Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix 2018

Second Vettel/Ferrari Pit Stop, Spanish GP, 2018

The Spanish Grand Prix started out with a bang with Grosjean’s orchestrated carnage, before immediately declining into a bore-fest. The 2018 Spanish, or “Spainish” GP will immediately be forgotten in my mind.

Lewis Hamilton made an excellent start from pole position to lead the pack into turn 1, while title rival, Sebastian Vettel picked up a tow from Hamilton to sweep around the outside of Valtteri Bottas to move into second position. This was before, the turn 3 carnage caused by Romain Grosjean spinning out in a cloud of tire smoke through the turn 3 right-hand sweeper, taking out, not only himself but also Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and STR’s Pierre Gasly, bringing out the safety car while marshals cleared the track.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso clean drove around the outside of Force India’s Esteban Ocon at turn 3 after the restart to move into the points, meanwhile Hamilton was quietly building his lead, which was more than 10 seconds by lap 18. At which time, Vettel pitted for fresh rubber, moving onto the medium tire, but got held up by Kevin Magnussen for two laps. The German had to make a late dive past Magnussen to maintain his second position ahead of Bottas as the Finn had stopped and was exiting the pit lane.

On lap 25, the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen seemed to make a move towards the pit lane, then suddenly aborted, allowing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to slip by at the final corner. But, it was race over for Raikkonen as he failed to accelerate down the straight, also being passed by the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo. Raikkonen was left to limp back to the Ferrari pits and into retirement from the race.

Hamilton pitted from the lead on the next lap, also switching to the white marked medium tire, to rejoin the track in 2nd place behind Verstappen, who had not stopped yet. Verstappen finally pitted nine laps later, relinquishing the lead back to Hamilton, where the Englishman stayed until the end of the race in what has to be considered a dominant performance. Verstappen rejoined the track in 4th place ahead of his Red Bull teammate, a few laps before Ocon stopped on the side of the road, causing a VSC period.

During this VSC period, Vettel unexpectedly pitted to put on fresh medium tires while everyone else, bar Force India’s Sergio Perez continued on track under the VSC delta times. This cost Vettel and Ferrari big time, not only losing out to Bottas, but also, Verstappen, rejoining the track in 4th place after a slow stop, which Maranello blamed on Perez pitting at the same time, and not wanting to risk an unsafe release. In my view, it was a poor strategic call, that cost them two places, blaming Force India is a BS excuse.

Meanwhile, during the VSC period, Verstappen had his fifth collision in five races, driving into the back of Williams’ Lance Stroll. The Dutchman damaged his front wing, which, luckily for him, didn’t seem to hinder his pace, managing to maintain a gap to Vettel to claim his first podium of the 2018 season. The final action of the race was Fernando Alonso claiming 8th place from the restart after the VSC, the Spaniard caught Charles Leclerc down the start/finish straight to complete the move into turn one.

As ever with the 2018 season so far, we have some controversy in regard to the -0.4mm change of tire tread, which many see as an advantage for Mercedes who benefitted from a major change of fortune using the new Pirelli rubber. Of course, Mercedes have rubbished these claims, as you would expect, but many Ferrari fans have been pushing the conspiracy theory that Pirelli, The FIA and Mercedes colluded on this change to advantage the silver arrows. I’m not convinced by the narrative myself, what do you think?

Spanish Grand Prix 2018 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:35:29.972
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +20.593s
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +26.873s
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +27.584s
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +50.058s
6. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS) +1 LAP
7. Carlos Sainz (Renault) +1 LAP
8. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +1 LAP
9. Sergio Perez (Force India) +2 LAPS
10. Charles Leclerc (Sauber) +2 LAPS

F1.TV Pro: Initial Impressions

F1.TV Pro Screenshot, May 12, 2018

At the beginning of the year, it was announced that Liberty Media would be launching an enhanced F1 streaming service, and it went live this race weekend, five races into the season at the Spanish Grand Prix.

My initial impression is that the service is just OK, it’s comparable in quality to that of ESPN on PlayStation VUE. I’m hoping that the service gets better over time, they have a year before I have to pay again for the service. If it does not improve by the time my year-long subscription expires, I will not be renewing.

Down to the nitty-gritty, the video streaming quality is sub-par in this day and age, although I can’t say for sure as there is no indication of quality on the stream, I would estimate that video quality is around 720p. I would have expected at least 1080p for the money. And it’s definitely not an internet connection issue, I have a 1Gbps symmetrical fiber Internet connection, which could handle multiple 4K streams with ease.

