Formula 1 British Grand Prix 2017

Lewis Hamilton Celebrates With His Fans After Winning British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton claimed his fifth British Grand Prix win, his fourth in a row leading Valtteri Bottas home in a Mercedes 1-2 finish. While it all unraveled for Ferrari with both drivers suffering front left tire failures in the closing two laps, despite this, Kimi Raikkonen still managed to finish on the podium for Maranello.

After the first start was aborted due to Jolyon Palmer stopping on the formation lap, the race got started in anger on lap 2 with Lewis Hamilton leading into turn 1 while Ferarri’s Sebastian Vettel made a poor start allowing Max Verstappen to move upto 3rd spot by turn 1, only to get balked by Raikkonen allowing Vettel to retake 3rd, but Verstappen hung in there to claim back the podium spot around the outside of turn 4.

Also on the first racing lap, the Toro Rosso drivers came together in the Maggots, Becketts, chapel complex, immediately ending Carlos Sainz’ race. Danill Kvyat recovered to the pits and continued but was later handed a drive-thru penalty for rejoining the track in an unsafe manner, which caused the Toro Rosso’s to collide, ultimately destroying both drivers chances and brought out the safety car.

With a third of the race completed, Vettel made an attempt to pass Verstappen into Stowe at the end of the Hanger Straight, once again, Verstappen doggedly hung in there, both drivers leaving the track confines, battling side by side into Vale and Club, where Verstappen had the inside line pushing Vettel wide to retain his 3rd place, which triggered Ferrari into pitting Vettel for the undercut on the Dutchman.

The undercut worked brilliantly for Vettel and Ferrari, despite Red Bull pitting Verstappen the next lap in response, a momentarily misaligned wheel nut caused Verstappen vital seconds allowing Vettel to take third place. Meanwhile, Verstappen’s team mate Daniel Ricciardo had made his way upto 8th place after starting from 19th place due to turbo failure during qualifying 1 and subsequent MGU-H change.

After the usual mid-race lull in action, the last 10 laps saw Bottas catch and overtake Ferrari’s Vettel and Raikkonen thanks to his super soft tires, which he found himself on after starting on the harder ‘soft’ tires as part of his Mercedes team strategy after serving a five place grid penalty for changing his gearbox.

During laps 50 and 51, Ferrari’s race imploded with both drivers suffering a front left tire failure, which dropped Vettel all the way back to seventh from fourth place, while Raikkonen recovered to third place as his tire failure was not quite as bad as Vettel suffered. Verstappen, Ricciardo and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg all moved up one position to fourth, fifth and sixth respectively thanks to Vettel’s misfortune.

Ferrari’s tire issues have cost them big time, Sebastian Vettel’s drivers championship lead has been cut to just one point and Ferrari have fallen 55 points behind Mercedes in the constructors championship. Could this be the turning point of the season, will Ferrari fall away while we see a Mercedes resurgence? I hope that is not the case, I hope Ferrari can come back after this setback to keep Mercedes on their toes.

British Grand Prix 2017 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:21:27.430
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +14.063
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +36.570
4. Max Verstapopen (Red Bull) +52.125
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +65.955
6. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +68.109
7. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +93.989
8. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +1 LAP
9. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1 LAP
10. Felipe Massa (Williams) +1 LAP

Going back one day, it could’ve been very different if the FIA had taken action against Hamilton for blocking HAAS’ Romain Grosjean. The weak FIA have made, in my opinion, a bunch of political decisions in recent weeks to not affect the drivers title race. If rules are not to be applied fairly, then let’s just abandon rules and have anarchy on the track, in my mind, the FIA’s credibility is at an all time low.

Credit Cards; My Advice… Don’t Do It!

Burning Dollar

2 1/2 years ago, we were debt free and between my wife and I, we were earning a comfortable living and things were great. Then, we had a banking issue, i.e. Coventry Healthcare of Kansas double billed us for our medical insurance, nearly $700 was taken instead of the usual premium of $330, which in turn bounced our rent check, we were just $2 short of the check clearing, even after the double billing error.

I visited my local branch of Meritrust CU to discuss this situation and they suggested that I take out a credit card with them to cover these sort of circumstances in future. I’d be able to transfer funds from the credit card into our checking account to make up the shortfall for a small cash advance fee, which would have been much less than the $32 charged for insufficient funds to cover the bounced check.

I decided to take out a VISA credit card with a limit of $2,500 as we earned more than that amount and could pay off any balance within 30 days. A couple months after that, my wife lost her job and medical insurance which meant we were paying for her medication out of pocket, which came to close to $1,000 per month. To cut a long story short, I ended up with two more credit cards, a Discover and an AMEX

My wife found another job and things were OK for a while, we were paying down the credit card debt before another job loss for my wife, and the credit card balances increased again. Those balances amounted to $24,000 by October of 2016, at which time I took out a personal loan in an attempt to get control of the debt as my wife had been back in, what seemed like stable employment for six months.

Finances appeared to become more stable and I felt like we were once again making forward progress, but, of course that was not to last. In February 2017, my wife once again was made redundant, the community manager was transferred to another property and the incoming manager wanted to “bring in her own people”, leaving my wife out in the cold once again and us in dire financial straits.

Our saving grace was that we had received a $5,500 tax refund, which got us through the next five months of loan and credit card payments; which had growing balances due to having only one income, which is not enough to support a family of four. We had also leaned on credit cards heavily to get my wife certified as a real estate agent, in an attempt to launch a real estate career as being an employee wasn’t working.

12 months later, she hasn’t managed to become a buyer or sellers agent, so we have spent over $3,000 on certification and fees, including $600+ today for the latest batch of fees, which will nearly max out our VISA credit card. She has been applying for dozens of jobs every week without success and her unemployment benefits have been patchy due to bureaucracy because she attends university part-time.

After tomorrow, the tax refund runs out when I pay the $498 loan payment, however, my mother-in-law offered to give us $2,000 to help us out, I refused to take the money, instead stipulating that it be a loan rather than a gift. This loan from my mother-in-law will keep us afloat for another 6 – 8 weeks, when I hope to receive my inheritance from my father passing, which is tied up in probate in the UK right now.

In total, between the wife and I, we have over $50,000 in debt which includes a personal loan, car loan, four credit cards and four store cards, all of which are carrying a balance, the store cards combined equal about $3,500 in balances. I do expect to receive around $100,000 from my inheritance after paying lawyer fees. This will sound extremely harsh, but my father dying is the best thing he could have done for us.

I never had a good relationship with my father, but I will not speak ill of the dead. He had a lot of money he could have used to bring my family and I to the UK and set us up to have his only family around him, but he elected to not do that for some reason I cannot fathom. But, him passing will help us in other ways like helping us get out of debt and secure our financial future, so I guess I should thank him for that.

Of course, credit cards and loans charge interest, which is 14 – 17%, that comes to about $600 each month, roughly 60% of what we pay for the minimum payments. It goes without saying, we can’t afford to hemorrhage $600 a month in fees, but what option do we have other than to default on our loans and credit cards, I’ve looked at declaring bankruptcy and it’s a no go, we’d end up with absolutely nothing.

Bottom line here, if you can possibly avoid credit cards, do it. I had turned down credit card offer after credit card offer for the first 37 years of my life and wish that I had done so again given the dire situation we find ourselves in currently. It’s best to live within your means, if you can’t afford something, it’s better to do without than end up financially ruined should you have to default on cards and loans.


Net Neutrality Definition

Yesterday saw an Internet-wide day of action with thousands of websites, big and small, including my own, highlighting the current FCC attack on net neutrality. New FCC Chairman, Ajit V. Pai is intent on deregulating Internet service providers, which would allow the likes of Verizon and Comcast to do all sorts of bad things to its customers access to the Internet, including blocking or slowing specific websites.

Net neutrality guarantees that all Internet traffic is treated equally, which was not the case before Tom Wheeler’s FCC reclassified ISP’s as Title II common carriers. Netflix was being artificially slowed by Comcast. Netflix paid Comcast for faster access to its network as the video streaming service was losing customers using Comcast’s Internet service because of the poor Netflix performance on its network.

Customers of Internet service providers pay a lot of money for high-speed access to the Internet and should the FCC deregulate ISP’s, these mega-cable networks could start charging extra for people who want to use video streaming services such as Youtube, Netflix and Hulu, or even TV streaming services such as Playstation VUE and Sling TV to force customers back to their own expensive cable TV packages.

It could have an even bigger impact, without Title II regulation, Internet service providers could block websites like news services they don’t like, or even blogs like mine who speak out against their service or even their beliefs. In simple terms, they could censor the Internet, just like the Chinese do, which creates an effective state-sponsored Internet service, which I’m sure the Trump administration would love to see.

Deregulation would allow ISP’s to sell your private Internet usage data to direct marketers and inject adverts into your Internet browsing experience, including hijacking 404 pages to display their partners’ message. Even worse, for example, they could redirect traffic from a liberal news website to conservative news websites to spread their own message, blocking free speech and the free press movement.

If, we are to deregulate ISP’s, which FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai is likely to force through, despite the millions of comments on the FCC website opposing the revocation on Title II classification for ISP’s. We need to have true competition across the whole country, unlike today where the country is carved up between the major cable companies meaning you’re stuck with whatever cable company operates in the area.

The big cable companies across the country want to block local authorities from building or allowing for municipal fiber networks. The state I reside in, Kansas tabled a bill that would block services like Google Fiber from setting up shop in other Kansas cities, such as Wichita, after the popularity of Google’s service in Kansas City took business away from the incumbent providers Cox Communications and AT&T.

This is why we need to preserve net neutrality and Title II to stop these monopoly cable companies from running roughshod over customers. The internet was designed to be free and open, not a curated resource controlled by gatekeepers, i.e. the big cable companies. This would be the start of the end of the free press, again, an agenda that the Trump administration seems to be keen to push forward with.

Finally, read this article by Timothy Karr below; it’s lengthy, but well worth the read;

Six Things Trump’s FCC Chairman Doesn’t Want You to Know About Net Neutrality

Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix 2017

Red Bull Ring Statue

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas claimed his second career F1 victory in the Austrian Alps in controversial circumstances narrowly holding off the late charge of Ferrari’s championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

From the outset, there was controversy as Bottas appeared to jump the start, however, the FIA investigated and it came back as a clean start. But, watching the slow-motion replays after the race seem to suggest otherwise, we see onboard footage of Bottas’ front wheels rolling before the five red lights went out. That said, I don’t think it would have changed anything, the Ferrari’s were fending off Ricciardo.

Fernando Alonso, starting from 12th place, launched his McLaren upto 10th place, only to get tagged by Daniil Kvyat, tipping him into a spin, which in turn tipped Max Verstappen into a spin after the Dutchman made a poor start and found himself in the firing line. Both Verstappen and Alonso’s races ended before the second lap, Verstappen stopped on track while Alonso recovered to the pits, but retired his car.

Meanwhile, as his Red Bull team mate Verstappen was going for a spin, Daniel Ricciardo made a great start to be challenging Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen into turn 1, however, the Australian couldn’t make it stick and drag raced the Finn through the turn 2 kink and completed the move into turn 3 to claim third spot.

After the initial lap 1 action, the race settled down pretty quickly, Lewis Hamilton moved upto 5th place making his way past Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean by lap 10 after starting from 8th due to his five place grid penalty for a gearbox change. Over the next 12 laps, the Briton closed the gap to Raikkonen to be just 1/2 second of the Finn’s gearbox, but couldn’t overtake the 2007 world drivers champion.

On lap 32, after following Raikkonen for 10 laps, Mercedes pulled Hamilton in for fresh tires and managed to overtake Raikkonen using the undercut, demoting Raikkonen to fifth place. After everyone had made their stops, it was Bottas, Vettel, Ricciardo and Hamilton and despite Vettel catching Bottas and Hamilton catching Ricciardo, neither pursuer could make an overtake to improve their position.

HAAS F1 will be happy with their days work as Romain Grosjean brought his car home in an excellent sixth place, hopefully the recurring theme of brake problems for HAAS is finally over. Seventh and eighth place went to Force India, Perez winning the inter-team battle. Followed by the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll in ninth and 10th places, up from 17th and 18th after a disastrous qualifying.

I would give the ninth race of the season a 5/10 as for the majority of the race it was processional. Yes, Hamilton closed in on Raikkonen and Ricciardo and Vettel got within 1/2 second of Bottas to make the race climax exciting, but most of the race was dull. I don’t have the statistics on how many actual overtakes there were during the Austrian Grand Prix, but I didn’t perceive more than 5 on-track overtakes.

The more interesting thing about the Austrian GP is the points standings, Vettel extends his lead to 20 points while Hamilton’s team mate, Bottas closes to just 15 points of Hamilton, interjecting himself in the title picture. I would love to see Bottas make it a three way title battle, however, I doubt Mercedes would allow their drivers to take points off each other now they have competition for the World Drivers Title.

Austrian Grand Prix 2017 Results

1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1:21:48.527
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +0.658
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +6.012
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +7.430
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +20.370
6. Romain Grosjean (HAAS) +73.160
7. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1 LAP
8. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +1 LAP
9. Felipe Massa (Williams) +1 LAP
10. Lance Stroll (Williams) +1 LAP

Naturalsoft; How Customer Service Should Be Done!

Natural Reader 13

My wife and I use a piece of software called Natural Reader, which is a text-to-speech application that we use to listen to online articles instead of reading them, particularly useful for TLDR articles.

After building new computers for the wife and I, I had issues with Natural Reader not accepting my license key. I would enter the license number provided to me in the purchase Email and nothing would happen, I launch the application again and it asks for the license number again. I tried several times and I admit I thought this was a way for Naturalsoft to force me to buy the new version, but I was very wrong.

I Emailed Naturalsoft support and it was explained to me that I had used up my activations and that I needed to deactivate the licenses on the older machines to install on our new computers. However, I didn’t realize that I had to deactivate older installs to install on new machines. I had formatted and installed a fresh copy of Windows on our previous computers, so deactivation was no longer an option.

I responded to Naturalsoft’s Email explaining this situation and to my surprise, Naturalsoft added two more activations to my license to be able to install on our new computers. Maybe I am just an old cynic, but I was expecting a response saying, I’d have to purchase a new license for the latest and greatest version of the software. So I was very pleasantly surprised by the response that I received from support.

So often when I contact support, not Naturalsoft, but generally, the response I get is “not our problem, hand over the $$$”. So the response I received from Naturalsoft was a breath of fresh air and more companies should take this approach. If Naturalsoft had responded negatively, I would never purchase anything from them again and tell all my friends to steer clear, but now I would recommend them.

Computer Sleep Problems

Windows Power & Sleep Settings

Recently I started running SETI@Home again on my main rig, the new Ryzen 1800X system I recently built, and discovered some issues with power and sleep settings resetting themselves. I had set the screen to go off after 30 minutes and the computer to never sleep in the Windows 10 settings, however, every morning, I’d walk into my office to find the computer asleep and for days could not figure out why.

After a week of head scratching and numerous hours of online research, I found a lead concerning Asus’ AI Suite 3 overriding windows power settings and lo and behold, there it was in the EPU settings within AI Suite. It was set to screen off after 1 hour and sleep after 2 hours, which is the exact settings Windows kept reverting to. As I didn’t use AI Suite for anything other than fan control. I uninstalled the software.

I rebooted, went into the BIOS to set up a fan profile at the BIOS level, it has the same functionality as AI Suite without the need for software installed within Windows 10. But then, I had a secondary problem, when my monitors went to sleep, upon waking, the whole machine would crash and then fail POST (BIOS), I thought it was a glitch, but it was repeatable time and time again, so it was a definite issue.

After finding no information online about this specific issue, I thought that I’d uninstall the AMD motherboard and video card drivers, reboot and reinstall a fresh copy of the drivers. This fixed the issue immediately and I can finally run my computer until such a time I decide to shut it off manually.

I find it very odd that AI Suite has settings for power profiles built into the software when it just mimics and overrides the exact same function in Windows, it seems completely redundant and annoying if like me, you were unaware of these settings. I was thinking it was related to SETI@Home as that was the only new software I had installed, so I uninstalled SETI@Home, which obviously didn’t fix the issue.

Hopefully, others who have this issue will find this blog and not have to contend with the struggles I did.

Update [Jul, 6 2017, 11:13]: I have discovered the issue and it’s specifically the Crimson v17.6.2 driver and my main monitor, a Dell U3415W Ultrawide. No matter whether the monitor goes to sleep or I turn the monitor on while the computer is powered on, my PC will immediately restart and get stuck at the POST stage. My U3415W is connected via the display port interface using a DP to Mini-DP cable.

If I roll back to Crimson v17.4.4, this fixes the Windows crashing problem, but I can’t launch Wolfenstein, The Old Blood, it crashes back to desktop before the splash screen. So I find myself with two options, not play Wolfenstein or have my machine crash every time my monitor resumes from the being powered off.

I have also tried Crimson v17.4.3, which has the same characteristics as v17.4.4 and v17.4.1, which doesn’t support the RX 580, so that is a no go. So I guess that I have no option but to leave my U3415W monitor powered on until AMD release a new driver to correct this issue or live without Wolfenstein.

Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2017

Ricciardo Wins Azerbaijan GP & Stroll Enjoys A Shoey...

Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix brought us a new race winner in 2017 in the shape of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who must be amazed to be standing on the top step of the podium after starting 10th and dropping to the back of the field after an early stop on lap 5 to clear debris from his brake ducts.

The Baku race was definitely incident-packed and it all started on lap 1 with Valtteri Bottas squeezing Kimi Raikkonen against the wall resulting in the two making contact as Raikkonen challenged for second place around the outside of turn 2. Bottas limped back to the pits for a new nose and front wing and came out a lap down while Raikkonen dropped back to fifth but continued on with non-critical damage.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat stopped out on track which caused a safety car period on lap 10 and because of the difficulty in recovering cars on Azerbaijan’s tight street circuit, it took seven laps to recover the Russians car. The race restarted on lap 17, however, the safety car returned to the track almost immediately, with the field rolling through the pitlane while further carbon fiber debris was cleared.

During this second safety car period is when the shit hit the fan with Hamilton allegedly brake testing Vettel with the German failing to react quick enough crashing into the back of Hamilton’s car. The controversy came afterward when Vettel pulled alongside Hamilton’s Mercedes and deliberately sideswiped Hamilton’s car, which is very petulant and he deserved his 10 second stop/go penalty.

I bet that Ferrari will have some choice words for Vettel back in Maranello, he threw away a certain race win with his childish actions, then made it worse by denying he did anything wrong when being called in to serve his penalty. Four-time world champion or not, that doesn’t mean he can act like a dick. I’m no fan of Hamilton or Vettel, but I acknowledge their talent, however, these actions tarnish the whole sport.

More craziness ensued on the second restart with part of Vettel’s front wing flying off after the Hamilton contact and the two Force India’s collided, Esteban Ocon squeezed Sergio Perez against the wall and the inevitable contact happened, dropping both drivers to the back of the field with Perez retiring in the pits. while Raikkonen suffered a right rear puncture which damaged his rear wing, ending the Finn’s race.

This brought the safety car out for a third time to clear debris from the turn 2 carnage on the restart before a red flag was thrown on lap 23. After a 20 minute delay, the race restarted and amazingly Ferrari fixed Raikkonen’s car, as did Force India with Perez’ car, both drivers taking the restart from the back.

The third restart saw Ricciardo make a double overtake to move up to 3rd place thanks to his aggressive super-soft tire strategy, which allowed him to move up through the field, Williams’ Felipe Massa suffered a damper failure dropping him back through the field before retiring the car. Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg followed Massa into retirement after clipping the wall and damaging his front right suspension.

There was more drama to come with Hamilton having to make an additional pit stop to replace his headrest which had come loose and was lifting up down the straight, which despite Vettel having to serve a 10 second stop/go penalty, Hamilton ended up behind the German in fifth place, allowing Vettel to extend his lead over the Briton; all because Vettel made the stupid decision to sideswipe his title rival.

In the meantime, Williams’ Lance Stroll found himself in 2nd place behind Aussie Ricciardo. But it wasn’t to be for Stroll, he was hunted down by the much faster Mercedes of Bottas who relieved the Canadian of his second place, but still finished on the podium to enjoy the sweet (not) taste of a Ricciardo shoey.

Force India’s Esteban Ocon still managed to score a sixth place finish despite his adventurous day at the races… and Fernando Alonso scored McLaren Honda’s first points of the season bringing his orange car home in 9th place. Kevin Magnussen finished the race in 7th, Carlos Sainz, recovered from his first lap spin to claim 8th place while Pascal Wehrlein scored a single point for 10th place for Sauber.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2017 Results

1. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 2:03:55.570
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +3.904
3. Lance Stroll (Williams) +4.009
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +5.976
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +6.188
6. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +30.298
7. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +41.753
8. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) +49.400
9. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +59.551
10. Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber) +89.093

Why are you blaming YouTube? it’s not YouTube’s fault!

No Youtube

This is what my 12-year-old son asked me after I informed him that I have blocked YouTube on his laptop. Obviously, I have not just arbitrarily blocked YouTube, there are reasons why I have revoked his access to YouTube. As parents, we have to monitor our children’s Internet access and take appropriate action.

My reasons are; for years, my son has been accessing YouTube any way he can, including sneaking a tablet into his bedroom at night and watching YouTube videos until 2 to 4 am, copying audio onto his mp3 player and listening during the night, resulting in him not wanting to get up for school the next day.

I have expressed to him that I don’t like or want him to watch game streams due to the language used in these streams, which includes sexually oriented, sexist, homophobic and racist commentary. Despite this, he continues to watch these sort of videos for hours on end, going out of his way to hide his actions.

He will sit in the corner of the sofa against the wall with earbuds in and noise isolating headphones on, and whenever I approach him, he frantically closes browser windows. Obviously, this makes me suspicious, so I try to log into his Google account and find he changed the password to cover his tracks. And as he would need to know the existing password, he must have spied my password when I typed it.

Since I have told my son that YouTube is blocked, he hasn’t wanted to touch his laptop, which is a clear indication of what he was doing. I just hope that he doesn’t believe in and support these sort of racist, sexist, homophobic views. I also believe that he has created a second Google account as there is no history since January in the account I set up for him and he knows I monitor the account I set up.

My son changed the Windows password on his laptop as well, where there was no password set. He also discovered the Windows 10 bug which allows him to bypass the standard account limitation of not allowing for installation of new software by hitting cancel when it asks for the administrative password.

