29th of March, 2006

I can say that the past week has been quite eventful.

To begin with then the replacement HDD for my server's RAID 1+0 array turned up today, following a slow 8 day delivery by UPS I should add, but this soon encountered a fatal problem. That problem happens to be that the other three HDDs in this four drive RAID array are all 185.28 GB in size, but this replacement drive that Hitachi sent to me is 185.27 GB in size. In other words this HDD cannot be used in this RAID array when it is 0.01 GB too small to hold the required mirror and stripe data!

I have already been on to Hitachi to see if they can swap this replacement drive for one that is at least 185.28 GB in size. So either it will be another week or two before I can finally restore this RAID 1+0 array to full use, or Hitachi will say "Go away. We are not going to give you your missing 0.01 GB back!

Testing out this replacement HDD also gave me a bit of a scare, when after connecting all the cables up to these HDDs then my RAID controller reported that there were now only two HDDs in this RAID 1+0 array. That is of course a very bad situation, when this RAID 1+0 array needs at least three members to work. In any case I soon figured out the problem, which happened to be that I had numbered my HDD cables the wrong way around. This meant that HDD number four had to connect to cable number three to work, where plugging HDD number four into cable number four is the reason why this RAID controller did not identify it correctly. I guess that I will soon get out the pen and renumber these two cables to the correct numbers.

The next thing I can say is that my aquarium's Fluval 404 filter is now fully functional even if I have to install it fully. As I inserted two filter pads on Saturday, when the other four had not arrived, then I installed two of the other four on Sunday, when apparently they had been delivered to my neighbour's house the day before.

At the current time I am poking this filter's tubes under the flap of the hood during the day and then removing it at night. The only problem with this position is that the outflow section has been raised up about three inches. This large water outflow creates quite a splash, which explains why for a few days I was losing about 1.5 liters of water a day due to both evaporation and more than a few water drops being splashed between the gap in the lid.

I have mostly solved that problem now though when I can minimise the splashing by having this water jet spray half way down the light tube. This also reminds me that I soon found those light clip holders and correctly installed this light tube in the hood.

I can also say that the 21 pieces of drift wood for my Banded Wood Plecos arrived last week. These I gave a wash under the tap and simply dropped them into the smaller aquarium. To begin with only the largest 9 by 4.5 inch piece would sink, but over the next few days another four pieces sank. The rest simply float on the surface.

This also remains me that two other pieces I held down by attaching them to the cave and castle. The two plecos who live in these soon fled to the petrified wood and where the third pleco who lives here had quite a hard job defending his wooden home.

These two plecos eventually returned home, but the cave pleco did not seem too happy that I had blocked up two of the holes by sticking a piece of wood between them. Well I thought that it was a good idea at the time, leaving just the entrance open, when these plecos like holes to hide inside.

This pleco was fine enough to begin with, but then the funny bit happened. As while this pleco was in his home then the first piece of wood decided to sink. And of all the places in this aquarium that it could land then it only landed right in the entrance to this cave completely trapping this pleco inside. This certainly looked a sight when one of the ends was still trying to float making it look like a giant boulder over a cave entrance.

I am not sure how long this pleco remained trapped, when this wood was too heavy for him to push out of the way, but as soon as I spotted this problem within a few hours then I soon dipped in my hand to move the wood. This trapped pleco immediately shot out of his cave and right across to the other side of the aquarium. He seemed a little "off" to begin with, but he quickly recovered and spent his days now trying to share the petrified wood with the other pleco.

And since he refused to return home then after a few days I gave up and removed the wood that blocked up two of the holes. Sure enough he was back in his cave the next morning, but I can only guess that he did not wish to risk the pleco prison again. In any case these plecos seem fine with this wood and in fact seem happier now that they actually have some wood. The only problem is that there is no sign yet of these plecos actually trying to eat this wood. At this rate I will start to wonder if they climb out of the aquarium at night and make themselves a sandwich. Well I got them many different kinds of wood to give them a wide choice, but so far I cannot even see one little bite mark. And since I smelt all the bits of wood to make sure that none smelled too much like the sea, then some of them seemed tasty in my view.

Some unfortunate recent news is that my Golden Tiger Barb fish died. I am not quite sure what it died off, but it got unusually fat around the middle over several days, then one night it lost balance and quickly died. Maybe this was a pregnancy defect, or maybe it suffered a stomach blockage, but there was nothing that I could have done in any case. This is a shame when Tiger Barbs are good fish to watch when they dart about playfully. That was the third and last Golden Tiger Barb, when one died within days of getting them (White Spot Disease), one died a few months later from an unknown cause, but this third one managed a few years of life into full Tiger Barb adulthood. I will have to get some more one day.

The only other thing to mention is that I decided to get in 8kg of sweets. I did just wish to get 2kg of my favourite Liquorice Comfits, but due to the higher postal cost, then I decided to pick up some others as well, when more would not increase the postal cost by much. So I added on 2kg of Jelly Beans, 1kg of Chocolate Limes, 1kg of Black Jacks, and 2kg of Mini Eggs that I will divide between my family for Easter.

These should last me into next year I guess, when I am still working through last year's Aniseed Balls. In any case that 8kg box should be here next week, where I will then be quite happy in a sugar full kind of way.

21st of March, 2006

I have been quite busy due to all the aquarium items that turned up today. This was all the items I have been waiting for all last week except for the Fluval 404 sponge pads that should be here in about a week from now.

This means I now have these two overdue filter media types that was dispatched on the 13th by Parcel Force as well. And since I desired to put my three filter media items in my Fluval 404 filter, then I soon took them out of their packs and gave enough of each type a wash in the sink before packing them in three of the four filter trays.

The Eheim Ehfi Fix Coarse Filter Media was the worst type to handle. This filter media is for dealing with medium sized waste, where unfortunately it is made from green plastic strings. This meant that you have to be quite rough to seperate out enough for use, then trying to pack this into the tray is tricky, when if you bend these green plastic strings they like to bounce back straight again. So the only way to keep them in place is to hook them up on other green plastic strings.

