The Fast Lane – A comedy of tyre errors helps Button to the win

July 31, 2011

We come to the Hungaroring, notoriously one of the dullest Grand Prix’s of the year. As far as overtaking is concerned, Murray Walker always described it as Monaco but without the scenery. With Vettel restoring his pole position on Saturday, it was looking like another possible procession. But the McLaren’s, along with a bit of help from the weather, had different ideas.

From the start we saw Vettel under pressure, a sight which has become so rare in this 2011 season. Hamilton was all over the back of the Red Bull driver and often alongside – great wheel-to-wheel racing.

But the most noticeable thing off the start was how difficult the track conditions were. The track was slightly damp due to some earlier rain, but I was surprised to see everyone struggling on the intermediate tyres and really fighting the cars not to slide off. The Ferrari’s seemed to have the worst problems, a wide first corner had allowed both Mercedes drivers through. Despite getting past both Rosberg and Schumacher in subsequent laps, Alonso found himself back behind Rosberg soon after when he slid off the circuit entirely. It seems we’ve learnt another thing about those Pirelli’s today, they don’t get up to temperature in the rain very well at all!

This (along with pressure from Hamilton) eventually led to Vettel sliding wide and losing the lead to the Brit. From this point, Vettel did not look very strong at all, it was hard to see this as the same man who has been bullet-proof in the first half of the championship. He continued to slide back from Hamilton into the clutches of Button who also overtook the German just before the first pit-stops.

By the first stops, the track had dried out causing everyone to switch to the dry super-soft tyres. Webber and Button were first and looked pretty cautious on their outlaps, but this soon turned in their favour when they got up to speed, helping Webber to jump Alonso. The tyres would continue to play a big part throughout this race.

Hamilton continued to lead out front, but when he stopped for the third time, he made a fatal error which likely cost him the race. Lewis opted to stay on the super-soft dry tyres. It seemed the sensible decision, they had proven faster over the weekend and seemed the safe choice. Alonso also made this call, but the other front runners opted for the soft prime tyre, which had seemed slower in practice, but could go a much longer distance.

It didn’t take long to see which tyre was best. The track was clearly coming into the territory of the prime tyre (due to the lower temperatures) as Sebastien Vettel caught and passed Fernando Alonso (who had managed to jump him in an earlier stop). He then proceeded to pull away from Alonso at an astonishing rate, proving the speed of the primes at this stage of the race.

Realising the mistake, Hamilton pushed hard for fast laps, he needed to make a gap to pit again. But there was another curveball to come. The rain started coming

down, not very intense, but enough. Hamilton hit a curb and spun his McLaren. In a bid to keep the lead, he quickly spun around – not noticing oncoming cars and forced Paul Di Resta to drive off the track to avoid him. This later earned Lewis a drive-throgh penalty, destroying his race – and I’m sorry to say it was the right decision, it was a dangerous move (although not as dangerous as the Heidfeld incident which I’ll come onto later).

This allowed Button through, but also produced some of the most thrilling racing seen all season as the two team-mates diced for the lead, swapping position every few corners. The racing was ferocious but fair and kudos has to go to both of the McLaren boys for making such a great spectacle. The lead was important to both as with rain coming down, they needed to make the decision about tyres. And this is where Lewis got it wrong again, opting for intermediates. Both he and Webber made this choice and felt the consequences. The rain was not heavy enough and it seemed the prime was still the tyre to be on. Both switched to this a few laps later.

All of this allowed Button to stay comfortably out in front. Both he and Vettel already had the prime tyres and had managed to live through the short shower. With

Vettel still looking like a weaker force (and more than happy in second), this was Button’s race to lose. His team-mate Hamilton, now down in fifth and almost a minute behind the lead, still had some fight in him and took Webber for fourth position with six laps to go.

But no-one could stop Button now and he drove magnificently to his 11th career win on his 200th Grand Prix start!

Further down the field there was a mixed day for all. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa must be disappointed with sixth after fighting higher up early on and setting several fastest laps, but then both Ferrari’s under performed their cars today with errors galore (I think Alonso was off the track more than anyone else).

Another under performing team was Mercedes. The fantastic start for Schumacher and Rosberg was the only highlight as both cars slipped down the field, Rosberg finishing 9th and Schumacher retiring with a gearbox failure.

The less said about Renault the better. The only notable part of their Grand Prix was when Heidfeld’s car exploded on the pit exit. I was not comfortable with the handling of this. In tricky conditions for the drivers, the car was left in a prominent position, smoke billowing everywhere at a point where the drivers sharply accelerate. Things got scary when the stricken Renault was towed back into the pit-lane as Vettel exited. After a slide, the German missed the marshals by centimetres. I think when the Stewards criticised Hamilton for his move, they should seriously look at the danger of this incident – a safety car was needed.

