Did you shutdown today?

Post ImageI sure as heck didn’t. Like Engadget asked back in February, “how about we all decide to hold our breath for 24 hours, too?” In case you hadn’t heard, today was International Shutdown Day. Yup, they wanted us to not use computers for a day. Fat chance! Engadget explains:

It seems that a pair of men named Dennis Bystrov and Michael Taylor — bitter victims of the bubble, we suspect — want to perform a social experiment wherein people all over the world boycott computers for an entire day; willing participants are encouraged to click a pledge of sorts on the International Shutdown Day website promising to forgo any and all PC usage on March 24th.

Heh, like that was gonna happen. This is the funny part though:

Still, we’ve no qualms with operating in a much greener fashion, but considering that the protesters’ website is actually up and running on a power-sucking machine as we speak, it makes you wonder who the real hypocrites are, no?

So much for dedication to their cause!

Read: Engadget

Windows Vista available today

Post ImageToday’s the day. Windows Vista is now available in stores, ready for you to purchase. I went to Best Buy today (for something else, not for Vista) and I have to say, the Vista display was sad. There were only a couple boxes on the shelf, and one demo computer. More people were buying the WoW expansion than Vista.

I guess that is to be expected though. Most people will get Vista when they buy a new computer. That has caused some people to wonder why Microsoft has spent so much on advertising for Windows Vista. I think it’s a tactical move.

Here are some of the more interesting things I have come across today related to the Vista launch:

Seagate says 300 TB by 2010

Post ImageIt’s hard to imagine that in just three years a single hard drive could store 300 TB, but we’ve been here before. Five years ago, who would have thought we’d have the 750 GB drives that we do today! Seagate claims the larger drives are on the way:

To pull the 300 TB rabbit out of the hat, technology comes to the rescue once again. This time, Seagate will use a technology called heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR). These isn’t much detail on exactly how this works, but a single square inch of hard disk space will be able to store 50 TB of data.

It would totally suck to lose 300 TB of data, though like the article says, if they are the norm then buy two and back it all up!

You might wonder how you’d ever fill a 300 TB drive. I used to wonder that about my 200 GB drive, and now I have two of them plus a larger 300 GB drive. We’ll find a way to use the space. Always have, always will.

Read: iTWire

Rendering Frames at Pixar

Post ImageI recently agreed to help a colleague with a video project, and we met this week to go through some of the raw footage. While we were chatting I mentioned that the animated movies that are made today take longer to render than those of ten years ago, simply because they are becoming so much more realistic. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember where I had read or heard this, nor could I recall the exact numbers involved. From a post today on The Long Tail:

On 1995 computer hardware, the average frame of Toy Story took two hours to render. [A decade later on 2005 hardware] the average Cars frame took 15 hours, despite a 300x overall increase in compute power. The artists have an essentially infinite appetite for detail and realism, and Pixar’s resources have grown over the decade so it can afford to allocate more computers to the task, allowing each to run longer to achieve the artist’s and animator’s ambitions for the scenes.

Once again the blogosphere comes to the rescue!

Read: The Long Tail

Largest Consumer Electronics Recall Ever

Post ImageThis is one record you don’t want to be setting. Dell has announced what the Consumer Product Safety Commission is calling “the largest safety recall in the history of the consumer electronics industry.” That’s right, 4.1 million laptop batteries installed in Dell machines between April 2004 and July 18th, 2006. Is yours one of them?

Dell’s press release states the recall covers the following machines, so be aware! Dell Latitude D410, D500, D505, D510, D520, D600, D610, D620, D800, D810; Inspiron 6000, 8500, 8600, 9100, 9200, 9300, 500m, 510m, 600m, 6400, E1505, 700m, 710m, 9400, E1705; and Dell Precision M20, M60, M70 and M90 mobile workstations; and XPS, XPS Gen2, XPS M170 and XPS M1710. Also, you’re to go here, and to pop that batt post haste.

Even worse – the batteries were made by Sony, not Dell, which means other laptops might also be at risk if they too use Sony batteries (creative sabotage?). I’m pretty confident my Toshiba is safe. Keep an eye on this story!

I wonder what they do with the returned batteries? I think they should put them all in a big pile and explode it. That would make a great video! They could use it as a PR stunt of some sort. Though I’m sure the environmentalists would have a field day. Oh well.

Read: Engadget

Format and Reinstall

After attempting to install another gigabyte of RAM into my computer yesterday, it went completely bonkers. I don’t know what happened, but I couldn’t seem to fix it (and actually I don’t think it was related to the RAM itself). I have lots of experience fixing computers, and yes I tried everything, but I just couldn’t get it to work again. So I went to my last resort – format and reinstall.

