Ferrari California

Which Ferrari fan hasn't been following the news on the Ferrari California?

Understanding it's place in the Ferrari line-up (between the F430 and 599) and it's proposition (2+2 GT / cruiser), I don't think it is the Ferrari for me. I'm more of an F430 fan, :-), and I'd definitely I'd take the Maserati GT Spyder over the California.

You've got to respect Ferrari's marketing & manufacturing balancing act. Getting customers to fork out premium money then wait 2 years for the product... marvelous!

I'm not sure if you sure all the "Ferrari GT countdown" fluff online but they did a great job of priming demand.

Auto Express have a great gallery and first drive article here:


posted by Lee Gale @ 4:46 PM, ,

TimeSvr - Part 2

Back in September, I wrote about a Virtual Assistant service called TimeSvr.

I had signed up for a trial of their beta service, but then promptly didn't get around to using it.

They subsequently went live and announced their pricing:
"Due to our innovative on-demand model, and the dynamics of offshoring, a Personal Assistant is finally an affordable luxury for busy professionals. Currently TimeSvr offers a 3 day free trial for its Personal service, which provides unlimited basic tasks and up to 30 minutes of complex tasks per day, for only $59 per month. TimeSvr Dedicated service allows companies and individuals to buy chunks of Aide time, starting at $6/hour or $900 monthly for a full time Aide."

Going back to sign-up for their live service, I'm back in a holding pattern as:
"Due to overwhelming demand, and in order to maintain our high standards of service, we've temporarily disabled new signups. Please leave us your contact information and we'll get to you as soon as we can."


So, reached out to Your Man In India as recommended in the book The 4-Hour Workweek.

Then, subsequently TimeSvr came back with a spot... so now I have two V.A.s on trial this week... I'll report back shortly on who wins round 1 of the knockdown.


posted by Lee Gale @ 8:06 PM, ,

Toyota Prius vs BMW M3

Back in September, I wrote about electric cars and declined to ramble on about the complete snow job Toyota and the press have pulled on the public regarding the Prius as "eco-friendly"... so I will take the opportunity now to do so. :-)

I simply despise the pious Prius followers. Having driven a Hertz rental Prius in Melbourne, it goes straight into the "fridge with wheels" handling category - it's not bad, it's just so mundane. So, aside from the "let's see what high score I can get" on fuel saving video game on the center console, the only draw card the Prius has is it's eco-credentials.

Jeremy attacks that argument when he pits a BMW M3 against the Prius around the track and hits the nail on the head: "it's not what you drive that matters, it's how you drive it".

Updated 20th June 2009

Since at the time of writing this entry, Top Gear episodes on You Tube went from being 'less' copyright friendly to 'more', with BBC posting their content on You Tube. They've also now enabled embedding - yay! As such, I've updated the originally posted videos that were removed, with the ones below. Enjoy.

"Prius More Environmentally Damaging Than BMW M3"


posted by Lee Gale @ 8:35 PM, ,

Howard's distorted legacy

In the book review for The One Percent Doctrine, I mentioned that I had read about the book's author in either The Economist or Diplomat magazines.

As it turned out, I saved the article so I can properly refer you to it.

It was Peter Hartcher's regular column Australian Interest in the Jan / Feb 2008 issue of The Diplomat. Well worth the five minutes to read.


posted by Lee Gale @ 4:18 AM, ,

Audi R8 Coupe & Spyder

Following on from my suggestion on replacements for the current toy in 2011, the other half of the equation would need to be an Audi R8 (because I suspect I can't afford the '10 Mercedes Gullwing)

I was offered a test drive of the R8 coupe recently and didn't need to be asked twice! In true Audi fashion, the engine, gearbox and chassis are truly remarkable, especially with the magnetic ride... but it feels a little clinical in the cabin. It certainly lacked the 'wow' factor I get out of my current toy or something like a Ferrari F360 that I think comes from exposing some quirks that we then excuse by calling 'character'.

