The death of VHS may be old news, but now the cassette format has officially been ejected from the movie market. According to the Los Angeles Times, the last major supplier of VHS tapes has shipped its final truckload, driven by Ryan J. Kugler out of a Palm Harbor, Florida warehouse to Who-Cares, USA.
"It's dead, this is it, this is the last Christmas, without a doubt," said Kugler, 34, a Burbank businessman. "I was the last one buying VHS and the last one selling it, and I'm done. Anything left in a warehouse we'll just give away or throw away."
Meanwhile, DailyTech reports that things might finally be looking up for Blu-ray with "signs of quantifiable success." The news outlet points out increased sales in the high definition format, such as in Britain where consumers bought 462,500 Blu-ray discs in November, an increase of 165 percent from October. Blu-ray's share of the optical disc market is expected to double in France next year, and Europe expects to account for 2.5 million Blu-ray player sales in 2009 without factoring in Playstation 3 console sales.
OCZ joins a growing number of memory makers who have released high frequency triple channel DDR3 kits with the company's new Blade series. So far only announced in 6GB capacity, OCZ's tri-channel DDR3-2000 boasts 7-8-7-20 timings at 1.65V, cooled by a redesigned "pure aluminum heatsink" and backed by a lifetime warranty.
"Using a triple channel configuration custom tailored towards Intel’s Core i7 platform, the latest OCZ Blade Series kits epitomize the pinnacle of memory technology by delivering 2000MHz data rate for an available bandwidth of 35GB/sec to satisfy even the most data-hungry processor in the current marketplace," commented Dr. Michael Schuette, VP of Technology Development at OCZ.
OCZ says its new Blade 2000 modules will be shown at CES next month before being made available shortly afterwards. The company also claims each Blade 2000 kit is 100 percent hand tested for quality assurance and compatibility with Intel's Core i7 platform.
VIA hopes its new three-pronged approach to the low cost computing market will be enough to grab some market share away from Intel, whose Atom-based systems have become synonymous with netbooks and nettops. VIA's calling its mini-ITX 2.0 form factor three-chip HD solution Trinity, which consists of the company's latest Nano x86-64 processor, VX800 IGP chipset, and discrete S3 Chrome graphics.
With the three technologies combined, VIA can boast an 800MHz frontside bus, DirectX 10.1 support, HD video, Blu-ray/H.264/MP4 hardware acceleration, HDMI output, and more, all while consuming less than 70 watts max, with 50 watts being typical, VIA claims.
Should VIA's Trinity solution catch on, Intel could be in for a slug fest in the low power computing market. Previous tests have shown VIA's Nano processor holding its own against Intel's Atom chip, and VIA's platform reportedly runs cooler. On the flip side, Nvidia has recently announced plans to jump into the netbook sector by pairing its 9400M chipset with Intel's Atom processor.
President-elect Barack Obama will have his hands full trying to get the economy back on track once he officially takes office next month, and if the media reform group Free Press has any say in the matter, a major investment in the nation's broadband infrastructure should be high on the list.
In a 30-page reported titled "Down Payment on Our Digital Future: Stimulus Policies for the 21st-Century Economy", the Free Press proposes spending $44 billion in broadband stimulus funds over the next three years. The vast amount of funds would be used to build next-generation broadband networks, connecting rural areas without broadband service, making high speed connections more affordable, providing PCs and training to low income users, promoting children's access to technology at school and at home, and ensuring clear standards of quality, affordability, and competition.
"Promoting the deployment of a national, forward-looking broadband infrastructure will provide substantial short-term and long-term economic benefits," S. Derek Turner, study author and research director of Free Press, wrote in the report (PDF). "This deployment effort will immediately create tens of thousands of new jobs in the telecommunications, manufacturing, and high-tech sectors."
The United States ranks 22nd in the world in broadband adoption, with over 40 percent of all U.S. homes still without a high speed connection. Obama previously said that investing in computers and broadband for schools and hospitals would be part of his immediate economic recovery plans, but no specific amount was ever mentioned.
Would spending $44 billion be overboard? Hit the jump and sound off.
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."
The prevailing zeitgeist has got people adamant upon conserving as much as possible and that obsession manifests in ways you don’t generally expect. A Dutch firm, Spranq, has come up with a font that can save ink consumption by 20%. The secret of the font, aptly titled Ecofont, lies in the fact that every character is pocked with holes galore. And quite obviously, rocket scientists, this implies that less ink is required to print a character compared to a generic font devoid of holes. The innovative font can be downloaded free of cost.
Here’s a curveball for you. According to Gamasutra, Warren Spector -- the man behind mega-tons like Deus Ex, Thief, and System Shock – is currently giving Disney’s rodent-king an “epic” makeover. Yep, Spector’s trading guns and leather for hop ‘n’ bop, and Mickey’s trading his steamboat for steampunk.
Gamasutra saw a few illicit pics of this very special episode of trading spaces, and noted that the game is set to feature “cities assembled from junk” and “a surreal seashore invasion scene, in which machines wearing the faces of the Seven Dwarfs deposit old-fashioned renditions of Disney characters onto the beach with mechanical hands.”
We know what we’ll be having nightmares about tonight!
Aside from that, however, little is known about the “distinctly shadowed, steampunk” game. In a Junction Point blog entry, Spector claimed that it's a collaboration between Disney and Pixar, but the information trail smacks into brick wall after that.
If you're of "a certain age," you might remember when "computer literacy" equaled "everyone will be a programmer." Unfortunately, the limitations of BASIC (line numbers leading to incomprehensible "spaghetti code," primitive graphics, and no syntax checking) made most would-be programmers dropouts.
I haven't written a computer program in over 20 years, but Microsoft has introduced a modern, easy-to-use language designed for the masses (and for dropouts like me): Small Basic.
Small Basic, available in pre-release version 0.2, runs on Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Windows Vista 64-bit Editions Service Pack 1, Windows XP, Windows XP 64-bit. It relies on .NET Framework 3.5 SP1, which you will need to install if you don't have it already.
This Ain't Your Daddy's BASIC
Microsoft says that Small Basic "is a project that is aimed at making computer programming accessible to beginners. The project comprises a simple programming language that gathers inspiration from the original BASIC programming language; a modern and attractive programming environment; and rich, extensible libraries. Together they make programming fun for kids and adults alike."
So, what's special about Small Basic, and how can you learn more about it? Join us after the jump for all the details.
“Let’s see… I’ll take one copy of Spore – hold the SecuROM DRM, please.”
“Oh, er, sorry. Your order’s already slathered in DRM and, well, we can’t remove it. If you come back in a couple weeks, though, we might be able to scrape off a bit of it. Sound good?”
Has something like this ever happened to you? A pleasant Sunday afternoon installation spoiled by SecuROM’s goon squad? Well, no more. At least, if you ride under Steam’s banner.
“EA is one of the industry’s largest publishers,” said Gabe Newell, co-founder and president of Valve. “The EA titles coming to Steam this holiday include some this year’s top PC titles.”
He’s not kidding, either. Titles like Spore, Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, Mass Effect, Need for Speed Undercover, and FIFA Manager 2009 are already available, with Mirror’s Edge, Red Alert 3, and Dead Space moving in with the Freeman family in the “coming weeks.” And, of course, these games will conform to Steam’s standards; in other words, no SecuROM whatsoever.
So, does this mean we can all finally kiss and make up with EA, and notice that it’s released some damn good games over the past year? C’mon now; it’s Christmas.
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!