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The most beautiful car in the world ;-)

The video hereunder is the official video that Aston Martin made to accompany the launch of it’s new “baby” : the V8 Vantage. It’s a spectacularly beautiful car and drives great as well. The sense of occasion that accompanies it is totally Aston Martin. For a car that aims the Porsche 911 (the reigning champion of sports cars), it really does very well (though the Porsche is still slightly better). What the car lacks in performance it more than makes up in brand cachet, elegance and beauty. It is for me, the finest car in the world.

Quote of the day

“The future is here; it’s just not widely distributed yet.”
William Gibson

Pachelbel’s Canon…. Revisited ;-)

The first video posted here is an absolutely amazing performance of Pachelbel’s Canon on electric guitar. It was transposed by a guy called JerryC in Taiwan (kudo’s to him) but this performance is even better than the original. Simply awesome !!!

Porsche Boxster S : Ultimate Boy Toy

I have the good fortune of owning, for over a year now, a Porsche Boxster S (type 986). There are many qualified people who review cars on the net and I’m not going to pretend that I’m one of them (if you want a professional review, look here). I’ll just give a few comments on how I feel about the car after having driven 10 000 km in it. In my opinion, it isn’t the worlds most beautiful car (though it isn’t ugly either…). No Porsche for me is truly beautiful like some Aston Martin, Jaguar or Ferrari cars are. So looking at it doesn’t make my heart beat faster. But the Boxster is a masterpiece of very intensive engineering aimed at satisfying the driver. And what satisfaction you get … You sit in it, turn the key on the left, let the flat six come to life, put the top down (12 secs), put the very precise lever into first gear and off you go with an immediate huge grin plastered over your face. This car has driver fun written all over it. Performance and ease of use are there from the start and you’ll be hard pressed to find a faster car on a winding road. The cockpit is completely focused on driving and, though not very luxurious, it’s comfortable and practical. The car is useable (and fun) in all circumstances of modern traffic (and that includes just driving it around town in heavy traffic). It has, for the category, a surprisingly large amount of trunk space. In fact, it has two trunks: one in front, one in back (the car being mid-engined); largely sufficient for packing a week’s stuff for two. Ownership has been totally hassle-free, not one problem so far and beyond the initial expense of buying the car itself, it has proven very cheap to run (gas mileage for a car with this kind of power is very reasonable).

To conclude: for me, the Porsche Boxster is what the MG B probably was to guys in the sixties : the ultimateroadster !!!

Leica C-Lux 1 : Sharing Magic with Henri Cartier Bresson

Henri Cartier BressonWho hasn’t dreamed one day of being Henri Cartier Bresson ? The man, whom the french call “l’oeil du siècle” (eye of the century), is widely regarded as one of the very best photographers of the 20th century. The adventurous life he led only added to his mystique. Henri Cartier Bresson was also synonymous with Leica, the famous german manufacturer, as he was always carrying at least one M-series Leica camera. His notoriety was a very big contributor in making the legend of Leica and the iconic pictures of Bresson with camera(s) could almost serve as advertisements for the brand. More after the break…

Leica, like many traditional camera manufacturers, has had a tough time of late due to the rise of digital photography. A couple of years back (and still not entirely impossible) the company almost went bankrupt. Panasonic, through a real stroke of genius, allied themselves with Leica to gain what is now much more than a foothold in the camera market (of which they were absent). Basically, Panasonic makes the camera and they use Leica optics (which are fast and high quality). They also payed significant attention to design and quality (typical Leica trademarks) which really gave them credibility.Leica, beyond their traditional range, also sell these same Panasonic Lumix cameras which they repackage under their own brand. They are however working on releasing a digital version of their enduring classic M-series camera which should be released towards the end of this year (more detailed information can be found here). This will be quite a challenge and one that I will be following with interest 😉

Leica C-Lux 1

I just bought an ultra-compact camera from Leica : the C-Lux 1. It’s a jewel of a camera and I love it. You can find all the details about it here. Suffice to say that it’s fast, has a big screen, feels solid and is beautiful. The Panasonic version is called the Lumix DMC-FX01. It got a very nice review at dpreview.com (the best site for digital photography reviews on the net). I bought my Leica at Colette, the absolute temple of trendiness in Paris (who wouldn’t dream of selling a Panasonic…). The Leica did however cost a lot more than the Panasonic which I saw later the same day in another store (almost 200 €…). There was no difference that I could notice except for color (Leica is black and Panasonic is silver) and the software that comes with it (Leica comes with Adobe Photoshop Elements, Panasonic with their own software). I think that the premium I paid had more to with Colettethan Leica but to their defense, the shopping experience at Colette is one of a kind.