Sound, although high enough quality has issues with sync with video; from what I could see and hear, the audio is 2 – 3 second behind the video. The English commentary team was abruptly cut off mid-sentence on a number of occasions with 5 – 10 seconds of silence before resuming commentary. The sync issues were apparent as drivers crossed the line to set their time, with the commentators reacting seconds later.

There were more issues with the audio feed between the qualifying sessions. Ant Davidson could be heard at the Sky Pad, while the world feed continued on, showing video unrelated to the audio. Liberty Media needs to either cut the commentary feed during these breaks or do some sort of deal to show the video accompanying the audio that is being streamed, instead of the current disjointed presentation.

The option to view a selectable driver onboard camera does not have audio, except for the team radio communications. Frankly, it feels weird watching an F1 car racing around the track in silence, the car camera feeds need to have the audio from the car to make it feel like you are riding with the driver.

A couple of other niggly things, the timeline/scrubbing overlay remains onscreen at all times, sometimes obscuring graphics. The other player controls disappear, but the timeline remains, which I find distracting. I understand that this is a brand new service, but some of these issues seem like rookie mistakes, other streaming services don’t have these issues. F1.TV need to make improvements quickly.

Finally, it would be nice to have more payment options, currently F1.TV Pro only accepts VISA, Mastercard, and Maestro (UK) cards. I would have preferred to use my Discover over my VISA, and I don’t have a Mastercard. A PayPal option would solve this as PayPal accepts all major credit cards.

Full disclosure: I am watching the qualifying replay using Microsoft’s Edge browser, which I find to be the best browser for streaming. I’m running a Ryzen 1800X with 32GB of DDR4 3000mhz and all solid-state storage with a symmetrical 1Gbit Internet connection. I have not, as yet, tested the Android or Apple apps for F1.TV, I prefer to watch F1 on a larger screen, 5 to 10-inch phones and tablets just don’t cut it for me.

Update [May, 17 2018, 16:09]: Since I wrote my initial impression of F1.TV Pro last Saturday, improvements have been made, the archives have filled out considerably and the commentary/FX on archives and on car cameras are now selectable, at least in Chrome, still not working in Edge as I write this. Also, the scrubbing/timeline bar now disappears on Chrome, but remain in Edge. So improvements are being made, but it still seems your experience depends on which browser you elect to use.

Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2018

Ricciardo Rear Ends Verstappen At Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2018

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton wins a chaotic Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix, from what looked like a third-place finish four laps from the end of the race, to say Hamilton was “lucky” is the understatement of the year.

The chaos started immediately, everyone seemed to get through turn 1 cleanly, but, that all changed in the run out of turn 2, Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin was squeezed into Fernando Alonso’s McLaren by the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg, Alonso suffering a double puncture, but limped back to the pits and continued. More carnage ensued at turn 3, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen dived down the inside, only for Force India’s Esteban Ocon for turn in on the Ferrari driver, by turn 3, Sirotkin and Ocon were already out.

All this meant the safety car was deployed to clear up the debris from the track, meanwhile, in addition to Alonso’s unplanned pit stop, Raikkonen joined him in the pits for a set of fresh yellow marked soft tires and a new front wing, thanks to the safety car period, neither driver were out of contention in the race.

On the lap six restart, there was no change for the podium positions, but the ever opportunistic Max Verstappen dived down the inside of his Red Bull teammate, Daniel Ricciardo for fourth place, and as a result of giving Verstappen space, Ricciardo also lost 5th place to Carlos Sainz in the Renault.

Over the next five laps, The Renault duo, Sainz, and Hulkenberg took advantage of their faster purple ultra-soft tires to move past both Red Bulls to run in fourth and fifth places. Then disaster struck for Hulkenberg, the German clouted the barrier coming out of turn 4 and retired the car down the escape road at turn 5. Shortly after, we saw the Red Bull’s battling for fifth place, Ricciardo, twice getting a run on his younger teammate on the main straight, only for Verstappen to stoutly defend his fifth-place position.

The Red Bulls regained 4th and 5th positions as Sainz’ ultra-soft tires gave up, forcing the Spaniard to pit for the yellow marked soft tire. Hamilton pitted for fresh soft tires on lap 23 after having a massive lock-up going into turn 1, returning to the track in third place behind his Mercedes team-mate, Valtteri Bottas.

The Red Bull battle resumed on lap 27, Ricciardo was ahead around the outside of turn 1, only for Verstappen to come back at the Australian, who again lost out to his 20-year-old teammate. Ricciardo finally made the move stick on lap 35 with one of his trademark, last of the late brakers moves around the outside of turn 1; only to find himself behind his teammate after their only round of pitstops.

