Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ugly Gills = Luxury?

I am baffled by a recent phenomenon in the automotive styling world. It seems non-functional, plastic fender gills are now the price of entry in the luxury market. I first took notice of this trend in the 2000 BMW M3.

The overall styling of the E46 M3 was primarily non-offensive, excluding the cancerous growth on the hood dubbed "the power dome" and the plastic gills on the fenders.

The M3 gills coincided with the BMW Z8, a supercar with super-retro styling sans LSD. I liked the Z8, at the time, and appreciated the styling throw-back to the BMW 507, but why did these plasticy gills end up on the M3 and were they here to stay?

I didn't ask any of these questions at the time, but the E60 BMW M5 introduced in 2005 indicated the gills were here to stay and are now one of the most visible M styling cues.

Unfortunately, gills did not stop at the M5. You can see them on Cadillacs, Jaguars, Range Rovers, Minis and the 2008 M3, complete with holes in the hood, a-la Evo, to complement a larger, more cancerous "Power Dome."

Don't think it stopped with the M3. The new Ford Focus, Pontiac G8 and Hyundai Tiburon also get in on the gill action. The new EVO has upped the ante with this:








and the Lexus IS-F followed suit:









Where did this trend start? Why did it start and when will it end?

Origins
The 1956 BMW 507 is one of the first cars with this style gill I can put my finger on. I am sure there may have been others, but you can trace the BMW Z8 and future gills back to this car. It really compliments this car and doesn't seem like the plastic add-ons of today's cars.


Modern Day
The 1987 Buick GNX is the first modern car I can remember with the plastic side gills. I take them at their word that these gills were needed for cooling the engine compartment due to the turbo.




What's Next?
Now that everybody, including Ford & Hyundai, have copied the gill treatment, how long will these unsightly blemishes grace the luxury car market?

Beyond VLOOKUP: OFFSET + MATCH = Insanity!

OK, so you are comfortable with VLOOKUP, but tired of counting columns to point the function to the data you are interested in. Wouldn't it be great to have the formula do the leg work and find the # of Columns or Rows to where your data lies?

I have the perfect formula for you, OFFSET. This formula allows you to set a reference cell and find data Relative to that cell.

We are using the same data set from the VLOOKUP example. Imagine we are tired of counting how many columns there are between Outlet and 1st Quarter Sales. We tell OFFSET to use Cell A6 as a reference. OFFSET will ask for the # of ROWS and COLUMNS to move from this reference cell.

Instead of simply counting the # of rows and columns, we embed the MATCH formula into OFFSET. MATCH is very simple and simply finds a cell the matches the data you input. In this example, we need to use the Outlet data to determine how many rows from the Reference cell to travel. Notice that the array we use with the MATCH function does not include any data. OFFSET only needs the number of ROWS we want it to move. The Outlet data is in Cells $A$7:$A$14. NOTE: Do NOT include your OFFSET Reference cell in the MATCH lookup_array. Use the number 0 for your match type. Using 0 will direct MATCH to find EXACTLY what you are looking for, just like FALSE in the VLOOKUP formula.

Repeat the above with another MATCH statement with the variable you are looking for, in this case, 1st Quarter Sales. This value must be EXACTLY as it is in your data array. I STRONGLY recommend copying this value from your data into your output sheet to assure you are looking for something MATCH will Identify. (Many raw data sets contain hidden spaces after the text).

I Would Like To Teach the World VLOOKUP!

If I could impart one piece of wisdom to members of the corporate rat race it would be: Use VLOOKUP! I see minions hunched over their keyboards cutting and pasting or WORSE, Inputting data by HAND! This is 2008 and we need to let technology do the work for us, not the other way around!

VLOOKUP is the simplest way to quickly grab data out of a large data set. Its uses are truly endless, but a typcial corporate exmaple would be the catch phrase, "REPORTING."

The Example to the left contains a list of Retail outlets identified by a 5 digit code typical of most raw data in a corporate environment.

How to Use Vlookup:

1. Lookup_Value: You want to return a specific value from a list of data. In this example, you must indicate which retail outlet you are concerned with. You hardcode 23165 in cell A3.

2. Table_Array: This is the raw data. The number (or text) you are searching for MUST be in the first column of this array. In our example, the Outlet is what we are searching for and it is in column A. CAREFUL if your list contains numbers, make sure they are not a number stored as text. You simply need to reformat the cells as numbers to overcome this issue.

3. Col_Index: VLOOKUP will VERTICALLY search the first column of your Table_Array to find the value you are searching for. Excel defines the first column as column 1. If you indicate 1 for the Col_Index, VLOOKUP will return the value you are searching for IF it is actually in the list you are searching. In this example, we want to find the 1st Quarter Sales which are in column 4.

