Archive for May, 2009

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To iPhone or not to iPhone?

May 28, 2009

Well, it’s finally time to upgrade the old beater that has served me well over the past 2 and half years.

I’ve been kinda hooked on Sharp phones since I moved to Japan and have always looked for the models with the best cameras attached.

4 years ago I had the V602SH that was packing at the time a whopping 2MP of camera muscle. This was a serious phone for 2005 ( Same colour too )

After 2 years with that, I went for another Sharp, the 910SH

My old Sharp 910SH 5 megapixel camera phone has taken an absolute beating over the years and it has never put a foot wrong on me. The only thing I have ever had to do is replace the battery a couple of times.


The old 5 Megapixel beater

Now. Everyone is stark raving mad about the iPhone and while I have heard this, that and the other from everyone under the sun about it, I remain less than convinced.

I’m definitely a Mac guy but the iPhone isn’t everything I thought it would be. Lets face it; the camera is crap, has no auto focus even and it doesn’t shoot video. You need to buy every application that is actually half decent enough to be useful and you will fill page after page of crappy apps that you will never even use but have to navigate through to get to the good ones. Not to mention people have suffered technical difficulties, one after the other with the hardware and it only has 16GB’s of space ( As of the time of writing ) and you would be hard pressed to convince certain cynics such as myself to join the bandwagon.

I though Apples corporate ethos was to not be like Microsoft and always package its items with as little bullshit as possible?

The iPhone just doesn’t float my boat. Not yet anyway.

Now. The Sharp 933Sh certainly does!

Due to be released in Japan tomorrow, this camera phone is packing some powerful pocket camera prowess among a host of other things.

When separating the wheat from the chaff, it comes down to this:

  • 10 Megapixel Pro Pix CCD Sensor and LED Flash with face recognition ( a bit of a letdown with it not being a Xenon bulb )
  • 28mm wide angle lens f=5.07mm / 1:2.8
  • ISO 100~12800 ( No more crappy night time shots with this baby! )
  • Continuous AF
  • 16GB of usable Micro SD card space
  • 3.3″ Full wide VGA screen with touch panel controls
  • Digital Television One Seg Tuner with Aquos screen ( 854×480 )
  • Global Roaming capabilities ( A big plus )
  • Felica Pocket wallet capabilities
  • Touch panel screen
  • GPS Navigation
  • Live updates for Blogs and other URL
  • Bluetooth
  • …you get the picture…

I am very fortunate to be living in a country where technology is always on the cutting edges and updated constantly.

I think the 933SH is the bomb and if I buy this thing it will be the third Sharp phone for me and my third phone in Japan. There is basically only one spanner in the works at the moment for me and it comes in the form of the Sony Ericsson Idou. With 12.1 Megapixels on tap the Sony may be packing more than the Sharp.

In any case, and regardless of which phone I stump for,  I have been fortunate enough to have never lost or broken my phones while friends of mine have gone through dozens of them in the same time period.

I think part of that is down to Sharp phones just simply being really damn good products.

The other parts may or may not be alcohol related.

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The Curious Case of Jenson Button

May 26, 2009

He’s done it again for the 5th time this season and was only a whisker away from the trifecta, losing out on the fastest lap to Massa by a mere few hundredths of a second.

Image courtesy of the telegraph.co.uk

Image courtesy of the telegraph.co.uk

Not only did Button stake his firm claim over the rights to the 2009 championship in Monaco, he even managed to sprint 400 metres in joyful exuberance to meet with Prince Albert after enduring what was 2 hours of the toughest racing on the planet – and all because he parked in the wrong spot.

Button thoroughly deserves everything he is winning and no one – least of all me, begrudges him any of the success he is obtaining.

Button’s pole to win in Monaco had WDC stamped all over it and has all but surely sealed everyone apart from his teammate Barrichello’s chances of spoiling the party. Somehow, I highly doubt the Brazilian has the motivation or the mindset to challenge for wins let alone championships and sadly, Rubens looks set to see out the rest of his distinguished F1 career as a rear gunner.

