Tech Week in Retrospect

MacWorld Expo and CES. It seemed as if these were the only two topics grabbing the headlines this past month, huh. I don’t feel much for CES and  — if I’m honest — MacWorld wasn’t very exciting either, despite the extraneous coverage on blogs and podcasts alike. Yet, permit me to sidetrack to Apple for a moment…

But before I do that, here’s a list of what I’ll be babbling about. Yes, the links are anchors (it’s been a busy week):

  • Some Apple nagging (read on)
  • KDE 4 Unleashed (go)
  • iTunes Movie Rentals, not for Europe? (go)
  • Delicious 2.0 didn’t come this week after all (go)
  • Vista EULA changes again (go)
  • Vista SP1: Feb. 15? (go)
  • Windows 7 Development Kicked Off (go)
  • Blu-Ray captivates 93% of market (go)
  • Digg Revolt (go)
  • Eee PC will soon run Windows (go)
  • Massive WiMax Network for India (go)
  • SSD not catching on (go)

From the few announcements I could remember from MacWorld, I was particularly disappointed in Apple’s decision to charge for the so called ‘January Software Update’, which includes apps that were previously developed for the iPhone and would now make their debut on the iPod Touch.

Mail, Maps, Weather, Notes and Stocks are to be added to the iPod Touch’s scarce Home Screen for 20 USD (or 18 EUR). Now, the only applications I’d really consider are Mail and Maps. The Wifi Triangulation is another sweet feature I’d love to try.

Even though it’s tempting, I’m not sure I want to pay for something that ought to be free in the first place. This software wasn’t even developed from scratch. I reckon I’ll hold off on the paid update and waddle along with my trusty mobile version of GMail…

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Without intending to make this an overdue MacWorld reporting, I found the MacBook Air pretty un-impressive. The design-aspect is not the issue, you’d be an ass not the like the exterior of this baby, but hardware-wise the Air seems a bit over-hyped and underpowered. If I were in the market for a sub-notebook, I’d opt for a 13" Dell XPS or a regular MacBook. There’s no way I’d have accessories dangling down from a single USB-port.

KDE 4 Unleashed

KDE 4.0 was released earlier this week boasting half-baked implementations of potentially innovative technology. With QT4 as its underpinnings, KDE is leaping ahead more elegantly with the new Oxygen Visual Style. The new desktop shell dubbed Plasma makes its debut, along with the Phonon multimedia system and the Solid Hardware Layer. The KDE project hopes to have laid the stepping stones for a whole new experience, which they hope will be delivered in the future, albeit incrementally from this point onward. While most of the new stuff is still a bit rough around the edges, it’s obvious that when this thing becomes stable it’ll make Linux a nicer to place to reside in.

I, myself, have always preferred Gnome over KDE, mainly because of KDE’s intricate system of (Windows-like) bars and menus. I understand it’s packed with advanced stuff and all, but it’s just too clouded for the likes of me.

Perhaps KDE 4 will make this turn around somewhat in order to reach a broader audience.

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iTunes Movie Rentals, not for Europe?

Apple seems to be having trouble getting their newly released Movie Rentals in iTunes to Europe. Unlike the US, Europe is a cluster of individual countries, with each their own set of rules and laws. This heterogeneous environment makes it difficult for Apple (or anyone else) to provide a consistent service across the board.

Where I live (Belgium), we’re pretty much locked in by the one and only cable company, which reigns over the digital television realm. They provide the TV, the Electronic TV Guide, the Prime movie channels and the Pay-per-View services. There’s hardly any competition in this area, so it’d be extremely welcome if Apple would offer movie rentals over here. It would at least fire up some competition, which is always good for the consumer. It’s just not reasonable to pay 4 to 5 EUR for the sakes of renting a single movie (that’s between 6 and 7 USD!).

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Delicious 2.0 didn’t come this week after all

I love and use Delicious daily, but there’s no denying the interface is — mildly put — bland. I wholeheartedly agree with the ‘keep it simple‘-principle, but simple doesn’t equal to mid 1990’s… There has been word of Delicious 2.0 for quite a while now and everyone was pretty much expecting it to launch this week.