Race leader, Vettel dived into the pits for a change of tires, electing to run the yellow soft tire, while Bottas took the lead of the race, still setting good lap times on the red super-soft tires he started on. Vettel slotted into a Mercedes sandwich, returning to the track in second place, between Bottas and Hamilton.

Disaster struck for Red Bull on lap 40 with both drivers down the escape lane and out of the race. Ricciardo crashed into the back of Verstappen after the Dutchman had made two distinct moves in the braking zone to block his teammate. Both Red Bull drivers were reprimanded by the FIA, although I would say that it was Verstappen’s fault as his weaving in front of Ricciardo is what caused the incident.

This incident meant the safety car was deployed for a second time to recover the Red Bull’s, meanwhile, Romain Grosjean managed to crash all by himself while following the safety car, which extended the safety car period while marshalls recovered his HAAS. As the safety car was leading the pack through the pitlane, Bottas made his only stop of the race, putting on a set of ultrasoft boots, with Vettel following suit.

When the race restarted on lap 48; Bottas bolted, only to be caught by the end of the straight by Vettel, who made a massive dive down the inside of Bottas into turn 1, ultimately lost not only second to Hamilton but third to Sergio Perez as well as he had badly flat-spotted his left front tire. You’d have to say it was a terrible tactical decision by Vettel, the move was uber-ambitious at best from that far back.

It looked like Bottas was going to get his first win of 2018 leading a Mercedes 1 – 2, but that hope was dashed as the Finn ran over a piece of debris coming out of the final corner causing a high-speed blowout, ending his race with two laps remaining. After Vettel’s mistake and Bottas’ misfortune, Hamilton was gifted an unlikely last-gasp race victory to conclude a manic Azerbaijan Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Due to the carnage up front, we saw some new points scorers in the race classifications, Charles Leclerc scoring 8 points for sixth place and Brendon Hartley scoring a solitary point for finishing in 10th place. Alonso, managed to score 6 points for seventh place despite his earlier double puncture, running almost the entire race distance on a single set of soft tires with teammate Stoffel Vandoorne finishing in ninth.

Lewis Hamilton took the world championship lead for the first time in 2018, sitting four points ahead of Sebastian Vettel. I’m now thinking that this might be a turning point of the season, it was a clear mistake by Vettel that had cost him the championship lead, if he had just bided his time, he could have had a race victory by default, but no, he decided to go for glory and paid the price, a bad tactical choice I’d say.

A final word on Max Verstappen, clearly he is a very quick driver, but you have to question his race craft after being involved in four incidents in the first four races of 2018, to add to his tally of incidents in 2017. I understand that he is still a very young driver, but that, in my view is negated by his four seasons in F1.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2018 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:43:44.291
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +2.460s
3. Sergio Perez (Force India) +4.024s
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +5.329s
5. Carlos Sainz (Renault) +7.515s
6. Charles Leclerc (Sauber) +9.158s
7. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +10.931s
8. Lance Stroll (Williams) +12.546s
9. Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) +14.152s
10. Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso) +18.030s

3 Years On… We Are Still Having Issues With School Behaviors

School Consequences

As my 13 year old son approaches the end of his middle school years, we are still having issues with getting him motivated to do his school work, he often doesn’t do it, sometimes does it, but shoves it in his agenda and doesn’t hand it in, which has consistently caused his grades to drop in the D’s and F’s.

The rule at home is a single D or F means no video games until he gets back into a C and above grade in all subjects. This week, he turned a single D into two D’s and an F, despite me telling him what he needed to do to get his grades to where they needed to be. Instead of pulling his work from Google Classroom and doing it, he elected to lounge about watching TV, so his TV privileges got revoked too.

My son is more than capable of getting A’s and B’s across the board when he puts in the effort. I have noticed that in his intervention classes, he does well, he currently has two A’s, which I put down to being in a smaller class, where he is unable to slack off so easily. He has an A and a B in the classes he likes, but the larger classes in subjects he dislikes, these are the problem classes, where grades are sub-par.

His teachers tell me he is capable, despite this, my son likes to claim he is stupid, which is far from true, he makes stupid decisions, that’s for sure, but, he is highly intelligent and despite his diagnosis of autism with ADHD, that does not stop him from getting good grades, he is just not interested in those subjects.

He’s smart enough to know that, for example, he had to get all C’s or above to get a new video game at the end of the last semester, so he delivered all C’s, by the seat of his pants, mind you, he was one point away from getting a D. So this semester, we have upped the ante to three B’s and no D’s or F’s.

Clearly, we are very concerned, with him going to high school in a little over four months, that we are unable to break him of these behaviors, especially regarding handing in work late, or not at all until we check his grades online and get on his case about it. My son talks about going to Full Sail University in Florida, the way he is going, he won’t even get into local community college with these grades.

