Wednesday, 31 March 2010
There's about a 50-50 chance of rain on raceday and about a 40% chance for practice and qualifying. I suspect we may get another rain enlivened race especially as Malaysian storms can blow up quickly (as last year's race stopping downpour showed).
Sunday, 28 March 2010
What we had in Australia was some drizzle, a safety car and a track which lends itself to overtaking.
F1 is far from fixed.
Pity poor Sebastian Vettel though, who seems certain to fall foul of the Red Bull jinx - despite being the fastest car/driver combination so far, he's already 25 points behind Alonso at the head of the leaderboard...
Friday, 26 March 2010
Can't see what their problem is really, its not like he isn't one of the world's greatest drivers and probably more under control of things than the average cop at their most attentive. Frankly I'd give him a medal for livening the image of Grand Prix drivers up a bit...
Rather reminds me of the excellent Hamilton, Alonso, Hakinnen advert that Mercedes used a couple of years ago, before that particular partnership fell apart.
After a pretty dismal start to the season in Bahrain the one thing the Virgin team didn't need was more bad publicity. So having to admit that the fuel tanks in their cars aren't big enough to get them to the end of a race seems like a particularly awkward thing to have to admit.
The team are claiming that changes in the regulations meant their initial design was compromised, yet all the other teams seem to avoided that particular pratfall...
I'm not a big fan of Nick Wirth, Virgin team boss, (anyone who remembers Imola 1994 will know why) so the only disappointment for me is that the FIA are allowing them to modify their car to fit a bigger tank. Still the sight of them trundling around pointless for the next few races will provide plenty of amusement...
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
How will the Beeb's prediction of possible rain at the end of the race on Sunday liven up the early morning as we ponder how the teams will plan their strategy armed with this knowledge?
Personally I'd start on the hard tyre and aim to manage it until around ten laps from the end when either a single stop onto wets will suffice or a dry weather stop onto the super-soft for a banshee thrash to the finish...
Thursday, 18 March 2010
So for example on my journey back from Manchester today I travelled 43.3 miles at an average of 47.7mph, was stationery for one minute and hit a max speed of 91.7mph.
I can see this being something of an addictive program to have running in the background during car journeys to give real feedback when travelling.
I'd like to see the next version of the application store the speed at each point of the journey so that you can click on the route at any point and discover just how quickly (or slowly) you were travelling, otherwise its a pretty perfect application which delivers exactly what it promises...
The Pre is in real trouble right now, its selection of applications is limited, its only available from one network and its competition is getting stronger by the day, with new Android phones arriving in April (the X10 range, Nexus and its HTC half-brothers); Apple due to announce the fourth generation iPhone this summer and Windows Phone 7 Series arriving this year. Palm has little to offer by comparison and its bet on WebOS seems to be failing - and badly. Once again the company has announced another quarter of losses and you have to wonder just how much cash they have left to burn through.
In order to survive Palm has two options as far as I can see: Android or Microsoft. The former shouldn't be a difficult switch, the core platforms of WebOS and Android are similarly Linux based; whilst Palm has had some history of working with Microsoft in the past so should be able to build on what was once a positive relationship for the company. Perhaps the way forward is to follow some other brands and draw from both pools. Their devices will have to get a lot more competitive if they're to compete in the Android market though. However there is a niche for an Android-powered Pixi if Palm are quick, there's no candy-bar Android phone that currently sports a front mounted QWERTY...
Persevering with WebOS looks to be a dead end street and Palm now has a limited time to turn their car around. But do they have the will and personnel to do it?
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
So here's a quick summary of what Microsoft have got planned for WP7S. No multitasking, no sideloading of software, no memory card slots, no UI customisation and now no clipboard functionality.
Someone at Redmond has seriously misunderstood the reason for the iPhone's success. It's not because its locked down, prescriptive and controlled that its been a success, its in spite of that.
It really does appear that Microsoft set out to slavishly copy the iPhone and didn't even have the nous to work out which bits were worth copying and which bits were best left out.
And irony of ironies, it looks like the next generation iPhone will be getting true multitasking. Which will probably be the final nail in Microsoft's mobile platform's coffin.
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Want to see the gentle art of spin in action? Then have a look at the way sales figures of the iPhone, Droid and Nexus One are being portrayed on various pro-Android and pro-Apple sites.
The Droid has managed to outsell the original iPhone trumpets one side, the Nexus One has been a complete flop shouts the other.