I assume the F360 and Audi R8 used car values will remain close considering performance and price - an '01 F1 shift F360 is approximately A$220-250k and the Audi R8 new is about A$310k on-road. I'd probably lean towards the Audi R8 over the F360 purely on quality aspects and the elegance of the R8 makes the Ferrari look positively showy.

Checking out the article and photos of the R8 Spyder, I'm not sure it would be my choice as you lose the side blades behind the door on the coupe.

You can download desktop wallpaper of the R8 from

Going to YouTube, there is some great reviews of the R8 from TopGear (which doesn't allow embedding of videos) and FifthGear:


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:01 AM, ,

Crossing the Chasm

This is a very retrospective 'review', but I rate Geoffrey Moore's "Crossing the Chasm" as a 'must read', not only for those in the technology industry but everyone who has anything to do with creating and selling products & services (i.e. pretty much everyone!).

Moore's theory centers on the Technology Adoption Lifecycle (TALC), a sociological model that describes the adoption or acceptance of a new product or innovation, according to the demographic and psychological characteristics of defined adopter groups, originally outlined in Everett Rogers Diffusion of innovations theory.

Moore's key insight is that the groups adopt innovations for different reasons and that a 'chasm' exists between between the early adopters of the product (the technology enthusiasts and visionaries) and the early majority (the pragmatists).

Beyond the theory, Moore introduces a lot of concepts and frameworks that will become the bread and butter of any entrepreneur, marketer, product manager and/or sales person.

An example of how ubiquitous Moore's work has become is the references made in other publications. A good example is The Tipping Point reviewed here.

Moore went on to found The Chasm Group, whose work I've had the good fortune of being exposed to at Adobe. Sadly everything produced was/is confidential and can't be shared publicly, but it is succinct and addressed some big opportunities into easy to prioritise and implement strategies.

In researching for this article, I've been reminded that there are a number of sequels to this book, including Inside the Tornado, Living on the Fault Line, The Chasm Companion and Dealing with Darwin. I will add them to my Amazon "Wish List" immediately.

If you are still not convinced to run out and read this book, checkout this quick summary of the key points in the book.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 7:00 AM, ,

Audi A5 & S5 Convertible

I took a look at the S5 Convertible spy pics with a great deal of interest:

It lands for MY10, which I think that translates to Sept 09 if my knowledge of German car manufacturing cycles is correct. My car's 4 year anniversary will be Feb '12 which means there will be a few 2 year old S5 Convertibles coming onto the used car market.

Whilst the S5's V8 sounds good, with fuel prices likely to go up and down like a yo-yo in the coming years, I'd guess that a 3.2 FSI might be the best engine choice (if this article is on the money). Checking out Wikipedia on the engines... the 4.2 FSI does sound tempting... :-)

Assuming it is aimed at the BMW335 and Mercedes CLK350 niche in Australia, and looking at S5 4.2 FSI quattro tiptronic coupe pricing (A$136,314 plus options & on-roads), it should come in under A$170k loaded on-road (the A5 3.2 FSI quattro tiptronic around A$120k).

Checking out prices on A4 cabriolets, I'd estimate after 2 years, the S5 convertible will be about $80-130k depending on mileage, options, colours, etc. Combined with a used Audi R8, that could be a good replacement for the SLK55. Mmm.

From the blogosphere ramblings, it would appear Audi are doing the right thing and going with a fabric roof instead of a metal one (yes, your butt does look fat with that roof). I think folding metal roofs should be limited to two seaters who have less roof to put away.


posted by Lee Gale @ 2:05 PM, ,

It's on day's like today that I love this car even more

Catching up with friends from high-school up at Palm Beach on Sunday, I got my toy out for a drive today (any excuse!).

We're incredibly fortunate in Sydney to have weather like we did on Sunday. We're also fortunate to have some great driving roads nearby:I'll make sure I pop some details on my blog next time I do one of these drives.

