2008 will defiantly go down in technology history as the year of the netbook. Ultra portable PC’s defied the economy and helped push sales of notebooks beyond that of desktop’s for the first time in history. Netbooks have been thoroughly reviewed here at Maximum PC (see December 2008’s issue) and it’s clear from the both the comments, and the activity in the forums that those who are holding out are doing so primarily for one of two reasons.
1.) The form factor is too small. 2.) The machines are underpowered.
Though not much can be done to address the first complaint, the second will likely become a moot point in 2009. This is the year we will start to see dual core and graphics accelerated netbooks go main stream. With the Intel Atom 330 already launched, the stakes will be raised considerably with new offerings from both VIA and AMD. As disappointing as this must be for AMD, it appears as though the VIA offering will be the strongest Intel competitor, but this may change closer to launch. The VIA 3000 family will be an X86-compatible processor based on its existing Nano 1000, and 2000 series platform. What promises to give VIA the edge over AMD however, is compatibility with the SSE4 instruction set. This will give them a substantial performance boost in many processor intensive tasks.
To be fair, little is yet known about AMD’s offering and more details are likely to be released at CES next week. What we do know is that two new processors under the code names Caspain and Consesus have been added to the company’s roadmap. We also know that despite the fact that AMD claims it has little interest in netbooks, these chips are the closest competitor to the Atom we can find from the AMD camp. One thing is certain, by late 2009 or early 2010, netbook shoppers are going to have a lot more choices. And as we all know competition will go a long way towards helping to drive down prices.
What would it take to make you consider a netbook?
In today’s economy, job cuts seem to be par for the course. We all expected to see major losses at vulnerable companies such as AMD, Circuit City, and Yahoo. Recently however, we have been seeing cuts at major technology employers that we once considered to be at least somewhat recession proof. These include companies such as Sony, Google, Adobe, and now even Microsoft. What started out as an unsubstantiated rumor now appears to be true and the Redmond based software giant is preparing to let go around 15,000 of its 90,000 global employees.
The bulk of the layoffs are expected to be absorbed by MSN, but Microsoft’s global operations are rumored to be under the microscope as well. Large cuts are also expected at its Europe, Middle East, and African operations. Like most companies in these tough times, this is likely to be more of a belt tightening then a white flag. Profitable operations will likely dodge the bullet but as of this point, the full nature of the cuts is not yet known.
The layoffs are likely to take place starting January 15th, and finish before Microsoft issue’s its Q2 results on January 22nd. 17 percent of its work force is a pretty substantial cut and we will just have to wait and see what brands or product lines will be affected going into 2009.
If you have a shiny new PC running Windows Home Server (or an old PC you've refurbished for Windows Home Server) that includes Power Pack 1 (get it here), it's time to grab a new version of the Windows Home Server Technical Brief for Media Sharing from the Microsoft Download Center.
TG Dailyreports that Google's Gmail is now recommending that IE6 users switch to Chrome or Firefox 3. IE6 users logging into Gmail see a link that says "Get faster Gmail" that takes them to a "Get faster Google Mail with a faster browser" page that provides links to download IE7, Firefox 3, or Google Chrome.
Interestingly enough, if you use IE7, the page recommends upgrading to Firefox 3 or Google Chrome, as well as offering a link to the IE 8 beta.
So, what's up with Gmail and IE? Is IE6 no longer fully supported? For the answers, join us after the jump.
Do you ever find yourself wondering what to do with those spare SSDs you have lying around? Neither do we, but A-DATA's new XPG Dual SSD 3.5" RAID Enclosure makes a fairly compelling pitch to go out and buy a pair of the pricey drives. Or at least put to use those spare HDDs cluttering your PC room, which is a far more likely scenario.
Whether you want to roll with a pair of SSDs or HDDs, A-DATA's RAID enclosure will accommodate both. By adjusting the hardware DIP switch on the back, users can opt to run each drive independently or in tandem with seven different RAID modes to choose from, including JPOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, Span, SAFE33, SAFE50, or GUI.
A-DATA's multi-purpose enclosure comes with a one-button backup utility and can be used as either an internal or external unit with support for both SATA and USB. The enclosure will also be offered without the built-in RAID function.
Both versions are expected to ship by the end of Q1 2009, and according to TomsHardware, will run roughly $30 for the non-RAID version and $60 with built-in RAID.
Just how low can the memory market go? Pretty freakin' low, according to DRAMeXchange, who revised its flash bit growth from 108 percent in September to 81 percent. By comparison, that number stood at 175 percent in 2006, or more than double what it currently is. DRAMeXchange blames the slowed growth rate on declining demand for electronic gadgets.
Despite the weakened demand, the market research firm estimates 1Gb flash shipments to reach 52 billion units, up significantly from 28 billion in 2008. But as competition continues to heat up in the memory market and push flash storage capacities to new heights, actual chip shipments are expected to decline as a result. Throw in an oversupply of flash memory and there's not much for memory makers to celebrate in 2009.
Also feeling the pinch are SSD sales. There's been a major push in 2008 towards maneuvering SSDs into the mainstream, but despite those efforts, sales have been lower than anticipated.
