Monthly ArchiveFebruary 2007

Computing - general &Nerd stuff 28 Feb 2007 03:35 pm

Flying Nerd working for Microsoft (without pay)

I’ve been accepted onto my first official Beta program – the Beta for Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows Home Server (WHS).

The idea of WHS is that it can provide:
* centralised (and automated, if required) backup for all PCs in the home
* simple access to network-based shared (or dedicated) storage – without requiring user knowledge of drive configuration
* simplified remote access to data on networked PCs.

I’m looking forward to installing the software on my server over the next few days. I’ll keep you posted on how I find it. I’m REALLY interested as to how well this would suit an organisation such as a church with several staff.

Independent article about WHS is here.

Formula 1 28 Feb 2007 12:09 pm

Red Bull no better in Bahrain

Most of the F1 teams have commenced the final week of pre-season testing this week in Bahrain.

Once again, Mark Webber’s Red Bull Racing team is languishing towards the bottom of the time sheets. I’ve updated the analysis again, which you can see by clicking on the thumbnail below:


I see no progress here. Red Bull is still 2% slower than McLaren, and 1% slower than Renault. And the real situation is maybe a little worse, because:

* both Ferrari drivers went quicker than McLaren overnight (so comparing RBR against McLaren isn’t a comparison against the fastest car on the day)
* Renault driver Heikki Kovalainen had a huge accident (he was unhurt), which meant he covered only 19 laps on the day – there will surely have been distraction in the Renault garage while repairs on his car began.

It’s looking grim for Webber. Just as well I have another team to support (Williams) – their testing results have been looking quite good. In fact, it seems that Williams may be faster than Toyota, their engine supplier! That will be an interesting situation to watch during the year.

(And Scott C, if you’re reading, your Honda boys aren’t looking too flash, either…)

Formula 1 26 Feb 2007 10:10 am

Red Bull still struggling as F1 testing moves to Bahrain

Most of the F1 teams moved to Bahrain last week to continue pre-season testing. The first Barhrain test ran from 22 Feb to 24 Feb. (Further testing takes place this week.)

Sadly, after the unexplained burst of speed in the last European test (see here), the red Bull Racing team has slipped back to its more accustomed position in the second half of the time sheets.

I’ve updated my testing analysis (comparing RBR’s testing times against class-of-the-field McLaren and RBR-engine-provider Renault). Click on the thumbnail to see the chart.


The analysis shows:

* RBR continues to be about 2% slower than McLaren (if this form continues into the race season, RBR will be lapped by McLaren at virtually every race)
* RBR is slowly catching up to Renault, but is still nearly 1% slower
* RBR has managed less than two-thirds as many testing laps as either McLaren or Renault (fewer laps means less time on track to tweak the car for ultimate speed).

RBR driver David Coulthard has stated that, based on form to date, “At the moment we’re not going to achieve the goals I had for the year. But we’ve got some more time to develop and hopefully, once we’ve done that, we can try and achieve them.” – see this article. Translation: “The car is too slow.”

It’s looking like another challenging (disappointing) year for Mark Webber. So let’s open the books on Webber’s seat in 2008. I still reckon there’s a chance that Mark Webber will partner Heikki Kovaleinen at Renault next year.


Formula 1 17 Feb 2007 01:30 pm

Red Bull / Webber testing update

Something strange happened on the last day of the Barcelona F1 test: Red Bull Racing driver David Coulthard (Mark Webber’s teammate) went fastest! How did that happen?

RBR’s cars have been slow and unreliable for weeks, but on the day that team owner Dietrich Mateschitz blew into town, DC managed to pull a quick one out of the bag. I’d love to have the car weighed, the fuel tested and the tyres reviewed for ‘softening agents’ after that one. Then again, maybe they were just genuinely fast!

Mark Webber managed exactly half as many laps on the day as DC due to lingering reliability issues.

Here’s my latest testing summary…


Click on the thumbnail to see it full size.

Autosport’s report on the day is here.