4. [Range_Lookup] When in doubt, specify FALSE. I would go one step further and say ALWAYS use FALSE. This value tells VLOOKUP if you want to find an exact match in the Table_Array, or just something that approximates what you are searching for. If you use FALSE and the Table_Array does not contain the value you are searching for, VLOOKUP returns an Error. If you use TRUE and the value is not in the data, VLOOKUP may find a value similar to what you are looking for and return that corresponding value. In other words, there are few, if any times the average Excel user would want to use TRUE.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Unforgetable Videos: RUF Yellowbird CTR Nürburgring

The Ken Block post below reminded me of the first time I saw the RUF Porsche "drift" around the Nürburgring Nordschleife. I had started a painful career of weekend autocrosses with the BMW club. I took my 1986 190E 2.3-16V to the football stadium fairly regularly to prove I didn't have what it took to be successful on a temporary cone course in a parking lot.

I met Dan Tackett, driving instructor extraordinaire of the BMW CCA. He had been an instructor at the annual Nürburgring driving school for many years. I knew of the Nürburgring and was very interested to combine a trip to Europe with a visit to the Mecca of all things automotive.

Before the trip, he showed me many videos of him attacking the 'Ring, passing Sport Bikes, Porsches and pretty much everything else you can imagine. The last video I saw was this:



An unbelievable and almost unparalleled example of car control. Not out for speed, but out for drama. This was well before the drifting craze and really had an impact on me. The first car magazine I ever bought was a copy of 1987's Road & Track World's Fastest Car. The RUF CTR, known as Yellowbird, was one of the cars tested and probably the fastest. (I can't believe I have actually forgotten).

Is there anything Ken Block can't do?


Twenty-four hours ago, I had not heard of Ken Block. Then I saw this video:



This gymkhana video is one of those life changing events where you promise yourself, "One day, I WILL DRIVE a rally car." To this day, the most exciting street going experience I have ever had was in an Evolution IX MR. I love that car and can not imagine how much fun it would be on dirt or and abandoned airfield! There are a couple rally schools on the East Coast (FL and New England). I would like to hear from someone who has been to one of those schools.

Then I remember I saw this guy get 2nd at X-Games XIII in 2007! I posted these pics & video in one of my first blog posts.

I own a couple items of DC shoes apparel, but picked them up by chance at Ross.

KEN BLOCK is involved with everything. He is a co-founder of DC shoes, a Rally driver and probably playing an important role in Obama's transition team. If this guy is an investment genius, he could give my all-time hero, Jim Rogers, a run for his money!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

BMW's Performance Steering Wheel- Unnecessary but Cool. Kind of...


I recently stumbled across this piece of kit: The BMW Performance Steering Wheel

Unfortunately, there is a small part of me that would like to play out the role of Robert Kubica and have this thing in my M3. Why? I already have a pretty good command of shifting prior to redline. I have a stopwatch on my OBC. Here is the Wheel in action:

I really don't know what to say about this thing. It costs over $1,000. Doesn't make your car any faster, and is most likely a pain in the ass to install. It definitely falls into the all show and no go category.

Well, the Alcantara grips would be nice, and who doesn't need an extra gadget in their car to take their mind off driving?

I am just sad to see BMW straying further from their brand identity of The Ultimate Driving Machine. This Steering wheel is cool, but it doesn't DO anything. It seems like BMW is all about show these days. Whether it is 300+ hp cars (show) without LSD's to handle the go, or the universally hated iDrive interface. It seems like Chris Bangel has been such a distraction at the company when they started flame surfacing that they have forgotten how to kick ass.

Don't get me wrong. The 335i still seems to be far above its competion (aside from the G37 which I have not had the opportunity to drive). BUT the G37 comes with an LSD and that is not even an option on the 335i. Unfortunately, I don't think three quarters of today's BMW driver's even know what an LSD is, nor would they be willing to shell out $500-$1000 for the option. They are more interested in getting the vinyl interior so they can make the monthly lease payment... Are those days over with today's economy?

Car Alarms, Really??


A typical day begins around 5:30AM with my neighbor's dog barking, I wake up and eventually drift back to sleep. The dog will bark several more times and THEN the car alarm goes off. I get up, shower, dress and head out to the garage. I get in my car, still a bit groggy and turn the ignition. My car roars to life and another car in my apartment's garage starts blaring its horn. This happens every morning all three cars are in the garage. (Acoustics seem to prevent it from happening if only the alarm car and my car are in the garage. My car does not really roar to life as it has a stock exhaust and is not an Nissan G37 or 350Z.)

Why, in this day and age of cell phones, GPS and Obama, do I have to put up with this noise pollution? It wouldn't be nearly as bad if the owners felt a wave of embarrassment flow over them as they scrambled to shut the alarm off as quickly as possible. They don't. They never do. They JUST DON'T CARE. AND they don't seem to be in complete control of their thief deterring system. I repeatedly hear the woman across the street activate and de-activate her alarm several times in sucession

I am flummoxed that in this day and age of noise restrictions for motorcycles and everything else, I still have to listen to car alarms. I want change! Obama, please ticket owners with offending car alarms! Well, I guess I should ask my Beach Community for change before Obama...(note the Drudge Report flashing light!)