"The penetration rate of SSD in the low cost PC market will be lower than 10% in 2009,” DRAMeXchange stated. "The short term demand mainly comes from the industrial market and the outcome in the low cost PC market is actually lower than expected, which was due to price and reliability issues."
The upshot, at least for consumers, is that flash memory is dirt cheap, and will probably remain that way at least through the next few months.
If you’re reading this right now, it means that 2008 just settled into its final resting place inscribed across its own grave stone, and that you’re reading this right now. I think we both have reason to celebrate. How to celebrate, though? Well, that’s your call. If you want to know which game – of the thousands released this year – is quantifiably GAME OF THE YEAR, then go here, here, or here (then everywhere else) and have a few repair hammers standing by for your reading glasses. However, if your 2008 -- like mine -- was defined by a number of exemplary moments in your favorite games, then why not get your gears turning with my favorite gaming moments of 2008? Enjoy!
Left 4 Dead’s Opening Cinematic – Sure, L4D is a meticulously sown-together Frankenstein monster of moments that both bring players together and blow them apart, but snuffing out Smokers and playing whipping boy while my buddies tangoed with Tanks wasn’t what impressed me most about the game. Instead, it was L4D’s subtle, yet utterly potent opening cinematic that really snuck its hand into my cranium-shaped cookie jar. As pointed out by the always fantastic Offworld blog:
“It wasn't until I actually started playing Left 4 Dead about a week ago that it all clicked for me. I popped the disc into my 360, decided to watch the opening cinematic again, and found myself just as unimpressed as I had been the first time. But when I actually started to play the game, I discovered that I somehow already knew how to play the game. I knew what abilities the zombies I had. I knew what strategies were effective. I knew that a pipe bomb was good for getting the horde away from your group; I knew that when I heard crying, I should shut off my flashlight; I knew that I had to help up fallen team mates, and that I wasn't surprised that I could should my guns when disabled.”
“Without once having booted up the game, I knew how to play it. “
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, such as removing images of breastfeeding babies deemed obscene on Facebook. Enforcing the no-breast policy led to the creation of a Facebook group called "Hey Facebook breastfeeding is not obscene," which gained steam last weekend after protesters organized a virtual "nurse-in" (11,000 members changed their profile pictures to photos showing themselves breastfeeding) and organized a protest in front of Facebook's Palo Alto headquarters.
The real-world protest, organized by Stephanie Muir, an Ottawa woman and mother of five, drew a few dozen women out of the group's 87,000 members, who broke out in song and breasted their children while pacing outside the site's headquarters. The protest didn't attract a large crowd, but the group hopes its message will spread and encourage Facebook to change its policy.
Facebook contends it has no problem with breastfeeding, but does take issue with fully exposed breasts when a user complains.
"Photos containing a fully exposed breast (as defined by showing the nipple or areola) do violate those terms (on obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit material) and may be removed," Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said in a statement. "The photos we act upon are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain."
Is Facebook in the wrong? Hit the jump and tell us what you think.
Watching Viacom and Time Warner go at each other is like watching a divorced couple trying to push each others' buttons. But instead of alimony or child support, Viacom wants Time Warner to cough up more cash for its 20 channels, including MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central. If Time Warner doesn't agree, Viacom could pull all of its channels, and to drive the point home, the media conglomerate has taken out full page ads in Times and other publications showing Dora the Explorer crying because children won't be able to watch her show. Well played.
But if you think that's hitting below belt, Time Warner plans to fire back with what amounts to a slap in the face.
"We will be telling our customers exactly where they can go to see these programs online," said Alexander Dudley, a spokesman for Time Warner Cable. "We'll also be telling them how they can hook up their PCs to a television set."
Yes, this is the same Time Warner who has been testing out metered bandwidth in certain markets earlier in the year, and has been charging an overage fee for $1/GB in those test markets after a two month grace period. Now the cable company will be encouraging its subscribers to use more bandwidth by setting up HTPCs and logging into sites like Hulu.
At least, that's the plan for the time being. Something tells us we haven't heard the last of this dispute. But if Viacom and Time Warner do actually break up, just remember, it's not your fault.
Jimmy Wales, founder of the popular human encyclopedia site Wikipedia, has posted an open letter soliciting donations to keep the number 9 website (according to Alexa) afloat. The plea follows weeks of fund raising efforts, which prior to the letter managed to raise $3.5 million. Days later, that number now stands at over $5.8 million.
"Your donation helps us in several ways. Most importantly, you will help us cover the increasing cost of managing global traffic to one of the most popular websites on the Internet," Wales wrote in his letter. "Funds also help us improve the software that runs Wikipedia -- making it easier to search, easier to read, and easier to write for. We are committed to growing the free knowledge movement world-wide, by recruiting new volunteers, and building strategic partnerships with institutions of culture and learning."
Wales says that annual expenses are less than $6 million. Because Wikipedia is largely volunteer-based, the site's paid staff sits at just 23, which is 23 more than it had in its first couple years of operation. Going forward, it will be interesting to see if Wikipedia's business model changes, as the site doesn't collect any advertising revenue. While the fundraiser appears to have raised enough to keep the site live for another year, it remains to be seen if readers will again be willing to open up their wallets on an annual basis.
Will donations be enough to keep Wikipedia going? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.