The fastest RC cars in the world

Friday, June 02, 2006

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Top Gear’s Koenigsegg Test Redux

Shame on us, but if you also were a bit busy this Memorial Day weekend, you’re like us and may have missed Sunday’s episode of Top Gear. Luckily some friendly BBC viewers have rectified our poor judgement by providing video of the most important segment from the show. A couple of weeks back, the best-est automotive show on earth tested the new Koenigsegg CCX, and the Stig ended up taking it into the fields to the side of the second to last turn on the infamous airfield course. The CCX had a bit of a problem — not enough downforce. The folks at Koenigsegg took it back and fitted it with a right new wing on the back. The result was…well, it was…epic. The car went on to blitz the track in the fastest ever time — 1:17.6. Now kiddies, here’s what’s coming up in this weekend’s episode.

"Mad Max" vehicles in Iraq

Todd Lappin says: "There's a soldier in Iraq who's been posting some crazy pictures of American SUVs and pickup trucks that have been modified by civilian security contractors for use as gun trucks. They're insane, in a 'Mad Max at the Wal-Mart parking lot' kind of way."

eBay tries e-mail in Net neutrality fight: Net Neutrality: Part XI

By Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET
Published: June 1, 2006, 8:10 PM PDT

SAN JOSE, Calif.--eBay this week unleashed a political machine that should make politicians envious: a national e-mail blast over Net neutrality.

Meg Whitman, chief executive of the Internet auctioneer, called on more than a million eBay members to get involved in the debate over telecommunications laws and "send a message to your representatives in Congress before it is too late."

"The telephone and cable companies in control of Internet access are trying to use their enormous political muscle to dramatically change the Internet," Whitman wrote. "It might be hard to believe, but lawmakers in Washington are seriously debating whether consumers should be free to use the Internet as they want in the future."

This is the first time that eBay has used e-mail to urge its members to weigh in on a national issue and the first time Whitman has sent an e-mail to members under her own name, the company said Thursday.

eBay--which has been active in a pro-Net neutrality coalition for years--confirmed that more than a million e-mails have been sent out so far, but declined to offer a more specific number. The campaign is ongoing.

The concept of Net neutrality, which generally means that all Internet sites must be treated equally, has drawn a list of high-profile backers, from pop music star Moby and actress Alyssa Milano to Vint Cerf, one of the technical pioneers of the Internet. It's also led to a political rift between big Internet companies such as Google and Yahoo that back it--and telecom companies that argue federal legislation will curb their ability to manage their own networks.

"Meg has been following the issue, and with legislation moving through the House and the Senate, felt that this was an appropriate time to reach out to the community to make sure Congress heard what the community thought about the telecommunications reform bill," said Tod Cohen, eBay's associate general counsel for global policy.

Other tech companies have tried e-mail outreach efforts before, though this week's campaign ranks among the largest. Microsoft, for instance, distributed a "Freedom to Innovate" newsletter during its antitrust trial that ended with the exhortation: "Now is the time to let your elected officials know how you feel about the case."

eBay's e-mail campaign comes as the political debate over Net neutrality is growing more pointed in Washington, D.C. On May 25, one House of Representatives panel voted in favor of formal Net neutrality regulations bitterly opposed by AT&T, Verizon Communications and other broadband providers--while another House panel rejected such regulations on April 5.

For their part, network operators from the telephone and cable industries, now allied with some of the nation's largest hardware makers, have said repeatedly that they have no intention of blocking, degrading or impairing content. They say they're protecting their right to manage their networks as they see fit, which could mean charging extra to heavy bandwidth users, such as video providers, that expect to have their content shuttled at priority speeds.

Also on Thursday, the American Electronics Association, or AEA, cautiously embraced Net neutrality.

In a statement, the trade association said its board of directors' executive committee endorsed a set of principles asking Congress to protect consumers and Internet companies "from anticompetitive and unreasonably discriminatory conduct by broadband network providers."

That's a careful statement that falls short of endorsing some of the more aggressive Net neutrality proposals--such as the one approved by the House Judiciary Committee on May 25--that would go further and block what's being called a "high speed" lane for certain services such as video.

