2008
09.25

G1 Update

T-Mobile has redacted their 1GB data cap in the face of protest from the customers who might actually buy the device once it comes out. They say now that they’ll only be targeting people who abuse the network (likely by tethering their phones to their computers for high speed modem access), which would probably put the cap at a significantly higher amount.

Also, I forgot to mention a few things about the G1. First off, it has copy and paste unlike, ahem, the iPhone. Second, it uses MicroSD cards for memory expansion (they’re available in 8GB capacity now, 32GB later), and the G1 comes with a 1GB card to start you off. Third, the charging port on the phone is the same as the headphone jack (I have an HTC phone so am familiar with this situation), so you’ll need an adapter (likely included) to use regular headphones. Then again, HTC may just include a wired headset (they did with my phone), which you can use until Stereo Bluetooth support gets rolled out on the Android.

2008
09.25

But will they walk the walk? Doubt it…

In ongoing coverage of Comcast’s capping and throttling of internet traffic (search this blog for “Comcast” for my previous righteous diatribes on the subject), the company is now softening their language in the face of massive backlash from the more vocal consumers, who might actually be affected by the capping and throttling.

The crux of what they said is twofold. One, that Comcast will rescind the cap if enough people complain. Two, that caps may rise when their new DOCSIS 3.0 system, which boasts significantly more capacity per cable system than the current 1.1 and 2.0 equipment, is deployed.

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2008
09.24

When the system ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy

You may have seen my article a bit ago about Comcast instituting a 250GB per month cap on residential internet access as of October 1st. That date is now drawing near: next Wednesday.

The company has also said that they will throttle heavy users to “above DSL speeds” and, as of today, we know exactly what that means. Simply put, when Comcast’s network management software detects congestion on a cable channel (70% of available bandwidth being used up…download congestion is distinct from upload congestion but treated the same way) they turn on quality of service measures for that internet channel.

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2008
09.23

This morning in New York, HTC, Google and T-Mobile put on a press event. The purpose: to introduce the HTC G1, first phone featuring Google’s new mobile operating system, Android.

Featuring tight integration with Google service to the point that the phone syncs only with Google’s calendar and contacts applications (no Outlook sync, but a GMail account is required), the HTC G1, and its Android operating system, is whatever you make it. Like the iPhone, the G1 has a built-in application store. Unlike the iPhone, “Android Market” is completely open; developers are free to publish whatever software they want to the system.

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2008
09.20

A new week, a new bunch of news from the tech front. Sorry this didn’t come out earlier…

  1. Best Buy has bought Napster for $121 million. Why, we’re not sure…maybe because they want to increase their position in the music selling market…they sell CDs and had a relationship with Real for Rhapsody. Now they have their own subscription service, which of course still won’t break the iTunes mega-market share situation.
  2. The Large Hadron Collider was infiltrated by hackers earlier this week, to the point that a computer one level away from the actual control inferfaces was compromised. Also, they’ve shut the collider down to fix some cooling system problems. Scary, much?
  3. Google has been working on a new place to put their data centers: on the ocean. THe big advantages: power from the waves, cooling from the water and the lack of land to tax. Sounds like a plan…let’s just hope there aren’t any scurvy data pirates around, ready to take all that personally identifyiable information wieth them on a raid in the high seas.
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2008
09.17

Hello folks, and welcome to another edition of Tech Break. This time around, I’ll let you in on the secret of accessing your computer from just about anywhere…

First, you’ll need to get onto the network your computer is on in some way. If you’re on-campus, connecting to on-campus, just make note of your computer’s IP address (found via Start > Run > cmd > ipconfig on a PC, Network Preferences on a Mac). When on-campus, that’s all you’ll need to connect.

Outside of campus, you will need to login to Mines’ network via VPN. Get the client here:

http://tools.cisco.com/support/downloads/pub/Redirect.x?mdfid=270636499

Then set up an IPSec connection pointint to vpn.mines.edu. You’ll need Group Authentication to get halfway in the door (go to the AC&N site for these credentials) and your Mines username and password to get the rest of the way. Once you have all this information, you may connect to the Mines network via VPN and you’re ready to login to your on-Mines system remotely.