The Eheim Ehfi Substrat Bioligical Media was easier to handle, but took longer to deal with when it does not bunch together. This stuff looks to me like a cross between gravel and kitty litter. Still, the reason why I got this over Fluval's own biological filter media is that Eheim's version can be washed and reused several times while Fluval's version can only be used once. Beyond filling up the third filter tray with this stuff, then I also replaced the carbon media in my smaller aquarium's filter with this stuff as well, when this stuff is much better than old carbon anyway.

The filter wool was easy to handle, clean, and pack into the fourth filter media tray. The only thing I had to watch out for is that Fluval says not to use filter wool in the last media tray when string type items can wrap around the impeller shaft, but everyone else says that you should use wool here. So at this point I had to decide if the wool would stay firmly in the media basket, or if instead it would begin to leak out and cause a problem. And since I decided that it could indeed pose a problem, then that is why I packed a thin layer of this same Eheim Ehfi Substrat Bioligical Media over the top of it to keep it held down.

I then put these four trays back into the filter being careful to minimise the water spilling out due to the extra mass being put back in, then I sealed this filter back up breaking a cupboard side shelf in the process. I was planning to use my spare Fluval 2 sponge pad over the filter input nozzle to create the missing first stage, but since I came to the conclusion that it did not fit, then I decided to run the filter for a few hours without any filter sponge.

I can say that trying to avoid this water output splashing everywhere was a little tricky, but sure enough these little bits in the water that my Fluval 2 could not deal with fast enough soon began to be sucked up the tube. Interestingly enough even following a few hours of filtering there was still a fair volume of waste floating in the aquarium water. My explanation for this imperfect filtering, when this filter can process the entire aquarium water each 8 minutes, and no waste will come back out of this filter, was that the output flow was stirring up extra waste that was resting on the bottom. Not to mention that the aquarium water was moving about in a chaotic way due to both filters and the many fish moving about, which meant that most waste simply did not pass close enough to the input shaft. And sure enough I watched many bits coming close to this input shaft before floating off elsewhere.

So this filter may need a day or two before the aquarium is fully clear. However, I did move about my Fluval 2 and airstone later on to try and create a nice circular water flow, instead of these three items going head to head. And with a little luck then maybe tomorrow my Fluval 2 will push more waste in the direction of the Fluval 404 intake tube.

As to the other items then I had a quick look to make sure that my new second light tube was not broken, before storing it behind this aquarium until I could get in a second light starter unit. The new six inch air stone I soon plugged into my air pump and disposed of the old air stone that has recently became clogged up. So now the air bubbles in this aquarium have now greatly increased, which I guess means that this partly clogged up old air stone was putting extra strain on this air pump.

This same air pump now has two other new toys to play with. The first is a non-return value that I may fit tomorrow. Then the second item is a two-way air divider just in case I ever desire to add a second air output.

The penultimate item is the new AquaStop part to replace the broken handle version on this second hand Fluval 404. I can also say that the latest design of this AquaStop part is a lot better than the old version, when this new version changes one lever to two levers, where one lever locks it to the filter, and the second opens and closes the water flow. The pipe holding nuts are now also gone, but screwing these plastic input and output tubes on to this new AquaStop did not work out perfectly, but at least there is no water leak. I am still left thinking that replacing these two rather inflexible tubes for the latest ribbed versions could be a good idea as well, when this Fluval 404 does not seem to be able to naturally connect to my Fluval 404 spray bar. So either I will have to add some extra tubing to join these two together, or I will have to do this tube upgrade, which now has three reasons to support it.

One other thing I should say about this Fluval 404 is that it seems quite a power hungry device. I mean that the Fluval 104 and 204 models use 7 watts of power, the 304 uses 12 watts of power, but this 404 model uses a quite high 25 watts of power. So to add one media tray over the 304 model, and improving the output by 30%, takes up over twice as much electricity. So in the days when the electricity cost is getting much higher then the 304 model makes more sense and maybe one reason why the 304 eBay purchases seem more popular. Well that is a minor problem, but this 404 filter is also a little noisy. That can be solved easily enough though.

The last item was my new aquarium hood. And as I suspected a few days ago when measuring up, then this hood was indeed too tall to fit under the higher kitchen cupboards. So with the aid of a hammer and saw I went about lowering down the height of this aquarium hood by between one and two centimeters. That was easily done by simply folding back the side rests to allow the aquarium glass to slide up more, then to saw a gap in the vertical back to allow the glass to slot within this gap. I had to also bend up the corner at the back, but with a lot of testing and pushing, then now the aquarium hood fits very firmly on this aquarium, and where I can still open the upper kitchen cupboard doors, even if I had to whack it down a bit more to do that.

I can also say that the light into the aquarium has now much increased, due to no longer lighting a good section of the kitchen as well. The most annoying thing today is that I currently cannot find my light holder clips. These clips came with the light starter unit and where I also stored them behind this aquarium until the day that I had an aquarium hood to connect them to. And now that day has arrived, then these clips that I have never moved since, are no longer located where I last left them. At this rate when I come to get this second light starter unit, then I will be thinking "Where has that damned 30 inch light tube got to?"

In any case I will have a good hunt around the kitchen area tomorrow just in case someone knocked them on the floor and then put them somewhere else. Although I have always been telling my family not to touch them at all, when I would desire my tube holding clips when I desired to correctly mount this first light tube in my brand new and slightly cut up and dented aquarium hood.

The other thing about this aquarium hood is that it is not very open to inserting hardware into it. Like I mean that my smaller aquarium's hood has some large holes that I can feed the light starter tube connectors through. I guess on this hood you have to feed them under the back and then keep the leads taunt to avoid them dipping in the water.

This new hood does have enough holes to support just one light tube, but I can easily drill some extra holes to upgrade this number to two or more. The next problem here is that the condensation tray may no longer fit due to the drop in the height of this hood, but I should try putting the condensation tray on first to find out for sure. Still, I am unlikely to use this tray even if it does fit, when I am well aware that they soon turn green and block light shining through them. Instead I prefer turning the aquarium hood green, and sometimes even the top of the light tube, when at least that can be cleaned off.

