2008 BMW X5 spotted in Dubai

AutoSpies.com has posted a bunch of pictures of the next generation BMW X5 which was recently photographed undergoing hot weather testing in Dubai (yes, summer is here unfortunately). I guess I’ll have to start carrying my digital camera again as the other manufacturers bring their cars in for testing over the summer.

Rumored updates for 2007 Mercedes G-Class

I’m not sure these updates are 100% confirmed so consider them rumors for now:

On 1 September 2006 there will be a small facelift for the G Class which will continue to be built alongside the GL Class to 2010 and beyond. The G 320, G 270 CDI and G 400 CDI will no longer be built. Instead there will be a G 320 CDI (OM642) with 224 bhp. A G 420 CDI is not planned. The G 500 with 296 bhp and the G 55 AMG Kompressor with 476 bhp stay in the programme. The G 320 CDI and the G 500 will be equipped with the seven gear 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox as standard. All three models will incorporate Bi-Xenon adaptive headlights as standard, too. A few colours will be changed, tealit blue is new and emerald black is cancelled. It’s worth mentioning that the G 320 CDI will be the only model with black bumpers front and rear, body coloured being an option. The interior remains unchanged. There is a new interior package option (no extra price on the G 500) consisting of seats and door lining in ARCTICO fake leather and floors covered in resistant rubber. All changes will be incorporated into production from 1 September so that orders will be accepted in the next few weeks.

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2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage updates

Aston Martin has some minor updates planned for the 2007 model year for both the V8 Vantage and the DB9. This is a list of changes for the V8 Vantage though many of these (but not all) will also be present on the DB9:

2007 MY V8 changes:

New seats

Full Leather (standard)

3-position Memory Seats (optional)

Two-stage seat heating (optional as part of heated seat option)

Twin Lumbar support adjustment (standard)

High level electric seat release (standard) (button moves seat forward for access to area behind seat)

Occupant Classification Sensing for passenger airbag (standard)

“Head Thorax” side airbag (standard)

Non-standard leather colors (allows picking/paying for infinite leather)

Antracite finish on 19″ wheels (optional) (looks very techy/cool to me – will depend on car color selected…)

Sports tyres (Pirelli P-Zero Corsa) (optional w/19″ rims) (much lower wear rating, not as good in the wet, but will be the ultimate “handling” tire)

Front Stone Guards (optional)

LEDs in door handle cuts (cool!) (standard)

Key fob boot release (standard) (first push unlocks boot, second push “pops” it…)

Auto-Dimming mirror w/3-position garage door opener (optional)

Revised battery disconnect (battery reconnects when key is put in ignition, rather than having to push the button in the rear)

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John has some pictures and additional details on his blog. These improvements result in a 3% increase in base price.

There is also a convertible version planned and AutoExpress has the scoop:

Virgin Atlantic comes to Dubai

A couple of friends and I gate crashed a Virgin Atlantic party last night at Bab Al Shams celebrating their inaugural flight to Dubai. Richard Branson was there and we enjoyed a nice buffet dinner and traditional Middle Eastern entertainment including four belly dancers.

I’m glad they have started on this route as both British Airways and Emirates need the competition to bring fares down and increase the level of service on this sector. Many people will also prefer flying Virgin all the way from California and Las Vegas to Dubai rather than using BA which is the only option at the moment. The Virgin Upper Class is far superior to the Business Class on both Emirates and BA.

UPDATE: I just saw a half-page ad in the newspaper from Etihad Airways saying “With 25 Etihad flights a week, the UK is hardly virgin territory.” This is basically a response to the launch of Virgin Atlantic’s service to Dubai. For those who don’t know, Etihad is the third “national carrier” of the United Arab Emirates. The other two are Emirates and Air Arabia, but none of these airlines belong to the U.A.E. federal government. Etihad belongs to Abu Dhabi, Emirates to Dubai, and Air Arabia to Sharjah.

Anyway, my point is that after seeing this ad I decided to figure out how many flights per week there are between the UAE and the UK. It turns out there are a lot. Emirates has 92 flights per week between Dubai and the UK, Etihad has 25 per week between Abu Dhabi and various UK destinations, and then there are services from British Airways, Virgin, Bangladesh Biman, and Royal Brunei which bring the grand total to approximately 122 flights per week yet it’s always difficult to get a seat and decent fare. I also found that Dubai is the second busiest destination out of London Heathrow after New York.

