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Mon 27th Apr 2009 @ 00:49 2009: Mark Webber

For those who don't know, or don't care about F1 qualifying, well... oh. you don't care. okay. Still here it is, just in case for some strange reason you want to read on. There are three sessions - Q1, Q2 and Q3:
Q1) All drivers (currently 20) have 15 minutes to set a time. The bottom 5 (16-20) start in that position in the race. The rest continue to Q2:
Q2) The remaining 15 drivers have 15 minutes to set a time. The bottom 5 (11-15) start in that position in the race. The rest continue to Q3:
Q3) The fastest 10 drivers have a further 10-minute session, which determines their positions on the grid, 1-10.

Simple and easy to understand, you would have thought. Really, I don't see what was wrong with the old system: You all have one hour, whoemver does the fastest lap starts at the front. If your best lap is slower than everyone else's, you start at the back. All the rest file in to place accordingly.

To place a qualifying lap, you have to do this:
- leave pitlane -> get on the circuit -> cross start/finish line at top speed -> do a fast lap -> cross start/finish line -> register your time -> return to the pitlane.

So you need to do 3 laps of the circuit to register one fast time; the out-lap and the in-lap will be much slower, because the speed in the pit-lane is limited to 100kph.

Under the current rules, Mark Webber went out, was about to start his fast lap, but got caught behind a slow-driving Sutil and therefore had a very slow start to his "flying" (fast) lap. This meant that he dropped out of the first qualifying session (Q1) and could not prove his pace in the following sessions.

James Allen captures this excellently; Sutil was penalised 3 places for holding up Webber, but what Webber lost was more than 3 places - he lost the opportunity t compete for a top-ten position for the race. He started in 18th position because another driver made a mistake (the rules oblige Sutil to allow Webber to pass).

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Fri 24th Apr 2009 @ 22:43 2009: Newsflash: It is not illegal to take photographs - even if you have dark skin.

Trafford CentreAfter the dramatic arrests of 12 men believed to be involved in a terrorist plot to blow up various key Manchester locations, it turns out that they "have no criminal history, they were here lawfully on student visas and all were pursuing their studies and working part-time. Our clients are neither extremists nor terrorists."

Although "the public had been assured the men posed a serious threat", and all the tabloid frenzy about terrorists getting in to the country on student visas, they have all been released without charge.

So, it turns out that taking photographs of local attractions does not make one a terrorist, even if you have dark skin, which seems to be the only crime these men have committed.

Strangely, this release of the men does not get anything like the same amount of coverage as their arrest. Strange?

The Crown Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence to press charges or hold them any longer.

The Muslim Council of Britain said the government behaved "very dishonourably" over the treatment of the men should admit it had made a mistake.

image by jlcwalker

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Thu 23rd Apr 2009 @ 22:35 2009: Microsoft Live Search

Interesting "search suggestions" from Microsoft's Live Search facility:

Live Search

Searching Microsoft's Live Search for "Linux" comes up with some interesting suggestions... of the 7 results (other than "linux" itself), the first three simply append Microsoft trademarks to the search terms.

For what it's worth, searching for "GNU" brings up:

  • gnutella
  • gnu snowboards
  • gnu bars
  • gnupg
  • gnuplot
  • gnu chess
  • gnus

Searching for strings such as "GNU/Linux" or even "GNU Linux" keep the same suggestions as GNU.

A search for "FSF" suggests:
  • fsfcu
  • fsfta
  • fsfsx
, whatever they may be.

Solaris and F/OSS come up with no suggestions.

OSS and FLOSS come up with no relevant suggestions whatsoever.

Of certain interest to some in the industry at the moment, a search for "oracle" suggests:
  • oracle arena
  • oracle university
  • oracle academy
  • oracle metalink
  • oracle contract jobs
  • oracle training
  • oracle corporation
, so if it runs on Windows, they are capable of coming up with some more relevant results!

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Sun 19th Apr 2009 @ 23:54 2009: What do Ferrari and Force India have in common?

After three races in the F1 2009 season, they are the only two teams to have scored no points whatsoever.

Last year, Ferrari won the Constructors' championship with 172 points, whilst Force India lost, being the only team to finish with 0 points. (Super Aguri also scored 0 points, but they only entered the first four races of the season).

In 2009, Ferrari are the only team (other than Force India, who, nobody ever really expects to score any points) to have scored a big fat zero after three races.

Apparently Felipe Massa said "We have two issues, we need to make the car quicker and we need to make it reliable."

