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April 2011

Why I Was Wrong About eBook Readers

Sunday, April 24, 2011 0

at the end of the year I’ll either be putting up a new book-shelf or I won’t
Those were the words I finished my 2009 blog post entitled “Book Ends” on my old blog Deadly Revelations - I would normally insert a link here, but due to some “its DNS errors lads”, alas its not to be, so you’ll just have to take my word for what I’m about to write.

The post was all about the rise of the digital eBook reader and how I foresaw three problems with the devices when they first appeared on the scene, these were as follows;
  • A lack of a colour screen
  • A lack of available titles
  • The feel, smell, texture, normalness of a real, live, dead tree in your hands
But it is not 2011 and my opinion has changed. The colour screen is no longer as important to me, the number of titles whilst still limited on the latest releases has expanded and the latest Amazon Kindle is a sleek looking tablet device that feels great to hold.

Which is why I’m hoping to purchase one tomorrow.

The writing was on the wall really (or rather on my blog), I’m a digital child, living in a modern world of technology and magical software; having given up on music CDs, in the process of ripping my DVD collection, the next to be targeted was the bookshelf. Not that I plan on getting rid of the bookshelf and the treasured books that sit upon it, but moving forwards I hope to consume much of my reading material not on the dead trees that form pages.

Will I live to regret this later on? Probably, more than likely – yes! But you see, I have another reason for going digital….

…and that reason is because I want to change what I read. Let me loose in a bookstore or on Amazon and I make a dash for two very close sections of the store; computing and business. They are subjects which interest me and there always seems to be some new story or book to buy on the subject of modern business, social networking and making it big in a Web 2.0 world.

There are a couple of books I want though that I don’t think I could bring myself to buy in paperback or hardback editions; not because they wouldn’t be worth it, but because they are surprisingly ‘geeky’ and I don’t want to have to publicly display and explain why I’m reading them.

The first book is a “Why does E=Mc2?” by Professor Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw (presumably also a Professor), which explains Ensien’s theory of relativity and the physics of the equation. Very geeky indeed and not something I’d normally read.

The second is a book on ‘Energy Myths’, which I discovered after reading a blog post on Mr Bill Gates’ website “The Gates Notes”. Bill Gates, as we’ve discovered since he left Microsoft, has the ability to talk about any number of things outside of computers and he does so with passion and expertise – something he does by dedicating a lot of time to reading such works as “Energy Myths”.

When I looked at these two titles which I’d added to my wish list, I realised what the eBook is all about; its about the very fabric of what books are about; bringing education, knowledge and content directly to the reader.

These two books are never titles that I would normally buy, because they would take up space on my bookshelf, but at £5 (ok, the Energy one is closer to £20), they are something I can splurge my money on and store on my device without having too worry too much about what I’ll do with it once I’ve finished reading it.

I still maintain that I was right about the ebook reader in 2009, but things have move on a long way since then. Tablets aren’t going to be the devices to replace books and I’ve opted for the Kindle because I believe that Amazon have made the best device and the publishers to ‘print’ to their format.

In a years time I may be writing a very different post on ebook readers, but right now, I believe that the time for digital is now.

***************

I do want to add one more thing, I won’t be giving up on the traditional printed book any time soon, merely the Kindle is a stepping stone to greater content. I could and probably wouldn’t ever give up my treasured bounded books

F1 2011: Race 3, China

Sunday, April 17, 2011 0

Race 4 3 was absolutely thrilling to watch – a real return to the strategic, high speed chess match that we used to see a few years ago.  The difference of course is that this time the chess-like positioning of the cars aren’t around pit stop and fuel, but around how the tyres are used and when.

 

Thankfully though, this wasn’t the Red Bull domination we’ve seen thus far this season, but it was a race of contrasts; Vettel on pole with his team mate Webber starting 16th, only in the race it seemed that Webber was the man on the move all the way up to 3rd place with 3 stops, whilst Vettel dropped a position on a 2 stop strategy.

