Friday, January 30, 2009

The shaky future of the American internet

Comcast Cares
Bandwidth restrictions in the US are a relatively new idea. Most Americans pay their monthly bill, and then use their connection however they please. However in the past few years, we have seen ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast trying their best to throttle, cap, or filter their customer's internet access.

Around November of 2008, AT&T started testing methods of bandwidth capping in Reno, where they placed a limit on how much their customers could download from anywhere between 20GB and 150GB. Going over the cap would penalize you at the rate of $1 per GB.

They have also recently been tinkering with content filtering systems that would use technology developed by the company Vobile to identify copyrighted media and illegal content based on its audio and video data using VideoDNA.

On October 1st of 2008, Comcast stepped up with one of the biggest setbacks to free use of the internet with their Acceptable Use Policy, which placed a 250GB cap on monthly data usage. They sent out an announcement to attempt to justify the cap.

“To put 250 GB of monthly usage in perspective, a customer would have to do any one of the following: Send 50 million emails… Download 62,500 songs… Download 125 standard-definition movies…Upload 25,000 hi-resolution digital photos”

This policy is still being enforced today. If you continually go over the cap, Comcast will either ask you to upgrade to commercial tier internet access, or terminate you as a customer.

Many people said that the 250GB cap was completely reasonable, and that to go over the limit you would have to be doing incredible amount of p2p. I would agree that 250GB is much more than most people will ever use, however my issue with the restrictions aren’t whether the quota is reasonable or not. My issue is that these restrictions could be the starting point of a slippery slope, where ISPs add more and more restrictions so that they can cram as many users as possible into their network without upgrading their infrastructure.

Another issue is that bandwidth intensive applications are constantly being added to the internet. Youtube, Vimeo, Netflix etc. all recently rolled out their HD video options, which consume around 2-5x more bandwidth than standard definition videos. If the 250GB cap doesn’t increase with average user consumption, the average user may have to start limiting the amount of time they spend on the internet within the next few years.

If more ISPs jump on the bandwagon, it may not be possible to choose a service that allows you unrestricted access to the internet in the future.

For a glimpse of how awful internet access providers can get, take a look at any Australian ISP. For about the same price as an American provider charges for a basic package, an Aussie will get capped at somewhere around 20GB. Monthly caps are just the start of an Australian internet user’s woes. They are also subject to censorship second only to communist China. Australia currently uses two blacklists. One is mandatory for all Australian citizens, and the second filters out content not suitable for children, which can be opted out of.

Chris Illingworth knows all too well about the backward internet laws of Australia. What got passed as a law that would “save the children” ended up nearly ruining his life after he uploaded a video of a child being tossed in the air. Chris was not the author of the video, he found it on one site and merely uploaded to another. His home was raided on Sunday, November 30, by Queensland Police from Task Force Argos, which specializes in combating child pornography. He is being charged with using the internet to access and publish child-abuse material, and is currently fighting the charges in court.

While American internet access is not yet nearly this bad, new restrictions that seem harmless could be wolves in sheep’s clothing. Getting the consumers to allow their ISP to give them bandwidth quotas, filter their content, or throttle down their speed was the hard part. Imposing further restrictions in the future will be much easier.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Apple iMac

Apple iMacI bet you thought the iMac had everything didn't you? Well you'd be wrong. But it's ok, nobody is perfect. Now the iMac comes with style, brains, and even more power. Lets face it, front side, back side, side view, upside down, which ever way you look at the iMac is great to look at. It has an incredibly slim profile but its definatley the glossy wide screen display framed in anodized aluminum and its glass cover that does it for most people. Coming in a 20-inch and 24-inch size the iMac makes your pictures and movies come alive with incredible color. Did I mention that the iMac is made with recyclable glass and aluminum? Just a side note for those of you who perfer to go green. But the monitor isnt the only thing going for that slim physique. The iMAc's keyboard also is adorned with anodized aluminum. It features crsip keys that allow for a more responsive feel, special function keys for one touch control of Mac features and 2 USB 2.0 ports that provide high-speed connectivity to your iPod, digital camera or anything else you need.

Did I mention that the iMac was pretty? Anything you view on your iMac will be a work of perfect pixel. The iMac has a flat-panel LCD screen with 1680 by 1050 resolution on the 20-inch and a 1920 by 1200 resolution for the 24-inch. The iMac offers the latest Intel Core 2 Duo processors that run at a speed of up to 3.06 GHz with advanced 45-nm process technology and 6MB of shared L2 cache. Don't speak tech? This means that the iMac runs your applications faster and better than ever before!