Transition to Intel Macs – Developer’s Perspective

Mac Universal Binary logoI came across two good blog posts from Mac software developers on the complex issues involved in porting existing, large Mac applications to run natively on Intel (x86) based Macs. One is from Scott Byer who works on Photoshop at Adobe:

…That leaves doing the work for real – taking the whole application over into XCode and recompiling as a Universal Binary. And that’s no small task…

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Rick Schaut over at the Mac Business Unit at Microsoft writes:

…Whether we had gone through the pain of porting to XCode/GCC in some earlier release of our products, we’d have still had to go through this pain. The time spent doing this work then would have to have come from the features that we were, instead, adding to our programs. Arguing that we should have, somehow, absorbed this pain earlier really has little bearing on the nature and extent of the pain…

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Dennis.live.com

I’m having deja-vu back to the early .Net days when every Microsoft product team tried to hitch themselves on the bandwagon. I’m surprised that Microsoft didn’t release an Optical Trackball.NET. :)

Today, every consumer-facing and service team in the company seems to be trying to deliver a live.com service. So far, all the ones I’ve seen are very compelling…but in typical fashion they have totally horrendous names which are too long, not easy to remember, and not friendly. Dennis has been working on the recently released beta of Windows Live Toolbar Beta which offers seamless integration between your browser search toolbar and your live.com homepage. Internet Explorer (Windows) users should definitely check out this cool product.

You can learn more about all the Microsoft Live.com service at https://ideas.live.com/. Warning to Mac users, the services work ok in Mozilla-based browsers like Camino and FireFox, but not in Safari (yet?).

Microsoft Office 2007 revealed

Congratulations to Microsoft Office team for finally biting the bullet and building a completely new UI shell for Microsoft Office 2007 (Windows). Unless you worked on Office it’s very difficult to understand just what a major project this must have been and the amount of momentum that was needed to push these changes through both technically and politically.

Jensen Harris has a great blog which has documented the process of designing a new UI for Office on his blog and has posted a screenshot gallery of the recently unveiled final look for this product. I got to know Jensen when I worked at Microsoft as he was one of the people responsible for the Mac Outlook (Exchange) client. With limited resources they managed to create a very successful product which made it possible for Macs to be used on corporate networks where full Exchange support was critical. It was clear then that they were a very dedicated team and extremely focused on doing their best to satisfy their customers.

I’m curious now to see what the MacBU decides to do with Office 12 for Mac OS X. First, they have the burden of moving from CodeWarrior to Xcode which is non-trivial, then they have to handle the PowerPC to x86 transition, and finally they will need to implement the necessary changes to support Mac OS X v10.5 (Leopard). After all of this, they will then need to support the new Office 2007 file formats and consider what UI changes are necessary. My guess is that this effort is at least as difficult as the transition to Mac OS X from the Classic Mac OS, which was a massive engineering effort.

President Bush does something right

I totally back US President George W. Bush on his threatened veto of any legislation from Congress which tries to unfairly or illegally interfere with DP World’s purchase of P&O.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Bush on Tuesday defended a deal that would let a United Arab Emirates-based company run some key U.S. seaports, telling reporters that he would veto any bill to hold up the agreement.

Bush, who has yet to veto a bill during his administration, warned that the United States is sending “mixed signals” by attacking a Middle Eastern company after the ports were run by a British firm for several years.

Lawmakers who have called for the deal to be blocked need to “step up and explain why a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard,” he said.

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DP World is a good company with management and employees from all over the world. I think they will do a decent job of leveraging P&O to deliver improved management of ports which they have recently acquired. Some misinformed US legislators and government officials have objected to the idea that a Middle Eastern company would manage the ports of New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Miami. They have said that this poses a security risk to the US and the deal should be blocked. What a bunch of horse shit.

I hope the clear ethnic/racial/religious bias being shown by these individuals and their uninformed supporters does not go on for much longer. This deal will most likely result in improved performance and security at these ports and the people of those cities should feel good that such an experienced, diverse, and well funded company is now responsible for maintaining and developing this vital infrastructure. If American companies can operate major industries or infrastructure in other countries, then there is no reason why DP World can’t do the same in the US.