Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A cool paper airplane...

and it does fly fairly well. link. (via)

According to Wikipedia, it was a paper helicopter toy that sparked the interest of the Wright Brothers. link.
In 1878 their father, who traveled often as bishop of a regional church, brought home a toy "helicopter" for his two younger sons. The device was based on an invention of French aeronautical pioneer Alphonse Penaud. Made of paper, bamboo and cork with a rubber band to twirl its twin blades, it was about a foot long. Wilbur and Orville played with it until it broke, then built their own. In later years, they pointed to their experience with the toy as the initial spark of their interest in flying.

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The poor state

A familiar question that is asked whenever India loses any sporting event is - "How can a population of 1 Billion, fail even at this?". That's the question that a lot of people were asking yesterday, after India's 4-1 loss to the Windies.

Now for a moment forget Cricket. Take Football. Trinidad and Tobago, Lara's country, has qualified to the 2006 World Cup and their official page is here. According to the CIA Factbook, the population of T&T is about 1.1 Million. That's far less than the 13 million who live in and around calcutta, the bastion of Indian Football.

The Carribean is not a hot bed of soccer talent and neither is India. Yet, we find that even a small country like T&T qualifies for the world cup.

What is the reason behind India not even qualifying? In my view, the following reasons are at play
  1. Lack of encouragement at School. Most Indian parents do not want their children to look at Sports as a career. Why? That's the second reason.
  2. Sports in India does not provide adequate compensation to even the most talented sportsperson, unless you are Sachin Tendular. Why? That's the third reason
  3. TV and Media do not provide sufficient coverage to any sport other than cricket.
A sorry state of affairs indeed.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Monaco 2006 GP Winners Losers


1. Alonso. Drove superbly and controlled the race from Kimi in the first half. The part where he slowed down and let Webber and JPM catch was masterful. I particularly liked the way he managed to get a 1 sec advantage just before the safety car period and then used that to get out in front of Kimi. Awesome! The best part was to do it in front of Renault Boss Carlos Ghosn who has often criticized F1 as too expensive. I'm sure Renault got their money's worth in this race.
2. DC. Most of the folks who scored or did well in the race were either previous winners, or had experience in Monaco. DC is a double winner and he used all his experience to take 3rd place. Superman returns!
3. JPM. Fairly quiet race but more importantly brought the car home. Now only 4 points behind Kimi/Fisi.
4. Webber and Kimi. Both did not finish the car but drove exceptionally well until their cars let them down. End of the day, they did not finish, that was the problem. Webber was way ahead of his team mate and either of the BMWs. In addition, he was not a moving chicane like the Hondas or the BMWs
5. Barrichello. Held of people back throughout the race and the 1 pitstop strategy worked beautifully. He would have finished on the podium except for speeding in the pitlane. He outqualified Button by a mile and converted that to a good finish. He slowly finding his feet at Honda and beginning to catch up with Button.
6. M Schumacher. Ironic. Had he started from the front even if it had been 2nd or 3rd place, he would have most likely won. I don't know whether to classify his drive as a brilliant recovery drive or a stupid one. I'm sure he used up quite a few of his guardian angel's brownie points on the way to 5th. Bit of luck that Kimi, Webber, Trulli, Klien - all of who were ahead by a mile DNF'ed, but that's just how racing is. On the whole it an interesting weekend for him and perhaps one that will come back to bite him if he loses the championship to Alonso by less than 10 points.


1. Button. Where was he throughout the race. Held back MS as much as he could - in 15th place. Considering that Barrichello was half a lap ahead of him most of the race, I was beginning to wonder if he was even awake. If I remember correctly, Button usually doesn't go very well at Monaco and proved it again this year.
2. BMW. Both Heidfeld and JV were being beaten not only by the Red Bulls but were racing for position with the Torro Rossos and Midlands. Weekend to forget but at heidfeld managed to get a point.
3. Massa. Threw it all away in qualifying unfortunately. Lost nearly 4 seconds in the pitstop due to "problems that afflict only Ferrari No 2. drivers". However, the way he lost out to MS in the 1st lap was pretty bad. Not sure if it was Jean Todt telling Massa to give way or whether it was Massa losing out by himself.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Is this racing at its finest?