The iMac has up to 2GB of 800MHz DDR 2 memory standard to allow you to run more applications simultaneously and you can load up on photos, music, and videos with a serial ATA hard driveup to 320GB. Graphics more your style? The iMac comes with the ATI Radeon HD graphics standard. You also get the oppurtunity to upgrade to the most powerful graphics ever available in an iMac with the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GS and 512MB of dedicated video memory! Also with the iMac you get Leopard, the latest version of Mac OS X, loaded with features like safari and even something called boot camp that lets you start up your Mac in Windows. And, because its a part of every new Mac, you'll get iLife '09 with iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, and iWeb.

You can get all this for a starting price of $1199, well worth it if you want a high quality computer loaded with tons of features.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Western Digital Launches 2 Terabyte Hard Drives

Western Digital 2 Terabyte Caviar Green Hard Drive

Western Digital announced today the introduction of a 2 Terabyte hard drive to the WD Caviar Green hard drive family. This new 3.5-inch platform is based on WD's industry-leading 500 GB/platter technology (with 400 Gb/in2 areal density) with 32 MB cache, producing drives with capacities of up to 2 TB.

"Saving power without sacrificing storage capacity is what consumers want, and what many businesses are requiring today. With the launch of the new WD Caviar Green 2 TB hard drive, customers receive the additional capacities needed to operate today's highly advanced programs and high-resolution digital files while using less power than typical drives with similar performance and capacities," said Jim Morris, WD senior vice president and general manager of client systems.

Features of the Caviar Green drives are StableTrac™, which reduces vibration and stabilizes platters; IntelliPower™, which fine-tunes power savings; IntelliSeek™, which calculates optimum seek speeds to lower power consumption, noise, and vibration; and NoTouch™ ramp load technology, which is designed to ensure the recording head never touches the disk media.

MSRP for the WD Caviar Green 2 TB hard drives (model WD20EADS) is $299.00 USD. More information about WD Caviar Green desktop drives may be found on the company's Web site at

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Apple First Quater Results Turned In for 2009

Apple has announced their financial results for the fiscal 2009 first quater which ended on December 27, 2008. With these results Apple posted a record revenue of $10.17 billion and a record of$1.61 billion in net quarterly profit which comes out to $1.76 per diluted share. According to Apple these results match up against last years $9.6 billion in revenue and $1.58 billion in net quarterly profit, or $1.76 per diluted share. This years gross margain was 34.7 percent, equal to last years and International accounted for 46 percent of annual revenue.

Apple recognizes revenue and cost of goods sold for the iPhone and the Apple t.v. over their economic lives in accordance with the subscription accounting treatment required by GAAP. The corresponding non-GAAP measures for this quater $11.8 billion of Adjusted Sales and $2.3 billion of Adjusted Net Income due to Apple adjusting GAAP salesproduct costs to eliminate the impact of subscription accounting.

Representing 9 percent unit growth over the year-ago quater is the fact that Apple sold 2,524,000 Macintosh computers during the quater. Apple also sold a record 22,727,000 iPods during the quater which represented a 3 percent unit growth over the year-ago quater. And representing 88 percent of unit growth over the year-ago quater was the iPhone which sold 4,363,000 units.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs stated, "Even in these economically challenging times, we are incredibly pleased to report our best quarterly revenue and earnings in Apple history, surpassing 10 billion in quarterly revenue for the first time ever." Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer also had this to say, "Our outstanding results genertated $3.6 billion in cash during the quater. Looking ahead to the second fiscal quater of 2009, we expect revenue in the range of $7.6 billion to $8 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share in the range of $0.90 to $1.00."

Apple seems to be doing very well for themselves reporting record statistics. With the new year starting, a new President taking office, and Steve Jobs temporarily stepping down we can only speculate at what will happen next for Apple

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Maximum PC's 2008 Dream Machine- 5 months later

Maximum Pc 2008 Dream Machine

I was taking a look at some of Maximum Pc's yearly Dream Machine builds, and got to thinking; if someone actually bought one of these, would they be happy half a year later? Would someone be able to build a computer that outperforms it for far cheaper in only 6 months?

I started looking up the prices for all of the 2008 Dream Machine components. How much of a premium will you pay if you bought all new technologies vs. waiting a few months and using mainstream parts?

