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Sunday, November 30, 2008

C/D 370Z Review

*We once heard William F. Buckley Jr. say that, and it sounded cool.

At the Z car’s U.S. introduction 40 years ago, Datsun wisely chose not to employ its domestic “Fairlady” moniker, which Yutaka Katayama knew would have been tantamount to calling, say, the Corvette the “Cocker Spaniel.” Since then, the hyphen that originally separated the “240” from the “Z” has vanished, 1.3 extra liters of displacement have more than doubled the original engine’s output, an actor briefly made Mr. K a red-bespectacled TV star, and the car’s price has swollen by about $27,000.

Nissan refers to this latest Z as an “enhancement,” likely largely a male enhancement, rather than a whole new car. The company is being modest. The wheelbase is shorter by 3.9 inches, width is up 1.1 inches, length is down 2.7 inches. The larger engine (same V-6 as in the Infiniti G37) produces 332 horsepower, a bonus of 26, and it sits 15 millimeters closer to the pavement, which is now hugged by a true unequal-length control-arm front suspension. Although Nissan’s engineers had to add nearly 200 pounds of safety and regulatory bric-a-brac, the car is only 33 pounds heavier than the 350Z we tested in June of ’07, in part because the hatch, A-pillars, and doors are now aluminum. We know, because we attacked them with a “Big Sky” fridge magnet.

Two models are on offer: the base car, starting at $30,625, and a Touring version, which leans toward luxury—leather, Bose stereo, so forth. In either case, options are few: a nav system, a seven-speed automatic, and a Sport package. The latter, as fitted to our test car, includes a limited-slip diff, 19-inch wheels, spoilers, larger brake rotors and aluminum calipers, and “SynchroRev Match” for the six-speed manual.

Every body panel is fresh, and the styling, penned in San Diego, is largely successful, although it ignited some vivid office discussion. First, the dual shark’s teeth in the grille look like the outcome of a dolorous ninth-grade study-hall class. The oversize chrome door handles, which we’d paint flat black or body color, would look more at home on a Nissan Armada. And the roof so steeply cants downward that its leading edge forms a sharp, hard crease we’re calling the “Alfalfa peak”—an odd ridge on a car that is otherwise a lava-lamp jubilee of rounded Oprah-ness. Nissan says the roof is intended to look like the GT-R’s. We ask, “Is that important?” A convertible 370Z will arrive as a 2010 model.

The cockpit is richer than its predecessor’s, with graceful contrasting stitching, a kneepad on the center console, and a classy hinged leather panel covering the hole you’ll create if you don’t order the nav system. There’s now even a glove box. The accelerator pedal is floor mounted, and its travel feels freer and more linear. The steering wheel is asymmetrical, neither circular nor oval, but its size and grip are perfect. Although the wheel is adjustable for rake alone, the entire IP moves along for the ride, assuring a clear shot at the gauges. The driver’s seat is more aggressively bolstered than the passenger’s, and both are upholstered in nonslip fabric. They’re a tight fit, with the more globularly hipped among us contemplating the possibility of embarrassing chafing. The size of the shift knob, the pedals’ placement, the three big HVAC controls—all represent an ergonomic hat trick. What’s more, the monstrous cross support aft of the seats, which nearly bifurcated the cargo area, is now replaced by a simple aluminum tube that does minimal damage to storage space.

At the track, the 370Z easily outpaced its predecessor: 0.3 second quicker to 60 mph, a half-second quicker to 100. The 370Z accelerates to 60 mph a mere 10th behind a Porsche Cayman S. The new Z’s 30-to-50 passing potential is now about a second better, and it picked up 0.9 second in its 50-to-70-mph burst. Skidpad grip has risen from 0.93 g to a tendon-bending 0.97 g, and the new brakes (no longer Brembos but Akebonos) have tightened stopping distance to 159 feet—race-car territory, kids.

On the highway and in traffic, the 370Z is one Z-licious companion. From rest, the car rolls away elegantly, asking for a mere handful of revs above idle. Clutch takeup is predictable, and the shifter’s throws are so short and smooth that your forearm barely moves. Power manifests as low as 1900 rpm and flows in one great, seamless rush to redline, with no discernible variable-valve step. Brake-pedal travel is minimal, taut, linear. And the structure feels as solid as a Porsche 911’s, issuing exactly zero rattles or squeaks.

The steering is a little heavy but is always accurate, quick, yet never nervous. Aim for a pebble at an apex, and you can place the inside front tire atop it. Select a path through a sweeper, and no further corrections are required. Over scabrous pavement, the 370Z tracks better than its predecessor, and it has a locomotive’s sense of straight-ahead. Brain-damaged text messagers will be in heaven—that’s how long you can take your hands off the wheel.

Body motions are virtually nonexistent, and the ride can be borderline harsh, but both traits remain appropriate to a dedicated sports car. In the hills, the 370Z is simply BMW-ish in the manner its engine and transmission talk to each other. Jump in or out of the throttle, and there’s no jolt, no windup, no neck snap. Revs build and dissipate rapidly but without notice. The car eagerly establishes a soothing driving rhythm, such that glancing at the speedometer always produces a shock. When did we get going this fast? That’s a sure-fire sign of sedulous engineering.