On to the event that inspired this write up, yesterday, Friday, 4/20, I received an Email from his language arts teacher describing his highly disrespectful actions. First, he accused his teacher of “failing to grade his work”, which he had handed in three days after it was due. My son was sent to the back of the room for his actions, where he grabbed some assignment sheets and wrote his name on them, before going back to the teacher, waving them in her face, demanding she grade them immediately, disrupting the class.

Later, in the same class, my son asked the teacher if he could sit in the comfy seats, which seems to be a reward type of seat, from what I can gather. His teacher said, “no, no-one is sitting there in class today”, to which my son responded, “you’re a liar”. Clearly, this is not acceptable behavior, and we certainly have not raised him this way, we teach personal responsibility to both our kids, not to shift the blame.

I understand that he is angry that he has lost his video game and TV privileges, but he has no-one else to blame, but himself. Even now, when he has no TV to watch or video games to play, he chooses to sleep instead of taking proactive steps to resolve the situation. His missing schoolwork is available to him on Google Classroom, but he chooses to be inactive and talking to him is like talking to a brick wall.

We have signed him up to after-school tutoring to help him get the work done, and in all honesty, has done nothing to improve his grades. I don’t know what he is using this extra time for, clearly, it is not for catching up with school work. My son constantly refuses help offered to him by teachers and us, as parents, he says he can do it. How do you help someone that doesn’t want to help themselves?

Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix 2018

Daniel Ricciardo Celebrates Chinese Grand Prix Win With A Shoey

Maybe the 2018 Formula 1 season will not be as dull as we all expected. A mid-race safety car caused by the two Red Bull ‘B’ team drivers having a coming together at the turn 14 hairpin, conspiracy theorists ahoy, certainly spiced things up with a late call from the Red Bull pit wall that allowed both drivers to put on the yellow marked soft tire while their rivals stayed out on the white marked medium tires.

The start was a typical Sebastian Vettel affair, the German chopped across the front of his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen who started alongside him on the front row, that allowed Mercedes rival Valtteri Bottas to take advantage of the compromised Raikkonen to move into second place. Meanwhile, Max Verstappen in the Red Bull with a set of ultra-soft tires on, made an amazing start to move past Hamilton through turns 3 and 4 and got a run on Raikkonen down to the turn six hairpin to move up two places to third place.

Fast forward to lap 17, Red Bull stacked their drivers in the pits for a new set of the white marked medium tires, clearly, with a view of going to the end of the race. Lewis Hamilton, running in 5th place at the time, did the same on lap 18, likewise, Bottas followed suit on lap 19, looking for the undercut on Ferrari and it worked brilliantly. When Ferrari pitted Vettel on lap 20, for the same medium tires, the Mercedes of Bottas cruised on by as Vettel exited the pits to take the race lead away from the German.

It was even worse for Raikkonen, who Ferrari seemingly used to back Bottas into the clutches of Vettel. However, the Finn could not keep his compatriot behind on his Ferrari’s degraded tires. As soon as Bottas got past, Raikkonen immediately released Vettel to chase after Bottas while he pitted for tires at the end of the lap, which cost him two positions, falling behind both Hamilton and Ricciardo to sixth place.

On lap 31; Pierre Gasly made a late dive down the inside of the turn 14 hairpin and collided with his Toro Rosso teammate Brendan Hartley, leaving debris strewn across the track on the apex of the hairpin at the end of the back straight. After the race, it was explained that it was a miscommunication of what should have been an orchestrated change of position between teammates. This prompted the safety car to be deployed so marshalls could clear the debris from the track and gave Red Bull a significant advantage.

As the safety car was deployed, leaders Bottas and Vettel had passed the pit entrance, while Red Bull made the “box, box, box” call to both drivers, Verstappen had just cleared the pit box as Ricciardo came in, perfect syncronized pit stops from Red Bull. After the restart, Ricciardo wasted little time regaining fifth place from Raikkonen. A couple laps later, Ricciardo moved into fourth place as teammate, Verstappen challenged Hamilton for third place and the Briton ran Verstappen wide on the outside of turn 7.

One lap later, Ricciardo, the last of the late brakers, dived down the inside of Hamilton at the hairpin at the end of the back straight to take third place. The Red Bull show continued with Verstappen passing Hamilton for fourth as Ricciardo breezed past the Ferrari of Vettel on the back straight for second. Verstappen, then got greedy, trying to squeeze into an ever decreasing gap making contact with Vettel, sending both drivers into a spin, for which, the FIA later handed Verstappen a 10 second time penalty.

