The Fast Lane #3 – Korean Grand Prix Prediction

October 23, 2010

Rather annoyingly, tomorrow will mark something unusual for me. One of the only times I have ever missed watching a Grand Prix. In fact I wont even be near a computer for the next few days and so blogging about the F1 this week is out of the question.

Therefore, I’ve decided I should do a preview to the inaugural Korean Grand Prix and make a few predictions, so here goes…

First of all, I must say it’s a bit of a miracle that we’ve even made it to Korea for this race. The track was only officially signed off two weeks ago and it’s quite clear that it’s not quite finished (the bridge over the pit straight was not useable until late yesterday).

But wow, it is quite a track. It seems to have everything we want from a track. There’s fast straights finishing with slow corner’s – great for overtaking. But there’s also fast and challenging corners which should create a great spectacle! I’m really annoyed I’m oing to miss this race!

And now on to the drivers themselves. It was widely suggested that this was going to be a McLaren track, but as always, the Red Bull’s have pulled out the surprise 1-2 in qualifying. In fact the McLaren’s didn’t really shine at all, with Hamilton 4th and Button only managing 7th.

Alonso outdrove the Ferrari’s potential again to get third on the grid. He’s still my tip for the championship, I think the momentum is firmly with him.

Having said that, it looks great for the Red Bull’s tomorrow. They are extremely fast around this track and we know from previous races that they can keep the opposition behind them. But which one will win it? I still think Webber has the better chance this year, Vettel is still a little inexperienced. Of course that won’t stop Vettel defending his position to the hilt, but I think Webber has the better chance tomorrow. He’s just a more complete racer.

I’m hoping for some magic though. I want Alonso to get up there and split the Red Bull’s, I want the McLaren’s to go well in race trim (lets face it they need to). And I’d even like Michael Schumacher to get his podium that he so craves (somehow I don’t think that will happen). Kubica and Rosberg should cause some trouble, particularly for Jenson Button who starting in 7th could be the person to watch. And of cause Massa’s tactics could also make a big difference.

I really do think this is going to be a special race, everything is set for a very entertaining two hours. And who knows, with the ‘weatherman’ Legard banging on about rain again for tomorrow, this really could be the race of the season!

I just wish I could see it 😦


Living in an Augmented Reality

October 12, 2010

There’s an unusual technology which is now really starting to become a powerful force, it’s name: Augmented Reality.

Now there’ll be some people who’ve yet to hear about the idea of augmented reality, so I’ll try and explain it. By using a combination of camera, location sensors and gyroscopes, electronic devices (normally mobile) can display information in real time, relating to what you are looking at. For example, you could look for restaurants in your area. An augmented reality app could show you what direction they are in and how far away they are on a screen showing what’s really in front of you. If that sounds a little confusing, see the picture below which shows you some of the nearest restaurants to me, displayed in Augmented Reality.

So what we can see here is the restaurants names, where they are and a little info about them, displayed on the background of my kitchen!

And it’s not just restaurants of course! There are several apps out there with Augmented Reality options (Acrossair, Layar, Around Me and WikiTude to name a few) and they can all offer you different features. Wikitude, for example, will find you interesting things from Wikipedia that are nearby. Acrossair has an option to see nearby tweets and where they were tagged. You can see pictures of local landmarks. You can even use augmented reality to find out where you parked the car!

I think you’ll agree that these augmented reality apps are pretty magic, but how helpful can they actually be? It’s all very well looking at the clever technology, displaying things that aren’t really there, but will this ever enter the mainstream?

Some companies in Japan believe so, in fact last week saw the launch of a brand new piece of Augmented Reality tech. The lightweight Augmented Reality glasses!

Now these kinds of specs have been attempted before, but have been quite cumbersome and uncomfortable to wear. However, the new glasses from Olympus and NTT Docomo look exactly like normal specs, well almost. There’s a small projector which provides the information for you to see in front of your eyes as you move your head. The technology certainly is very impressive and could breathe new life into the who augmented reality idea (rather than having to hold up your smartphone and move it around to enjoy the experience).

This idea will sell, if for nothing else then for the sheer ‘wow’ effect when people just use it. I do think the technology is useful and have enjoyed using these apps on my iPhone, but to be fair, sometimes it’s just easier to use a traditional map!

I’ll leave you by mentioning one more app (I’m going app-mad right now!) which uses a kind of Augmented Reality to search the web. I speak of the Google Goggles. This has been around for Android users for a while, but has only recently creeped onto the iPhone. This feature is built into the Google app and works by taking pictures. The goggles will then identify what is in the picture and search Google for it. The app works best with text and logos, but can identify locations and people also (it managed to work out what my ride photo of the flume at Alton Towers was!). And if that’s not enough, it’ll also read and translate text!

It’s not only fun but very useful and is right now my favourite app.

Google have once again changed the way we search the web, the only question is what on earth they will think of next!

The Fast Lane #2: The fight narrows to three?

October 10, 2010

We came into the Japanese Grand Prix 2010 with a gripping five-way fight for the F1 world title. I think today we saw that fight reduced to just three.

Japan’s Suzuka circuit is always a thrilling affair and is certainly one of my favourites on the calendar. However this weekend it seemed like no-one actually wanted it to happen. Firstly the weather played it’s role, delaying qualifying to the Sunday (and kudos to the BBC’s Lee McKenzie for filling those two uneventful hours). Then Lucas Di Grassi decided he would play no further part, slamming his Virgin Racing car into the barrier on his way to the grid. And just in case that wasn’t enough incident for you, a further four cars came together at the start of the race, with Robert Kubica’s wheel flying off behind the safety car. Crazy!

