June 28, 2009

F1 News & Notes

There comes a day in every child's life where they realize that there is no Santa Claus.  For some it comes early, for others late, but a fortunate, lucky few keep their sense of wonder and joy alive for all their days, brightening the lives of all they come in contact with.

Max Mosley is not one of those.  In fact it seems likely that as a toddler, Max stood up in his crib and threw rattles and pacifiers at his false-beard-clad father on December 25th.

I've come to this conclusion regarding the Emperor Mosley only recently.  As we are all aware, a looming disintegration of F1 was avoided at the last moment only by Mosley's confirmation that he will not stand for re-election when his current term as President of the FIA comes to an end in October.  As could have been predicted by anybody with two synapses to rub together, this was hailed by the press as a victory for the FOTA teams over the much-disliked Mosley.  At one point, Ferrari chief (and de facto head of FOTA) Luca di Montezemelo used the word 'dictator' in reference to Mosely.

While in truth the Emperor has been a dictator for much of his time as the FIA President when it comes to F1, it may come as a shock to hear that he doesn't much care for such a description.  Perhaps that's because of his father's ties to the National Socialist movement just prior to WWII, or maybe he just prefers the title Emperor.  Either way, Mosley is throwing his rattles again, except now he's about to ruin our Christmas.

On Friday, he issued a statement insisting that di Montezemelo retract his comment, apologize, and correct the "many inaccurate statements" in the FOTA press release of Wednesday.  If this isn't done, says Mosley, he will reconsider his decision to step down as President and run for the office again.

I feel like I'm 17 years old and just opened my presents... and got nothing but socks.

From all appearances, the FOTA declaration calling off the split was based entirely on Mosely's departure.  Now that he might not leave, we're essentially right back where we were before last Wednesday's meeting.

Now I feel like I'm six years old, just opened my presents... and got nothing but socks.

In other news, there's a rumor floating around that Manor, Campos, and USF1, the three new teams on the grid next season (if there is a next season), will be allowed to run their engines at 20000rpm, while the "old" teams will continue to be restricted to 18000rpm.  On the face of it, that seems like like quite the advantage, worth perhaps as much as 10mph or so in straightline speed.  In truth, it probably won't work out to be much of an advantage at all.  Consider that those engines will still have to last three race weekends; those extra rpms will make life harder on those powerplants.  Also consider that the engines will be built by Cosworth, which hasn't been in F1 since 2006.  No knock on Cosworth, they're a fine marque with a long and very successful history in Formula 1, but the new engines will be essentially untried.  In a world where tolerances are measured in microns and a grain of sand can turn an engine into a flaming lump in seconds, untried engines are always a worry.  Letting them run at 20Krpm might be as much a curse as a blessing.

Next, it appears that Ferrari is seriously considering throwing in the towel on 2009 to concentrate on next year's car.  Luca di Montezemelo is blaming the team's poor chassis on poorly defined rules (i.e. the double diffuser dilemma) and KERS.  Of course, both rule changes can be laid right at the feet of Emperor Mosley, but that's just a coincidence I'm sure.

Finally, USF1's Sporting Director, Peter (Smarmy) Windsor was interviewed on SPEED's Wind Tunnel show tonight, and he was asked about the rumor that a major sponsor for the team was Chad Hurley, one of the creators of YouTube.  In a display Fred Astaire would have been proud of, Windsor danced around the question quite adroitly, while promising that there were announcements coming forthwith.  He DID, however, deny that Pamela Anderson was going to be involved in the team in some way.

For which fact, we should all be very grateful.  I wouldn't even wish that on Max Mosley.

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June 27, 2009

Katawa Striker?

Someone over at the Katawa Shoujo Dev Blog boards had fun with this:

...and oddly enough, so did I.

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June 26, 2009

Train Derailment, One Week After

Last Friday, Duckford had a Bad Day, culminating in the derailment of a freight train hauling 78 tanker cars full of ethanol.  Some of the cars exploded, resulting in an evacuation of the surrounding area, though thankfully not of Pond Central, which is very near the accident location.

Now, a week further on, cleanup has begun and some interesting news has been coming out regarding the events of that day.

