Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The 2008 recap

I know it has been quite a while since I updated. I noticed that people were actually reading the blog, so I figured I'd write what I think may happen in the tech world in the upcoming year.

2008 has been a s0-so year in technology: Intel released Core i7, turned the cellphone market upside down, and the Large Hadron Collider did not manage swallow the earth. Best Buy bought Napster, Circuit City filed Ch. 11, and Steve Jobs died is OK. Laptops outsold desktops for the first time ever, and memory (flash and HDD) has become dirt cheap. Comcast capped Internet subscribers' throughput, Blackberry lost it's keyboard, and HD-DVD finally bit the dust.

This past year has gone by so fast, and yet 2009 still seems a bit distant. Despite the economic crisis recession, we still made progress. Hard drive capacities passed one thousand gigabytes and broadband is getting faster (albeit slowly). I have some not-so-expert opinions on what may happen in coming year, but that will have to wait until after Christmas.

So until then,
Happy Christmahanukwanzakah

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Nintendo is feeling Microsoft's pain

Since the release of the new Smash Bros Brawl game, it seems as if the some of the highly coveted Nintendo Wii's are having difficulty playing the new game, which was released on dual layer discs. The problem? Nintendo is blaming dirty lenses in the consoles, and says for owners to send their Wii's in to the repair center. Does this sound familiar (read Xbox 3 rings of death)?

Game Consoles should be built to withstand the stresses of heat, and dust. This is just unacceptable for people to have to send in their consoles because of shoddy engineering.

ATi's new Catalyst driverset leaves something to be desired

Recently, ATi (now part of AMD) released their new GPU chipset drivers, Catalyst 8.3. These new drivers bring more stability, some performance gains for some games, and the ability to Crossfire up to 4 GPU's, (and they don't have to match, either). However, some reviews, like this one from Extreme Tech have found the improvements to be minimal, if not worse than the previous set of drivers. For more information on those matters, check out the review.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wii's galore, New Guitar Hero

Best Buy stores in the US are going to start receiving regular shipments of Nintendo Wii's and DS's starting in early March. While there has been no official announcement from Nintendo, it has been confirmed through sources at Best Buy that there are shipments of the rare consoles scheduled for delivery in about three weeks. In the past 15 months, the method of distribution for Wii's and DS's has been drop shipments. Basically, Nintendo put the consoles on UPS trucks to be delivered to retailers. These shipments were never regular, and has frustrated retailers and customers alike. With regular shipments, it will be much easier to find Wii's, and they will be cheaper when they don't have to be purchased in bundles, or on eBay for highly inflated prices.

Also a new Guitar Hero is to be released in June, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. The game will feature, of course, Aerosmith as well as some of their favorite bands. The game will be available on all the major consoles: Xbox 360, PS2/3, and Wii. It is not clear if the game will also come in a bundle pack that includes the guitar controller, or if it will come out for PC/Mac.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Best Buy will start prominently featuring Blu-ray

In another blow to HD DVD, Best Buy will sart to reccomend Blu-ray media and hardware to its customers. HD DVD products will still be carried for those who want them. Netflix also made similiar decisions by deciding to exclusively stock Blu-ray movies, after some of the world's biggest studios decided in favor of the format.

This sounds to me like the death song of HD DVD. In a couple of years, HD DVD may be no more, and the hard choice of what format to buy will be history.

P2P may be banned in England while Yahoo lays off 1,000

The British Government is currently in the works of creating laws to attempt to ban file sharing. In a draft consultation, it is being suggested that ISPs be required to take action against people who illegal download and share copyrighted materials.

This measure would invade the privacy of millions of British Internet users by screening ever packet of data that travels throught British ISP servers. This could mean that the government could effectively see what a user is doing, any time of day. It seems to me that if these laws were passed, this could lead to other privacy-invading measures.

If the UK passes this, who might be next?

Also, Yahoo! has purcahsed Maven Networks for $160M while at the same time, it has announced plans to lay off 1,000 people.

Sounds pretty fishy to me. And Microsoft wants to buy this company?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Another format war has begun

Appearently theres about to be another format war; this time it has to do with mobile TV formats that allow some cell phone users to watch TV on thier phones. It's Samsung's A-VSB vs LG's MPH.

Why can't corporations just agree on one format for the sake of consumers, and so they don't possibly waste millions into producing the next Betamax???

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Why Blu-ray may actually win the battle

Even before Warner and Paramount's move from HD DVD to Blu-ray, HD DVD was set to lose. With more features and movies, Blu-ray has had the upper hand from the get go. In the late '70's early '80's, there were two competing video cassette formats: Sony's Betmax and JVC's VHS. That battle was ultimately won by VHS, and this time it may be Blu-ray's turn to change an industry.

