Thursday, October 27, 2005

2006 F1 Calender..

The 2006 calendar in full:
Bahrain 12 March
Malaysia 19 March
Australia 2 April
San Marino 23 April
Europe 7 May
Spain 14 May
Monaco 28 May
Great Britain 11 June
Canada 25 June
United States 2 July
France 16 July
Germany 30 July
Hungary 6 August
Turkey 27 August
Italy 10 September
Belgium 17 September
Japan 1 October
China 8 October
Brazil 22 October

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

So near, so far: the McLaren revival

So near, so far: the McLaren revival

This time last year McLaren found themselves languishing in fifth place in the final championship standings after one of the worst seasons in the team’s long and illustrious history. Twelve months on they are runners up, having pushed Renault all the way and taken the title down to the wire at the final round in China.

Of course, nobody ever got rich betting against McLaren's long-term prospects, but it was a remarkable recovery, even by the team’s own high standards. No one can argue that Fernando Alonso and Renault have thoroughly deserved their 2005 success, but what alarmed them and the rest of the paddock was the way that McLaren bounced back in the second half of the season, having lost out on victory in five of the first seven races.

In the closing half of the season, McLaren clearly possessed a sizeable performance advantage at most circuits - they won six races in a row prior to China - and if the team had been spared even a fraction of the bad luck that dogged their campaign then they may well have been trying to find space for both championship trophies. To illustrate the scale of their comeback, they entered the final round in Shanghai just two points shy of Renault - 174 points to 176 - despite having taken just 63 in the first half of the year, finishing it on 182.

All that said, while McLaren are never a team happy to settle for second, the season has left awkward questions to be answered before next year. First and foremost - will Mercedes be able to solve the mechanical problems that saw the luckless Kimi Raikkonen forced to take grid penalties or start from the pits on no fewer than four occasions after engine changes. And some in the paddock have even wondered whether Juan Pablo Montoya was the right choice for the team. He's had a great second half of the season - seeming, if anything, to have a slight pace advantage over Raikkonen - but a series of unforced errors, unfortunate crashes and the mysterious tennis injury that forced him to miss two races have all left some pundits questioning his temperament.

A flick through the history books produces plenty of other examples of McLaren's comebacks through the ages. Statistically, they are already the most successful team in Formula One history in terms of titles, with no fewer than eight constructors' and 11 drivers' championships. After falling from contention in the mid 1980s, the team were able to persuade Honda to shift its backing from Williams in 1988 - giving them access to what was by far the most competitive powerplant of the era, and allowing them to completely dominate the '88 season, with 15 victories out of 16 races. In the late 'nineties, after another period in the doldrums, McLaren poached Williams' brilliant chief designer, Adrian Newey, and joined with Mercedes in another winning technical partnership. The result was two drivers' titles for Mika Hakkinen and another constructors' championship.

We'll have to wait until next season to find out if we really are on the verge of a new age of McLaren dominance - but you can guarantee that Renault and the rest of the Formula One paddock will spend the winter worrying about it.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

In formula 1 racing....

As the end of a long, but gripping, season finally reached its conclusion. Next year Sauber will be BMW, Minardi will be Squadra Toro Rosso, Jordan will be Midland and BAR will be Honda.

In Formula One racing, nothing stays the same for long."

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Intel to launch sub-$220 PC with wireless Internet in rural India

Intel announced their intention today to drop a low-cost PC for rural India this December (sound familiar?)—huge market potential considering only nine of every 1,000 Indians own a computer. They aren’t the first, but Intel’s flava offers some type of rural “wireless Internet” solution (for free?), an insect and dust-proof frame, and a much needed ability to run off standard 240 volt AC or even a car battery due to erratic power issues. We assume it also has an integrated monitor, possibly used, all for less than $220US (about 10,000 Rupees)—still a significant chunk of change for the third world citizen."

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The motorcycle simulator by Honda

Itching to ride a motorcycle around but afraid of falling off and dying? Problem solved by Honda. Seems more like it's for a 250cc bike than a 1000cc Hayabusa or a Ducati, but fun nonetheless. It's pretty much a computer with a monitor integrated into a riding stand with handlebars, seat, and all.