The Pond would be out of shot to the lower right-hand corner of this picture.
The biggest news is that this entire incident, which claimed one life and injured nine, could easily have been avoided.  About a half-hour prior to the incident, four calls were placed to the local 911 center, warning of the high amount of water on the tracks.  The 911 center then contacted Canadian National Railway, the operator of the train, to let them know of the hazardous conditions a full 20 minutes before the accident.  Considering the communications equipment between rail operators and their trains are as complex as that between airlines and their planes, it would seem that there would have been plenty of time for CN to have contacted their crew about the conditions.  The NTSB investigation of the incident has begun, and may take up to a year to release its final conclusions.

Meanwhile, the stretch of Mulford Road where the accident occurred remains closed, but is expected to reopen sometime next week.  However, authorities appear to have opened part of it near The Pond as there are some businesses nearby, so I may be able to get some photographs.  The rail line is going to require some major repairs, so may be closed for some time.

Finally, there has been a mysterious fish die-off in a small river downstream from the accident site.  The EPA has said that they did not detect any substantial amounts of ethanol in the water, but they can't say for sure what the reason is.

I'll write about this event as more information becomes available in the coming days.

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June 24, 2009

The Emperor Falls

Peace reigns throughout the land as the results of today's World Motor Sports Council meeting were revealed:

There will be no breakaway FOTA series, with all teams committing to F1 through 2012.

The rules for 2010 will mirror the current rules and regulations.

Teams will cut costs "to early 1990s levels" within two years.

Technical help will be given by the current teams to the three new teams next year.

Darth Bernie Ecclestone may have made some financial concessions to the teams, giving them a larger slice of the F1 pie.

...and Emperor Max Mosley, the sinister dark lord who nearly ruined the greatest racing series in the world with his power plays, is gone as the head of the FIA as soon as his current term is up in October.

There are tifosi Ewoks dancing as fireworks light up the skies over Monaco Endor.  FOTA The Rebel Alliance has blown up the FIA's monolithic oligarchy Death Star.

Now the question becomes: will another rise to take the fallen Emperor's place?  His hand-picked successor is Jean Todt, former team principal of Ferrari.  Ferrari International Assistance, indeed.

But that is a question for another day.  For tonight, Good has triumphed over Evil.

Fans at the 2005 USGP get it right.

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June 22, 2009

While We're Waiting

... for either the next round of the F1 Championship or Wednesday's meeting of the World Motor Sports Council, here's a little thing I found.

Yes, that's right, it's a race between the Safety Cars and the Medical Cars at the 2006 USGP! 

Okay, no, it's not.  It just looks like it.  See, every time F1 goes to a circuit, the drivers of the Safety and Medical cars have to know the layout of the course.  The Medical Car in particular has to know the fastest way around the circuit... a driver's life may depend on it.

So, they get their own practice session... and boy, you gotta love their noise!  Those V8s sound like what a race car should sound like, all full of grunt and growl.

Oh, and in case you're wondering?  The lap record at the Indy roval is 1:10.339, set by Rubens Barrichello in 2004 in the Ferrari F2004, which had a V10 in the back... and was a frickin' F1 car, not a hopped-up street vehicle.

I'd say a 1:59 and change is pretty good, all things considered.

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June 21, 2009

Ducks In Anime: Yuki N. Edition

-Haruhi Suzumiya S2, ep02

As an aside, I picked up the light novel of "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" last week... it's quite a fun read, to be honest.  The appropriate episdoses in the anime follows it quite closely, to the point where I thought about watching scenes from it while I read.

It wasn't expensive, either, only $7.98 at Bob's place.  Well worth it to encourage Yen Press to release the other books in the series.  If you liked the anime, pick up the book.  It's a light read, a good way to kill a few hours during the summer.

Tell 'em Wonderduck sent ya!  Or not! 

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Stomp.  Stomp.  Squish.

THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2009 British Grand Prix!

*GODZILLA:  Maybe it was the cool asphalt making the Red Bull's tires last longer.  Maybe it was the cool asphalt making it harder for the Brawns to get their tires up to temperature.  Maybe it was the aero improvements to the RB5.  Whatever it was, from the second the lights went out this race belonged to Seb Vettel.  Every lap for the first 20 he added a second to his lead over second-place Rubens Barrichello, and when he finally swung in for his first pitstop he rejoined the race in the lead.  Vettel relinquished that lead for a total of three laps as the second round of stops happened, but even then it was to teammate Mark Webber.  At the end of the massacre, he was 15 seconds clear of Webber, 41 ahead of Barrichello.  We've seen some dominant performances this year, but nothing quite as like this.

