Wednesday, April 25, 2012

25th of April, the Carnation revolution

The word “Revolution” beckons thoughts of bloodshed, popular uprising, violence, and the ultimate need for change.

A peaceful and bloodless revolution is sometimes considered an ideal, albeit unreachable, possibility. It was 38 years ago in Portugal that it became a reality.

The story starts in early XX Century when the old ways of monarchy were abandoned in favor of a republic. A coup d’├ętat saw this end not much longer, and Portugal joined many other European nations in the ways of dictatorship and fascism. It was called the “New State” and it imposed itself using the usual fascist weapons of censorship, military enforced strict laws, a secret police dealing with “undesirables”, and rigged elections.  As a part of NATO this regime was only tolerated because it was opposed to communism (as most other dictatorships at the time, in Germany and Italy for example).  The strict control over economy and expenditure meant at first the country was growing and benefiting from the creation of companies and conglomerates, as well as by the imports of the overseas colonies, like Angola and Mozambique. There had always been a good relationship between the ‘mainland’ and the colonies.  However by the 60s, both blocks of the cold war wanted to gain favor within these territories. Guerrillas funded by the US and Russia started battling local control with the colonists, which started wars in almost all the territories, stretching Portugal’s military thin and demanded an increase on the budget. Conscription for these wars forced many young men to flee the country. In later stages, a plan was to be introduced where conscripted officers would attain the same rank as those who formed in a proper military academy, after some service overseas. This pissed off the high rank of the military, which in a military dictatorship, was not good news to the regime.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Recovering a failed hard drive. Part I, the problem.

Two weeks ago I was going through old computer parts I stored in a box when I came across 6 defunct hard drives. What I mean by defunct is that the data inside them is not accessible any more for a bunch of different reasons. Data loss is one of the nightmares of any computer user, and all hard drives will eventually fail: it's not a matter of IF, but a matter of WHEN. Since I've had personal computers for more than ten years, it only makes sense that I have a fair collection of failed hard drives.

The problem

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2012 Sports cars

Around this time last year I made a round up of the up and coming supercars for the year. These are the ones I could find which are either going into production or expected for the rest of this year. Enjoy the sexiness.

Toyota GT - 86

After a lot of back and forward with the possible specs of this car, a couple of concepts, it was finally confirmed and released. It will boast around 200 horse power from it's 2 liter four cylinder engine which will certainly carry the slim car around well. It is meant to be a driver's car, fun to throw into the corners, light and agile, rear wheel driven. Technically more like a sports car rather than a supercar, but let's start slow.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Thrown into the public knowledge by the Transformers movies, the new Camaro will see a more sporty variant with this version named after the 1969 car which was fitted with the all-alluminium ZL1 engine. This car shares the powerplant with the very good Cadillac CTS-V. By fittin magnetorheological shock absorvers the makers are saying they care about handling and not only sheer power as it's often the case with american muscle cars.

McLaren MP4-12C GT3

I never really covered the MP4-12C, made by british racing team McLaren, famous for their Formula 1 exploits and success. This version is not really a super car for the road, but the GT3 version, for professional motor racing. It will encounter its arch enemies, the Ferrari 458 and the 911 GT3 RS in the championships around the world. We'll see how it fares.

Porsche 911 (991)

Yet another version of the longest running family of super cars, this new 911 takes a small step forward while going back at the same time. What I mean is the design looks different than the previous generation, and in turn, it looks a little like the earlier 911 designs. The headlights are round, for example. The performance is enhanced a little bit, however the electro-mechanical power steering has been reported to "remove" some of the excellent steering feeling the 911 is known for.

Aston Martin V12 Vantage Zagato

"The V12 Zagato is the pinnacle of the Vantage range", claimed the official press release from Aston Martin when they showed the world the car designed by Zagato based on their V12 Vantage. Certainly a looker, there will be 150 made, making this car extremely rare and equally desirable. It will become a 'classic' many years from now, for sure; "a celebration of both Aston Martin's heritage and future".

Lamborghini Aventador J

After a year drooling over the regular Aventador, Lamborghini decided it wanted more drooling people so they released these concepts of the convertible version of it, and my, does it look stunning. That helmet should come with the car, and if you get it in black, you can pretend you're Batman.


This car is here because of the rocketship that will have for its engine, like it's four door brother the M5. A five hundred and sixty, twin turbo, BMW engine. Being another product from the M line, it will be beautifully engineered with German precision. From zero to a hundred in around 4.2 seconds, I consider this a supercar. While it might look tamer than the traditionally flamboyant supercars, never judge a book by its cover.

Well, that's it for now, other cars not included here, I'll talk about them in future posts. I hope I'm not the only one wondering, why are all of these release photos either red or maroon? I had to dig some to find other colors to put in here. Damn.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tribute to Ferdinand Alexander Porsche

When someone thinks of fast cars and iconic designs, it's impossible not to think Porsche 911. German engineering with a twist, an unmistakable shape, and blistering performance.
The guy who designed this car was the grandson of none other than Ferdinand Porsche himself, who started the company and is famous for his tank designs and the Volkswagen Beetle. The 911 was meant to be the new flagship model for the company and boy did it become so. Arguably the most successful sports car ever, with many iterations but maintaining the original design. Introduced in 1963, to this day it is impossible to mistake it's shape with any other cars (save other Porsches which borrow a little from it), and it would be rare to find a high performance touring race without one of these rolling around.

So I wanna leave my respects to Ferdinand Alexander Porsche for designing one of the icons of the 20th century. He passed away thursday and we should all know who he was.

(photos include a Porsche 904, which was also designed by him)