The motorcycle simulator by Honda

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Fingerprint-Lock Failure in a Prison

Fingerprint-Lock Failure in a Prison

So much for high-tech security:

Prison officers have been forced to abandon a new security system and return to the use of keys after the cutting-edge technology repeatedly failed.

The system, which is thought to have cost over £3 million, used fingerprint recognition to activate the locking system at the high-security Glenochil Prison near Tullibody, Clackmannanshire.

After typing in a PIN code, prison officers had to place their finger on a piece of glass. Once the print was recognised, they could then lock and unlock prison doors.

However, problems arose after a prisoner demonstrated to wardens that he could get through the system at will. Other prisoners had been doing the same for some time.

Unfortunately, the article doesn't say how the prisoners hacked the system. Perhaps they lifed fingerprints off readers with transparent tape. Or perhaps the valid latent fingerprints left on the readers by wardens could be activated somehow."

Porsche 911 Cabriolet Review

First Drive: Porsche 911 Cabriolet

It’s Porsche’s most desirable model on paper. Fast, agile and sexy. But does the open top add or detract from the 911 experience?

It’s obvious: we’re lost. We’re heading west through Seville when we should be going south over an expressway. I stop to take pictures. Seville is enchanting: beautiful haciendas, champagne sunshine, orange trees, olive-skinned senoritas sporting wide smiles. But I barely notice. I’m lost in the beautiful, almond- shaped eyes of another enchantress, one that has a fine set of hips herself. A descendant of a family I’ve admired from afar for generations, this fresh youngster flashes a hint of a smile that’s as inviting as on any 911.

The new 911’s nose is gorgeous. It looks a tad too plain in the pictures, but the more you look at it, the better it gets —your eye stops searching for details and starts taking in the brilliant proportions, curves and shapes that comprise the snout.

It now looks just so right. To my eyes the arching roof of the 911, along with the amphibian nose and the coke-bottle rear, has always been an essential part of the 911 shape. Compared to the stunning coupe, the cabriolet lacks some fluidity. The lines seem to halt and falter, especially the heavy haunches. But it looks just as stunning from the front, classic Porsche DNA distilled down to its essence. After I’ve captured some of the beauty of the car and the surroundings onto celluloid, I jump in and fire the boxer motor. We’ve been given vague directions to a place we can’t pronounce in a language we don’t understand, but the hand signals seem clear enough . . . at least I think so.

We take off in the direction indicated, through light Saturday morning traffic, around cobblestone circles, past medieval cathedrals and the Plaza del Toro, a colosseum-like bullring. The sun has warmed up the air considerably, so we drop the auto canvas top of the 911, while still on the move, crushing through another Plaza. The cabriolet lets you do this even at 50kph, cool. It opens up an almost unlimited field of vision that allows you to take in the sights and sounds, including the deep-throated rumble from the exhausts. It’s tuned louder in the larger-engined S, and I blip the throttle on the downshift, just to make the exhausts bark and reverberate along the old city’s stone walls.

In traffic the 911 doesn’t really stand out. The 3.8-litre flat-six feels strangely relaxed at low engine speeds, the clutch is a tad heavy, it does hold back 355 horses, and the steering feels numb too. Ride quality however feels better than on the coupe, making the cabrio a car for effortless cruising as well. Soon traffic and city blocks are thinning as we follow the roads arcing out of this medieval city.

Time to reflect on how comfortable even out-and-out sports cars are today. The new 911 is not as cramped as you would expect and immaculately finished on the inside. The seats have a fantastic range of travel, are supportive in the right places and it’s real easy to find a comfortable driving position. Air-con, electric seats, a hood that takes 20 seconds to flip, six airbags (including new head bags and a thorax airbag), satellite navigation and even a specially fine-tuned Bose sound system. There’s a modern interpretation of the classic three-spoke wheel, the large legible gauges are pure Porsche and even button quality is good. Rear space is dismal though, even worse than on the coupe, due to the intrusive roof mechanism.

