Archive for June, 2009

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The new iPhone 3G-S Review

June 26, 2009

I am now the proud owner of a white, 32GB 600mhz, iPhone 3G-S and as far as first impressions goes, this phone has blown me away and surely must be setting the bar impossibly high for other products to measure up to.

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It is everything I could have hoped for and more. I can honestly say living in Japan gives me the advantage of having the best mobile phone technology in the world at my fingertips so its curious that this is a gadget made by the same people who gave us the mechanically hideous monstrosities from Chrysler and GM and the artery choking food of McDonald’s and Burger King.

You would think there would be no way they would know how to make anything…good.

And yet, the Americans in question are an altogether more entirely capable breed of people and have for decades broken mold after mold after mold, both socially and industrially.

Apple are, once again onto something massive with the iPhone, just as they were with the iPod and iMacs before it.

Better to call it an iPwn because that is exactly what this phone does. It Pwns the competition.

I didn’t have to wait for the phone for long this morning. Shops all across Tokyo opened up to frenzied shoppers looking to scoop this latest item from Cupertino. I stayed well away from the city centers and stuck to my local shop which had plenty of stock and no lines in which to wait. Only 25 minutes away by train in central Tokyo, all hell was breaking loose.

Go figure…

One of the golden rules to living in Tokyo – Do NOT follow the crowd.

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I had held off getting the first and second generations of iPhone simply because they didn’t impress me enough. 400mhz, no camera or video function, a choice of only 8 or 16GB of space and the bugs that came with it during its initial baptism made me more than a little sceptical.

I try to avoid buying a first gen Apple product simply because I know they haven’t got things completely right and are still working out some bugs that are inherent in first release products. The iPod was no different if you remember.

And that brings us to the 32GB version again, available in only black or white. I stumped for white because i think it has the better looking combination of colours and shades.

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This thing just does it all. I have my iPod synced to iTunes, I have my 3.5 inch screen in vivid colour showing me all the beautifully laid out and easy to see icons representing the different “draws” to this particular digital cupboard – a flick of the finger left or right will take me to a different icons page where I have more icon choices that are easy to understand. I have this design that is smooth, uncluttered, futuristic and totally in the same vein as all of Apples products ; it just works and works so easily. It is anything but bulky; a sleek and slippery shape that catches no edges and is beautiful to look at.

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Navigating through the device is so amazingly easy. I became accustomed to the intuitve interface within the first hour of starting it up. Menus are clear and precise and thoughtfully designed, sub menus are simple and uncomplicated and if you ever find yourself lost, click the button at the bottom. That sends you back to the home screen.

Are phones supposed to be this easy to understand? My old Sharps were tech tour de forces in their own way but I think I only got 40 to 50% out of them at the most. The iPhone? The sky seems to be the limit; especially when you take into account the thousands and thousands of purchasable apps for just about anything and had for as little as a buck and 3 screen touches.

It’s a real revelation to me. I mean, there was no way i was NOT going to get an iPhone but I had no idea how good this one has turned out to be. I told myself when the first gen ihone came out that when Apple released an iPhone that had at least 32Gb, faster processor, video, camera and auto focus abilities I would seriously consider one.

As if to say they heard me, Apple released the 3G-S and in this package all my gripes have been answered.

Well…almost all of them.

The battery is a bit of a let down. Apple just can’t seem to get their batteries right. For example, my generation of MBP had a severe battery problem, so much so that Apple issued a no questions asked replacement of the battery free of charge. The iPod has been plagued by battery dillemas since it’s inception. The iPhone was criticised for its battery life.

Lets face it, A lot of Apple products get criticized for their battery life.

All this Apple ingenuity comes at a price obviously. All the development of the hardware and software bundled with Apple products invariably takes its toll on the power supply and while the batteries of the 17 inch MBP of 2009 are an exception ( Lasting some 7 hours if you believe the reports ), most if not all other Apple products have questions to answer in relation to the battery.

