Sunday, July 25, 2010

India Announces World's Cheapest Computer

India Announces World's Cheapest ComputerEver since the Apple iPad came out, computer-makers have been working hard to make competing tablet computers and devices. A basic netbook or tablet computer can cost you at least $250 - $300 and they can get a lot more expensive than that, but imagine getting one for $35. Sounds too good to be true, right?

According to the Associated Press, students and professors at the Indian Institute of Technology have created just that. A $35 computer. The computer was designed with students and teachers in mind and was unveiled last week by India's Union Cabinet Minister for Human Resources Development, Kapil Sibal.

The computer hasn't been named yet and it runs on little power, yet allows users to connect to the internet. It features an open-source Linux operating system, 2GB RAM, an internet browser, a USB port, a PDF reader, Open Office Suite, multi-media software, video conferencing, and it is Wi-Fi enabled. The computer doesn't use a hard drive, but it does have a memory card much like those found in many mobile phones and other devices. It may also include a solar power option for rural areas where there is no electricity.

The new computer is expected to be available in 2011 and will be introduced first to colleges and universities. The Indian government plans to manufacture about one million of the computers for university students and then work on creating more for students in primary and secondary schools. According to the Associated Press, there has been no manufacturer or distributor named yet but you can bet several have been showing interest in making the world's cheapest computer.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Computer Program Translates Ancient Language

Computer Translates Anciet Language

In the late 1920's, archaeologists discovered clay tablets with unknown writing on them, in the city of Ugarit. Linguist spent decades trying to decode the writing, said to be from Biblical times, but were unable to completely do so. However, a new computer program developed by a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has now translated about 60% of the text.

Scientists at MIT used the program to compare the Ugaritic text to Hebrew text, and were thrilled with how quickly it took. The Ugaritic language is considered a lost language and is made up of dots and wedge-shaped stylus signs. It hasn't been used since 1200 BC, where it was used in western Syria. The program was able to translate most of the symbols to letters and words.

According to Regina Barzilay, a computer science professor at MIT, this may be the first time anyone has ever effectively demonstrated a computer analysis of any of the lost languages. 60% of the language was correctly identified. Said Barzilay in an interview, "traditionally, decipherment has been viewed as a sort of scholarly detective game, and computers weren't thought to be of much use. Our aim is to bring to bear the full power of modern machine learning and statistics to this problem."

The team is hoping to decipher other old languages in the future and the computer program will be the key to help us learn more about our history. For example, they are hoping to look at Etruscan next, a script that was used in 700 BC in Italy. By 100 AD, the Etruscan had been replaced by Latin and because of this, very few traces of the language remain. And of the ones that do remain, none of it seems to match up to any other more current language, like Ugaritic does with Hebrew.

According to Barzilay, the computer program has the ability to scan several languages at once to see if anything between the ancient language and a number of modern languages matches up.

The program was made public last week at the 48th annual meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics in Sweden.

Check out these related links:

1. 5 Ways to Learn the Language

2. The Computer Rental Blog

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

HP Tops US Computer Sales

HP Tops US Computer Sales

There is some new information about 2010 United States computer sales and it comes from a preliminary estimate made by International Data Corporation. Hewlett-Packard and Dell are leading the way with about 26% and 24%, respectively, of all American computer sales, but the real change is the competition going on for third place.

For a long time, Acer has easily been number three, but according to the new data, Apple, who is in the number four spot, is starting to gain ground. Acer's numbers have dropped significantly from about 23% to 11% of all computers sold, while Apple's have increased. Apple currently controls about 8.8% of the computer market.

So, why the big changes for Acer and Apple? There are several possibilities. International Data Corporation says that Acer had an unusually "strong year-ago performance," but that it's growing faster in other markets than it is in the United States.

There is also the theory that those who would have purchased an Acer netbook in the past are turning to Apple to purchase an iPad instead. However, because the iPad is not considered a traditional computer, that theory can't be confirmed. However, there are rumors circulating that Acer is coming out with its own tablet computer in the future.