Ricciardo was not done, on lap 45, he made another massive dive down the inside of Bottas for the lead and made it stick, although it was close, it looked like Bottas was going to shut the door, but the Finn saw the Australian at the last minute and jinked away to give the Red Bull driver space. Verstappen did catch and pass Hamilton once more after his contact with Vettel, but because of the 10 second time penalty, Hamilton was promoted back to 4th place, with the Dutchman being classified in fifth place.

Ferrari’s Vettel eventually finished in eighth place, being overtaken by the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso in the closing stages as Vettel was clearly suffering from a lack of grip from his now 36 lap old tires and possible collision damage. Renault’s Carlos Sainz took the chequered flag in ninth place while HAAS’ Kevin Magnussen claimed the final point of the Chinese Grand Prix 2018.

From a personal perspective, this was an amazing race, we got to see some bonafide overtaking and my favorite driver won the race with an immense driving performance. Given that Danny Ric got out for the first qualifying session with only 3 minutes remaining on the clock after a turbo failure in practice 3 and scraped into qualifying 2, to win the race was an amazing feat from both, driver and team.

I’ve already heard conspiracy theories, about Red Bull collusion, between their A and B teams and even a suggestion, that race director, Charlie Whiting, waited for the leaders to pass the pit entrance to spice things up. Of course, I don’t believe this for one second, but if that was the intention, it worked brilliantly.

Chinese Grand Prix 2018 Results

1. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1:35:36.380
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +8.894
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +9.637
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +16.985
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +20.436
6. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +21.052
7. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +30.639
8. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +35.286
9. Carlos Sainz (Renault) +35.763
10. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS) +39.594

Why I Ditched Cox Communications In Favor Of AT&T For Internet!

Broken Cox Communications Pod

Over the past 10 years, the level of customer service at Cox Communications here in Wichita, Kansas has been poor, at best, in my opinion. The final straw, came over this past weekend. On Saturday evening, my internet went out, however, I thought it would be a short outage, so went to bed thinking, it’d be fixed by morning, it was not, so I call Cox technical support; and the following is what transpired during the call.

On the call, which was placed at roughly 9:15am on Sunday morning, I explain that my internet had been down since 5pm on Saturday night. The representative tried to reach my modem, a Motorola SB6121, which he was unable to do. He immediately went into telling me that my modem was outdated and incapable of handling 150mbps, claiming the SB6121 was only capable of handling 30mbps.

I know this to be bullshit, the specs for my modem, which I bought myself about 4 1/2 years ago, says that it can handle up to 172mbps, and last time I checked, 172 was more than 150. Before the outage it had be happily delivering 137mbps down and 16-20mbps up, despite this, the rep continued to push for me to buy a new modem, not even entertaining the idea that something else might be at fault.

Anyway, fine, I just wanted to get my internet back up, so I walked out to my car to head to Best Buy to purchase one of their recommended modems, when I noticed the scene pictured above, a car had clearly left the road, driven across my front lawn and hit the cable pod, connecting my house to the main line.

I called Cox technical support back and got the damaged pod temporarily fixed to get me up and running again on Monday morning. I told the engineer about my experience with technical support, and even he said that the phone tech had lied to me, he knew the modem I had was capable of providing the speed of the Premier tier I had, I do like the Cox service techs, they don’t give you any bullshit, which I appreciate.

I was told that another team would have to come out and make a permanent fix, which they did the next day. But, instead of knocking on my door to tell me that my Internet would go down for a few minutes while they repaired the main line, they pulled the plug on my internet connection as I clicked submit [to Internet] on something I had been working on for two hours, which failed and the work was lost.

I have to accept part of the blame for that, I should have done regular draft saves, but the Internet had been so reliable before this incident; and I requested that the techs let me know before starting the fix.

A few days before this all happened, I received an Email from Cox about an “at no additional cost” offer for an upgraded modem, which I initially ignored as the SB6121 was more than capable of providing the max speeds the Premier service offered. After my experience over the weekend, I clicked on the link from the Email and it was not free, there was a $20 connection fee, plus two other options, one to buy a modem for $200 or rent a $10/month Panoramic WiFi Modem, hardly at no additional cost is it?

Cox Free Upgraded Modem Scam

When I talked to a representative from the Cox customer retention department to cancel my service, I brought this Email up and he said it was a mailer sent out to everyone and was only available to customers with bundled Internet and phone, something that was not mentioned in the Email sent to me.

There are multiple other issues with Cox technical support over the years, including turning off our internet a day early when we moved to our current home five years ago, then failed to connect Internet at our new address, resulting in three days of downtime in our new home. Then, they had the gall to charge us $85 for an engineer to visit to get us online, which I did not pay, I had that removed from my bill.