 

Like-wise at McLaren, my driver of the day last time out, Button, started second and fell to fourth in comedic fashion, whilst Hamilton moved from third to first.  The comedy moment of the race of course was Button parking in the Red Bull pit garage at his first stop, before suddenly realising that his guys were the next garage along!  Unfortunately for Jensen, this mistake held only himself up, whilst Vettel was able to slow and then slide into his pit garage for his routine stop and jumping Jensen.  Make no bones about it, it was a HUGE mistake which no doubt left Button awfully red faced.

 

Continuing the race of contrasts, over at Ferrari the team seemed to look like strategic masterminds whilst also falling over themselves and losing the plot all at the same time.  Felipe Massa continued the trend of beating his team mate off the line for the third race in a row, then it all came down to strategy.  Alonso and Ferrari opted for a 2 stop strategy, the same as Felipe, but having been left fighting with Schumacher (who took an early stop and vaulted himself into the race for points), for much of the stint and left his tyres worse for wear than they should have been.  Ferrari, perhaps foolishly, sticking to their guns left Fernando out on track to struggle with his tyres (which left him battling with just about everyone around him), instead of switching him to a 3 stop strategy like most of the other teams around him.

 

Looking across at Massa however, who was able to make the 2 stop strategy work appeared to be a ‘return to form’ for the Brazilian.  He seemed very much like he was under control and racing extremely well – even once his second set of tyres faded with 10 laps to go, he defended really well and was able to hold onto his position for far more laps that he perhaps should have been able to, which highlights how well the Ferrari does look after its tyres.  To fall from 2nd to 6th was extremely harsh for Felipe today, but it was a refreshing change for him not to let his head drop today and continue on as best he could.

 

Also on form in this race, Mercedes seemed to gel everything together this time out and able to show the promise they did in pre-season testing, but was this a one-off performance or are they really starting to get things together.  Its difficult to remember that this is the same team that won the championship as ‘Brawn’ just a couple of years ago; clearly they should still have it.  Schumacher and Rosberg both pitted extremely early in order to make up a bunch of positions with Rosberg even, somehow, managing to make his way into P1 and lead the race.  Schumacher looked like the racer we all know he should be dicing around with a number of cars today.

 

Renault/Lotus dropped the ball massively after two successful races – it seemed that after a number of failures in Qualifying they were left out of position and never really able to recover.

 

My favourite rookie of the season – Perez – also had a bit of a shocker all in all.  He appeared to be feisty and in a racing mood early on, but as the race progressed it appeared that he tried to emulate his team make Kobashi a little too much attempting some ambitious overtaking moves, but never quite being able to finish them, earning himself a drive-through penalty and remaining under investigation after the race. Overall though, I believe he remains a promising driver for the future, as is Paul Di Resta who not only qualified well, but also seemed to maintain a decent race pace too.

 

*************

 

Race three:  The strategic use of tyres and importance of getting that strategy right has now been very much highlighted for the rest of the season.

 

Ferrari Result:

 

Alonso - 7th: Was left on the entirely wrong strategy, which Ferrari never seemed willing to correct, despite my yelling at the TV screen. Raced well against Schumacher, but not where he expected to be. Desperately needs to get his start procedure right.

 

Massa - 6th: Todays result wasn’t reflective of what Felipe brought to the race this weekend. His tyres let him down with only a handful of laps to-go - mirroring the strategy of Vettel, yet seemingly able to hold onto his car a lot, lot better. A return to form that I hope boosts him back into racing regularly like this and not letting his head drop.

 

Man of the Race: It came down to two for me; Webber or Massa. Webber undoubtedly drove a great race from the back, but for Felipe to beat his Ferrari team mate was far more significant overall in my opinion – which is why Felipe Massa is my driver of the day this weekend.

F1 2011: Race 2, Malaysia

Sunday, April 10, 2011 0

After such a busy race, where does one start with the analysis of race 3 2 (yes, that will be the running joke throughout the season)?

 

There was so much speculation and second guessing in what the weather was going to do that it added such a great additional spice to the show.  But then after it failed to materialise, the race became all about tyre wear as I think so many of the races will be focused upon this year.