The total build price for Dream Machine when it was conceived was $17,285, or $11,285 if you discount the silly things like nickel plating and an extravagant case. I just focused on the main components of the system. In order for someone to obtain the 2008 Dream Machine today, they would pay about $2,000 less than 5 months ago, about $8,918- 27% more expensive.

Here is the breakdown on the parts cost today vs 2008.

2008 Dream Machine Costs in today's market

The most amazing price drops here are the hard drives. Storage is really becoming dirt cheap. Maximum PC paid over triple today's cost for their terabyte hard drives in August of 2008 than they cost today.

But is any of this even relevant? Would these parts be a smart buy today just because they are cheaper? The answer in short is a resounding NO. Purchasing the Dream Machine months, or even weeks after the article was written would leave you with expensive parts that could be bested by cheaper mainstream parts.

For example, at only $499, a single GTX 295 from Nvidia would give you better video performance than the 5 month old double 4870x2 Crossfire configuration that is $1,000 today.

In conclusion, Maximum PC's Dream Machine's is probably not your Dream Machine. My Dream Machine is not a gimmick computer like what Maximum PC puts together, where they try to waste as much money as possible just to eke out a few points on the benchmarks. If you are looking for a price:performance ratio that gives you a nice beefy rig at a decent price, then use the immense amount of money you will be saving by purchasing mainstream parts to upgrade a few months down the road.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Google's Gdrive

Google G DriveWe’ve seen Google’s search engine, g-mail, and Google Earth and loved them since they first came out. But now, a product is coming out that will shadow all of them, something people have been anticipating for years; the Gdrive. That’s right, the Gdrive is finally coming and people could not be more thrilled. Upon its release the Gdrive could cause a major shift in the way we use computers and could possibly overtake Windows on your desktop.

Rumors have been circulating for years and now they can all be laid to rest. The Gdrive is online storage in which servers from Google will have the capacity to hold the entire contents of your hard drive. It may even have the power for some nifty tricks like booting your computer from an online drive to load the Google operating system. The Gdrive is a cloud-based storage with two faces:first you'll have a desktop client who will keep online files and folders and local files and folders in two directional sync through a web interface allowing you to access your desktop files anytime and anyplace you wish. It will also come integrated with other Google services that will allow editing of supported document types like spreadsheets.

With this, endless possibilities arise. For example: you could start working on something at home and, through the Gdrive, edit it from your laptop from somwhere with wifi and when you go home it has already been changed on your desktop. This will open all new doors for everybody and is certainly something to look forward to.

Friday, January 16, 2009

2008 Up's and Down's

Gartner and IDC released preliminary 2008 PC shipment numbers. They might be down now but that doesn’t mean people should write off Microsoft future earnings because of them. There were six years of growth following the decline during the late 2000 to early 2002 recession. The fourth quarter is usually the strongest for PC shipments because of holiday sales.

In October Microsoft forecast second-quarter revenue between $17.3 billion and $17.8 billion operating income between $6.1 billion to $6.4 billion and 51 cents to 53 cents earnings per share. The last time Microsoft had a big miss was during the last recession. Microsoft is going to try to avoid the layoffs.

Microsoft will be making more investments this year and is focusing on R&D investing more than $8 billion last year alone. Starting the new IT marketing campaign focusing on value will help for the new investments. Microsoft will still have trouble getting customers to continue investing in new technology when pulling back investments.

During this recession and the last there have been some mart similarities. In 2000 PC shipments were strong during the first half of the year then went really bad during the fourth quarter when holiday sales were generally off for all manufacturers. Compaq, Gateway and other OEM’s also had a steep computer sales decline and most PC makers selling through retail saw their inventories pile up.

When changing sales it will reshape which PC manufacturers and categories will dominate. Acer is becoming very popular name everywhere. Acer, Asus got first-to-market advantage which paid off in a growing category. Over the year Acer PC shipments grew more than 53 percent worldwide. It was almost double Apple’s year-over-year gains.

Portables have still been selling well despite the contracted growth. After three quarters of 40 percent or more growth the notebook shipment dropped. Even though the fourth quarter brought down sales for 2008 the worldwide PC growth was 10.5 percent.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Alienware M-17 Notebook

Alienware M-17Anyone who wants a laptop or any computer for gaming knows exactly where to find one; Alienware. Alienware is the leading producer of top-of-the-line, kick ass gaming computers and the new M-17 notebook is no different.