Up to about eight-tenths on the Blow-Your-Lunch meter, the Z is remarkably neutral. On low-friction surfaces, however, you can deactivate the stability control and induce shooting chest pains courtesy of big throttle-induced oversteer. What’s just as fun and less stressful is to apply 100 percent power out of every corner and let the stability control sort things out.

Speaking of miraculous driving aids, here’s one we weren’t expecting. If you order the Sport package, the manual trans is fitted with the aforementioned SynchroRev Match, which blips the throttle during downshifts. We did some patent searches and believe this electronic boon to be a first on a wholly manual transmission. Upon hearing about it, we warned Nissan that our old-fashioned heel-and-toeing was pure Nureyev—no electronic wet nurses for us. We were wrong. Our own dance steps matched revs accurately about 80 percent of the time. Nissan’s electronic shoes matched revs 100 percent of the time. And you can’t fool the thing. A downshift from fifth to second that requires 4500 immediate revs? No problem. That tricky 10-mph downshift from second to first on a cold morning? Piece of cake. Enter a turn so fast that your whole focus is on braking and steering? Let Nissan manage the blipping. If you still think you can do better, you can deactivate it. But those creamy downshifts add so greatly to the car’s prescient interaction with the driver that we bet you won’t.

Our complaints are few. Visibility astern is slim through that gun slit of a backlight—now sans wiper—and the rear-three-quarter windows don’t even qualify as portholes. The V-6’s exhaust note, at least inside the cockpit, isn’t much sexier than a Pathfinder’s. The gas gauge comprises 16 orange LEDs that are hard to read and look like a temporary fix conjured by the doofus who forgot to order the real gauge. Finally—and this is the big one—the sticky Bridgestones double as megaphones. Boom, slap, echo, hiss, the swishing of water, the pinging of pebbles. You name a road-borne sound, and the tires can magnify it. Perhaps it’s the fault of paper-thin wheel-well liners, because neither engine nor driveline NVH find their way so effortlessly to your tympanic membranes. At idle and at wide-open throttle, the 370Z is louder than its forebear. We’d trade a couple of points on the skidpad in return for less racket and a slightly cushier ride.

Do we love the 370Z? It might now be instructive for the reader to review the text and take a census of superlatives. This latest Z offers amenities sufficient to satisfy a commuter, without doing any obvious harm to the car’s original charm—its bare-bones purity.

In the race among automakers to make in-car cell-phone calls and iPod twiddling ever easier, it’s refreshing to find an addition such as the 370Z’s rev-matching downshifting that actually enhances the driving experience. I must have shifted 500 times on the way home just to marvel at this clever tech tidbit I never knew I wanted. The 350Z was always a road-course missile, now complemented by a much-needed dose of refinement. With cars like the Z within reach, do adolescents still aspire to Mustangs?


The 370Z is proof that revolutionary changes aren’t mandatory to keep a model line fresh. The 350Z lacked a decent interior and storage space, and its styling was starting to look dated. The new car addresses these shortcomings and improves what was already a good package. The result is one of the most desirable sports cars on the market. Steady progress in a model line is not a new idea—Porsche has been following it since, well, forever. Other automakers should take note of this success.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

10 Sexiest WWE Divas- Wrestling Chick Countdown

1. Maria Kanellis

The sexiest WWE diva had the most copies of her Playboy magazine sold out of all the other WWE girls.

2. Candice Michelle

Candice, the WWE champion got even more popular after the infamous Playboy naked shoot

3. Lita

Amy Dumas is sadly a retired diva, but remains one of the best female wrestlers ever who changed the opinion of many people that

4. Torrie Wilson

Torrie Wilson is a WWE SmackDown! diva who scored not one, but two Playboy covers. Since everyone was impressed with her first Playboy appearance, especially Sable who wanted to do a pictorial together with Torrie, making it of the hottest Playboy divas photo shoots…

5. Amy Webber

The model/actress Amy Weber is best known for her time as Miss Amy in the ring of Smackdown! Weber retired in 2005 due to reported harassment from some of the wrestlers, since she was a mean girl on show, but she remains in our memory one of the sexiest WWE divas ever!

6.Christy Hemme

Christy Hemme is a very sexy and attractive TNA wrestler and WWE diva! But, for a beautiful redhead, this isn’t enough, so Christy is also known for her careers in acting, singing and modeling.

7. Stacy Keibler

Also known as the bet legs of WWE federation! Stacy Keibler is an American actress and a former WWE diva who started wrestling as one of the Nitro Girls in WCW. She retired from wrestling in 2006 and is focused on her acting and keeping that hot body ever since…

8. Ashley Massaro

The diva search winner of 2005, Ashley is one tough chick, proving that by participating in ‘Survivor: China’. With one of hotter pictorials in Playboy, Massaro justifies the sexy wrestling diva image…

9. Michelle McCool

Michelle McCool is a WWE SmackDown! diva who used to be a seventh grade teacher! Could you imagine the hot Miss. Cool teaching you somethin?