Saturn V Rocket Turns 41!

I stumbled upon this post today about the anniversary of the rocket that took the US to the moon. This find derailed my productive morning and sent me straight to the YouTube to find more clips of the Saturn V in action. I also poked around Wikipedia and learned more about the program:

Apollo IV was the first Saturn V flight- "Gus" Grissom, Ed White and Roger B. Chaffee were all killed during a test that was later re-named Apollo I. Purdue has buildings named after Grissom and Chaffee.

Apollo XI- The first Moon Mission:


Fantastic High Speed Camera Footage:


Real-Time Footage from the gantry:


Apollo XII- Was hit by lightening after lift-off. Here is a video of the firepit:


Skylab 1- Mission using the Saturn V to put Skylab into orbit. I remember going to see the back-up Skylab in the Smithsonian Air & Space museum.

Soviet N1- The Soviets couldn't get their moon mission off the ground (literally). They built an N1 rocket that was far more powerful than the Saturn V, but had trouble getting all 30 rocket engines to work together. They had four launches and all four ended in an explosion shortly after launch. Here is an interesting video of the N1:




I remember watching the first Space Shuttle launch on TV as well as the shock of hearing about the Challenger disaster while I was at school during a library trip. I have always been in awe of the space program and what it took to build these rockets. NASA and the space program is probably a large part of what interested me in engineering as a child (unfortunately, it did nothing to keep me interested in engineering).

It is amazing all 13 Saturn V missions were successful. The Space Shuttle has shown us how dangerous manned space travel is to this day.

It's What I Like: Warm Nuts in Business Class

OK, I am not really sure what this book is about, but I am here to tell you how much I love the warm nuts in Business class. I was a very accomplished traveler before I had the opportunity to experience Business class during a trip Japan a couple years ago. The seats are nice and the food is palatable, but the unexpected: A ceramic cup of warm, salty nuts?? Who thought this one up? It sounds as if I am just throwing the innuendos around, but I am serious!

Did the same mind that brought us Clamato think up warm nuts(encourage you to click the Clamato link as it has an exciting Latin theme song and possibly its own dance)?

A more important question, Now that I have had warm nuts, how can I ever go back to room temperature nuts? Bars just aren't the same these days.

Monday, November 3, 2008

DC, Thanks for the Memories

David Coulthard, F1's fourth highest points earner behind Senna, Prost & Schumacher retired this weekend in a wild Brazilian Grand Prix. He showed a few sparks of greatness at Red Bull, but I will always remember him at McLaren, paired with Mika Häkkinen.

He was one of the only drivers of his era to take the fight to Schumacher, as shown in this 2000 French GP video:



Coulthard had the coolest name, helmet and accent on the F1 grid throughout his career. He was my favorite driver for a number of years and I always hoped he would be able to win the World Championship.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

ROCK THE VOTE: Slingbox for Android, NOW!



I imagine you were as shocked as I was that Google didn't take the bull by the horns and come out swinging with its Android App Market. What better way to arrive on the scene than offer something Apple has put the kibosh on? Apple likely sees Slingbox as a threat to Apple TV or their rumored DVR efforts.

Sling has already shown a "Proof of Concept" at the WWDC (well actually in a back alley next to a Starbucks).


The question is, Why wouldn't Google "encourage" Sling to come to the Android platform?

Enough with the speculation, Tell Sling yourselves! Vote on their feedback forum. There are currently only 12 votes for Android versus 228 for iPhone. Make a difference! ROCK THE VOTE!
11/19/08 Update: There are now 255 votes for SlingPlayer on the Android platform! It is the 3rd ranked idea! Sling has yet to review the idea, but I did have a visit today from an IP inside Google Corp! Hopefully they will push Sling into action!

11/3/08 Update: You have moved the needle! There are currently 84 votes on the Sling feedback forum for Android support. They have not started to review the idea, but it is the #6 idea and has been the top "hot" idea for the past couple days. Sling.com is still in beta and will launch soon. Please keep voting for Android Slingbox support. If you have a beta account, please login when you vote.

THANKS!

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's What I Like: Swiss Trains

Heading back to the land of Ricola, I highlight another item of Swiss culture that I really like, their Trains. We all heard that up till the reunification, you could set your watch by the German trains. Then we heard how Japan's trains are run like Germany's trains used to be. Well, I have to tell you, after riding Swiss trains for a few days, there is no equal.

The schedules are all interlinked like a giant, well-oiled jigsaw puzzle. Connections are very easy to make and there isn't the annoyance of somebody committing hara-kiri when you are trying to make it to your important meeting.

On top of running like clock-work, the trains themselves look phenomenal. They look like the Brio toys all the boys want when they are little. The locomotives were actually designed by the Italian firm, Pininfarina, yeah, the one that designs Ferraris!

