Friday, October 27, 2006

We're off to see the rally, the wonderful rally of Oz...

...for the last time in Western Australia for the forseeable future.

My favourite time of year has rolled around again. Rally Australia 2006 kicked off last night at the Gloucester Park Super Special Stage. Today I off down in Dwellingup having a hoon on some nice gravel roads in an effort to get to spectator points before the first cars came through.

Here are some of my pics from today:

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I must send a big thanks out to an Officer Naydin (I think) of the WA Police Service who didn't give me a ticket for 70 in a 60 zone on the way out of Pinjarra this morning. He said to me: "Doing 70 in a 60 is not a heinous crime. I'm not going to book you but watch your speed.". After he took my details for their log book, he bid me good day and sent me on my way, albeit slightly slower.

Coming soon: Miss Rally Australia Finalists 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Where the streets probably have a name...

But you don't care because the noise is so fantastic...

This video is just plain amazing. After the Brazilian Grand Prix on the weekend, where the World Drivers Championship was awarded to Fernando Alonso and the World Constructors Championship was awarded to Renault, Red Bull Racing put one of their cars out on the streets of Sao Paulo in a wonderful bit of marketing for Red Bull.

What an absolutely amazing sound that is...

I don't know if it would be more spectacular if it was dry or not. Seeing Christian Klien fight the car when he hits the white lines, large puddles or even puts some throttle on.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My ears! My ears!

From News.com.au:

BE warned: Peter Andre and Jordan's appalling new duet is four minutes and twenty-two seconds you will never get back.



A recording of the Australian singer and his ultra-tanned bimbo wife singing the song "A Whole New World'' has been doing the industry email rounds in recent days.



Apparently set to end up on a Christmas covers album in the UK, the tabloid couple ramble tragically through the song they danced to at their wedding last year.




I thought I would give it a listen thinking 'it can't be that bad'....







Well I was wrong. Very very very wrong. I think I need to listen to some Hendrix or Black Sabbath turned up to 11 just to cleanse my ears of that awful rubbish. Some people should never be allowed near a microphone.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Anticipation...

One of the most aniticipated cars in a long time seems like it is nearly ready for general consumption. What you see below are photos of the new Nissan Skyline GT-R. It seems fairly close to the concept shown at the Tokyo Motor Show last year.

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Let's just hope those canvas panels aren't covering up some ugly features.

Thanks to Winding Road for the scoop.

Looking very close to the sensational GTR-Proto concept shown back in 2005 at the Tokyo Motor Show, the 2008 Skyline appears to be in its final stages of development, as evidenced by these KGP Photography shots of the car caught testing at the Nürburgring.

While all previous Skylines were sedan-derived, the new model will reportedly gain its own two-door architecture, which bodes well for the car from a performance standpoint.

Prevailing rumors have the car taking on a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6, itself derived from the engine in the 350Z. Power bogeys put the mill in the range of 450 horsepower and 370 pound-feet of twist. In true Skyline fashion, the car will be all-wheel-drive, with a further evolution of the GT-R’s electronic ATTESA ET-S torque-sensing system, tied into a four-wheel steering system.

All of which should be good for a 0-60 miles-per-hour time of well under 4 seconds, and a top speed somewhere on the ambitious end of 180 mph.

Hamster crash footage...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Guest Post: So speaking about crappy manufacturing....

North Korea, that crazy old uncle of China and South Korea tested it's first nuclear weapon... Now when other countries test nukes it's always a little like them wondering if fire is still hot. North Korea on the other hand doesn't have the most stellar record getting it's missiles to work. The Tae Po Dong tests for example conducted recently were spectacular failures mostly breaking up over the ocean.

So it's little wonder really that they feel the need to test them. Should the world really be that worried though. South Korea which hasn't been crippled by sanctions or a crazy old uncle in charge (that's you Kim Il Jong in case you're reading :P) took many, many years to get building a car right. I'm sure we all remember the first Hyundai Excels that were "tested" on the world. Some would argue that even now they're only just starting to catch up. So if it takes 15 years for the smarter country to get something as simple as a car right (or at least passable) how long will it take the crazy, dog food eating, cardigan general?

Even if they do manage to get it to 'work' (by which I mean not blowing up in a silo, launchpad or over one of their own cities) what would they want to do with it? They might think having a crack at South Korea is a good idea... but that's a pretty close target so the fallout would undoubtedly affect the North as well (probably doing billions of dollars in improvements however). What about Japan? Those two have never really seen eye to eye but they are a little further away and to get there they'd probably have to fire it over China or at least Chinese air space. Even a crazy like Kim would have to know that pissing off a country with a massive (bored) standing army, nukes of their own and a billion people who live just across a line in the jungle from you might not be a good idea... China had no trouble at all getting a lot of soldiers into Korea in the 50s to help the North so I'm sure they still know the way to the border.

Of course Nth Korea isn't the only country with a nutter in charge. There's a religious zealot in this far off land of the United States of America who has "nucular" weapons all of his own. So perhaps what it might come to is two crazy uncles sitting on their porches with big guns trying to shoot garden gnomes off each others porches. In that case I'm not sure who I'd pick as the winner. Uncle George has more weapons and they work but he's not quite as crazy as Uncle Kim which could count against him.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Jong Deh Electronic Factory...