*GODZOOKY:  In contrast, last year's polesitter Heikki Kovaleinninninnie was involved in an accident and World Champion Lewis Hamilton finished a resounding 16th.  Oh how McLaren has fallen... you know it's bad when there are banners in the British stands suggesting that the team junk the car and start over.  Meanwhile, the current points leader, Jenson Button, could do no better than sixth in his Brawn.  Not the way the partisan crowd wanted to see this one come out.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  At the age of 21, Seb Vettel is the youngest driver ever to win the British Grand Prix, and he did it while taking pole, setting fast lap of the race, and leading 57 out of 60 laps.  He also cured cancer, brought about world peace, and saved three kittens from a tree near Woodcote.  A honorable mention goes to Giancarlo Fisichella who brought his Farce India home in 10th place, and had a halfway decent shot at earning the team's first points going into the final batch of pitstops.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  A Red Bull 1-2, and it didn't seem like a fluke that they were 26 seconds up on the closest opposition.  Even when their cars were on hard tires and dialing back the engine revs, they were still faster than the fastest cars behind them.  Truly dominating, and maybe (maybe) a threat to the Brawns in the future.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  On lap 2, Grizzly Nick Heidfeld and HWMNBN were having a knockdown, dragout fight for 13th.  Some 10 carlengths behind was Giancarlo Fisichella's Farce India, near enough to be "in contact", but not so close as to be a threat.  As the BMW and the Renault bobbed and weaved, they entered Stowe.  Inexplicably, both of them completely blew their braking points and ran wide.  Meanwhile, Fisichella calmly zipped underneath them both, looking for all the while like he had a jet engine in the back of his car.  It was a beautiful job of taking advantage of your opponent's mistakes, and a glorious selection for the MotR.

*MOOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE: On Lap 34, McLaren's Heikki Kovaleininninninnie came out of the pits, slow and heavy with fuel.  Closing on him quickly came Toro Rosso's SeaBass, while just ahead was the backmarker Lewis Hamilton.  Heikki, thinking the Toro Rosso was one of the leaders, moved into the middle of the track in the run to Vale, leaving plenty of room for SeaBass to get by, either on the inside or the out.  SeaBass swerved inside, outside, then inside again, for no reason that any sane human being could possibly fathom, and...

...a broken nose for SeaBass, a broken rear for Kovaleinninninnie, and a load of debris all over the track was the result.  Oh, and the Moooooooo-ooove for SeaBass, too. 



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June 20, 2009

F1 Quals: Britain 2009

Shocker at Silverstone!  Let's take a look at the provisional grid:

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:18.685 1:18.119 1:19.509
2 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:19.325 1:18.335 1:19.856
3 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:18.674 1:18.209 1:19.868
4 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:18.886 1:18.240 1:20.091
5 Kazoo Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:18.530 1:18.575 1:20.216
6 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:18.957 1:18.663 1:20.289
7 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:19.228 1:18.591 1:20.361
8 Timo Glockenspiel Toyota 1:19.198 1:18.791 1:20.490
9 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:19.010 1:18.566 1:20.715
10 HWMNBN Renault 1:19.167 1:18.761 1:20.741
11 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:19.148 1:18.927
12 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:19.730 1:19.308
13 Heikki Kovalaineninnie McLaren-Mercedes 1:19.732 1:19.353
14 Nelson Piquet Jr
Renault 1:19.555 1:19.392
15 Grizzly Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:19.559 1:19.448
16 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 1:19.802

17 SeaBass STR-Ferrari 1:19.898

18 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:19.909

19 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:19.917

20 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:20.236

Okay, Vettel on pole isn't a surprise.  It's his third of the season, and his second in a row.  Barrichello and Webber aren't a surprise, either.  Trulli?  Toyota's quick, so it's no surprise to see him fourth.  But Jenson Button in sixth?  Lewis Hamilton 19th?  Good merciful heavens. 