10. Trish Stratus

Trish Stratus or Patricia Anne Stratigias is a former Canadian fitness model and a former pro wrestler. She retired from WWE in 2006 after winning her 7th Women’s Championship, which is a WWE record so far! Trish was even proclaimed ‘diva of the decade’

Google Canada’s New Eco-Friendly Home Enjoys Playful Work Philosophy

Google’s first official Canadian headquarters enjoyed their open house last week. Overlooking the Dundas-Yonge Square in Toronto’s downtown district, the new suite of offices and board rooms represent more than just another branch of the search engine giant, but also mark the completion of a research project, this time into the creation of an innovative workspace that balances the philosophies of being environmentally-responsible with the creation of a relaxed working environment that is distinctly Canadian in its feel. The doors are made from wheat trees and the floors from recycled bicycle tires while the walls are draped in Canadian landscape murals and the employees are free to take their laptops into any yoga ball or massage chair-filled nook and cranny to do their work as they see fit. To take the simple task of moving between offices and turn it into a creative challenge is, as the employees who work there say, “a very Googly thing to do”.


Ian Caminsky is the head of Google Toronto’s Business Development and the man who spearheaded the project. He met with his employees once a month to discuss the concept and create directives together that were sent on to the design team at KBH.

“We wanted the space to be something everyone is proud of,” Ian explains. “A lot of the green ideas came from the employees, they’d hear of a new lighting system and ask if we could investigate it. It was very collaborative in terms of getting thirty-five minds to work on the project and then passing it off to the design team to do the actual research and implementation of it.”

During my visit to Google Toronto, Mr. Caminsky gave me an in-depth tour. If you are looking for environmentally-friendly initiatives for your own office space, it provides an inspirational blueprint to follow.

The Lobby
Stepping off of the elevator and into the lobby you’ll be greeted by Google’s playful logo and a Google version of the Toronto skyline. Look down and you’ll see one of the first environmental choices made, a polished concrete floor. Rather than introduce a new floor material, one that would eventually end up in a landfill, Google found a special grinding process that polished the existing unfinished concrete.



“To me, this felt almost like marble” says Caminsky. ”It really doesn’t look to me like a concrete floor. There’s absolutely no maintenance whatsoever, it’s not low VOCs (Volatile Organic Content), it’s no VOCs. There’s no residual effect or breakdown of this ever, and it was cheap.”
In place of ordering new waiting chairs, Google purchased a set of stadium seats from the now defunct Montreal Forum. Purchased as part of a charity auction off of eBay, the hockey memorabilia fall into the goal of trying to use either the existing materials of the building or reusing or recycling other materials that have entered into another life of use.


The second Google logo, suspended from the ceiling and embellished with a maple leaf, is an excellent example of a recycled material in use. Created from Canadian Wheatboard, the wood is composed of a minimum 90% of post-industrial recycled material in the form of Sorghum Straw and formed with non-toxic adhesives. The material is used for several interior accents in the building and has the benefit of reducing forest clear-cutting, air pollution, and landfill use.


A second type of recycled wood, Timberstrand, is used for all the interior doors and the paneling. Made from fast-growing Canadian weed trees, the material uses a minimum number of resins and is created using tremendous pressures thanks to new technology that can convert up to 75% of a log into high performing, engineered wood.

The monitor on the left shows a globe with colour-coded searches by language while the monitor on the right shows real time searches through Google

“What we found is that technology has really come a long way in the last five to seven years, in terms of there being a lot of options that you can choose from, that you can be proud of” says Caminsky. “Things look good, they are made in the way you want them to be made and they’re products that you can be proud of.”

Board Rooms And Meeting Areas
The board rooms and community areas, designed to give employees a space to bring clients for training sessions as well as to provide a an area to hang-out, is decorated with Inukshuk murals and Google colours and contains Rock Band video game stations and Yoga balls to encourage a relaxed breaks.


All the lighting is LED and fluorescent, chosen for the longest lifespans and the lowest wattages. Even the exit lights use special two-watt light bulbs which will last for a very long time and still do the job.

Supporting the choice of light fixtures, most of the rooms are equipped with motion sensors that will turn off the lights if they detect no motion for ten to fifteen minutes. The sensors will automatically turn the lights back on as soon as someone enters.


“With a little bit of cool technology, you can save tonnes of power over the long term” explains Caminsky. “Google approaches their clients as long term investments and decided that it would be the same with their offices, creating a long term commitment and getting something out of it. For us it’s about putting our dedication and commitment into a long term place where you can enjoy it. “

The soundproof ceiling tiles are made of 70% recycled materials and were purchased from Armstrong with the understanding that should Google renovate or move again, the tiles can be sent back for a second recycling to a state of 30% recycled material.


Wall frames and structural paneling is made with galvanized steel, again composed of 60-80% of recycled steel, both post-consumer and post-industrial.

The floors in the meeting rooms are laid with Interface carpet tiles that are made with 43-54% post-industrial recycled materials with a GlasBack base that’s made with 40% post-industrial recycled materials.

Bike Room, Shower, And Bathrooms
Part of Google’s green initiative is to encourage their employees to use public transportation or their own green solution to get to work. For those who make that choice, the company offers a monthly subsidy that is added to that employee’s pay with no need to submit receipts or proof. For those willing to take a bicycle to work, the company offers other extras.



“It’s really important to create an environment that facilitates the healthy lifestyle that you want people to lead” says Camisky. “We created a bike room which has hangers for your bike, lockers to put your shoes and helmet in, but unless you have a place to clean up, it becomes harder to actually utilize that. We can’t say ‘Oh be healthy, but we’re not going to help you be healthy’. Google’s all about the full solution. So once we agreed that we would have the bike room, it was imperative that we have the shower to associate with it.”