Today's trip was just from home up to Palm Beach where we caught up at Barrenjoey House for lunch. I even remembered to grab a happy snap of the day:

There are some great twisty pieces of road by the beaches on the way there (observe the speed limit please but feel free to enjoy the eye candy at the beach) and via McCarr's Creek Rd on the way back (observe the speed limit... if you must).

View Larger Map

For a good preview of McCarr's Creek Rd, I found this on YouTube:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 12:15 AM, ,


On the plane back from Singapore this week I managed to watch "Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?".

As soon as I saw in the movie guide that Morgan Spurlock had produced this, I was in... and I wasn't disappointed - this is one HILARIOUS film!

Wikipedia has a good synopsis, but looking at the comments there, it seems the Americans didn't find this film as amusing as I did.

The scene is set with Morgan expecting a new child and therefore worrying about his child being 'safe'. So, he gets on the trail of Osama.

After some funny graphics (think Street Fighter featuring Osama vs Morgan), we're taken to Egypt where Morgan does a great job of drawing parallels with Americans every day lives. The majority aren't that different in their daily goals and their dreams.

Morgan takes a look at the Egyptian government's democratic and human rights history (or lack there of) and we're left asking why America supports this regime. We treated to a review of America's support for "Our SOB's" which was quite amusing. I was immediately reminded of the book "The One Percent Doctrine".

Morgan then heads off to Saudi Arabia to chat to Osama's family. In his phone book search, he comes across 'Bin Laden Aviation' - what a riot! I'd have changed that company name after 9/11.

Next, we are off to Afghanistan, a country that has been at war for forty years and is riddled with poverty. I quiet enjoyed the suggestion to turn Tora Bora into a tourist destination... "Tora Bora - it's the bomb!". Here he investigates what is important to the locals and it comes back to the basics: water, food, safety, education... the same message we get time and time again (checkout 50 Facts that Should Change the World). Morgan suggests the best way to win hearts and minds is focusing on the centre of gravity: the people who like clean water, etc, which you service via mundane tasks like school & hospital building. This reminded me of the quote at the end of Charlie Wilson's War: "we fucked up the end game!".

It was a timely as I recently was reading a Time magazine article on 'soft politics' i.e. not the use of direct force to achieve objectives. It points out, however, that Americans like decisive victories which makes 'soft politics' seem... soft.

A final thought from watching this excellent and cheeky film was the polarity of 'developing nations' (aka third world) vs first world nations vs cosmopolitan (ie city) life in first world nations. Life jetting between Singapore and Sydney is just so far removed from the life and death struggle experienced daily in places like Afghanistan. Thank goodness and I hope in my life time the Afghans escape the cycle they are in.

BTW - Morgan never does find Osama.


posted by Lee Gale @ 12:05 AM, ,

2010 Mercedes-Benz Gullwing

A.K.A. the Mercedes SLC the Gullwing renderings are emerging left, right and centre.

This one looks very Porsche-esque...

... but I prefer it to these ones:

She looks like she will date faster and be less of a classic. In fact the profile looks quite Audi R8 here... maybe it will grow on me?

This one is a little more... balanced:

PS - looking at my last month of writing about cars, I think I could be appropriately admonished for my bias towards Mercedes. If you want to combine the debate of brand elasticity with United States politics, read this.


posted by Lee Gale @ 4:09 PM, ,

Theory: Small cars have no future

Okay, you would know by now that I:
So, you can imagine the smile on my face reading this piece:

In reality, I think the argument is a bit of a furphy.

However, one of the points raised is something I just can't fathom: "they are cheaper, so they attract younger drivers who tend to maintain them poorly". If you are younger, I think it would be fair to say the car typically represents a more significant investment that for older buyers. That being the case, you'd expect (hope?) that this significant investment would be accompanied by an interest in protecting that investment.