Ultimately, this experience has cost Cox our business, over the 10 years we have been customers of theirs, we have paid them over $25,000 for TV and Internet services. We have switched to AT&T and their Fiber Internet 1000 tier, which provides symmetrical gigabit connectivity, something that Cox cannot compete with unless you happen to live in a brand new neighborhood, which we do not, our home is 12 years old.

I won’t say how good it is, I’ve only had AT&T installed for 27 hours, but so far, so good, we average about 850mbps down and 930mbps up, which is great for me as I do a lot of uploading of large files to various servers for my work. The amazing thing is the price, $80/month for one year, then just $90/month after the promotional period, the cost for Cox Premier (150mbps down/20mbps up) had just risen to $89.99.

AT&T included free installation and a free modem/router with wireless AC capability, now I just have one box on my desk instead of two. I’m kinda pleased that Cox tried to screw me over, as it forced me to look into alternatives. Last time I looked, five years ago, the fastest speed AT&T offered was 50mbps down and incredibly restrictive data caps, something that I don’t need to worry about now with Internet 1000.

To get something similar from Cox, with much slower upload speed, I’d have to pay $119.99 + $50 for unlimited data, so that’s a total of $169.99 for an inferior service, why on Earth would anyone pay $80 more for less. The Cox rep had an impossible job to retain me as a customer, there was nothing he could say to convince me to stay with Cox, there was nothing he could offer me to beat the AT&T offering.

Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix 2018

Bahrain F1 Grand Prix 2018

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel continued his excellent start to the season, with win 2 of 2 ahead of the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, while Ferrari team mate, Kimi Raikkonen’s race ended in the pits with a mismatched set of tires after a botched pit stop, which caused a Ferrari mechanic, Francesco Cigarini to suffer a double leg fracture, which will cost the team, 50,000 Euros.

Vettel made a good start to head out of turn 1 first from pole position, while teammate Raikkonen, who qualified on the front row, made a poor start finding himself behind Bottas coming out of turn one. Hamilton failed to make up any places from the start, however former McLaren teammate, Fernando Alonso did make good progress, moving up to ninth place from 13th place before the start of lap two.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen also made good progress to challenge Hamilton for 10th place into turn one on lap two, but it all ended in tears for the Dutchman as he made contact with Hamilton as he pushed the Englishman wide, causing a left rear puncture, leaving Verstappen to limp back to the pits. Meanwhile, it was a double blow for Red Bull as Daniel Ricciardo retired with a complete loss of power, despite making it back to the pits and out again, Verstappen also stopped his Red Bull on the side of the road on lap five.

Verstappen blamed Hamilton for the collision, saying the Briton didn’t allow sufficient room. I think that Hamilton was fair, from what I remember, Hamilton was on the white line marking the track limits. In my view, Verstappen was trying to thread the needle between Hamilton and Alonso, unsuccessfully, Hamilton cannot just disappear, it was a racing incident, let’s leave it at that, instead of having this war of words.

At the end of the virtual safety car period caused by Ricciardo’s stricken car on lap five, Hamilton took advantage of the Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Ocon and Alonso squabble for sixth place, the Briton slid down the inside of all three drivers to steal sixth place going into turn one. In the next three laps, Hamilton made up another two places, passing Magnussen and Gasly to run in fourth behind Raikkonen.

During the first round of pit stops, it was clear that Mercedes was planning an endurance strategy while Ferrari was going for a performance strategy. Mercedes fitted the white painted medium tire, while Ferrari opted for the yellow painted soft tire. This meant that Ferrari would have to pit a second time, while the Mercedes drivers would not have to stop again during the race, barring any mishaps.

Come lap 36, Ferrari probably wished that they went with a single stop strategy as a pit stop blunder caused Raikkonen’s retirement and an injury to a Ferrari mechanic. A few laps later, Vettel was told over the team radio to switch to plan B, which clearly was to stay out on the soft tires until the end. This caused some excitement near the end of the race as Bottas closed into less than a half second of the German.

Although he had an anonymous race, big props to Pierre Gasly for bringing his STR Honda home in fourth place, the best result for Honda since their return I believe, correct me if I am wrong. Kevin Magnussen finished the race with all wheels secured, after Australia’s HAAS pit-stop disaster, to claim fifth. The top 10 was rounded out by Hulkenberg, Alonso, Vandoorne, Ericsson and Ocon in sixth thru 10th respectively.

This second win for Vettel gives the German a 17 point lead over main title rival, Hamilton, as we go into the third race of the season, the surprise in the current standings, is that Alonso is fourth in the driver’s championship, ahead of Raikkonen. Dare I say it? could Ferrari truly challenge Mercedes for the drivers and constructors titles? Well, that remains to be seen, after Ferrari’s capitulation during the 2017 season.