At this time, I have regained control of his Google account by recovering the password to my Email address and set a new password as he clearly knows the previous password. I guess he thinks he is being smart working around our monitoring efforts, but I work in IT and know the systems better than he does. All he is achieving is getting himself in trouble for not playing by the rules we set out for him.

He served a computer, video game and Internet ban last week because he had downloaded the offensive game stream audio to his mp3 player and was listening when he should be sleeping. When I asked him for his mp3 player as I wanted to check what was on it, he did a factory reset to hide his actions. Of course, the wife and I knew what he did, in fact, my wife called it while he was resetting the mp3 player.

Going back to the title of this blog post, I said to him that I am not blaming Google or YouTube, I am blaming him, he is the one taking the actions, YouTube is just a platform, YouTube does not make him take the actions he takes. I truly wish I could trust him to obey our rules, but his actions over the past 2 – 3 years have proven that we cannot allow him to have free and unmonitored access to the Internet.

Review: Logitech C920 HD Webcam & H600 Wireless Headset

Logitech C20 HD Webcam & H600 Wireless Headset

For many years, I’ve been using a cheap no-name webcam and headset bought from eBay for $10. To be honest, it worked just fine, my Skype friends could see me and hear me just fine, but I felt it was time to step up my VOIP technology game and I did this with Logitech’s C920 Webcam & H600 wireless headset.

Starting with the C920 webcam, which features a high definition 1080p camera with a built-in stereo microphone which sits very securely on top of my 34-inch curved ultrawide monitor thanks to its grippy rubber backing and adjusts up and down for the perfect positioning. The lens is of all glass construction and offers a wide 16:9 field of view with great color balance and clarity using full auto exposure mode.

However, the stereo microphone does not match the quality of the video. It’s adequate for the people on the other end to hear and understand you, but it seemed a little muffled to me when recording the sound locally. I didn’t realize the C920 had audio capture, so I can’t ding it for the muffled audio from the built in mic, so it’s a nice added bonus should you want to have more than one person in front of the camera.

Installation could not be any easier, plug in the USB cable into any available USB port and Windows 10 finds the device, automatically installs the basic drivers and you are ready to go. After the driver installed, I simply fired up Skype and immediately had video presented to me. Rather shockingly, the quality highlighted what an ugly f**ker I really am, I looked better on the old no-name cheapo 800×600 webcam.

You can download software from Logitech which expands functionality including local video recording, face tracking, motion detection plus pan, tilt and zoom controls. I don’t need these added features so I didn’t bother to install the software package so I won’t comment on how well this software performs.

Moving onto the Logitech H600 wireless headset, again, installation was a doddle, simply plug in the USB dongle, flip the switch on the headset to the on position and Windows 10 installed the driver software. However, I would offer this advice, use a front panel USB port for the dongle as I found the signal to be weak, breaking up when moving more than six-to-eight feet from my PC using a rear panel USB port.

Sound quality is excellent, the microphone sounds clear and crisp with plenty of volume to be heard at the other end of the Skype call. Headphone quality is also clear, although lacks real low down thump and super crisp highs when testing with music. This can be forgiven as the H600 was specifically designed for VOIP calls where those frequencies are not important, that said, audio is pleasant and easy on the ears.

As a convenience, Logitech has included a mute button and volume up/down buttons on the right headphone, although using them can be annoying to the other person on the Skype call as the clicks travel down the boom mic and into the other person’s ear, which must be highly annoying for them.

The range is decent, I can walk to all extremes of my 1400 SQ.FT home without losing signal through up to 3 walls. My office and computer is centrally located in my home which obviously helps with that, but I can get up to 25-30 feet away without issue, the signal only dropped out after going beyond the firewall of the garage which is understandable and I am unlikely to be holding a conversation in a roasting hot garage.