The other problem with this condensation tray is that it does not allow bits to stick through it, including the basic task of feeding the fish. This brings me on to the final issue with this new aquarium hood, when this hood and my Fluval 404 two one inch diameter pipes just do not go well together. So I will soon just have to saw or drill out a large section of this aquarium hood just fit these pipes though, but then there still poses the question of what pipes and how my Fluval Spray Bar will fit into all this?

So before I pick up the saw again then I will have to examine my options. As either I will change to the new pipes and go the spray bar route all at the back of the aquarium, or I will stick to the current pipes and cut a section out of the side. So in the end this aquarium hood stands to be quite modified, but at least it now fits on my aquarium well enough.

And so I need to sort out my Fluval 404 pipes, add a second light starter unit, then this aquarium is then how it should be. Then let us not forget that my small aquarium needs an entire model wood village for these Banded Wood Plecos. The wood should hopefully be here before the end of this week, then just maybe I will stop going on about these damned fish. Orders placed with my company today were delayed due to dealing with all this fish stuff, but they will certainly leave tomorrow and well within the stated dispatch time. Anyway, no expected post tomorrow, when my fish stuff is now here and the next expected delivery will be for mother's day instead.

20th of March, 2006

I am pleased to say that both my Fluval 404 external aquarium filter and the filter wool filter media arrived safely today. I have since given this filter a test drive, but of course I cannot use it to do filtering until I get in the other filter media, when using this filter wool alone would soon get it clogged up.

Some good and bad news is that my main aquarium items order will arrive here tomorrow, including such parts as my aquarium hood, a second light tube, and the replacement AquaStop part. The reason why I also say that this is bad news is that one of the ordered items was "out of stock" and where it will now take 5 to 7 more days to arrive. This out of stock part of course happens to be the worst possible part of all being the Fluval 404 sponge pads. In other words the one main needed item to get this filter up and running in its minimal operation mode.

So this means that over the next couple of days I could well have to buy more sponge pads and to insist on a rapid delivery. Well since this filter can take four sponge pads, where I have only ordered two so far, then it won't hurt to get in two or four more.

As I now have this filter wool here then I see that this is actually synthetic wool. So they had to shear a synthetic sheep in other words, which invalidates my past comments. This 250g bag sure makes for a lot of synthetic wool and far more than what I currently need, but then I got a good price on it and where I will have plenty spare when I have to throw this used wool away.

I have no idea where the other two overdue filter media types have got to. These were purchased on Sunday the 12th, which was now eight days ago, or six postal days ago. So much for the offered free postage then, when it is like "we strapped them to the back of a mail snail". Since this main filter was arriving by slow Parcel Force post, which took six delivery days to arrive, then you would have thought that this filter media, ordered on the same day, would arrive before the filter.

Anyway, if these two items do not arrive tomorrow, then I will ask this supplier what is going on.

The other thing to mention is that I believe that I have figured out how to get suitable drift wood for my wood eating fish, when of course I need South American river driftwood, where the only drift wood around here is ocean drift wood. As the thing I noticed here is that wood that had been in the sea a long time tends to turn white, due to being bleached by the sun and salt water. So any drift wood that keeps its natural brown colour should be good to use, when that has only been in the sea a short time. So depending on the collection location then wood could be flushed down a river, out to sea, and then to be washed up on a beach shortly following.

And since I have already found one supplier with a collection of suitable wood, then these should be here before the end of this week. This small collection contains many wood types, where this is done in the hope that these Banded Wood Plecos will find at least one type edible. Hoping of course that this wood does not kill them either.

The other thing about drift wood is that it tends to float, which is undesirable in an aquarium. The usual method to solve this problem is to boil the wood for a few days, when then it will sink just fine. However, since I highly doubt that these plecos will like both salted and boiled wood, then they will have to have this wood raw. This means that this wood will need to be weighed down and secured to the bottom firmly. The way to do that is by using some slate to make a base for this wood sculpture, but this may not be the best idea due to my undergravel filter.

So for now I will just wash it and let it float, when these plecos will soon find it anyway. Then I guess that I will have to assemble an entire pleco wood village on slate and with PVC breeding tubes at the back. The only other problem with this idea is that you have to be very careful in using things like metal and glue in an aquarium, when these can dissolve and contaminate the water. So that would require some extra research.

Anyway, now that I actually have this Fluval 404 external filter here, then I just have to get these filter pads and those two items arriving by snail mail.

18th of March, 2006

With little surprise no more of my new aquarium equipment arrived this week. This means that these few items purchased on Sunday and Monday would not have arrived within the one week. Not to forget that my main Fluval 404 delivery would now start to be overdue, when the Parcel Force 3 to 5 working days estimate just expired, even if that is not uncommon for them. And since even my larger order placed through one large supplier did not arrive on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, then you can see why I now feel that these suppliers are sleeping on the job.

So I can only now hope that all these aquarium filter part items arrive on Monday or Tuesday, when if there is no delivery then this Fluval 404 filter won't have the needed parts to actually filter.

Following yesterday's news I had a look into what environment my Banded Wood Plecos need, when I have an interest in sorting out something soon, when this is another long overdue aquarium upgrade. To remind you then this Banded Wood Plecos name is just what I call them, being the most suitable name for this pleco fish species, due to the confusion with another fish that looks almost the same, and that well they have bands (like a bumble bee) and they eat wood. Just not my petrified wood...

The scientific name for this fish is Panaque Maccus, even if that has been under debate in past years. However, the common names that most people call them are the Clown Plecos (also the common name for the look-alike species) and the Ringlet Pleco. So I hope you can now see why my assembled name of the Banded Wood Plecos is a much better name for this wood eating fish.

I had another look into getting some driftwood again last night. This made me recall the problems encountered during my last long investigation into getting some driftwood. The main problem here is that these fish are into South American river driftwood, where the only driftwood around here is ocean driftwood. So I am not even sure if sea and sand blasted driftwood found along our local beaches is suitable for these freshwater fish.

This would be like "Hey, my wood has been pickled!"

