35 Degree Racing in Edmonton

Post ImageI really wanted to go to the inaugural Grand Prix of Edmonton last year, but never got around to getting tickets. This year though, I was lucky enough to get Silver tickets for today and tomorrow. Turns out that one of my very fashionable friends got tickets from work, yet found she didn’t like watching cars go in circles, so she was nice enough to give her pass to me. Needless to say, I was pretty happy.

I arrived at the track this morning around 10, just in time to catch the morning Champ Car practice. I stayed until after the afternoon qualifying, which ended at 3. I’m amazed I lasted that long – the weather in Edmonton today was an incredible 35 degrees celsius, which as I’m sure you’re aware, is much hotter when you’re on asphalt.

It was totally worth it though! I’ve always been a big racing fan, with my favorite being Formula 1 (and there was a lot of Schumacher and Alonso gear to be seen today which was neat). I used to watch Champ Car all the time too, back when it was called CART. I still remember Jacques Villeneuve racing for the Players team in CART before switching to F1 and winning a world championship. And I remember Paul Tracy, who was one of the youngest drivers in the field. He’s now the oldest, and clearly the fan favorite here in Edmonton. He starts the race second tomorrow, despite a little accident this afternoon. Sebastien Bourdais has the pole.

Watching in person is much different than watching on television. The sounds are obviously much louder, and you can hear certain things much more clearly, such as gear shifts or brakes locking up. And while it’s easier to keep track of what’s going on when watching TV, there are some things you just can’t see properly unless you’re in person. Things like the way the cars bounce around (well if you ignore on car cameras at least), or the way the downforce keeps them on track as they go through a corner at 100 mph. Everytime the cars go through turns 13 and 14, it looks like they are going to lose control, and except for one time today, none of them did. It’s incredible.

I’ve created a new photoset with a bunch of pictures I took today, and I’ll add to it tomorrow. A couple interesting ones are this forklift carrying packages of ice to keep drinks cool no doubt, and this jet engine mounted to the back of a pickup that blows debris from the track. Maybe I’ll bring my video camera tomorrow!

Read: Edmonton GP

One win left, go Oilers go!

Post ImageEdmonton played an absolutely amazing game tonight, easily shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes with a final score of 4-0. That means that for the third time in a row, the Stanley Cup Final is going to game 7. The 16,839+ in attendance at Rexall were super loud, and thousands more flooded Whyte Ave and Jasper Ave after the game (no doubt the partying is just getting under way!). Jasper Ave was especially noisy tonight, with some intense honking (here are some pictures)! Some notes on the game:

  • Hurricanes forward Erik Cole made a surprising return to the lineup for Carolina tonight after missing several months with a fractured vertebra. Doug Weight was out with an upper-body injury, creating the lineup opening.
  • Pisani’s goal moved him into the league lead with 13 in these playoffs. His assist on the Torres goal tied him with Chris Pronger for the team lead in multiple-point games these playoffs with seven.
  • Terrible officiating once again – really, is it so hard to get some decent calls? Tonight was harder for the referees, I admit, as you could barely hear the whistle half the time. A few times tonight they called penalties against a team when they still hadn’t touched the puck, drives me crazy! I am glad they finally called a diving penalty though, first of the playoffs if I am not mistaken.
  • Finally, finally, finally – Horcoff and Dvorak (and Smyth) did something in this series! Horc was my MVP until this series began, after which he was largely invisible until tonight. Dvorak should be elevating his game, as he’s fighting for a chance to stay in Edmonton as far as I am concerned, so it was good to see him get a point tonight.
  • Spacek and Pisani had great games, with two points each. Jussi played good, but wasn’t really tested with only 16 shots on goal from the ‘Canes.
  • Three powerplay goals! That’s the biggest story of the night as far as I am concerned. The Oilers are clearly the better team at even strength, and have been all series long. Tonight was the first night that the Hurricanes powerplay sucked, and ours clicked.
  • I think Torres had an awesome game tonight, with a goal, two shots, three hits, and one takeaway. He set the tempo early and kept it up all game long.

So it all comes down to Monday. One game, for all the glory. I am confident the Oilers are bringing the cup back to Edmonton!

Carolina didn’t look like a team hungry for the win tonight. Not only have they lost two games in a row now, they’ve missed two chances to win the cup. The Hurricanes looked tired, beat up, and ready to call it quits. If Edmonton plays on Monday like they did tonight, bringing the body, shooting lots of pucks, and driving for the net, I think we’ll handily take the win. The powerplay/penalty kill will also be important, so they need to continue to do whatever it is they did tonight that turned the tables on special teams.