Battery life on the H600 headset is excellent for most users, unless you are a hardcore Skype user. I don’t know the exact battery life, but I have had five-hour conversations with friends on Skype and the battery was still going strong, still showing a green LED, meaning there is at least 30 minutes of talk time remaining. Even if battery life is low, you can use the 5 foot USB cable to power and charge your H600.

However, there are a couple of issues, at least on my computer setup. When initially switching on the headset, it will not make a connection with the receiver/transmitter until I unplug the USB dongle and plug it back in again. The second issue is the open nature of the microphone boom, in my office, I need to have a fan running as it gets incredibly hot during the summer, and the wind noise is very apparent.

However, the solution is very simple, I pulled the wind/pop shield off my old headset and placed it on the Logitech boom, problem solved. If you don’t have a wind/pop shield, they are readily available online for less than $10 for a pack of five. That said, it would have been nice for Logitech to include this.

In conclusion, the C920 / H600 combo is amazing for video calling through Skype, the webcam is crystal clear and the headset allows you to hear your chat partner clearly and vice-versa and the freedom being wireless gives you is astonishing after previously being tied to a six-foot cord. If there is a downside, it’ll be the price, combined, this combo costs $150, which for some might be too much for VOIP/video calling.

Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix 2017

Sebastian Vettel Wins Monaco Grand Prix 2017

This weekend was F1’s “jewel in the crown”, the Monaco GP. My personal belief is that Monaco is hopelessly out of date, no overtaking, position changes are strategic only and bonafide overtakes often end in disaster with the Armco being so close. And today’s race was no different, all position changes were through pit stop strategy and the few attempted on track overtakes ended in contact and retirement.

The start yielded just one overtake, Lewis Hamilton on Stoffel Vandoorne, there was a little wheel to wheel contact between the Red Bulls and Perez sustained front wing damage which forced him to replace it on lap 18, dropping him back from 7th to 16th place. Button and Wehrlein races almost ended in the pits as Sauber released Wehrlein into the path of Button, forcing the Briton to take avoiding action.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo managed to not only leapfrog his teammate, Max Verstappen, but also the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas to move into the final podium spot. The Australian managed this feat by pumping in several fastest laps before stopping for the required change of tire compound. Max Verstappen’s reaction over the team radio was not for the easily offended, “what a beep, beep disaster”.

The lead of the race did change on lap 40, in what many, including myself, expected to happen, the old switcheroo of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. I fully expected this to happen as soon as I saw Raikkonen had qualified on pole. Raikkonen was pitted on lap 35 while Vettel was allowed to continue for another five laps before pitting allowing the German to return to the track ahead of Raikkonen.

By pitting Raikkonen first, a whole five laps earlier than Vettel;, Ferrari knew that Vettel would be faster with Raikkonen needing to warm his tires for a couple of laps to get them up to operating temperature. If you want even more evidence, just take a look at the Thunder face of Raikkonen on the podium.

Jenson Button put an exclamation point on his F1 career by making an ambitious lunge down the inside of Pascal Wehrlein at Portier, going into the tunnel, tipping the German’s Sauber onto its side. Button, himself made it to the end of the tunnel before darting down the escape road with broken suspension.

Not to be outdone, Sergio Perez made a crazy lunge down the inside of Danill Kvyat for 9th place at La Rascasse, resulting in retirement for Kvyat and another stop for Perez, dropping him out of the points.

So, my final thoughts, it was a typical Monaco Grand Prix, position change by pit lane strategy. Vettel won the race, he claims that there were no team orders, but the manner in which he gained the lead has to be questioned, given the known quantity of slow warm up of fresh tires. Regardless, there is now a 25 point gap between Vettel and Hamilton in the world drivers championship after the Briton’s 7th place finish.

Monaco Grand Prix 2017 Results

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:44:44.340
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +3.145
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +3.745
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +5.517
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +6.199
6. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) +12.038
7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +15.801
8. Romain Grosjean (Haas) +18.150
9. Felipe Massa (Williams) +19.445
10. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +21.443