As for computer sales as a whole, during the first half of 2010, the United States saw an overall increase in the number of shipments - 12.6%. Worldwide, computer purchases increased by 22.4% over last year. As for the second half of the year, there is a lot of back and forth between analysts about what will happen, due to the fluctuating economy.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Microsoft Encouraging More Tablets

Microsoft Encouraging More Tablets

Several hardware makers are teaming up with Microsoft, in an attempt to give Apple a run for its money. They're looking to release a number of Windows-based tablet computers that can compete with Apple's iPad. At least 21 manufacturers were mentioned, including Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Asus, Toshiba, Sony, Lenovo, and Panasonic.

The news was announced by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Monday, July 12, at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, "This year one of the most important things that we will do in the smart device category is really push forward with Windows 7-based slates and Windows 7 phones. Over the course of the next several months, you will see a range of Windows 7-based slates that I think you'll find quite impressive. This is a terribly important area for us. We are hardcore about this."

He added, "They'll come with keyboards, they'll come without keyboards, they'll be dockable, there'll be many form factors, many price points, many sizes, but they will all run Windows 7. They will run Windows 7 applications. They will run Office."

Ballmer did admit Microsoft failed with Windows Mobile and is unable to compete with iPhone, Droids, and Blackberrys. On the other hand, he says Windows Phone 7 has received, "great reviews, really quite remarkable reviews." The company's mobile phone partners were listed to include Samsung, Dell, Asus, Toshiba, Garmin, Sony Ericsson, and HTC.

Ballmer also talked at length about cloud computing - Windows Azure - and its "new opportunity." He says cloud enables Microsoft to help customers "streamline their operations and improve their agility." Ballmer also says, "The world of tomorrow is a world of a smart cloud talking to smart devices roam your information across the internet. We are at an inflection point in technology history...for customers, cloud computing creates tremendous value, which translates to massive opportunity for Microsoft and its partners."

According to Microsoft, eBay, Fujitsu, Dell, and HP will be using Windows Azure appliances. Dell says the platform will be useful for delivering cloud services to small and medium-sized businesses.

Other news from Microsoft included news that they've sold 150 million licenses for Windows 7 since its launch in October, 2009.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer Travel with Your Computer

Summer Travel with Your Computer

Let's face it. With computers becoming more and more mobile, many people are traveling with their laptops, smartphones, tablet computers, and even desktops in some cases. Vacation doesn't necessarily mean a vacation from EVERYTHING in 2010. We still check in with the office, we still check our email, and we still surf the internet or play games. But what happens if you have a problem? How do you prevent a problem from occurring? If you're planning to take you computer on the road this summer, here are a few tips for you to keep in mind:

- Remember when you are on a public network, you are vulnerable than you would be at home on your own network. Unless you have a firewall, any data that can be shared on your home network can be shared with the other people using the same network you are, whether it be in a restaurant, hotel, or other spot.

- Purchase and take along a car adapter. My personal laptop battery only lasts about two-three hours. That was a bit disappointing when I recently found myself in the backseat of my grandfather's car for a five-hour drive to Florida. I was able to get a little work done and play a few computer games, but over half of the trip was spent wishing I'd charged my iPod. So, take your car adapter along for long rides, or don't use power-hungry applications.

- If you are going to have to rely on your battery more than usual, make sure your computer is running smoothly. Get yourself a tune-up, defrag your hard drive, run a few malware removal programs and delete or disable programs you no longer use for quicker boot-up and optimum performance.

- Be aware of thieves. Sure, we worry about people stealing our data but if someone has physically stolen our computers, data stolen over unsecure networks is the least of our worries. According to LoJack for Laptops, 600,000 laptops are stolen from cars and hotel rooms each year. Fortunately, there are laptop locks you can purchase that prevent this from happening. Also, use common sense. If your computer is in your car and you need to run into a store, don't leave it in plain view. Keep it in a suitcase or in your car's trunk.

- Power down. If you're done working with your computer, turn the power off completely. Wireless connections and even Bluetooth connections can leave you vulnerable to attacks.

- Find out where you can get reliable tech support and computer service. Many hotels offer tech support but many do not. If you find yourself with a problem, you don't want to be stuck, trying to find someone who can help get you up and running again. A quick call to a company like Computer Service Now (1-877-422-1907) can take care of any of your problems, no matter where you are located.