But wait, don't forget about fuel loads.  Button must be running heavy.  Except he's not: he's at 657.5kg, but Vettel has 666.5kg, the most of anybody in the top 10.

Uh-oh.  Not only that, but Vettel had the fastest times in all three quals, AND the fastest sectors of all as well.  Could it be that the RB5 has caught up with Brawn?

In a word, yes.  Silverstone has seen Adrian Newey roll out some new aerodynamic modifications to the front of the Red Bull chassis.

Compare this to the original nose on the RB5.  It used to be very narrow, almost fragile in appearance.  Now it is much wider (though narrower than the Renault).  Can such a change make that much difference?  I guess we'll find out on Sunday afternoon!

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Bad Day In Duckford (THIRD UPDATE)

So, the day started out with a severe thunderstorm here in Duckford.  Well, sure, you have to expect that here in the Midwest at this time of year, right?  Not like this.  I made it about halfway to work before I came to a length of road between two hills... which had flooded high enough to be above the tires of cars stupid enough to give it a shot.

In 15 minutes.  On one of the city's major streets.

Hm.  This is different.  So, I turn around, backtrack and cross to another street, called Mulford Road.  On the way to Mulford, a lighting strike occurs about two blocks ahead of me, hitting a streetlight and blowing a transformer right in front of my eyes.  Flash.  Bang.  Poof!  Eventually, I make it to the parking lot at Duck U., break out my trusty umbrella (none of this "water off a duck's back" for me!), and hurry to the main entry for the building the Bookstore is in.

A maintainance guy is there, waving people around to the back entry.  Seemed the front way is flooded, with water in the building.  I still manage to open the store on time.

A half hour later, the power goes out, and stays out.  Fer the luvva...

After closing the store and kibitzing in the dark with some of the Duck U. staff, I drive home on Mulford.  Fast-forward to 7pm.  A third severe thunderstorm comes through, and dumps four inches of rain in just over an hour on us.


Around 830pm, I'm working on the previous post, when the power goes out.  Lost it all, but I wasn't surprised by the power outage.  Enough storms around here today, after all.

Turns out it wasn't (directly) because of the storms, though.  It was because of this:

A Canadian National train, pulling 70-some-odd tanker cars and 40 other cars derailed at a road crossing.  Twelve tanker cars carrying ethanol had tumbled and exploded, sending a fireball some 300 feet into the air.  This picture was taken from the front lawn of a house, part of a 500-home residental neighborhood.  Everybody within a half-mile of the crash site has been evacuated.  Three casualties, people in cars waiting for the train to pass, have been reported, all with serious burns.  One has been flown to a hospital in Chicago that's better equipped to deal with extensive burns.

Oh, that street?  That's Mulford.  I crossed those very tracks twice today.  In fact, the site of the accident is only a mile or so from Pond Central, and I can see the fire's glow from my parking lot easily, and the smoke plume from the stairwell up to the third floor.

The cause of the derailment is currently unknown, seeing how there's a huge fire burning on top of the accident site.  However, those particular tracks sit at the bottom of two gentle rises, and I've often seen water pooling there after decent rains.  Four inches of rain, an hour before the train got there, is not just "decent."  I'm guessing there was quite a lake there, or the rain had done serious harm to the roadbed nearby.

The authorities are letting it burn out, saying it should be done by tomorrow sometime... if the other 60 ethanol-laden cars don't ignite, that is.  Fortunately, the engines on the train didn't derail, so they've already pulled many of the cars away.

A bad day in Duckford.

UPDATE @ 930am, June 20th:  The fire is still burning, though its down to just two or three cars now.  There's one confirmed fatality, but the cause of death is as yet undetermined because the body is too close to the fire.  Authorities seem to confirm the washout theory; reports from witnesses said that the train cars were actually bouncing up and down on the tracks just before the derailment.