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Thu 16th Apr 2009 @ 22:31 2009: G20 protest videos: Growing catalogue of evidence against police

I must admit that I have not paid a lot of attention to the claims about police behaviour at the recent G20 protests - six of one, half-a-dozen of the other, and so on.

However, The Guardian have collated a set of video clips from the day:

Even a one-off event should not be ignored, though it can happen that one individual acts wrongly in the heat of the moment.

This set of clips show that the entire Metropolitan force were acting together; in the Ian Tomlinson clip, it is clear that none of the officers show any interest in assisting him. The voiceover then says that the police later claimed that protesters had "impeded medics". I count at least 18 officers within the immediate vicinity, not one of whom offered any interest, or even acknowledged Tomlinson's presence and attempts to talk with the closest group of five officers, at whose feet he had been pushed.

(Sorry, The Guardian have put adverts at the start of some of these clips)

1 April, 5.29pm, near Bank, City of London

Police seeking to clear demonstrators charge, with batons raised, at a group consisting mainly of press photographers and camera crews. After the charge one photographer, wearing an orange high-visibility jacket, can be seen on the ground.

1 April, 7.15pm, Royal Exchange Passage, near Bank of England

In footage shot by a worker trying to walk home, who was not involved in the protests, police can be seen tackling demonstrators. Near the end of the short sequence it appears that one officer pulls someone possibly a woman violently to the ground.

1 April, 7.16pm, Threadneedle Street, near Royal Exchange

As police try to move protesters away down the street, a police handler appears to allow his dog to bite the arm of a man wearing a pale hooded top who has just turned his back to the officers.

1 April, 7.20pm, Royal Exchange Passage

Ian Tomlinson is seen walking away from officers with his hands in his pockets. One of the police strikes him on the back of the leg with a baton before shoving him to the ground. Tomlinson is helped to his feet by bystanders. He collapsed soon afterwards and died.

1 April, 7.40pm, Bishopsgate, just south of Liverpool Street station

Lines of riot police can be seen advancing on people who had been taking part in the climate camp protests, in which demonstrators erected tents across a street in the City. The riot officers can be seen shoving people back with their shields as well as striking people with batons and, at times, the edges of their shields. Most protesters put their hands in the air to indicate non-resistance, and chant: "This is not a riot".

2 April, 3.46pm, junction of Royal Exchange Passage and Cornhill

A City of London police officer approaches a group of photographers and camera crews and orders them to leave the area for a period of about 30 minutes or face arrest. The instruction is made under section 14 of the Public Order Act, which is intended primarily to disperse potentially disruptive or violent gatherings. The Metropolitan police, which led the G20 operations, later apologised for using the measure on members of the press.

2 April, 4.39pm, Threadneedle Street, near the Bank of England

Police manhandle two demonstrators to the ground before letting the men get up and leave. During the second of these incidents, a policeman in a black uniform appears to aim a kick at the protester as he lies on the ground, sending him sprawling.

2 April, 4.42pm, Threadneedle Street, near the Bank of England

A pair of plainclothes police, identifiable only by the bright yellow caps they have donned, join uniformed officers in marshalling demonstrators. One of the plainclothes officers can be seen with a baton in his hand.

2 April, 2.30pm, by the Bank of England

At a vigil for Tomlinson, a police officer is seen apparently slapping a woman twice with the back of his hand. As she remonstrates with him further, he is shown seemingly striking her on the legs with his baton, causing her to fall. The Metropolitan police have suspended the sergeant involved, a member of the Territorial Support Group.

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Tue 14th Apr 2009 @ 23:55 2009: Surprisingly good

The current episode of Gareth Jones on Speed, which I don't tend to follow, but have just listened to, included a mention of James Allen's F1 Blog.

It must be said, that he was not the worst presenter that ITV employed - Steve Ryder never seemed to get beyond the idea that "the car that finishes first, wins" but James Allen was a pretty awful commentator. Murray was often wrong, but enthusiastic. Allen was just not cut out for that work. However, his blog does seem to be very good, and certainly well worth reading.

Other F1 links worth a mention... (and of course

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Fri 3rd Apr 2009 @ 00:29 2009: F1 Melbourne Australia - A total debacle

After a fascinating race, spoiled somewhat by the Vettel incident, the FIA stewards have once more made a mockery of F1, by their own total incompetence at understanding and regulating the sport. Critical to this episode, is the fact that the McLaren team radio is not encrypted, so that the FIA stewards can observe team communications. Hamilton (a driver, not a lawyer) believed that the FIA understood what happened - when Trulli went off-track, Hamilton was forced to pass him, so Hamilton allowed Trulli to re-take the position, since overtaking is not permitted behind the Safety Car. The drivers spent an hour with the stewards, so it should be safe to assume that the stewards would ask such pertinent questions. Still...