Neither headline portrays the real story and for that you have to dig a bit deeper.
The original iPhone sold a million in 74 days and the Droid managed 50,000 more in the same period. Good, but then the iPhone 3G hit the million mark in less than a week. It's all about the context. The iPhone was only available in the US for most of those 74 days, whilst the Droid was available in a few selected other countries too. The 3G was available worldwide from day one.
The Nexus One figures hide the fact that its only available stateside, on a minor carrier and can only be bought online. In that context selling 135,000 units in 74 days looks pretty impressive, especially as its competing in a pretty saturated Android market.
The real story here is that Android is grabbing market share hand over fist and with so many phones available there's sure to be one to fit every need. Google doesn't need an Android phone to sell in big numbers, just lots of phones doing reasonable sales.
Microsoft finally killed all hopes of a HD2 WP7S update yesterday at MIX10 - using the incredibly feeble excuse that the current WM flagship device has too many buttons.
I can understand why Microsoft wants to enforce some standards on its new platform, buy people buying the HD2 over the last few months have had several indications that an upgrade would be available and probably wouldn't have made an expensive commitment to the device knowing that this wasn't the case.
The only possible ray of hope for HD2 buyers is that HTC decide to release a compatible build (officially or otherwise) or something leaks through PDA-Developers...
It's not a good way of building customer loyalty for a platform under pressure and hopefully the backlash will be sufficient to force a rethink in Redmond...
Sunday, 14 March 2010
So there was little in the way of overtaking in Bahrain, not helped by Bridgestone's decision to bring tyres with an almost unlimited life. If the super-soft tyres can last 20 laps in Sakhir's heat by the time they get to Belgium they'll be able to last the whole weekend with one set.
Big winner was of course Fernando Alonso - the sixth man to win on his Ferrari debut - but only after Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull threw a shoe (well, an exhaust technically).
Worryingly even Mclaren's trick stallable rear wing - which gave it a 6mph straight line advantage - wasn't enough to get Button past Schumacher, suggesting that we'll not be in for a classic season of balls to the wall racing...
Still Melbourne promises a different experience - hopefully.
Saturday, 13 March 2010
Last week Opera released a native version of its Mini browser for both Android and Windows Mobile. I've now tried it on both platforms and its a pretty impressive piece of software. It's much quicker than the default Android browser and Internet Explorer Mobile.
Of course Windows Mobile has a wide selection of browsers including some server side rendering options like Skyfire which add functionality over and above Opera. For Android users its a real boon though and well worth a download from the marketplace.
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
I mean come on, if your throttle sticks open how difficult is it to dip the clutch, select neutral and bring the car to a halt before killing the engine with the key?
Sounds like a blatant attempt to extract money from Toyota if you ask me...
Sunday, 7 March 2010
Apple's case against HTC revolves around twenty patents - all apparently granted in the US. The US Patent Office is not exactly notorious for the quality or rigour in its examination of software patent applications, so perhaps it would be worth looking at the likely validity of some of those patents.
First up the patent for the 'Time-Based, Non- Constant Translation Of User Interface Objects Between States'. Reading the patent paperwork there appear to be two claims here: one over transition effects when minimising or restoring a window and the other is the automatic re-shuffling of icons in a line or grid when one of those icons is moved or removed. The former technology is well established and I struggle to see how this part of the patent stands up to scrutiny: Windows XP was doing window animations as far back as 2003 and there were several utilities for Windows and Classic MacOS that also delivered similar functionality. Not to mention the shape changing functionality introduced by Windows Media Player 7 with skins, introduced as far back as Summer 2000. Similarly an application called Desktop Icon Toy did the thing with icon re-arranging back in the days of Windows 95. Subsequent versions of Windows have had the ability to keep icons arranged as you move the around - by re-shuffling them as you move - since at least Windows 98. In the detail of the application it ties this functionality down to dragging an application around from one place to another, something that's been done since mice and icons were first invented...
Having failed two counts of legitimacy this patent clearly needs striking from the record. It would certainly have never been granted in Europe and any court should deny its validity in any case between Apple and HTC/Google/anybody else. Apart from anything else I can't see any area of either my Android based Hero or Windows Mobile Touch Pro 2 which can be said to have infringed on the patent, even if it were declared valid by someone devoid of a shred of common sense.
Strike one, nineteen to go...
