have no intention of raising FaceBook’s market capitalization by investing my life in this website.


You see, this particular FaceBook account was set up to play an online game, and for no other purpose. It has next to no information on me. E-mail address, Date of Birth, that’s about it. The rest is fake – including my name. No information is available to anyone who is not a “friend”, and they are all players. And when I am done playing the game, I will deactivate the account.

So,,, have I gone over to the dark side?

You decide.

When Cheap is not always Cheerful

Back in May, I purchased three tickets to travel with Airline A at a cost of over $270. I later had to cancel the tickets due to the illness and subsequent death of one of the passengers. But surprisingly death is no excuse; they hit me with huge fees, and I got about $91 of the $300 back as a credit.

Compare this with Airline B, who gave me credits for the two still-living passengers, and a full refund for the deceased one.

Guess who I’ll be flying with next time?

That’ll keep for a while…


Yes folks, commas *are* important.


Real Racing Revisited

Or: enough with the alliterations already!

This article started life some time ago as an all-singing, all-dancing one-stop-shop for all things Real Racing 3: Hints, tips, advice and a walkthrough. Then the “good folks” at Electronic Arts bought out a new version of the game which added a few unwelcome features (locked cars, locked series, Drive Points, PR rating), and reduced the prize money payouts. These “improvements” all had the effect of reducing earnings and increasing spending, presumably in the hope of “driving” you into the store to spend some real money. I responded by downgrading to the previous version, starting again — the upgrade “broke” my data and downgrading cost me R$1.6M and 19 cars — and working my way slowly back to greatness.

Any road up, the changes that were made to the game are enough to obsolete a lot of what I have written, so this is what is left. Hope it helps.

Hints and Tips

  • DO NOT BUY A CAR JUST TO COMPLETE ONE SERIES! Before you start a series, determine in advance which vehicles are worth purchasing, and which ones are not. When you get the one-off 20% off offer, there will be no opportunity to check if that car will be useful in the future. It is not generally worth purchasing a vehicle just to complete a single event. A vehicle that is found in three events, on the other hand, is definitely worth buying.
  •  Never pay full price for a car (unless you have to). To get a car at 20% off, enter an event that features that car and has a car you already own. Race your car until the object of your affections is unlocked… and voila, 20% off!
  • Be patient! If you don’t need a car immediately, don’t buy it – sometimes cars go on sale for as low as half-price.
  • If you refuse to buy a car when offered, don’t worry — you will get that offer again if the car comes up in a different event — you can always get it then and complete both events, but DO NOT BUY A CAR JUST TO COMPLETE ONE SERIES!
  • When racing against AI “bots”, one strategy is to stay on the inside and out-brake them (they brake earlier than they need to) and pass on the inside. It is also possible to pass on the outside, but make sure that you have passed them before exiting the bend or they will run wide and hit you (if you’re lucky) or run you off the track (if you’re not).
  • Keep up with repairs; they are cheap and instantaneous. Perform maintenance as necessary, though some may be procrastinated if the benefit is small or the race will not need that quality. Do not upgrade a car unless you have to.
  • Know your tracks! Some tracks, like Melbourne and Brands Hatch have lots of turns with few long straights, while other like the Indianapolis Speedway (a.k.a. “Go Fast, Turn Left”) favor flat-out speed. This will influence which car is best for that track. This means practice, practice, practice.
  • Since you can always do a race again, it is possible to make money from re-doing a race you have already completed — a practice known as “Farming”.
  • Longer races make more money than shorter ones, and later races in an event make more money than earlier ones. Expect to make R$12,000-15,000 per race at this level.

Can’t win a race? Here are some pointers:

  • Choose the right car  for the track: Go for stability and cornering on short, twisty circuits, speed on longer ones.
  • If at first you don’t succeed… Races aren’t won, they are lost – by making mistakes that cost you speed, time and the gold trophy. A little tyre squeal is nothing to worry about, but the screeching of tyres is the sound of speed being lost.
  • …try, try, try again. if you can’t finish in the top three, finish last. That’s right, last! If you keep losing a race badly, enough times, the game will eventually handicap the other drivers by slowing them down, at which point you’ll be able to pass them much more easily. The quickest way to do this is to come last in an elimination race, which takes all of twenty seconds of staying in last place. Yes, this is “cheating”, but so is the behavior of some of the bots, as I will shortly explain…
  • Avoid running into the back of other cars; you will slow down, and they will take off like a rocket, a lose/lose proposition. Annoyingly, this does not happen when they rear-end you. Apparently you can change the laws of physics.
  • Auto-braking makes for an easy game but poor performance. Turn brake assist to low (or off completely, if you are feeling adventurous). This will allow you to out-brake your opponents in the turns – but don’t brake too late!
  • Learn the art of the inside bash, where you deliberately enter a bend a little too fast and “bounce” off another car instead of slowing down. Do it right and you won’t lose speed… but they go spinning off the track. Slimy, yet satisfying..!
  • Online? Go offline. The “matchmaking” routine does a good job of matching you up with challenging but beatable opponents, but sometimes it gets things spectacularly wrong, as the screen-shot below shows. This is especially true in “non-race races” such as “endurance”, “autocross” and “speed record” events. Going offline uses built-in AI drivers (Oddly, Modesto Lingerfelter etc), who are more predictable, and may give you the victory you need.
  • OIffline? Go online. This will change out the drivers. Sometimes the game will give you real-world drivers who are easier to pass.
  • Don’t give up too easily: Sometimes the leader will be so much faster than you that he is out of sight, and it feels like you ‘ll never catch him. Be patient, bots are not very clever when it comes to passing one another, particularly on narrow circuits like Melbourne and Suzuka. If you are lucky, the leader will get tangled in a bunch of cars on a corner while you sail serenely by.
  • If all else fails, you could always upgrade your car…

Something tells me I’m not going to win this one…

Early-Game Walkthrough

  • The game begins with R$35000 in the bank and 20 Gold pieces in your pocket
  • Start with Pure Stock Challenge (like you have a choice)
  • Buy the Focus, NOT THE SILVIA! The Focus is a little more expensive, but being front-wheel-drive makes it handle better and corner a lot easier than the Nissan.
  • Race to finish in the first three. Do not worry about coming in first just yet, you can go back and “clean up” later.
  • You will not be able to afford the Silvia when you unlock it; don’t worry, you will get a chance later; besides, it is the cheapest car in the game.
  • Make sure you have at least R$35000 by the time you get 45% done,  so you can afford the Challenger R/T when it becomes available at a discounted price.
  • If you have been saving your money,  you should have enough money to buy the BMW when it is offered it at 20% off. Once upgraded, this is the best car in the series.
  • Go back and re-do earlier races until you have finished first in every event (except, of course, the Silvia Showcase).
  • By the time you reach the end of the series, you should have completed every race except the Nissan Silvia Showcase, and thanks to your two purchases, you should have also unlocked Global Production Pursuit (Dodge Challenger R/T), Coupe Clash (BMW), Road Car International (Focus) and V8 Muscle Hustle (Dodge Challenger R/T).
  • If you want to complete Pure Stock Challenge, go for Road Car International and unlock the Silvia at 20% off. This happens after only three races (9%), so make sure you have your money (R$23500) ready!
  • Once you have the Silvia, go back and do the Showcase. This is on the Indianapolis Speedway; the easiest track in the game, and a great candidate for taking off the training wheels (assists). Done right, it is an easy win, completing the Pure Stock Challenge and winning you $15000 and 15 Gold.
  • Where you go from here is up to you; the next logical choice is the Road Car International, since you now have two cars, but if you want to be adventurous and move up to faster vehicles, you can always do the V8 Muscle Hustle, which will bag you its bigger brother, the Challenger SRT8 (R$41,120) at 17%, the Camaro and the Shelby – four of the loveliest cars in the early game.
  • Make sure you snag the BMW Z4 M Coupe and the Ford Shelby GT500 at the earliest opportunity; each runs in four different events, making them the most useful cars in the game.

Make Money Fast!

For me, a gaming session consists of two things:

  • Career driving: Working through a series towards completion. Only work on one or two at a time, as you will need to accumulate the money to purchase discounted cars as they become unlocked.
  • Cash Accumulation: The last few races of a series are the most lucrative. One early-game favorite is the last race of Road Car International, which pays out more than $20k for about fifteen minutes of work. Another one is the last Hockenheim race in “Everyday Heroes”, R$18600 for in nine minutes. Although the payout of the latter is lower, it is a quicker race, and therefore a much more efficient way to make money.

A tribute to Missouri’s only firefighter


Who were you?


Who were you?

What did you do with the life God gave you?

Were you ready when your time came, or were you taken too soon?

Were you mourned and missed, or are you gone and forgotten?

Who were you?