AEA's board includes representatives of dozens of companies including Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Nanoventions, Intel, Adobe Systems, Qualcomm and

A Cisco Systems representative responded to AEA's announcement with this statement: "Some of the groups who are most public in this debate focus on one part of the network stack or another. We actually care about the entire network--from core to end-user. No new regulations are needed in order to support the FCC's connectivity principles."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Wi-Fi/VoIP iPod could attract 100m users

The new 'killer converged entertainment device'

Robert Jaques, 23 May 2006

Apple could create a "killer converged entertainment device" by adding Wi-Fi functionality to its iPod digital media players that could attract 100 million users by 2011, an analyst firm claimed today.

A new study from ON World suggests that consumer devices such as iPods with integrated Wi-Fi and VoIP will become the preferred way of accessing internet services in the future.

Over the next five years, the PC industry is expected to drive the consumer mobile VoIP market with its growing "real-time internet" telecoms network of services, devices and infrastructure.

"The PC industry has found an ideal services model and this is the 'real-time internet'," said Mareca Hatler, director of research at ON World.

"Services such as VoIP, video, music, radio, news and instant messaging, coupled with mobile devices such as a Wi-Fi enabled iPod and the ubiquity of broadband, will result in 100 million consumer mobile VoIP users in 2011."

The PC industry will ship more than twice as many mobile VoIP devices per year as the telecoms industry in 2011, the ON World study estimated.

"Convergence between the PC and telecoms industries has been the 'mantra' for several years. Skype, Google, Apple and municipal mesh infrastructure providers such as Tropos are creating the 'real time internet' without them," explained Hatler.

The analyst firm predicts that Wi-Fi enabled mobile entertainment devices will make up 36 per cent of all mobile VoIP devices sold in 2011.

This will be driven by the popularity of Apple's iPod as well as products such as Nokia's Internet Tablet 2006 bundled with services such as GoogleTalk.

ON World predicts that by 2011 Skype will have 25 per cent of the world's VoIP users and $1.2bn in voice services revenues.

The report was based on interviews with electronics retailers and 100 "key technology influencers" in several consumer markets.

Coming soon: the WiFi MP3 player

Via Cnet:
I love my iPod, but I do not love that it's basically a PC accessory. No PC (or Mac) nearby means no content on the iPod, and no updates. There's got to be a better way.

I've previously covered a company, Music Gremlin, that's building a WiFi-enabled music player. And at the D4 conference this morning, a new company, Zing, is rolling out its service that enables other companies (like its partners Sirius and Yahoo) to build their own complete music infrastructures -- content to player -- that work just fine without a PC connection.

The Zing prototype shown here at D4 has both Bluetooth and WiFi radios built in. The radios are used to download music and to upload data about what you are listening to. If you have one of these players, you can do cool things like see what your friends are listening to, and then play samples of those tracks, or buy songs and albums directly from the player. If you try buy items when you're not in range of a WiFi access point, the product will queue up your requests and batch process them when you do eventually connect.

Most people will probably start using a Zing-powered player by first loading it with music that they have on their computer. But say you've got just one track by Johnny Cash, and when you're playing it you realize you want more. On your player, you can flag the album it came from, and next time you're in WiFi range, it will download it for you. The player will stream Sirius radio content (via WiFi, not a satellite connection) and will enable you to do the same thing when you're listening to radio tracks.

The Zing reference player has both a built-in speaker and a microphone, which, combined with the WiFi radio, means it has all the hardware a voice communication platform needs. So as a bonus, the software enables you to talk with your friends, walkie-talkie style, over the WiFi network.

Building networking capabilities into music players is the obvious next step in their evolution. But wireless devices (cell phones) are also getting music players built into them. It's a bit early to say definitively which model will win out, but it's worth noting that for most people, a cell phone is a necessity while a music player is a luxury; I think that indicates which way the market is going to tilt.

The first Zing-powered players should ship this year, carrying the Sirius brand.

Chicago Wants Citywide Wi-Fi

Via WNN:
Chicago issues draft RFP for citywide Wi-Fi: The city wants to invest no money, but can offer access to the usual light pole and electricity infrastructure (but not fiber) to a private partner. The RFP is being issued as a draft for the next two weeks, in an interesting review stage, will then be finalized and released, after which potential partners have 75 to 90 days to respond. (Here’s the press release.) Download the PDF and take a look particularly at page 12—it has a lovely graphic showing the relationship of the bidder, the city, the utilities, community groups, and other parties.

Bidders must propose a network that reaches all residents; that provides free or low-cost access for all residents; that provides free access in public schools, parks, and public places, and that must include the kind of training and access that Wireless Philadelphia wound up negotiating in their deal with EarthLink—access to computers, access to training, access to “meaningful applications,” which translates to more than email and Web surfing.