Still, since there seems to be no river driftwood in Europe either, then I have little choice but to dig out some ocean driftwood covering many tree species to see if they do fancy a bite. There is also the problem that maybe the bacteria normally found in the stomach of these fish to breakdown this wood diet are no longer there. After all these plecos have not tasted a single bit of wood ever since the pet store obtained them a couple of years ago.

Anyway, to give these fish their ideal home I need to add a dark aquarium background on three of the four sides, I need to add some dark colour sand (this I may skip), I need the driftwood for them to chew on, and finally I need some breeding tubes. These breeding tubes need to be black plastic with a one inch diameter and about five or six inches long, where the female will crawl into one of these and have her babies.

This is assuming of course that my three Banded Wood Plecos contain at least one male and one female... for obvious reasons.

In any case I will get in some varied ocean driftwood soon, give it a good wash under the tap, and then I will see if any of these bits get chewed upon. Then I should not forget that driftwood tends to float, which means that I will have to secure it down to the aquarium bottom somehow.

And in case none of this wood is eaten, which would surprise me, then at least this wood is a more suitable home then the petrified wood, the castle, and the rock cave thing.

The other thing that has always bothered me about these plecos is that they sure know how to stay alive even if I am still puzzled as to what they eat. The other issue with this aquarium is that other fish placed in this aquarium have been known to die in mysterious ways, like my Red Eyed Tetras soon were killed off. And even more recently I put about 13 new White Mollie fry into the breeding trap in this aquarium, where just weeks later only 3 were still alive. Now I know that about 3 of them died of natural causes, but the remaining 7 just seemed to vanish.

And since these Banded Wood Plecos are the only other fish in this aquarium, then you can only start to wonder if this vegetarian fish has developed a taste for blood, when you can just imagine one of these hoping into the breeding trap, eating one or more fry, and then hoping back out. After all teeth that can chew through wood would have a much easier time eating other fish, but I am still led to believe that vegetarian fish won't eat other fish. So this leaves the mystery of how all these small fish died and why they happened to vanish.

My best guess is that one or more of these plecos are upset with their diet / living quarters and are simply attacking other fish to increase their own share. So it will be interesting to see what happens when I give them their ideal home, overlooking the pickled ocean drift wood. Well it started life in a river...

I have yet to find the plastic tubing as well, but I doubt that this is a problem for the local DIY store.

Then to breed them I need to buy a R.O unit (see below) to make pure water, or to use slightly dodgy European rain water, when the change from warm hard water (like what I have) to cold soft water (like produced when rain floods a river) is exactly what triggers the Banded Wood Plecos off into mating.

Anyway, next week I will get in some ocean drift wood and hope that they can enjoy the taste without dropping dead.

17th of March, 2006

My first new aquarium part turned up today. This happened to be the Fluval 404 Spray Bar that I purchased on Sunday and apparently it was dispatched to me yesterday (Thursday). Not exactly the fastest dispatch time I have seen, but then it is still in the realm of acceptable, when after all these other awaited new aquarium deliveries are doing worse.

In case you are interested then my own company has managed to dispatch 77.36% of orders within this same four working days time. This is not bad seeing that any reason at all is included in this delay time. Like with a restocking delay, customer payment problem, or the not unknown failures in my web hosting or e-mail system. So I am pleased with these results, where after all the majority of orders (55.7%) are dispatched on the day of receipt.

Anyway, it is nice to have this Spray Bar, but it is totally useless without the previously mentioned Fluval 404 external filter, which I would expect to arrive here early next week. Still, there is a slim possibility of arrival tomorrow, when I am aware that Parcel Force do Saturday delivery.

And before I can get this aquarium filter working then I would still need this delayed filter media to arrive. This Fluval 404 filter can take five types of filter media at once, where the sponge pads will arrive as part of the larger order placed on Wednesday, the medium and biological media was ordered on Sunday, then the filter wool was purchased on Monday. The only type of filter media I have yet to purchase is the Peat Granular. I am in no rush to get this one when I desire to give this filter a try without the Peat first.

So if the Fluval 404 filter turns up before the filter media, then I will have nothing more then a water cycling system, when at minimum I need the sponge pads to start to make use of it. It would not be a good idea to use this filter with the other filter media and not the sponge pads, when trying to filter the larger items would soon get them blocked up.

In case you are interested then every new aquarium item that I have ordered over the past week will cost a total of exactly 138 including the shipping costs. All I can say is that as my two aquariums have been running on minimal support for the past year or so, then getting in the correct hardware to better support these two aquariums is long overdue.

The current filter in my larger aquarium is the Fluval 2. And the problem here is that with all these fish then I cleaned out this sponge filter on Saturday and sure enough it was blocked up and had to be cleaned out again today. So in just six days this filter had been overwhelmed by all this fish waste, which clearly highlights that it is being pushed too far.

You could say that a step-up from the Fluval 2 to the Fluval 404 is quite a huge jump. I did desire to get the Fluval 304 for a long time, but I noticed that Fluval had released the 404 model more recently. And since more people were after obtaining the lesser 304 model on eBay, then I decided to get the 404 model to get a good price, not to mention that the 404 model has larger sponge pads over the 304, it has one extra media basket, then it upgrades the 1000 liters per hour to 1300 liters per hour. So even with having to replace the AquaStop part at the extra cost of 5.99, then this filter was still a good purchase at just 36.50 (or 49.45 including postage and insurance), when the new price from the company I got the sponge pads etc from charge 95.99 for it, although I have also seen other suppliers selling this one for around 135.

Beyond getting the Peat Granular in the future then I will also have to get a second light starter unit, where this is because the one tube does not provide suitable lighting for the plants and fish. So upgrading to two tubes will provide more suitable light, but one day I may even have to upgrade to three tubes.

Then once this larger aquarium has been sorted out then my smaller aquarium needs a new filter as well. In this case I may just swap over the Fluval 2 for the even cheaper model in this second aquarium. Beyond that then I just need to give my Banded Wood Plecos their ideal home, when beyond these Plecos then this smaller aquarium I just use for unwell fish and the young fry. Where I can obtain some South American drift wood is the real mystery here, when I once spent days on-line trying to find some with no results. As these Banded Wood Plecos, beyond eating some cucumber, should spend their diet in munching on drift wood. So first I will have to identify their ideal tree species, then I will have to import some knotted logs from South America.