Bahrain Grand Prix 2018 Results

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:32:01.940
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.699
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +6.512
4. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +62.234
5. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS) +75.046
6. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +99.024
7. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +1 LAP
8. Stoffeel Vandoorne (McLaren) +1 LAP
9. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) +1 LAP
10. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +1 LAP

Wifey’s New Ride: 2012 Ford Escape Limited!

Wifey's New Ride, 2012 Ford Escape Limited

When I received my inheritance back in September 2017, I promised that I would buy my wife a new (to her) car to replace her 2006 Saturn Vue, which is not in the best condition (woman driver n’all, that’s a joke BTW, maybe…) and frankly, it’s not worth getting it fixed as it’s value is so low and it has some design flaws which causes unbearable wind noise at highway speeds and the window leaks in heavy rain.

I’ve been trying to get my wife to look online at cars with me for months, but she had shown little interest. My wife would say that because it was winter, she didn’t need a new car immediately. Her current car doesn’t have working A/C and it will cost $1,500 to fix, which as I wrote above is not worth the cost.

The car that I eventually bought for her, I had been looking at for a few weeks. On her way back from work, she stopped by the dealership where the car I was looking at is located and called me. So I told her to come pick me up as she had taken my car and I’d have a look at it in person. I was expecting her to arrive at our home in my car and we’d drive back, but no, she turns up in the car we’d been looking at.

I drove the Escape back to the dealership and I was fairly impressed, I couldn’t find anything really wrong, a few minor scratches on the bodywork, a missing retaining clip for the driver side visor (which cost’s $16 direct from Ford) and missing factory floor mats. It felt good to drive, sounded good, and it’s 4-wheel drive, so I was happy to purchase the car for my wife, especially as it’s 4WD, great for winter driving.

The Escape is almost as loaded as my Fusion of the same model year, it’s only missing the powered passenger seat and blind spot monitoring. It has satellite navigation, Bluetooth, automatic dual-zone climate control, power sunroof and the all-important mood lighting that our daughter loves in my car.

We ended up paying $12,000, including taxes and fees, which is in line with the Kelly Blue Book value, we put down a $6,000 deposit and financed the remaining $6,000 over four years, with a small monthly payment. We could have bought it cash, but the dealership wasn’t interested in haggling, even with a potential cash purchase and we were unlikely to find another Limited model that is so well equipped.

We’ve had the Escape for a few days now and everything seems good, no issues, everything works as expected, including the brakes, which got tested about an hour after the purchase was complete, a dozy woman, decided to pull out as my wife was approaching the intersection, the brakes passed the test with flying colors. I would have been pissed if my wife got in a wreck the same day we had bought the car.

Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix 2018

Vettel leads Hmailton at F1 Australian Grand Prixn 2018

Formula 1 is back and disappointingly, it’s more of the same, despite an extra DRS zone for 2018, overtakes were few and far between, faster cars could cruise up to the back of the car in front, then stall, seemingly, not being able to get much closer than half a second even with the aid of DRS.

After a dominant qualifying session, I was expecting Lewis Hamilton to run and hide, but that didn’t happen, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was keeping him relatively honest, or maybe Hamilton was controlling the pace, either way, the gap never got too large. Sebastian Vettel couldn’t do much about his Maranello teammate, having to settle for third going into turn 1. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was caught napping by HAAS’ Kevin Magnussen, the Dane clean drove around the outside of the Dutchman to take fourth place.

Fast forward to lap 11, Verstappen, clearly pushing super hard, despite having oversteer issues to retake fourth place from Magnussen, did a little pirouette coming out of turn 1, allowing the second HAAS of Romain Grosjean and Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo through into fifth and six places respectively.

Valtteri Bottas, despite having the same car as race leader, Hamilton, was mired in 13th place, only having made up two places since the start of the race and making no impression on the car in front of him. Bottas did eventually recover to 8th place, mainly, thanks to the virtual and physical safety cars mid-race.

HAAS, who were running in fourth and fifth places at the time, screwed up massively, costing themselves a massive haul of points by cross-threading wheelnuts on both Magnussen’s and Grosjean’s cars one lap apart, leaving both HAAS cars stranded on the side of the track, forcing a virtual safety car period.

The VSC changed the course of the race, Vettel, electing to take his pit stop under VSC conditions, coming out ahead of both teammate, Raikkonen, and Hamilton to take the race lead. From what, I understand, pitlane entry and exits are not considered part of the track, meaning Vettel could gain 11 seconds while Hamilton and Raikkonen were bound by the VSC delta lap times, gifting the German the race lead.