Final thoughts go to Paul Di Resta who drove fantastically (if a bit under the radar) to secure seventh position – the best of the rest(a!). Paul is really starting to show a lot of promise with his speed in a Force India, surely a star of the future.

And that was the Hungarian Grand Prix… really? But it was interesting!

I Know! We’ve gone three races since Vettel last won, yet due to the victories being shared by Alonso, Hamilton and Button, he has still extended his lead today.

But do you know what? I don’t care. So long as the on track racing remains exciting (which it certainly is) I will continue to  enjoy watching it… well for this year at least…

 

 

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Formula One UK enters Pay TV market with BBC/Sky deal

July 29, 2011

After weeks of speculation, we finally know the outcome of how F1 will be broadcast in the UK for future years. It’s not back off to ITV, Channel 4 won’t be nabbing it, it’s not even leaving the BBC entirely. But it’s caused uproar amongst fans of the sport (myself included) as from next year you will need a subscription to Sky Sports to enjoy the full Formula One season.

A number of things about this are very bad, not least the fact that a basic Sky Sports subscription will set you back almost £40.00 per month – money that many people simply don’t have. When channels can charge this amount, it makes the humble BBC license fee (£12.13 per month) seem a drop in the ocean!

I fail to see why people should be forced to pay for a sport that for several years they have had free access to. Not only that, it’s a sport amongst the richest in the world. F1 doesn’t need any more money, why should we now have to fork out cash to continue seeing this ‘spectacle’ on our screens.

Now of course, I am missing out part of the deal which was announced earlier today. The sport isn’t entirely leaving Free-to-air TV, the BBC will still broadcast half of the races live. But what’s the point in that? I don’t really want to watch half a season of a sport, I want to see the entire picture.

We have been promised ‘extensive highlights’ by the BBC, but what exactly does that mean? Will it be more or less than the rather disappointing highlights package which currently airs after every race on BBC Three? And regardless, I think I speak for all sports fans when I say watching highlights after the event is never the same as seeing it unravel live.

Then there’s the deal itself. The BBC have apparently secured such gems as Monaco, Silverstone and the final round of the championship live for 2012. But how long will that last? Sky aren’t going to be happy if people choose not to subscribe to their service (after all, this deal is no doubt costing them millions). They will keep pushing the boundaries until the BBC is left with only the poorer races of Bahrain and Valencia. Don’t deny it, recent events have proved how sneaky a Murdoch company can be.

I also fear for the many thousands, even millions of casual fans. F1 viewership is at a 10 year high and that is in no small part down to the current BBC broadcast. The Beeb have put the sport everywhere, provided so much more access than their predecessors and really helped engage a whole new range of fans. But casual fans aren’t going to want to pay an upgrade fee and neither will they enjoy the disjointed-ness of live races some weeks and highlights the next. The sport will lose them, no doubt about it.

The BBC have made a terrible decision to end this contract early (they had exclusivity until 2013) and opt-into this 7 year ‘partnership’ with Sky. But lets not forget, their hands may have been tied. The corporation is trying to make massive savings at the moment and rumours suggest that they had to choose between full F1 coverage or Wimbledon (we all know the result of that one).

What I don’t like is how badly it’s been handled. Commentator Martin Brundle tweeted that he was only informed of the news last night and anchorman Jake Humphrey only heard the news this morning with the fans. These people are the ones who have made the show, they should have been involved in the negotiation process rather than letting some BBC execs make the decision with no input from the people that matter.

And the less said about Mr Ecclestone the better. Bernie said only a couple of weeks ago that F1 would not be going to subscription TV, yet here it is. And what’s more, it looks like he’s managed to talk the teams into the idea also, lessening any chance of a rebellion due to the Concorde Agreement.

There is however a possible glimmer of hope emerging from a meeting held earlier today. Martin Whitmarsh, team principle of McLaren has hinted at the BBC possibly still showing full race coverage for every Grand Prix, just delayed for half the season. This would, for me make a huge difference and could save me from a painful decision between the BBC and Sky.

We should also not lose sight of the fact that this isn’t the end for F1. It will still be shown on the BBC, just not as in-depth as we would like. Sky have also (whatever you think of them and their management) done wonders for sport, particularly football and I’m sure those that choose to watch with them will get a very detailed and all-encompassing service.

However it’s hard to ignore the fact that todays deal was entirely driven by money at the expense of the fans. You have to wonder how many more times sports can keep doing this and push their fans patience before they lose interest themselves.


The Fast Lane – Hamilton heroic and not a Vettel in sight!

