The fastest RC cars in the world

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Video: Remedy’s Quad Processor Game Demo

Microsoft's 30-gigabyte Zune will retail for $249.99

From CNN:
SEATTLE, Washington (Reuters) -- Microsoft Corp. said Thursday its new Zune music player will be sold at a price matching Apple Computer Inc.'s market-leading iPod and, as a result, lose money this holiday season.

Microsoft's 30-gigabyte Zune will retail for $249.99 -- 99 cents higher than the iPod with the same amount of storage -- when it goes on sale November 14.

Songs available for download at the Zune Marketplace service will cost about 99 cents a song, on par with prices at Apple's iTunes, Microsoft said.

The world's largest software maker faces an uphill climb in trying to topple the market-dominating iPod after conceding a five-year head start to Apple's media player.

Microsoft said it needed to put a comparable price on Zune, even if it meant that the company will suffer a loss from the device's sales this holiday season.

"We had to look at what was in the market and offer a competitive price," said Scott Erickson, Microsoft's senior director of product marketing for Zune. "We're not going to be profitable this holiday but the Zune project is a multiyear strategy."

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft has said it plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to develop and market the Zune, and acknowledged the investment may take years to bear fruit.

The music player is the first step in creating a new brand of portable devices, according to company officials, who also said a Zune phone is in the works.

The Zune, a rectangular media player with a round click wheel, is similar in appearance to the iPod but slightly bulkier and has a larger 3-inch screen.

Unlike the iPod, it comes with an FM radio tuner and wireless connectivity to allow users to beam photos and songs to one another.

Microsoft hired Japanese electronics maker Toshiba Corp. to manufacture the Zune.

Microsoft also announced it will sell a music subscription pass for $14.99 a month, allowing users to listen to any of the songs on Zune Marketplace. It pledges to offer 2 million-plus songs at launch. After the pass expires, users will not be able to access those songs.

For consumers looking to own a song, the Zune Marketplace will sell tracks for 79 Microsoft points. A user can buy 80 Microsoft points for $1 and points will also be redeemable at its online video game store, Xbox Live Marketplace.

Microsoft said it will initially sell only music -- and no video -- at the Zune Marketplace. The company said it was negotiating with major record companies and labels.

Each Zune device will come preloaded with an array of songs, music video, images and short films, Microsoft said.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Debunking the MySpace Myth of 100 Million Users

From ForeverGeek:

The hype around the 'web 2.0' buzzword continues to grow and grow. From bullshit statements like 85% of college students use Facebook (umm no, that was when less than half of US colleges were supported, yet everyone continues to cite that magical number) to PhotoBucket drives 2% of US internet traffic (again, umm no - peak traffic is no reflection of sustained throughput), no one seems to be fact checking any more.

The latest annoyance has been the self-indulgent claim of web 2.0 bloggers that MySpace has 100,000,000 users. Interestingly, this specific headline says accounts, but the article and subsequent articles all say users. I would say that anyone with half a clue knows that 'accounts' are not the same as 'users', but that would be obvious, wouldn't it?

So to do some quick little debunking (and spreading some new numbers), I decided to do a quick an dirty analysis. I was going to check 303 random MySpace profiles and classify them into one of the following six types:

1. Invalid Friend ID error
2. Has not logged in since creation date (you can figure that out when you see multiple users in a row)
3. Logged in for upto a week after creation
4. Logged in for upto a month after creation
5. Last logged in within the last month
6. Last logged in within the last week

It goes without saying that #1-#2 are not real users, #3-#4 were just checking out what the hype is, #5 may still be a real user, and #6 is reflective of a 'real' user (especially in the social networking scene).

The sample chosen was simple. The 100 millionth account was as follows: Just replace the friendid value, and we can look up any specific user id.

So we looked at accounts 25,000,000-25,000,100 , 50,000,000-50,000,100, and 100,000,000-100,000,100.