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Alas. Maybe next week.

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Vista EULA changes again

Back when Windows Vista was unleashed on the public for the first time, Microsoft stood its ground and persisted that only Business and Ultimate editions of the OS would allow virtualization. This caused a widespread ‘what the heck?’ feeling to spread across the Windows community and rightly so. The reason for MS’ decision was entirely economical, of course, as opposed to their own public statement in which they twisted it into a security issue.

Tech enthusiasts galore just do virtualization of Vista anyway, since there’s no real technical restriction to hold you back. The theoretical illegality aside, it was more a mindset-thing than anything else.

Finally Microsoft is giving up their pigheadedness about this issue, so at last, anyone can virtualize Windows without having to purchase yet another license.

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Vista SP1: Feb. 15?

Microsoft has churned out yet another Technical Refresh of SP1’s Release Candidate. Some are speculating it’ll be finalized by February 15th, though this date hasn’t been verified by MS.

I agree that now is the time to get SP1 out the door, even though it won’t be groundbreaking, at least it’ll add some stability and performance — which could haul over businesses and withholding consumers. Others might just as well wait until Windows 7 ships. And in turn, they would have to wait for SP1 of that release… And.. And..

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Windows 7 Development Kicked Off

Windows 7 screenshots have also popped up. T
he images of the M1-b
uild we’re seeing, look much like Vista. Obviously this build is merely experimental and in no way representative of the end product.

The final release date has also been shoved a year earlier. It is now forecasted to be released late 2009, whereas MS previously projected an end 2010 timing.

It’s looking like Microsoft is trying to make up for the lost time with Vista. They’re probably trying to re-acquire the credence they lost and build on top of the deep-going work they performed with Vista. It’s too early to see where this project is heading, though.

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Blu-Ray captivates 93% of market

After Warner Bros’ breaking with HD-DVD it seemed inevitable Blu-Ray would win the format war. And it’s certainly starting to look that way too. Engadget reported a spectacular decline in HD-DVD’s market share (hardware players) from 49% to 7%.

I have backed HD-DVD for a long time, for no particular reason other than pure cost, but it seems HD-DVD is up for a quick demise into the realm of forgotten technology. It’s only a matter of time until Microsoft and other pro-HD-DVD companies have to lay down the sword and back Blu-Ray. I guess it’s over. It passed quicker than anyone could’ve thought. But is that a good thing, per sé?

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Digg Revolt

Kevin Rose announced Digg was altering the way their algorithm works in order to allow more diversity. They’re incorporating a diversity rank, which renders group voting (a group of friends digging up a story) impossible. Moreover, the algorithm will keep stories with a digg-count of over 100 in the ‘Upcoming List’. This caused a lot of uproar from the regular diggers.

I’ve never participated a lot in Digg. I dig the concept, but it is pretty impossible to get a story popular if you don’t have a large circle of Digg-friends. This is causing a lot of people to look for alternatives, like the three months old Mixx.com.

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Eee PC will soon run Windows

A couple of days ago, Asus released a version of the Eee PC running Windows in Japan. The tiny notebook will run Windows XP and will be called the Eee PC 4G-X. The specs haven’t changed at all, though this means the US and other countries will be up soon.

I think my hands would be too big for the Eee’s keyboard. With or without Windows ;-).

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Massive WiMax Network for India

The largest Indian telco is planning to build the biggest mobile WiMax network thusfar. It’ll be capable of serving up to 250 million people. The Indian government requires that 20 million broadband connections are in place by 2010.

Sniff.

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SSD not catching on

While the futuristic Solid State Drives may have many benefits, the extraneous costs aren’t persuading consumers, it seems. Honestly, are added costs of up to 1,300 USD (MacBook Air) an incentive to invest in this technology?

While you can shake an SSD to death in operation, I’m sure conventional hard drives will continue to be built into laptops as the primary means of storage. At least for the time being. 1,300 could buy you another laptop, or a TV…
(Did you know switching on Windows Paging can kill a SSD in a matter of hours?)

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Still hoping for Delicious 2.0 to come out soon :-).

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