The free or low-cost access doesn’t mean that the winning bidder can’t charge for access. Rather, there has to be a fundamental level of no- or low-cost service, potentially only in certain places. The RFP calls for 1 Mbps symmetrical service fixed, nomadic, and mobile (up to 30mph!) purposes. It also enshrines network neutrality and nondiscriminatory wholesale access.

Chicago is 234 square miles and “sits on relatively flat land,” the draft RFP says, with a 2000 census population of 2.9m people, 1.1m households, and 633K families. The contract will last 10 years.

Posted by Glennf at May 31, 2006 10:21 AM

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Neutral Net? Who Are You Kidding? Net Neutrality: Part X

By Michael Grebb from Wired:
"I don't think the internet has ever been perfectly equal or neutral," says Khaled Nasr, a partner at venture-capital firm InterWest Partners. "There has always been some level of inequality." Seconds Matt Tooley, CTO of broadband optimization firm CableMatrix: "I don't think it's as egalitarian as people would like to think it is."

A dwindling list of corporate giants that control the pipes into consumers' homes are jumping into the video and internet phone businesses, creating an unprecedented threat to online competition, consumer advocates say. In a worst-case scenario, some speculate, a carrier like AT&T might launch its own internet video service and then conspire to hurt the performance of competitors, such as Google, and YouTube, at least where its own customers are concerned.

The debate appears to have polarized into extreme positions. But a hard look at the current situation seems to show that both sides have a point, and the best long-range solution may well be a compromise. Giving the cable firms and telephone companies free rein to do exactly as they wish is almost certainly a mistake. But micromanaging their businesses by forcing them to treat everybody exactly the same would also be a blunder.

Cracking down on ISPs by enforcing one-size-fits-all rules could be costly, since such bandwidth management can have a utilitarian purpose. And it's hard to predict what measures will work best to optimize the network at any given time, or in the future. Cisco Systems' Pepper says that net neutrality in some of its purest forms could even lead to price regulation of broadband services, which could further erode investment and innovation -- the very things that net-neutrality proponents presumably would like to see thrive on the internet. "Regulation is not free," says Pepper. "It always has a cost."

"To say it's never been equal is obvious," says Paul Meisner, vice president of global public policy for and one of the key lobbyists pushing for strong net-neutrality safeguards on Capitol Hill. "But none of those services degrade other services on the internet. The problem arises when schemes are discussed that would prioritize some traffic over other traffic."

WTF. Quadrazuma all-asphalt monster quad

Way of Autoblog:
Volkswagen's recent foray into motorcycle-inspired cars with its GX-3 concept had us prowling the web for other hybrid creations, and we discovered this all-asphalt monster quad, the creation of French car and bike tuner Ludovic Lazareth. The Lazereth "Quadrazuma" is powered by a Yamaha GTS 1000 4-cylinder engine, producing 120 hp at 12,000 rpm. Considering its curb weight of 837 pounds, performance should be, well, inspiring.

The Yamaha frame is augmented with a tubular steel structure, sporting steering gear from a Renault Twingo and including two 20-liter side-mounted gas tanks. 17-inch wheels carry 205/40 front tires and 225/35s in the rear.

As ex-F1 driver and TV commentator David Hobbs is fond of saying, it would take a driver "with rather large attachments" to explore the performance envelope of this beast. Videos of the Quadrazuma can be found at the Lazareth website - in the meantime we have more pictures after the jump.

Transformer movie and new Camaros, yippee!

Way of Jalopnik:
Wow, we were totally so thinking about this one today — wondering when our greasy little fan-boy hands were gonna be able to find leaked spy pics from the set of the live-action Transformers movie. Thanks to a friendly neighborhood fan-site, our comic-book wet dreams have been granted — they’ve got the first pics from the set — and they are epic. First we have a Saleen Mustang dressed up with a Decepticon insignia. Despite some problems we may have with that — because everyone knows Decepticons weren’t cars — only Autobots were cars — it’s still farking sweet. Second — we’ve got a Saleen Camaro — and yes, it’s a Saleen version of the Camaro concept. So that can only mean one thing — if GM’s dropping the money on having this and not the Corvette included in the movie — the General’s more than likely gonna be rolling this one out like Autobots rolling out with Prime.