It’s a great little camera, I carry it with me everywhere. Every time I pull it out, that little red Leica logo lets me share some of that Henri Cartier Bresson magic.

Cheeky Lilly Allen

lilyallen.jpgYou’ve read about this album, the big Myspace.com revelation : Lily Allen. If you haven’t heard it yet, go check it out. Very cheeky irreverent catchy pop. Miss Allen is one tough cooky. I liked it instantly. It’ll be a hard album for her to follow up on though…

Comments fixed… I hope ;-)

I just discovered while tinkering with Movable Type that it was impossible to post comments to this site. Shock ! Horror ! Massive disappointment ! Now I understand why there were no comments. I thought I had the world’s most boring site and that nobody bothered commenting but now I feel like I might have lost thousands of valid, passionate and interesting insights ;-)) Anyway, it’s fixed so please feel free to use it to comment as much as you like (or else I have no further excuse, this blog must really be boring).

A little late for Easter…

I was cleaning up my email when I stumbled upon this joke that my sister sent me before Easter. I’ll translate :

– Rabbit with ears : “I have a sore butt !”
– Other Rabbit : “What ??”

I’ll ask you all to be forgiving this once. I mean, look at the time of this post. It might help you understand 😉

After Outsourcing, please welcome Crowdsourcing

We have all been confronted with the various “benefits” of outsourcing in this era of globalization. We have had Indian operators answer the phones on various call center tasks and most of our tee shirts and baseball caps are now made in China. We have benefited from this as consumers (cheap goods and services) while we have been questioning this as workers (will my job be next to go?). This is the subject that Thomas Friedman has explained so well in his excellent book: The World Is Flat.

The next new thing: Crowdsourcing. Wired, in a typically excellent article, defines it as “The new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D ». These spare cycles are even less expensive than the low cost corporations of India or China since what’s being sold is something that had no exploited value before. This is again a new way in which the web monetizes society. Welcome to more of Web 2.0 !

Jeff Howe, the author of the Wired article, has devoted a blog to this subject : crowdsourcing.com.

The Shadow : Fun Pulp Fiction

Glamorous locales (from New York to Egypt, from Tibet to Paris), strange adventures (mummies, monsters, cannibal tribes) happening in the twenties and thirties, beautiful women and tough-guy heroes, this is what characterizes pulp fiction and why the genre is still hugely popular in books and movies (think Indiana Jones or The Mummy).

A short search on google delivers the following definition for Pulp fiction: “Novels written for the mass market, intended to be “a good read,”–often exciting, titillating, thrilling. Historically they have been very popular but critically sneered at as being of sub-literary quality. The earliest ones were the dime novels of the nineteenth century, printed on newsprint (hence “pulp” fiction) and sold for ten cents. Westerns, stories of adventure, even the Horatio Alger novels, all were forms of pulp fiction.” This definition is also true for the average Pulp movie as they tend to be B-level films at best (although so much fun).

Last night I saw on TV a prime example of this: a 1994 movie starring Alec Baldwin called The Shadow. It really had all the ingredients of a good Pulp story. I had never heard of The Shadow. After a bit of research, I found out that he was in fact a signature hero of the Pulp period who, all cloaked in black, fought mobsters, evil scientists, crazed old men and foreign invaders with two blazing automatics and a laugh that chilled the hearts of evil. He did this from the spring of 1931 until the summer of 1949. There were magazines, radio shows, serials and movies devoted to the character so he must have been quite popular. I really enjoyed the movie though. It had it all : the locales (Warlord China, fabulous Art Deco Jazz age New York, the Archaelogy museum), an evil descendant of Gengis Khan, the requisite beautiful blonde whose father is a distracted scientist , a cool hero.

The Shadow is a really fun B-movie that I watched with a big wide grin !