That's the question that many folks are already asking after Schumacher's "problem" at Monaco. GP.com has an quite a bit to say on the pole. link.

No doubt he has been Ferrari's finest drivers of all time, but the fact remains that there have been more than one "hand of god" incidents in his career (with apologies to Diego Maradona). At the other end of the spectrum is possibly one of Ferrari's most loved drivers - Gilles Villeneuve. One of his most memorables races was the '79 France GP. A video showing his epic battle with Rene Arnoux in the last couple of laps is available here and you can read about the GP here.

Update: According to the BBC, Schumacher has been sent to the back of the grid after the stewards ruled that it was a delibrate attempt. link. More at ITV-F1.

Of course, its not Renault laughing all the way, because Fisi has been docked three of his fastest laps as well and he starts from 9th. link

Update 2: Jean Todt is miffed. link.

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

What came first?

Chicken or the Egg? That's what people always ask. link.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Cheers! To your health

According to this study, having a peg daily is beneficial. This is the kind of News that we all should look forward to. After all, its better than a Fundamentalist from Cult A blowing himself up to kill hundreds of people from Cult B.

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War Torn

Great World War One photos are here.

Think of the churches, castles, and other pieces of history all destroyed in France and it makes you shudder. War in general destroys more than it creates. Yet we have innumerable examples of kings, nations, and peoples rising out of the ashes of a destructive war. Even in such cases, very rarely will we hear what the defeated have to say. One such case is of Japan, which has risen from WWII, but this is more an exception rather than a rule.

To quote various examples
  1. Nobody has a clue about what Hannibal and the rest of the Carthagians were really like. We only have Roman tales about their enemies cruelty
  2. Kalinga was destroyed by Ashoka who turned to Buddhism and repented. Was it really destroyed? How many people actually died? What made Ashoka turn away in horror at his own work? We have only Ashoka's description of the events

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Grin and bear it

All married men laugh out loud when they read this. All men with girlfriends wonder what all the fuss is about.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

India lose the 3rd Onedayer to Windies

I'm not so disappointed that the 3rd ODI has been lost. Rather, I'm more disappointed with the lack of gumption shown. The moment Sehwag got out, the rest of the team collapsed. Sheesh.

That's not what most Indian Cricket fans want. No collapses!

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Silly season gets hotter

All the big teams seem to be on the move as far as drivers are concerned.

Even though Schumi has said that he will decide about his future at the end of the season, Jean Todt says that Ferrari's decision will be made at Monza. link.

At the same time, it looks likely Raikkonen is going to move to Ferrari, and so, McLaren have a bit of problem. Who will partner Alonso? Ron Dennis has come out and declared that the decision will be in three weeks time. link.

The leaves Renault. What's going to happen at Renault? The only news out of Renault is that they are willing to pay top dollar. BMW and JV are not the best of friends and he may be moving to Renault. link.

Not just team No 1s are under speculation, there is huge pressure on the No 2 drivers in each team as well. In the last 2 seasons, Fisi and JPM have vastly underperformed compared to their co-drivers. This is a worry for both Renault and McLaren. That's why there are rumors about Fisi and JPM moving out as well and fresh talent from GP2 coming in.

What about Massa then? Ferrari have invested a huge amount on Massa, but bankrolling a year in Sauber and making him test like crazy. So far this season, he hasn't performed badly either.

The team with the biggest problem in all this is Renault. They are losing FA and Fisi does not look upto the mark. McLaren are going to be sitting pretty with FA but are they going to lose Kimi and make do with JPM or will they go in for fresh new talent? Ferrari will most probably have Schumi and will let go of Massa for Kimi, but at the same time, its equally possible that Kimi and Massa are paired together or for Schumi and Massa to remain together.