Palm: So Far Ahead of Its Time, It Still Hasn't Caught Up

Is there really anything more annoying than an iPhone owner trying to tell you how the iPhone is the end-all-be-all of handheld technology? I long for the days I only had to deal with clowns with Windows Mobile. Those jackals were always trying to tell me how they could use/modify/create REAL Microsoft Docs on their feeble machines. Today, iPhone still does not have the capability to work with native MS Documents, but iPhone owners are still confident in thier phone's superiority.

Before I go any further, let me make it clear that I REALLY want an iPhone, I just can't make the switch from my Treo 700P until some basics are taken care of:

Sling Player- What good is that beautiful screen if I can't watch my TV on it? I can already tap into my home DVR with the crappy screen on my Palm 700P. Why should I give this up to move to the iPhone?

Lotus Notes- Apparently there is now a web enabled client to sync Lotus Notes. I know, I know, nobody uses Lotus, that is except my fabulous employer.

MS Office- I need native files on my device. Why you might ask when the fantastic Mobileme stores all your stuff in the cloud? Well, while I am flying through actual clouds on an airliner, I tend to have the majority of my great ideas and, at this point, there isn't reliable WiFi coverage in the friendly skies. (This is an easier arugment than telling Windows Mobile clowns how superior Documents to Go is, they never got it)

Turn By Turn GPS- Caught me, my 700P doesn't actually have this, although I am sure it could be retrofitted to do so. I wan Garmin, Tom Tom or Magellen to step up to the App Store and kick Jobs in the nuts and make a great turn by turn nav app.

14,659 California Cell Phone Tickets- MORE PLEASE!

There are very few times I will call for more government regulation but I have a hard time believing this story stating almost 15,000 citations have been issued by the CHP alone since the July 1st ban on driving and using a mobile without a hands free device. I can count at least half a dozen clowns chatting away during my daily commute.

The penalty is not nearly high enough. It should be on the order of $200 versus the slap on the wrist of $20. The cops should have a good time enforcing it as well. As Adam Carolla likes to point out, they are always more than willing to issue fix-it tickets for the lack of a front plate or removal of window tinting. Several motorcycle cops ought to be able to rack up dozens of tickets in a couple hours. The "take" needs to be higher to incentivize cops to target this to work towards their monthly ticket incentive.

I am tired of hearing from jackals that claim its not holding the phone that is dangerous, it is the distraction of talking while driving. I won't argue with this statement, but don't you think if someone is that distracted by talking on the phone, lets give everyone involved a better chance of dealing with accident avoidance by having both hands on the wheel?

CHP, get to work!

Blogging: 1 Year On

Well, It has been almost 13 months since I started Wear & Tear. I am shocked that I haven't been "discovered" and made a web celebrity. What have I learned over the past year?

  • The Internet's a big place- Don't expect people to stumble upon your posts unless you actively market yourself, or write about the hottest topics of the day.
  • Trackpoints- People apparently see the light and want Trackpoints for their Macs. I have actually lost interest in Macs since writing about them last August. That Trackpoint posting has been far and away the most viewed & commented on post on this blog. I actually did point to my posting on several other sites and it is a pretty easy to drive traffic if you really want it.
  • DVORAK- I am a now a proficient DVORAK typist. I am not sure if I have fully returned to the speed I had with the QWERTY keyboard, but I am close and I don't think I make as many mistakes as I used to. Would I recomend making the switch? It depends. I love DVORAK on my home and business computer, but am very frustrated when I show people how to do things on their QWERTY keyboard. At this point I am focusing all effort on DVORAK so I don't go back and forth and I have essentially lost all memory of QWERTY aside from using my Treo keypad (remember, I hate the Treo keypad so I am likely to use Graffiti input.
  • Google Street View- My photo captures from Google street view are popular with the Euros... Some spend 10's of minutes laughing and laughing at the kid falling off his bike, or the wrecked Mercedes.
  • Abarth- The logo I have posted for Abarth gets almost as many hits as anything else.
I really enjoy putting thoughts up here and I am going to try to do it more frequently.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Slingbox - iPhone: What's the Story?

Back in June at the WWDC encouraging stories about a Slingplayer client for the iPhone popped up all over the net.

Eventually, there was a cryptic post on several of the stories to meet some guy behind a Starbucks for a Slingplayer demo on a jail broken phone. That craziness led to this demo video.



Since this video was posted, the Slingbox - iPhone news has gone quiet. I contacted their support people yesterday and was told there were no plans to develop an iPhone client. I was taking care of a registration issue I had with my Treo 700P and thought I would see if they had any good news.

A quick check of the SlingMedia career section indicates they are indeed looking for a developer for an iPhone client.
Will Apple let them play in the App store? Does it matter? Wouldn't you jailbreak your iPhone for Sling Player?

It's What I Like: Manual Transmissions


Three pedals. I have to have them. SST, SMG II, DCT, DSG, while mostly amazing (aside from the SMG) they just don't give me what I want, interaction.

I LOVE heel toe downshifting. I learned to do it on my first car, a 1981 RX-7. I have been doing it ever since. Some people mistake rev-matching as being hard on the car, but it is actually much easier on the transmission than dumping the clutch while braking.