SECOND UPDATE @ 11am, June 20th:  Bringing you they type of hard-hitting eyewitness coverage that you can only expect from The Pond, I took a drive past the accident site, in the guise of going grocery shopping.  Cleverly going to a different grocery store than I usually do, I managed to drive around all four sides of the blocked-off area.  Despite it being a lovely clear day here in Duckford, there's no visible evidence that anything occurred, even though I knew exactly where it happened.  The smoke plume is gone, and other than police cars barricading Mulford, and news trucks sitting in a church parking lot and a few camera crews shooting footage of... well, nothing, there's nothing to indicate that there's a major fire going on.  Lemme put it to you this way: on a day like today, I can easily see the steam clouds rising from the cooling towers of the nuclear plant that's about 30 miles away, so if there was any smoke, I should have seen it.  When I drove downwind of the accident site, about 3/4th of a mile, there was nothing I could smell to make me say "aha, there's something weird going on."  Of course, there were a lot of trees and hills blocking direct line of sight to the location, so I couldn't actually see the incident.  More when more is available.

THIRD UPDATE @ 4pm, June 20th:

Authorities say that there's still two tanker cars on fire. By some miracle and the heavy rain yesterday, the fire didn't spread to the nearby residences.  Some of the evacuees have been allowed to return to their homes.  The toll is one dead, nine injured.

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F1 Practice: Britain 2009 (and other stuff)

Due to some... extreme weather here, Pond Central's recording suite only managed to tape the first 10 and the last 15 minutes of today's second Practice session from Silverstone.  Oh well.  For what it's worth, however, the best action came after the session had officially ended. 

Force India's Adrian Sutil ended up an incredible third on the session's timesheets.  Greatly enthused by having a competitive car, even if for one day, he came into the pitlane... where he promptly ran over the nose of his teammate's car, which was being pushed back into the garage.

So, with a dearth of action on the track, let's concentrate on the action occurring off the track.  On Thursday, the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA), feeling that their negotiations with the FIA over the budget cap have stalled and have no chance to recover, announced their intention to break away from F1 and start their own series.

The FIA, in turn, has decided to bring legal proceedings against FOTA.  Their statement reads, in part: "The actions of FOTA as a whole, and Ferrari in particular, amount to serious violations of law including wilful interference with contractual relations, direct breaches of Ferrari's legal obligations and a grave violation of competition law."

Interesting how the team with the red cars, FIA's long-time favorite, have suddenly become the red-headed stepchild. 

With all this rhetoric on the table, the Legendary Announce Team described the fracas like a divorce.  The couple have seperated and filed papers against each other... now the real negotiations can begin.  Throw in a meeting of the World Motor Sports Council next week, and there's a halfway decent chance that this will all be finished then.

The solution is easy and obvious: Max Mosely must go.  Unfortunately, Mosely knows this and has already gone on record as saying that he will not, under any circumstances, step down.  If that, indeed, is the case and he stays on as president of the FIA, then there is no chance of reconciliation whatsoever.  At this point, Mosely can't back down on the budget cap without losing whatever credibility he has with the rest of the FIA, at which point he may as well actually have stepped down.

So what will happen when FOTA breaks away from F1 and starts their own series?  Unfortunately, there is precedent, and it isn't pretty.  In 1996, Tony George, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, broke away from CART, and formed his own series, the Indy Racing League (IRL).  While CART had the stronger hand for a while, they eventually went bankrupt and merged into the IRL... in 2008.  With the split of the two series, the fanbase was fractured, with the only race for both series that drew any attention being the Indianapolis 500.  Eventually, casual fans stopped caring, and even the Indy 500's ratings plummeted.  American open-wheel racing, which pre-split was incredibly popular, became an irrelevancy in the world racing scene.

In this particular split, the two sides each have their own advantages.  FOTA has the big names (Ferrari and McLaren), plus the best drivers in the world.  The FIA, however, has a big hammer.  They have the ability to ban any driver or team that participates in the FOTA series from ever racing in a FIA-sanctioned event again.  They can also ban any circuit that hosts a FOTA race from ever hosting a FIA event again.  They can also lay sanctions on any driver that competes against a FOTA driver (even in a charity event, or the Race of Champions), including banning them from FIA events.  Considering the way Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA have treated Silverstone, I suspect that they'll be willing to host one of the FOTA races.