Hamilton was clearly faster than Vettel, but like all battles up and down the field, overtaking was difficult, even with the aid of DRS, eventually, Mercedes called off the battle to preserve their engine, knowing they have three penalty-free power units for the season. As the race came to a close, Ricciardo went on a late charge, but couldn’t get close enough to make one of his trademark lunges down the inside of Raikkonen.

McLaren had the best start to a season in four years with Alonso claiming fifth place and Stoffel Vandoorne finishing in ninth, which was, admittedly part due to HAAS’pit lane blunders and the VSC, but still a very solid drive from both drivers in the orange cars. Alonso claims that McLaren is targeting Red Bull for 2018, which might be a tad optimistic, but I’d love to see McLaren fighting for podiums.

I don’t believe this for one second, but you know the conspiracy nuts will jump on the fact that Vettel, a Ferrari driver benefitted from the pit lane blunders of a Ferrari powered, so-called ‘B’ team. I think that Ferrari saw an opportunity and took it, and that’s the end of it, but from past experiences, I will bet that some Hamilton fans will be propagating the conspiracy theories concerning this unexpected result.

So, in conclusion, it was a generally dull race, only livened up by mistakes which resulted in an unexpected result, being generous, I would give it a four out of 10. Mercedes are clearly, still the car to beat, Ferrari and Red Bull may take a few points off the silver arrows, but I expect Mercedes to win the lions share of races and take the drivers, with Hamilton and constructors titles once again in 2018.

Australian Grand Prix 2018 Results

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:29:33.283
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +5.036
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +6.309
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +7.069
5. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +27.886
6. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +28.945
7. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +32.671
8. Valtteri Bottas (Mercede) +34.339
9. Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) +34.921
10. Carlos Sainz (Renault) +45.722

WWE 2K18, PC/Steam, Useless For Online Play With Friends

WWE 2K18, PC

Many, many years ago, when I still lived in the UK, I used to play WWE Smackdown Vs Raw with a friend on the PlayStation 2 in the mid-noughties, and it was amazing mindless fun. Recently, I saw WWE 2K18 on sale on Steam, so I went ahead and purchased the game, my friend did the same in the hope of rekindling the fun of mid-2000’s WWE games over the Internet as we now live on separate continents.

Both my friend and I were sorely disappointed by our purchase. Playing online, with me hosting on a 150/15Mbit connection was a joke, we were getting 10-15fps while in online mode, however, we both got 60fps+ while in single player mode, so it’s not a hardware limitation causing the performance issue.

Also, there seems to be no way to use Skype and play the game because game voice chat cannot be disabled in game. My friend and I both went into Steam and turned the volume for microphone and receive volumes to minimum in Settings -> Voice configuration. It gets weirder, keep reading…

My friend’s voice was coming through my monitor speakers, which are not used, voice communications is set to output through my Logitech wireless headset and game sounds from my external speaker system.

I did briefly try to play offline but really couldn’t get into it because I was unable to reconfigure the controls when using the Xbox controller driver. I was using a PS3 controller, using a driver that made Windows believe that it was an Xbox controller. It’s not a driver issue as I have no issue reconfiguring the controls in other Steam games such as Dirt Rally. Not everyone likes the same control method, adding the ability to redefine controls seems like something that should be standardized across all games.

And, of course, me being the person I am, instead of just accepting that the game is broken, I minimized the game, while I did some online research, looking for a workaround to these issues, which there were none. But because the game was still active, I amassed three hours of ‘play’ time. Which means that I am stuck with this terrible game as Steam will not grant refunds for games with a play time of over two hours.

I explained why I was requesting a refund; as I consider the game to be defective, but the person reviewing my refund request ignored my words and denied the refund based on time played. My advice is, watch your ‘play’ time, which includes minimized time and menu time, and make your decision on the game quickly to get your money refunded, especially in this time of games being released incomplete.

I literally cannot even give this POS game to someone who might appreciate it, I have uninstalled the game and my only option is to permanently delete the game from my account, which means I literally paid $36 for nothing. One silver lining is that my friend managed to get a refund as he had ‘played’ only 1.75 hours, I would have felt kinda guilty as I requested that he buy the game to play together online.

Looking at the mostly negative recent reviews on Steam, and mixed overall rating, 54% negative. clearly, I am not the only one massively dissatisfied with WWE 2K18. Every year we see one of these WWE games released, clearly as a cash cow, because they know that the ‘WWE Universe’ will buy it regardless of the minimal changes from the previous incarnation. And it seems every year, the game gets a little bit worse.