I have driven SMG & DSG cars and I have to say I am intrigued by the DSG, but don't think I could live without a clutch on a day-to-day basis after the dual clutch novelty wore off. I have heard the EVO X's SST is so good, you don't even need to use the paddles to shift. I missed the opportunity to drive one, but I still can't see myself without a clutch for more than a day.

Check out this Best Motoring clip with the Drift King rowing through the gears on the race track in an AE86!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Society for Architectural Insignificance: Frank Gehry


After decades of mediocre projects such as the mall at the 3rd street Promenade and his private residence in Santa Monica, Frank Gehry finally has his breakthrough "success" at Bilbao, Spain in 1997. It seems we are stuck with this iteration of his work from here to the end of his career as his work since 1997 has essentially been a re-gurgitation of Bilbao.

The EMP in Seattle is a poster child for the Society for Architectural Insignificance. Situated at the base of the mighty Seattle Space Needle, EMP embodies all that is wrong with modern architecture.
  1. It looks just like all of Gehry's other crumpled up metal buildings.
  2. Somebody thought it would be cool to take a torch to it to change the color of the metal skin.
  3. By most accounts, the EMP is a financial failure
Wikipedia points out the following criticisms of Gehry's work:
  • The buildings waste structural resources by creating functionless forms
  • The buildings are apparently designed without researching the local climate
  • The spectacle of a building often overwhelms its intended use (especially in the case of museums and arenas)
  • The buildings do not seem to belong in their surroundings "organically"
Gehry admitted during a TED Talk interview that Bilbao was his first design that did not leak. He isn't pushing construction techniques for any purpose other than being avant garde. Enough!


I have to admit I do like:

The Dancing House in Prague
Gehry Tower in Hannover
Der Neue Zollhof


Photo Source

12/1/08 UPDATE: I am not the only person that is not impressed by Gehry's mediocrity!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's What I Like: Ricola

This is another new series I thought up during my recent trip to Europe. Instead of complaining about things, I am going to dig really deep to unearth things I enjoy. The first in this series is Ricola cough drops. I have tried several brands of cough drops and syrup over the years and Ricola are the only things that work, EVERY time. I would have probably tried them sooner if they weren't always featured on The Price is Right. Who would have known a product struggling so much for attention that they would stoop to be on TPIR would be any good?

After visiting Switzerland, two things become apparent:
  1. It is no surprise the drops work, as everything in CH seems to work as advertised and the trains are never late.
  2. The Swiss would obviously be attracted to The Price is Right as a serious marketing outlet.
If you haven't given Ricola a try, I encourage you to do so. Don't stray from their original flavor though, the other flavors are not great and I am not sure that they work as well as original.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Society for Architectural Insignificance: The Space Needle

I am starting a new feature on my blog, the Society for Architectural Insignificance. I will feature insignificant eyesores, public boondoggles and other annoying architecture. To start this series, I will focus on a structure that I am very passionate about, the Seattle Space Needle.



Built for the 1962 World's Fair, the Space Needle rocketed on to the world architectural scene at a dizzying height of 605 feet. This pales in comparison to the free standing tour-de-force, the Eiffel Tower, which stands 1,063 feet, built in 1889.

The Needle's short stature combined with it's "The Future is Now" design make me question why it is arguably the most recognizable feature of Seattle.



The Seattle Space Needle is Insignificant Because:


  • It is an eyesore standing slightly taller than half the height of a French structure that was built 73 years earlier
  • The Needle's marketing crew created this retro-futuristic logo:


  • It has a rotating restaurant (It used to have TWO rotating restaurants)

Friday, August 8, 2008

United et al. Please Listen!


1. Since we now live in a day and age where we have to pay for meals in Economy Class, please place the description of the meals on either the front or back cover OR on page 10 in EVERY magazine. I am so tired of the clown who has never set foot on a plane asking the flight attendant what is in each snack box or if they carry Mountain Dew only to have them rifle through the latest issue of Hemispheres magazine to determine what page this semi-literate traveler needs to read.

2. While we are talking about snack boxes, PLEASE adopt a numbering system. Some people are color blind, but you don't even refer to the meals by color, you have applied cutesy Marketing-speak. Right Bite, Easy Rider, Etc... NUMBERS PLEASE!

3. Baggage Carousels- A two parter
A. Please place a simple arrow on the conveyor belt to indicate which way the luggage will travel. This helps position those in line that like to pounce on their luggage immediately.

B. Install simple posts or other impediments on the floor to prevent every jackal with a luggage cart from pulling right up to the carousel. These people need to chill out and leave the cart 7 feet away from the carousel to allow travel savvy passengers to quickly grab their bags and leave the airport. European airports seem to have this down. You would think their inhabitants would be smarter than to crowd the area, alas, many Americans travel, so the anti- cart barriers have been erected and they do their job well.

