Top 3 Super Bowl Tech Ads!

In case you haven’t heard, the Super Bowl was today and as is the case every year, we got some really great ads. Being a complete geek myself I can assure you I’m not watching for the sports portion of it! Anyways, you don’t want to read what I have to say, you just want the top 3 list so without further ado – here it is ladies and gentlemen!

3. Cars.com

[youtube_video id=”DqT2xbODNr8″]

2. Google

[youtube_video id=”nnsSUqgkDwU”]

1. Motorola

[youtube_video id=”gX_eF-8tlqY&hl”]

My Official Response to the Apple iPad

Well, the iPad has been upon us for a week now and most of you have had time to mull over what it means for the tech industry. I actually wrote a little opinion piece last week about how ridiculous speculating about the iPad was. After having watched the entire press event live, as it turns out, the iPad is quite a bit different from what many people expected. For starters, nobody really speculated that Apple would come up with a name that would be the butt of jokes about female hygiene. Then there is the blatant lack of even simple things we take for granted on netbooks and computers today; simple things like flash and multitasking.

Now in fact I’m not really very funny, so rather than even trying to sum up the things the iPad lacks in writing, I’ll simply consult Hitler himself:

[youtube_video id=”9_EcybyLJS8&hl”]

Now of course the iPad will be a smash hit. It’s coming in at a $499 price point of the 16GB non-3G model. But more importantly it has the backing of the App Store, iTunes and a new eBook store Apple will be launching. Apple’s biggest advantage in this game comes down to their strengths in content distribution. The iPad will be a device that people will use to consume content, nothing more. And for the consumer space, that’s exactly what’s needed.

Artificial Beauty

The other day I got into an interesting debate with a good friend of mine regarding louche women on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. The first thing that came to mind was of course the “Myspace angle”. In case you’ve never heard of this mystical angle, allow me to help illustrate:

MySpace Angle
Fig. 1: The “MySpace Angle”

Now I went ahead and took this idea a step further – no, not to just women wearing makeup. Me? What? Just a little bronzer, plenty of men use it, I swear! No, but seriously it occurred to me how distorted our perception of reality has become because of the images that appear in fashion magazines and all over the web. I know all too well how much you can distort reality using graphics software like Photoshop in very little time. Now as I was the one who brought this up, my friend of course asked me to prove it. Tack 16 minutes of amateur work onto an image of a girl that honestly looked okay before and this was the end result:

Artificial Beauty
 Fig. 2: Artificial Beauty

Not perfect, but enough to give you a pretty good idea of how much the lines of reality can really be blurred with very little work. I’ll be honest, every time that I go and modify a picture of a person like that it really does pain me in many ways. You really do feel like you’re chopping a person up. What’s more, it’s a total objectification of people – the kinds of thoughts that pass through your mind are of course “Hey, this doesn’t look too good” and “She’d look better this way!”.

I think the message here is awfully clear, as cliché as it may be: stop aiming to look like people do in magazines and online. You can find thousands if not millions of pictures online that have been touched up to a point that the end result is convincingly good looking but only moderately resembles the person it started as. Now don’t get me wrong and don’t try to misconstrue the message as being “Ignore how you look”. Just do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up over every the little imperfection you see. Nobody is perfect, not even those seemingly perfect models you’ll find online.

GNILLEY: Yell at your Computer to Win!

Hard day at school or work this week? Need a little time to de-stress? Well I’ve got your solution boys and girls: a great new game called GNILLEY! The premise of the game couldn’t be any simpler. As the creators so eloquently put it, Yell—>succeed.

All you need to play GNILLEY is a Windows PC, a working microphone and a keyboard. The creators of the game showed it off at Game Jam in Sydney on January 31. Scroll down for a link to this great free game, and enjoy the awesome presentation!

[youtube_video id=”QYPwYfbi8jA&hl”]

So what are you waiting for?

DOWNLOAD GNILLEY!

