While it seems most PC users got a kick out of watching Seinfeld inquire about the future of chewy computers and Bill Gates doing the robot, I've remained critical of Microsoft's $300 million ad campaign and have yet to be impressed with one of its commercials, including the "I'm a PC" segments currently being aired. By contrast, I found myself chuckling at Apple's initial round of ads, not because I thought they were accurate (they're not), but because they managed to throw humorous jabs without going for that impossible knockout punch. For those of you who follow baseball, it's like being a Red Sox fan (which I am) and tipping your hat at the Tampa Bay Rays for outplaying your team last night (which they did), even though you despise them (which I do).
But lest anyone accuse me of sleeping with the enemy (you know, those whiny Mac losers), let me go on record as saying that the new Mac ads suck too, and not just because I've developed an urge to want to punch Justin Long-in-the-tooth square in the face (I bet he's a Tampa Bay fan too, the smug bastard).
Hit the jump to read my beef with the new Mac ads.
By now everyone is familiar with the problems Nvidia has had with its notebook GPUs, which resulted in an "abnormal failure rate" for what remains an unspecified number of graphics chips. But throughout all the speculation, including accusations that whatever problem has been plaguing the chip maker might also be affecting desktop units as well, Nvidia has avoided speaking out on the issue at any length. Until now, thanks to some prodding by AMD.
Earlier this week AMD's Packaging and Interconnect Director, Neil McLellan, went on the semi-offensive and said Nvidia not only uses inferior materials for its chip package design, but that the company just doesn't care as much about packaging technologies as AMD does, according to The Tech Report. Ouch. Those comments didn't sit well with Nvidia, who fired back in a letter in defense of its position.
"In his recent commentary on chip packaging, Mr. McLellan makes a number of speculative assertions about NVIDIA's people, products and philosophy," Nvidia wrote. "In his interview McLellan asserts that High lead bumps are more prone to fatigue. What he fails to note is that AMD currently uses High lead bumps on their CPU line -- a device well known to undergo high thermal stress, and also go through lots of power cycling."
Nvidia went on to talk about High Lead bumps being used in "10s of billions of semiconductor devices" and a whole lot more, but stopped short of saying what exactly caused earlier problems with its 8M series.
It's been a tough year for Yahoo, and it's Yahoo's employees who have been hit the hardest. Earlier this year the struggling search company had cut about 10 percent of its workforce, and now it appears another sizable chunk will be receiving pink slips.
The exact number of the impending cuts has yet to be decided, but according to The Wall Street Journal, it will be more than the 1,000 jobs the company announced it was cutting in January. Yahoo is expected to announce just how many it will be letting go during its earnings conference call tomorrow.
Jobs aren't the only thing being slashed at Yahoo. As part of its downsizing effort, operating budgets across the board are expected to be cut 15 percent. Meanwhile, Yahoo's share price has dropped more than 40 percent over the past three months, meaning this could be just the beginning.
Next to the "atomic pen", having your name written on a grain of rice is laughably large. That's because the text size to beat - which, by the way, isn't beatable - measures just 2 x 2 nanometers, or about the equivalent of 40,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
"It's not possible to write any smaller than this," said Masayuki Abe, a researcher involved in the project.
Abe is part of a research team at Osaka University who recently demonstrated the atomic pen inscribing nano-sized text. The pen was built based on a previous discovery in which silicon atoms at the tip of an atomic force microscope probe will interchange with the tin atoms in the surface of a semiconductor sample when in close proximity. Using this method, the researchers arranged individual silicon atoms one at a time to write the letters "Si," a task which took the team about an hour and a half.
But there's more at stake here than invisible vandalism. Researchers say the atomic pen could lead to advances in atomic scale technology, eventually making it possible to build a PC small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
November's shaping up to be a busy month, and it has nothing to do with Thanksgiving. On the desktop front, Intel's Core i7 platform is rumored to launch on November 17th, and in the mobile sector, MSI looks to launch its Wind U120 with built-in 3.5G before December rolls around, according to DigiTimes.
The new netbook will feature the usual assortment of components - Atom N270 processor clocked at 1.6GHz, 1GB of RAM, 120GB hard drive, and Windows XP - tucked underneath your choice of a white or black shell and will run about $550. MSI has been working with Taiwan-based telco Vibo Telecom to implement 3.5G functionality in the U120 and will look to do the same with local telecom providers in Europe.
What you won't find on the new netbook is a touchscreen. Asus is rumored to be readying a touchscreen version of its Eee PC line, but MSI cites high costs as a prohibiting factor for its Wind. Bummer.