About the only place that the FIA doesn't have much of a foothold is in the United States.  The only major series under their banner here is the NHRA

I suspect, however, that the FOTA teams will have the fans, and they have the money.  That'll be the deciding factor in the success or failure of any spinoff series... and I bet that, in the end, if it does come to a schism between the series, FOTA will succeed.  After all, Ferrari, McLaren, Button, Alonso HWMNBN, Massa, Raikkonen, Hamilton and so forth are a heckuva lot easier to cheer for than Max Mosely.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

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June 17, 2009

Ducks In Anime: T3h Rei!

A special twoferone on ducks in anime!

-Petit Eva/Evangelion @ School

To be honest, this is a seriously weird collection of stuff... Hideki Anno must be proud.

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June 16, 2009

F1 on TV: Britain 2009

Once again, F1 returns to the green lands of Albion and the legendary "birthplace" of Formula One, Silverstone Circuit (the site of the first official Formula One World Championship race, in 1950).  Once a RAF bomber base, hosting No 17 Operational Training Unit flying the Vickers Wellington, it now becomes the busiest airport in England on race day (thanks to the atrocious traffic jams on the limited access roads to the track, helicopter transportation is common).

Let's take a look at the track map for this legendary circuit:

There is no better track to point out the incredible manueverabilty of a F1 car than Silverstone.  My favorite complex of turns in Formula 1 located here, 2 thru 6: Maggots, Becketts, Chapel.  Seeing a car zip through this left/right/left/right/left complex is awe-inspiring.  In fact, because most of Silverstone is high-speed corners it's the second-fastest circuit on the F1 calendar, behind only Monza which is nothing but straightaways with an odd turn thrown in here and there.

The setup for this jewel of a track isn't, however, low downforce and balls-to-the-wall.  Those fast turns require more traction than you'd expect, and as a result you'd want to look more towards a medium downforce setup.  At Monza, you could practically take the wings off and still be able to race... try that at Silverstone and you'd wind up in the grass immediately.

It's a tragedy that this is (theoretically) the final F1 race at Silverstone.  Beginning next year, the British Grand Prix moves to Donington Park, which is a nice circuit but it's no Silverstone.  So enjoy it while you can... and the good folks at SPEED will bring us their usual yeoman coverage, beginning with Friday's Second Practice, running from 8a to 940a.

Quals comes to us on Saturday, from 7a to 830a.  Will we see Britian's Button 'n' Brawn on pole?  Will Red Bull show who's boss?  Or will Toyota snap out of its funk?  My money's on Button, with Vettel #2.

The race on Sunday, however, will once again be on FOX, from 2pm to 4pm.  Again, that's Central Pond Time, so subtract two hours for, oh let's say San Francisco or Portland.

There'll be a replay on SPEED next Tuesday from 12n to 2p... so if you miss it on Sunday, there's your chance to see the last F1 race at Silverstone!

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June 15, 2009


Ph.Duck's computer is once again running fine!  Thanks go to pxcasey for his tip on making Windows Installer work in Safe Mode, and JP Gibb for his pointer to the Trend Micro Uninstaller Tool.  Combined, the two things allowed me to go rid of the flawed install of TM Antivirus and allowed the laptop to function once again.

An install of the newest version of the antivirus suite works beautifully now.

Ph.Duck has asked me to give all who suggested tips and advice a profound thanks! 

And I thank you all, too... you made me look like a genius for a few minutes there.  Couldn't've done it without you!

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June 14, 2009

By Request

J2F Duck

TBD Devastator

Catgirl Maid.

(blame the Brickmuppet... it was his idea)

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June 13, 2009

Scratching Head

I'm a little overbooked at the moment.  I've got a few ideas in mind, but each of them will take more time than I can devote to blogging at the moment.  On the flip side, I've got absolutely nothing in mind that I can just plop onto the screen either.

So, um... hi!  How are you?  Everybody okay?  Any requests?  Can I refresh your drink?

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June 12, 2009

F1 New Teams Announced!

The official team entries for the 2010 F1 season has been released.  While there's still some conditional teams listed (Toyota, Brawn, McLaren, BMW-Sauber and Renault) and one team that wants to be conditional (Ferrari), we now have an idea who'll be taking the grid.

The conditional teams, of course, are still trying to break the salary cap issue, the next deadline for which is June 19th.  At which point, the whole grid may very well be changed... but until then, let's run with what we've got.

The current 10 teams were all accepted for the grid, as expected.  The fun stuff comes from the three new teams added to the series.

