Wednesday, March 28, 2012

AOL Saves Nearly $5 Million by Decommissioning 10,000 Servers

AOLIn recent news it has been discovered that AOL has decommissioned nearly 10,000 servers, saving the company almost $5 million on its way to winning a competition that highlights the cost of running inefficient or underutilized IT equipment.

Nobody really realizes how much underutilized or inefficient servers can cost until they see the numbers. Decommissioning a 1U rack server could potentially save you $500 a year in energy costs, $500 a year in operating system licenses and $1,500 a year in hardware maintenance, and that's just one server!

Uptime Institute is behind the competition, which it is calling the Server Roundup Contest. Companies that participate could move workloads to newer, virtualized equipment or even into the cloud. In addition to that, each company had to provide paperwork to verify what they had done, which included work requests and recycling receipts and even photographs.

AOL decommissioned 9,484 servers over the past year, which accounted for nearly 1.4 of its worldwide servers. The savings included nearly $1.65 million in energy bills, $2.2 million in operating systems licenses and $62,000 in maintenance costs. AOL also gained $1.2 million from scrap and resale while reducing its carbon emissions by 30 million tons.

AOL was the best in the competition by far, beating out five other companies. The closest competitor was NBCUniversal, which removed 284 servers. However, AOL may have benefited from the fact that the company is in the middle of a multi-year effort to reinvent itself from an internet access provider to a content and advertising company. A majority of the servers AOL replaced were running applications and web properties that had become useless, according to the company.

Source: Computer World - AOL unplugs 10,000 servers, saves $5M is news of, for and by SMBs! The Small & Medium Business Magazine!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mozilla Finally Succumbs to H.264 Support

H.264Mozilla just announced that it is about to begin supporting the H.264 video codec, a move the company has said goes against its better judgment. Mozilla suggested that it had been forced into this decision, which is patent laden, and also assured users and developers that it would continue to offer its software free of charge as it currently does.

According to a blog post by Mitchell Baker, Chair of the Mozilla Foundation, "Mozilla is on the cusp of changing our policy about our use of video codecs and making use of a format known as 'H.264'. We have tried to avoid this for a number of years, as H.264 is encumbered by patents. The state of video on the web today and in mobile devices in particular is pushing us to change our policy."

Baker also added that Mozilla resisted the move to H.264 support because it wants to build products that people "love". He also added that using standards that are laden with patents is not supportive of this goal. "We've declined to adopt a technology that improves user experience in the hopes this will bring greater user sovereignty. Not many would try this strategy, but we did. It's time to shift our weighting. It's time to focus on shipping products people can love now, and to work on developing a new tactic for bringing unencumbered technology to the world of audio and video codecs."

Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich posted an additional blog post covering Mozilla's decision in greater depth and also suggests that Mozilla could have avoided this transition altogether if it had support from firms like Google and Adobe. In case you missed it, both Adobe and Google started talks about supporting more open standards recently. Unfortunately both Google and Adobe had to drop those ideas due to the commonplace of H.264.

According to Eich, "Some say we should hold out longer for someone (Google? Adobe?) to change something to advance WebM over H.264. Others say we should hold out indefinitely and by ourselves, rather than integrate OS decoders for encumbered video. What I do know for certain is this: H.264 is absolutely required right now to compete on mobile. I do not believe that we can reject H.264 content in Firefox or Android or or in B2G and survive the shift to mobile. Losing a battle is a bitter experience. I won't sugar-coat this pill.... Failure on mobile is too likely to consign Mozilla to decline and irrelevance."

Source: The Inquirer - Mozilla grudgingly adopts H.264
Mitchell's Blog - Video, user experience and our mission
Mozilla Hacks - Video, Mobile, and the Open Web
Engadget - Mozilla caves, will support H.264 to avoid 'irrelevance'

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Metadot Corporation Goes Retro with the DasKeyboard

Metadot Corporation DasKeyboardAt this year's South by Southwest conference Metadot Corporation unveiled their very retro keyboard known as the DasKeyboard (German for "The Keyboard"?). Basically, what this device aims to do is bring back the touch and feel of typing on one of those old IBM Selectric typewriters. In fact, Metadot Corporation wanted to let users know just how retro the DasKeyboard feels by having a few of those old IBM Selectric typewriters at their South by Southwest booth.

The keys on the DasKeyboard are larger than most traditional keys with slightly concave tops. In addition to that, they make a rather enjoyable click when you press on them. The DasKeyboard also gives you some tactile feedback as well that provides you with a little assurance while typing.

Metadot Corporation also makes a similar keyboard to the DasKeyboard without the clicky noise, perfect for office settings, school settings or people who talk on the phone a lot while typing. There is even another version that doesn't have any labels on the keys whatsoever, something Metadot believes helps you type faster.