Number six is coming in 2006!!

2006 FIFA World Cup Germany

Post ImageEverywhere in the world right now, football has taken centre stage. Everywhere in the world, that is, except for Canada (where hockey reigns supreme) and the United States (where it’s probably baseball or basketball). Why? Simple – the 2006 World Cup (hosted by Germany) has started, which in case you didn’t know, is the most watched sporting event in the world, yes even more so than the Olympics. In the last World Cup in 2002, the cumulative audience is estimated to be 28.8 billion, with 1.1 billion people watching the final match. Expectations are for this year’s to be even greater. Crazy!

Canada once again failed to qualify for the tournament, which means I’m pulling for England. The good news for England so far is that they won their first game this morning against Paraguay. The bad news is that the win was very unconvincing:

England got the opening win they were looking for, but the performance in the second half was less than convincing. Paraguay can take heart from their battling display, though they had no reward for their efforts.

The lone goal came off a Beckham free kick that was accidentially headed into the net by the Paraguay captain himself. I heard earlier that the goal is the quickest own-goal in World Cup history, and it marked the first time a game has been decided by an own-goal.

The website for the World Cup has got to be one of the best around. Lots of news and features, excellent video highlights of games, and much more. Definitely check it out. They’ve got some great photos too 😉

One thing I’ve really noticed so far is that the 2006 World Cup appears extremely branded. There’s the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, the adidas Golden Shoe and Golden Ball awards, the Gillette Best Young Player award, and much more. I bet it costs a pretty penny to be an official partner of the World Cup.

I admit that I am a bit of a bandwagon jumper when it comes to the World Cup. That is, unlike my brother and my Dad who follow soccer closely all the time, I really only get excited when the World Cup rolls around every four years. I keep tabs on Manchester United and pay attention to the discussions between Tom and my Dad, but that’s about it. I guess that makes me a bit of a hypocrite in that I complain about the Stanley Cup/Edmonton Oilers bandwagon jumpers, but I contend that the World Cup is something special, over and above hockey. A few million people care about the Stanley Cup, whereas a couple billion care about the World Cup. People all over the world, from all walks of life, it truly brings out the “globalness” of the little community we have here on Earth.

Games will be played over the next few weeks with Stage 1 ending on June 23rd, and the final being played on July 9th. England’s next game is on June 15th against Trinidad and Tobago, who managed to hold Sweden to a draw today.

Looks like the 2006 FIFA World Cup demo is finished downloading on my Xbox 360 (I love the new background downloads), so I’m off to check it out!

Crazy March Snow

I cannot believe how much snow there is in Edmonton today. It had started to snow pretty hard when I got home last night around 4, but it wasn’t too bad. When I got up today though? I literally had to dig myself out of the house! I took some pictures this afternoon, because I don’t think we’ll have another dumping like that for a while. At least I hope not.

The roads are pretty bad in the city, but not so bad on the highways. Many of the major roads have been cleared, except for a few like the Yellowhead, but none of the secondary or residential streets have been cleared.

Tom, Kim and I went to Boston Pizza downtown tonight for dinner and to watch the Oilers, and during the first period, Tom and I ended up going outside to help push a car that had gotten stuck in the snow. To make things worse, the driver totally didn’t know how to drive, and he flooded the engine.

So if you’re out driving in Edmonton, be careful, and don’t get stuck!

How many cores do you have?

This post originally appeared as a guest post on Dave Lucas‘ popular blog, Capital Region People.

Post ImageNow that we’re into 2006, my computer is about six years old. I have upgraded certain components over the years (notably RAM and hard drives) but my original processors are still chugging along – dual Pentium III 600 MHz processors (x86 Family 6 Model 8 for those of you who like details). For the most part my computer is pretty responsive, and I do a good job of clearing up temp files, scanning for spyware and viruses, etc. Certain applications and tasks are starting to be noticeably slower though, which means a new computer is becoming more and more likely. My computer probably is doing things just as fast as a couple years ago, but it seems slower because of all the newer, faster machines I come into contact with. Faster machines that more and more frequently have more than one processor core.

To ring in the new year, Intel launched a massive rebranding complete with new logos and a new slogan, Leap Ahead. The company also announced a new focus and direction; one that includes muti-core processors at its heart. Here’s how Intel describes multi-core:

Intel multi-core architecture has a single Intel processor package that contains two or more processor “execution cores,” or computational engines, and delivers—with appropriate software—fully parallel execution of multiple software threads. The operating system (OS) perceives each of its execution cores as a discrete processor, with all the associated execution resources.