And Finally, the elitest in me that has been forced to travel to Dallas on numerous occasions would like United to mark the frequent flier line in LAX! I am tired of getting the stink eye from other passengers when I stand in the line off to the left. Also, fill in the crack security guards about the line too. They like to heckle you when you stand there. (TSA is on board and recognizes the line.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

WTF? North Carolina Cracking down on Creative Plates


I could not believe it when I saw this plate in front of me on my commute to work. It brought a smile to my face and made the drive more enjoyable. My mom couldn't figure out its meaning but apparently North Carolina has caught on.

Microsoft=#@&!!, How does this make Steve Ballmer Feel?

Mini uses the Microsoft Windows logo as a curse! This is fantastic and I don't know why it hasn't gotten more play. Thanks to kremer.com for finding this jewel. The logo is still on the Mini site, press the pic for the link.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Congratulations BMW Sauber F1! BMW Wins Montreal


BMW Returned to the top step of the pinnacle of motor racing today at the Canadian GP. Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld scored an impressive 1-2 for the team in an eventful race.

Lewis Hamilton handed his friend from GP2 the win when he speared Kimi Raikkonen at the pit out when the lights were still red. Lewis showed Schumacher-esque car control and cunning by maintaining just enough control of his car to avoid hitting Kubica, but keenly eliminating his main Championship rival from the race.

The Canadian racetrack literally came apart during qualification and the running of the race. It seems only one running of the 3500 lb NASCAR series in 2007 was enough to severely damage it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hungarians Don't Like Microsoft



I don't know what this guy was complaining about, pirating seems to be fairly common in Hungary. I bet this guy was named Ferenc!

New Jawbone/SAME BLUETOOTH

I just picked up my New Jawbone headset yesterday. I was so excited because I was happy with my old Jawbone and was positive the new one would be so much better.

The verdict is in. Bluetooth in general sucks. I used to believe my parents when they said the sound quality was as good as the phone itself, but I have had so many complaints recently, I no longer believe this. They are my parents, and they are just trying to reinforce my purchase decision, just like when you have a booger in your nose, I wish I had known the bitter truth long ago.

As far as the New Jawbone is concerned it is better in almost every way except sound performance. Hell, the packaging is even easier to open (no rubber band holding the headset in the hard plastic case). I have to say the designers really listened to user complaints on the old model.

Size: Its smaller. Smaller is better for almost all electronics

Buttons: The original had many complaints that the buttons were hard to locate and push. This model has buttons in the same location, but they are very easy to push.

Fit: The original felt like some kind of medieval ear torture device if you used the ear loop. If you didn't use the ear loop, you bought Jabra ear gels and modded your Jawbone. Once "modded" you enjoyed a comfortable fit for several minutes while you waited for it to eventually fall out at a dangerous time while you were driving.

The new device is MUCH more comfortable with the loop. The small size makes it much less intrusive. I am not sure the layout of the rubber ear piece lends itself to removing the loop and using the Jabra eargels, but I will look into it.

Operation: For some reason, double clicking the main button does not redial the last call. I am not sure why and may be forced to read the instructions! This is inconvenient as battles with my Treo often leave me dropping calls and I need a quick way to redial.

Charger: The original had pins that bent due to normal use. I had to use a rubber band to hold the charger to the headset with enough force to make contact on the old one. These problems have been elegantly eliminated with the new design.

Sound Quality:
Identical to the original. Sorry to burst your bubble, but I have switched between the two on calls and the person I am speaking with can not tell a difference with the NoiseAssassin technology. All callers are amused by the NoiseAssassin moniker & that is definitely a plus.

Availability: This headset appears to be as popular as the last one and availability is tight. I had to call/visit 3 AT&T stores before securing one on 5/19 (Jean (pronounced John) in the 8471 Beverly Blvd ATT store is a tool, I drove 50 miles round trip to pick up the headset he was "holding" for me)


Note:
I used the new Jawbone with my Palm Treo 700P, a phone notorious for not playing nice with Bluetooth devices.

Another Time Lapse Video

The cell phone video reminded me of this video. I wanted to post it a couple months ago, but I forgot about it. Pretty cool.

Morphing Cell Phones

Great condensed history of the cell phone. They seem to have missed the phone that was removed from our 1975 240D when we bought it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Gasoline Catching up to Coca Cola


Americans love to complain about gas prices and they have plenty to complain about these days. The national average for a gallon of regular gas is now $3.79 according to the Lunderg Survey.

A 20 ounce bottle of Coke typically costs $1 in a vending machine or a gas station. There are 128 ounces/gallon. That puts a gallon of Coke at $6.40. If you by the 2 liter containers @ $1 that go flat after one use, you are looking at $1.90/Gallon of Coke.

It seems we are either getting a great deal on gas, or paying too much for sugar water. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Grocery Store Rules of Engagement

During these trying times of political turmoil, can we come together as a country to define proper check-out lane etiquette?