July 24, 2011

It’s not been a good season for Lewis Hamilton. Nine races in and the former champion had only win to his name after a season marred with controversy, anger and disappointment on his part. But things turned around for Lewis this weekend, on the chilly Nurburgring track (where no-one expected anything from McLaren, the Brit blitzed the track and left all others standing.

It started well for Lewis on Saturday. An astounding qualifying lap put him sec on on the grid behind Mark Webber and crucially ahead of everyone’s rival, Sebastien Vettel. The race pace of the McLaren proved even more impressive as Hamilton stormed past a slow starting Webber at the first corner and continued to lap at remarkable speed. Others got faster laps at various points in the race, but Lewis remained the most consistently fast and I think that’s the key factor in how race win today.

But of course it’s never as simple as that in F1 (well not anymore anyway!) as we were treated to a fantastically entertaining battle around one of the worlds most famous circuits. Throughout the race, the top three drivers were consistently close, spending a period of around 10 laps within 2 seconds of each other in the middle section of the race. And it wasn’t just a close procession, there was overtaking – lots of it.

Near the start of the Grand Prix, we saw Hamilton have a slight wobble causing him to be overtaken by an opportunist Webber. But this lasted mere seconds as Hamilton powered down the pit-straight and outbreaked the Australian to retake the lead. It shows how racy Hamilton was today that he was not prepared to give an inch to anyone. He showed this again later when coming out of the pits alongside Webber. Hamilton calmly and cunningly moved his McLaren out to the right and forced Webber onto a wet patch of track, keeping his lead competently. Later on, he gave Webber a masterclass on how to overtake on the outside by punishing Alonso as he exited the pits, giving him track position and potentially the move that won him the race.

Hamilton has been criticised a lot this season (in my opinion fairly) for his clumsy moves – racing headlong onto a situation without thought of how it was to end. But today we saw the racer we used to love return. He took every opportunity in an aggressive manner, but never reckless and it pid off for him.

Both of the Ferrari’s were also feeling very racy today. Alonso took the opportunity to be the first man this season to pass Vettel at full racing speed (without the German making a mistake) and made it stick. Massa also showed great form, passing several competitors and ending his race battling with Sebastien Vettel in a thrilling fight for fourth on track.

And that brings me to Mr. Vettel. There’s no doubt about it, he had an off weekend. We saw him off the track a couple of times after mistakes and his raw pace was never really there today. Who knows what the reason for this was – is he becoming complacent with his massive points lead, was it the pressure of his home GP? It was most likely neither of these factors, he just had a slightly poor weekend. From post-race interviews, he seems unhappy – suggesting Red Bull need to improve, but I think he’ll look back at this weekend and laugh. After all he still has a 77 point lead!

On track action was of course only half of the race today, with strategy playing a big part. It was interesting to see what the UK commentators refer to as ‘the undercut’ failed this weekend. The Pirelli’s were lasting longer, no doubt due to the cooler track and it meant that staying out longer was the smart thing to do on the options. This left Mark Webber all at sea when both Hamilton and Alonso passed him easily in the second stops.

The reverse was true later in the race, when it turned out the prime tyres (which all the teams believed to be extremely slow) were actually a lot quicker than expected. This gave Hamilton the final advantage he needed when he pitted first for his set of primes and quickly pulled out a lead over Alonso and Webber.

I wonder if Ferrari regret not bringing Massa in earlier for the primes, knowing what we know now. The Brazillian was battling hard with Vettel, but both drivers stayed out until the final lap, opting for a thrilling pit-race between Red Bull and Ferrari – eventually lost by Massa. If Massa had have pitted earlier for the primes, he could have increased his lead enough to stay ahead of Vettel instead of losing a place on the final lap – never a good feeling!

Of course it wasn’t just the top five racing today – further down the field there was a sterling, if quiet, performance from Adrian Sutil who progressed his Force India

into sixth position. Mercedes continued their mediocre season with Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher finishing 7th and 8th respectively.

There was drama early on between Nick Heidfeld and Sebastien Buemi as the Toro Rosso ploughed into the Renault knocking Heidfeld out of hie home race, Buemihas been given a five-place grid drop for the next Grand Prix. And Renault will probably be disappointed with Petrov’s 10th place, which was looking stronger earlier on. The team promised much this year but have failed to deliver.

One person I have yet to mention is Jenson Button who had without doubt the worst weekend. After qualifying low down, he simply went backwards at the start, losing out to Petrov and Schumacher. There was comeback and a glimmer of hope for the Brit later on, but that was quashed as his car was retired with a hydraulic problem – quite unusual considering the reliability of post 2009 F1. After two disappointing races, Jenson will be hoping for an actual race finish in Hungary.