The Shower Room, internally referred to as “Niagara Falls”, includes a mural of the falls, motion sensors to manage the lights, and similar to the bathrooms (which have their own Google figure icons) uses Solid Surfacing on the counters that is resistant to stains and has a low impact on air quality. In order to relieve employees of having to bring in their own toiletries, Google has hired a towel service to maintain the shower supplies.



Cafeteria And Lounge Area
The cafeteria, or the “Stampede” as it is called internally as a nod to Alberta, offers a free, daily supply of breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. A dietary expert oversees the selection of food and each day prints a colour-coded menu that shows how healthy each item is. Green foods are considered the healthiest, yellow foods are less healthy, while red foods, often desserts that can include chocolates and sweets, are considered the least healthy. Along with the menu are a series of educational boards that explain concepts of portion control and why certain foods are considered healthier choices.

As a high-traffic area prone to spills and abuse, Google chose to cover the floor with rubberized flooring composed of 100% recycled Canadian bicycle tires from landfills. To give the floor some sense of decoration, coloured material made with 30% post-consumer recycled content is mixed into the rubber.


“So here we are removing landfill by using the rubber tires, having a surface that will last forever”, says Caminsky. “It’ll be here longer than we’re going to be. It looks good. These are the options that you look for and when you find them you can be proud of them. “

The chairs are Herman Miller Caper chairs that are made from 21% recycled materials and can be sent out again for recycling when Google no longer has need for them.

For the walls Google choose to go with their signature prime colours using Benjamin Moore Eco Spec 100% acrylic paints that offer low-odour, low VOC and can be cleaned using only water.


The lounge area includes a foosball table and a Nintendo Wii system for Mario Kart breaks. Employees are encouraged to hang out and chat, and to take in the view of the Dundas-Square activities on the streets below.

“We’re not really strict on you having to be here nine to five, we trust our employees” explains Caminsky. “There’s a very detailed and time-consuming process in terms of recruiting people at Google and we look for people who we think are going to fit into our culture and who are going to really grow and benefit from the things that we are giving them. A lot of stuff’s on an honor system, especially my team, if you come in a little bit later or stay a little bit longer or do a little bit of work from home because we have the ability to hook into our system from outside the office, to me it doesn’t matter. It’s a matter of getting your job done and doing it in a way that helps our customers and drives long term business goals and if you’re doing that, I don’t care if you are doing it a little bit later or earlier, at night, in the morning, it doesn’t matter to me. What I find is that giving people what they feel they need to work best really pays off in the long run.”

Work Spaces

To power their offices, Google has an arrangement with Bullfrog who supplies their office with the electricity they need from 100% carbon-free sources including wind power and low-impact water power. As part of the arrangement, Bullfrog generates an equal amount of green power as consumed by Google and injects that into the city’s power grid.


While the desk stations are modeled after Google’s US offices, which typically have their desks packed tightly together, each station has low barriers to promote collaborative socializing and cross-talk. Employees can easily lean over there neighbour’s fence as it were for a consult.
The office area was created to make use of as much natural lighting as possible and to also include small relaxation areas with bean bag chairs and a programmable massage chair near the windows. The chair, as you can imagine, gets a lot of use.


For their office equipment, Google chose Herman Miller Resolve Workstations that are made up of 27% recycled materials (15% post-consumer, 15% pre-consumer). The stations are designed to be assembled using a simple system of poles, trusses, and support arms that are themselves made up of 25% recycled material and are very easy to disassemble and transport should Google make another move. Even the bubbleback panels are made of recycled pop cans and the whole system can be sent off for recycling again when it’s time to dispose of it. The steel itself has a powder paint finish for negligible VOCs.

Herman Miller filing cabinets are made from 29% recycled steel with the powder paint finish comprised of 50% recycled paint materials and the whole assembly can be recycled again at disposal.


For their chairs they selected Steelcase Think, Leap, and Amia chairs. Considered the first “cradle to cradle” product in the sense that they are completely made from recyclable materials (approx. 98%) and can be 100% recycled again at their end of use. In each design the back padding is made from 50% recycled material and the chairs are coated with powder-coated paints, water-based adhesives, and a solvent-free process.
Even the Steelcase whiteboards are considered “Cradle to Cradle” and offer no VOCs.


A Canadian Solution
In researching environmental choices for their office concept, Google stressed the importance of finding local materials, technologies, and services.

“In researching options from outside Canada, we found that while you were saving in one area you were losing in transporting them, so we didn’t do that” explains Caminsky. “The doors are all made with Canadian trees, it’s a Canadian company that builds those, all the stuff is built in Canada, all the carpets are resourced out of Canada, all the food that we bring in is organic and locally grown.”


Each area of the building is featured after a different region of the country. The back of the office is “Atlantic Canada” where one of the board rooms is structured into a light house and another has been given the name of “Peggy’s Cove”. The board room in the middle of the office features some of the architectural accents of houses in Quebec including two of the phone booths which have been accented with cornices and stucco as you would see on old style Montreal houses. The middle of the offices, where the cafeteria is located is the “Stampede”, because people typically run to get to the food and some of the design touches were inspired by the Calgary stampede. The large board room in the middle is called “Lake Louise” and includes a large mural of Lake Louise, while the Media Room has the Inukshuk from the Western Tundra, and the shower room is of course called Niagara Falls.