 

But it all started in Qualifying; Vettel vs Hamilton providing the entertainment and that last minute gasps for tenths of seconds.  Ferrari were left 5th and 7th after a frustrating session and openly admitted that the season was going to be long and they were already in ‘damage limitation mode’, which is quite the admission this early in the season from the team of the Prancing Horse.

 

Back to the race though, Alonso once again suffering with a terrible start trying to avoid Webbers bogged down Red Bull, allowing Massa to once again jump his team mate through the first couple of corners.  Vettel being Schumacher-esque from his Ferrari 2002 days scampering away a couple of second ahead at the start of the race.

 

What was truly amazing though was the start both Renaults (or should that be Lotuses) got off the line and dived straight into 2nd and 4th.  Reminding everyone that the old Renault team (when they were blue and gold in colour), have still got it when it comes to launching their cars off the line.

 

But then, but then, after the first phase of the race things swung wide open and Ferrari re-discovered some really good pace and what’s more were able to look after their tyres better than those around them, which played them into the race – going and growing ever more into the second phase, even with a bad stop for Felipe after trouble with a wheel nut on the front left tyre.

 

Amazingly, the Ferrari’s then seemed to be overtaking everyone and catching the McLarens.  It was at this phase of the race I was happily predicting a Ferrari 2nd and 3rd result.  But alas the pendulum swung and changed things again.

 

“I’m pushing, I’m pushing, don’t worry” – Alonso

 

Hamilton and Alonso were both catching Vettel and could have challenged, if only the third phase of the race hadn’t ruined the closing elements of such a good race.  Button somehow quietly made his way up into third ahead of Alonso after their third stops.

 

Then it all fell apart – Hamilton pitted early with a bad pit stop and then struggled to make his hard tyres work, then Alonso also suffered with an awful pit stop but being able to use his newer tyres far better was able to catch Hamilton and start the real racing….

 

…but it all ended in frustration after Alonso swiped across the back of Hamilton’s car managing to take his front wing off and forcing a fourth and final pit stop, dropping him behind Webber and Massa.  

 

Webber pulled out a move on Massa, who then inexplicitly put a lap time in 4 second off the pace (which makes me wonder if Massa really does have a problem losing his mojo following an overtaking move on him).  Alonso not giving up, kept his foot down following his nose cone change, Hamilton then needing a fourth and final pit stop then allowed Webber, Massa and Alonso to re-pass.

 

Petrov providing the ‘scary moment’ of the season thus far after what appeared to be a steering column failure.  Perez, the man of the moment from Australia, retired after a piece of bodywork from a Toro Rosso puts his Sauber out of the race.

 

But the final word has to go to Rubens Barrichello: before the race I tweeted for anyone willing to bet what lap Rubens would bin his car this week.  It wasn’t long (lap 3), before he suffered with a tyre puncture, before finally retiring 1 lap down on lap 25.  Surely this is his last season?

 

*************

 

Race two: Frustrating, but far more entertaining than Australia

Ferrari Result:

Alonso - 6th: Dejected and frustrated after Qualifying.  Terrible start again, which needs to be improved quickly.  But never gave up in the race and kept his foot down throughout; made a silly mistake trying to pass Hamilton, when he had the much faster car, so he needs to learn a bit more patience.  Should have been 2nd or 3rd today, but did well to recover to 6th all in all.

Massa - 5th: Fantastic start again by Massa getting in front of Alonso in the first couple of corners.  Seemed to be on the pace, over taking everyone using DRS.  But faded in the last phase of the race and seemed to lose his head after being passed by Webber. Far better from Massa for quite a while, lets hope it continues. 

Man of the Race: Difficult one this race, I was all set to give it to Alonso, but then he ruined it trying to pass Hamilton and breaking his wing.  Webber was impressive to recover and Heidfeld bounced back really well from his terrible time in Oz.  But Button kept out of trouble and quietly raced his way into 2nd today, keeping everything together – and that is why he’s my man of the race today.

The Genius of Hugh

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 0

Is there anything Hugh Laurie cannot do?!

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