Flying stuff 14 Feb 2007 08:28 pm

Learn to fly here…


Cars &Nerd stuff 14 Feb 2007 10:07 am

Top Gear – suggestion for a race

Last night I finished watching Top Gear’s latest ‘race’ episode. I needed a break from studying Reformation Church History. I have an exam on Sunday (part of the Moore Theological College’s Preliminary Theological Certificate).

In this episode, Jeremy Clarkson was again pitted against Captain Slow (James May) and the Hamster (Richard Hammond). The idea was to be the first to deliver a truffle from Alba in Italy to a restaurant in Central London.

Jeremy was driving the stupendous Bugatti Veyron:


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Formula 1 14 Feb 2007 09:40 am

Red Bull not catching up – F1 testing update: 13 Feb 07

Red Bull Racing is still more than one per cent slower than Renault (same engines) and McLaren in pre-season testing. I’ve updated my analysis table, here (click on the thumbnail to see the table):

Testing times

Once again, RBR covered significantly fewer laps than the comparator teams I’ve selected (McLaren and Renault). Once again, they are slower than both comparator teams (although everyone went faster on Tuesday than on Monday – probably products of ‘rubbering in’ of the track and tuning of the cars).

Compared to the overall group of teams participating in the test, the picture is just as grim. RBR recorded the 15th (Webber) and 16th (Coulthard) times. 18 cars tested – one each from Spyker and Super Aguri were slower than RBR. RBR’s ‘sister’ team Scuderia Toro Rosso begins testing tomorrow – using Ferrari engines in basically the same chassis as RBR (and therein lies a controversy – visit your favourite F1 site for details). It will be very interesting to see how they fare by comparison.

I have a bad feeling about this…

Formula 1 13 Feb 2007 03:28 pm

Red Bull and Mark Webber seriously slow in pre-season F1 tests

I’m very disappointed to note that, if pre-season testing is any guide to in-season form, Mark Webber is looking at another very tough year. The Red Bull Racing car has been slow and unreliable – and so far things don’t really seem to be heading in the right direction nearly quickly enough.
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Flying Nerd site &Formula 1 13 Feb 2007 09:19 am

Latest Mark Webber news available now on

Looking for the latest news about Mark Webber’s 2007 Formula 1 exploits for Red Bull Racing? Look no further than!

Courtesy of Google’s AJAX News Bar, this site now includes a feed of latest news items about Mark and Red Bull Racing. Look towards the bottom of the sidebar on the right hand side.

Miscellaneous 10 Feb 2007 06:52 pm

Amazing optical illusion (after the jump)

Stare at the image – very deeply. After a while, you should be able to discern a giraffe. (Click ‘more’ to go to the illusion…)
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Nerd stuff 09 Feb 2007 03:57 pm

Problem watching cricket on digital TV while listening to commentary on steam radio

I don’t think there’s any easy fix for this… but maybe somebody has an idea.

I love watching and listening to cricket. Channel 9 does a fabulous job of the pictures but, apart from the oft-lampooned Richie Benaud, their commentators are pretty dull. So, like many people, I like to listen to the ABC Radio commentary while watching the TV.

Here’s the problem: TV in our home comes via a digital set top box. The combined delay caused by the encoding into digital at Channel 9 and the associated decoding to analogue for display on the TV set is around four seconds. The effect is: the words come about four seconds before the pictures. It’s a bit annoying to have the commentators calling the delivery and shot before it comes up on the telly.

I guess I could get hold of some sort of digital delay line and a stand-alone radio tuner, and set the delay on the audio to match the pics. Probably a bit too nerdy, even for me.

Anyone have a better idea?

Computing - general &Family 07 Feb 2007 11:17 am

Thinking about Microsoft Office 2007

By all accounts, Microsoft’s new Office 2007 suite is something pretty special. Apparently the new user interface paradigm (hey, I am a marketing guy!) exposes more functionality than ever before. I reckon this would be a good thing for the modern e-family. All four of us make pretty extensive use of Office applications in many aspects of our lives. So, what would it cost us to upgrade our current fleet of PCs to Office 2007?
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Cars &Miscellaneous 06 Feb 2007 10:52 pm

Millau Viaduct (bridge) – mind-blowing engineering achievement

In a recent episode of Top Gear, Jeremy, Richard and James drove supercars across France to visit the Millau Viaduct (bridge).

