Tuesday, November 29, 2005


AutoSock: a light and easy alternative to winter tire chains

The AutoSock is a great alternative to traditional tire chains. The machine washable and TÜV approved "socks/chains" are easy to fit and remove

The best news for people familiar with winter chains are that the AutoSocks are very quite, does not cause noise or vibrations and are compatible with all electronic safety systems (ESP, ABS).

A great thing to have handy considering the season.

Thanks for the tip Max!


Free e-book: God's debris by Scott Adams

God's Debris by Scott Adams can be downloaded for free as a PDF

The great news is that it the e-book is not DRM protected so you do not have to go crazy to read it on on a PC or Pocket PC

Via Dilbert.Blog

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Images and notes from the worlds biggest motorcycle show; EICMA

The EICMA show was -big- and there was, as I hoped , a lot of neat bikes. I will leave the technical analysis to the experts and post my images and notes instead.

First of all; I am sad to say that the organization did not impress me. The Milano Fiera show room is brand new and a lot of (tax payer) money was spent creating it. I spent most of the morning sitting in a traffic jam and walking through the, still under construction, site.Having said that; the internals of the Milano Fiera is nice, well organized and there were no long lines for buying the tickets.

Yamaha a big and loud presenter which makes sense considering their 50 year anniversary. I tried sitting on one of the M1 replicas but it is not for me as I am too tall. There were plenty of Valentino Rossi bikes around:


I surprised myself, and was most impressed with the new bikes from Moto Guzzi. For obvious reasons I just had to take a picture of “Norge


The Griso is a great bad looking bike, especially from behind:


Not as bad as the Victory though (which looks like it ate a truck for breakfast)...

Two other mean looking bikes, where this one from Benelli:


and the MV Agusta Brutale

Having “drooled“ over the big bikes most of the day, I found the mini/midi moto section:
A big bike is dangerous in the Italian traffic and you are not likely to keep it for long if you use it for going to work so mini/midi motos are perfect for letting off some steam on a closed track with minimal investments. I still have to choose my wheels so suggestions on models, vendors and tracks (in northern Italy) are more than welcome. Some of the Mini/Midi moto bike links I picked up during the show, let me know if you have others:

BTW: Part of the show room was dedicated to Chinese vendors offering bikes at an incredibly low price. Too low a price. One of the vendors found a replica of his product at a fraction of the price at one of the Chinese stands and told the Italian "finance police". A few “lucky” customers got a bike for a great price, but it is a risky business considering how close you are to the ground at 60 km/h.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Free e-mail and IM hosting for your domains with live.com

Windows Live hosts your e-mail and Instant Messaging for your domains for free with Windows Live Custom Domains

The beta service allows you to host up to 20 e-mail accounts for your domains, each with a 250MB inbox. Mail is automatically filtered using Microsoft SmartScreen technology and scanned for viruses.

I wonder how long it will take for Google to offer an ever better service based on gmail?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


MotoGP star Valentino Rossi and rally cross champion Collin McRae race head to head in Monza

This should be great fun:..

It is, if possible, as cool as the big motorcycle show in Milano these days! MotoGP star Valentino Rossi will participate with Collin McRae in the Monza Rally Show this weekend.

Rossi will drive with former World Champion Carlo Cassina as the co driver in a Subaru Impreza. WRC Legend Colin McRae and Rossi will race the best Italian drivers in the the Master Show Sunday. Other well known figures from the MotoGP paddock will participate; Davide Brivio, Graziano Rossi (Valentino's dad) and Alessio Salucci  (aka Uccio, Valentino Rossi's close friend and ‘right-hand man’)

Tickets for the Monza Rally can be purchased online  for 12 euro. The complete time table can be found here.

The The International Motorcycle Exhibition is also 10km from my home but in the other direction on the same day :-(
The worst news? I have to work this weekend :-(


The worlds biggest motorcycle show: EICMA in Milano with Marco Melandri and Max Biaggi

The worlds biggest motorcycle show, the 63rd International Motorcycle Exhibition is on in Milano Italy is open to the public from Thursday 17 to Sunday 20.

It is big. We're talking a 60.000 square meters exhibition hall with its own outdoor area to where you can have fun with the different motorcycle categories in MotoLive to live your passion as a protagonist; Freestyle, Supermotard, Supercross, Quad and Acrobatic Trial, Driving School Test Drive, ...

The full fare ticket at 16 euro gives you the right to 2 free runs on the public transport system.

Melandri attends today and Thursday. Max Biaggi was scheduled to attend on Saturday but I am not sure if he will attend as he still does not have a place in MotoGP for the 2006 season. His comments about sabotage earlier this season was not digested well by Honda. So far they are keeping their promise: Max Biaggi will never ride a Honda again.

Biaggi has good ties with Camel and I guess he, like the rest o us, expected him to end up in the Sito Pons Camel Honda team. But Honda said no and so has Yamaha. The only options are the teams at the and of the grid... EuroSport has all the dirty details and wild speculations.