Then of course I really need to find out the ideal water conditions for all my fish. As once they have the right environment and water conditions then they should start to breed. Well I will have to find out their mating information as well, when like with some fish you have to slowly remove the water over several days until they are flapping about in the minimal water left, then you have to add new water using a watering can to simulate rain. As this short period of drought, followed by floods, is what can kick some fish off into spawning. Still, I really need to compile a list for all these types to find out for sure, when currently only the White Mollies will reproduce.

Now let us see what overdue aquarium items will turn up tomorrow.

16th of March, 2006

My broken 185gb HDD was finally dispatched to Hitachi today. There were a few days delay due to having to get in some ESD anti-static bags, but since they turned up today then so was this HDD soon wrapped, foamed, and boxed. This protection does seem like a bit of an overkill to me, but since Hitachi would void the warranty on any item not dispatched to their high specification, then so did I have little choice in the matter.

I can also say that the Inland Revenue will very soon be paying me a very large tax refund. As of today they now have the paperwork that proves that back in 2001 and 2002 just about all profit my company made was reinvested in my company to support new popular items at the lowest market prices. So the little matter of them seriously over estimating my tax payments was extremely unhelpful, but then all this money I will soon get back. Then I will go and sue the Inland Revenue for their gross incompetence.

How much money I will soon get back remains to be seen, but this will certainly be many thousands of pounds.

The only other thing to mention today is that I am puzzled as to why none of my aquarium stuff has yet turned up. What I mean is that I ordered several items from multiple suppliers on Sunday and Monday. So I was expecting one or two things to arrive on Tuesday, but no Tuesday delivery I found unfortunate, and no Wednesday or Thursday delivery starts to turn this into a mystery.

My Fluval 404 external aquarium filter, that this supplier said would be dispatched on Monday, is obvious enough, when this package is in the not so careful or so fast hands of Parcel Force. You may recall that these people "lost" a fridge-freezer sized collection of boxes from my supplier in Sweden back in January of 2000. You can now begin to see why I was rather eager to pay the extra 2 optional insurance cost on this filter dispatch. Anyway, since Parcel Force claim a 3 to 5 working day delivery time, then that is why I know that it should actually take about 7 working days to arrive here.

Moving on then the next Sunday purchase was my Eheim Ehfi Substrat Bioligical Media and Eheim Ehfi Fix Coarse Filter Media. The supplier mentions free postage on this order, which makes me wonder if they were cheap and used 2nd class postage. More likely they are just being very slow in the dispatch, but when these two items do arrive I will check the dispatch date to find out.

The third Sunday item is my Fluval 404 Spray Bar. And since I paid suitable postage on this item to have it dispatched by 1st class mail, then this one can only be due to a slow dispatch. Well either that or the Royal Mail is being very slow.

The first Monday item was the only thing that has arrived so far. That being these anti-static ESD bags, which while helpful to my HDD dispatch is not an aquarium item.

The last Monday item is this Clarolan Fine Filter Wool, where paying 1.75 postage on this 250g item would make me believe that it would be here by now. Apparently not. I also just have to mention the odd idea of shearing a sheep and then sticking this wool in your aquarium filter. However, I do have it on good advice that this is excellent stuff to filter out even the smallest media, which is why it will go in the last filter stage of this Fluval 404 external aquarium filter.

Beyond these few items I have also ordered a few items from one pet supplier. That being the Fluval 404 sponge pads, a new AquaStop part to replace the broken bit, an Aquarium Hood (beats using the kitchen cupboard shelf!), a new 30" light tube, and a couple of small parts to improve the aeration. This order I placed yesterday and so there was a little hope of arrival today, but I would now hope for delivery before the end of this week.

So I can only hope that tomorrow my delivery shortage will end and all my new aquarium stuff turns up.

The only other delivery problem I currently have is that back on the 5th of this month I ordered one electronics item from a supplier in the United States, but since it has not arrived even now then I recently got in contact with them to find out what was going on. Apparently this package dispatch was delayed due to the Chinese New Year, when in China it is now year 4704. There was me thinking that the United States on America was not exactly like a second Hong Kong, but apparently everything is made in China these days, which explains why this supplier was awaiting delivery before being able to dispatch to me. Their reply, beyond the Chinese New Year mention, was that this package should be dispatched to me before the end of this week. So with any luck this overdue package should be here next week.

My own company's stock is no problem. The only thing I need to currently do is to obtain more of these SEASON3, when due to this on-going special offer sales have been quite high recently. So before I run out, and one or two orders get delayed, then I need to obtain more and solder on the card readers.

Anyway, this not so eventful news means that I have nothing much else to do. You could say that this is a short break before I do the highly complex task of sorting out a damages bill for FACT to pay. Then it will be my time to launch multiple counter legal attacks against all those who falsely attacked my company during these past few years. They harmed my company and so will they pay for it.

To finish up then I have some good news for you. I mentioned before that now that I am back to my former business methods that I wanted to hit a record 20 times business income increase this year. So I am now pleased to say that February almost tripled (296%) the income for January. Not to mention that February was 732% over last October. In other words a good start in getting back on track and hitting this 20 times target, but we still have some way to go to hit that 2000% figure.

Obviously your support in buying something will help out here. And all these sales will not only fuel future large scale business expansion, providing the popular items people need at the lowest prices, but will also once again prove what I can do when these governmental idiots are not holding me back.

13th of March, 2006

I noticed this weekend that orders placed through the cardman.com domain did not receive a payment confirmation e-mail from PayPal. No doubt this very unusual problem was just a temporary glitch due to the domain name change over, but I will manually check all incoming order forms for payments just to be on the safe side. And should it still continue into this week then I will investigate what the problem is further.

Since I can manually confirm payments anyway, where the order forms are received as expected, then this is not an ordering problem at all.

I can also say that this weekend I purchased my Hagen Fluval 404 external aquarium filter. This was a second hand purchase to reduce the purchase cost, when well these external filters being hardly touched are still in good condition. This explains why I obtained this filter for 36.50 when the new price usually tops over 100.

