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May 2011

F1 2011: Race 7, Canada

Sunday, May 22, 2011 0

Race 8 7 was a long haul flight to Canada for the F1 circus for the only race held in North America, built on its own island the circuit Gile Villeneuve is always one to watch; the race which last year set the president in tyre compounds that are significantly different and high wear rates following a little bit of a mistake by Bridgestone.

 

The question was, could the race stand up against the thriller of last year? Throughout free practice the answer seemed to be yes, especially as grip levels seemed to be non-existent, something the smart drivers should have got themselves used to for the rest of the weekend, unless you were one of the unlucky few to have hit a wall.

 

Qualifying then set up the race perfectly; Ferrari appeared to finally be on the pace and both drivers appeared to be on-form, clearly demonstrated by securing second and third on the grid! Pole almost ours.

 

Sunday, race day: the picture dramatically changed again with rain. The win which looked to have been a straight fight between the Ferrari drivers and Vettel was now wide open to all for the taking. The race, perhaps wrongly, started under the safety car through fear of unknown grip, meant we weren’t going to see another lightening start from Alonso. What we did see instead was Fernando go all out attack as soon as the safety car peeled off the track a couple of laps later.

 

Unfortunately, the move didn’t quite stick and I believe Alonso ruined his first set of wet tyres as he appeared to struggle for ultimate pace, whilst Massa seemed to be able to hold station quite comfortably behind in formation flying.

 

Lewis Hamilton, also flying decided a few laps later that he had the pace on Jenson Button and opted to dive down a gap that was always set to close; the two McLarens colliding and pushing Hamilton into the wall with a left rear tyre problem – a DNF for the driver who continued his trend of crashing into others. Button shrugged the incident off, complaining on the radio “What’s he doing?”, before being the first to pit and opt for intermediate tyres.

 

A brave move considering a drying line had only just emerged and the threat of rain was still forthcoming, but we’ve seen Jenson make these inspired decisions for tyres before and make them work in his favour; following the golden rule: always be on the right tyres. A couple of laps later as he worked his way through traffic the pace of the signal was clear for all – Inters were the tyre to be on. Ferrari reacted instantly, Alonso who was struggling with his tyres was pitted first and sent on his way – in typical fashion, a couple of laps later the heavens opened up again and Alonso was back in for wets, dropping down from 2nd to 8th overall.

 

And then the rain gods decide that was enough racing for the time being and unleashed a storm which water logged the track and brought out the red flags and an end to racing. The TV stations then went into ‘filler mode’, having to talk for over 2 hours until the FIA were satisfied the race could restart.

 

This wait was certainly sent as a test to the fans. The rain had eased off quite a bit earlier than the eventual race restart and insisted on sending the safety and track cars out on track to clear up the water and puddles; something the F1 cars would have been more suited doing with their wet weather rain tyres (they could even have sent Lewis Hamilton, who was out of the race to do this job for them having had their car returned to them and no serious damage found!). In my opinion, the race could have restarted much earlier and when the race did restart behind the safety car, it seemed to take forever for the FIA to make the decision to bring it in and allow them to race (presumably because drivers complained of spray and visibility problems on the radio – again, a problem that would have quickly disappeared once they were able to start racing and spread themselves out a bit more).

 

It was a testing time for the fans and I wouldn’t be surprised if many had switched off at this point – hell, even I almost switched channels in frustration. Certainly something F1 and the FIA need to seriously look into and learn from.

 

When the race restarted proper and the safety car peeled in, the thriller than begun – unless you were Fernando Alonso; a few laps in, Button and Alonso dived into a corner, Fernando on the outside had a better run into the corner, but Button also refused to give up – his front left hitting Fernando’s right rear pitching him round and beaching him on

the high kerbs, out of the race.

 

Race control flagged the incident for investigation and later announced that it would require further investigation after the race. Meanwhile the race continued and the build up to the final 12 laps....

 

Schumacher appeared to have found the form that he is renowned for and climbed all the way up second place and actually catching Vettel. He was even closer after another safety car period was declared following Glock running into the back of Sutil. Schumacher was unable to match pace with the younger German though, who bolted on the restart. Michael then found his tyres cooked and with DRS enabled, he was a sitting duck for both Button and Webber behind. Both made their way past within a few laps following Schumacher’s brilliant defending against Webber – it looked like Schumacher of old, a welcome spectacle.

 

Massa who seemed to spend all his time in third, when he made the switch from wet tyres to dry tyres somehow managed to drop his Ferrari passing a back-marker and hitting the barrier wiping his nose cone from his car and breaking his front wing; a limp back to the pits for a fresh one dropped him to 11th. He clawed his way back to 7thand on the very last start/finish straight managed to grab 6th place on the finish line on the last lap.