“The notion is to celebrate Canada as we are designing our place because it’s important to the people who work here” says Caminsky. “It’s important to Google, and celebrating the diversity of Canada is really nice. It’s all

Apple Stores to match competitor prices on Black Friday

infoAppleStore is reporting that Apple has internally announced that its Apple Stores are authorized to match the Black Friday sales of any authorized Apple re-seller. There have been reports indicating that Apple was already planning significant price cuts for Black Friday, so this Thanksgiving holiday is shaping up to be a great time to purchase Apple products at attractive prices. BestBuy is already selling MacBooks and iMacs at $100-$150 discounts, and Apple currently has a teaser ad on its website telling visitors to check back in the day after Thanksgiving for one-day-only holiday deals.

Last year at this time, Apple was selling MacBooks and iMacs for anywhere between $50 and $100 off, so the deals this holiday season already seem to be better. And not only are the price cuts more significant, but Apple’s product line has also been upgraded with newly released MacBooks, iPods, and spec upgraded iMacs. Apple shoppers will certainly be getting a lot more bang for their buck this holiday season.

Ten celebrities who play World of Warcraft


First of all, I should come clean about something.

I’m not really a Warcraft player or fan. Over the past few weeks I’ve had to report on a number of World of Warcraft events (see here and here). This has allowed me to meet and befriend many hardcore players and given me a better understanding of the game. These days, I’d describe myself as more of a WoW sympathiser.

But this new-found interest led me to think, out of more than 11 million players worldwide, some of these people have got to be famous. So here, in no particular order, is a top ten list of Warcraft-playing celebrities:

10. Dave Chappelle

British audiences may not be too familiar with Dave Chappelle (maybe you caught him in The Nutty Professor telling your mama jokes with Eddie Murphy? No? You missed out). He’s actually one of the most popular comedians on the planet, with a hit show Stateside.

"You know what I've been playing a lot of?" the comedian reportedly asked a crowd a few years back. "World of Warcraft!" When a few cheers broke out, he responded, "I knew I had some geek brothers and sisters up in here!"

9. William Shatner

Celebrities that appeared in World of Warcraft adverts also play the game apparently. That advances this list quite a bit, so I won’t use them all. For example, I’ve deliberately missed out Steve Van Sant from The Sopranos (for not having a long enough spot) and John Claude van Damme (for talking in French).

First up is Denny Crane from Boston Legal Captain Kirk from Star Trek:

8. Mr T

A night-elf Mohawk (and don’t try to tell him otherwise…)

7. Verne Troyer

Mini-me is a Mage.

6. Kevin Werbach

Who? OK, so Mr Werbach isn’t strictly a celebrity. But he gets into this list because he is influential. He has the ear of President-elect Obama and is on the changemonger's transition team. More importantly, he’s part of not one, but two guilds.

5. Matt Stone and 4. Trey Parker


The South Park creators wrote an episode based on the game. It was so good it won an Emmy. There’s no way they could have done that episode which is filled with so many Warcraft in-jokes without having played the game first.

Watch the episode here.

3. Jay Mohr

You may have spotted this actor as the evil agent in Jerry McGuire, or on his guest appearances in shows like the West Wing and Scrubs. But he’s something of a World of Warcraft comedian, and hosted the proceedings at Blizzcon - the Warcraft convention in Anaheim, California - this year.

I was there. Jay was hilarious throughout. This is my favourite moment from the weekend – when he starts to ride the mount of the winner of the costume contest.

2. Mila Kunis

She plays Meg in Family Guy and was great in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. What are her gamer credentials? When she was quizzed about her WoW knowledge, she could name 8 of the 10 playable races. For goodness sake.

Culkin 1. Macaulay Culkin

When Mila started to struggle with the questions, her boyfriend Macaulay “Home Alone” Culkin got involved.

He’s a level 70 Paladin apparently.

So there.


Around the world in 850 days - on a skateboard


In the spirit of true adventure, a Christchurch man has skateboarded across continents fending off wild dogs with a pole, partying with fiddle-playing rednecks and eating horse-penis salami.


FOUR-WHEELER: Rob Thomson can claim the Guinness World Record for the Longest Journey by Skateboard after travelling 12,159km.

Now, 28-year-old Rob Thomson has come home with a Guinness World Record and a taste for wheeled transport of the non-motorised type.

This week, Thomson returned to Christchurch after a 2½-year journey.

By the time he arrived at his parents' Halswell home he had worn out three pairs of shoes, three sets of wheels, three skateboard decks and had endured three crashes over the 12,159km expedition.

He spent $15,000 during the 850-day trip, but returned with only a $1000 debt that he planned to pay off by writing a book about his adventures.

The Canterbury University graduate was working in Japan as a co-ordinator for international relations when his contract was up for renewal.

Instead of renewing it, he decided to take a "long detour home" and cycle from Japan to England.

Somewhere near Switzerland, the man who was "definitely not a skateboarder", ditched his two-wheeler in favour of four wheels.

"I only planned to trial skating 1500km from Switzerland to England to see if it was an efficient way to travel," he said.