The final twist of the day came after the chequered flag when Alonso’s Ferrari ran out of fuel and stopped on track. In a repeat of the legendary Mansell-Senna lift at Silverstone, Mark Webber offered Alonso a ride back to the pit lane – breaking several FIA regulations, but providing us with one final spectacle for the weekend. Luckily the stewards have seen fit to not hand any penalty to either driver for this incident.

F1 leaves Nurburgring with it’s head held high. It was another stunning weekend with a very worthy winner. In fact, it makes me wonder why the FIA ever demoted Nurburgring from holding the European GP, it beats Valencia hands down and that way we could have it every year! But as it is, we will look forward to our next Nurburgring race in 2013 and head off to The Hungaroring. The same man still leads the standings, but a different man has the pace – do we have a fightback on our hands?

 


The Roar of the Lion – My views on OS X 10.7 Lion

July 22, 2011

Apple finally released their new operating system OS X Lion on Wednesday. I say finally because Apple have been teasing us with vague release dates for the OS since November last year. In fact the company were so secretive about their latest revision of OS X that they only announced it was officially launching the day before it became available for public download. But Apple’s secrets aside, how does Lion compare to previous versions of OS X and other systems available on the market?

Download

The first difference between Lion and any other mainstream operating system is that it is distributed exclusively over the internet. The only way to currently get the OS is by purchasing it from the Mac App Store.

Like many others around the globe, I was pretty apprehensive about how well this would work, after all the download weighs in at a fairly hefty 3.75 GB. But I needn’t have worried as the download processed without a hitch. As soon as you purchase Lion, the icon sits on your dock (like with other OS X Apps) with a progress bar. Sadly this bar is far too small to actually measure the progress of the download, but it happily works away in the background and informs you when it’s ready to proceed.

For me the download took just over two hours on a connection which averages 5Mb/s. Pretty impressive speed when you consider how many people are downloading at once (over 1 million already!), guess that massive data centre is starting to come in hand for Apple.

iOS

Onto the operating system itself and the first thing that pretty much everyone will notice is that there’s a lot of new stuff from the iPhone and iPad. Now that’s not as bad as it may initially sound. I must admit that I was worried Apple could loose what was OS X by adding too much from it’s new favoured platform iOS. But the new features nicely compliment what we all know.

The most obvious example of iOS input is the new Launchpad. This new feature sits on your dock (although it can be activated through a button or gesture, more on them in a bit!) and when launched will show you all your apps on your computer, arranged as you may expect, in the same format as an iPad. Some have seen this as nothing more than a gimmick, but I disagree. Sure it’s not revolutionary, but without a Windows start-bar and little space on the dock, getting to all Apps quickly hasn’t been a strong point of OS X. Launchpad addresses this and gives a nice interface to find your what you want to use instantly.

Scrolling has also had an iOS makeover, which may take some a bit of getting used to. Instead of using a scroll bar at the side to move down the page, you place your cursor within the page and push the content up as you would on an iPad. It’s quite different to the desktop standard, in fact there isn’t a stationary scroll bar in site (they only appear when you need them according to Apple). This complete change of scrolling may seem odd, but actually makes a great deal of sense. It’s taken me a matter of a few hours to get used to it and guess what, I couldn’t imagine going back to scroll bars now, this is so much easier!

One more, perhaps controversial addition to Lion, is autocorrect, the much complained about iOS system which corrects you when you type the wrong thing. This is great a lot of the time, but can cause some quite annoying consequences when the computer gets it wrong (as it already has three times in this review). But overall I think autocorrect will be welcomed onto Mac, with a keyboard it’s much less likely for a big mistake to be made and thus autocorrect will be a help instead of a hinderance… I hope.

Gestures

Without doubt, this is my favourite addition. Apple have been using trackpad gestures on their laptops for a while, but Lion takes this to the max. Need to scroll a page, push gently with two fingers. Back to the webpage you were just on? Swipe to the right with two fingers and the current page will happily move out of the way to present where you were. You can zoom by pinching, swipe between dashboard, desktop and apps by swiping three fingers and even push everything out of the way by spreading your fingers on the pad.

Theres a little bit of learning until you know what everything does, but gestures are already speeding up computing for me. yes it’s only a small amount of time saved, but the whole experience feels a lot more intuitive and simple. It makes the clunkiness of a computer disappear and leaves you with a smooth end-user experience.

Gestures of course also mark a clear step away from the Mac being a desktop computer. Although they can be used on an Apple ‘Magic Mouse’, they’re much easier to perform on a trackpad, the device of choice for a laptop. Personally I find trackpads easier than a mouse (after using purely laptops for the last four years), but I wonder if everyone will take the step and swap (desktop Macs can come with trackpads too). I hope so, because gestures really change everything.