And finally, what then about Rossi. Its still possible that he may have a hand in all this, but it looks unlikely. All in all, this is the hottest silly season for a very long time and things have just got interesting.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Spain 2006 GP Winners Losers

  1. Alonso. Blew away Ferrari with stunning laps in the beginning. Fastest lap followed fastest laps. Controlled the race beautifully till the end
  2. MS. 2 points down on Alonso isn't too bad. Good drive
  3. Massa. Good drive to the end and workman like finish
  4. Heidfeld. Got the last point - though I'm not sure how he did it. After the Toyotas fell over each other, it was a matter of seeing off the pesky Williamses
  1. JPM. WTF? That's all I can say. His lack of finishes last season cost McLaren the constructors championship last year and this year it isn't looking good either.
  2. Toyotas. Weird!! That's all I can say. Good pace to qualify as high as they did, but the real result is on Sunday. Not only did they trip over each other, they didn't score a single point.
  3. Fisi. I doubt whether he could have challenged MS after he lost out after the first pitstop. However, blaming the radio for losing it is rubbish.
  4. McLaren and Honda. Though Rubens' qualifying has improved, the results haven't. JPM can't seem to finish a race properly (and when he does finish, its a very quiet sort of race these days). Both Button and KR are going backwards with respect to Ferrari. Not a good sign.

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Brazilian Stonehenge?

According to the BBC, a Brazilian version of Stonehenge has been discovered. link

I wonder what next we will find. There was that story sometime back about some hill in the middle eastern desert actually being Noah's Ark. Even more recently was the story about a hill in Serbia or Bosnia or somewhere nearby, actually being a pyramid.

There could be some truth in these discoveries. After all, Troy was discovered in the same way and not just one city but seven of them.

Perhaps a carnaval can be arranged to commerate this discovery.

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

10 interesting watches

I'm not sure if this list of watches is strange or cool. Either way they will definitely attract the watch-o-holics!! link.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Niranjan Shah should shut up

Rebuking Sehwag, he says -
"Sehwag has been warned verbally from speaking to the media on burnout and the Ganguly issue. Players cannot speak on board policies and selection matters,"

Rather, he should be saying that Sehwag has no right to interfere in board "politics". All that Sehwag has said is that he wishes Ganguly well and that he had supported him when he was coming up. The fact of the matter is that Sehwag is on a sticky wicket on the Ganguly issue. However, I'm surprised that Shah reacted to the comments on Player Burnout.

Sunil Gavaskar has said that players should be proud to represent India and must be ready to sweat it out all 365 days. I wonder why he stopped there. He should have insisted on players playing more than 7 hours a day to all 24 hours. After all, its a matter of honour. The BCCI is a slave merchant. If it was possible for them to get the Indian Cricket team to play 24 hours a day, they would. Player Burnout be damned.

Take the Armed forces as an example of folks who have in their hands a far greater responsibility that sportsmen or power-mad sports administrators. It is a given fact that they can take leave. Its a given fact that a army on red alert for too long starts to loose moral. It is a fact that the army does not post soldiers to the front for too long. It is a fact that soldiers are provided accomodation for themselves and their families. If people like Shah was in charge, then he would not only stop granting leaves, he would also get other ex-servicemen to speak about how much of an honour it is to "defend the country"

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Ladies and Gentlemen. We are ready for boarding

The last time I travelled on Air India, I got to see boarding chaos at close quarters. This was at Newark Liberty and the moment the agents at the gate announced that the gate was open, there was a mad rush. A huge percentage of people who travel on Air India are older folks. Most likely they are making their way back to India after visiting their sons and daughters.

No doubt the son or son-in-law would have warned the older generation that if they don't get on to the plane as soon as the gate is open, they would be left behind. As a result, every Tom, Dick and Harry's Father, Uncle and Grand-Aunt rush to board the aircraft as soon as the announcement is heard.