The M-17 is powered by the world's first ever mobile quad-core CPU's. The intel Core 2 Extreme Quad-Core Processor delivers ridiculous power allowing for you to enjoy more multitasking and faster speeds to allow you to take on next-gen video games that require alot of resource-intensive tasks. Another first for the M-17 is ATI CrossFireX dual graphics. ATI CrossfireX multi-GPU technology brings enhanced performance as well as DirectX 10.1 support. ATI PowerPlay allowe\s the notebook to monitor its GPU usages, automatically conserving energy for less-intensive programs and blowing the roof when necessary boost is needed.

The M-17 comes equipped with a Clearview 17-inch LCD screen which supports extreme high-def 1200p for the highest quality. For some, storing all your files can be a bit of a problem. But with the M-17 all that is water under the bridge. This notebook holds dual 500GB drives in a RAID 0 configuration. And with its wopping 1TB of memory you can hold an astounding 250,000 songs, 250 full-length movies, or 150 games! And, on top of all that, all Alienware 7200RPM drives feature Free Fall Sensor technology for added protection for your important files. The M-17 uses the latest in todays technology to harness up to 4GB of DDR3 memory, this is also Alienwares first notebook to harness DDR 3 memory.

Ever see those ridiculously cool computers in like the James Bond movies? You know, the ones that get your fingerprint or scan your face for access? Haven't you always wanted one of those? Well now you can because the M-17 comes secure with multiple biometric features including a fingerprint scanner and the AlienSense facial recognition software relying on unique double biometric measurments locking out all unauthorized users from accessing your notebook. Now whats cooler than that!?

Even though $1,399 maybe a bit of cash for some, it is worth it! With all the power and features I doubt anyone would be disappointed with this sitting on their lap!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Google launches Google Apps reseller program. Cloud computing going mainstream?

Google Apps Reseller program

Today Google announced in a press release that they will be making cloud based Google Apps available for resale by IT resellers.

The Authorized Reseller program benefits include:

* owning the customer relationship and billing structure
* providing consulting, service management and end-user support
* receiving a recurring discount on the annual Google Apps licensing fee
* receiving marketing, sales and technical training from Google

IT resellers will be able to sell Google Apps such as the Google Apps Premier Edition suite of communication and collaboration tools including Gmail™, Google Calendar™, Google Docs™, Google Sites™, Google Talk™, and Google Video™ for business. Because all of the Google Apps are available on the cloud, working from home is easy for employees.

See Google's official Google Apps reseller program page for details on how to become a Google Apps reseller.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

AMD Launches Phenom II CPU

Phenom II CPUAMD's first Quad Core 45nm CPU chip is finally out the doors and its being called the Phenom II. AMD has positioned the Phenom II CPU in between Intel's Core 2 Quad and Core i7 and is being sold in two versions, the 2.8GHz X4 920 ($235) and the 3.0GHz X4 940 Black Edition ($275). Each Phenom CPU has an L3 cache size of 8MB but still trails in performance when compared to the 12MB L3 cache of the Intel Core i7's. However, what truly makes this chip stand out is that the Black Editions overclocking capabilities. Overclocking enthusiasts using liquid nitrogen have managed to bring the Phenom clock speeds over 6GHz surpassing the world record for Intel Core i7 processors, which stands at 5.5 GHz.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Microsoft Surface

Microsoft has high hopes for their new product Microsoft Surface. Microsoft Surface is a giant 30 inch table pc that is completely touch sensitive. It was initially released on April 17 2008, but I have yet to see one anywhere or even see it advertised. Microsoft has reported that Surface will only be available for commercial purchase for around $10,000, but expect it to be available to the average consumer in 2010.

With a price tag like that you will often wonder what in the world could be in this product to make it cost so much. Well Microsoft’s new product seems to have endless possibilities. It’s main feature being touch sensitive is the real selling point. Surface has been optimized to respond to over 52 touches at a time. It also has a device that will let it sync to almost anything that you set down onto the table. In the numerous videos for Surface you can see it automatically sync to everything from cell phones to cameras to even credit cards. Some of the main uses they tried to push for the new product is using it at a restaurant to display a virtual menu and let people order stuff off of it that way. It also was shown to be used for people to share photos and music with each others cameras and mp3 players.

As of lately, Surface has pretty much disappeared from the web. This could be due to several factors including: the current economic crisis, Vista not selling well, or their current layoff of 17% of their staff. With such a high price tag I do not expect this to become a giant success like the iphone, but the overall concept is very unique and I could see it one day becoming a mainstream product.

Update: More news of Microsoft Surface At CES 2009