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2008
09.12

It’s Friday, and here’s a rapid-fire bunch of news from the week…

  1. The Microsoft XBox 360 has been lowered in price. The hard-drive-less Arcade version is now $199 (less than the Nintendo Wii!), the 60GB “Pro” version is $299 and the 120GB “Elite” edition is $399, the same price as the 80GB Sony PlayStation 3. Microsoft has said publicly that they have no expectation of catching up with the Wii’s sales; they just want to be the second-biggest game console on the market, ahead of the PS3. With these price drops and despite the PlayStation 3 technically being better than the 360 (you can, for one thing, buy your own laptop hard disk and put it in the PS3, something you can’t do with the XBox), Microsoft should reach that goal without too much of a problem.
  2. RealNetworks, maker of Crap…er…Rhapsody and the infamous RealPlayer, has come out with a new product: RealDVD. This $30 app looks to do a direct copy of a DVD from optical disk to hard disk, applying its own DRM wrapper on the media in the process. The way RealDVD does this doesn’t violate the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, though movie studios, ever protective of their intellectual property, may still be very miffed about the software. If you’re wondering what the DRM does, it ties the DVD rip to your machine, unless you pay another $20 per license for up to four other computers. Okay, maybe RealDVD is easier to use than the other programs currently available, but there are free ways to get the job done that don’t involve RealNetworks’ historically bloated excuses for software.
  3. HP will be intro’ing a version of their Elitebook 6930p that, with an “ultra capacity” twelve-cell battery, an “IllumiLite” LED-backlit display and a brand new Intel solid state disk (SSD, think glorified flash drive), will last 24 hours on a charge. No misprint here, that’s a full, 24-hour day computing marathon without having to plug in. Whether the claim holds up once the computer ships in October is another matter, but if it gets even close to the 24-hour mark, this 14-inch-screen beauty will be my next laptop. I do use Apple products right now but I’m also brand-agnostic; may the best specs win!

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2008
09.10

They’re Com-Cap-Stic!
You may have heard that, two Thursdays ago, Comcast announced a definite limit of how much data you could pull (and push) over their pipes: 250 GB per month. This policy will start on October 1st, though so far they have said that there won’t be any way to go onto their site and measure usage. Though I think the practice is outrageous, especially the "we won’t tell you how much you’ve used" part, I’ll keep cool-headed long enough to sit down and enumerate my rage, and other related-to-capping line items. This is also in response to the TWiT podcast that I love so dearly…

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2008
09.09

At 10 am today, Apple put the “rock” into “Rock On” at the Yerba Buena Center for the Performing Arts in San Francisco. Or something like that. Here’s what they introduced, in order of appearance:

iTunes 8 – Apple has once again reworked the UI of iTunes to focus on album art and other cool visual cues. Accessibility is increased, too. The biggest feature, however, is the introduction of the “Genius” sidebar, which suggests songs that you might like based on the song you’re listening to, the other songs in your library, and anonymous data gathered from everyone else using the Genius feature. It’s sort of like Pandora Radio or Last.fm, except you have to buy the songs you want to listen to, and thenceforth can listen to them any time you want.

iTunes Store – iTunes 8 also now supports HD iTunes video, namely TV shows, now available for $2.99 apiece. Also, NBC is back, so if you want to watch The Office, you can get it from Apple, now in glorious high resolution, albeit for a 50% premium.

iPod classic – Apple discontinued the thicker Classic and upgraded the $249 thin version to 120GB of storage. The Genius feature may also be included, but no reference to it in the sources I followed.

iPod nano – So the “iPod fatty” didn’t go off too well on its design. How about the “iPod oval”? Apple flipped the last-gen iPod nano’s screen on its side, bringing back the original iPod nano formfactor. Except this time the music player has a glass sheen covering the screen and a curved front and back, for an oval profile that’s even thinner than before. Color options are many and striking.

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2008
09.08

March of the Netbooks

Small, light and cheap, they’re great for school

You may have heard about Dell launching your new best friend late last week: the Mini 9. It’s the latest in a stream of “netbooks”, small, cheap laptops whose main purpose is to tap into the cloud” wherever and whenever you want. They’re small, light and cheap, well-suited to note-taking duties on-campus though unfit for much above that. One of these little buys won’t be your main computer, but it could certainly be a nice accessory.

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