 

Button who was around 5 seconds behind Vettel with four laps to go reeled him in at a tremendous rate and was 0.8 behind for the very last lap; DRS was set to either make or break Sebs winning streak but then, perhaps uncharacteristically Vettel slid wide into one of the corners and on the still damp track lost all momentum and allowed Button and easy pass for the win.

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

 

Race seven: The words start/stop come to mind.


Ferrari Result:

 

Alonso – – DNF: Punted out by the race winner, disappointing result considering he was in front of Button for much of the race and had the potential to chalk up the win from this race.


Massa – 6th: The plucky Brazilian snatched 6th on the line in a photo-finish. It’s not where Ferrari want to be, but points are points.

 

Man of the Race: Whilst Button put on a great display, my driver of the day was Michael Schumacher. It was a return to form that reminded everyone why he is a 7 times world champion.

Never Stop Caring

Thursday, May 19, 2011 0

As well you know, my two favourite writers in the world are Paul Carr and Sarah Lacy.  Carr for his views and takes on life, with very little care, very much similar to my own approach – only without the creativity - and Lacy for her brilliance in being able to report just about anything and turning her far out idea of how the world poorest countries will turn them selves around by the genius of the few who choose to go and do something truly remarkable, thanks in part to the great levelling of the Internet.

 

Both Lacy and Carr have recently released their ‘second book’ for publication and I eagerly waited for them and bought them both the second they were available (Lacy’s in book form, Carr’s in Kindle format).

 

It’s Paul’s book I want to write about today though; “The Upgrade; A Cautionary Tales about Life without Reservations” in which Paul gives up his London apartment following notice of a rent hike and embarks on an epic journey around the world with some amazing stories to tell along the way.

 

You really should buy it yourself and read them with my recommendation (though I doubt whether you’d enjoy them as much as I did, having followed all of these tales on his blog and was able to piece the time line together as I read through the book).

 

The latter part of the book though is what really struck me though; how the good times turned into what was a alcohol fuelled downward spiral, which Carr tried to cover up in his writings in the hope of not destroying the persona he had built up through his blog posts and writing gigs.

 

Having been on a bit of a downward spiral myself this week (read), one line struck a major chord and it highlighted the importance of having a friend like Sarah Lacy; “You stopped caring about what you do” – a wake up call to Mr Carr to buck his ideas and get back into bringing his sharp writing back to the forefront rather than rely on drunken escapades to ‘create’ the story.

“You stopped caring about what you do”

Those words should serve as a reminder for all that we do what we do because we care about it; giving it all up is not an option, unless you really, really have stopped caring.

 

I already had huge respect and admiration for Ms Lacy’s writing and for the persona she puts across in her work and on her own personal blog – but now I have an even greater respect for her in bringing Paul Carr in line and back to caring about what he undoubtedly does extremely well.

 

These two people were my inspiration to start blogging and to care about writing.  I’m the first to admit that my writing is no where near as good as theirs (you should read some of the stuff I don’t post), but I do care about writing posts for this blog and my own satisfaction.

 

Today I switched on ‘Stats’ for this blog to absolutely shock myself; I thought my writings would reach only a small handful of people 10 at the most, I was amazed that I actually reach a much wider audience, which means I really should put more effort into posting.

 

You’ll also notice that I’ve switched on ‘Comments’.  This is the first time I’ve done so since the blog went live – I hope that you’ll start to leave messages for me, because I’d love to hear your thoughts and actively write more about what you like reading from me.

 

This is me caring and I hope, like Paul Carr, I don’t let anyone down.

Choose Your Own Office

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I’m on holiday today – which means I’m not in the office – and I’m sprawled out on my sofa (two phones within reach), and I’m amazed at just how much more productive I feel.

 

My Windows 7 Sony Vaio laptop is on my lap (as per design I guess), and I'’ve got TweetDeck open, a dozen Internet Explorer tabs and of course Windows Live Writer to scribble down this very post.  But checking back through my task list from this morning I’ve read through TechCrunch, took the time to catch up with Sarah Lacy’s blog posts, learnt that Fernando Alonso has signed with Ferrari until 2016 (!), checked my email and replied to a couple too.

 

Music is playing and the distractions of the office are no where to be heard.  I don’t feel stressed and I’m happy.  The reason why I’m happy is that I like it when technology gels together in this way and things just work. 

 

Don’t get me wrong, if it was taken away from me, I’m certain that I’d miss the office environment (everyone needs a base), but it does have me thinking about the modern office environment – especially when it comes to the computer environment.