The results were, to say the least, underwhelming:

Don't like bar graphs? Why don't we try a beautiful pie graph:
Whew. Looks like the popular claim that MySpace has 100,000,000 users is hot air. More than 50% can't even bother to visit again after a month. Based on assuming that type 5 and type 6 are the real 'users' of MySpace, it turns out that MySpace really has roughly 43,000,000 users. Very unscientific? Yep. More accurate than the 100,000,000 myth? Damn straight. The 100,000,000 number is inflated by 133%.

So to those that have been tossing around this magical number ... well, the truth shall set you free.

In all situations we erred on the side in favor of MySpace

P.S. - I like TechCrunch and Mashable, but as two of the biggest web 2.0 blogs, I expect them to be a bit more careful before making big claims that have no substance.

No need for Net Neutrality? Comcast blocking Google

From Bostonist:
It appears that there is a disconnect between Google and Comcast going on right now (breaking news?). We've gotten a number of field reports from users of Comcast's cable internet service across the state who are unable to connect to Gmail, Google, and Blogspot. One of our "internet outage spotters" chronicled a tech support conversation he had in which the Comcast operator told him it was a Firefox issue and he'd have to switch to IE. Apparently Comcast won't support Firefox as a browser, and if the user is requesting technical assistance it's only for IE browser questions. Another rep. indicated that the issue was with Google. Though it seems IE browsers can connect to Google, but not personalized pages or GMail, Firefox running on the same Comcast connected machine won't even connect to those.

We don't claim to have the technical knowledge to debunk either of these claims for sure – we do know that this post is going up using the Firefox connection we're using which does not rely on Comcast for anything. Connections are freely made to blogspot, google, and gmail using non-Comcast based internet connections, or IE on Comcast. While we'd like to blame the cable operator for the problems here, perhaps this could be a grudge held by Google. Is Google expressing a vendetta against Comcast for not supporting the opensource software?

There is no indication when this problem will clear up. Comcast might not have anyone working on the issue – they report they need a critical number of calls to classify the issue as a "problem." Totally Comcastic!

Update: YouTube is reportedly unavailable in the Comcast Firefox fiasco as well. No embedded videos on sites and no homepage connectivity.

Update #2: Everything seems to be working just fine in the world of Comcast Cable Internet Service. Google is working just fine, personalized GMail, Calendar, etc...are again accessible from Comcast connections - using Firefox and IE. We got the following from Comcast themselves:

There was a hardware problem with one of our servers in Massachusetts today, which prevented a small number of customers in the area from connecting to some Web sites for a brief period of time. This was an isolated and random issue which we quickly resolved as soon as we became aware of it.

Comcast apologizes for any inconvenience this problem may have caused. Our goal is to provide a superior Internet experience for our customers, which includes being able to access all of the Web sites of their choice.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Intel pledges 80 cores in five years

From TomsHardware:
Intel has built a prototype of a processor with 80 cores that can perform a trillion floating point operations per second.

CPUs are accelerating their gain of processing power and, in the near future, Intel believes that a single chip could perform a trillion instructions per second and replace dozens of servers. At the IDF, the firm gave a sneak peek of an upcoming 80-core processor for the "mega data-center."

Using a combination of 80-CPU cores, directly-bonded cache memory and on-die lasers, the chip can push to 1 Teraflops, or a trillion floating point instructions per second, and has an external bandwidth of 1 Terabit per second. In comparison, today's Core 2 Duo processors are estimated to reach a performance of about 25 GFlops.

According to chief technology officer Justin Rattner, the cores on the new 3.1 GHz chip are not full CPU cores, but floating point accelerators, comparable to the to cores in the IBM Cell or Sun Microsystem's Niagara processor. Rattner said the prototype chip could reach the market in about five years.

Each core on the chip will have 256 Mb of directly bonded static RAM cache. The memory has been attached to the bottom of the processor and is the key component in providing an aggregate memory bandwidth of 1 Tb per second.

How will the laser chips communicate with the motherboard and other processors? A multiplexor will combine the light into a single fiber optic link with 1 terabit per second bandwidth. Rattner says this is a 50X increase over the best electrical link.