The author’s original page can be found here.

Apple’s New Tablet: Get a Life!

Apple Tablet!!!Okay, this is going to be a short one because without any shadow of a doubt it could easily end up being 5000 words long and my rant still wouldn’t be over. So here goes…

Please, for the love of god, stop making stuff up about Apple’s new tablet! In fact, Apple hasn’t even confirmed they are going to be making a tablet and we won’t hear a word until Wednesday. I’ve seen incredibly ridiculous (incredulous really) headings online about an unreleased and unannounced device that make it so incredibly obvious how much the media and consumers are Apple tools…

And the worst part is that despite the fact that I’m awesome, I’ve still been turned into a tool. See, I spent exactly 7 minutes mocking up my own Apple tablet for use on this blog entry. I think it turned out pretty good for a 7 minute mock-up job. The best part is that I only needed two shapes and a screenshot of OSX and I could have fooled you all into thinking it was Apple promo material.

Some classics over the past week include:

Apple Tablet an Ideal Business Tool

What that should have read is “I’d Love to Play with a Tablet at Work“. Then they start trying to guess names for this thing: “It could be an iSlate, or an iSlab, or an iTablet, or perhaps even an iPod Tablet Edition.” Aside from the fact that all those names are laughable (iSlate, really?) why are we even discussing it? Don’t we have better things to do with our lives than get wet over the name of an ideal business tablet that isn’t even confirmed to exist yet?

Apple’s Tablet: a gizmo to save the world

Wow, this is going to be good, Apple is going to save our planet. I don’t think the word “overhyped” even fits this article. I mean think about it, the whole premise here is that we are all going to die and Apple’s unannounced tablet will save us all. Then again, I should be ecstatic – we aren’t all going to go the way of the dinosaur in 2012! Reason enough to fork out cash for Apple’s new mystery device.

iTablet may save publishing

I think that finally we are starting to cool down a bit here – at least the word overhyped fits the bill this time. Still, you have to appreciate the irony here, the media bringing you an article published online asking the question whether a tablet will save the very publishing we know, love and read online today.

Can Apple save the written word?

Yes, obviously all languages will cease to exist without Apple making a tablet… Obviously!

Now don’t take any of this the wrong way, I’m sure that Apple and its engineers have put a huge amount of work into whatever device it is that they are launching. What’s more, I’m sure it will be a great product with some really cool applications. In fact in case you hadn’t noticed that I never actually spend time complaining about Apple so I’ll spell it out for you: I can’t stand Apple tools. It’s such an incredible shame that I can’t rightfully go and buy an Apple product without looking and feeling like a Jobs drone…

As per usual though, props to Steve Jobs for making a fool out of all of us.

Download Google Chrome OS

Mkay, lets keep this simple, I’ve got a compiled and ready to go VMware virtual machine available for download at the following URL:

http://files.cmoullas.net/chrome_os.rar

With that out of the way, I still don’t get it… I wrote what you might call an opinion piece on why Google Chrome OS Will Fail back in July when the OS was announced and after having done a little playing with it, I still don’t understand what all the fuss is about. It’s kind of interesting to have an operating system that logs you on using your Google account straight out of the box, but… It’s a glorified web browser and as expected, the operating system has gone backwards. It does just about nothing that Windows hasn’t been doing since the introduction of group policy and active directory in 2000 (or possibly earlier actually).

What is there to talk about? It’s a web browser in a box, otherwise known as dumbed-down Linux with Google Chrome installed and starting by default. I’m off to see if I can make it do any more tricks than that, but unless somebody who has read my explanation of why it will fail can explain to me how this will displace the OS as we know it, then please be my guest.

And for the record, I’ll take Ubuntu over this any day, and that’s high praise coming form a “Windows guy”!

