Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Batman Begins to change the way movies are distributed

Warner Bros will start selling movies online using peer-to-peer networks. At last it seems like the mainstream media companies are looking at peer-to-peer networking from a positive point of view:

The firm will sell movies and TV shows over the internet in Germany, Austria and Switzerland from March.


"One of the most effective weapons for defeating online piracy is providing legal, easy-to-use alternatives," said Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros Home Entertainment Group.

Warner Bros to sell movies on net

IEEE 802.11n - 600mbps WiFi

The future of highspeed interconnects in home computers and consumer products? 600mbs would certainly be fast enough for HDTV.

IEEE 802.11n @ Wikipedia

Apple iMac G5 vs. iMac Core Duo

It's been 3 weeks now since Apple announced that the iMac would be the first Apple to house an Intel chip. One of the exciting things was that apart from the chip there would be very few differences between the previous iMac G5 and the new iMac Core Duo.

Here's a look at two best comparisons out there:

geekpatrol.ca: Geekbench iMac G5 & Core Duo Comparison

What does the Geekbench comparison tell us?

Most interestingly it shows us how the Powerbook G4 will compare to the new Mac Book Pro.

The G4 is a 4th generation PPC 601 chip so it's no wonder it looks old. The G4 like the G3 has stellar integer performance which is nice for day to day apps. The G5 is a great chip but there's no headroom. The Core Duo is quick and getting quicker. It's a huge leap in performance for the Mac Laptops. Also this highlights how desirable a Mac Mini with an Intel chip will be!

A word of caution: The Geekbench tests are rather synthetic and I'm not one for favouring synthetic tests. I think they work well to highlights architectural differences but not pure speed. In general applications the G4 isn't quite as handicapped and the Core Duo is helped a lot by it's huge 2mb cache (which is crying out for 64-bit instructions by the way!). Oh one last thing... The SSE1, SSE2 & SSE3 instructions in the Intel chips should make it pretty handy on FPU performance since that's where they help out.


Anandtech iMac Comparison

How is Anandtech's comparison different?

Since it's using real-world benchmarks I'm far more inclined to believe the numbers. An interesting point is how well OS X handles multi-threading. The apps that took advantage of multi-threading saw an almost 75% improvement in performance. It also highlighted that in many tasks the only thing that makes the Core Duo faster than the G5 is the fact that it has two cores.


Taking an overall view from both comparisons it becomes clear that the G4 is well past it's best so the Mac Book Pro will be a bit improvement in all areas vs the Powerbook G4. The G5 iMac is a different kettle of fish however. The G5 is a very advanced chip and as such stands up well to the Core Duo. Where the G5 falls is it's power consumption, it's easily beaten by the Core Duo.

If you have a G5 iMac no need to rush out and buy a Core Duo iMac. If you have a Powerbook G4 then the Core Duo Mac Book Pro will be very tempting... as long as you use software that has a universal binary.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

"Now call it extreme if you like, but I propose we hit it hard, and we hit it fast, with a major, and I mean major, leaflet campaign"

StopBadware.org

SUN, Google and Lenovo have teamed up to form an anti-badware (spyware and adware) community. Spyware is such a huge problem in the Windows world that all help in solving it is welcomed. Not sure what they plan to do other than talk about it though!

I think Dvorak is right on this one.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Big Surprise: Digital Music Sales Triple in 2005 but listeners stop listening out of fear

Digital Music Sales Triple in 2005

Yet that's not enough for the greedy fat cat music executives because although listeners are buying more music online overall music sales are down. Don't need to look far to see why:

"Consumer research in the IFPI report indicates that every second person who cut back on illegal file-sharing did so out of fear for the legal consequences."

Fear.

"Fear. Fear attracts the fearful. The strong. The weak. The innocent. The corrupt. Fear. Fear is my ally." - Darth Maul

It appears that the music industry is working in the same way as the Sith!

Fear is not a good way to increase sales!

There are some seriously wrong things going on here. I don't agree musicians being robbed of their right to make money from their work but targetting individuals who download music illegally is really pointless. All it's doing is turning the general public against the record labels. If the music industry was seriously concerned about piracy they'd go after the Asian gangs who run a huge industry making millions of $$$ out of piracy.

The truth is that while in the short-term music sales may have dropped the increased interest in music, generated through the boom in music downloading, will in the long-term be a good thing for music in general and the bands who play the music. The real villans here are the music tycoons who've robbed many bands of their livelyhoods and have run a cartel which rips of the consumer.

