There's something cool going on there for just the next few days. And if you've bought an Amazon Kindle or a Sony Reader--or just like to read e-books on your laptop, cell phone, or other system--you'll want to scoot right over to the "Freebies Bonanza" page. [Update-- this content is no longer available.]
I have Comcast cable modem service here at home. It's been very reliable. Service interruptions have been rare and brief. The cable modem I was given years ago is still working fine. Network performance has been reasonably good.
So all in all, I'm happy with the service.
But I just found out about something that really bugs me--and may explain why I've received occasional reports over the years that an e-mail I sent didn't get through at all--or was marked as spam when it did arrive.
This came up about a week ago, when I noticed that some (but not all) outbound e-mails sent through Apple's .Mac service (now known as MobileMe) were not going out. After waiting about an hour for the messages to go through, I reported the problem to the service's support desk.
It turned out that… Read more
Okay, this gets a little complicated. More complicated than it should, really.
I am an AT&T customer. My current two-year contract is up on July 30-- just 19 days from now.
Normally, AT&T allows customers to upgrade early by paying a moderate fee.
As CNET's Dawn Kawamoto put it in this blog post, "eligibility for an upgrade discount, the carrier said, is generally determined by amount of time remaining on a current contract and the payment history." One version of the upgrade rules is visible on Best Buy's website.
The worst-case situation, one might suppose, is that… Read more
Well, I'm here at the Apple store in the Westfield Oakridge mall in San Jose, waiting.
I got here at about 6:45am and the line was already up around 60 people, somewhat more than I expected. I'm here with a couple of friends who got iPhones last year and are looking to upgrade.
I opened up iChat's Bonjour networking window, but nobody else seems to be using it. Bonjour iChat is usually a great way for strangers to chat at public events, but there are very few people here with laptops.
Apple employees are circulating, but… Read more
My very first meaningful blog post here (after an introduction), from June 23, 2007, was titled "Why I'm not getting an iPhone".
Let me review my reasons at the time:The original iPhone couldn't really do any more for me than my Palm Treo 650. The iPhone couldn't be used to connect my laptop to the Internet. No voice-memo support. No 3G networking. Not enough storage capacity. No native apps from third-party developers. No high-res screen.
Okay, what's changed?
Well, the iPhone 3G still… Read more
Thursday was a great day for all of us in the United States of America.
In its ruling on the case District of Columbia v. Heller, our Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment to the US Constitution means what it plainly says: the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right.
Finally, I can call myself an inventor.
I've been inventing things for almost 20 years now, but Montalvo Systems was the first company I worked for that took intellectual property seriously. (That was no coincidence; it was also the first company I worked for where I helped develop the intellectual-property strategy.)
During my years at Montalvo, I came up with quite a few ideas and participated in brainstorming sessions that yielded more ideas. Most of these sessions were limited to Montalvo's own people, but there was one person I brought in to help us as a consultant--Don Alpert, who was the principal architect of Intel's Pentium processor and, possibly less significantly, a member of the editorial board at Microprocessor Report.
Working with three of us from Montalvo--myself and chief architects Greg Favor and Peter Song--Don took the lead in preparing a set of related patent applications describing a new way to design microprocessors.
The first patent from this set was… Read more
Graphics performance improves rapidly. We can be confident that each new generation of graphics chips will be faster than the previous one, and that AMD and NVIDIA will regularly surpass each other with new product launches. I've been watching this process professionally since 1996, when I began covering graphics technology for Microprocessor Report.
As of today, NVIDIA is on top. The new GeForce GTX 280 is the fastest graphics chip you can get. See the first part of this review for details of the chip itself.
If you can get one, anyway. NVIDIA says boards based on the GeForce GTX 280 and its companion GeForce GTX 260 will be available "in quantity" tomorrow (June 17), but if previous launches are any indication, those quantities won't be enough to satisfy everyone.
And you may not be able to afford one-- a GTX 280 board with 1GB of RAM will likely be priced around $649, while GTX 260 boards with 896MB will go for about $399. (The GTX 280 / 1GB board I tested was made by NVIDIA, so it isn't necessarily representative of commercial products.)
But avid gamers won't be discouraged by these prices. Both AMD and NVIDIA like to point out that an expensive graphics card is a much better investment than a high-end CPU or motherboard if you care about gaming.
The standard of comparison for gaming performance is the number of frames per second that can be rendered for a given combination of screen resolution and quality features... or, conversely, what resolution and features can be used without reducing the frame rate below a playable level.
So in my own testing, I used frame rate as a metric for games that could run acceptably with maximum quality at the maximum resolution of my monitor (1,600 x 1,200 pixels), and quality for other games.
I did my testing with four games:… Read more
Today, NVIDIA officially announces its new GeForce GTX 200 family of graphics processing units (GPUs) and the first two products in the family, the GeForce GTX 280 and the GeForce GTX 260.
The GeForce GTX 280 is the new flagship of NVIDIA's GPU product line, taking over from last year's GeForce 9800 GTX. (The change in the product-name format from "9800 GTX" to "GTX 280" is potentially confusing and doesn't seem that useful to me, but I'm sure we'll get used to it over time. I suppose NVIDIA's other choice was to go with numbers above 10,000, which might have been even worse.)
NVIDIA disclosed the details of these products at an Editor's Day conference in May, and most of the attendees, including myself, received GTX 280 graphics cards for editorial review. These cards are NVIDIA reference boards, not retail products.
I'll be doing this review in multiple parts, each addressing a different aspect of these products and the effects they'll have on the PC graphics market.
First, an overview of the GTX 280 chip itself.
This is a huge chip. NVIDIA won't say exactly how large, and I'm not going to bust open the chip package on my reference board just to find out, but NVIDIA VP of technical marketing Tony Tamasi says… Read more
Dean Takahashi sent me an e-mail pointing to a piece he wrote on VentureBeat describing statements Wednesday by Intel's Chief Technical Officer Justin Rattner targeted at NVIDIA. CNET's own Brooke Crothers covered the same story and provides additional background here.
The technology at issue relates to 3D graphics for PCs. All current PC graphics chips use what's called polygon-order rendering. All of the polygons that make up the objects to be displayed are processed one at a time. The graphics chip figures out where each polygon should appear on the screen and how much of it will be visible or obstructed by other polygons.
Ray tracing achieves similar results by working through each pixel on the screen, firing off a "ray" (like a backward ray of light) that bounces off the polygons until it reaches a light source in the scene. Ray tracing produces natural lighting effects but takes a lot more work.
(That's the short version, anyway. For more details, you could dig up a copy of my 1997 book Beyond Conventional 3D. Alas, the book is long since out of print.)
Ray tracing is easily implemented in software on a general-purpose CPU, and indeed, most of the computer graphics you see in movies and TV commercials are generated this way, using rooms full of PCs or blade-server systems.
Naturally, Intel loves ray tracing, and there are people at Intel working to… Read more