As 2008 winds to a close, we're taking a look back at some of the year's highlights in the open-source world. And what a year it's been! Google phones and the android operating system finally saw the light. The semi-popular MMO Myst decided to go entirely open source, the genre's first "conversion." And Microsoft--yes, Microsoft--decided to embrace open-source development with one hand while chastising it with the other.
We're rounding up all of the year's top stories from every source we can get our hands on. Click the link and let's get started with 2008's top open-source news!
The Squeezebox Boom is another solid entry in a long line of great audio streamers. Logitech has mastered the art of building inexpensive, good-quality powered speakers, and the ones integrated into the Boom are no exception.
The Squeezebox Boom’s closest competition is Roku’s SoundBridge Radio, but it’s not much of a contest. Both devices can function as an alarm clock, waking you with music streamed from your PC or Internet radio stations (and both have an all-important snooze bar), but the Boom sounds better, supports more audio formats, and consumes much less room on your nightstand.
Doubts have been cast on the success of the Blu-ray format ever since it debuted. Initially, the format appeared to be doomed due to a poor adoption rate, thanks mainly to a host of factors, including the PS3’s initial tribulations, popularity of the DVD format, and the steady rise in the popularity of digital downloads.
However, it soon appeared that the tide had turned as PS3’s sales picked up and the rival HD DVD format ran out of steam and met its sorry fate. The latest good news has come in the form of sales data released by research firm Futuresource, which indicates that Blu-ray sales during the ongoing holiday season have been promising.
Another sinister portent for the Blu-ray format happens to be the grim sales picture of the PS3; strong sales of the console surely could have gone a long way in popularizing the format. I expect Blu-ray to share the same mediocre fortunes as the PS3 during the remainder of its lifetime.
Stop. You had us at oil submersed motherboard, CPU and GPUs. You didn’t even have to dunk the SSDs, PSU or create a custom motherboard and bullet resistant tank too to convince us that you’re really hard core, umm, Hardcore.
Of course, if you stare too hard at the tank, you’ll miss all the heavenly glory that the Hardcore PC truly is. From its beautiful aluminum case, to its top port routing and the easy to access hard drives, every centimeter of the machine oozes custom computing. And we can honestly say that after tinkering with the most exotic PCs available on Earth for a decade now. What Hardcore is trying to do is so over the top that no one has ever tried it before on a production machine.
But before Hardcore can ascend to take its place among the top performance PC makers, there are an awful lot of questions to answer. Like can they really make and sell these babies for how much the company claims it can? Does it really work? To find the answer to that read on.
We’ve heard the phrase “visual computing” being used a lot lately – it refers to the use of computers and graphical environments to interact with and manipulate heady data sets and other textbookish content. Well, we’ve encountered one of the most visually stunning and impressive examples of visual computing in San Francisco’s Morrison Planetarium, the new $20 million dollar facility that’s a part of the recently reopened California Academy of Sciences. This isn’t your daddy’s planetarium (nor is it Barack Obama’s famous $3 million dollar star charter, either).
The Morrison Planetarium is a technological marvel, enabling astronomers not only to show traditional star charts, but to guide visitors through an immersive fly-through of our universe – realistically rendered in real-time. We were fortunate enough to be invited for a private screening of the new exhibit, and went behind to scenes to check out exactly what PC hardware drives this modern stellar cartography lab. And before you ask – yes, the system can play Quake.
We'll guide you through a tour of the planetarium, show you what visitors get to experience in the amazing digital presentation, and then walk you behind the scenes for an exclusive look at how the tech gods who built the whole system make it work. Trust us, you'll be impressed.
While the Blackbird 002 was a slick system, it was a bit difficult on the wallet. Thankfully it looks like the minds at HP and Voodoo have been working hard on a spiritual successor, the Firebird 803 that scraps space and expandability for a (presumably) lower price point.
The new smaller version of the behemoth gaming PC will pack a Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83GHz processor, 4GB RAM, two Nvidia GeForce 9800S cards as well as other big components. HP has also put the power supply outside of the box, allowing them to cool down the chassis a bit easier.
Sadly, the Firebird won’t be expandable at all given its small form factor, and this greatly offsets any potential savings that might be on the price tag.
For a full list of stats on the Firebird, be sure and hit the jump. (And for a full gallery of pictures, hit up the boys at Engadget.)
Most seasoned enthusiasts have at least one fond memory of an Abit motherboard that overclocked like nobody's business, a trait which propelled the company into legendary status. But just as Abit had risen to the top, the company fell even quicker following questionable management decisions, and the Abit brand name was sold to Universal Scientific Industrial (USI) two years ago. Abit's presence has never been the same, and after December 31st, it will no longer exist, says TweakTown.
News and review site TweakTown appears to have intimate knowledge that USI will shut down Abit after next week. The decision follows failed expectations of USI for Abit's business, which reportedly sold between two to three million motherboards last year. This year, sales are even lower.
Old school enthusiasts hoping for a last minute stay of execution may want to keep crossing their fingers. According to Abit's website, the company's "US branch will be shutdown during the Christmas holidays, [and] normal operation will resume on Jan. 5, 2009."
Well, it’s not completely a mystery, but with a tagline like “On the 9th of January you will change the way you look at laptops. Forever,” you can’t help but be a little titillated.
It looks like Sony couldn’t let Dell be the only laptop vendor that had a secret (but not so secret) launch on the horizon. Their latest in the Vaio series was packing its very own launch site with a counter, but it would appear that at time of press they’ve taken it down. Still, the secret lingers.
We’re not sure if the pressure was just too much, or that they’ve mixed up on the release counter somewhere, but it is still expected that at CES 2009 they will announce the new notebook (or netbook?).
If anyone else out there would care to keep the rumor mill going with your own secret launch, do so now. It appears to be the thing to do!
Depending on the manufacturer of your notebook, finding updated drivers can be somewhat of a pain. After all, we are assuming that searching through a tangled index of cryptic model numbers probably wasn’t the game you intended to play when you bought your gaming notebook. That’s why we are pleased to pass on the contents of a press release we received from Nvidia which is intended to spread the good news. Your laptop’s GPU drivers can now be obtained directly from Nvidia.com. Using a generic driver platform should allow notebook owners to receive much more timely updates similar to their desktop based brethren. As of right now, only owners of 7, 8, and 9 series GeForce chips as well as Quadro qualify for this offer, but it’s a great start.
To further sweeten the pot, owners of 8 and 9 series GeForce chips will be given both PhysX and CUDA support through the beta driver available. A WHQL certified driver is planned for release early next year. This will go a long way towards ensuring better compatibility on gaming laptops and is something I’m sure we would all like to see migrate to other hardware manufacturers.
While details on Nvidia’s latest dual GPU monster have been pretty scarce, we’ve finally unearthed some specifics on just what the card will be packing.
For starters, there will be a whopping 480 processor cores on the card itself. Alongside that, there’s 1792MB of total video memory to keep your world as vibrant as can be. And all this will be based off of a 55nm manufacturing process.
These specs are really just the tip of the iceberg, so if you want to get all the dirty details on the card, be sure and hit the jump (and ready your mouse wheel for some scrolling!).