I am sick and tired of being glared at when I don't invade someone's personal space, push them aside, and grab the rubber divider so the clerk will stop scanning items like an automaton after the 30th bottle of baby food and then reach for my case of Hefeweizen and a box of cereal. I have a look about me that exudes cereal and beer and I am confident the clerk will pick up on these traits.

If you are someone that needs the extra security a rubber check-out divider provides, it is solely your responsibility to locate and position said divider. Don't glare at me when I nonchalantly place my gallon of milk on the conveyor without a divider. I fully understand the risks involved.

So America, Remember, It is your responsibility to place the divider in front OR behind you.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Audi's Desperate Product Placement

Ok, so all the mainstream comic books have already been made into moderately successful franchises (Batman, Spiderman and Superman). Then came the lesser known properties from Marvel's stable (Ghostrider, Some guy with a target on his forhead, the Fantastic Four, etc)

Now the basement of Marvel has been mined for another script to be made into a semi-successful "blockbuster".

Audi decided to pony-up big time for the long build-up to the movie that started with a Superbowl ad that briefly shows an R8 in Ironman's garage that is filled to the brim with exotics.

The R8 is an incredibly beautiful and rare car that does not need to be marginalized by an appearance in a crappy comic book movie. Hopefully they are contractually protected if Robert Downey Jr. decides to have another meltdown before this film opens.

Edit: I just discovered Jon Favreau directed Ironman. I loved Swingers & Made and hope the film does well for him although I am still over Marvel live action movies...

Google Streetview Keeps the Comedy Rolling

First there was the Mercedes crash, then the dumpy house, now there are multiple car crashes and now this kid falling off his bike. Streetview is Hillarious!

Portishead, Why all the hype?


I am SO over Portishead these days. Ok, ok, they are back together after a long hiatus, BUT were they ever a real force to begin with? I bought Dummy back in the day, but Portishead re-uniting to play in the desert for a bunch of hippies is not NPR/LAist/KROQ worthy.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Do you smell what Barack is cooking?

Its a sad state of affairs when the president is reduced to pandering for approval by appearing on "Deal or no Deal." But it is even worse when the candidates appeal to the country's lowest common denominator by taping messages for professional wrestling.

Here is what the future leader(s) of the free world had to say to the sub-NASCAR constituency. I wonder if Hillary thought of anymore sniper stories after working with the writers in pro-wrastling?




"Tonight, in honor of the WWE, you can call me Hillrod. This election is starting to feel a lot like `King of the Ring.' The only difference? The last man standing may just be a woman."



"To the special interests who've been setting the agenda in Washington for too long and to all the forces of division and distraction that has stopped us from making progress, for the American people, I've got one question: Do you smell what Barack is cooking?"


"Looks like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want to celebrate their differences in the ring," Well, that's fine with me, but let me tell you: If you want to be the man, you have to beat the man. Come November, it'll be game over. And whatcha gonna do when John McCain and all his McCainiacs run wild on you?"

Thursday, April 17, 2008

SWPL: Stuff White People Like


This post has been a long time coming and it will struggle to live up to expectations. S-train made me aware of the amazing blog, Stuff White People Like it is an amazing blog with spot-on observations and sound write-ups.

During the days that followed our discovery of this blog, we compiled an addendum to the list that the site is more than welcome to borrow from. My Dvorak slowed typing will not allow me to make write-ups at this time, but I intend to re-visit some of these topics in the future.

  1. Seattle
  2. Collaboration
  3. Zoos/Synthetic Natural Habitats
  4. Dinner Cruises
  5. Pontoon Boats
  6. Wine Country
  7. Pug Dog mixes*
  8. Winter Sports
  9. Birkenstock's
  10. Vintage Cars
  11. the Cosby's
  12. Consumer Reports
  13. Antiques Roadshow
  14. Cheese
  15. NCAA Brackets
  16. NBC Thursday TV
  17. Office Pools
  18. Hard Rock Cafe
  19. ipod covers
  20. Digital Cameras- Especially talking about deleting less than desirable photos but in actuality saving EVERYTHING
  21. Vinyl (records)
  22. Nice names for the bathroom
  23. Trader Joe's
  24. Stocks
  25. Balsamic Vinegar
  26. Travel Woes- Delays, Overbooking, etc
  27. Not Using Vacation-Specific to Americans
  28. Jet Lag
  29. Mediocre restaurants
  30. Chinese Characters
  31. Swedish Pop Bands
  32. Convertibles
  33. John Hughes Movies
  34. Up and Coming Eastern European Cities (Prague & Budapest)
  35. Ray Bans/Maui Jim Sunglasses
  36. Fast Food with a Small Diet Coke as a Justification
  37. Real Estate
  38. Catalina Island

Fashion Tip #1


This one is so straight forward, I hesitate to even mention it. Ladies, men think your expensive Louis Vuitton bags look like crap. There really isn't a way to sugar coat this. All men are shocked to discover that tired looking, dingy dark brown bag wasn't a gift from your grandma that you really are ashamed of but love your nanee too much to throw it out.