CAMPOS is currently running in F3, and is the reigning GP2 champion.  Since its inception in 1998, the team has run in a number of different series, winning six drivers championships and five constructors titles.  They'll be based out of Valencia, where they share a facility with a different GP2 team and the Mexico A1GP team.  Plenty of experience here, and a technical partnership with Dallara should make the actual building of their chassis go quite smoothly.

MANOR has been around since 1990, and has mostly concentrated on Formula Renault in the past, though they ran in F3 as recently as 2008.  A long line of championships (19 team titles... obviously they ran in multiple series some years) testifies to their abilities.  They've also had some good luck with their drivers, too, as the team has had Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Antonio Pizzonia driving for them at one time or another.  The team's technical director will be Nick Wirth, who founded the Simtek F1 team back in the '90s.  He was the March F1 aerodynamicist in 1988 and 1989, and chief designer with Benneton F1 from '96 thru '99. Wirth has also designed the 2004 and 2005 IRL championship chassis, as well as Honda's American LeMans Series (ALMS) racers.  An impressive resume for the team on paper, at least.

It's official, there'll finally be an American team on the grid!  USF1 made a splash a few months back when they announced their plans to join the series, and now their dream has come true.  F1 Update! now has a new favorite team.  The only newbies on the block, with no prior experience as a team, they do have a lot of experience in motorsports at the upper levels of management.  The announced Team Principal, Ken Anderson, has 30 years of racing experience, has designed many Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar series championship winners, was the the tech director for both Onyx and Ligier F1 teams, and brings a stout background in aerodynamics to the team to boot.  Team director Peter ("Smarmy") Windsor has 35 years history in F1.  He's been a reporter (most recently as the 4th member of SPEED's Legendary Announce Team), a team manager (for Williams' most recent F1 championship team), managed Ferrari's chassis and suspension development teams, was a consultant for various F1 drivers, and reportedly runs a rather secretive driver training facility to boot.  The team will be dual-based in Charlotte, NC, where the chassis will be designed and built, and in Spain, where the team will race from for most of the F1 season.

All three teams will race with Cosworth engines, the first time since 2006 that the engine manufacturer has been in the sport.

Now we'll see if the big teams and the FIA can get their acts together...

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:09 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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June 11, 2009

Aha! The Source!

-from What's New With Phil & Dixie, in The Dragon magazine, June 1983

The source of my duckie obsession becomes crystal clear.  I had a subscription to The Dragon back then, and whenever it arrived I immediately turned to the back cover to see what Leadsmith Leeper was up to at Martian Metals this month (they usually printed their ad upside down).

After that, however, I'd turn to the last page to read the newest installment of "What's New With Phil & Dixie".  It never was the month for Sex and D&D, nor were there ever any Naked Elf Women, but we could always hope.  Now, thanks to the miracle of the Intarwebs, you can relive those days of wonderment by rereading many of the strips at Airship Entertainment.

Tell 'em Wonderduck sent you.  They'll have no idea who you're talking about or why, but it'd be worth it anyway.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:09 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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June 10, 2009

Tech Help Requested

Okay, so here's the story... Ph.Duck's laptop has something very strange occurring to it.  About two weeks ago, he installed an update to his antivirus program, then shut down the computer.  The next day, he booted up fine, but if he doubleclicked on anything other than the "my computer" icon, nothing happens.  Opening the "my computer" folder works, but he can't do anything in there.

When booted in Safe Mode, programs and folders can be opened (limited, of course, to what safe mode allows), and files can be moved to a flashdrive.

As it stands, the plan is to dump as many of his important files and pictures as we can to a flashdrive or two, then do a full reinstallation.

A Windows system restore to a date before the antivirus update failed to fix the problem.  The sad thing is that if I could get into the antivirus program, I could roll it back easily (we use the same program), but I can't.  The program won't open either.

Anybody have any advice?  He's using XP Media Center, with SP3 installed.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:43 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
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June 09, 2009

Wow. Just... wow!

Now this is impressive as all heck:

Twenty-frickin'-two Ferrari F1 cars!  Taken in 2003 at the 10th Annual Modena Motorsport Ferrari Track Day at the Nurburgring, the front row features the 1949 Ferrari 166, the F2001, and the 500/625.