How are gadgets involved? Because without the iPods and the Internet the coming revolution would not be possible. Yet we stand on the brink of a revolution in the music industry. The opportunity for music to be made, distributed and listened to without the need for the middleman and his evil ways.

Friday, January 20, 2006

What's Microsoft Brasil Doing?

As I'll Get You Gadget's Brazil correspondent I feel I should fill you in on what Microsoft are doing in Brazil. As reported by Engadget, Microsoft are selling PCs, prepaid style in Brazil. In fact a service that was tested in August saw 1,000 systems sold in 3 days at a price of 25x R$29.99. So why have Microsoft moved into selling complete systems in Brazil?

Beginning in November the Brazilian government launched a programme called "PC para Todos" (PC for All) which allows a low paid citizen to purchase a PC upto the value of R$1400 from a chain of selected stores. Now here comes the interesting part; These low-cost PCs come with Linux and 27 other free apps. The government plan to sell upward of 1 million of these units. Considering that 68% of Brazil's 180m population have never used a PC and only 13.8% use a PC daily it's no surprise that the Brazilian government is keen to get PCs into more Brazilian homes.

This is where Microsoft come in. They aren't keen on losing their piece of this rather large pie. The Microsoft PC will come bundled with a scaled down version of XP and will be paid for monthly until the full value is reached, a common practise in Brazil where interest rates are upward of 14% per month!

Personally I'd love to see Brazil adopt Linux as the OS of choice. I can't see the average Ze Brasiliero (Joe Brazil) being able to afford a Mac which would be the most ideal PC for a Brazilian in my view. So why isn't Windows ideal for Brazilians? Simply put: Viruses & Spyware. The baine of all Windows users. Yet the problem is compounded by the fact that Brazilians in general don't speak English (the language of the support forums and spyware removal tools), don't like to spend a lot of time keeping systems up to date and generally don't have a lot of access to good PC support if things go badly wrong. Pretty much every PC I've every used in Brazil is badly overloaded with spyware and viruses. An OS that removes some of those problems must be a good thing.

I'll be keeping an eye on how things progress.

Leia mais:
"PC para Todos" tem vendas acima do esperado - Terra

Tesco Telecom Enter Voip Market

Not content with domination of the UK grocery market Tescos have announced that they are launching an internet based phone service. On the one hand this is a good thing, Voip is a great technology which will undoubtedly offer more choice to consumers and with a big player like Tesco taking an interest it should help make Voip a more mainstream solution. On the other hand I get worried when a monopolist company like Tesco moves into a new territory. I guess we'll have to wait and see how this pans out.

BBC : Tesco launches net call service

3.5" Floppy Disk - The Longest Goodbye?

It's hard to believe but the 3.5" Floppy Disk has been an integral part of mainstream computer systems for almost the last 20 years! That's despite being awfully slow (24KB/sec max) and having magnetic media that is far from reliable. Surely the FDD is right up there with VHS and Cassette Tapes for being a standard that has stood the test of time and just refuses to go away. Yet surely the FDD's days are numbered just the same as VHS and Cassette?

The long goodbye to the FDD began as early as the mid 1990's. One major move was in 1998 when Apple made the then brave decision to sell their iMac models without a FDD. At the time many people critisized the move since there was no real alternative removable storage available. Many iMac users had to buy USB floppy drives to fill the gap. Yet the writing had been on the wall for the FDD before 1998.

During the 1990's various improvements on the FDD appeared, most notably the IOMEGA ZIP drives and Panasonic/Imation LS-120 drives. They appeared to signal a new era in removable storage yet despite being technically 'better' units than the humble 3.5" FDD they came and went without being much more than novel add-ons working alongside the FDD. The advent of the CD-Rom and the Internet as storage devices in the late 90's marked another beginning of the end for the FDD. Yet early CD-RW drives were unreliable and Internet access was neither fast nor wide-spread. These two aspects worked in the FDD's favour. The fact that almost every PC has a FDD and that floppies are more or less reliable for temporary data storage has meant that the FDD's exit from the computer world has been extended.

Although Apple led the way by removing the FDD from it's iMac in 1998, it was not until 2002 that other PC vendors began to follow suit. The first place where the FDD disappeared first was in laptop computers. Most laptops shipped since 2002 have not included FDD as standard, although USB FDD options can often still be used. The increase in small form factor desktop units has seen the FDD forced out on that front too. Yet for the most part the FDD remains an important yet hardly used feature of most modern computers.