The only issue with it is that the previous owner snapped off the quick release handle. Since this part I will soon easily replace at the extra cost of just 5.99, then this small fault explains why I could obtain such a good price. And sure enough once the AquaStop part is replaced to restore the handle, then this whole filter will be in great condition.

One thing I can say about it is that as this powerful filter can process 1300 liters per hour then all the water in my larger aquarium will be processed about every 6 minutes. You could say that this is a bit of an overkill, but the main reason why I got this exact filter is because it supports a five stage filtering system.

The first filter stage is the double layer of sponge pads to catch the larger items. Once past the sponge then the water has to pass through a rack of four selectable filter layers. In the first rack layer I will use Eheim Ehfi Fix Coarse Filter Media, where this green looking stuff will catch medium sized items. Following on into the second rack layer then I will give some Peat Granular a try, when anything to soften my extremely hard tap water is worth a test.

The third rack layer I will fill with one liter of Eheim Ehfi Substrat Bioligical Media. This will filter the smallest particles and will eventually output the end Nitrate product. And in the final fourth rack layer I will use some fine Filter Wool where this will catch anything left over to make sue that the water is completely clear.

The end product is a filter that can keep running for months on end, where I just need many plants and regular water changes to remove the undesirable Nitrates. Still, one day I will have to obtain a Reverse Osmosis unit, when my tap water already contains far too much Nitrate (creating too much algae) and Calcium (very hard water with a high pH) even before my aquarium makes it worse.

Anyway, at the current time I am giving my aquarium a long overdue upgrade, where one day a Reverse Osmosis unit will mean that my fish will have perfect water to swim in as well. That water would be good for the fish, plants and humans.

The only other thing to mention today is that Hitachi has finally provided me with an RMA number so that I can return this faulty 185gb HDD to them. I was planning to do that today, but unfortunately Hitachi require that I return this HDD within a ESD Electrostatic Bag, surrounded on all four sides by foam, and within a box. And apart from the box I am out of ESD Electrostatic Bags (now ordered) and where the only foam that I have here is not ideal. Not to mention a problem finding the exact foam type. Too bad that I disposed of all four HDD boxes about one year ago.

Well I will get that sorted out soon enough, where this HDD can then be dispatched.

10th of March, 2006

As you may have noticed my cardman.com domain resumed normal operation at around 8pm on the 8th. This 12 hours delay was not too helpful, but then things could have been worse. And I have seen that customers have already placed successful orders through this web site, which means that all is working fine once more.

Moving this domain name away from Network Solutions is good news, when now I can sort out a couple of things that I did not desire to do through them. The first of these is to soon increase my domain name ownership up to 2016 or 2017, where I have recently mentioned that GoDaddy can do this at the cost of $8.95 per year. Much less than what Network Solutions charge in other words.

The second and now complete aspect is to finally remove all trace of the previous owner of this domain name, when naturally this cardman.com domain name was sold to me back in 2001. This means that the previous owner had this domain for five years, even though during the later years it was unused and up for sale on Network Solutions. The only problem with this purchase was that Network Solutions would not allow me to change the registrant name. So until very recently that name continued to read "Slater-Williams Trading Cards", when Network Solutions charge a small fortune to do an official transfer, which made the expense undesirable.

The good news here is that GoDaddy allow me to edit all domain name information, which means that the former mentioned company name is now only a part of history.

Moving on to the pending renewal of my cardman.co.uk domain then 1&1 have confirmed that this domain name would be renewed right before it expires. The not so good news here is that they will only renew it for one year, at a currently unknown cost, and where I could not extend my domain ownership up to 2016/7 through them.

This creates a small problem in terms of what to do. As since I desire to get my domain name long term ownership sorted out once and for all, then I would have to move this domain to some other TAG holder to do that. In other words another break in the normal continious operation of this web site. And if I did that then moving it back to 1&1 would create another break. The other problem is that paying for my domain name does not pay for these TAG holder services. So any move away from 1&1 may have to be for good, when after all I would have just paid for 10 years of TAG holder services through whatever new company I decide to use.

The next news subject would have to be this failed 185gb HDD. As after I reported to Hitachi that it was completely dead, and does not even seem to power on, then they have gone oddly silent. So with no reply from them within the past 4 days, when usually they seem quite fast, then today I will send them a reminder.

The only other thing going on recently is that I am soon to get my aquarium fish a new filter. I plan to get either the Hagen Fluval 304 or 404 external multi-stage filter. The reason why I need this new filter is that the current sponge filter in my main 36" x 12" tropical aquarium just cannot cope with the large scale of current fish waste. As following some successful breeding then this one aquarium contains 22 White Mollies, 2 Gold Barb, 1 Golden Tiger Barb, 2 Scissor Tail Fish and there are reports of at least another 3 White Mollie fry swimming about in the productive plants at the bottom. In other words with 27 adult fish in there aleady, not to mention at least six more younger fish, then this sponge filter can quickly overload and does not seem to do an efficient job in keeping the water clean in any case.

So within the next week or two I hope to obtain a powerful external filter that can handle this demand. And maybe some time following that I can obtain a suitable aquarium hood. As at the current time I use a spare section of kitchen cupboard shelving to stop the fish jumping out, which they tend to do if they receive a shock. Then following the hood I need a second light tube and starter, when just the one tube is not ideal for aquarium lighting. I would need a couple more timer plugs, but that is all I need to get this aquarium sorted out.

My second and smaller aquarium needs more drift wood. That would be due to the three fish that I call Banded Wood Plecos. In fact their official common name is somewhat more confused due to looking not unlike a related fish called the Clown Pleco. So the name I use best describe these wood eating ringed night fish.

Or at least I sure hope that they eat wood. Their on-line information indicates that they do, but they have not touched the petrified wood that I already have in there. This is of little surprise I guess, but I desire to soon replicate their natural environment with some drift wood of the right type. What they do currently eat is somewhat of a mystery. I do know that they eat the algae off of the glass, but since the glass is usually spotless then I would have thought that they would be dead by now. I do drop in some catfish pellets now and again to give them a second choice of food, but I can only suspect that this breaks down in the water, leading to pollution, and the algae that they eat when available.