I’ll leave you with a screenie of the new OS:

Google Chrome OS

Geek’s Guide to Free mp3 Downloads: IRC

There are a whole host of ways that people use to download music, but it is unquestionable that the first method that got mass adoption was the Napster p2p service, then followed by Kazaa and finally Limewire and BitTorrent. What most people don’t know is that downloading music was going on long before p2p was even a glimmer in the eye of it’s creator – simple file transfers were happening every day via “Internet Relay Chat” (IRC) servers. Back in the day, searching for tracks was a complicated affair and you needed a fair amount of command-line prowess to figure it out, but nowadays there are simple yet little known ways of gaining access to the high quality and constantly updated content still graciously hosted on IRC servers by dedicated individuals who believe strongly in sharing.

What I have for you today, boys and girls, is a simple and refined way of finding completely FREE music with no catch, all rolled up into a simple to follow video tutorial. The quality of the files is always great, the downloads are fast and really you’ll wonder how this secret has been kept for so long. Now I know I sound like a salesman trying to pitch some phony product, but I assure you this method really is that good. All you have to do is sign up and buy… Nah, just kidding! Just watch the video and you’ll see how simple it is to do – straight from a geek who has been doing this for years! Just remember kids, don’t download things you don’t already own.

As promised in the video just below, here are links to the two files you need to download to make everything work for you:

Download mIRC

Download AutoGet

Funny Tech Support Problems

I made a trip down to the local IT support desk at my school so that I could get myself a login for the wireless network. The first question was “do I have my student ID card”, which I didn’t have on hand. The woman’s eyes glazed over and she assumed that this was going to be another case of pulling teeth with a stupid user fraught with aggravation. Thankfully I had my “official” schedule on me and it wasn’t a problem and in the end we chatted a little about how crazy tech support can be. Here is one of many such examples that came up:

- Hi, I want to log into the wireless but I don’t know my password
– Okay, go over to that computer and type in a password 8 characters long or more please.
– I’ve just entered my password and it didn’t take it! What’s wrong with your stupid system?
– Was your password at least 8 characters long?
– No, it was just four letters…

Apparently that’s a really common issue tech support at my school runs into – students are unable to count all the way up to eight… There are certainly much worse and much funnier cases of incredulous support calls where the lines of communication between the angry customer and the CSR are burned to the ground. Here are a couple of hilarious examples of just such cases from around the web:

[youtube_video id=”UTAQjQRh3lY”]

[youtube_video id=”8i_XcXJkk2o”]

Tech Support Demotivational

Intel X25-m Gen 2 & OCZ Vertex Power Consumption

There has been a lot of debate among enthusiasts over which is better: the Indilinx-based OCZ Vertex (see my review) or the just launched Intel X25-m Gen 2 drives that use shiny new 34nm flash memory. It has been generally accepted that the new X25-m drives are very efficient all-round due to the advanced flash memory and Intel’s spec sheets which clearly show that it should use just 150mW under load. I’ve actually got both drives on-hand right now and am out to finally answer everybody’s question: which of these two drives uses less power and can Intel’s grandiose claims be verified?

Intel X25-m OCZ Vertex Power Consumption

Test Setup

The test setup for taking the relevant measurements was extremely simple: I put a relatively high-end Fluke 179 multimeter in series with the +5V rail of the PC power supply and the drive to be measured. To accomplish this, I cut up a male SATA power cable and set up the circuit such that the Fluke sat right in front of the 5V input of the drive. It’s also important to note that the only power supplied to the drives was from this 5 volt line which is fine because 2.5″ disks don’t use any other power. In order to get accurate power readings, it is also important to know the actual input voltage and so input voltage (the +5V rail) was measured using the same multimeter after the benchmarks had been run. Voltage must be measured because because power in Watts is Voltage * Amperes.

All readings were taken on the 10A current input on the multimeter. Measurements represent the maximum observed readings which is the same rating that hard drive manufacturers typically use. In most cases with SSDs however, average power is normally very close to peak power.