See you at EICMA this weekend!


Google Base goes live (eh... beta)

After a lot of rumors Google Base is finally live (in beta of course :-)

I have tried to use it the last month without much luck as it has been down more than up. It seems a lot more stable today even considering the initial onslaught after they announced the service. The idea behind Google Base is simple: write an entry and describe it with the proper attributes. Items in different categories will have different attributes; Job Posts have an employer attribute whereas Recipes have ingredients etc.

I am still playing around with it so I haven't made up my  mind. Is it a big categorized community blog, a content editing system, another craigslist, or neither, or a mix of them all?

The engineer in me says it is one big configurable DB, but it will be very interesting to see what people make with it and what they use it for...

Saturday, November 12, 2005


MotoGP stars in Pesaro for Moto & Miti show

Several MotoGP stars, including seven time World Champion Valentino Rossi, will take part in the Moto & Miti Championshow this weekend in Pesaro. The popular Motorshow is hosted by Valentino's father, and former Grand Prix winner, Graziano.

“The idea is quite simple: the stars of the MotoGP World Championship joins us in Pesaro to have fun, the only rule of the competition is to let them enjoy themself,” explains Graziano Rossi. “Many motorshows have lost the passion factor from their sight, always reducing the space dedicated to two-wheel racing. The Championshow is a celebration of the sport and its stars. In Pesaro, there are no longer barriers between the fans and the riders so that everybody can bask in the sheer fun of the event.”

The Rally event will see Valentino Rossi racing against his own father, but also former 125 World Champion Andrea Dovizioso, MotoGP star Ruben Xaus and Italian up-and-comer Marco Simoncelli. They will be joined many other Grand Prix riders for the Supermotard race, including Mika Kallio, Ant West, Mattia Pasini. Other events will see the participation of Spanish youngster Hector Barbera and even the Yamaha Factory team manager Davide Brivio.

It would have been colissimo to be there but I am stuck at work :-(

Via [MotoGP.com]

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Get more productive with a bigger screen

Great news! This excellent article on NY Times covers a lot of different ways to improve the human interaction with computers. Some of them are pretty obvious:

Hit an astronaut with a textual interruption, and he was likely to ignore it, because it would simply fade into the text-filled screens he was already staring at. Blast a horn and he would definitely notice it - but at the cost of jangling his nerves. Czerwinski proposed a third way: a visual graphic, like a pentagram whose sides changed color based on the type of problem at hand, a solution different enough from the screens of text to break through the clutter

What may not be obvious to most people is that the size of the screen plays an important factor in productivity.

The researchers took 15 volunteers, sat each one in front of a regular-size 15-inch monitor and had them complete a variety of tasks designed to challenge their powers of concentration - like a Web search, some cutting and pasting and memorizing a seven-digit phone number. Then the volunteers repeated these same tasks, this time using a computer with a massive 42-inch screen, as big as a plasma TV.

The results? On the bigger screen, people completed the tasks at least 10 percent more quickly - and some as much as 44 percent more quickly. They were also more likely to remember the seven-digit number, which showed that the multitasking was clearly less taxing on their brains.
In two decades of research, Czerwinski had never seen a single tweak to a computer system so significantly improve a user's productivity. The clearer your screen, she found, the calmer your mind.

I have never had the pleasure of using a 42inch display with my PC but I can confirm that larger screens help. I upgraded to a 17" screen on my laptop last year and I love it, especially for:

  • Multi tasking. In the past I  used VirtuaWin for managing multiple virtual desktops. With the larger monitor I can fit it all on screen at the same time without having to swap between windows using arcane shortcuts
  • Visual Studio and other programming environments. They are packed with useful information but you need to big screen to display it all. Otherwise you end up spending most of your time hiding windows you do not need to free up some precious screen estate.
  • Terminal Server: Using the Microsoft Management Console I can have the list of servers on the left and still have a 1024x768 session to each server to the right

Check out the 20" computer monitors at Amazon.com

Wednesday, November 9, 2005


Last longer with a High Capacity External Laptop Battery Pack

The High Capacity External Laptop Battery Pack Model PowerPack 130 by BatteryGeek is a must have gadget for anyone spending a lot of time using their laptop or tablet PC on battery power.

It lasts up to 3 times longer than a normal laptop battery. Just connect the laptop using one of the 9 supplied connectors and the laptop thinks it is connected to a normal power supply. The laptop runs on the external power and recharges its internal battery if needed. mobile guru jkOnTheRun has a lot of good things to say about it.

The Power Pack 130 is the big brother (1kg and 20x12x2cm) of the family and gives the longest run time. The other packs are smaller and lighter if you are more concerned about mobility than power.

BatteryGeek products on Amazon.com

Tuesday, November 8, 2005


Cool Christmas gift: The Ultimate Star Trek Collection

This is a gift for someone with a lot of money to burn on a true Trekkie friend. A cool $2.499 buys you The ultimate Star Trek collection
The ultimate collection comes with a whopping 212 DVDs. No, that is not a typo; it has two hundred and twelve DVDs!