Enough about the battery. If it is that much of a problem, I can buy a solar panel charger to take with me in my bag, my car charger for when I am driving around  and even better; some manufacturers make battery cases that protect AND charge the phone while on the go. Now that is a great idea.

I decided to bundle my iPhone with this Griffin carbon fiber look case as well as a chrome screen protector to aid vanity as well as privacy. The Griffin case is beautiful and has a tight profile – free from an unnecessary angles or snags.

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Now…if only there was a way to keep those annoying greasy slimy marks off the screen so I can see it clearly enough and not have to deposit the grime on my left or right shirt arm…

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F1 Breakaway Is Go!

June 19, 2009

It is actually going to happen!

Everyone should be opening champagne to celebrate this monumental occasion.

In an historic decision Thusday night, the teams that comprise FOTA ( Ferrari, McLaren, Toyota, Red Bull, Torro Rosso, Renault, BMW and Brawn GP ), unanimously agreed to leave F1 and start their own breakaway series.

Never in my wildest dreams did I envision the breakaway was going to become a reality but the reality of it is that people are sick and tired of the politics that have dogged the sport for decades and that includes not just the millions of people that watch the sport worldwide but quite obviously the teams as well.

Anyone worth his F1 salt will know that the puppetmaster FIA and Formula 1 itself was only ever an organization that was ruled by one megalomanical S&M tyrant along with one ringmaster extortionist extraordinaire.

Now, finally, after years of bitter politiking, the sport can resume its natural course where technological innovation is combined with razor sharp drivers to produce a heady mix of television ecstasy. If FOTA can produce even 1/10th of the magic of the 80’s and 90’s then we are all going to be in for a massive treat.

Now that the ringmaster and the whipping boy are toast, the FIA and FOM are left with a bunch of half-baked F3 and GP2 teams with no brand drivers along with a couple of disappointingly mutinous F1 teams that decided FOTA and the new series wasn’t where the grass was going to be greener.

Sadly, Williams is one of them. Force India the other. Both cited contractual obligations and after reading the statements from both teams, one can see the points being addressed and both teams appear to have valid and logical reasons to jump the FOTA ship. Nevertheless, its such a shame to see the big Williams branch absent from the FOTA tree.

Speaking of teams, it struck me as odd that the famous Lola had decided to withdraw its application for the 2010 FIA championship just a couple of days prior to the announcement by FOTA of the breakaway series. It seemed to me at the time that perhaps this was a preemptive move to join FOTA and the new series and this seems to be playing out as I thought it would. Good to see them back in the frame. Two other teams including Dave Richards Prodrive outfit were also left out in the cold by the FIA when the 2010 grid was being chosen and it is likely that we will be hearing more from them in relation to the new series in days, weeks and months to come.

Some incisive commentary from the always informative Martin Brundle

One team who the FIA may attempt to draw and quarter is Ferrari, who the FIA claims has a contract in place that binds the Italian team to the FIA and FOM until 2012. Ferrari on the other hand has stated that the FIA has breached this contract and as such, believe they are no longer legally bound to do anything the FIA tells them to do.

Whatever is the case here, we will undoubtedly be seeing a colossal legal battle take place as Ferrari attempts to wrestle free from the FIA’s grasp. Bernie Ecclestone has also been quoted as saying that if a breakaway were to happen, he would sue for hundreds of millions.

And as posted here on Joe Sawards blog ( Joe is a regular on Grandprix.com ), it seems the FIA legal juggernaut has just fired up its engines…

Regardless of the outcome, this is a day to remember. The 18th of June, 2009 will be remembered for years and years to come as the day the teams that make the sport what it is, decided to stand up, be counted and tell Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone where to shove their series and their tyrannical governance.

This is a collosal development in the sport and one to surely send shockwave after shockwave of attack and counter attack as the teams and the FIA and FOM slug it out to see whats is what and who is who. It will be more a battle of personality than prudence and egos are bound to be shattered.

Breakaway.

Has such a lovely ring to it, wouldn’t you agree?