 

On my desk at work I’ve long had a Windows XP machine and only just managed to get the green light to upgrade to Windows 7.  The problem is my PC is designed for Windows XP and I’ve found that drivers for the aged hardware are no where to be found, meaning graphics are running at basic levels and sound is missing completely.

 

My question is this; why aren’t companies doing more to allow empower users to embrace technology?  I know the answer is because IT departments won’t have control and software licensing would be a nightmare and the question of ownership becomes the hot topic whenever a new policy is pushed or a problem occurs.  But just imagine for a moment the following scenario….

 

The company sets out a guideline of what isn’t allowed (i.e. Apple laptops aren’t permitted on a Windows network – lets face it, Microsoft still leads the way in Enterprise), and users are then permitted to select and buy their own hardware and software (again within reason; no point in using Google Apps when Microsoft Office and Sharepoint are the norm).  Once they have made their selections, they are submitted to the IT department for approval and along with a signed agreement that they hardware belongs to the user, but the policies and control applied to said hardware are controlled by the company where applicable, but open for negotiation, then everyone ends up happy.

 

There are undoubtedly a few kinks to work out in my grand plan, but there are also some huge benefits;

  • Users who love technology can keep up-to-date and have a little bit more support for their devices than they normally get
  • New ways of thinking and working are achieved
  • A better understanding of technology and software is achieved as users are effectively ‘buying into’ their own systems and ideas
  • Companies don’t have to spend money on desktop equipment – unless the user opts for a ‘company provided system’

Maybe my idea is a pipe-dream and has absolutely no chance of ever working.  But the strength of the consumer electronics market right now and the battle for domination in the music, video, storage, cloud systems, it seems ever more likely that these ‘home user’ technologies need to be accepted more in the workplace.

 

The paradigm is shifting; some clever ideas to embrace new ideas are what is called for and a smart strategy could make or break.

 

Or in other words; get me a new PC at work and open up Twitter already!

Bye Bye Windows Phone….For Now

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 0

On my sofa right now are two phones; one of the is my faithful and reliable original Palm Pre and the other is a HTC Mozart running Microsoft Windows Phone 7 which I got on a new mobile phone contract less than a week ago.

 

The reason the two phones are sat on my sofa is that after a couple of days of using the HTC, I found that missed webOS and its various flicks and off screen slides to close applications and delete items.  I found I missed it so much that I removed my SIM from the Windows Phone and pushed it back in the Pre where it has stayed all week.

 

Now, I’ve read my terms and conditions a couple of times now and I can return the HTC back to my network provider under a “Changed My Mind” policy, which is what I fully intended to do…..

 

Until just an hour ago, when I perhaps foolishly started up the HTC for one last look around for a blog post I was going to write entitled “My 24 Hours with Windows Phone 7”.  Straight away the quality of the screen display hit me and playing around with the Windows Phone OS isn’t as bad as I first thought – in fact, its pretty amazing; with its hubs and apps and ‘pinned’ tiles on the home screen.

 

The games from XBOX Live are exactly as you would expect and the integration with Bing is certainly a feature I could write extensively positive things about.  Office and especially OneNote are useful and the camera and photo applications (with SkyDrive integration), beats the Pre hands-down.

 

So why, despite all of these things, is the HTC being returned tomorrow?  It’s because of one thing – the Twitter applications on Windows Phone 7 aren’t that great and multi-tasking is none-existent.  I’ll admit that the Twitter client thing is trivial as I can easily get used to it and I’ve no doubt that I’d get used to it and learn to love it like I do Tweed. 

 

But the lack of multi-tasking is absolutely killing me.  I want to click on links from Twitter and I want to open up a browser session as I’m in the middle of writing an email to check my facts and figures and I also want to be able to check my calendar whilst I’m on the phone arranging my next appointment.  Its these things that I can do so easily on the Pre that I can’t with Windows Phone 7 that make it not quite ready for me just yet.

 

When Microsoft resolves this multitasking issue then I promise to seriously look at Windows Phone again, but right now I need my ‘cards’ and my ability to move around my phone too much.

 

HP, you’ve got yourself a confirmed customer for the new HP Pre 3 right here, thanks the delightful webOS Operating System – you just have to make it available!

Outbreak 2011: A Lesson in Complaining

Sunday, May 15, 2011 0

I’ve been in a foul mood all weekend; it all stems from work and an ongoing issue we’ve had with a rouge virus on the network.  Normally I’d be up for the challenge of tackling the unauthorised outbreak of nuisance software, but this one is driving me crazy.