Full Screen Apps

There’s always been something that Windows could do better than Macs – full screen. For years Apple computers had a distinct lack of a full screen option for most applications. But that’s all changed now with full-screen apps in Lion.

On the top left corner of all native apps (and already quite a few others) is a new full screen button. When pressed, everything else slides out of the way and you have your attention completely undivided withe the app filling your whole screen. It’s not revolutionary, granted, but out’s nice to finally have the option. It should also be noted that full screen apps scale to your screen very well – for example webpages in Safari adjust to the size of the screen you’re using for the best performance.

You could argue that this makes multitasking a little harder. Well Apple have thought of that too, swipe to the side and you can switch straight to your desktop or other apps in fullscreen. But maybe that’s still too difficult? Enter Apple’s other new toy.

Mission Control

A grand name for a grand idea. Macs have always been good at showing you all open apps with expose (which shrinks all windows so you can choose what you want to switch to and do so instantly). This has now been taken to the next level with Mission control.

Click the icon in the dock or swipe three fingers up and you enter this ‘birds-eye view’ of your computer. Your open windows are shown in the middle of the page, grouped by application for easy use. At the top you have access to your dashboard, desktop or any full screen apps you have open, making it easy to switch to these. You can also add new desktops to arrange your apps in the way you want to. Need to get back to them, simply enter Mission Control again and you can see exactly where everything that’s running is.

What I like about Mission Control is no matter how many apps I’ve had running, it always opens instantly on command – not even expose managed that. Without doubt a handy upgrade to an already very useful idea.

The others

These are the main noticeable differences, there are plenty of others under the hood. Resume lets you shut your computer down completely, but still start with all the same applications open when you start up the next day – no extra start up time.

Versions an automatic save feature making it much easier to keep your documents safe. Make a mistake or lose what you were working on? Versions saves it for you so you can come back to it how it was before you wrecked your important letter! It’s not available everywhere yet (mostly just in iWork), but it could be a helpful feature for the future.

Mail has received a much need upgrade. Gone is the horrible presentation and slow loading times, in is a (you guessed it) more iOS interface arranged into three columns.

And what would an OS X upgrade be without a new photo booth, this time with face tracking for more hilarious, spur of the moment photos!

The bad

At the moment I am loving OS X Lion, but I do have a few niggles (and they really are just niggles). Firstly, the fact the software was delivered online causes complications should the system crash. That 3.75 GB download doesn’t bode well for limited internet connections. I’ve made myself a back up Lion disc in case of any issue, but I do think the online delivery could cause problems.

It could be argued that the upgrade has a bit more style over substance (I can’t believe how much animation Apple have crammed in). I agree with this to an extent, it would have been nice to have a few more functional things and I do think (despite loving most of it) some of the animation could come a bit of a distraction, to me anyway!

Not a problem I have had, but I’ve seen a few reports of compatibility issues with older software. With Lion, Mac finally ditches the PowerPC support for Intel only so some popular apps (if not updated) will fail to work on this new OS. But fear not, most things still work well and in full 64 bit!

I’m also not a fan of the more ‘windows-esque’ buttons. What happened to those lovely curved buttons, replaced with dull square ones 😦 !

Conclusion

As you can see, my niggles are very few and far between, I love OS X Lion. At only £21.00 off the Mac App Store, it is the best priced OS I have ever seen. Mac OS X has been the market leader for desktops for a long time and by fusing their knowledge of touch devices into their desktop OS, Apple have only made it better. If you have Snow Leopard, there is really no reason not to upgrade. If you don’t have a Mac yet, why not? This is the best OS available and is worth every penny.

 

 

 

 


Are we ready to migrate to the cloud?

July 12, 2011

There’s alot of talk these days about Cloud Computing. The idea is a move away from the traditional hard-drive based computing we all know and store all of our data on the internet. We won’t even need to spend cash on hard disk space because our data will be accessible for us anywhere on a range of devices through the cloud. But how much of a step forward is the cloud and are we ready to entrust all our data to the net?

Google thinks we are, last month unveiling the ChromeBook, the first device to really embrace the cloud. What makes Chromebooks so different to an ordinary laptop? There’s no storage space, no large hard-drive to speak of. There’s not even programmes or applications on this laptop and there’s barely an operating system. Why? Because everything you need is stored on Google’s servers, all you need is an internet connection.