"I'm all about efficient transport. If it was going to be some macho thing I had to push through, I wouldn't have carried on but it was fine more physically demanding than the bike but not so much that I couldn't take it."

Thomson's plan had been to fly home from England but the call of the skateboard was louder.

So, Thomson crewed for passage on a catamaran that took him to the Caribbean. He was stranded there for six weeks until another boat could take him to the United States.

Unfortunately, Thomson's visa for the Caribbean was only valid for four weeks so he took a razor blade to his passport and doctored the date by two weeks.

In northern Florida in 2007, he spent New Year's Eve with bikers. "Think of the biggest rednecks you can imagine and it was these guys, but they were so nice.

"We spent the night around a bonfire, one of their neighbours played the fiddle and they were shooting each other with Roman Candle fireworks. It was amazing."

With so many unusual interactions, Thomson was in no hurry to end the trip.

"I wanted to be able to do this and still have enough energy to communicate and connect with the local people. It wasn't about skateboarding, it was about getting round and experiencing where I was.

"I'm just keen to promote travelling under human power. It has so many benefits; it's sustainable and good for your health."

Thomson skated through the 45deg "furnace" of north-western China to the minus 23deg winter of Turkey.

By this stage he had been in contact with the Guinness record people and was travelling with a GPS to track daily distances and collecting witness signatures. The Guinness World Record for the Longest Journey by Skateboard was claimed somewhere in New Mexico.

Halfway across the United States, Thomson realised he was not ready to quit skating. He flew to China to skate on.

Thomson proclaimed the United States and Uzbekistan as the most hospitable nations.

"They are in such contrast to each other politically and religiously, but it shows the humanity of people no matter what their background is. They both had such a spirit of generosity."

Thomson said he got along with 99.99 per cent of the people he came across.

And that 0.01%?

"They were drunk."

The strangest food he tried was horse-penis salami in Kyrgyzstan, which tasted "like the smell of a sweaty, old, dirty horse".

In China, Thomson was invited to dinner by a nomadic family who killed a sheep for him. But there was no lamb dinner at the end of the evening they sold the meat and used the sheep's innards for his meal.

Thomson was looking forward to someone breaking his record.

"It's not something that requires much skill, just a lot of time and a bit of determination."

Ironically, despite its huge population, Eastern China was home to his loneliest hours and in Kyrgyzstan, where he did not see a soul for six days, he never felt lonely at all.

Alpine passes provided Thomson with the greatest thrill.

"Your lungs are full of breath, your legs are alive, the surrounding environment is quiet and still with massive views. The air is thinner but you just feel alive."

Spiderpig - You’re Nicked!

by Ewan

22 year old jailed for singing Simpsons Spiderpig Theme.

David Mullen, 22, might be regretting his catchy ringtone this morning as he starts an eleven month jail sentence. Arrested for assaulting a police offer and breaching his bail conditions, this offence gained him eight months. The further three months was for a breach of the peace after he had been arrested.

He sat in the back of the police van and called the arresting officer ‘Ginger’ before proceeding to sing the theme tune of the ill-fated Spider Pig from The Simpsons Movie.

Paul Ralph, who was defending Mullen, said: “He started the song and that was the origin of the joke, but things went further. He felt he had not done anything to be apprehended for.”

Cell jammers still illegal, but may come to state prisons

By John Timmer

Although rumors persist of their use in restaurants and movie theaters, the use of cell phone jamming equipment remains illegal in the US. Right now, the only permissible use is by federal law enforcement officials, but that may change if state prison officials in South Carolina and a manufacturer of jamming equipment have their way. Both would like to see state law enforcement get permission to use the jammers, which may push the technology a bit closer to the mainstream.

Jammers are relatively simple, as they simply rely on flooding the frequencies that cell phones use with electromagnetic noise, blocking any effective transmission within a limited radius. Right now, the FCC is responsible for enforcing the ban on devices that block signals from cell phones, an authority that dates back to the Communications Act of 1934. The FCC notes that "the Act prohibits any person from willfully or maliciously interfering with the radio communications of any station licensed or authorized under the Act or operated by the US government." First time offenders may face either fines of up to $11,000 or a year in prison for each violation.

You can imagine how many offenses jamming something like a crowded movie theater might involve. Nevertheless, it's widely reported that the FCC has yet to actually hold someone accountable for doing so, and it's also widely reported that distributors have shipped the equipment to do so here from overseas; see, for example, this story in Slate.

There are obvious public safety concerns surrounding the unrestricted use of these jammers; it's hard to imagine that blocking access to 911 is in anyone's best interest, but there are situations where public security can be enhanced by their use. Although it hasn't been a problem in the States, cell phones have been used as remote detonators in terrorist attacks.

In other cases, cell phones have apparently been smuggled into prisons, where they have enabled inmates to continue to organize crimes on the outside or to further coordinate the smuggling in of goods. For such reasons, federal law enforcement agencies have retained the right to deploy these systems, and have apparently done so at federal prisons.

The new push seeks to broaden the use of jammers by enabling their use at the state level. Following a demonstration of the equipment at a South Carolina state prison, the company that supplied the demonstration equipment (CellAntenna, which primarily sells signal extenders) has indicated it would attempt to get a waiver from the FCC that would give states permission to use them. Meanwhile, the demonstration has caught the attention of at least two US senators, who may in turn nudge the FCC along.

