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Comment MediaPC vs Desktop (Score 1) 405

SSDs are now at a price where it's a no-brainer for a media-PC hooked up to a NAS. They're pretty much cheaper than the cheapest normal hard drive you can buy, and far quieter.

For the desktop, the cache drives still make the best sense. Most users don't have the technical ability to be able to force installs of software to secondary drives and keep their boot drive clear of clutter enough to be able to warrant the cost of an SSD.

I went for a cache drive myself about 4 months ago and it's been one of the best purchases I've made for my home system, but for joe public I'd still say a RAM upgrade should come way before anything else if they want things to just work faster.

Comment US Patents lead to technological backwater (Score 2) 553

I've been following this on Groklaw for a while, and it's obvious yet again how badly the US patent system is broken when Apple can patent a rectangle with rounded corners and succeed in banning devices of the same shape, and yet refuse to licence the basic technology that is needed for the phone to actually behave like a phone and make calls.

In real terms if this judgement stands then the US will end up with technology that lags the rest of the world by whole generations as why should companies like Samsung, HTC, etc etc actually bother releasing their products in the US when Apple will use the courts to ban them?

It's amazing how many of the self proclaimed 'freedoms' and 'ethics' have been quietly swept under the carpet in the name of capitalism and the next quarters profit margin.

Comment It was always about games and the 'killer apps' (Score 2) 505

Why did people stick with windows - it wasn't because the tech was better, OS/2 was better tech than windows for years, and then by the time OS/2 was dead we had a linux kernal good enough to be counted as better.

So why did I stick with windows - 2 reasons - Office and Games.

Office was the killer app for owning the desktop - if you can lock your corporate customer in to windows via a good enough set of office tools then you start to own the mindshare - you use a windows machine at work, if you want / need to work at home they buy a windows machine there with the same tools (remember we're talking back in the days of windows 3.11 and '95 - when laptops were pretty much outside the reach of joe public but a desktop was something that was possible if you were perpared to save for it).

As soon as you have a critical mass of PCs running dos / windows in the hands of the public then they are going to want to game on it - and for years the PC was where the games were at - and you can name the killer games - Doom, Quake, Unreal, etc etc. All of them either predated the consoles, or were a quantum leap ahead of what the console could deliver in the way of graphics or the ability to play against real opponents on a network or eventually across the internet. The current generation of consoles are the first to successfully compete and beat the PC in this space, before the PS/3 or Xbox360 if you wanted to play against a real opponent that wasn't sat on the same couch as you then the PC was your only option.

Gaming was always the driver, every upgrade I've paid out my own money for has been because of a game I wanted to play - be it the next GFx card, or having to go to a new version of windows because the new version of DIrectX made things look better and wasn't available on the last version.

Apple did the smart thing - they tied themselves to a niche market with the media creators (photoshop / video editing etc) and so influenced the people writing your TV shows and style magazines - which has paid off for them in the long run by association - the common man sees Apple still as something hip and trendy, and as an aspirational piece of hardware. If I buy an Apple product I'll be as trendy as all the beautiful people in the media.

Either way both companies invested in the user experience - they ended up with products that 'just worked' and were 'good enough'. You didn't feel you had to have a degree to use their products - they were for everyone.

And then you have linux - and I tried linux several times over the years wanting it to succeed on the desktop,and it never did because it was too hard to get it to actually work in the first place, and when you did get it to work it was either missing the business applications to allow it to talk to everyone else in the office, and it was missing the games that made you want to use it at home.

But what frustrates me most is that we still have people talking about when linux will conquer the desktop. The desktop is dead. Wake up and smell the roses. The computer everyone reaches for these days is their phone. It games, it does social media, it surfs the internet, it's always with you and guess what - it's running linux.

Comment Why not just use your phone? (Score 1) 415

I've been an ebook reader for 10+ years now - ever since I needed to do a lot of travel for work and figured out it was a lot easier to carry a PDA with a few hundred books on it instead of a suitcase with half a dead tree inside. I went through 3 PDAs before I upgraded to my latest phone. If your screensize is 4" or larger then it makes a perfectly adequate ebook reader with the advantage that it's always with you.

I use FBReader on the Desire HD - mainly because it allows the use of the volume rocker for page-up / page-down. I have full control of font sizes and it supports open (epub) formats. Anything else there's an app for if needed. It's perfectly good for novels and works for me.

If I need to look at a technical manual then the chances are I'm on my main computer anyway (or not too far away from it).