A Google Apps malfunction was reported on Thursday leaving education edition users without access to various services, including Gmail. It turns out the loss of access was tied to an unannounced change in the layouts of start pages which redirected to a non functional iGoogle address. Google spokesmen Andrew Kovacs stated that "this was an isolated bug". "I don't want to minimize this, but was this an issue where people could not access their data? No." Google hasn’t publically stated how many of the over one million businesses and 10 million users were impacted by the bug, but apparently it was only reported by a handful of users. Kovacs went on to state that "Basically, the broader perspective with an approach to communication is to be transparent. With these hosted applications we are held to a higher standard since we are so transparent with our communication." This made me wonder. With all the negative back lash companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon receive when cloud services crash, is all the bad press really fair? Do we really have the right to expect 100% uptime?
Early batches of Dell's Inspiron Mini 9 notebooks had customers scratching their heads over what appeared to be a case of paying for a larger size solid state drive but receiving a smaller one instead. How else would you explain paying for a 16GB SSD only to find 4GB of usable space in the default shipping state?
The answer, says Dell, is a partitioning SNAFU. The confusion stemmed from Dell using a 4GB Ubuntu image for new installs regardless of the SSD size, causing some customers to "freak out" before discovering the unused and unpartitioned remaining space. The problem has since been addressed, but if you own an early model with the incorrect partition scheme, running the included system restore DVD partitions the entire drive and makes the world right again.
Much has been made in the media over Spore's DRM scheme, which now limits gamers to five activations (recently pushed up from three activations amid an intense internet backlash). By and large, Electronic Arts has caught most of the criticism for saddling Spore with a modified version of SecuROM, arguably the most hated form of DRM in the gaming community. But should some of the ire be directed at Will Wright as well?
"It was something I probably should have tuned into more," Wright told Jim Reilly from Kotaku.com. "It was a corporate decision to go with DRM on Spore. They had a plan and the parameters, but now we're allowing more authentications and working with players to de-authenticate, which makes it more in line with iTunes. I think one of the most valid concerns about it was you could only install it so many times. For most players it's not an issue, it's a pretty small percentage, but some people do like wiping their hard disk and installing it 20 times or they want to play it 10 years later."
Take from that what you will. While it sounds like Wright has been drinking some of John Riccitiello's Kool-Aid, who recently downplayed DRM with claims that it's only an issue for 0.2 percent of gamers, at least Wright acknowledges the other side of the coin, which is that gamers tend to be enthusiasts who frequently change around their system.
Does EA deserve all the blame on this one? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
AMD posted better-than-expected earnings on Thursday and proved to its chief rival Intel that they may be down, but not out. The company which has been losing money for some time now managed to make a respectable 13 cents per share which far outstripped analyst expectations of a 39 cent loss. This is good news for AMD, but the semi conductor giant isn’t out of hot water just yet. The company still posted a $67 million dollar loss, though when you compare this to the $396 million it shed in the same quarter last year it suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.
Not surprisingly, sales and margins improved mostly on the back of its graphics chip division which has made significant gains in market share at the expensive of Nvidia. Revenues rose to $1.78 billion again pulling ahead of analyst expectations of a meager $1.48 billion. AMD has stated that it expects fourth quarter earnings to be flat, and given its current processor lineup vs. Intel, not losing any further market share will indeed be a challenge. The recent announcement that will split the company in two won’t take effect until year end. AMD stock is currently trading at $4.21 down almost 50% since the beginning of the year.
Nvidia owners with an SLI setup who have dreamed of running multiple monitors have been left in the cold for quite some time now. Stretching your real estate out onto a second monitor forced GeForce owners to disable SLI and reconfigure settings from scratch each time. This could take up several minutes and in some extreme cases, even a reboot. ATI owners on the other hand have had the ability to run crossfire on multi monitors for quite some time now and even Nvidia’s Quadro lineup has a fix in place. The day of reckoning is at hand however for GeForce owners and the wait for a fix may soon be over. According to leaked drivers which were previewed by VR-Zone an update from Nvidia may put the issue to bed once and for all. Screen shots and even a download link to the driver shows SLI multi monitor support in action.
Version 180.10 which Nvidia dubs “Big Bang II” could be rolling out soon and these drivers show that significant progress has been made on the issue. The site currently only offers the 64 bit version and this “leaked” copy features a few limitations which are important to know. Currently only clone mode is available for the second monitor, and 3D applications will match the resolutions on both displays regardless of compatibility. Additionally, these features come with roughly a 5% performance hit acording to 3DMark. Additional program specific conflicts are also being discussed in forums, and Nvidia (understandably) isn’t saying much.
The company has not confirmed the authenticity of these drivers or given any official release date on “Big Bang II”. The suggested launch date of September has obviously come and gone and ForceWare version 178.24 debuted just last week. Since driver releases are traditionally a minimum of one month apart, I highly doubt we will see anything new before late November or sometime in December at the earliest.