May 182011

As I write this, I am sitting on the sofa watching the F1 race from Monaco, there are about 18 laps to go and unless a car breaks or crashes or some technical problem intervenes then the result is set.

The top ten has been set for something like the last fifty laps.

Initially there was a great deal of ‘fun’ when Alonso, who started in the pit lane, picked off car after car and pulled the same move on several cars, before a safety car session allowed him to jump up the order and create a Ferrari-McLaren-Ferrari sandwich. Given that Alonso is one of the absolute best drivers in the world and he is was in arguably the most expensive cars on the grid he really struggled to get by cars that are several seconds per lap slower. Typically he would catch a car that was five seconds or more up the road in a single lap than spend two laps trying to find his way around it.

The safety car sessions gave Alonso probably as much as thirty seconds back at one time.

Continue reading “Monaco F1” »

Jan 102011

Of the many cultural differences between living in the UK and the US, probably the single biggest difference revolves around belief.

In the UK, belief is very much personal, foisting ones belief onto friends and colleagues is seen as ‘bad form’ and is something that is rarely done. In general this type of behavior is restricted to the more ‘extreme’ groups. Jehovah’s witnesses, Mormons and the minority but vocal ‘Born again’ folks. In general though it is considered to be ‘poor form’ to even discuss your religious stance.

Many English churches are lovely buildings, in the village that I lived in as a teenager, we had a simply beautiful church, it was the center-point of the village and a landmark in many ways. As a family we went to church on an irregular basis, but as far as I can remember, my church attendance, or otherwise in later years, was simply not a subject of any conversation with friends and colleagues. Continue reading “Belief and Cultural Differences.” »

Jan 072011

A Pontiac Vibe last Tuesday

My  MINI Cooper S has been in the bodyshop since some time before Christmas and hopefully I will be back behind the wheel later on today.

My ‘Rental Car’ this time around is a Pontiac Vibe.

The Vibe was a joint venture between Toyota and Pontiac, with Toyota selling the Matrix and Pontiac the Vibe.

A number of years ago we had a Matrix and I loved it. It was roomy, comfortable, economical, practical and it even handled fairly well. It was fast enough to earn me a speeding ticket in Arizona (96mph) and apart from an odd issue with the ignition barrel it was very reliable.  I often regret selling it.

The Pontiac Vibe was the same car. Except it was ‘adjusted’ to make it less Japanese and more appealing to mainstream America. The first version of the Vibe had truly hideous plastic cladding and a roof rack, plus gaudy chrome-look wheel trims. The suspension settings where softened and the ride height increased.

It sold pretty poorly.

The second generation Vibe was less ‘Americanized’ and was the version that I have just spent 1220 miles driving.

First impressions count for a lot. Continue reading “1220 miles in a Pontiac Vibe” »

 Posted by at 6:00 pm
Dec 102010

I recently flew to Kansas on a business trip. Obviously this necessitated a little air travel and obviously this was going to mean a couple of encounters with the TSA.

The plan was to fly out of John Wayne airport in Santa Ana, an airport that is pretty local to me. I arrived in plenty of time for my (really early) flight, grabbed my tickets and headed to security.

OK, let me rewind a tad, prior to embarking on the trip I made sure that I was ‘in compliance’ as far as I could possibly be, no liquids, beyond a couple of items in my toiletries bag, no knives, guns, rocket propelled grenade launchers or nail clippers and very little metal ‘on my persons’. Apart from a Seiko Orange Monster wrist watch. Continue reading “A tale of two security operatives…..” »

 Posted by at 2:25 pm
Dec 092010

Driving to work this morning, channel hopping on the radio, I stumbled across the John Lennon classic ‘Imagine’.

Obviously I started to sing along to it, badly….

Then I realized that the song had been changed and I nearly drove off the road in a rage.

These are the original lyrics from the second verse, I just looked them up….

Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do

No need to kill or die for and no religions too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace

The end of the second line had been changed to ‘…and one religion too’ Continue reading “Imagine changing the lyrics, it’s easy if you try…..” »

 Posted by at 2:58 pm
May 092010

I read with interest an article in which Stephen Hawking expressed concern that any visit from an Alien race may not have peaceful intentions, likening any visitation with the impact that humans have inflicted on each other when colonizing other countries.

Though I hate to disagree, I feel that he may be incorrect in his assumption that any alien race would want to conquer the planet, they may want to ‘show us the way’, which to us, the comparatively primitive race may feel a lot like the North American Indians felt when we educated them regarding Christianity.

However I hope that any advanced race has already gone through a logical next step in terms of evolution and would be a lot more understanding of us than we were when we forced our religion and our culture onto what we considered the ‘savages’.

The logical step that I am talking about is not physical, but mental.

If we are to reach for the stars, as the alien race that Hawking is considering, then we, humanity, needs to work together.

