The AnswersThatWork Blog

Thursday, 14th August 2008

So many world records in the Beijing Water Cube !

Why are there so many world records at these 2008 Olympics ?

Many are pointing at the design of the swimming pool as the reason :  it has two unused extra lanes, lane 0 and lane 9, which prevent waves knocking back into the path of the swimmers;  and it is 3m deep, which prevents the waves bouncing back off the bottom of the pool;  and, lastly, the water is cold, which swimmers like.

I am sure all of these things help but I don't buy it.  Swimming pools with extra unused lanes have been a de-facto standards at Olympics for quite a few Olympics now.  Similarly, deep swimming pools have also been around for some time at both Olympics and World Championships.  As for the water being deliberately cold, this is silly, swimming federations and organizations have known for years that competitive swimming is faster in cold water, so that argument is, ugh...,  dead in the water.

Then there is also, of course, those new swimsuits.  Again, they may be a factor but they've been around since January and you didn't see a multitude of world records falling at the US, Australian, Russian, Japanese and Chinese Olympic qualification trials, did you ?

What I am absolutely certain is the reason is "Electricity" !  Yes, absolutely !

What is happening at these Olympics is the same thing that happened at the Sydney Olympics.  The Sydney Olympics were "electric" because they had a very special significance :  the millennium Olympics, Year 2000.  The whole world focused on Year 2000 — don't you all remember 31st December 1999 ?  There was such an electricity about the Sydney Olympics, the Millennium Olympics, that every competitor somehow wanted to be there, to be in Sydney even more than at any other Olympics, every competitor wanted to win their own Millennium Olympics, so swimmers and track and field athletes all trained harder and competed harder, and world records fell everywhere.

It's the same thing about the Beijing 2008 Olympics.  I cannot remember an Olympics that has been talked more than the Beijing Olympics, even more than the Sydney Olympics, for all sorts of reasons :  the massive political reasons, the emergence of China as the biggest commercial power in the World (what is not made in China ?), the food scares, the chemical scares, but, also, the fascinating culture, the many things China brought to the World, the most populous country in the World, the opening of freedoms in China, the immensity of the country, the first mega-global sporting event hosted in China, and therefore, with all that, the most compelling of all factors, the mystery of how it will all pan out !  Then, add to that the electricity of 1.8 billion Chinese in China wanting these Olympics to be the success of all successes, then you have an Olympics that will bring the best out of every single competitor at these Olympics.  Simply look at the facts behind the world records :  not only do we have the multitude of world records, but, hidden behind those world records is the fact that almost every national record is also being rewritten;  even those who do not win gold smash their national records, at all levels, finals and semi-finals.  And, aside from races involving the supreme Michael Phelps, Aaron Peirsol, and Kosuke Kitajima, every single gold medal, silver medal, and bronze medal is contested to the tenths and sometimes hundredths of seconds.

Now, tell me this is not about "Electricity" !

—— (TUT) SpaceMan

Monday, 11th August 2008

The most incredible 100m Freestyle Relay Swimming Final of all Times

Today was supposed to be an add-on blog about the troublesome McAfee Site Advisor Toolbar as someone wrote in to add their own experiences on the issue.  However, this will now take a back seat till tomorrow as what happened in the Beijing Olympic pool this morning for the final of the 100m Freestyle Relay Final of the 2008 Olympics, was simply one of those moments in sport that live forever in the memory of those who witnessed it :  the Greatest Swimming Relay Race ever !

First, some background to the final :  in the first semi-final yesterday, the USA B team (no Michael Phelps) qualified with a sensational world record of 3:12.23, and they had to beat the old world record to defeat the Republic of South Africa who finished second also inside the old world record.  In the second semi-final, France, who had brazenly stated before the Olympic Games that they would wipe the floor with the Americans, also swam under the old world record to win their semi-final, only just missing the new world record set five minutes before.

So, 8 teams qualified for this morning's final with each team having broken their own national records to qualify for the final — absolutely staggering !

So, along came today's final. It was electric.  Michael Phelps, for the USA, was going for his second gold medal aiming, as we all know, to beat Mark Spitz's legendary swimming record of 7 gold medals and 7 world records in one Olympics.

If you haven't seen the race, go to YouTube, or get the video, whatever you do, watch it !  The facts of the race are sensational, unheard of, jaw-dropping, unbelievable. Eight teams :  USA, France, Australia, Italy, Sweden, Canada, South Africa, Great Britain, as they finished.

  • The USA won the race in a new world record smashing the previous day's world record by an astonishing, never seen before, 4 seconds to set a new mark of 3:08.24.

  • Michael Phelps of the USA and Brent Hayden of Canada broke their national records for the 100m freestyle as lead-off men for their respective teams, Phelps only missing the 100m freestyle word record by 1/100th of a second.

  • But....  Eamon Sullivan went even better than Phelps and Hayden by setting a new 100m freestyle world record as the lead-off man for Australia.  Three men on or inside the existing 100m freestyle world record in the lead-off leg !!!

  • The first 5 teams, USA, France, Australia, Italy, and Sweden all swam inside the world record established only 24 hours earlier.