Seriously - use your phone to start with. OK it may not be ideal in bright sunlight, but it works for me. Give the BAEN website a try - they have a load of SF / Fantasy novels made available for free by the authors in open formats and it's got me in to some great stuff and I've ended up buying the next books in the series as a result of reading the first from there.

Comment Re:Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers (Score 1) 91

Agreed, it's one of the jewels of my book collection and stands just as well on it's own merits as it does as a parody.

If I remember correctly the stainless steel rat was also serialised in the 2000AD comics and then subsequently published as a collection. Could be worth tracking this down or pushing for a reprint to help introduce a new generation to some classic,influential and seminal works.

Comment XTree Gold (Score 2) 654

Back in the days when I bought my first PC (386dx40) I used to spend more of my time in XTree Gold than in Windows 3.11 - not sure if it counts as a proper GUI or not, but it did everything quickly and with a minimal footprint.

In a way many of the current GUIs feel like a step backwards, as I'm sure I used to be quicker doing what I needed to do with the minimal interface than I do with the extra steps needed for todays 'richer' environments.

Comment Controllers and potential patent problems (Score 1) 218

We've all seen patents being thrown around too much recently and stifling companies. I've got a suspicion that most controller technology and design is now covered by patents. They're going to have to be very careful to avoid getting caught by any of these.

Looking at this I'd love for it to succeed, but as a geek in their target market I'm unlikely to be buying one. I've already got a media-pc and an android tablet, and why would I want one of these when the Xbox720 and (presumably) a PS4 are due in a year or 2,

Comment Scale of the opportunity (Score 2) 29

Datacentres currently are estimated at consuming between 1.1% and 1.5% of the total power generated across the world. That's bigger than almost every other industry out there, heck that's bigger than quite a few medium-sized countries. With this sort of size then even a small percentage gain in efficiency makes a huge difference to costs. A modern datacentre has a yearly power bill of $10million or more, and so if you can find a way of doing the same processing using 2% less power - well those numbers suddenly start looking very good indeed when you realise the scale.

Personally I'm more excited about the new ARM servers that have been recently announced. For commodity type workloads they have a real chance to be a game changer in the amount of electricity needed to perform a task, and when the new 64-bit cores arrive then I can see them suddenly fitting a lot of strategies.

Disclaimer - I run a team responsible for all physical installations in a blue-chip datacentre

Comment Does it support 10-bit h.264? (Score 2) 121

Like everyone else I'm going to be stuck waiting for the first build to try out. Key for me will be whether it supports the new 10-bit h.264 encoding. Seems like almost every player has issues - the only one that consistently works for me is mPlayer - and the softsub support support on that player still needs some work to bring it up to a desktop standard. Nice to see a release at least, especially considering that after the announcement that VLC is being ported to Android we're still to see a stable official VLC build on the store.

Comment Benefits of dead mouse replacers in a team (Score 1) 515

I did front-line tech support for a few years. This was back in the days of '95 and 2000 so things broke a lot more then than they do now. The team had a guy in it that wasn't interested at all in being a tech, he was just there to game the system and do the bare minimum. He used to check the job queue every day and take every mouse replacement or easy job on there to make his stats look good to the management without actually having to learn or do anything. Now some people would get frustrated at having a guy like that in a team, but to me he was perfect as it meant that I got more than my share of the interesting and downright weird problems to look at. Building relationships outside of the team trying to nail down the obscure stuff got me noticed and made my career.

Comment Antigravity? (Score 2) 683

From reading the 'popular science' explanations the Higgs field and Higgs Boson is what gives everything else mass. So if we can find a way of turning off' the interaction with the Higgs Field we suddenly remove all mass, inertia, weight etc. There are doubtless guys out there much smarter than I am who will be able to tell why this won't work, but if it does then it's our big stepping stone to the rest of the solar system and ultimately the stars.

Comment Re:Good question (Score 1) 499

With most modern CDs and DVDs they use an organic dye as the data medium. If the seal at the edge of the disk is not perfect the dye will oxidise and you will lose your data. Best bet is probably usb flash drives - they are so cheap you can just send the family a new one each year with a full set of all your pictures - current and historical. That way you also know that you have an offsite backup for the important stuff. I'd also recommend looking at a raid-1 setup for your local machine - with 2 drives mirrored you have that additional level of safety so that if your hard drive fails you don't lose everything (and yes I lost my entire mp3 and media collection due to a drive failure and then got wise afterwards).

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