The result was chaotic to say the least and the ground staff just could not get things going. Boarding must have taken atleast 20 minutes.

Studies are underway by different airlines to reduce boarding time. link.

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Smug in the rain

A-ha! Rain! A wonderous thunderstorm! The best part about the rain? I just got the wipers changed in my car.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ferrari Factory

Now that the Ferrari F1 team have won 200% more than what they did in 2005, this is something that is bound to keep the tifosi interested.
How about getting a sneak peek inside Ferrari's Factory? Canadiandriver has a story and photos. link.

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Driving tips to improve mileage

According to this study, the world's oil production has peaked. That's bad news for you and me, because we are addicted to oil.

This website has some tips on how to improve your car mileage by upto 37%. The problem with such tips is how do you quantify it? What if you were already following some of the tips? Where has this study been conducted? Some of them will definitely not work in Bangalore.

Take the tip to avoid speeding. In bangalore traffic, its impossible to even reach 40 Kmph, let alone drive like a maniac.
For that matter even the tip about using the cruise control, cannot be done in the stop-start traffic in Bangalore. However, this is possible on the highway. There was this one time on a trip to Mysore, we got 25 Kmpl in a Maruti 800! That's pretty awesome, but the credit goes to my Bro who was behind the wheel.

However, some of the other tips do make sense. Keeping tire pressures correct by checking them every 2-3 trips to the petrol bunk does have an positive impact. Avoiding execessive idling also makes sense. This is particularly easy in bangalore, because of a big fat countdown timer that's displayed at major traffic lights. Anytime that a car has to idle for more than 25 seconds, switching the engine off, helps conserve a few drops of black gold.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

I love you, ya, ya, ya

The beatles have lost their case. That's what the news headlines have to say. link and link.

What does it mean to me? Nothing much probably. I can't download any songs from iTunes anyhow as its not available here in India. Not just itunes, but most apple products are hideously overpriced in India, even after considering the "apple tax". Most of the ipods and laptops are imported from Singapore and as a result there is a huge cost added. Surely, there is a better way to get more Apple stuff here.

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Sand Castles

One of the things kids do when they go to the beach is make sand castles. Some of these kids grow up and become real sand sculptors. Some sculptures are really mindblowing and this website contains some truly amazing examples. link.

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European 2006 GP Winners Losers

  1. MS - Held his nerve and had a fantastic pitstop to get by Alonso. Good drive
  2. Alonso - Not sure whether it was Alonso Magic or Renault pace. Fisi seems to finish quite a bit back both in qualifying and in the race. More likely a case of the "No 1 driver gets everything in the Renault team".
  3. Ferrari - Both cars in the podium after a disasterous 2005 and a poor beginning to 2006. Things are hotting up.
  4. Massa - First Podium and hopefully there are many more to come. Was expecting him to lose under the pressure from KR, but held on magnificantly
  5. Barrichello - Finally got some points. Qualified higher up than Button too.
  6. Rosberg - Good finish and a good job done. One more in Williams kitty against BMW, though JV finished only 1 point ahead
  1. Honda, McLaren - Joint losers for not being able to get their second cars to finish. McLaren seem to have a tradition of losing at the European GP.
  2. Heidfeld - JV was faster all weekend and this was a home GP for Quick Nick. Not so quick in this weekend though
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Sunday, May 07, 2006

A mouse and keyboard story - combimouse

This is an interesting invention - a combination of a mouse and keyboard i.e a combimouse. link.

The idea is to avoid moving your hand from the keyboard to a mouse over and over again. At first sight this looks a bit weird, but according to engadget, it really works.

However, this is not going to work unless one knows touch typing. There are number of programs that do teach touch typing. link.

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Update - November 2013.

Looks like there has been some traction. The team behind combimouse also have been looking at crowdsourcing - http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/combimouse-combination-keyboard-and-mouse--43 and as per their project plan intend to complete the full mechanical design and finalize the prototype by December 2013.