Say goodbye to the lovable Brazilian. I met him twice in 2006 over beers in Suzuka and both times he was quite annoyed at playing second fiddle to a certain German. Nothing but the nationality of his team mate has changed.

Next year Rubens will not be renewed and his place in the team will be taken by Bruno Senna who was given a year in the wings while the other three B’s sorted out the 2009 chassis. No doubt the 2010 chassis will be a cracker too.

In the race, Rubens claimed dirty air was to blame for the graining of his first set of options but Button went on ahead calmly and methodically staved out a gap that was never to be headed. Both Brawns, surprisingly, had started on the option super softs while the majority of the paddock were out on the prime tyre. I have noticed the 2009 Honda (Brawn F1) is surprisingly gentle on its tyres, not to mention very fast and very reliable and that is an ominous sign for the rest of the paddock.

4 wins from 5 races and 3 1-2’s is hugely significant.

This type of domination hasn’t been seen since the Ferrari F2002 and is miraculousness in action considering Brawn GP was nothing but a failed Honda dream that lost all power in 2008. Remember the F2002 took 16 from 20 wins in 2002/03.

The BGP-01 is already 4 from 5 and that is a simply massive thing to contemplate.

The “Power of dreams” in different more capable hands shall we say?

Toyota would do well to take a long hard look at Brawn GP and then sit down and think deeply about why they have failed, time and time and time again.

I have no doubt in my mind that freeing up Brawn from all the beauraucratic idiosyncracies that encapsulate the Japanese auto giant and it’s hard headed, honour and family bound managerial styles counted in a heavy way towards their success this year.

The best thing Honda could have done was to walk away from F1 as a manufacturer and support Brawn with the resurrection.

Honda were not of the mind set to win in F1 because they were stuck in the old ways of doing things and “old ways”, in F1 speak, equal the words slow and failure. The old ways have no business being in the cutting edge of F1.

Old people, yes – just take a look at Bernie Ecclestone and Sir Frank Williams. But not old ideas and old ways of thinking.

If you look into F1 history and reflect upon all of the achievements throughout it you will see F1 champions old and new who drove cars built by a certain team but powered by a Japanese manufacturer. Senna is a perfect example. Chassis by McLaren – Powerplant by Honda.

And it worked. Astonishingly well. The MP4-5, for example, was a revelation that nothing, not even the threat of mechanical failure, could prevent from winning almost every race.

McLaren chassis. Honda power.

This was the way it should be – just like the modern McLaren and Mercedes relationship is.

Mercedes doesn’t tell McLaren how to build a chassis and McLaren doesn’t tell Mercedes how to build an engine!

Someone, somewhere along the lines, forgot to translate this work ethos and idealogy into English for these boys and girls to behold.

Tragically, somewhere along the line, Japan forgot about where its place in F1 was and is now cursing the Gods and themselves…after fluishing billions of dollars down the drain and are now leaving the sport becuase they still cant figure out why they arent winning!

Utter madness.

Aguri Suzukis biggest hurdle and biggest paradox to success in F1 was down to one thing.

Honda.

With them things could be done. Without them, Aguri was toast and he couldnt bite the hands that fed him. When I bumped into him on his way to Melbourne in 2007, he seemed upbeat and resolute but I sensed something wasnt right. That may or may not have been down to me interupting his lunch to say hello!

Nevertheless, the point is clear. Japan cant succeed in F1 as a manufacturer.

Toyota is going to pull out and this has all but been confirmed by Max Mosley and Honda and Super Aguri are already yesterday’s news.

The sport will miss them but not for lack of trying – more for a lack of serious intent.

To sum up, the point is very clear.

Japan can never and will never succeed in any great way in F1 as a manufacturer.

History has shown that their greatest victories have always been won as a partner towards the greater cause.

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Mix Master Will Roegge

May 22, 2009

Will Roegge is a pretty skilled motor sports videographer.

Check out this wicked mix up from the 2009 Formula D round at Long Beach…

This is how vids should be made but I have to question Will’s choice of music. It’s totally fine to use stuff that you like in a video ( I mean, it is his creation ) but that doesnt necessarily mean the music fits nor does it mean the majority will agree.