Maybe I'm trying to apply my love of (good) cars to the world of unimaginative disposable consumer goods?


posted by Lee Gale @ 4:18 AM, ,

Adobe announces Flash Player 10

Today, Adobe announced the release of Flash Player 10.

I think the cool features are the performance, the text/font handling and 3D.

Check out the official presentation here:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 6:05 AM, ,

Lotus Evora

Yum! The new Lotus Evora is dead sexy.

Apparently "the Evora is the first of a trio of new models due to emerge as part of a five-year plan at Lotus. This began on October 2006, and will see a mid-engined supercar flagship appear in 2010. A supercharged Evora is also expected in 2010, as well as a two-seater version".

Can't wait !


posted by Lee Gale @ 7:43 PM, ,

Mercedes-Benz S 600 Pullman Guard

The Mercedes-Benz special-protection unit marks its 80th anniversary with the launch of the new S 600 Pullman Guard state limousine.

"its armour resists military-standard small-arms projectiles and provides protection against fragments from hand grenades and other explosive charges. Additional safety features include run-flat tyres, a self-sealing fuel tank and a fire-extinguishing system."

I'm trying to think what you'd have had to have done in your life and to whom (or where you live) in order to require this sort of protection. Mmm.

Check out more pictures here:


posted by Lee Gale @ 5:54 PM, ,

The One Percent Doctrine

I first read about this book in either The Economist or Diplomat magazines and a great quote from author Ron Suskind drew me in where he was talking about the Bush/Cheney staff view that they were defining the new reality in which the rest of us live.


Following on from The Price of Loyalty, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 continues to investigate the key themes of the Bush administration: facts and reality give way to Cheney’s management of Bush and the formulation of policy without transparency and educated debate.

Central to the title is the "one percent doctrine": threats with even a 1% likelihood must be treated as certainties. Which in turn results in "the severing of fact-based analysis from forceful response".

In The One Percent Doctrine, we join CIA chief George Tenet as he bends his beliefs as he attempts to remain loyal to Bush, with the end result the mess in the middle east we have today. This drive might have largely been generated through Bush supporting Tenet in the post-9/11 world (the book starts on September 12th, 2001), but I can't say at any point in reading the book I would have made the same choices Tenet made in walking that tight-rope - between staying in the game and making a difference or telling the boss what you want to say.

I think the author has a bright future ahead - I'll certainly be reading whatever he publishes! What I particularly enjoy is that he doesn't tell us what he thinks, rather, he simply presents the thoughts of the individual(s) he is writing about. Having said that, I'm sure any Republican will suggest he is twisting and manipulating words to sell books. I think their response makes me like the book & author better. :-)

You can checkout more details of the book on the author's site: or on Wikipedia:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 2:34 PM, ,

Mercedes SL 65 AMG Black Series

I remember a great comment from a motoring journalist (my apologies I can't properly credit you but you write for Motor Australia magazine): "Why would someone buy an SL65 instead of the SL55 which is a better drivers car? For the same reason you have a black AMEX card - because you can".

You can checkout the recently updated Mercedes Hyper-car at it's own mini-site here:

The image above link's to Autoblog's pictures and you can see more at WorldCarFan's site.

I'm not sure it is my cup of tea... but clearly I'm not the target demographic!

Check it out, and listen to the engine's symphony on YouTube:


posted by Lee Gale @ 7:23 PM, ,

Wraps off next S2000

Wow - the new Honda S2000 is looking good !

Having owned a '01 Honda S2000, I'm a big fan of what Honda have produced to date. I'm sure the next version will be equally exciting.

Or should we be referring to this as the Honda S3000?


posted by Lee Gale @ 7:43 PM, ,

The Price of Loyalty

Inside "The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill", author Ron Suskind collaborates with former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill to document his two years as part of the George W. Bush White House.