Eventually the race did get going and was unfortunately a little dull at the start with the Red Bull’s predictably pulling away from Fernando Alonso who wasn’t really hassled by Hamilton and Button just behind. As the race panned out, the Red Bull’s really showed their dominance and Alonso’s Ferrari proved that it’s still a strong match, certainly stronger than the McLaren’s.

And this is where I refer back to the start of this article. I think the McLaren drivers are now out of the championship battle. Both Hamilton and Button didn’t really sow anything today. They stayed 4th and 5th for the majority of the grand prix, the third best team, firmly behind the Red Bull’s and Ferrari. Yes, Button did start winding Alonso in at one point, but it was never really to be, with that raw pace more down to Jenson’s fresher tyres. I just feel that now Lewis and Jenson are both over 25 points behind championship leader Mark Webber, it’s really game over. Of course they can mathematically still win, but I think realistically, especially with recent pace, the chance has gone.

Aside from the top five, the race was very eventful. I was pleased to see the legend (because he is still a legend) Michael Schumacher finally have a good race. It’s a shame he was unable to pass Rosberg (well until his tyre mysteriously flew off), but he gave us a bit of racing, a glimpse of the man we used to know. I still think there’s life in Schumacher’s career and given a decent car again, he could be winning races next year.

But the man of the race was undoubtedly Kamui Kobayashi who provided his home crowd with a stunning display. Those last gasp moves at the hairpin were some of the best I have ever seen in the sport. Kobayashi was both daring and precise, making perfect moves on his opponents. Now if only he could do that every week, he’d be a massive star and who’s to say he won’t be a star of the future, it’d be great to have a Japanese champion!

So the championship race has narrowed down to just three, but it’s still close and still almost impossible to call. Today both Vettel and Webber drove faultless races, but Alonso has Massa (well normally) to take those valuable points off the Red Bull’s. It’s still a very open championship.

And I’ll leave you with a comment on this weeks commentary. Viewers who saw the early morning running of the race experienced a sound problem roughly half way in, where Jonathan Legard and Martin Brundle were replaced with 5Live commentators David Croft and Anthony Davidson. I’ve never listened to the 5Live comm before, but I was suitably impressed. Crofty and Davidson just brought and excitement to their presentation which I think both Legard and Brundle lack. Now I do like the current BBC1 commentary team, but with Jonathan Legard’s job supposedly on the line, I do wonder if Croft may be awarded his time to shine.

Just a thought!

Full race results

Square Eyes #1: It Be The Apprentice!

October 7, 2010

If you watch too much TV, your eyes will turn square. That’s what our parents always told us. Of course in the day and age of widescreen, they’re more likely to turn a bit more rectangular, but the idea remains!

I always thought it would be quite cool to have square eyes and so it has become the name of this brand new feature to the Rich, Harsh Poet, the very one you are reading now. And it’s all about… you guessed it TV!

And what better way to start off a new feature than by welcoming back one of our country’s national treasures. Sir A… I mean… Lord Sugar. He’s one of the most unlikely of TV heroes, being a ‘ruthless’ and quite frankly rude businessman. But his show ‘The Apprentice’ has shot him back to fame and rightly so!

So what fools do we have this year? Well first there’s Stuart “Everything I touch turns to sold” Baggs. He has to be one of the most full of himself candidates yet. To call his selling style in this weeks first task “aggressive” is to suggest that Godzilla was a bit aggressive. And his performance in the boardroom… wow! Even Lord Sugar had had enough of this bighead!

Another one of the boys is Jamie Lester who last night single-handedly started a mini revolution by saying the word ‘cringeable’. Within seconds this grammatical mishap was one of the top trending topics on twitter (which I suppose shows the awesome power of the apprentice). I look forward to more educational rants from Jamie as the series continues!

There’s 22 year old Raleigh Addington whose parents were obviously fans of mountain bikes. Raleigh is clearly annoyed about this and takes it out on his other candidates by gradually getting more and more angry and then bursting with anger at the last minute… he’s my personal favourite for comedy value.

As always, the girls were less noticeable than the blokes. There’s a Jenny Eclaire lookalike (which was particularly confusing when Jenny Eclaire appeared on sister programme “You’re Fired”) who is all about ‘closing deals’. And of course there was their team leader Joanna Riley who wasn’t half bad. But the girls were quite frankly boring, they actually did well, I don’t watch The Apprentice for that!

Things didn’t go well for other team leader Dan Harris who eventually ‘got’ fired. And for good reason, he spend the whole task barking at his team to do things whilst he did sod all. A brilliant delegator/dictator, but not a very good team leader! To be fair to Dan he was given tough task, a team who weren’t very co-operative and he was the only one who had the balls to volunteer.

But he was awful!

So a mixed bag of candidates, the girls seemed as dull as dishwater, but the boys were some of the funniest, most full of themselves and downright entertaining yet.

There’s another 11 weeks to go and I’m really looking forward to them. With the wit of Nick Hewer, the glances of Karen Brady and the ‘shrewd-schmozer-hating’ Lord Sugar presiding over it all, it should be another brilliant year of The Apprentice!