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The Greatest F1 Battle Ever Filmed

June 13, 2009

I have looked through hundreds of hours of footage and videos of all things motor sport and have yet to come across a battle that brought me to the edge quite like this one between Rene Arnoux and Gilles Villenueve.

In my humble opinion, it is quite simply the finest battle ever to have occurred on track.

Anywhere.

Ever.

The battle between Renault and Ferrari at the French GP was red hot in 1979, Renault introducing a twin turbo 1.5 liter engine while Ferrari stuck with the Flat 12.

If the hairs on every part of your body don’t stand on end while watching this, it is more than likely that motor racing is not your call in life and you should check yourself for a heartbeat.

This video has a decent music mix to go with the imagery:

This one is for the purists among us, complete with Murray Walker commentary:

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Every F1 car Produced from 1950 to 2009

June 12, 2009

This is an updated page of the previous file with the last 5 years of cars added in.

That’s a good thing too because the last 5 years have included some great cars.

Again, its a mammoth file and would make a great A1 size poster so download at your pleasure.

CLICK HERE

Enjoy! đŸ™‚

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Every F1 Car Produced from 1950 to 2004

June 9, 2009

One of the best motor sport posters ever made…

There are 505 cars in this poster.

That is a small scale version.

It is an entire treasure trove of F1 goodness on a single page…

To View the complete massive version as seen above, click in the box below:

( It’s a large file – all 9362×6622 pixels of it – You Have Been Warned!)

AllF1_A0

Enjoy.

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The Best F1 Engine Ever Created

June 8, 2009

In my mind the BMW M12/M13 hand-grenades from the mid 80’s were the best F1 engines ever to be created.

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Take a little look at how the most unhinged engine in all of f1 history started out.

The M10 block, originally designed for BMW by Baron Alex von Falkenhausen in the early 1960’s, was intended and created to be an engine that suited a large variety of applications carrying with it a very long shelf life. Starting out in the humble BMW 1500 and packing all of 60kw, the M10 saw no fewer than 20 years of service and over that 20 years, more than 3.5 million units were produced making it one of the longest serving engine blocks man has ever created.

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The ingenuity behind the block was that, from a starting capacity of 1499cc, it was cast within tolerances that allowed it to be bored out to capacities of up to 1990cc thus making it a very flexible unit, useful in a wide variety of chassis including a large array of specifications for the 1500, 1600, 2002, 3 series and 5 series BMW’s of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The M10 made it all the way from the BMW 1500 of 1961 to the 318i E30 of 1985 before being discontinued.

Winding back a little, in August of 1980, BMW decided to embark on an audacious all out attack for the 1981 F1 World Championship. At that time, few realized just how significant and historic the next few years would turn out to be as Honda, BMW, Ferrari and Renault waged a traction-less, jungle juice fueled, all out war during the “Battle of the Boost”.

Granted, the engines detonated within a few laps but they packed 1300 to 1500 BHP all from an engine displacement of only 1.5 liters. The Turbos they were fitted with were routinely hammered with 50 to 60psi of boost.

That is around 6 bar.

That is not madness. No Spartan could simply ever be that mad!

There is no F1 engine that has ever been able to match or beat this and probably never will…at least not while Mad Max Mosley is around, it won’t.

The M12 / 13 was the most certifiable engine ever created for F1 in a championship filled with utter lunatics.

http://videos.howstuffworks.com/discovery/31678-massive-engines-bmw-m10-turbocharger-video.htm

Gordon Murray, who designed a number of the BMW Brabhams and later, the more well known monster McLaren F1 road car, was quoted as saying he designed the Brabham BMW BT55 F1 cars with 70% of the weight over the rear wheels because there was no way he could get all the power to the ground any other way.

In my mind, Murray’s “arrowhead” BT53 was the more beautiful car in any case but according to those that drove it, an absolute animal to try and drive quick.

They all were.

Unsurprisingly, ramming 50psi of boost through a 1.5 liter block is going to cause some lag issues and sure enough, the BT50 was hampered by huge amounts of it but was still an utter sledgehammer to try and drive F1 quick. It was a real point and shoot car.