The flat-six, a configuration that has been responsible for the low cg and exceptional traction, seems to grow an extra row of teeth past 3000rpm. Using lightweight construction for low reciprocating mass, this motor also uses a racing car-like dry sump and a team of oil pumps. And like the air-cooled 911 motors of the past, this one utilises its engine oil to cool the motor as well. Variable valve timing, variable intake length and short-stroke racing pistons make sure that muscle is packed in the right place, at the top of the power-band.

I run the flat-six hard to 7000rpm before shifting and the result is a mind-numbing burst of acceleration that takes your vision time to catch up with. Now all lethargy disappears. Under hard acceleration the super-responsive motor reaches its redline every couple or three seconds, 100 k’s come up in 4.9 seconds, 160 is cracked in eleven. You snatch third at approximately 120kph, fourth at 160 and fifth at 205, the tightly packed upper gear ratios dropping the motor slap bang in the middle of the sledgehammer-like powerband above 5700rpm every time you up-shift.

It feels like you’re stretching, ripping the scenery apart, the 911 at the head of an imaginary cone. Max speed with the lid up, due to the amazing aerodynamics, is the same as the coupe — 293 big k’s. Of course I didn’t, I stopped breathing at 275-odd!

Sky merges with green trees, air gushes in, you smell the trees. Slow down, put the top up. Give it the hammer again. The verge blurs, lines streak, hedges flash past. Fences lean back, poles peel off, the road goes liquid. And more. Speed, control, stop or go on demand. Incredible eyeball-popping brakes, and the seatbelts lock well.

Behind my head, four large pipes arranged like a brace of side-by-side shotguns expel exhaust at ferocious velocities with a spine-tingling yowl.

The car comes alive in my hands now, fully warmed-up, stretched and limbered. Turn-in is athletic, steering feel meaty and delicious and the Porsche flicks through even evil switchbacks with incredible poise.

To justify a sticker of Rs 85 lakh, the 911 Carrera S Cabriolet has to be exceptional, a sports car that gives you everything. It has to look stunning, be quick, handle exceptionally, be comfortable to drive when it is open, protect you perfectly from the elements and be built to last.

The Porsche is all of these. It is very driveable, not high-strung like a number of sports cars, and is brimful of creature comforts and safety features. It may not have the same pin-point precision above 200k as the coupe, it may be a tad low for some of our poor roads and for all practical purposes it’s a two-seater. Other than that, it is almost the perfect sports car. Porsche’s very own ode to joy.



Sometimes its the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.

"You can close your eyes to the things you do not want to see, but you cannot close your heart to the things you do not want to feel."

"When we're incomplete, we're always searching for somebody to complete us. When, after a few years or a few months of a relationship, we find that we're still unfulfilled, we blame our partners and take up with somebody more promising. This can go on and on--series polygamy--until we admit that while a partner can add sweet dimensions to our lives, we, each of us, are responsible for our own fulfillment. Nobody else can provide it for us, and to believe otherwise is to delude ourselves dangerously and to program for eventual failure every relationship we enter."

Firefox multiple homepage

"Firefox has the ability to create multiple homepages, because of its tabbed browsing ability. If you choose to use this feature, each time you open up Firefox or hit the home button it will load two homepages. One of them in the foreground and one in the background. To do this just go Tools -> Options -> Location(s). In this field enter as many URLs as you wish separated by a space and a '|' in between. (EX: | | so on...). This is a great feature if you have multiple homepages that you like to visit often. Also remember that choosing too many pages at once will cause the Firefox to take much longer to start up."

Monday, October 03, 2005

The five stages of innovation

The five stages of innovation

1. People deny that the innovation is required.
2. People deny that the innovation it is effective.
3. People deny that the innovation is important.
4. People deny that the innovation will justify the effort required to adopt it.
5. People accept and adopt the innovation, enjoy its benefits, attribute it to people other than the innovator, and deny the existence of stages 1 to 4.

Three Statisticians: Measuring by Average

measuring by averages story

Three statisticians went hunting in the woods. Before long, one of them pointed to a plump pigeon in a tree, and the three of them stopped and took aim. The first fired, missing the bird by a couple of inches to the left. Immediately afterwards the second fired, but also missed, a couple of inches to the right. The third put down his gun exclaiming, 'Great shooting lads, on average I reckon we got it...'