Regardless, if you are looking for some nostalgia or you are really into either retro keyboards, IBM Selectric typewriters or both, the DasKeyboard from Metadot Corporation may be the perfect thing for you. You can get the three different models when they launch later this year with the standard keyboard costing $129, the clickless keyboard costing $135 and the labeless keyboard costing $129.

Source: PC World - The DasKeyboard Brings Back the Feel of an IBM Selectric

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Poor Ultrabook Sales See Manufacturers Opting for Low Cost Machines

UltrabookAccording to multiple reports and sources, suppliers of ultrabooks are facing a lot of issues with profitability and market. As a result, many manufacturers are expected to turn to low-cost designs to make up for it. According to an anonymous CNET source that speaks directly to ultrabook suppliers, "The ultrabook adoption during the holiday season was ugly." Before you go jumping to conclusions, this source was only talking about one ultrabook manufacturer specifically.

That being said, the ultrabook market for all suppliers is still facing challenges. According to the same source, "You've got a down market on the eve of a new operating system (Windows 8, obviously) at a price point that's fairly robust (meaning high)." On top of that, Acer, one of the high-profile ultrabook vendors, stated that it is currently not making a profit on lower-end models according to a recent report in The Verge.

A Tech Travel Agent can get an ultrabook rental to you within 24 business hours in over 1000 cities worldwide.

The company's Aspire S3 ultrabook has been generally priced at $899 but could drop as low as $799. Acer's Chairman also stated back in December that ultrabook sales should be somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000 in Q4. Other top vendors, like HP and Dell, have just started selling ultrabooks, which makes their success or failure hazy.

However, a recent report from Asia has claimed that poor sales for vendors is forcing them to rethink ultrabooks altogether. According to a report in Digitimes citing industry sources, "Existing Sandy-bridge ultrabooks are too expensive." Many are speculating that, as a result, many ultrabook manufacturers will turn to thin laptops similar to ultrabooks that do not incur the high costs of current designs. Things like metal cases, expensive hinges and expensive solid state drives are what are keeping ultrabook prices high enough to dissuade potential buyers.

These new thin laptops are predicted to have prices in the $600 range and launch in Q2 2012, although that strategy could also backfire. Low-cost laptops, like the netbook, have yet to be widely accepted due to the fact that they were built from cheap chassis materials, had low-end components and lacked the performance power of other laptops. What this could mean for the laptop industry as a whole is still up in the air.

Source: CNET - As ultrabook makers seek stronger sales, some opt for low cost

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

LeanPrint Reduces Ink Use by 40 Percent

On Monday, March 5 Adobe announced a new service that is designed to reduce the amount of ink used when printing. It is being called LeanPrint.

According to Adobe, LeanPrint will save up to 40 percent of the toner that would normally be used when printing something. It is able to do this in certain modes like “SuperSaver” and “TonerSaver.” The basic idea of LeanPrint is that it will work to squeeze more onto a page and reduce the amount of toner used on prints that use a lot of ink. This will help to not only save on ink but paper as well.

Now, when you think about it, this new software seems like it would be undermining printer company’s plans to sell you a cheap printer that must be replaced with expensive toner when the ink runs out; however, Toshiba America Business Solutions (TABS) is the first printer maker to endorse and promote the new LeanPrint software. According to Adobe, Toshiba will be available to distribute LeanPrint to its customers across the continent.

Adobe said that LeanPrint is targeting both large companies as well as individuals. Those who are interested must purchase a license from a company that is partnering with Adobe, like Toshiba. Customers can either sign up for a 30-day free trial or pay $99 for a one-year subscription.

"Adobe has always prided itself on environmentally conscious behavior, from its LEED Platinum certified buildings to its carbon offsets," said Raman Nagpal, the senior director and general manager of Adobe Print and Scan Business. "With LeanPrint, we are bringing together our commitment to the environment and a deep understanding of the print industry to further drive down printing costs. Adobe is excited to launch LeanPrint with a like-minded company like Toshiba, who will help distribute this technology throughout North America."

All of this news is not good for printer companies like HP. During a second quarter conference call, the chief executive of HP, Meg Whitman, discussed the current shift of corporations and individual consumers towards printing less.

"We faced a number of challenges and the printing market is more mature and more mature markets tend to be governed more by macroeconomic forces," Whitman said. "I am convinced that a number of our challenges do relate to the macroeconomic challenges, weak consumer demand, weak small office, home office demand. The sell-through of ink in particular is at pretty low levels and it's not just our ink, it's industry ink."

This really could pose an issue to printer companies in the near future; however, it also might help to reduce the inflated pricing of toner. It will be interesting to see how printer companies react.

Sources: PCMag - Adobe 'LeanPrint' Claims to Cut Ink Use by 40 Percent and Tom's Guide - Adobe Releases LeanPrint Software to Save on Ink, Paper

Power Point Projectors
Most business class projectors will do a good job displaying your PowerPoint presentation. If you have a small presentation group, a 2000 lumen LCD projector will be able to produce a nice and clear picture. For larger audiences you should consider a 5000 lumen LCD projector.