There’s obviously a great deal of advantages to this. One of them being the price. With no high end hardware needed (as most of the work can be done online), cloud based computers like ChromeBooks can end up being much cheaper than their higher-end alternatives. And of course you wont have to splash out on expensive software for your cloud machine, or have to install it. Google already have several web-based apps on their servers (including everyone’s favourite game Angry Birds!). You can use office products, edit media, engage in video calls and utilise social media all for free without ever installing a single application on your machine.

Having less data stored on your system has a couple more plus points. The ChromeBook for example can start up, from completely powered-off to running websites, within 8 seconds. Compare that to how long it took you to start-up Windows 7 (or other laggy OS) earlier and that’s quite incredible! The reason for the speed, it has hardly anything to load. It also means you are almost guaranteed to never have a virus as there is nothing on your system to attack, clever!

The key factor that most companies are pushing with cloud computing is the ability to access your data anywhere using many devices. Amazon are jumping on this with their CloudDrive and CloudPlayer allowing you to access your files and music on any computer, tablet or smartphone device. Of course with the cloud, you don’t even need to own the files. Music-streaming sites like Grooveshark and Spotify allow you to listen to pretty much anything you want, wherever you want. There’s no need to actually ‘own’ this stuff anymore.

But that’s just the thing. I’m not sure I’m ready to let go of all that. I like having things that I actually own, a bit like CD’s (we all put them on our iPod’s, but I like to have a tangible souvenir when I buy an album). I know with data on a device it;s a bit different (you can;t touch it for one thing), but I like to have my own copies of my fav music, movies, pictures etc rather than relying on the web to look after all of these.

Indeed, at the moment I’m having intermittent internet problems with my laptop. This is frustrating, but not troublesome to my whole computer experience. What happens if a Chromebook can’t connect? You have no laptop. If you store everything in the cloud as we are being encouraged to, you wont be able to access any of it during a network outage, something which should never happen with a local hard drive.

And if you put all your data in the cloud, you’re also giving all your data to another company. They say they’ll do nothing but look after it, but underneath there’ll be scanners monitoring everything you upload, learning all about you, what you look like, what you do, what you like.

With all this stored online, we are putting a massive amount of trust in the online companies and we all know that these servers aren’t always the most secure, look at Sony. By putting more and more data online, we’re just making it easier not only for companies to learn about us for their market research, but for our entire lives to be hacked by the cyber criminals that lurk web-wide.

We are of course already uploading alot of personal data on services doing this with the likes of Facebook, webmail, even online shopping. At the moment that data is a small amount, negligible – and the fact that it is brings us to another issue, webspace.

I have a 500gb hard drive, considered a fairly medium size of hard disk space in 2011. Yes this is 100 times more than most cloud

providers will give you. 5gb is simply not enough to store everything you need, even if you’ll be sharing several files with others. I have more than that in photo’s alone and I don’t consider myself a very serious photographer (yet!).

Working with online apps can also be a bit of a drag. Sure you can edit video/photos audio online, but it’ll take you a while to upload and download it all. Things like this just work much better locally and until with a 1GB/s download option, it’s just not going to be feesable.

I should point out that I am not entirely against the cloud. It has several great advantages, I just don’t think we are ready (or possiblywill ever be ready) to fully embrace it and effectively make hard drives redundant. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I will alway like to keep the main hub of all my data as my main computer, with portions of it online/on other devices.

And this is perhaps where I see the advantage in something like iCloud, Apple’s upcoming cloud service. The idea is to keep your devices in sync as much as possible. For example, if you take a photo on your iPhone, it will be uploaded next time your in Wi-Fi range and then pushed down to all you other (Apple) devices. This idea uses the cloud as a way of copying your data everywhere quickly, but crucially doesn’t keep it stored only in the cloud. Apple will also allow you to back-up online (which is also a very handy feature of all cloud services) as well as sync your e-mails and calendars instantly without even knowing it’s happening.

This is the kind of cloud service I will use. It’s basic and it’s more of a synchronising service that a cloud storage drive, but I’m not ready to abandon my hard-drive for the cloud yet and I think with some of the limitations there still are, it will be a long while until we all are.

But I’m also aware at the speed tech moves, the hard-drive could be defunct by this time next year…


The Fast Lane – Fernando’s Ferrari Flies to the Front

July 10, 2011

We came to Silverstone on the back of the years dullest weekend in Valencia, hoping for just one thing – that maybe, just maybe someone would dethrone Vettel and take the victory. And luckily for us, they did indeed.

But before I get onto dissecting the race, it’s worth noting the changes at Silverstone. The brand new ‘Wing’ is undoubtedly a striking and impressive building with facilities rivalling the other key tracks on the calendar. The new technical section of track with the loop also threw up some interesting moments for the drivers, giving them a change of pace compared to the mostly high speed track.