The book is incredibly factual and detailed, primarily due to O'Neill providing extensive documentation to Suskind, including schedules with 7,630 entries and a set of 19,000 documents that featured memoranda to the President, thank-you notes, meeting minutes, and voluminous reports.

Now, you'd have to wonder why one of Bush's most senior staff members would offer this view on events. These people have long memories and would make the remainder of your life tougher than it needed to be. Well, aside from O'Neill being well off financially, a quick excerpt from the author's note I think underscores why O'Neill provided his account:
"When this project officially began in February 2003, I was heartened, though not surprised, to find Paul O'Neill had a striking view of the value of secrecy - that it had almost no value. We both happened to have read Secrecy, a 1998 book by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a friend and mentor to O'Neill, who wrote that twenty years on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had taught him a single sterling lesson: The threat to our national security is not from secrets revealed, it's from bad analysis."

I loved O'Neill analysis, debates and always “doing the right thing” approach as painted by the author.

Throughout the book, we are treated to the debate of: what is the difference between philosophy and ideology? The conclusion, that I agree with, he makes is, to quote, "Ideology is a lot easier, because you don't have to know anything or search for anything. You already know the answer to everything. It's not penetrable by facts. It's absolutism".

This reminds me on the comments George Soros, international financier and billionaire investor, made in the 2004 elections: "When I hear Bush say 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Nazi's," he told the Post. Bush made his "with us or against us" comments during a post-Sept. 11, 2001, speech in which he admonished the nations of the world to join the U.S. in its battle against global terrorism, which affects many countries and has killed scores of people worldwide. But regardless of the context, absolutism doesn't belong in the White House.

The real bombshell this book delivered was the claims that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was not a reaction to the attacks of September 11, but was instead a campaign in the planning stages ever since Bush took office. Documentation provided that supports this is a February 1, 2001, NSC meeting agenda which clearly tables "Political-Military Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq Crisis". I guess the horse has bolted on us doing anything about that now, aside from ensuring members of the Bush White House never hold positions of public office again.

I have to say, this being the third book I've read that reviews members of the George W. Bush White House (the others being "The One Percent Doctrine" and Bob Woodward's "State of Denial"), I can't say I've got a single positive word to say about the current presidency. Not a single one.

You can obviously learn more by buying & reading the book, but I'd also recommend reading more about Ron Suskind on Wikipedia: and on his own website:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 6:48 PM, ,

Nissan GT-R

TopGear Season 11 Episode 5 started off as it ended the last episode, with the Nissan GT-R.

Jeremy takes it on to a professional circuit... but how cool is this: the GPS of the car recognises the circuit and removes the speed limit imposed on the car on normal road!!

I'm not much of a Japanese car fan, but with the cool gadgets and great value for money for the performance it delivers, I could be convinced...

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posted by Lee Gale @ 7:23 PM, ,

Shift Happens - Globalization and The Information Age

I thought this was worth sharing as it both summarises my thoughts on the Howard Government's policies and the challenges that lie ahead for us as a country.

I came across this first on Nick Hodge's blog where he also makes the linkage to Thomas Friedman's work which I'm a big fan of.

I don't know Laurel Papworth, but thought the points she makes really resonated with me. I have subsequently heard Laurel talk on the AFR podcast.

This was apparently this was created by Karl Fisch, and modified by Scott McLeod. Kudos. You can checkout their wiki space here.

If you prefer graphics to help you digest your facts, try this one:

If you can read and want less dramatic music, try this one:


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:00 AM, ,

Fitness progress

Today I had my follow-up scan to check my progress with my fitness program.

I held my breathe when Jarrod read the results to me: 24% body fat (which had come down from the 29.5% I was 4 months ago). That is made up of 5.5kg of fat lost and 1kg of muscle gained.

I'm happy with that!

My mental goal I was hoping to be under was 25%, so very happy.

Now I guess I need to move to the middle game with my fitness program.


posted by Lee Gale @ 4:36 PM, ,