The road to driving, part 8

Today I visited the DRIRE Centre de Controle de Vehicules (car control centre) in Viriat to have the (hopefully) last check of my car. I left home at about 8:15, got there two minutes late to the appointment 10:30, and got back to work just in time to lunch 13:00.

The check itself took between 10 and 15 minutes, and I didn’t even have to start the engine! The guy just looked under the hood (mostly at the ID and model numbers), and that was it. Did I really use half a day to go somewhere to check what could have been checked practically anywhere? Seems like it.

After the check the guy told me they would send the papers to the Gex sous-prefecture, so I should be able to get a carte grise in about five days. If you’re reading this, would you mind crossing all available fingers and toes, pray to whichever god you pray to, and just generally focus your mind-power on wishing that this thing goes through soon? Much obliged :-)

The road to driving, part 7

So, the papers from SAAB France have been forwarded to DRIRE, and I have received the answer: Essentially, even though nobody has found any faults on the car, I cannot have the carte grise just yet. The next step is driving 2.5 hours (according to ViaMichelin) to show them the car. Stay tuned…

The road to driving, part 6

Something like two weeks ago I got a message from DRIRE that they were still missing the “notice descriptive du type”. I had already submitted the requested information to SAAB France, so naturally I emailed them to know what was up. They said they remember the query to get the forms, but claimed that they had never been returned. So they faxed me a new copy. This, of course, took some time filling in, especially since none of the technical terms in the forms were explained (e.g. “CH“). A few days after mailing them (they didn’t want the results by fax), I got a message back saying that the form was incomplete. As far as I could read with my bad French, they wanted the following:

  • The exact date for the “1erè mise en circulation”, which I expect is the first time the car was used
  • A copy of the Italian “carte grise”, which I believe is now at DRIRE
  • The value for the one field of the form I had not filled in, “CH”

Today I called SAAB to tell them to get the necessary information from DRIRE. They told me that they had been able to dig up the information I sent them in August last year, and that I could just sit back and wait for the paper to arrive. WTF?!

Catch 22 in an email only world

After playing through Half-Life 2, I had a look at the Steam forums to check out the pending bugfixes, screenshots, and wallpapers. Some of the posts warranted a reply, so I went to the registration page and submitted the necessary data.

Afterwards, I was able to log in. But I couldn’t post anywhere. The error message just said the administrator may have disabled your account, or it may be awaiting activation.

Since I hadn’t had the chance to use my account yet, I naturally inferred that the account was not activated yet, but that was strange for several reasons:

  • I could log in (even though nothing changed except for showing my user name)
  • I couldn’t remember having seen a message about any validation email
  • The two email fields seemed quite useless if it had to be validated manually anyway
  • The registration form already uses scrambled images to protect against bots

So I tried looking around in the FAQ, the support pages, and the forums. Nope. Nobody seems to have this problem. Of course, if someone have the same problem, they will not be able to post about it.

Ah well. So back to the basics: Contact Valve directly. I sent an email yesterday, December 5, I just hope they answer it properly.

Update 2005-01-11: I still haven’t received an answer.

By the way: The game is f-ing awesome.

The road to driving, part 5

Called the Lyon police in the end of November and got an appointment. Unfortunately, the clutch gave in just a few days before the meeting, so I had to postpone it until after Christmas. January 6 I called again, and got a meeting the next day.

Everything was nicely planned. Or so I thought, until I got to the point in the ViaMichelin driving plan where it suddenly vanished into nothing. I had not reached my destination, but the driving plan was finished. So I expected that I was close to the end of the ride, and found it sensible to ask for directions. I asked four different persons for the direction to the street I was going to, and all of them gave me nice, short descriptions. None of which were right. After realizing I could be doing that for the rest of the day without getting anywhere, I went to a Peugeot retailer to get some sensible information. They told me the place was at about the opposite end of the city…

After finding a map and making my own way to the street where the meeting was to take place, I couldn’t see any police buildings. The people in the street knew nothing of any garage or police station on that road, but I was told where the closest police station was. So I went there and asked them. Same result. They were very helpful though, and called the police station I had arranged the meeting with. They explained that yes, the meeting was to take place at the end of the street I had just been to. Also, there was supposed to be a vehicle there with “BCT” on the side in big letters. I thought this probably meant something like “bâtiment de control technique” (building for technical controls). So I went back and looked, at both ends of the road. No building, and no car except for the ones parked by the way and at the sideways.

Back to the police again, who called again and arranged for the police to come and meet me by the police station. So I went out, and sure enough, there were the police. But they were angry with me for keeping them waiting! What the hell? Then they jumped into a car and told me to follow them. They went to the end of the street and turned right, driving about 150 meters up the byway. That’s where they had been waiting all the time! No building, no “BCT”, just a white van with red letters on the side, 150 meters south-west from the junction of Allée Pierre de Coubertin and Rue Jean Bouin.

The sound test was finished in five minutes, and they wrote the document in about two. For this I took a day off of work, drove 7+ hours, and spent half a tank of gasoline. Way to go.

The road to driving, part 4

Calling the DRIRE was quite fruitless. Close, but no cigar. So I tried calling the Lyon Police again, but it seems that the person I talked to only two days ago must have been from a parallel universe; suddenly nobody knows anything about sound tests! I talked to at least three persons, and all of them seemed to be unable to get past asking me why I needed the paper. I tried my best to explain, but obviously I was not coming through. At the umptieth “Je ne compris pas” (I don’t understand), I asked my French office colleague to please explain my situation. After talking to four different persons, she gets a number which, according to the person somewhere else, might be the right one. I don’t have the energy to cross my fingers.

The road to driving, part 3

I tried calling the number I got from DRIRE ( twice, but I got no answer. So I tried looking for the “Brigade de police de Lyon” in the Pages Jaunes (Yellow Pages). There were no exact matches, but I looked under the heading “Police” and tried the first number, to the commissariat du 1er arrondissement (5 pl Sathonay 69001 LYON) @ 04 78 28 11 87. I could swear the officer answered something like “Good day, Mr. Engmark”… After I had explained quickly what I was calling about, the officer asked me whether I rather wanted to speak English. Now this went above all my expectations, and the officer seemed to have the whole story on his desk(top) already! I heard that I was supposed to have received the “notice descriptive du type” with the “certificate de conformite partielle”. I probably have, and just delivered it to the sub-prefecture. I was also told that the engine of my car had never been registered in France, and that they therefore couldn’t perform the necessary tests to produce a “justificatifs concernant le niveau de sonore” (sic). But I was told that my engine was very close to one identified as B202L, and was adviced to try to explain it to the DRIRE technicians in order to get a “justificatifs concernant le niveau de sonore” for this engine instead. So I called…