But I do feel the track is missing something without the full complex and the legendary Bridge corner. It also feels odd that the pit-straight has very few grandstands, making both paddock areas looking a bit dull and quiet.

But these are things I’m sure we’ll get used to and will be sorted out in the future to ensure an improved overall experience. Right, on with the racing.

Conditions for the British Grand Prix were, as always, interesting. At the start of the race, one half of the track was bone dry whilst the other had an awful lot of standing water. Despite this, the opening laps of the race proved a little disappointing. After Vettel took an early lead from his team-mate and Hamilton drove around several cars to make it up to fourth place on early on(which was admittedly a sterling performance from the Brit), things calmed down all too quickly. The Red Bulls were dominant out front – in spite of their claims that the ‘new regulations’ would damage their performance – with the following Ferrari of Alonso, McLaren of Hamilton and sister Ferrari of Massa all spaced out by quite some distance.

Things were looking a bit bleak for a while as far as a race was concerned with the only action on track being a few tussles near the bottom of the pack. Of these the most notable was between Schumacher and Kobayashi – the former champion losing control and hitting the Japanese driver, losing his front wing and then being penalised with a stop/go penalty (a little unfair in my opinion). It wasn’t looking like a good day for Schumi down in 18th.

But this incident had an effect further up the field. When Schumacher pitted, he changed to slick tyres and was setting blitzing lap times. Instantly the top runners reacted, coming in and changing their tyres to the new slick rubber. This closed the pack up a bit and most notably put the Ferrari’s under pressure. Too much in fact as Hamilton made his way by Alonso in a powerful move down the new pit straight. In fact Hamilton was flying, catching the Red Bull’s up front who weren’t too far apart themselves.

But Alonso wasn’t finished yet, he continued pushing and was frequently matching and beating Hamilton’s times, all the time catching Webber and Vettel up front. Things were starting to play out interestingly for a close second-half of the race.

It was in the pit-stops that everything changed again. Hamilton had to pit early after damaging his tyres, along with Webber. This proved costly for both as Alonso, staying out longer, was able to make the undercut work and come out in front. But it wasn’t just Webber and Hamilton he beat in the pit-lane. It’s never nice to cheer at other people’s mishaps, but I couldn’t help myself when I saw Vettel’s pitstop going wrong. For the first time this season, the Red Bull pit team made a mistake – and it didn’t play into their hands.

Vettel come out behind both Alonso and Hamilton who he then engaged in a straight battle. This lasted several laps and it was interesting to see how the Red Bull of Vettel was able to catch Hamilton’s McLaren in the slower corners, yet was unable to capitalise in the slipstream on the straights – possibly the first sign of a weakness to the Red Bull 2011 car?

But Christian Horner is no fool, by pitting Vettel early, he was able to get ahead of Lewis and easily maintain second position from the McLaren. But one person who Vettel was no match for was the Ferrari of Alonso. Fernando continued to stream ahead, setting fastest lap after fastest lap. For one, the Red Bull wasn’t the top car on the day – be that due to a regulation change or not – and it meant that we finally saw Vettel properly outclassed on track in 2011.

The race wasn’t quite over yet. Hamilton was low on fuel after pressing hard in the early stages and had to drive conservatively letting a fiery Webber back through. This wasn’t enough for Mark who pressed on and found himself actually challenging Vettel for the final few laps. It was great to see these two battle it out on track once again, but in fear of a repeat of their collision last year, team boss Horner called off the fight – not that Webber was having any of it. And good on Webber. I understand Christian’s reason as team boss, but Mark has something to prove this year against Vettel and it’s great to see a proper racer who won’t give up until the chequered flag.

Perhaps Mark feels a bit undervalued at the team, as no doubt Ferrari’s Felipe Massa also does. He was mostly ignored by his team today, risking wrecking his race to ensure that Alonso had a successful day. Not the best way to run a team in my opinion.

Despite this, Felipe found himself battling Hamilton to the line in a thrilling race round the final section. It ended in contact, which could be seen as slightly dubious in the yes of some stewards, but was luckily ignored giving a fantastic drag race which Massa just lost out on. And to think, if Ferrari had bothered with Massa’s strategy a bit more he could have claimed another position…

But overall, a great day for Ferrari, brilliant to see them back at the top for the first time since Korea last year. Not so good a day for the Brits though. Hamilton was the highest British finisher in fourth place, with his teammate Button losing out due to an astonishing error by the McLaren team – they sent him out with a loose wheel! You could understand Jenson’s frustration, another British Grand Prix without a podium.

Thoughts also to Paul Di Resta. After a fantastic qualifying session, the Scot was denied any up-front action by a lousy pit-stop from the Force India team, leaving him finishing in 15th position after 52 laps. So all in all, a disappointing day to be British.