1) Trulli loses podium for safety car infringement
"Trulli ran off road near the end of the race, thus losing a place to McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, but then repassed the world champion once he had rejoined the circuit."

2) FIA: McLaren instructed Hamilton to let Trulli pass - Hamilton let Trulli's Toyota regain third place, as they were under Safety Car conditions, and not permitted to overtake. This includes the radio transcript where Hamilton wanted to stay ahead, but was told not to: "Yes, we understand Lewis. Let's just do it by the book."

3) Both drivers are summonned to the Stewards to explain what happened. Both drivers are happy with their explanations, and both are happy that they - and each other - behaved within the rules of the sport.

4) Toyota abandon Trulli podium appeal - Toyota believed that "any appeal will be rejected on a procedural point such as... 'Penalties of driving through or stopping in pit lanes together with certain penalties specified in FIA Championship regulations where this is expressly stated, are not susceptible to appeal'."

5) Stewards to re-investigate Hamilton-Trulli incident - "a right they have under Article 179b of the International Sporting Code, should any new elements come to light in a case."

6) Hamilton excluded from Australian results, Trulli regains third - McLaren "mistakenly believed that the radio transmissions had been reviewed by the FIA on Sunday 29th March 2009, and consequently did not believe it was necessary to discuss them with the Stewards on that date."

7) (going back to (2) above) "At the first hearing following the Australian Grand Prix the Stewards did not have the benefit of the radio exchanges between driver No 1 Lewis Hamilton and his Team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes nor did they have access to the comments to the Media given by Lewis Hamilton immediately after the end of the race." Everybody else had access to this information; why did the FIA stewards not have it? In the BBC TV interview, Hamilton asked the interviewer if she had heard the radio, and she affirmed that she had. It is the FIA Stewards' job to have this information, and if they do not understand the circumstances, to glean it from their one-hour interview with the two drivers in question. This is not a complicated issue.

So the FIA penalised Trulli 25 seconds (equivalent to a 10-second stop/go penalty) for a passing Hamilton, even though he had no choice - Hamilton (as instructed) pulled off to the side and slowed down, so that Trulli had to pass him. The FIA then later realised that Hamilton had done that so that he and McLaren would not be penalised for overtaking behind the Safety Car, so the FIA have stripped him entirely of his points from the weekend.

This is all because both drivers did exactly what they should have done, but:
1) The FIA wrongly penalised Trulli, because they did not understand the (fairly simple) situation
2) Instead of revoking their penalisation of Trulli, the FIA then penalised Hamilton for not making clear to them the reason that Trulli did what he did.

Both teams have issued statements basically saying that they do not dare oppose the judgements for fear of incurring further FIA wrath.

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Wed 1st Apr 2009 @ 22:34 2009: Linux DHCP Server answering itself...

For reasons that I have almost forgotten, my laptop acts as a DHCP server. Tonight, I wanted it to be a DHCP client. I don't use NetworkManager, I just use Debian's /etc/network/interfaces; I keep a few useful templates lying around for such cases. So I have an "interfaces.dhcp" file which just looks like this, to tell the "eth0" device to get a DHCP IP address:

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback
auto eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp

Having booted normally, I put that interfaces file in place, and activate the interface:
laptop# ifdown eth0
laptop# cp /etc/network/interfaces.dhcp /etc/network/interfaces
laptop# ifup eth0
Internet Systems Consortium DHCP Client V3.1.1
Copyright 2004-2008 Internet Systems Consortium.
All rights reserved.
For info, please visit

wmaster0: unknown hardware address type 801
wmaster0: unknown hardware address type 801
Listening on LPF/eth0/00:0f:b0:d4:f0:1e
Sending on LPF/eth0/00:0f:b0:d4:f0:1e
Sending on Socket/fallback
DHCPDISCOVER on eth0 to port 67 interval 5
DHCPREQUEST on eth0 to port 67
bound to -- renewal in 279 seconds.

Now - why can't I get onto the network?

Grr... This hasn't happened before, I suppose it's just a matter of timing. (which was supposed to be "down") answered its own request, and gave me

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