Good lord, what that lineup must have SOUNDED like rolling onto the grid... and yes, I'm sure they were mostly pushed up there, I don't care, don't spoil the dream, okay? 

Motorsports heaven.

And this is coming from a Ferrari hater.

(original 3000x2000 version available here)

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:32 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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June 07, 2009

F1 Update!: Turkey 2009!

"You have built me a monster of a car, guys!" - Jenson Button

THIS is your F1 Update! for the Grand Prix of Turkey!

*A CHINK IN THE ARMOR?: Not so much, no.  In fact, the Grand Prix of Turkey turned out to be the least interesting race on the calendar so far.  At the start, it looked like it was going to be a true potboiler, with Rubens Barrichello completely blowing the start and dropping nine places in the blink of an eye and his teammate Jenson Button slotting in behind Sebastian Vettel and holding close despite being heavier on fuel.  Halfway through the second lap, Vettel went off-track for just an instant, which was all that Button needed.  He blew by the RB5, rocketed away, and never looked back.  It just became a question of which Red Bull driver would end up in second.

*BARRICHELLO BALLAST:  In what should be a legendary season full of unicorns and rainbows for the Brawn team, Rubens Barrichello is doing everything in his power to drag their glory through the mud.  First he complained about not getting to win a race earlier this season.  Then there was the pit-strategy change at Spain. 

Now, after cocking up his start, spinning out after bumping into Heikki Kovaleinninninnie, then tearing up his front wing when he collided with Adrian Sutil, he brought BrawnGP their first retirement with a broken gearbox on lap 48.  Of course, Barrichello is whining about all of this: "It's just frustrating because it has been happening too much on my side."  Meanwhile, his teammate is running away with the driver's championship with nary a fault or bobble.  What does Rubens think is happening here?

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Button would be the easy choice with another of his flawless drives to victory, but we're going to give the award to Mark Webber.  Starting from fourth, promoted automatically to third when Barrichello tried to leave half his gearbox on the grid, then had the unenviable challenge of hanging on to the tail of his teammate and Button as they tried to break the sound barrier.  As usual, Webber was up to the challenge and was rewarded with 2nd place when Red Bull's gambit of changing Vettel to a 3-stop strategy didn't pay off.  Couldn't've happened to a better guy on the grid.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Red Bull.  2nd and 3rd on the podium is nothing to sneeze at when you're in a Constructor's Championship race, and when one of your rivals winds up in the garage, all the better.  While their overall race strategies appear to need work if they're going to have a chance to catch Brawn, days like this are important.  Well done, lads.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  Last year, hearing that a Renault passing a McLaren for the MotR, you'd probably think it was for 3rd or 4th place, right?   Just goes to show that we're truly in Bizarro Season, for the pass was Nelson Piquet Jr passing Lewis Hamilton for 16th place.  On lap 34, Hamilton was flush with fuel, Piquet not so much, but the KERS advantage had shown that it could be insurmountable when used defensively.  Going into Turn 12, Piquet put himself on the outside of Hamilton and held off on his braking as long as he could.  Through the turn they were side-by-side, wheels with maybe two inches between them.  Being on the outside of 12 meant that the Renault was on the inside for 13, a clear advantage.  Hamilton wisely backed off slightly, while Piquet kept his foot down and overshot the turn, fishtailing slightly while Hamilton took a slower, yet shorter, line through 13.  Piquet's overshoot turned out to be strategy, however, as Hamilton, though in the lead at this point, was on the outside for 14.  As they came through the final turn the Renault re-re-claimed the lead and even pulled away slightly.  Great racing between two poor cars, and a well-earned MotR for the embattled Piquet.

*MOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  Ruben Barrichello's ill-advised attempt at a pass on Heikki Kovlaleinninninnie was bad, and he paid for it with a drop to 17th place.  His stupid move on Adrian Sutil, however, was worse.  He stuck his nose in from too far back and got most of his right endplane taken off for his trouble.  A hasty pitstop and a new nose dropped him down to 19th... last place, in other words, since Giancarlo Fisichella had already retired.  Bravo, Rubens, your weekend wasn't completely wasted... you won the Moooooo-ooove!



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