  • All 8 teams literally smashed their own national records :  USA, new world record — France, new French and European record — Australia, new Australian, Oceanian, and Commonwealth record — Italy, new Italian record — Sweden, new Swedish record — Canada, new Canadian record — South Africa, new African record — Great Britain, new British record.  Absolutely sensational stuff.

  • Before the first leg of this incredible relay final Alain Bernard of France was the world record holder at the 100m freestyle.  He was swimming last for France.  When he set off he was a full half second ahead of 32-year old Jason Lezak of the USA.  Lezak swam an unbelievable last 100 which was timed at an adjusted time that is even lower than the new world record which Eamon Sullivan of Australia had set as lead-off man for Australia.  He took 2m from Alain Bernard in the last 15m of the race.  Elecccccccccctric !  Sensational.

  • It was a blanket finish with Lezak of the USA out-touching Bernard of France by 4 hundreths of a second.

  • Great Britain finished last in a time that would have won them the Gold Medal at the Athens Olympics !!!

Remember today :  11-Aug-2008 !  Ohh, what a race — the greatest relay race in the history of swimming, in the history of any sport !

I'm breathless just writing this....

—— (TUT) SpaceMan

Saturday, 9th August 2008

Violent women are stretching the British Police Force

This is the amazing headline I saw on TV this morning while looking for the Beijing Olympics.

I was stunned.  So I looked for it on the web and, sure enough, on the BBC website we have the fuller quote :  "The phenomenon of female violence is putting pressure on the resources of the Police Federation of England and Wales".

OK — now I've definitely got it :  "Violent women are stretching the Police Federation of England and Wales".

I don't know about you but I think this is shocking :  How dare violent women think of stretching the resources of the great Police Federation of England and Wales !!!  How dare they !

Well, forget the Olympics, the statements from the Police Federation of England and Wales are a lot more interesting — I am looking forward to :

The phenomenon of crime is stretching the resources of the Police Federation of England & Wales

The phenomenon of road accidents is stretching the resources of the England & Wales Police

Packs of feral dogs are stretching the resources of the Police Federation of England and Wales

Violent women are shocking and overwhelming the England and Wales Police

The England & Wales Police is content with the heart warming increasing levels of male violence

The Communications Officers of the Police Federation of England and Wales need training, I tell you.  Very serious training !

I want to be a Communications Office for the Police Federation of England and Wales.

What do you think of :  "The Police Federation of England and Wales is stretched by the spread of violent behaviour to sections of society which previously exhibited negligible levels of such behaviour.  Statistics show, for example, that women are increasingly more likely to exhibit violent behaviour on the same scale as men".

Post your answers in a big envelope directly to the Police Federation of England and Wales...

—— (TUT) SpaceMan

Friday, 1st August 2008

McAfee Site Advisor drops a clanger

Wow !

As the first and only website to have steadfastly stated and proved down the years that over 65% of PC problems are caused by software, hence the success of  The Ultimate Troubleshooter,  we like to say "we told you so" when a "biggie" comes along.  It's just so nice to be proved resoundingly right, hey !  :–)

OK — here goes :  this last Monday, 28-July-2008, one of our clients, 70 users or so, started experiencing intractable problems with their customized Microsoft Word Toolbars and with printing in general.  Print jobs weren't arriving at the network printers, customized Word toolbar buttons would hang when pressed, and then would work for an hour or two, and then would crash again, and then would continue not working for an hour or two, and then would work again.  Madness.  Quite separately Excel SQL Database Queries via the  Get External Data  option would fail sometimes, and work sometimes.

To be clear, everything was working fine before Sunday 27-July-2008.  It was mayhem from Monday 28 July-2008 however.

It was total mayhem — some users were never experiencing the problem, others were sometimes, and then later in the day had no problems, and so on. We could not find a pattern.

After quickly checking the network switches, server network cards, routers, restarting the many servers, same problem !  We then started thinking about changing network cards and checking the health of the server hard disks, but, before that, we thought we'd first stick to our philosophy that the majority of PC, Server, and network problems are usually caused by software.

Would you believe it :  after lengthy tests to establish a pattern we eventually worked out that the culprit was the McAfee Site Advisor Toolbar which was installed on all the PCs.  As soon as we disabled it not only did all the problems disappeared, but we also found that instead of taking 2 to 3 seconds for a customized Toolbar button to merge a letter and print it, it was now instant !

Quite obviously McAfee introduced a disastrous update to the Site Advisor Toolbar over the weekend and, at the time of writing, the problems with the Site Advisor Toolbar are still there, so if you're visiting this page trying to find a solution to problems with your McAfee Site Advisor Toolbar, simply disable it — there is no other cure at the moment.

You can use our wonderful  Ultimate Troubleshooter  to do that,  :–).  Not only will it help you temporarily neutralize the McAfee Site Advisor Toolbar for a few days, it will also alert you to other software related potential problems.  Check it out, you won't regret it.

Over 65% of computer problems.....  :–) — I like gloating !

—— (TUT) SpaceMan

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