The specific drives used were the intel x25-m Gen 2 and the original OCZ Vertex flashed all the way up to firmware revision 1.30. For the purposes of comparison and just general interest, I’ve thrown in the results of a 2.5″ 80GB 5400 RPM Hitachi disk model HTS543280L9A300.

Now that everything’s all cleared up and out of the way, onto the results portion of the test!

Power Readings

Intel X25-m OCZ Vertex Power Consumption

I don’t know about you, but I think these results are pretty conclusive: Intel’s new drive is most certainly not using 150mW under load! In fact the drive is idling at 600mW while the highest reading I saw showed it using up to 2.4W while writing – 44% more than the Indilinx based OCZ Vertex under the same conditions! Moreover, the OCZ Vertex pretty much trashed the X25-m Gen2 under every condition we measured it under. The data speaks for itself and the results are plain and simple: the X25-m Gen2 is not the miracle drive that Intel claims it is when it comes to power consumption.

To help illustrate what this data means, lets make use of a couple of bar graphs to help visualize the actual differences:

Intel X25-m OCZ Vertex Power Consumption
Intel X25-m OCZ Vertex Power Consumption

Concluding Remarks

Once again, the data really speaks for itself: the Intel drive uses more power than the older OCZ using the Indilinx controller. I’m not sure if this trend holds true with other Indilinx drives, but I
have a sneaking suspicion they will all perform similarly. While certainly an interesting result, it may very well be disappointing to many who were expecting the Intel drive to be vastly superior to other models.

We’ve also been able to show without any shadow of a doubt that either of these drives will have benefits with regards to power consumption when compared to your typical 5400 RPM laptop drives as expected. Now finally I should mention that this isn’t to say the Intel X25m Gen2 is a bad drive – in fact the opposite is true; it just so happens that it isn’t the drive to buy if you want to save as much power as possible.

Seagate Ships 2TB 6Gb/s Barracuda XT

Seagate is now shipping what they claim is the world’s first SATA 3 hard drive which sports 6Gb/s transfer rates – two times higher than the previous ubiquitous SATA 2 generation interface found on nearly all motherboards and drives today.Seatage Barracuda XT

What we know about the new Barracuda XT so far is that it has 64MB of cache while the industry standard is either 16MB or 32MB and has a total capacity of 2 terabytes, matching Western Digital’s highest capacity offerings. Seagate has also mentioned that the drive uses 500GB platters spinning at a full 7200 RPM, making this monster a four-platter drive. The areal density of the platters is known to be as high as 367 gigabits per square inch.

“Unlike other 2-TB [models] that run at 5400 or 5900-RPM speeds, the
new Barracuda XT drive is built on a full-speed, 7200-RPM, 4-disk
platform,” said Seagate spokesperson David Burks. “Further turbocharged with a huge 64-MB cache and the industry’s new,
high-performance SATA 6Gb/s interface, the Barracuda XT drive is
destined to set a new standard for high-speed desktop performance.”

Burks also went on to explain that the large 64MB cache was added mainly to leverage the faster interface transfer rate: “The XT’s 64MB cache optimizes burst performance and reduces data
throughput bottlenecks, so cache-efficient games and
applications, such as non-linear video editing tools, will experience a
real performance boost right out of the chute.”

While not strictly true as SATA3 has yet to see widespread availability, Marvell, a maker of drive controllers, has said that first-gen SATA 6Gbps controllers are already incorporated in some high end motherboards such as the Asus P755D Premium and the Gigabyte GA-P55-Extreme. What’s more, if you feel a real need for speed and are on a budget then you can expect expansion cards in the very near future which add the new controller to your existing system. The drive is of course backwards-compatible with existing SATA 1.5Gbps and SATA 3Gbps controllers, however.

The new Barracuda XT should be ideally suited for high-performance desktops or low-cost servers according to Seagate and will go on sale immediately for $299, roughly the same price as competing drives from WD which offer a slower RPM and the older SATA 3Gbps interface.