I could not believe my eyes when they showed this structure on telly. It is magnificent, mind-blowing, beautiful, stark. The 450 pixels I allow for photo widths here on simply can’t do it justice. Visit the linked Wikipedia article and be amazed.

Flying Nerd site 06 Feb 2007 02:41 pm

Nerd flies past 6,000

visitors to this site, that is…

Computing - general &Flying Nerd recommends 06 Feb 2007 02:32 pm

Fabulous little screenshot application

UPDATE 14 FEB 07: Version 2 is out and it’s not free any more. Still a great little app…

Like many computer nerds, I find myself often wanting to take a screenshot of an application window or just a small region of the screen. Like everybody who has ever tried this, I have found Windows (XP)’s built-in ‘print screen’ function to be woefully inadequate.

Well, here‘s a beaut little tool that’s free for non-commercial use: WinSnap.

WinSnap allows you to capture:

* the whole screen, or
* a user selected part of the screen, or
* an application window, or even
* a collection of application windows.

With this tool, you can

* capture windows with rounded corners (without having the capture ‘square up’ the corners
* rotate the captured windows
* add drop shadows
* add watermarks.

If you take screenshots, you WILL find this application useful.



Flying stuff 06 Feb 2007 11:31 am

View interesting Nerd flight on Google Earth

I wrote recently about my attempted 500km glider flight. The proposed route was: Cootamundra – Grenfell – Peak Hill – Condobolin – Cootamundra.

I didn’t make it.

Due to inclement weather, I landed in a paddock about 35km south-west of Forbes. Here’s a quick snapshot of the flight:

Nerd flight route

You can view the flight in detail by downloading this file (right click on the file and save it to your PC) and opening it in Google Earth.

You can zoom in on various stages of the flight (see, for example, how I struggled at first to gain height and ‘get away’ from Cootamundra). It’s particularly interesting to ’tilt’ the earth back until you are looking almost horizontally at the track. You can then see the glider climbing in thermals and gradually descending in straight-line flight.

Feel free to ask questions.

Flying stuff 05 Feb 2007 12:02 pm

More from SCGC Gliding Camp

I’ve been back for a few weeks now, and have finally had time to add some more information about Gliding Camp to this site. Here are some photos:

SCGC terminal

This photo shows the disused terminal at Cootamundra Airport. The local Council allowed us to use this building as a base for operations during Gliding Camp. (Like many country towns, Cootamundra no longer enjoys scheduled passenger air services.)
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Video editing 05 Feb 2007 11:26 am

Flying Nerd reluctantly withdraws recommendation of Ulead MediaStudio Pro 8

Since I first set up this site – nearly two years ago – I’ve been recommending Ulead‘s MediaStudio Pro product as a great value pro-sumer video editing suite. Sadly, I feel that I must now withdraw that recommendation.
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Flying Nerd site 04 Feb 2007 10:33 am

Flying Nerd upgraded to WordPress 2.1

As ever, if you encounter a problem do please leave a comment.

Formula 1 01 Feb 2007 01:44 pm

Inauspicious start to 2007 for Red Bull Racing and ‘our Mark’ Webber

I haven’t had much to say about Formula 1 for a while. I stopped reporting on races last year when I got depressed by the deterioration of the performance of the WilliamsF1 team – and especially their inability to give Mark Webber a decent car with which to prove his worth (or otherwise).

I’ve been scratching my head for months, wondering why Mark allowed circumstances to see him displaced from WilliamsF1, given that he must have known about the deal to run Toyota engines starting this year. With AT&T coming on as ‘title sponsor’, and Lenovo taking (I believe) a lion’s share of space on the car, Frank and the boys should have some more money to play with in 07. I’m hoping that this will be a better year for Williams, and that Alex Wurz (in particular) gets to show his ability.

Back to Webber.
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