Facebook E-mail on the way… and it isn’t even E-mail!

November 16, 2010

Now that’s a confusing title for a post, surely it’s a contradiction. Yet this is the way that Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s new e-mail system.

And to be fair, it’s not just e-mail. It’s true that Facebook will be inviting their users to take up an @facebook.com address in the coming months, but their inbox will cope with a lot more than just e-mail.

From your single account you can link in your e-mails, facebook messages, instant messages (which is likely to include Twitter at some point methinks) and SMS messages. In fact Zuckerberg wants pretty much all of your online communication to go through your new @facebook.com account.

The first thing to note about this is it’s extremely ambitious. Companies are constantly trying to converge, make one thing do more (just look at the latest smartphones), but never has anyone put all of communication in one place. It’s a mammoth task, 15 programmers have spent a year working on this.

But of course if this works it will be phenomenal. Imagine how convenient it could be to have everything in one place. I can start a conversation of a Facebook message, go out and continue it by text, get my Facebook app out for a bit of instant chat and then finish off with and e-mail and it would all be part of the same convo. All in one place, accessible from anywhere… brilliant.

All in the same place, accessible anywhere… terrible.

It’s a nice idea, but in reality, I’m not sure I like it. E-mail inboxes can be tough enough to look through as it is, let alone adding in every other form of communication available. I’m sure the bigwigs at Facebook are woking on a way to make this user friendly (and to give them their fair do’s, Facebook is one of the most a very user-friendly website’s on the net), but I personally cannot see it working.

I also do not like the idea of the majority of my online communication going through Facebook, a site already having problems over user-privacy. Where are my conversations going, what other companies are benefitting and does Facebook technically own all my words. It’s too much power all to one company and that never ends well.

Having said all that, maybe they have already won, after all, I’m already finding that more and more contacts use the site and crucially they always reply to their Facebook messages, sometimes ignoring their e-mails.

Faceboook’s come a long long way from ‘the social network’ in the film of the same name…

The Fast Lane #5 Ferrari Fail, Vettel Victorious!

November 14, 2010

Ever since I wrote on Wednesday that Vettel wouldn’t win this year’s Formula One world title, I’ve been made to regret it and today I was proved wrong once and for all as Sebastien Vettel became the sports youngest world champion.

And I should start of by congratulating the young German who has driven an impeccable season, only his third in the sport. In many ways Vettel should have won this championship many races ago, he had the fastest car, a strong team behind him and he was incredibly quick. But reliability and mistakes crept in, two big crashes costing him valuable points in the mid-section of the season.

But Vettel remained consistent, remained in contention and thats what gave him his big chance today. He converted his pole postion beautifully into a win. No-one could touch him today as he proved once again that he is the man to watch in formula one right now.

But lets not forget that this wasn’t entirely down to Vettel’s brilliance in the Abu Dhabi sunset, a lot of it was down to the failure of his rivals. It was the fact that Vettel had to beat both Alonso and Webber significantly to win the championship which made me doubt his chances.

His rivals had a disaster of a race finishing 7th and 8th respectively, not something anyone was expecting coming into this race. It was a tactical error that cost both drivers. Webber’s mechanics chose to pit him early to try and get an advantage on the fresh tyres (he was after all stuck behind Alonso and not going anywhere). But this was a mistake due to the sheer amount of traffic it placed Webber in. Instead of the clear air the Red Bull craved, it was placed behind several slower cars without much chance of getting past.

It was Ferrari who perhaps made the biggest mistake of the day, keeping their eye on Webber and ignoring Vettel. Almost as soon as Webber had pitted, Alonso came in to ‘cover him off’. But this of course only served to get Alonso stuck in the same traffic (who had already made their mandatory pit stop due to the safety car). This traffic, or rather Vitaly Petrov, would cost Alonso the world championship.

And from then on, that was the story of the race, Alonso and Webber were stuck, Vettel outshone everyone and Hamilton kept up a strong second followed by teammate Button.

I do think a point needs to be made about the fact that no more overtaking took place here. Alonso and Webber are both capable drivers, yet neither could get past anyone. Alonso had a go, but was mostly nowhere near. Similarly Hamilton had no answer for Kubica in the later stages. Now I’m not denouncing the skill of the Renault drivers, but I just think there should be more passing in such a crucial race. Was it just Alonso sleeping, of course not. It seems to come down to the ‘dirty air’ created by the downforce of the cars. That combined with circuits where it’s ‘hard to overtake’ are ruining F1. This season has been amazing, one of the best for while, but there’s still been little overtaking on track. So much is still on team strategy (as today’s race showed) and I really want that to change in the future (maybe next years re-introduction of KERS could solve that).

But enough of my moaning, all in all this has been a cracking season and a well deserving man has won it. You could hear how much it meant to him as he cried over the radio after the race. What a true star this 23 year old has become and what a future he surely has in the sport.

I don’t think this is the last championship which will be sealed by Sebastien Vettel!

I’ll be writing a full review of the 2010 F1 Season soon, look out for it early December!

The Fast Lane #4: F1 2010 – The Final Countdown

November 10, 2010

And so, here we are again. One race to go and as we head to Abu Dhabi, everything is to play for, but this time even more is at stake than normal.

I’m amazed that this many races down the line, there are still 4 people mathematically in with a chance of winning the 2010 F1 championship. You’d have never have believed it after the dominance of Ferrari in Bahrain at the start of the season. But Alonso’s winning ways wained with both McLaren and Red Bull sharing the honours. That was until recently when Alonso miraculously fought his way back into contention, consistently scoring podiums since Germany.

But how is this incredibly close fight going to finish, that’s a difficult one.

The smart money is on Alonso. I’ve tipped him to be the winner of this years championship since Singapore and it looks increasingly likely now as he holds an 8 point lead going into the race. But that’s not to say it’ll be an easy ride for the Spaniard. After his brief spell of dominance, the Red Bulls (which have really been the car to beat this season) have come back to form, easily outclassing the rest of the field in Brazil.

And this brings me on to the man who I believe deserves to win this championship, Mark Webber. He’s been nothing short of outstanding this year. The Australian has really honed his driving and has got the most out of the car when it counted. That doesn’t excuse some costly mistakes (Korea springs to mind). Mark has also suffered too much unreliability from the blitzingly fast Red Bull. And of course the biggest factor, the rivalry from his team-mate combined with the teams ‘favouritism’ towards Vettel. It’s been a tough season, yet Mark has continued to be strong and has appeared a genuine man. I would love him to win the championship.

His team-mate Vettel has also proved to be a great racer this year, even if a bit reckless at times. His willingness to have a laugh with the team and TV crews has been extremely refreshing and I’m sure he will make a great champion in the future. But like it or not, I don’t think this will be Vettel’s year. He’s 15 points behind Alonso, a steep mountain to climb in one race, especially as Webber also has nothing to lose and is in a better position. Vettel has proved he has World Champion material and I’m sure he will take that title, possibly as early as next year, but not just yet.

And that leaves us with Lewis Hamilton. A few weeks ago, I declared both Hamilton and Button out of the championship realistically. I’m surprised how well Hamilton has clung on, mathematically still in with a chance. But lets be honest, he needs a miracle. At 24 points behind Alonso, Hamilton needs to win with both Alonso and Webber not scoring and Vettel no higher than 6th. It’s not really a feesable situation and despite a strong season, Hamilton has to be written off… although it would be an amazing story.

And there we have it. The epic finale to the 2010 season. Four can mathematically do it, two realistically have a chance and one of them will be champion in four days time.

Can’t wait!