You can't predict every hard-drive failure. But when a drive goes down because certain hardware components are slowly degrading, then S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) can help warn you of an impending crash, so you have time to run a last-minute backup. Mac OS X already uses S.M.A.R.T. to track the health of drives, but it only runs a check whenever you use Disk Utility to verify a disk. SMARTReporter is a free, open-source tool that checks the S.M.A.R.T. status of drives hourly (by default, or … Read more
AllNotes Personal Organizer provides a simple set of tools for keeping track of a date and staying on top of events. The program's bare-bones simplicity and easy navigation make this a great choice for basic reminders.
We enjoyed the program's simple interface. It buries itself in your task bar and only has a few, easy-to-understand command options. Nothing about it left us with questions about how to operate this software. With a few simple clicks, we were able to enter dates and times, write ourselves a quick note, set an alarm, or post a note or event on … Read more
Web of Trust (WOT) for Firefox provides users with a simple meter for gauging a Web site's danger level. With easy to read warnings, this program only leaves one thing to chance with your safety.
The program does not have anything to offer on your computer's desktop because it embeds itself into your Firefox browser for quick access. Depending on the Web site you visit, the program's icon turns red, yellow, or green to illustrate the danger level. Clicking on the icon displays a chart showcasing Trustworthiness, Vendor Reliability, Privacy, and Child Safety. The warnings are intuitive … Read more
A new report from global public relations firm Weber Shandwick has found that when it comes to Fortune 100 companies, they just don't get Twitter...not yet anyway.
According to the study (PDF), which looked at how the world's 100 top companies used Twitter between late August and early September, the companies have a grand total of 540 Twitter accounts owned by just 73 companies; 27 firms don't participate in the microblogging tool/social network. Some 76 percent of those 540 accounts weren't "updated often" and 52 percent were not actively engaged, as measured … Read more
Earlier this week, I posted a video featuring an SUV, the T-98 Kombat, as made by Russian manufacturer Dartz (whose $1.5M Dartz Prombron Monaco Red Diamond Edition extravagantly decked out in whale penis leather--how high-brow is that--even got lip service recently on "The Colbert Report"). Anyhoo, this particular blog (located here for your convenience) garnered the snide comment of "It looks like a Hummer...big deal." Well, funny that you should say that, sir, as today's video features the Dartz Kombat one-on-one against the Hummer H1. Let's get ready to rumble!
The Dartz … Read more
About a week ago I was watching "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central, and all of a sudden Stephen Colbert starts talking about an extravagant SUV made by the Russian-based Dartz brand that costs roughly 1.5 million dollars and is so luxurious that its upholstery is made of genuine whale penis leather (no, I'm not making this up). While I have yet to locate video of the exact model vehicle that Stephen was talking about, I did find a clip of a similar model SUV made by Dartz in action, and since it's kinda timely, … Read more
Timeless Time and Expense Multiuser provides the tools employers need for tracking work time by an unlimited number of users. Its smart tools for calculating and tracking time are a great help to small businesses, contractors, and others who make a living through billable hours.
The program's interface was welcoming and professional. We were able to quickly set up tasks and billing just by following onscreen prompts. The Help file's instructions were an afterthought, frankly. This program mimicked the single-user Timeless Time and Expense in every way, except that we were able to set a password and user … Read more
After the Toyota recall over loose floor mats interfering with gas pedals, Consumer Reports tested stuck throttle scenarios with a Toyota Venza, Chevrolet HHR, Volkswagen Jetta Wagon, and Mercedes-Benz E350. The nature of the test was simple, but probably a bit harrowing: the drivers floored the gas pedal until the cars reaches 60 mph, then, keeping the gas depressed, pushed down the brake pedal to see if the car would stop.
The test wasn't quite fair, as both German cars had a tech trick, called Smart Throttle, for just such a situation. When the brakes are applied, the throttle … Read more
General unemployment may be on the rise, but the clean-tech sector should be a bright spot for job seekers, according to a report released Thursday by Clean Edge research.
The clean-technology sector was one of the largest recipients of venture capital last year, raising about $3.35 billion in the U.S., according to New Energy Finance statistics in the the "Clean Tech Job Trends 2009" report (PDF).
Unlike most reports from research firms, this one is free to download in full.
The 29-page report, which also draws on statistics from other organizations such as the Pew Charitable … Read more
In the first part of this series, I claimed that a great secret in the microprocessor industry largely determines whether new products succeed or fail.
I noted that this secret shouldn't be a secret at all because many people (including myself) have talked about it over the years, but clearly a lot of people are in the dark because they continually disregard it and develop products that are doomed.
I gave several examples of products that failed because their creators didn't know the great secret. Those products included RISC processors, media processors, and intelligent RAM chips, in which processor cores were integrated with memory to eliminate one of the great bottlenecks in computer performance.
During my eight years at Microprocessor Report, I covered the markets for media processors, 3D-graphics chips, network processors, and what I coined extreme processors--chips with large numbers of simple cores running in parallel. Many of these chips were cheaper, easier to design, and twice as fast as competing products--and still failed.
However, some did succeed. The critical factor that made the difference in most of these cases is the essence of the so-called secret.
One of those successes is the graphics processing unit, or GPU.
I was reminded again of the secret at Nvidia's recent GPU Technology Conference, where many of the talks dealt with GPU computing.
(Disclosure: I recently wrote a technical white paper for Nvidia.)
Although the GPU field dates back only five or six years, GPUs have already earned a place alongside CPUs. Each is clearly superior for certain kinds of applications.
This is true in spite of the fact that GPUs aren't nearly as easy to program as CPUs. Like other forms of parallel programming, GPU programming requires new hardware (the GPU itself), significant new extensions for programming languages, and a different mindset for programmers--one that simply wasn't part of standard computer-science curriculum for most of the last 50 years.