Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

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MOVING TO GPFAULT.ORG

March 28, 2008

For our one (and only) reader that is a bit confused as to the complete and total lack of updates, well, we moved. Head over to www.gpfault.org our new home for all things tech with podcasts featuring yours truly and Ivan.

www.gpfault.org
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Meet Your New Standard: Blu-Ray!

February 19, 2008

Blu-RayToshiba, one of the primary supporters of a new high definition media format (known as HD-DVD) has pulled its troops from the front line leaving Microsoft alone as the single corporate power defying, well, everybody in the Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD format war.

Movie studio Warner Brothers was the most recent adopter of Blu-Ray as its next generation standard, which in turn prompted hardware manufacturer Samsung to focus upon Blu-Ray. With not only Wal-Mart, Target, Netflix and even pornography production companies pledging support exclusively to Blu-Ray, HD-DVD was already in a losing battle. The two competing standards both offer higher capacity storage than existing DVDs, high-definition pictures and sounds. HD-DVD is marked by its lower cost in production while Blu-Ray has a higher recording capacity.

Microsoft sells an external HD-DVD drive which connects to their Xbox 360 console that allows viewing of HD-DVDs, which explains their investment in the format. So what does the last remaining champion of the format have to offer the 1 million people who have already invested in the standard?

“We do not believe the recent reports about HD DVD will have any material impact on the Xbox 360 platform or our position in the marketplace,” the company said. “We will wait until we hear from Toshiba before announcing any specific plans around the Xbox 360 HD DVD player.” Reuters UK

Thankfully, I only bought one HD-DVD, and it has a standard DVD on the flip side. There are over 500 HD-DVD titles available at Amazon.com as of today. I’m wondering when they all go on sale?

HDDVD Tombstone

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Teddy Ruxpin… Version 2.0

December 3, 2007

Teddy RuxpinSome of the whiz kids at MIT who had a fondness for that animatronic doll that we lovingly took into our homes in the 80’s, have created a new bear that not only is cute, cuddly and a companion for life, but can also alert medical staff to changes in an individual’s illness. Kinda like Dr. Huggable, Robotic Medicine Bear.

In the past I have talked about all kinds of robots ranging from ones that can navigate from point-to-point with no outside help to slug-eating robots that find battery fuel in the consumption of that sweet, slimy flesh. But now the robots are going for our children. OUR CHILDREN! The article from the BBC even mentions that ‘Huggable’ (its name) will possibly be able to not only recognize its owner, but respond to cuddles and will be able to tell if its owner is in distress. What happens when the bear turns evil? Will the bear report that all things are normal as it chases you around the room with a cleaver?

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Zune: Microsoft’s iPod Alternative

October 15, 2007

Microsoft’s ZuneI do so love technology, but it seems I am usually the last one to the party. I was one of the last consumers in Alaska (it seems) to purchase a cell phone. Last year was the first time I built a computer without a floppy drive, and didn’t miss it. After hosting a computer issues program for five years, it was year six when I purchased my first Apple system. And now I set my sights on an MP3 player.

Now, I have owned other MP3 players before: many, many other MP3 players. However, I have not thrown my support behind Apple’s iPod or Microsoft’s Zune.

Apple’s iPod is obviously the most popular MP3 device, playing the role of the 800 pound gorilla in the portable music world. In second place is SanDisk, which has a line of inexpensive players which fill the sub-$100 price range, and at times its sales outperform those of select iPod models. Third goes to Microsoft with it’s line of Zune players.

I’ve been hemming and hawing, trying to figure out if I go the iPod route and join the converted or take the plunge with the 800 trillion pound gorilla that is the Zune’s parent company and take a gamble on new technology. Prices for the last year have been fairly constant at $250, with both companies offering 30 GB versions of their portable players that can not only store and play music but work their magic with movies, e-books, pictures and even some simple puzzle games… either would work fine with me. Recently Apple announced their new iTouch line, which is an iPod crossed with an iPhone’s touch-based interface, minus the phone features. Of course Microsoft counters with their Zune 2 and so it continues.

However, unlike the iPod, the older Zune players are getting cheaper, even via official channels. Much cheaper when we figure in unofficial. I am sorely tempted. What do you think?

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Core 2 Duo Vs. Dual Core

October 8, 2007

Best Chip Ever!As I wander around my place of employment (Office Max) selling electronic gadgets and computers to various people, I am always amazed at the sheer amount of misinformation man will share with his fellow man… or woman as the case may be. Probably my favorite is when people write checks out to Office Depot and then go on to ask why I can’t accept it. Here are a few choice quotes, as heard by me, in regards to computers and technology:

Girl 1: “So, um, can I like run a Mac program on this monitor?”
Knowledgeable Boyfriend 1:
“No babe, you need to get one of those iTune monitors that its compatible with… I’ll ask this guy if they have any of the touchscreen models…”

Codger 1: “Does it look like any of these computers have the Internet?”
Codger 2: “Nope. These guys never sell the Internet here… who would ever buy one of these computers without the Internet?”

Daughter 1: “Dad? Can I use a wireless mouse with my HP [laptop]?”
Dad 1: “No, it has to have a wire or the Internet will stop working on a laptop.”

Occasionally someone will come in with a slight misunderstanding as far as technology goes and I need to gently explain the nuances between the bits and pieces. One such example was with Intel’s naming scheme regarding microprocessors for a desktop computer system.

Many people understand the idea of ‘Intel Inside’… which means there is an Intel processor, inside your computer. Fairly straightforward. More recently though, the idea of Core processors (that is, Intel’s creation of two processors, or chips, on a single piece of silicon, or die) has been forcibly injected into the consumer’s mindset. It doesn’t help matters that Intel has released more than 4 different classes of Core processors, all with slightly similar names. In fact, one of the chip sets is called the Core 2 Duo… or basically, the Core 2 2, which must be a joke that the Marketing Department at Intel thought would be really funny.

If you are looking at computer systems and see a computer that has an ‘Intel Inside’ sticker and are wondering just what exactly is inside, I have a handy little list for you to use for reference. Feel free to print this out and distribute it to all of your friends:

GPF Guide To Intel Processors
(Newest to Oldest)

  • Intel Core 2 Extreme: so fast its un-affordable; active
  • Intel Core 2 Quad: one piece of silicon with 4 processors on it; active
  • Intel Core 2 Duo: today’s most popular Intel processor; active
  • Intel Pentium Dual-Core: used in low-end systems and some laptops; discontinued

I believe I have held back the tides of misinformation and confusion once again. You will have to excuse me while I remove a can of soda from a customer’s DVD player.