What does the future hold for the FDD? Surely we'll see the FDD disappear over the coming years? Maybe, maybe not. In all likelyhood the FDD will become a thing of the past in the personal computer, if it hasn't already. Nobody buys a brand new computer today without some kind of removable mass storage device such as DVD-RW & USB storage. USB storage is very cheap now and can be used in many of the places where a FDD is almost essential (i.e. booting for system recovery, BIOS update etc). Yet although the FDD will be religated further to almost obsolite status it's near 100% market saturation will mean that it will not disappear completely anytime soon. Certainly it will continue to be the longest goodbye.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Will Core Duo Notebooks Trade Battery Life For Quicker Response?


Will Core Duo Notebooks Trade Battery Life For Quicker Response?

A good question with an interesting answer. While it's fairly obvious that you can't have essentially 2 processors without using more power the real question is whether the increased performance is worth the trade off in power consumption. No doubt Centrino Core Solo chips will be used in laptops where low-power useage is more important than higher performance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

iMac Windows Edition


So the new iMac Core Duo is out there — there have been 3 or 4 reviews, most quoting a good turn of speed though nowhere near the 2 to 3 times faster that Jobs promised (I guess those G5 chips really are that good).

Early reviews are nice, but the community is waiting for the first person to successful install Widows on a new iMac. It would seem that it's not possible to do a standard install, which is a real shame as this could have been a great selling point. Oh well, here’s hoping that there will be a simple non-geeky solution soon. I'd like to be able to install XP for running a couple of important Windows only apps and a few games, I should imagine that many future iMac and MacBook (great name!) owners would like to do the same.

Monday, January 16, 2006

For Mark ;0)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Brazil's Hybrid Motor Car Revolution

"Flex-fuel" cars, which run on any combination of ethanol and petrol, took 53.6% of the Brazilian market in 2005.

BBC NEWS: More new Brazilian cars sold in 2006 run on alcohol than on petrol

Alvaci has just purchased a Flex-fuel car so I'm looking forward to seeing how well it runs when I'm there next.

Bye Bye, OS9


I finally dumped OS9 today, five years after it was superseeded it’s finally useless. All our customers are now using apps that run nicely in OSX and for the old files that we have to reprint from time-to-time we have other Mac that still have OS9 on them.

Many people have berated OSX for it's complex GUI in comparison to the GUI in OS9. To be honest, OS9 was very simple and hence fast. But, and it’s a big but (Haha!), it's easy to forget how much more useful the GUI in OSX really is.

Pandora - Does it really find music you'll love?



What is Pandora? It's a music discovery service with a very powerful back-end, the music genome project. You create custom music stations and within each station you state artists and/or songs that you like. From the information you provide Pandora goes away and selects not only the music you've stated but music of a similar style. As the music plays you can choose to tell Pandora if you like the song being played or dislike it. If you like a song it'll be played more often, if you dislike a song it'll never be played again. The more information you provide about your preferences the more accurately the station will match your tastes. Once you've created your free user account your musical preferences are saved and can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection for you to enjoy at a lovely 128kbps.

So that's the theory but does it work in practise? I must admit that when I discovered Pandora a couple of months ago I dismissed it as just another streaming internet radio station. It is of course far more than that. Since revisiting it I've become hooked. It really does work. You'll get a couple of your favourite songs or songs by artists you like followed by some tracks by artists selected by Pandora. If you get a string of songs you dislike it'll play one of your favourite tracks again to get things back on track. What is really nice is when you rediscover a song that you'd forgotten about, that's where this service really seperates itself from the competition. Ideally you shouldn't mix too many styles within one station, that tends to mess up the system. Keeping your stations within certain styles will help the Pandora system find similar music that you'll enjoy.

The catalogue of music within Pandora is certainly pretty deep. Hopefully as time goes by it'll continue to become deeper and more varied. Pandora is a great idea that's been really well implemented. If you just want music you like then I still suggest listening to your own music collection but if you're away from your collection or fancy finding some new music then that's where Pandora comes in. If you've not used the service yet then I suggest you check it out. It really does find music you'll love. . .

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

LowEnd Mac of the Day: Motorola StarMax 3000

Low End Mac's Mac of the Day isn't really a Mac at all. It's the Motorola StarMax 3000, a clone Mac-compatible based on the Motorola 603e processor. Just so happens that we have a 3000 in stock here at work so if anyone is interested in obtaining one please feel free to drop me a line.

Looking at this old unit it's amazing to think how far Apple have come in the last 10 years.