The development isn't interesting so much for the fact that states might get access to something the federal government is already using; those sorts of things happen all the time. What makes it intriguing is the fact that technologies designed for law enforcement have shown a consistent ability to escape their confines in recent years. It's easy to visit web sites that now offer a variety of stun guns and pepper sprays for sale to the public. There's no guarantee that cell phone jammers will go this route, but any changes that increase their use certainly make it more likely.

Shuttle Mission!! — Backdropped by a colorful Earth, astronaut Robert L. Curbeam, Jr. (left) and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Christer Fuglesang, both STS-116 mission specialists, participate in the mission's first of three planned sessions of extravehicular activity (EVA) as construction resumes on the International Space Station.

Search and Download Torrents from your iPhone

Written by Ernesto

The iPhone is a superb gadget and of course, we all know that BitTorrent is a very special tool, so why not combine the two? With the uTorrent WebAPP for iPhone you can monitor, search and add torrents to your PC client wherever you are, making handling torrents on the move easier than ever before.

iphonePreviously we reported on the iPhone UI for uTorrent. With an interface optimized for the iPhone, it can be used to access your BitTorrent client from your iPhone when you’re away from your computer.

There was one problem though, since the iPhone doesn’t allow users to copy and paste text, adding new torrents proved to be quite a hassle. That’s where the uTorrent webAPP comes in, as it allows you to search for torrents on your iPhone, and directly add them to the download queue.

The iPhone web application uses isoHunt’s JSON interface to find the latest torrents, and is optimized to fit on a small screen. In order to browse through your torrents on the iPhone, you need to have the uTorrent WebUI installed on your local PC, with the iPhone GUI addon.

When you have everything setup, you can browse to, enter your IP and port, and you’re set. The IP and port will be saved on your iPhone, so you don’t have to enter it the next time you search for a torrent.

In the search results you will see a blue icon next to every torrent. A single click on this icon is all that’s needed to add the torrent file to the download queue. If you have secured your WebUI with a password, you will have to enter that before it’s added. For those people who are worried about security, the password, username and your IP-address are all stored on your iPhone and will not be sent to any external server.

We have tested the WebAPP, and it works like a charm. Adding torrents is achieved with a single click, and afterwards you can keep an eye on the download progress, or pause, stop or remove torrents via the iPhone WebUI. Worth a try.

No Photos Allowed! ...Except For Hayden...

Save the purse save the world!!

New Ice Age Teaser Trailer Dawns on the Internet

Posted by Cole Abaius ( on November 24, 2008

Ice Age 3

Despite not eating for the past four years, Scrat is still 1) alive and B) trying to get the same effing acorn he’s been hunting every since Everybody was Loving Raymond and Raymond was lending his voice to the giant woolly mammoth. Seems like ice ages ago.

Because it was. And now, there’s a new teaser trailer that’s more teaser than trailer for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. More Scrat than actual movie:

You can also watch the Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs teaser trailer in High Definition on

In a way, this franchise is a lot like Scrat - constantly searching for that nut but not quite finding it. At least not after the last outing. The sequel, for the few that saw it, was pretty terrible. At least it didn’t have half the heart that the first film did, but hopefully this latest film will regain a little bit of the magic the first film had.

I understand the idea of leading with Scrat, but it’s also a major cop out. We get it. He’s cute and wacky and oh-look-he’s-still-foolishly-hunting-for-that-goddamned-acorn, but it seems like a major red flag when the lead off trailer has nothing to do with your movie. Fox, call me when you have an actual trailer that gives us some idea as to what the film will be about. Unless the film is two hours of Scrat hanging out with Dinosaurs who happen to be Dawning. That’s all I can gather from the title.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs will feature the return of the franchise’s original voice cast, including Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo and Queen Latifah. It also sees the return of director Carlos Saldanha. It is scheduled to hit theaters on July 1, 2009.

The 15 Worst Movies that Made the Most Money

Published by Sub-Zero

From Website


Twilight made 70 million dollars this weekend. What. The. Hell. The film was universally panned by critics and movie-goers who are NOT thirteen year-old girls, but that won’t stop the movie from blowing past the $100M mark anyways. Many other horrendous movies have pulled this feat as well, some because of hype and high expectations, some because they were riding on the coattails of better movies, and some because they starred Will Smith. Here are the fifteen worst movies that have made the most money at the box office, and yeah I know it’s a matter of opinion, but I always happen to be right.

15) The Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps (2000) – $123,309,890


Remember when Eddie Murphy was funny? It rings a distant bell…

I’m going to try to stay away from sequels in this list as much as possible, because they usually make so much money by luring people who liked the older, better movies into watching them. However, the first Nutty Professor was marginal at best, and the sequel was a fatsuit farting fest that’s known today as one of the worst examples of lowest common denominator comedy.

14) Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)– $131,168,070


“If you tell 20 friends to see this movie, I’ll get this shirt wet.” Wait, James? Is that you?

Is this the highest grossing video game movie ever? I think it might be. Unfortunately the entire profit was made purely on the fact that guys wanted to see their long-held fantasy fleshed out by one of the most gorgeous women in the world. The film also marks the point where Angelina began her transformation from “crazy” to “sexy.”