Understand there are no men that you are into that think that thing is attractive. If they knew how much you paid for it, they would start fantasizing about the PS3 WITH Grand Theft Auto they would have spent the money on.

The only men impressed are probably the gay designers that dream that crap up and pass it off to you... I hope this image is a fake!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Great Plate!


Some Aussie slipped this one by the California DMV, Mate!

Customer Service: Phone Call Time Wasters


Does anybody still input ID numbers when prompted during customer service calls? Remember some of the excuses they would give after you had entered your 16 digit credit card # only to be asked to repeat it when you finally get to a live person?

My favorites:
  • The system must be down today
  • I lost that screen
What are some of your favorites?

I Live in a Stupid City! 3 murders & 12 Shootings During MLK Murder ban


To mark the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's death, local geniuses Earl Ofari Hutchinson and Eddie Jones proposed a 40-hour "ban" on murder. I'm not kidding. Eventually, common sense won out in a 13-0 vote for a resolution that adopted a kinder, gentler condemnation of violence. (still not kidding)

If I am not mistaken, murder is already a relatively serious crime that usually entails jail time and death in many states. I am glad my hard earned tax dollars are supporting mindless symbolic statements against something that is already a crime. While they were at it, why didn't they suggest making any murder committed during this time a "Hate Crime" and triple the normal sentence for this 40 hour period? (I shouldn't give them any ideas for the 50th anniversary!)

Meanwhile, the LAUSD recently spent time passing a resolution boycotting Four Points Sheraton LAX.

Doesn't the school district have pressing education related issues they should be tackling?

DVORAK is HARD!!


I have so many things I want to write about, but have been recently crippled by an attempt at increasing my typing efficiency. I completely switched to the DVORAK layout last week and am in kind of a no man's land right now. I know where all the keys are, but I have to actively think about every keystroke. I have completely forgotten the QWERTY layout and am in a sad state of tortoise speed typing.

The most annoying thing is I find myself editing what I want to say in hopes to simplify my keystrokes.

Although I am frustrated right now, I am confident this is the right thing to do. The keys are much more logically laid out. I used to be able to type out words phonetically with my fingers with my mind doing very little legwork.

Questions:
1. How do I globally change to DVORAK? Right now I have to change the keyboard settings for each program i use.
2. How can I map my keys so Control+C, X and V etc. are associated with their QWERTY locations? Using these keys in their DVORAK locations is inconvenient
3. Any suggestions for DVORAK exercises to improve dexterity?

THANKS!

11/18/08 Update: I have finally exceeded my typing speed with QUERTY prior to switching to DVORAK! I am in excess of 45 WPM corrected for accuracy according to TypingTest.com. Typing is much more fluid with DVORAK. The only downside is using other people's computers. When I go back to QWERTY, I am almost completely lost. I can type my logins & passwords in QWERTY, but that is about it. Overall, I think if you are adventerous and a bit eccentric, take the dive. Embed a photo of the DVORAK keyboard in your desktop wallpaper and don't look back!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jackie Chan's top Sunts

As reviewed by the Angry Nintendo Video Game Nerd. I really like #6, but you can't argue with #1.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Not a Ferrari, Not that Fast!




I am amazed that being as much of an automotive enthusiast as I am, I was only made aware of C’etait un Rendezvous last year during a meeting at work. A group VP, also a car nut, decided to use the film as the intro to his presentation of future product and strategy. At first I merely dismissed it as another version of the Getaway in Stockholm series of insane stunts on the mean streets of Sweden.

After a few moments, I realized the soundtrack was special and the time was set back in the mid 70's. After the movie, the GVP explained the movie was only recently made available on DVD. He said the director, Claude Lelouch, had used the proceeds of a successful movie to purchase a Ferrari 275 GTB and hired an F1 pilot to drive the streets of Paris.

I just finished the book, The Driver, by Alexander Roy, the guy who took his M5 from NYC to LA in 31 hours and 4 minutes. I was struck by Roy's comment that Lelouch had used a Mercedes 450SEL 6.9 to film the movie, not a Ferrari. This story is confirmed here.

If you watch the movie and think about the blinding speed a 275 GTB would be doing in the gears, you understand the sound is a hoax. This is still a great moment in automobiles, but not the stunt you probably thought it was.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Fat Lady is Already Singing

Bill Clinton wants you to vote for Obama, per his "Laws of Politics"! Hillary should have dumped his dead weight years ago!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Nissan Says Nein to the Fast and the Furious!!

This gem supposedly comes from the new Nissan GT-R owner's manual! My Kanji is a bit rough, but the last two characters on the 1st row say something about design (Kai of kaizen). They are basically saying, don't mess with the GT-R's awesomeness by putting coffee-can mufflers, Chapparal-style wings and DTM splitters on this engineering masterpiece! Go Nissan (except I don't like their draconian anti-track measures)

Check out the GT-R Demolishing both the GT3 AND 911 Turbo
AutoCar one two
Car one two