Essentially, more execution cores means you computer can do more things at once, and thus accomplish tasks faster. It was April of last year that Intel released their first dual core processor, and research on new multi-core projects (15 currently underway at Intel) has been feverish ever since. There haven’t been that many dual core processors sold yet, mainly because they are a bit too expensive still. That will change in 2006 though, as Intel forecasts “that more than 85 percent of our server processors and more than 70 percent of our mobile and desktop Pentium® family processor shipments will be multi-core–based by the end of 2006.”

Intel isn’t the only company betting on multi-core technology. In a recent interview with CNET News.com, AMD’s Chief Technology Officer confirmed that the company will be shipping quad-core processors by 2007. AMD has a good description of multi-core technology:

Multi-core processors enable true multitasking. On single-core systems, multitasking can max out CPU utilization, resulting in decreased performance as operations have to wait to be processed. On multi-core systems, since each core has its own cache, the operating system has sufficient resources to handle most compute intensive tasks in parallel.

Improvements are being made in software as well. The current versions of Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X will all be able to take advantage of the improved performance delivered by multi-core processors, and new iterations of the operating systems should improve things even more. Mac users will be happy that Apple is switching to Intel this year, opening the door for multi-core processors in Macintosh computers. Windows users will soon have Windows Vista available which will not only support multi-core processors, but other performance boosting technologies like hot-swappable USB key-based RAM too.

Let’s not forget that other system components are being improved too. The speed of memory, motherboards, hard drives, and other components are all increasing along with processor performance. All this and I haven’t even mentioned 64-bit technology yet! When you step back and look at the big picture, it’s clear that we’re on track for a huge performance boost.

If you’re going to be purchasing a new computer, the coming year is as good a time as any. The new multi-core systems that will be available are a far cry from my pokey old Pentium III’s, even if I do have two! The faster computers will usher in new applications and interfaces that take advantage of the increased horsepower, meaning you’ll see improvements across the board, from hardware to software.

Perhaps a year from now you won’t ask someone how fast their computer is. Instead, you might ask, how many cores do you have?

Predictions for 2006

Post ImageWith the new year fast approaching, I thought it would be a good time for predictions. Not resolutions, but predictions. If you’d like to see some predictions from around the web, Alex Barnett has compiled a very interesting collection. Here are some of my predictions for the coming year, some specific and some more vague, in no particular order:

  1. Canada will win both the World Juniors Hockey Championship, and the gold medal in hockey at the Olympics.
  2. RIM will prevail in their legal troubles and will find success beyond the corporate market in 2006.
  3. The Indianapolis Colts will win the Superbowl.
  4. 2006 will finally be the year of Internet connected devices that make sense, are inexpensive, and are adopted widely. I am thinking of devices like digital cameras, little tablets for living room access, etc.
  5. Toyota will overtake General Motors as the world’s largest automaker, and GM shares will continue to plummet.
  6. Sony will launch the Playstation 3, but due to incredibly high prices, it will not match the success of it’s predecessor, nor the Xbox 360, except in Japan.
  7. The Ottawa Senators will win the Stanley Cup (at least I hope so, if Edmonton can’t).
  8. Windows Vista will RTM in September. Apple fans will claim too much is copied from OS X, and Linux fans will come out with roadmaps to copy all the functionality found in Vista.
  9. We’ll see a new Halo game (Halo 3 maybe) for the Xbox 360 sometime around November.
  10. iTunes and iPod will begin to lose their grip on the digital music market.
  11. Apple will successfully launch their Intel based machines and their market share will reach 6%.
  12. Michael Schumacher will win his 8th world drivers championship and then retire.
  13. A major security/antivirus/antispyware company will launch a lawsuit against Microsoft over Windows Vista, Windows OneCare, or other competing products.
  14. Movies, television shows, and other forms of video content will be sold in big numbers online in 2006, with almost every major content company taking part.
  15. Someone is going to buy TiVo before the year is over.
  16. The Liberals will once again win the upcoming Canadian election.
  17. It’s not really my prediction, but I agree with John Battelle who thinks Google will stumble in 2006.
  18. The Da Vinci Code will be in the top three movies at the boxoffice.
  19. The United States will invade Iran.

And in my final prediction, I am going to disagree with Jason Calacanis, who made the following prediction on December 27th:

12. No podcasting company will have any significant success in 2006, but a number of podcasters will be offered great jobs at Sirius and XM Radio.

I am going to predict that at least one company will be successful in 2006, and I fully intend to have Paramagnus be that company!