 

The reason for this is that the virus seems to have lived on despite our best attempts to kill it from the plethora of machines its managed to propagate and spread its infection to.

 

At my previous place of employment, I was responsible for the deployment and protection of the network from viruses and the chosen software was Symantec Endpoint Protection (which gets the rather un-snappy ‘SEP’ for short). 

 

At the time I previously blogged about how bad the software seemed to be and how it never seemed to work and endless telephone calls with the technical and sales people always seemed to end up with them blaming me for not deploying the latest version which had ‘just’ been posted to their download site – which took an eternity to find and log into after entering product codes, sales reference codes and a probably a lengthy questionnaire asking questions which are designed to put you off track and make you forget what you were doing to start with.

 

In this recent outbreak, my lack of control and unable to actually see any management console screens are making it a whole lot worse to troubleshoot and resolve the problem.  By the time an ‘engineer’ gets me the ‘infected report’ and I start applying the fix, the virus has already duplicated itself to its neighbours and therefore becomes a never ending battle with something I can’t see.

 

The situation is complete madness.  And its also infuriating, leaving me with a never ending problem whilst business as usual must carry on as, well, usual.

 

Which explains my foul mood.  I hate being beaten and I hate the feeling of not being in control – see things tend to work and be a whole lot smoother when I am, mainly because I tend to understand things much better.

 

There’s a morale to the story here somewhere and I think its pretty obvious what that is; complain.  Outburst complete; let the healing begin.

F1 2011: Race 4, Turkey

Sunday, May 8, 2011 0

Race 5 4 was exactly what was expected following the thriller in China last time out and more importantly it was finally a clear weekend for Ferrari to show what they actually have without being bogged down with other cars and issues.

 

But on a weekend where Red Bull were so dominant in Qualifying it was inevitable that they were set up perfectly for a victory.  What wasn’t quite so clear was second place.

 

With Felipe Massa failing to post a time in Q3 and starting 10th, Alonso didn’t have the issues of his team mate getting the jump on him at the start of the race which gave him the perfect opportunity to get on with racing the other cars rather than being cautious around his team mate. 

 

Rosberg, who’d qualified third, found himself in second in front of Weber who was busy fighting with Lewis Hamilton (fourth), into the first corner.  Lewis losing out by over cooking it into the braking zone, leaving Alonso and Webber free to chase Rosberg, who faded badly with tyre degradation.

 

Nico’s team mate, Schumacher, found himself battling with everyone again throughout the course of the race and always seeming to end up coming off second best.  Meanwhile Felipe Massa followed Lewis and Jenson who were in close proximity throughout the opening stint.

 

Massa then seemed to fade again throughout a frustrating race for him; two bad pit stops left him trailing in 11th at the end.  The star of the race however was Alonso.

 

Before the race Ferrari admitted to having gone in the wrong direction with the car this season thanks to a calibration error in their wind tunnel back at Maranello.  Now using the old Toyota tunnel, a re-fit of the Italian one is now under way – but despite all of this and being 8 tenths off the pace of the Red Bull’s in Qualifying, Fernando battled on.

 

Holding onto third in the opening stints Fernando was able to nail Mark Webber and take second in the middle stint of the race.  Only in the final part of the race was Webber able to use his superior Red Bull to take that place back.

 

Unlucky for Ferrari over all not to hold onto second, but the time on the clock showing being only 10 seconds off the lead Red Bull is extremely encouraging and shows that Ferrari aren’t all that far away from the ultimate pace – can they catch and challenge this season?  It’s still too early to say and with Sebastian Vettel so dominant in the opening part of the season and the Red Bull looking bullet proof, it may just be too much of a challenge, but I’ll keep watching for that turning point and who knows.

 

If anything is true of F1; things will always change and quickly.

 

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

 

Race four: The F1 thrill continues…the races are extremely exciting and with one eye on the tyres at every race, its set to continue all season long.

Ferrari Result:

Alonso – 3rd: Battled continuously without ever giving up in the race, despite taking his traditional 5th place in Qualifying this year.  Finally able to deliver the result that Ferrari have been threatening all season – certainly a result to build on.

Massa - 11th: Seemed absolutely up for racing today, opening stints he seemed to be overtaking Button and Hamilton and Rosberg, but then following two bad pit stops Felipe suddenly appeared to be scrappy and battling just to keep himself in front of some of the others around him.  A little disappointing.

 

Man of the Race: For me, it can only be Fernando Alonso today.  Battled from 5th to 2nd and eventually ending up 3rd with only 10 seconds behind the winning car today.  Demonstrations of exactly what is expected from Alonso by Ferrari.

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