Except it wasn’t. This years British Grand Prix was a roaring success. The new pits and podium were fantastic, the new track layout is still in keeping with the old and we had an enjoyable race. The only problem is, as Alonso was the furthest behind Vettel (of the main contenders), Sebastien has actually extended his lead today. Still half the season to go, but it surely won’t be long before we can declare it his…

 

 


More Murdoch Madness!

July 6, 2011

Thought I’d throw in my two pence on the countries biggest debate right now. I am of course talking about the ‘News of the World’ phone hacking scandal.

The story has of course been dragging on for about four years now, but within the last few days things went nuclear. It was revealed by ‘The Guardian’ (who seem to have something of a vendetta against News Corp!) that the phone of murder victim Milly Dowler was hacked by ‘News of the World’ and that the contents of her voicemail was altered. This was followed yesterday and today with police investigations into the phone hacking of several victims of very emotional crime – including the parents of the Soham school girls Jessica Chapman & Holly Wells and the families of 7/7 victims.

My view is very much the same as the rest of the country, appalled. Invading the privacy of grieving families is both shocking and disgusting at the same time. Throw in the fact that the whole thing is just to make a quick buck and the story becomes even more sickening.

Throughout my training as a Broadcast Journalist, I have been told on several occasions that you will have to make moral decisions as a journalist. To an extent this is true, you won’t always get the big exclusives without stepping on a few people to get there. But this is in my opinion too far. I don’t understand how these people can live with themselves, taking people at their weakest point and exploiting them for financial gain is completely unacceptable.

But the sad truth is that ‘News of the World’ are not the only newspaper doing things like this, they’re just the ones who got caught. Fleet street is bound to be full of this kind of practice to get stories and sell papers from the Tabloids to the broadsheets.

In my opinion, journos who take it this far give journalism the bad name it often has and do not truly represent the hard working journalists out there who turn in stories in an honest and balanced fashion (believe it or not there are some out there, at least I like to think there are). Perhaps this is why I’m more a fan of broadcast journalism where competition for advertisers is not nearly as important.

But despite my initial reaction being the horror at these actions finally revealed, my mind quickly changes to the interest angle, because this is a remarkably interesting story.

Rupert Murdoch, like it or not, has controlled a lot about how this country has run for a very long time. His media saturation is such that any political party fall head-over-heels to impress him – he wins elections and dictates who stays in power.

But now, Murdoch isn’t fully in control. One of his prize money-makers has fallen from grace. The negative of being such a massive empire? It’s Murdoch and News Corp that get mentioned in every report, just as much if not more than News of The World.

This could have a big impact for Murdoch, not least with News Corp’s upcoming takeover bid for BSkyB. With so much negativity around and irresponsible journalism, Ofocm could step in and block it, halting years of planning from Murdoch.

Then there’s Rebekah Brooks, the editor of NotW during the hacks, now Chief Executive of News International. She’s embedded herself firmly within the Government and is running Murdoch’s ship for him pretty well. But she had to know about these hacks and if she didn’t, this surely proves she is an irresponsible leader. She surely has to go over this issue. Harsh words perhaps, but if the boot was on the other foot, Brooks’ papers would be calling for it.

Yet Murdoch defends her. He’s put his reputation on the line today by taking her side of the argument, putting Prime Minister David Cameron in a very difficult situation. Cameron has to win the views of the public and the easiest way to do that is to condemn these actions and the people in charge of it. But at the same time, Cameron doesn’t want to break his close ties with Murdoch’s empire.

But one man seemingly doesn’t care about staying on News Corp’s good side. Enter Ed Miliband – remember him? Leader of the Labour party… He’s a man in danger of losing the faith of his party and today he fought for that faith, challenging the PM strongly on the situation, asking him the questions he didn’t want to answer. But in doing so, he’s taken a big risk.

Miliband came out, guns blazing against Murdoch and his empire. For the present, that’s great – he’ll no doubt win supporters. But there’s still a long way to the next election. Murdoch has a massive empire, this scandal will be brushed off like a fly and in four years time when Miliband is campaigning, he won’t forget. This is why Murdoch is so powerful, he can control what goes in his papers/TV/films/websites and he can shape the way a nation thinks.

There’s a reason why all governments get in bed with Murdoch and while Miliband looks like a hero now, he could live to regret this in a few years time.

But what happens next, who knows (not even Murdoch). The police are currently investigating several hacking allegations and sources within News Corp seem to think the worst is still to come. There’s no doubt that this scandal will hurt ‘News of the World’ and the newspaper industry as a whole, but how much and how far this goes is yet to be seen.

Horrible yet oh so interesting at the same time.