By 1983, Brabham, Ecclestone and BMW had worked things out well enough to produce this, the BT52:

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It may as well have been called the B-52 because it absolutely creamed the opposition in some races and bombed in others…

These were only 1.5 liter, 4 cylinder road going BMW engines remember, and if you believe the reports from Bavarian engineers at the time, some of these blocks were apparently being pulled straight out of road cars with over 100,000 kays on the clock. Folklore tells us M10 engine blocks were also reportedly weathered in the rain and urinated on by mechanics prior to becoming 1500 HP banshees.

Now that is a sure fire way to make an engine a modern legend. I would pay good money to see the rice boys lay the same claim on their SR20’s, 1JZ’s and F21’s and still keep a straight face!

Check it out:

http://videos.howstuffworks.com/discovery/31679-massive-engines-bmw-turbo-power-video.htm

How I wish the good old days were today…those days when engine freezes and budget cuts were the trades of anti freeze salesmen and hired thugs on a shoestring budget…

I guess I should point out here that the F1 and BMW influence left a very large and pronounced impression on me as a kid. Not only did we have these ludicrously powerful cars coming to Adelaide every year, on top of this, the old man was a sucker for all things Bavarian Moter Werks. We had 5 of them during the 80’s, the most memorable being an E30 M3 converted to RHD after he imported it back from Germany.

Sadly, this one was stolen and found stripped and torched sometime around my 10th birthday. A tragedy in many senses.

One of my first cars was an BMW E21 320i with an M64 engine. The engine block from this old thing – the same M10 that powered Piquet to the Championship in 1983 and the same block that 1400HP of angry stallions pumped through was also capable of propelling the cars to speeds of up to 350kph and a direct decendant was sitting right under the hood of that old 320i I loved.

Not many engines you can claim to having shared the most powerful F1 pedigree with these days, now is there?

Heck, I wish I had the thing as it was around 1982 – I’d have been a candidate for an engine block for the F1 M12’s and in turn would have made it into the history books!

Just in case you didn’t understand this engines superiority, Gerhard Berger still holds the all time record for the fastest speed ever recorded in an F1 car on circuit at just over 350kph.

Made from a block cast in the 60’s.

As a side of fries to go with your order, it took only 1000RPM for this monster to leap from developing 450BHP to developing 850BHP…all in a matter of a couple of seconds.

I still remember as a kid of only 7, watching the T-visions of Piquet, Fabi and Berger all over the track, struggling to control ~1500BHP. I grew up in the wild wild days of F1, where engines from Honda, Renault and BMW were built to seemingly limitless regulations, a land where boost was your oyster and where cars were sideways everywhere ( and airborne at certain tracks ) at over 300kph…on slicks. In the rain. I will never forget that or how few people perished despite this lunacy. They even came to Adelaide so I could see them up close!

Little wonder then why F1 has left such a massive imprint on me.

I like Nelson Piquet Jr and Nico Rosberg. They are two of the best 20 drivers in the world in 2009 but let’s face it. Old man Nelson Sr. and Keke have infinitely bigger balls that Jr. or Nico ever will.

They drove those unrestricted, boost injected, traction-less BMW and Renault monsters to championship victories. That is a different level of skill altogether right there.

These days, when people “boast” about how much “boost” their Skyline or Supra is running or about how much power their N/A 2 liter twin Cam is developing, or how well they take the corners on their fast and furious NOS’d cruiser, I can’t help but laugh a little on the inside.

These people have no idea.

If only they knew how insignificant their numbers are in the grand scheme of things!

And those people will be the same one’s that tell you that technology from the “old days” is outdated and irrelevant!

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On Your Knees!

June 4, 2009

Just watch it.

It’s almost simply too difficult to believe that 250cc rider Rafaelle De Rosa managed to get out of this one…

The head shake of disbelief confirms De Rosa was thinking the exact same thing.

Now that is skill.

Thanks for the link, Dinovski.