The current ‘mess’ that we are in proves that we are not very good at that. The rich are rich and the poor, well, the poor do not matter.

If we are going to reach for the stars, or just really get much further along as a society, then we need to work as a single population towards those common goals.

This means that we need to look beyond political and religious divisions and do the ‘right thing’, rather than the thing that inconvenience us personally the least.

The state that I live in is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, during the housing boom and the associated spending frenzy the state committed to improving roads, building new buildings and vast amounts of pet projects. This spending is mostly spent now and the state is in a huge budget crisis.

The solution to the crisis is simple, we, as a state, need to balance the expenditure with the income available, plus we need to ensure that we have adequate reserves.

This is incredibly obvious.

Continue reading “The next evolutionary step” »

 Posted by at 3:47 pm
May 042010

Recently I have been wondering about the legacy that we are creating for our children.

The recent oil spill in the Gulf reminded me that the gasoline that I put in my car each week comes from ‘somewhere’, it comes from a hole in the ground that taps into a huge oil ‘pool’. This is a finite resource and that concerns me. Mostly because we tend to not consider that it is finite, precious, limited.

My car manages to travel for about 24 miles on a single (US) gallon of gas. That gallon currently costs me $3.24, I know this because I filled my car up, but generally I take little notice of the costs, it is just built into my budget. That gasoline came from a hole in the ground somewhere.

It used a tiny, tiny percentage of the total amount of oil that is available to the world, but everyone else is filling their vehicles too, at some point that insignificant fill-up is going to have a real impact on the amount left.

The energy that was stored is gone, kind of, it is transferred into heat, electrical power, forward motion and, on part of my commute at least, sound waves in the shape of the B52’s.

Did I waste that energy ?

Did I use it in an efficient way ?

Continue reading “Planet Fret….” »

 Posted by at 5:55 am
Apr 222010

The word ‘geek’ used to be an insult, perhaps it is becoming so again ?

A few days ago I was asked to look at a pair of computers that belong to a’ friend. The two machines are HP’s, an elderly, but still really nicely functional laptop and a fairly new desktop.

Both machines had been used by ‘children’ and as such, they had teenagitis, multiple copies of ‘extorsionware’, out-of-date anti-virus and every ‘free game’ known to man.

In other words, they are a pair of machines that are owned by people that are less than computer savvy.

The laptop was pretty easy to deal with, booting an OEM copy of XP and using the installation codes on the label affixed to the underside had it up and running quickly, hp.com relinquished the drivers for the wi-fi and 18,197 updates later I installed Microsoft’s Security Essentials and all was good. Continue reading “Worst Buys Greek Squid……” »

 Posted by at 4:46 am
Apr 202010

This evening as I made my way home through the ‘rush hour’ traffic, an hour which i feel I need to point out lasts for ‘several hours’ and is completely impossible to rush through, I spotted an extreme Hokey Kokey motorcyclist.

As he pulled up to the (red) traffic lights in front of me he had both feet off the pegs and he sort of dragged his heels for a good twenty yards before finally wobbling almost to a halt a few yards short of the line.  He then accelerated, sort of, by slipping the clutch in what sounded like 5th or 6th gear and almost stalled the bike.

When he finally stopped, still short of the line, he wobbled a little to the left and mashed the back brake (right foot) pedal and stuck his left leg down.

Then he put his right leg down.

And lifted his left leg and mashed the gear lever up and down for a while and found neutral.

So he put his left leg down.

and his right leg up (brake)

and took his hands off the bars.

The engine died with a jolt, it seems that he had a false neutral.

Both hands on bars (both hands in ?)

Clutch and brake pulled

Right leg down

Left leg up, shake and find neutral.

Start motor – both hands in.

Left leg down

Right leg up (brake)

Both arms off (out) and he started the usual bum scratching routine.

The light changed to green. Continue reading “Doin’ the Hokey Kokey” »

 Posted by at 4:06 pm
Apr 142010

My current laptop is a fairly old and beaten PowerBook G4 and recently it has been showing signs of age more than ever. I also have an Acer Aspire One Netbook, that runs ChromiumOS, but this is too small to use for anything beyond uber casual surfing.

Desktop computing is handled by an AMD powered, Quad core machine with lots of memory and plenty of disk space that dual boots Vista (ugh) and Linux.

Having migrated my e-mail, contacts and calender to google services I have little need for a ‘local’ e-mail, just a really good browser and access to my domain’s. Or alternatively a really good e-mail program that copes with imap or exchange services.

Chrome browser support would be great, then I get the plethora of pluggins and bookmarks sync, which is something I never knew I wanted, but now cannot imagine life without.

Battery life is not a huge thing to me, but a decent display is. My Powerbook does 1280×854, more screen real estate would be good, or a decent ‘pinch-to-zoom’ would be cool I guess.

Continue reading “Do I want an iPad ?” »