Well, there are my two aquariums and their fish. Most of these current fish I obtained when I asked my aunt to nip into a local aquarium store and to see if they had any of the fish I then needed. That answer was "no" but the helpful sales guy did, against my desires, subsitute fish that sounded close to the ones I wanted. That included these Gold Barb instead of the Golden Tiger Barb (poor guy is all alone) and of course these rather expensive Banded Wood Plecos that no one wanted to buy, or knew how to really look after as well I guess.

Anyway, time to go and remind Hitachi that they owe me a replacement HDD.

8th of March, 2006

I am pleased to say that my cardman.com domain name transfer from Network Solutions to GoDaddy completed at around 7am this morning and where I had all the contact details and name servers sorted out by around 8am. So all I have to do now is to wait for GoDaddy to send this information out across the Internet before cardman.com is back on-line.

I have also had a quick look into domain name renewal through GoDaddy. Already my domain name ownership has been extended by one year through this move, but they can extend it by further years at the cost of $8.95 a year. Since their maximum time that I can extend it by through them is 8 years, then I may do that later this month at a total cost of $71.60. However, I will wait until the current year expires on the 22nd of this month to see if I can increase it by 9 years. That would be the 22nd of March 2017 which highlights that I am going nowhere quickly, even if FACT did their best to make sure that I would.

At the current time I am more interested in extending my cardman.co.uk domain name ownership, and not just because it is due to expire on the 31st of this month, when 1&1 can provide a 2-year increase at just 1.99. That would be about $1.73 per year compared to the GoDaddy price of $8.95. So pushing this one up to 10 years or so would be good value. Just a shame that 1&1 currently lack a domain name renewal option.

Anyway, this cardman.com site will be back on-line just as soon as GoDaddy release this domain name and name server information to the rest of the Internet. I can hope that this will be sometime today.

7th of March, 2006

With only a little luck my cardman.com site should be back on-line tomorrow. Hopefully this transfer between Network Solutions and GoDaddy will be completed shortly following 6am tomorrow morning, but what with this transfer having to complete, along with the manual update of the name servers, then having cardman.com come back on-line could take however many hours longer.

Naturally, this domain did not have to go down for these four days had not Network Solutions gone bitchy and took out all my valid settings just because I was in the process of moving away from them. After all my paid agreement with them does not expire until we terminate this agreement at 6am tomorrow morning. This means that I have the right to control my domain settings as I please, but I have already seen that it is now impossible to restore the correct settings.

So I am only pleased to finally get rid of them tomorrow morning. And that is not just because having one of my sites go down will lose me money beyond this domain name renewal cost.

I have also been looking more into my cardman.co.uk domain name renewal. I can say here that I am still awaiting a reply to my e-mail to 1&1 asking them to hurry up and to bill me for the two-year renewal of this domain name.

The only other thing I can say is that my paid for service through them will expire on the 21st. So if they are on the ball at all then "something" will happen on this day. Hopefully, that will be the automatic two year extension of this domain name, including their own TAG holding services, but I will say to not be surprised if cardman.co.uk goes off-line before the 22nd.

In all the worst thing that can happen is for nothing to happen. As ten days following the 21st my cardman.co.uk domain name will also expire, which means that if nothing happens on the 21st then I will have just 10 days to get this domain name renewed. And well if I cannot soon get it renewed through 1&1 then I will just have to change my TAG holder. There goes the name servers again in other words...

In any case I am completely confident that both cardman.com and cardman.co.uk will be renewed before this month ends. And just maybe I will see about knocking these expiration dates up to about 2016 shortly following.

The only other thing to mention is that Hitachi seems to agree that this 185gb HDD did fail under warranty. They did ask me to run a diagnostics program to identify the fault, but since there appears to be a failure in the power circuit, then so did this testing program completely fail to spot this HDD even before testing could start.

So I hope to hear later today that they want me to send this one to them, where they will then send a replacement. The other option is that some businesses these days have been saying to dispose of the faulty item locally, like my brother and his bread making machine.

One funny thing about this is that Hitachi asked me to agree to this export rule... Do you agree that Hitachi GST products will not be used for the design, development, manufacturing, testing, stockpiling, or use of biological, nuclear, missile or chemical weapons?

I mean that it is hardly like any non-governmental agency would deal with these aspects. And if I was making loads of money making biological weapons for Iran then why the hell would I care about a 59.95 HDD? Not to forget that I am quite sure that anyone they have ever asked this question to has always agreed. Either because it was true or like in the case of a space company like Space-X that it is just not worth the hassle.

So there is a pointless question that ranks along-side age confirmation.

In any case all my problems will end this week where I am already chilling the beer to celebrate.

4th of March, 2006

I see that my plan to renew my two domain names is not going too well so far.

To begin with then I am moving my cardman.com domain name away from Network Solutions to GoDaddy. This is mostly due to Network Solutions charging $29.95 to renew my domain name through them, while GoDaddy charge $6.95 + $0.25 for the same.

The first problem cropped up when I approved the move through the main e-mail address for this domain name only to have Network Solution deny this transfer with a REGISTRAR-LOCK error. This problem I soon corrected once I found out where their Domain Protection option was located in their control panel.

Once I had GoDaddy try again then I was pleased to see that it worked this second time. So now I only had to wait a short time for the transfer to happen and all would be well I thought. The only problem here was that when I removed the protection of this domain name then Network Solutions deleted my web hosting provider's name servers and replaced them with their own. So my cardman.com site went instantly down and up poped their own page.

If they were that quick at killing my site I thought then they would be just as quick to put it back on-line. So I once again added the correct name servers and tried some patience. One hour later my site was not back on-line and to make matters worse I discovered that Network Solutions had deleted my correct name servers a second time.

I am now at the point where I can say that I just cannot add the correct name servers under Network Solutions, when every time I get logged out they are always deleted and replaced with their own ones. Obviously someone wants to make it as disruptive as possible while I move my domain name away from them.