DRM - Dirty Rotten Media?

Tom's Hardware have posted an interesting article about DRM everyone's least favourite three letter acronism, read on:

The Three Most Deadly Letters at CES and MacWorld: DRM

First Thoughts: JVC GR-240

Macworld Expo wasn't the only exciting thing happening yesterday, the arrival of my shiny new JVC GR-240 digital camcorder was pretty cool too. My first impressions are that it's a superb little camera. The size is pretty amazing, it easily fits in the palm of my hand and feels very comfortable. So far I've only been able to test it through the viewfinder or live on my Mac (using the webcam function) since I don't have a miniDV tape yet. Once I have one in my possetion I'll be testing the camera more extensively and I'll be reporting my findings here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

MacRumors.com : Macworld San Francisco 2006 Live Updates



Keep up to date as the announcements are made:

MacRumors.com : Macworld San Francisco 2006 Live Updates

"We're thrilled about this . . ."


"Nice as notebooks are, we’re hoping that the Jobster also talks some more cutting edge kit. How about a video Airport, able to wirelessly stream movies to your telly as well as tunes to your hi-fi? Or perhaps a media centre crammed inside the cute frame of a Mac mini? Or an Apple mobile phone with iTunes (please help us banish the memory of the awful Motorola ROKR…)?!"

A quote from the T3 website which pretty much somes up my feelings.

Airfoil 2 Released

I think this might probably be classed more as a gadget-catalyst than a gadget. But thought I'd dropa heads up that an updated version of Airfoil has been released. Since I'm a financially poor XP user, I can't rellay go into more detail than that.

Link to Airfoil site here.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Photo Booth






Image distortion . . . always fun! ;0)

Dell Introduces XPS Renegade


"The Renegade's CPU is a dual-core Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, mode 955, overclocked from the factory to a whopping 4.26GHz." - Yikes that is quick!

Check out the full specs on this gaming beast in PC Mag's article:

PC Mag.com: Dell Introduces XPS Renegade

I wonder how much more powerful than the XBOX 360 this is? Having played Project Gotham 3 on the 360 and being blown away by the graphics this unit must be really impressive to play on!

Prices from $4000+

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The T(o)asty Breville TR50 Sandwich Maker


You know we all love gadgets but gadgets that involve food and eating are my personal favourites. Eating is not only essential to life but is also one of life's pleasures. Pleasure is a good way of describing the difference between a plain sandwich and a delicious toasted sandwich. How much difference can toasting a sandwich make? Well you can only know the answer to that question by trying one. I think most people agree they are yummier.

So how do I rate the Breville TR50 as a sandwich toaster?

It's certainly a good looking sandwich toaster. I much prefer the red of this model to the dull white finish that 99% of toasters out there have. The build quality is pretty good too considering the price (£20 or there abouts, although I did see it for half that in the sales). It toasts two sandwiches at a time and does a good job of containing the contents.

If you're looking for a sandwich toaster then you can't go far wrong with the TR50.

Visit Dealtime to check prices for the Breville TR50.

WMF Security Threat Patch

A very dangerous zero day exploit has been exposed in all versions of Microsoft Windows. An unused feature in the WMF (Windows Meta File) code can be hacked to allow malicious code to be run on your Windows system. Microsoft will not have an official patch before next week at the earliest! To avoid putting your system at risk visit Steve Gibson's GRC site and download the unofficial fix. It's compatible with Windows 2000 - Windows XP 64-bit operating systems.

Read more about this from BBC News

Vingle that Vongo!

What is going on here? On October the 7th Apple register 'Vingle'; a "Telecommunication services, namely, electronic transmission of streamed and downloadable audio and video files via computer and other communications networks; providing on-line chat rooms, bulletin boards and community forums for the transmission of messages among computer users concerning entertainment, music, concerts, videos, radio, television, film, news, sports, games and cultural events; web casting services; delivery of messages by electronic transmission; provision of connectivity services and access to electronic communications networks, for transmission or reception of audio, video or multimedia content . . . "

Then yesterday Starz partner with Microsoft and Sony to unleash 'Vongo', a "Telecommunication services, namely, electronic transmission of streamed and downloadable audio and video files via computer and other communications networks . . . Blah, Blah, Blah" — What!!!

I am happy to announce that 'I'll Get You Gadget' are unleashing a "Telecommunication services, namely, electronic transmission of streamed and downloadable audio and video, Blah, Blah, Blah" called 'Vinglo'! ;0)

Looks like 2006 is going to pretty confusing!

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