McLaren needs a 20-year-old Compaq laptop to maintain its F1 supercar

McLaren needs a 20-year-old Compaq laptop to maintain its F1 supercar

McLaren’s F1 supercar is special in more ways than one. Even now it’s still the world’s fastest production car with a naturally aspirated engine, and McLaren only built 106 F1s in total. Jalopnik visited McLaren recently, and discovered another special aspect to the F1: a 20-year-old laptop. McLaren is still servicing the existing 100 F1s with a Compaq laptop from the early ‘90s.

“The reason we need those specific Compaq laptops is that they run a bespoke CA card which is installed into them,” explains a McLaren spokesperson to Jalopnik. “The CA card is an interface between the laptop software (which is DOS-based) and the car.” If you’ve never heard of a CA card, then Jalopnik commenter Mike Herbst helpfully explains it’s a Conditional Access card. Modern PCs use smart cards or USB keys with special access codes to access sensitive systems, and the CA card was used as custom hardware as part of an integrated system for security and copy protection.

McLaren F1

McLaren has been sourcing Compaq LTE 5280 laptops to keep servicing the F1s, but the company is “working on an new interface which will be compatible with modern laptops” so it won’t have to keep hunting for these ancient machines. For now, a 20-year-old Compaq is the key to servicing one of the world’s fastest production cars. If you’re interested in buying the F1 that McLaren is selling, you won’t be able to plug in any old laptop and disable any of those annoying dash warnings. That’s probably the least of your worries when the supercar will likely sell for more than $10 million.


Here’s what Nintendo’s weird U-shaped controller patent might actually be for

Here’s what Nintendo’s weird U-shaped controller patent might actually be for

Late last week a Nintendo patent application for a strange U-shaped controller surfaced in the gaming forum NeoGAF. The patent application, which was reportedly filed in October of 2014 and has been roughly translated into English, suggests that Nintendo had plans for a motion-based controller with a variety of fitness-related sensors, including a gyroscope, acceleration sensors, and temperature sensors.

“The main object of the present invention is to provide a novel training equipment, training system and an input device,” the application reads. It references use of a balance ball, and is also referred to as an “exercise appliance and health appliance.”

Even after reading a good part of the application, the horseshoe-like device is still shrouded in mystery. Here are five things the patent application might actually be for:

1. Some type of dedicated health controller that will work with Nintendo‘s next big console, codenamed NX. “NX” is expected to come out by the end of this year and has beendescribed by Nintendo as a something “unique and different,” not just the “next version of the Wii or Wii U.”

2. A non-wearable wearable that would work with Nintendo‘s stalled “quality of life” health platform, which the company first spoke about in 2014 and said would launch in April 2015 (but then never did), and now its fate seems totally up in the air…


3. An hand controller that will work with a yet-to-be-announced Nintendo AR / VR headset, which will transport us all into a magical world of warp pipes, labyrinth dungeons, and rainbow roads.

4. An actual horseshoe — but a “smart” one. If there are apps for logging saddle hoursand tracking your horse’s weight, why not make a horseshoe that will wirelessly send all of that data to an app? Horses need Fitbits, too? It would be a slight deviation fromNintendo‘s, um, stable of products, but Nintendo has done stranger things before. (Okay, we don’t really think it’s a horseshoe.)

5. Nothing. Tech companies file patent applications all the time. And Nintendo has a history of filing bizarre patent applications. This U-shaped motion-sensing controller device may never come to market.

Then again, maybe we’ll all be sitting on balance balls holding boomerang controllers in our hands, tracking our activity levels — or inactivity levels — soon enough.

Top 20 android apps and games: March 2016

Top 20 android apps and games: March 2016


  • GLOW BABY (FREE): Track your baby from log sleeps to nappy changes

  • BUZZFEED VIDEOS (FREE): Watch trending videos

  • REUTERS TV (FREE): Video news on the go

  • TAPTAPSEE (FREE): App for visually impaired people

  • PEACH(FREE): A social photo and doodle site

  • SLEEPFULNESS(FREE + IAP): Helps get better sleep

  • EVERALBUM(FREE + IAP): Organise photos

  • MYSHAKE(FREE): Handy Ricter Scale

  • VHS CAMCORDER(Euro 2.47): The classic camcorder

  • BBB MUSIC(FREE): Live performance streaming