Here's the ultimate collection for the ultimate fan. This 212-disc behemoth encompasses five broadcast series and 10 feature films and is, with a few exceptions, all the Trek a Trekker could want. Start with the original series, which in 1966 set out to boldly go where no series had gone before, beginning a three-year mission that led to a franchise that would last decades. The original Enterprise crew was led by Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and included first mate and science officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy), medical officer "Bones" McCoy (DeForrest Kelley), and Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott (James Doohan). The show lasted a mere three seasons, but devoted fans and syndication kept the franchise alive til its first feature film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).
This is the ultimate collection for any Star Trek fan. It includes the following: Star Trek: The Motion Picture DVD Collection (all 10 2-disc Star Trek Motion Picture Special Collector's Editions) The Boxset of the Complete Series of Enterprise (Seasons 1 - 4) The Boxset of the Original Star Trek Series (Seasons 1 - 3) The Boxset of the Complete Series of The Next Generation (Seasons 1 - 7) The Boxset of the Complete Series of Deep Space Nine (Seasons 1 - 7) The Boxset of the Complete Series of Voyager (Seasons 1 - 7)


Milano: The Keith Haring show (28/09/2005 - 29/01/2006)

We went to the Keith Haring show in Milano this weekend.

Our 6 year old daughter loved the colorful designs. The 3 year old a bit less but all in all I would declare the trip a success :-) A lot of paintings, sculptures and several video clips covering the life and work of Keith Haring. Many items I had not seen before from the different periods of his, too short, life.

La Triennale is is open Tuesday - Sunday 10:30-20:30.

Practical information
The normal ticket costs € 8,00
There are cheaper tickets for € 5,50 for people attending the military service, kids (6-18), students, over 60, etc.
People with a ATM (metro) subscription only pay € 4,50
Groups of 15 persons or more pay € 4,00 (special conditions apply)

More info at Info: +39 02724341

It is good for all of us that Haring is not living in Las Vegas these days where the mayor wants to cut off the thumbs of graffiti artists on live television!


Milano: IT material for sale in Coop (Centro Commerciale Metropoli)

Coop in Centro Commerciale Metropoli has a sale on a lot of IT material these days. Below are some of the offers that caught my eye when I went there.

Verbatim Store 'n' Go USB Drives

The Verbatim Store 'n 'Go 1GB version costs 59.50. The 512MB version costs 29.90

60% discount on Keenex DVD +R and - R
Each DVD +R and DVD -R come in a standard jewel case and cost 0.59 cents. I was afraid that they would not work with my picky laptop DVD burner but so far so good.

 The first DVD I burned failed at 85% and I thought it was the cheap DVD. No such “luck”. It is my hard disk that is slowly giving up after a lot of (ab)use over the years :-(

External 2 1/2 inch USB 2.0 case with 80GB hard disk
99 euro is a good price considering it comes with a 80GB hard disk

Keep in mind that you get an additional 10% discount if you use the Carta Socio Coop (free customer card) until 16/11.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005


Bloglines mobile

Playing around with Google Reader and GreatNews, I missed Bloglines mobile. They have finally fixed the problems I mentioned last year.

Bloglines Mobile has several neat features:

  • It is automatically used if you connect with a Pocket PC. No need to remember a special url, just go to www.bloglines.com

  • Light weight pages for fast browsing

The frames used in the full version has been discarded in favor of a simple indented list of “My Feeds“.


Click a feed to get the details full screen:


I have never been so up to date with my blog roll. A spare minute is all I need to check a few feeds with the Pocket PC.

But, as always, I have some suggested improvements to make a great service even better :-)

  • It would be great to have a "Next unread feed" link at the end of the feed page. At the moment I have to go back to the list, scroll down to where I was and click the next feed manually.

  • The “Return to subscriptions“ link in the feed page returns to the first feed. It would be a lot better if it returned to the current feed so I don't have to scroll down and find it myself.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005


The Man behind Leisure Suit Larry: Al Lowe

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards was one of the first games I installed on my 8086. I was young, learning English, and had a very hard time with the startup questions and some of the puzzles. But it was great fun and kept me up late for weeks. Keep in mind that this was way before the age of web sites with cheat codes so I had finished the game the hard way: by solving the puzzles.


I always thought Al Lowe was some kind of word play on "Love" but no, Al Lowe is real and one hell of a guy judging by the Tom's Hardware interview:
 (Al Lowe)

J: And that's kind of what I wanted to ask you about - should people be making such a big deal about this, when the nature of the game is steeped with a lot more disturbing themes than sex?

Al: I think America has always had a lot more problem with people making love than they do with people making war. I don't know why that is. To me the other seems much more objectionable, but I seem to be on the wrong side of the fence with that. You can find any number of examples of murder and mayhem, where people die right and left, but let somebody get laid and politicians are up in arms! I don't understand it. It just seems so silly.