Everything is back up and running perfectly now, which makes me happy. For the longest time I have kept one drive for Windows and applications, and one or two other drives for data. I even remap My Documents and all of those folders to the data drives. Because of this, I can format and reinstall the system drive without losing any data. The only negative effect of a format and reinstall is the time it takes to install all my applications again! So that’s my advice – keep your system and data drives separate.

Another nice side benefit of formatting and reinstalling – everything is super fast 🙂

Dickson and I were talking about this yesterday, and we got on to the topic of virtualization. He suggested that it would make a lot of sense to simply run a virtual OS all the time, because you could move it around to any host. It’s a pretty good idea, but I am not sure how well it would work in practice. For one thing, it still wouldn’t fix a device driver or something from crashing and ruining Windows. On the other hand, I guess you could backup your OS image to an external device every night so that in the worst case, you could go back to yesterday! The other thing is the hardware – you probably wouldn’t be able to take advantage of an awesome graphics card or sound card or something inside a virtual machine. Maybe one day!

The History of Apple

Post ImageAs you may or may not know, 2006 marks the 30th anniversary of Apple Computer, and yes I find it amusing that they still have “computer” in their name (seriously, the iPod is not being represented)! Anyway, via Derek Miller I came across this rather amusing history of the company, with entries starting 4-15 billion years ago. It really puts things in perspective:

With the celebration of Apple’s 30th anniversary wrapping up, it seems like the perfect time to take one last look back at the company’s storied history. Now, anyone can put together a timeline that tells you what year certain Macs were released or which kitty code-named version of OS X came out when. But Apple’s 30th anniversary demands a concerted effort from a reporter not afraid to dig deep to discover the untold story of Apple’s history. Sadly, none of those reporters were available, so Macworld turned the project over to the editor of Crazy Apple Rumors Site instead. Here are some key moments in the history of your favorite fruit-themed technology company as best he could remember them.

It’s definitely worth a read!

Read: Macworld

Apple to run Windows?

Post ImageHow would you like to buy a Mac and run Windows on it instead of OS X? All the style of an Apple computer with the ubiquity of Windows – there are many people that would love to have the option. Looks like they may get it sooner or later:

Word is out now that Apple has joined BAPco, an industry group that does one thing and one thing only: create benchmarks for testing the performance of Windows-based PCs. The move comes on top of rumors that Apple will include VMWare-style virtualization capabilities in the next version of OS X, which could enable the Mac OS to run Windows apps without requiring a third-party emulator or a reboot.

Apple does hardware. Microsoft is a software company, Apple a hardware company. Now that they are using Intel chips anyway, why not run Windows? There have been many essays written arguing for and against such a decision, but I think it would be cool. Apple could concentrate on making sexy computers and leave the OS stuff to Microsoft.

I’d buy a Mac if it ran Windows Vista.

Read: Engadget

Windows Performance Rating

Post ImageThere are lots of great new “little” features coming in Windows Vista, features that you might not hear advertised or that you may not experience right away. One of those features (unless it becomes advertised in stores which would be great) is Windows Performance Rating, a numerical value that represents the performance of your computer:

“The idea behind the Windows Performance Rating is to help average consumers easily understand their Windows Vista PC’s overall performance, and to simplify the process of determining whether certain software applications will run smoothly based on their system components,” Microsoft said in a statement provided to CNET News.com.

It’s not exactly clear how the rating is calculated, or if it will have the same scale as what is currently available in beta builds, but that doesn’t matter. This feature is going to be great for consumers. No more worrying about how much RAM a machine has, or how fast the processor is, etc. What’s the performance rating? That’s all you need to ask.

This rating is similar to the change in processor naming that happened recently. You no longer have to compare clock speed to determine relative performance. Instead, you simply look at the model number (for example, Pentium 4 Processor 630 versus a Pentium 4 Processor 651). This method gives a much more accurate picture of relative performance.

And even better, the performance rating appears to go beyond simply performance, and takes into account other system components to determine how well they improve the Vista experience.

Read: CNET News.com

Dell to buy Alienware?

Post ImageDid Dell buy Alienware or not? Word spread around the web yesterday that the deal was already done, but Dell has said otherwise:

Dell has moved to quash rumors that suggested the company has acquired rival PC vendor Alienware. Speculation about a possible buyout has been rife since Rahul Sood, CEO of original equipment manufacturer Voodoo PC, posted his thoughts on such a move on his blog two weeks ago.

Questioning the accuracy of the information, Paul McKeon, Dell Australia and New Zealand spokesman, said the original source–Voodoo PC–is unreliable since the company is an Alienware competitor.

I would be somewhat surprised if Dell did buy Alienware, simply because Dell is not known for making acquisitions. On the other hand, they haven’t denied it. All McKeon did is suggest reasons why it might not have happened.

Read: CNET News.com