13) Anger Management (2003) – $135,645,823


Please explain what’s happening here.

Everyone had high hopes for this comedy which featured Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson yelling at each other, but I’ll be damned if I ever her two good words about this movie. And while researching this list, do you have any idea how many Adam Sandler movies have made over $100M? I think eight. That’s insane, and I guess what you’d call a “fan base.”

12) Godzilla (1998) – $136,314,294


Yeah, alright, this is from the video game. But the graphics are about the same anyways.

Yes, the Matthew Broderick one. It’s obscene that this made $50 million more than the vastly superior Cloverfield, but I guess that’s what brand recognition is for. This is the first of the big budget remakes that made an incredible amount of money despite sucking just because of the franchise’s storied history. At least it wasn’t Godzilla 2000 though.

11) Rush Hour 3 (2007) – $140,125,968


I’ve never seen one picture sum up a movie so well.

I know, I know. I’m trying to stay away from sequels, I really am, but I had to call out Rush Hour 3. The first two were pretty damn funny, but for the third, Brett Ratner clearly needed six years to figure out how to strip out any remaining intelligence from the series in order to produce this obligatory third chapter. One of the laziest pieces of filmmaking I’ve ever seen.

10) XXX (2002) – $142,109,382


“Oh, the tribal tattoo? Yeah, it turns a lot of people on.”

This one was hard to put on the list, because I love XXX, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a terrible, terrible movie. Vin Diesel as Xander Cage rail-grinding on dinner trays, snowboarding through avalanches and stealing cars with Tony Hawk makes for one of the most absurd “action” movies ever made.

9) Wild Hogs (2007) – $168,273,550


People underestimate the appeal of the Tool Man.

What??? I was stunned to see this anywhere near the top 500 all-time grosser list, much less this high up. I guess this made so much money for the same reason Ghost Rider made $45 million it’s opening weekend, America loves motorcycles…and Tim Allen.

8 ) Planet of the Apes (2001) – $180,011,740


“Really, you’re a slave girl? I produce Entourage.”

Another craptastic big budget remake, except this one was hyped beyond belief before it was released. And really, it could have been good with Tim Burton behind the helm, but somewhere between awkward monkey face makeup and Mark Wahlberg, everything that made the original good got lost. Also, I still don’t understand the end. Why was there a monkey Abraham Lincoln?

7) The Day After Tomorrow (2004) - $186,740,799


What’s the big deal? This is how I feel during winter in New York.

God, normally I love a good Roland Emmerich disaster flick, but The Day After Tomorrow was an awful cheap trick. It tried to capitalize on the Al Gore global warming phenomenon, but the film was an unscientific grisly mess. Really, the whole world can freeze over tomorrow if I leave my AC on all night?

6) Pearl Harbor (2001) – $198,542,554


“In seven years I’ll be out of work and you’ll be a vampire.”

Hype, hype, hype, hype, hype. That’s why this absurdly budgeted movie made any money at all. Choosing two pillars of acting like Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett probably wasn’t the best route to go, nor was choosing the make a movie about the worst battle the US ever lost. There was an hour of a good movie in here, unfortunately the damn thing lasted for three.

5) Hancock (2008) – $227,946,275


“Yes, I did everything I could to save this movie. No, I am not responsible for the script edits, and…you know what? No further questions!”

This movie made me really sad, because while watching it I could easily see how it could have been amazing. Unfortunately a plot schism and too many PG-13 cutbacks completely neutered the project, so much so that even Will Smith couldn’t save it. Fortunately his hilarity filled trailers were enough to make this movie an absurd amount of money.

4) Signs (2002) – $227,966,634


“What do you mean this stuff covers 75% of this planet? Who did the research for this invasion? Man, I am going to #$^#ing kill Zogbar…”

The beginning of the end for M. Night Shyamalan. His first two projects were brilliant, and even 4/5ths of this movie was, but it has to go down as one of the worst endings for a film ever written. WATER?!? What if it $@%#ing rained when the aliens attacked? Did anyone ever consider that?

3) I Am Legend (2007) – $ 256,393,010


“Oh no, a horribly rendered CGI monster, what ever will I do?”

Here Will Smith carries another horrible movie to the promised land thanks to a well shot trailer. And like Hancock, tragically the film could have been great, if it had decided to stay anywhere remotely close to the original script draft. They even shot a damn alternate ending that would have made the thing 50% better, but the test audiences didn’t like it. Boo hoo.

2) Meet the Fockers (2004) – $279,261,160


What’s the opposite of an erection?

What? Where did this come from? I know everyone liked Meet the Parents, but come on, $280M for this nonsense? I guess everyone’s parents love Barbara Streisand enough to see her acting for the first time in eight years. Can anyone remember just one joke from this movie, one?

1) Spiderman 3 (2007) – $336,530,303


“Oh yeah! I hope Mary Jane bought her tickets….to the GUN SHOW!”

Yes, I’m ending with a sequel, but it’s the worst offender of all. The first two Spidermans (Spidermen?) were exercises in Sam Raimi’s brilliance, but for the third one I’m fairly certain he handed over directing duties to Brett Ratner, because that’s the only way to explain the amount of singing and dancing in this allegedly dark movie. Three too many villains, two too many musical outbursts, and one too many emo haircuts.