To start with, Blu-ray discs have a higher capacity, as high as 100 GB; whereas HD DVD only supports up to 45 GB, less than half that of Blu-ray. With higher capacities come longer play times. Blu-ray supports up to 8.5 hours and HD DVD only up to 5.5 hours. Blu-ray has more manufacture support (Hitachi, Mitsubishi, LG, Sharp, Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, Philips, Thomson/RCA) than HD DVD (Toshiba, LG, Thomson/RCA, Onkyo, Samsung). Blu-ray also has more studio support with 10 when you include the divisions of Sony and Disney (Sony Pictures [including MGM/Columbia TriStar], Disney [including Touchstone, Miramax], Paramount, Fox, Warner, Lions Gate). HD DVD only has 5 (Studio Canal, Universal, the Weinstein Company, DreamWorks Animation).The most titles are also available on Blu-ray, and, unfortunately for the consumer, more copy-protection is available for Sony's format as well. Unless HD DVD starts to offer more capacity, more titles, and unless more manufacturers make the players, HD DVD may go the way of Betamax.
The most titles are also available on Blu-ray, and, unfortunatley for the consumer, more copy-protection is available for Sony's format as well. Unless HD DVD starts to offer more capacity, more titles, and unless more manufacturers make the players, HD DVD may go the way of Betamax.

Lawsuits Galore and Laptops overshadow Desktops in '08

There is also a podcast to corresponds to this post at http://www.itwt.mypodcast.com/

For my first topic today, this story is From Techdirt: Digg is among a group of companies being sued by Sheldon Goldberg (Beneficial Innovations) over a Computer Solitaire Patent. Allegedly, Digg and others have infringed US Patents that cover playing games over a computer network. The other companies in the lawsuit include Google, AOL, Yahoo, CNET, NY Times, and even eBaum’s World. Digg is insisting that it has not and does not infringe patents, and that the patents in question are “invalid” (questionable).
The way I see it, the best way to put a stop to this could be for someone to patent the process of suing over patent violations.

Next up, this is From Ars Technica: 2008 might be the year that laptops eclipse desktops in sales. In 2007, laptop sales rose 21% to a total of 31.6 million units, just behind desktop sales, which declined 4% last year. Some industry analysts are predicting that in 2008, laptop sales will exceed desktop sales for the first time. The demand is probably fueled in part by the fact that many higher education institutions require students to purchase laptops-- a fact that I can vouch for, as Texas Tech University requires me to purchase one myself. Another factor for heated notebook sales might be the large number of Wi-Fi hotspots and the ability to get online virtually anywhere where there is cell phone coverage. Many of these laptop sales are in the sub-$1000 category, following the late 1990’s trend that caused desktops to invade nearly every American household.
This seems fairly accurate, as many of my friends had purchased their first laptops last year, spending less than $500 for a decently equipped system.

My third story is From AfterDawn.com: Rumors of the RIAA suing for ripping CD’s to computers for personal use has been found to be untrue. These rumors stemmed from a Washington Post story about a Jeffery Howell being sued because he legally ripped his personal CD collection to his computer. What the Post failed to mention however, is that some of those songs allegedly wound up in a KaZaA shared folder, thus becoming Copyright Infringement. According to the legal documents, the RIAA is only suing over 54 files found in Howell’s shared folder, and not his thousands of other files that are in his personal collection.
The fact that the RIAA even cares about 54 files, over his thousands of legal files is ludicrous. Why doesn’t the RIAA go after the big guys who are uploading thousands of files through BitTorrent and other piracy means? How does the RIAA even know that Howell even put those files in the shared folder intentionally? By default, many P2P programs put music they find in a shared folder, regardless of the source of the files.

Lastly, From The Register: Apple is targeted in yet ANOTHER monopoly lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that “Apple has engaged in tying and monopolizing behavior, placing unneeded and unjustifiable technological restrictions on its most popular products (iPods) in an effort to restrict consumer choice and to restrain what little remains of its competition in the digital music markets”. In other words, because iPods can’t play WMA files, Apple is being sued.
So, it’s OK for Microsoft to disable AAC (iTunes files) playback on the Zune, but wrong for Apple to disable WMA playback on the iPod. This is just crap. Anytime a company with a majority market share does something someone doesn’t like, someone has to sue. If these people want to play WMA’s, why don’t they get another PMP that supports AAC and WMA—or even better—convert the WMA’s to MP3’s?