Looking for Computer / PC Rental information? Visit the PC Rental page for your short term business PC needs. Or see this link for a complete line of Personal Computer Rentals.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Gateway’s DX4840-02e Desktop Computer

It’s not exactly what I would call a budget desktop, but the Gateway DX4840-02e is certainly still a good deal. It comes standard with a 23-inch HD monitor and a 2-year warranty. It has all of the usual features and a design that should satisfy anyone looking at desktop computers.

The mid-sized black tower of the DX4840-02e has every port included that you could ever need. There are 10 USB ports, headphone and microphone jacks, a Photo Frame hot key, 2 PS/2 ports, Ethernet ports, VGA and HDMI video inputs, and 5 media card slots. Also included is a DVD burner.

The 23-inch LCD monitor matches the design of the keyboard and the mouse and features 1,920 x 1,080 resolution with a 16:9 aspect ratio. You can enjoy 1080 HD content to its full extent with the monitor. It has good color quality and decent sound, although if you’re going to be watching many movies on your computer than you may want to invest in some speakers.

Inside the DX4840-02e is a 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650 processor and 4GB of RAM. That means that its not the fastest desktop computer out there, but it definitely still has great performance.

The Gateway DX4840-02e is a sleek, fast, feature-filled desktop that is pretty reasonably priced. You can get everything discussed and a 2-year warranty with Costco’s Concierge Service, that provides any technical services and help that you might need, all for $799.99.

If you’re looking for something a little more portable that the DX4840-02e but still like Gateway’s products, check out the Gateway EC14D Ultraportable laptop.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Don't Trade That Book in for an iPad Just Yet

Don't Trade That Book in for an iPad Just Yet

iPads and eReaders are all the rage these days because people love the thoughts of being able to read on the go with the electronic devices - no turning pages, no losing your place, and no carrying multiple books around when you know you're going to have lots of time on your hands. Seems convenient, right? But according to a recent study by Dr. Jakob Nielson of the Nielsen Norman Group, a product development consultancy, reading on an iPad or a Kindle is a lot more time-consuming than reading good old fashioned ink and paper.

The study compared 24 users' reading times using Kindle 2, iPad's iBooks application, and an actual book. For the most part, reading on either of the electronic gadgets took almost 11% longer than reading a regularly printed book. But despite the increase in time taken, those who participated said they preferred the electronic devices to books. The study also looked at reading books on a regular PC monitor - something that was given all around negative reviews from participants.

The participants were people who describe themselves as people who like to read and read often. They read short stories by Ernest Hemingway on the four different platforms. Their reading speeds were measured, as was reading comprehension. It took each user an average of 17 minutes and 20 seconds to read each story on all four platforms and their reading comprehension was not affected by the platform used.

Statistics for the PC monitor weren't released by Nielsen but the numbers for the other platforms stacked up like this: compared to the paper books, readers read 6.2% slower on the iPad and even slower on the Kindle 2 at 10.7%. Sort of ironic considering the Kindle 2 is designed specifically for reading. But Nielsen dismissed the difference in time between the iPad and Kindle, saying the difference was not significant and shouldn't be considered when consumers are shopping for new gadgets.

Participants were also asked to rate how much they liked reading on each platform. They were given a scale of 1 to 7 with 7 being the greatest. The iPad was rated 5.8, Kindle 5.7 and printed book 5.6 - not a whole lot of difference there. But the PC monitor ranked at just 3.6. Reasons for disliking the PC monitor included that it was not as relaxing as the other gadgets and that users felt like they were at work when using it.

So what does this mean? In the long run, nothing. PC World asks what would happen if the study had looked ages. Would people in their 20's, who have been using digital screens for their entire life, prefer the Kindle or iPad, or read faster on it? Would people in their 60's be more set in their ways and prefer the printed page? Also, the study only included 24 participants - that's a pretty small group and not really representative of the general public.

One thing is for sure. digital books and eReaders are becoming more and more popular in the last couple of years. This year, eBook sales have grown at a rate of 217% from last year. But in my opinion, you still can't beat a good old-fashioned book.

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