The other day I had to get the screwdriver out to fix the DVD player that Calvin uses to watch Bob the Builder, Hi-5, The Wiggles, Nemo, Monsters Inc. and Little Red Tractor. And no, Calvin didn't try to watch them all at the same time, one of the little tension springs that keeps the drive bay door shut came away and was causing some sticking issues. I removed the cover of this $79 DVX Strathfield cheapie DVD player and was surprised at the lack of hardware contained inside. The contents were:
  • One DVD drive
  • One power supply module PCB
  • One logic and video processor PCB
  • One control panel PCB...
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So much spare space in a fairly small unit really. I had a close look at the DVD drive to see what sort it was and what I found gave me some amusement.

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Look closely at the image above and have a look at the location where the unit was made.
XINGDAKENG LONGDONG LONGGANG SHENZHEN CHINA


I would hate to have to write that as my return address on tax returns and other semi-important stuff, but in Mandarin it probably translates to just 4 or 5 characters.

The drive it turns out is a fairly standard unit that is used in a lot of generic brand DVD players. It is probably used in brand name players too but those companies would at least relabel the drives to their own specs.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Whinge, whinge...

When Microsoft does something wrong, there is a deafening roar when the anti-MS crowd take up their loudhailers and scream to the world that Microsoft is evil. But when Microsoft does something right, those same people roar again that Microsoft is being anti-competitive and abusing the monopoly. I'm sorry guys, you can't have it both ways...

The latest subject that the anti-MS crowd are going nuts about is the PatchGuard system that has been included in Windows Vista. This new feature is an attempt by Microsoft to stop malicious programs having access to the kernel of Vista and creating all sorts of havoc. Finally Microsoft are implementing a security feature that nearly all other mainstream operating systems have in place.

Enter Symantecand McAfee, two anti-virus software vendors that have built a good profitable business on protecting Windows users from malicious programs and viruses, have started complaining about the move towards a more secure Windows kernel. My personal experience with some of the products that Symantec and McAfee produce has always eneded with pain and a reformat. Software that doesn't remove itself fully when you ask it to be uninstall is a fundamental sin in my mind.

An article from Ars Technica regarding Symantec's attack on Microsoft:
Symantec and Microsoft have always had an uneasy relationship: the former depends on the latter for a platform for its products, yet often finds itself in direct competition with the software giant. Now, with Microsoft's new operating system Vista still on pace for release in January 2007, Symantec is warning that the OS may harm it and other security software companies. In a statement released today, Symantec communications director Chris Paden said that Vista will "reduce consumer choice" when it comes to computer security.

Paden's beef is with the new Windows Security Center, an update to the control panel that made its first appearance with Windows XP's Service Pack 2. He claims that the interface comes with default programs to handle virus protection, a software firewall, and a spyware scanner, and that the user can install replacements for these applications but not access them through the security center program.

At least as of Windows Vista RC1, some of his claims are true, but not all of them. A clean install of Vista does come with a firewall (based on an enhanced version of the Windows XP SP2 firewall) and anti-spyware courtesy of Windows Defender, but does not come with any anti-virus software (the Security Center complains about this via an orange shield with an exclamation point in the taskbar notification area, and urges the user to install a third-party AV program). The default Windows Vista "Welcome Center" contains an icon to subscribe to Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare, which includes AV support, but the icon is not visible from the Security Center. As far as the firewall and anti-spyware applications go, the Security Center doesn't appear to have any easily-accessible way to swap out these programs for third-party equivalents. Indeed, the firewall panel even warns that "Two or more firewalls running at the same time can conflict with each other."


This article from Reuters about McAfee taking out a full page ad that attacks Microsoft:
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Microsoft is working to hamstring software companies trying to overcome "inherent weaknesses" in Windows security, rival McAfee Inc. charged in a full-page ad in Monday's Financial Times.

McAfee, Symantec and other security software companies argue Microsoft's new Vista operating system will make it more difficult to protect customers because for the first time, they have been denied access to the core of the operating system.

Microsoft says it may withhold shipping Vista to European Union states when it distributes the operating system next month to computer makers and companies, out of concern about enforcement action. But no decision has been made.

"Our goal is to deliver a fully innovative, secure version of Windows Vista that is compliant with EU law. We have an ongoing and constructive dialogue with the Commission on these issues," a Microsoft spokesman said.

McAfee's ad echoes comments by Symantec officials in a recent interview that Microsoft has withdrawn cooperation as it moves to substitute their security software with its own, giving its own product a leg-up in Windows.

They say they are denied access to the heart of the operating system through built-in software locks, which makes it much harder to protect.


I really think that Symantec and McAfee can fuck off and die. Their reliance on a flaw in the older Windows kernels has allowed them to create a business based on the very insecurities that they are setting out to protect the users from. This is a questionable position to sit in and is bound to end in disaster from the outset. Now, when they see their whole business plan going down the drain, instead of coming up with another way to secure Windows, they go running to the EU and see if they can get some protection from them. Losers.

A comment on Digg says it much better than I ever could:
What the text should have said:

"We at McAfee have a serious problem. We bitched and moaned for over a decade about the lack of security in Microsoft Windows. We even built a business on cleaning up after them. So after all the years and all of the nasty comments we had made, imagine our surprise when Microsoft actually tightened security and even provided their own anti-virus software. Well we're kind of in a bad place spot now. While Microsoft has essentially done what we have asked, they have also pretty much put us out of business.

So we would like to ask you, the consumer, to take pity on us and convince Microsoft to not give you something for free that you could pay us for. Thanks :)"

The art of the parody...

Weird Al is back with a new album and the master of parodies has done another great job. This time parodying Chamillionaire's piece of rap Ridin'.

Here are the videos: