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Thursday, September 02, 2004

PCWorld.com - Should Your Next PC Be a Workstation?

PCWorld.com - Should Your Next PC Be a Workstation?: "Should Your Next PC Be a Workstation?

Despite sub-$1000 prices, the answer still depends on what apps you run.
David Essex
From the October 2004 issue of PC World magazine
Posted Thursday, September 02, 2004

Until recently, workstation meant a pricey power system that graced the desk of an engineer, a graphics designer, or a professional video editor. But astute PC shoppers who see workstations following conventional desktop PCs down past the $1000 barrier are asking: Should I buy a workstation instead?
The answer: Get one only if you run industrial-strength programs that need high-end graphics and performance, and if you're willing to pay extra for fail-safe reliability. Workstations remain special-purpose systems that contain souped-up hardware and undergo extensive testing, which costs a premium. But with that premium down to a few hundred bucks, the choice really depends on your needs.
It's easy to find affordable, introductory workstations that run Windows. Both Dell and Hewlett-Packard market Windows XP-based workstations starting at under $1000 and stretching to about $3500; IBM's offerings cost only a few hundred dollars more. Midrange ($3000 to $10,000) and high-end units typically have bigger cases than PCs, more memory and PCI slots, and more drive bays, making frequent upgrades easy.
Power, Redundancy
Most workstations have error-checking and -correcting memory that won't drop the occasional bit--a flaw unnoticeable in fast-moving games but disastrous when calculating jet aircraft tolerances. These units have larger power supplies and better, quieter fans to avoid overheating.
Even some entry-level workstations support dual CPUs,"

PC Magazine Opinion: How Good is the Portable Media Center?

PC Magazine Opinion: How Good is the Portable Media Center?: "How Good is the Portable Media Center?

September 2, 2004
By Michael J. Miller

So how good is the Microsoft Portable Media Center (PMC)? Not bad, not bad at all, especially for a first-generation product. It has a good user interface and was pretty intuitive to use, despite a few glitches.
Effectively, the UI is a new version of Windows Media Player (version 10). I've never been a huge fan of WMP, despite its decent performance, preferring the UI in jukebox software like Musicmatch. But the new version is a lot cleaner, with the basic controls now on the top (instead of on the side), and with more intuitive controls such as Rip and Burn. And it finally lets you create MP3 files without a third-party add-on.
The new version adds a Sync screen, where you can select material to be copied to a PMC or a supported music player. From this screen, you can select music, recorded TV shows, video, or photographs to move to the device. You can also set it up to sync automatically, transferring the most recent content to the device.
The PMC devices, and other upcoming music players that support Microsoft's new Media Transfer Protocol (MTP), will also let you take music you are renting�say from Napster's streaming service�and put it on the devices using Microsoft's new 'Janus' DRM technology. This lets you play the music, but only if you sync often enough for the software to verify that you're still licensed to listen to the music. This is an interesting development, though I wonder how many people will pay extra for the ability to take their music with them on such a device.
In general, everything worked pretty well for me�transferring songs I ripped, renting songs, and downloading tracks I purchased. And I "

The New York Times > Opinion > Mr. Bush and the Truth About Terror

The New York Times > Opinion > Mr. Bush and the Truth About Terror: "September 2, 2004
Mr. Bush and the Truth About Terror

While Republican delegates have been meeting in New York City, terrorist bombs have been exploding in the rest of the world. The horrific pictures of victims on an Israeli bus and slain airplane and subway passengers, as well as of a school held hostage in Russia, are a stark reminder to Americans that terrorism is not all about us. It is the tactic of preference for the self-obsessed radical movements of our age.
President Bush was absolutely right when he said it was impossible to win a war against terrorism - it's like announcing we can win a war against violence. Terrorism can only be minimized and controlled, and that can be done only with a worldwide strategy, joined by all of the world's sensible and peaceful nations. We hope that when Mr. Bush accepts his party's nomination for re-election tonight, he makes that argument.
The chances of a serious dialogue about terror took a blow, of course, when Mr. Bush retracted his completely sensible statement about terrorism after the Kerry-Edwards campaign attacked it. So far, this has been an election season of monumental simple-mindedness, in which the candidates start each day by telling us this is the most important election in the history of the planet, then devote the rest of their waking hours to meaningless sniping. But it's certainly not too late to elevate the conversation.
Tonight we do not need Mr. Bush to remind us that he went to ground zero and spoke through a bullhorn. It was a fine gesture that any president would have made. As far as judging his leadership, it is as irrelevant as the famous extra minutes he spent in a classroom in Flori"

Japan Today - News - Annan wants more troops in Sudan - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Annan wants more troops in Sudan - Japan's Leading International News Network: "Annan wants more troops in Sudan
Thursday, September 2, 2004 at 07:50 JST
UNITED NATIONS - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Wednesday that Sudan's government has not stopped attacks on 'terrorized and traumatized' civilians in its Darfur region and urged the speedy deployment of an expanded international peacekeeping force.
Annan did not say how large a force he wanted, but U.N. diplomats said a U.N. plan presented to the African Union called for about 3,000 peacekeepers. The 53-nation African organization now has about 80 military observers in Darfur, protected by just over 300 soldiers"

Microsoft announces Windows Portable Media Center devices and Microsoft Music beta

According to Microsoft, five years ago, less than 13 percent of Internet users had a digital-music file on their computer. Now, 70 percent of computer users listen to music on their PCs. Last year, more than 100 million digital photos were taken. More and more people are using PCs to view videos. By the end of this year, 9.5 million TV tuner cards will have shipped.

The company has announced a series of new products and services, along with services and devices from partners. The release today of Windows Media Player 10, Portable Media Center devices, and MSN Music preview will place Microsoft in direct competition with other companies betting on individual content, like Apple and HP with their iPod devices.

The company says the new Windows Media Player 10 is central to Microsoft's digital-media strategy. The new Media Player 10 offers a built-in online Digital Media Mall, which provides access to online stores and services, including the newly announced MSN Music, and others like CinemaNow, MusicMatch, MusicNow, Napster and Wal-Mart. Windows Media Player 10 also includes support for more than 70 portable devices, and it enables users to automatically copy music, video, pictures, and recorded TV to portable devices. The new version will be available 2 September 6AM PDT.

The Portable Media Center is an entirely new category of handheld devices to make digital music, TV, movies, and pictures stored on a PCs to be available on a mobile device.

The first Portable Media Center, built by Creative Labs (Creative Labs 20GB Zen pictured), includes a 3.75-inch screen (9.5 centimeters) and 20GB hard drive, enough storage for 80 hours of video, 5,000 songs, and tens of thousands of pictures. Samsung is also working to put its own Portable Media Center in the market.

eHomeUpgrade | Engadget Reviews the Creative Zen Portable Media Center - September 2, 2004

eHomeUpgrade | Engadget Reviews the Creative Zen Portable Media Center - September 2, 2004: "Engadget Reviews the Creative Zen Portable Media Center
Category: Portable Media Players - September 2, 2004
By Alexander Grundner
Phillip Torrone at Engadget takes the the Creative Zen Portable Media Center for spin and finds that device has something for everyone, as long as you own Media Center or a PC with a TV tuner/recorder. Overall Phillip seems satisfied with the PMC's (Portable Media Center � Microsoft's portable media player OS) features, functionality, and battery life, but points out the player's limited digital media file format support and that Window Media Player 10 takes a very long to time to convert a PC's pre-recorded video to a format suitable for the player � 30 minute video takes about 30 minutes to encode.
Philip also points to some workarounds to make the product more useful like DVD-To-Pocket PC, a program that can shrink down a DVD to play well on a Pocket PC or handheld video device like the PMC. His final thoughts, �Personal video players are still fairly new, and it�s going to take some time to see if people start buying these. We think the biggest obstacle will be the frustrating copyright laws regarding movies and DVDs, so while you can copy DVDs you own onto these devices, it�s not exactly easy and the legality of doing so is still unclear."

Monday, August 30, 2004

[print version] Ericsson pulls Bluetooth division | CNET News.com

[print version] Ericsson pulls Bluetooth division | CNET News.com: "Ericsson pulls Bluetooth division

By Richard Shim
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
http://news.com.com/2100-1039-5327431.html

Story last modified August 27, 2004, 1:42 PM PDT
One of the key developers of Bluetooth is shutting down the division that helped foster the personal area networking technology.
Ericsson has already started to shut down its 125-worker Technology Licensing group and will reshuffle employees into other divisions, a representative confirmed Friday. A majority of the workers affected will remain with the company. Ericsson did not make a formal announcement of the closure.
Bluetooth is a short-range radio technology that connects portable devices such as cell phones, handheld devices and notebook computers. The technology has a range of up to 10 meters and wirelessly transfers data at rates of up to 720 kilobits per second.
Ericsson doesn't plan to continue design and development around Bluetooth, but it will continue to support existing customers and include it in products, the company representative said. Bluetooth technology efforts will be incorporated into the work of Ericsson's Mobile Platforms group.
Further advancements in Bluetooth technology will be made by the Special Interest Group"

The New York Times > Grokster and the Information Exchange

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/30/opinion/30mon3.html?ex=1251604800&en=d06acac67db552ea&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland
The legal battles over file-sharing are usually construed as a fight over intellectual property rights, plain and simple. On one side are copyright owners, including songwriters and artists as well as the major recording companies and movie studios. On the other side, a handful of advocacy groups and a legion of file-sharers bent on nothing more than outright theft of copyrighted music and movies. The short title of a recent appeals decision says it all: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer v. Grokster.
But the broader issue is the distribution of information. Software like Grokster creates a network of independent Internet users who can access one another's computer files without going through a central server. (Napster maintained a central server, which made it legally liable in very different ways.) Grokster can certainly be used to swap music illegally. But it can also be used to exchange electronic copies of books already in the public domain, transcripts of Congressional hearings or any number of other legitimate types of information. Much like a VCR that does not distinguish between a pirated tape and one legally acquired, the technology does not care what is shared. It is impossible to strike down software like Grokster for its use in illegal file-sharing without also destroying its capacity for legal and socially beneficial activities.
This distinction lies at the heart of a recent Ninth Circuit appeals court decision, which upheld a ruling in favor of Grokster and against an army of corporate copyright owners. This decision does not make illegal file-sharing legal. But it implicitly raises a question central to most copyright battles. Is society better served by restricting or even prohibiting new technologies to protect the rights of copyright owners or is there a greater good in the widest possible exchange of information? The resolution lies somewhere in the middle. Finding it, as the court acknowledges, is properly left to Congress.
These are thorny issues indeed. Freedom of information is at the root of American democracy, and yet every day we see that freedom being compromised, controlled and limited. The Grokster decision is a ruling in favor of keeping our bets open about which technologies will turn out to serve our freedoms best.