But all of this processing power is rather useless if you can't get the information around to different cores and outside of the chip, so Rattner brought in John Bowers a University of California Santa Barbara professor to explain how hybrid lasers will help I/O speeds.

Intel and UCSB have been partnering up on laser research for several years. Lasers are well known for their gigantic data transmission rates as evidenced in fiber optic cables, but you couldn't put those cables on computer chips, until now. Using CMOS manufacturing techniques, Intel and UCSB etched tiny tunnels or wave guides onto chips. Then a layer of indium-phospide was stacked on top. Light is produced and travels down the wave guide when electrical current is applied to the layers.

Bowers explained that traditional expenses for lasers have been high, but Intel's method is much cheaper because it uses the same manufacturing facilities.

So far Intel has been able to pack 25 lasers onto thin bars and 1000 lasers onto square chips. Bowers and Rattner gave what they say is the world's first onstage demonstration of a hybrid laser. Attendees gawked at monitors which showed the beam end of a prototype four-laser chip. The beams momentarily disappeared off the screens after Rattner placed his hotel keycard into the path.

The new chip will have at least 25 lasers which will be multiplexed into a single fiber optic outbound link with 1 TB/s bandwidth. Rattner said this was a 50 times increase in bandwidth over comparable electrical links and added that "hundreds of wires" were being eliminated.

Sandisk Announces 12GB and 16GB Extreme III CF Cards

From DailyTech:
Professional photographers will be able to enjoy fast read/write speeds and increased capacity with Sandisk's latest additions to its Extreme III CompactFlash family. The company today announced new 12GB and 16GB models which it says are the highest capacity cards in the world.

The cards will have minimum read/write speeds of 20MB/sec thanks to the in-house developed Enhanced Super-Parallel Processing (ESP) technology. The cards are also guaranteed to function in temperatures ranging from minus 13F to 185F and include RescuePro software for image recovery in case of accidental deletion.

The Sandisk Extreme III 12GB and 16GB CompactFlash will be available in December with price tags of $779.99 and $1,049.99 respectively. Both cards will come backed with a lifetime limited warranty in the United States.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Anydata to offer compact USB EVDO modem

From Tomshardware:
Wireless broadband capability will soon extend beyond today's PC cards that typically limit their use to notebooks that still include such a slot. We recently got a sneak preview of Sierra Wireless' external USB EVDO modem and it appears that Anydata will also be rolling out such a device soon.

Anydata received FCC approval for their ADU-E100D modem, paving the way for an introduction in the near future. The device has a footprint slightly larger than a business card and will weigh 124 g (about 4 ounces), including the integrated battery, and connects to a PC via USB 2.0.

The modem is based on Qualcomm's MSM6500 chipset, which supports the EVDO Rel. 0 standard. According to the product manual, the ADU-E100D supports downlink speeds of up to 2.4 Mb/s and uplink speeds of up to 153 Kb/s. While the company has not formally announced the device, it appears that the modem will only be compatible with Windows 2000 SP3 and XP.

Quad-Core for the holidays?

From ZDnet:
Enthusiast sites have been reporting that Intel's quad-core processor will bear the "Core 2 Quadro" moniker, although Intel representatives have strongly denied that is the name for the upcoming chip. Whatever brand Intel chooses for Kentsfield, the desktop version, it will probably be associated with something expensive, as the initial buyers of Kentsfield should be early adopters willing to pay big bucks for the highest-performing chip on the market.

Chances are, such buyers will have the opportunity to do so in time for the holiday season, according to sources familiar with Intel's plans. The company had already said it will release Kentsfield and Clovertown during the fourth quarter, but sources say it now expects to make sure those chips are available in PCs offered to holiday shoppers. Intel declined to comment on its plans.

The earlier-than-expected arrival of new models might also push the prices of older dual-core chips down Intel's price stack, making for some compelling deals during the all-important holiday shopping season, said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Insight 64.

Video: Moonwalking Bird