Anyways, well worth a watch!

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A Very Unsafe Safety Car

May 20, 2009

Amazing how sometimes we forget to check our blindspots and then BAM, there’s an accident.

There is no way the “spatial ability” excuse ( or lack there of ) will hold up this time because the accident in question happened at the 2009 WTCC race at Pao just last weekend and the driver of the safety car in question was most definitely male.

The desperately luckless leader, Franz Engstler, fought his way through the inevitable carnage the starts of these WTCC races bring only to be driven into the wall at high speed by a meandering and inattentive driver of the course safety car.

The safety car came onto the circuit in response to a rash of accidents that littered Pao during the opening lap and as it exited the pits, wandered right over to the middle of  the track and onto the racing line, completely oblivious to the impending collision.

Engstler swerved to the left with cat like reflexes but it wasn’t enough.

The force of the impact obliterated the right front of the BMW, ripping the right front wheel clean out of its arch and launching Engstler air born and into the wall at considerable speed.

Both drivers escaped unhurt.

Only one will have a job next weekend.

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The Hunted.

May 19, 2009

It’s been a while since I have seen a video that, once finished,  left me to check how far down my jaw was hanging. A video that encapsulates all that is pure about racing.

This video delivers it all piping hot.

This video is “A grade” Epic.

It has the unlikely hero wearing American muscle ( not the ones you expect ) going up against the even unlikelier resistance in the form of clinical German efficiency. A special cameo appearance is made by an obviously outgunned and underpowered Italian brute and throughout all the ensuing mayhem, is supported by a host of  brightly colored European and Japanese extras.

Enjoy.

(Best viewed in HQ and with sound right up.)

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F1 Without Ferrari?

May 14, 2009

No such thing is there?

Say goodbye to Formula One and hello to Formula None.

The current machismo posturing being dispayed by Ferrari and the FIA has the sport, yet again, on the brink of collapse. Yes, it is that bad.

Ferrari have threatened to walk away from F1 after this season if the proposed budgetary caps and twin tiered scoring systems are voted in for the 2010 season. Putting the issue beyond doubt was that of Piero Ferrari, son of the great Enzo who stated emphatically that, I know that the decision coming out from the world council is not correct for us and we will fight against it. And we are not joking. We are talking seriously because really and truly Ferrari will not be in the next Championship if they stay with these rules.”

It is not very often that we hear from Piero Ferrari and so this leaves me in no doubt as to Ferrari’s intentions. Adding their voices to the growing choir of ill sentiment toward the regulation changes is Renault and Toyota; both of whom will buck the sport and leave for greener pastures should the changes come into effect.

There has been talk of a breakaway series but there is nothing in place to suggest that will actually materialize. If Ferrari, Toyota and Renault do leave, where will they go? With billions of dollars already invested in infrastructure and contracts signed over driver and sponsorship deals, it wouldn’t really make a lot of sense to suddenly uproot everything that has been established.

The teams know that F1 carries a massive amount of clout as a brand and without it, these teams would have nowhere to race. In reality, the teams need the sport and the sport needs the teams. They have coexisted in a symbiotic  relationship for decades. So why now throw everything away?

The point of it all is very simple – the teams are kicking up a stink and rightfully so. Ferrari again made a good point when he said this:

“It’s like soccer. In Italy we have Internazionale, who are winning, and they spend huge amounts of money for the best players. But in Serie A you also have a team like Catania, who have no money. So do you say to Catania, ‘You can play with 12 players,’ and to Inter, ‘You must play with nine’? It wouldn’t be fair”

Spot on.

The thing is…will the sport really cut off it’s own nose to spite its face?

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Nikko Drift Queen 2009 Video

May 13, 2009

It’s a bit late to be posting this – the event was staged a little while back but what an even it was. The girls were phenomenal drivers and definitely got the boys attention and respect.

Quite a few male chromosomes flowing through them I’d wager…

In the vid is Norio Saito a driver in D1SL and a member of Team Fluke taking me for a skid in his S13. The Silvia was well presented and the green and red colour scheme works. It’s also got the balls to power the chassis as you will see – a well balanced package.