Friday, 5 March 2010
Looks like anyone moving to WP7S won't be doing with anything legacy. In recent days Microsoft have confirmed that no current devices will meet WP7S hardware specs and that there is no backward compatibility for applications.
That's a huge blow for people who bought the HD2 expecting to be able to upgrade it. I'm sure that people who have heavy investment in Windows Mobile software won't be over the moon either.
Developers seem to be split down the middle, with some enthusiastic about the new platform, others not happy about having to start again from scratch.
Whatever else happens though I'm struggling to see how Microsoft are going to avoid the Osborne effect killing WM6 sales stone dead. Next to no one will be investing in software or hardware that will be obsolete in six months time. And as those sales fall off I'm sure that many hardware OEMs will be left with unsaleable inventory, just what you need with today challenging market conditions...
Thursday, 4 March 2010
Apple's game of 'make the rules up as we go along' for apps in the iTunes store took a bizarre turn today. Apple changed the rules for WiFi applications killing WiFi scanners and location based applications which use WiFi in the absence of a GPS signal. Guess what? They're all banned.
Apple really do seem to be hell bent on playing the role of Big Brother and dictating exactly how you may use its products.
For the life of me I can see no reasonable reason for this decision. Not even one that points to an Apple scheme for expanding its profits/control further.
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
What's clear though is that this is Apple's first assault in the forthcoming head to head with Google - significant not least because it suggests that Apple no longer sees Microsoft as a valid competitor and because it clearly demarcates the lines of battle. Mobile OS (in the shape of Android) will be the first major killing ground and from there we'll no doubt see Chromium and web applications and who knows what else drawn into the battle.
Google has clearly got Apple spooked.
Why? Well I'd suggest its because the two companies occupy opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the way they operate.
Apple sells you a product and wants to lock you in to it so that it can keep on selling. Its all about proprietary connections, software and hardware. Its a variation of the Gillette sales model. Sell a consumer a big ticket item and then persuade them to buy add-ons to gain full benefit of the product. Lock them in so that those add-ons are only available when Apple receives payment for the privilege of selling them. Things like the iPod/iPhone certification program, the lock down of the apps store and the tight integration with iTunes on the desktop.
Google, on the other hand, is really only interested in search and advertising. Everything else is a means to get you to Google's strong suite of profit generating packages. Google's mail/calendar/photo/disk packages are free to pretty much everyone, anyone who pays for those services does so because they want to benefit from premium features. Android is free to phone manufacturers, consumers are given free choice and by building brand and reputation; and building on brand and reputation Google benefits financially from its apparent philanthropy.
Google managed to make Android the fastest growing mobile OS last year - and given the number of Android handsets announced at MWC and since I suspect that will be repeated this year. At the same time Android has migrated to web tablets, PMPs and even netbooks, in pretty much every case making Apple products look over priced or over-egged. That's got Apple's attention alright. After all if consumers start leaking away to platforms where Apple has no presence or control the whole house of cards starts to look very shaky indeed. Apple needs to retain control, hence the lawsuit.
I think most right-minded people would agree that a world lived to Apple's rules and restrictions would be the stuff of nightmares whilst one to Google's would be an unachievable Utopian dream. Still I know which goal I would strive for.
The big winners here will be the lawyers, of that I have no doubt. And whilst I absolutely agree with the rights of companies to defend and benefit from the patents they hold, you can be sure that I am wholeheartedly hoping that Apple's action is bounced out of court in very short order.
We often hear about movie franchises being rebooted - usually because the content has become weak and the storyline confusing. Often its because the director has delivered a movie of such appalling quality that no movie goer would ever pay money to go see that franchise again.
Things aren't quite that bad in Android land, but Google needs to seriously consider how it carries the platform forward.
At the moment its possible to buy handsets with four different versions of the OS installed. This affects the way the phone runs and what software will be available in the application market. Imagine the frustration of a new smartphone buyer who picks up an Android 1.5 device in the expectation of being able to use navigation or Goggles only to find that they are barred by their OS version.
Not the sort of customer experience that Google's name implies and hardly likely to get end users raving about their phones.
I'd suggest that Google needs to separate the OEM or Operator level customization from the base OS layer, allowing customers to update the latter without having to wait for updates to the former.
At the moment Android is more fragmented than Windows Mobile at its worst and that means that the platform is never going to be a true competitor for the seamless customer experience offered by the iPhone.