And to make matters worse this move between Network Solutions and GoDaddy will make for the longest domain name transfer that I have ever done, when even with clear evidence that I approve this move they want to stretch it out for as long as possible. This explains why they will now wait four whole days before finally releasing my domain name to GoDaddy. Just in case I happen to change my mind...

So shortly following 6:02am on the 8th I can say that my cardman.com domain name will be with GoDaddy. And with a DNS name server information update through them this cardman.com domain will then be back on-line within the next 24 hours. Just a shame that Network Solutions on purpose will now force my cardman.com hosting to be off-line for these four days.

I have also been looking into the renewal of my cardman.co.uk domain name. This time I will make extremely sure that nothing is going to remove these name servers. And since I plan to keep my current tag holder 1&1, then so should this simple domain name renewal not be an issue.

Well beyond the fact that 1&1 have no domain renewal option on their site. According to their FAQ renewals should be automatic, but with less than one month remaining then I find it strange that I have heard no renewal billing information from them. I think that I can already sense yet more issues, but for now I simply sent them an e-mail asking them to get their renewal system working and to avoid changing the name servers at all costs. As mentioned there should be no name servers issues here, but if there is any doubt at all then I will leave renewing my cardman.co.uk domain name until the cardman.com one has been completed.

I suspect that cardman.co.uk will be renewed before cardman.com is, what with this four day stall and all, but don't forget that my cardman.org domain won't be affected by these updates when that one needs renew in October.

Earlier News...

Some important news this month is that both my cardman.com and cardman.co.uk domain names are soon up for renewal.

One problem here is that if I switch TAG holders, in order to obtain an efficient price, then this can cause a temporary outage of my web sites. That is usually due to this new TAG holder changing the name servers to their own optional web hosting. So it can take a day or two in order to have them switch it back.

I will certainly make clear to them to not change the name servers, but just in case I will do this renewal one at a time in order to avoid two sites being off-line at once. And since the cardman.com domain name needs to be renewed before the 22nd, then that is why this one will be renewed now, while the cardman.co.uk one needs to be renewed before the 31st.

So if you ever find one of these sites down then just swap to the other one. I will then see how efficiently this switch over can be done with the least amount of disruption.

One other issue that has cropped up recently is that one of the four HDDs in my server that stores my important business data has recently failed. Since these four HDDs form a RAID 1+0 system then this is not a serious problem, when two of the HDDs keep a clone data copy of the other two.

As soon as I had pulled out this faulty HDD, after making sure that it was really dead, then I went to check the warranty information on it. First I went to the Hitachi site and did an on-line check, where this on-line system reported that the warranty expired on the 24th of January this year. That I thought was unfortunate, when after three years this HDD had died just days after the warranty had expired. And so I started to look around in order to buy a new one.

However, just before I did buy a new one I decided to check my purchase invoice for this computer parts order. As seeing this one month gap then the exact purchase date had to be close. A quick scan of my business expenses information soon located the exact date and where I soon pulled out that exact invoice.

Interestingly enough that purchase date was 03/03/03. This you can see was three years ago yesterday, where I received and connected up these HDDs three years ago today. And so just two days ago I was rushing around, in like the final warranty hours, trying to inform the right company that this HDD had really failed within it's three year warranty.

Well back in March of 2003 these HDDs had cost me 138.04 each excluding VAT, which meant I had no desire to throw away money, even if these same HDDs now cost 59.95 excluding VAT three years later.

I tried with my computer trader first who is eBuyer. And I can say that after spending a couple of hours trying to log-in to my account with them, in order to obtain a returns number, then I discovered that they do not handle these returns, when apparently Hitachi now handle their own returns directly.

So it was back to the Hitachi site to try and get a returns number from them. And of course when trying to get this returns number their automatic system pops up that I cannot have one when this warranty expired on the 24th of January. Fortunately they had an option to contact them if I believed that their warranty information was wrong. And sure enough in the late hours of the 2nd I sent them an e-mail pointing out that these HDDs were only 3 years minus a few hours old.

They soon replied to my warranty query asking for a copy of my invoice. And so I scanned this invoice and e-mailed it to them yesterday. And so from all I know then this HDD really did fail a couple of days before this three year warranty did, which goes to save me 59.95 plus postage and VAT. The next time one fails I will have to replace it myself, but now I just await Hitachi's confirmation. Plug in my replacement HDD then my server data is safe once more.

Other good news is that phaze one of my recovery process ends this week. The Inland Revenue will soon be paying me a large sum of money and where it is all in phaze two from now on.

I can also say that the final conversion of my web site to the CSS stylesheet is going well and where the number of pages still using the old abused tables method are reduced in number by the day. The new Cards page will have be a special case when I plan to completely change around the formatting here. No more PCB cards. The wafer cards will be split between the first, second and third generation levels. And I hope to be able to do a more mix and match selection.

The only other thing to do following that is to adjust my prices. I have already done that with a few items, but I will have to complete my market research in order to set the right price for every item. Both of these web site changes should be complete quite soon and well before the end of this month.

The last thing to mention is that the Matrix Reborn CAM is selling well. No doubt due to my low prices and low postal cost. It is a great CAM anyway and one my customers will love.

Oh this reminds me of one other thing. I had to get in some new address labels recently, when even buying these labels by the thousands does not last long around here. So I had a quick look around for a good price and then placed an order.

Now, as a few of my customers may be aware my return address labels usually come on gold and silver foil. However, this time I just could not resist the three-eyed alien graphic. So I had 1000 labels made on the usual silver foil and then I had 1000 other labels made with this three-eyed alien on white. This label supplier usually uses green ink for the graphic and address, but I decided to go with the blue in order to create a better contrast with the white background.

This time I also decided to include Cardman on my return address labels. Usually I skip this line to make these labels more general purpose, but due to Canadian Customs wanting the company name on the outside of the package, not to forget my own postal dispatch books, then from now on both my company name and address always will be.

In any case if you desire to see this cool looking three-eyed alien return address label, then just order anything from my company and check the reverse of the package on receipt. What I will do in the future remains to be seen.