Archive for the 'Tech' Category

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Via’s new powerful, power efficient chipset

Via’s new low power but powerful chipset looks very interesting..

The graphics capabilities are courtesy of what Via is branding as the Chrome 520, an integrated graphics processor on the VN1000 that has 32 stream processors and four sampling units. According to the company, a 128-bit 2D graphics engine provides GDI/GDI+ acceleration, hardware 2D rotation, and a true-color hardware cursor with 256-level blending.

Via says the Chrome 520 supports Shader Model 4, OpenGL 3.0, and OpenCL 1.0 for “next-generation GPGPU applications.” Meanwhile, a ChromotionHD 2.0 video processor is said to offer “advanced filtering and cutting edge post-processing,” performing “ultra-smooth decoding” of 1080p HD video in MPEG-4/AVC, H.264, MPEG-2, VC-1, WMV-HD, and AVS video formats.

Computers still too expensive in Australia, despite strong Aussie dollar

Dell just released their new Vostro v13 for US$450 in the States. How much is it in Australia? AU$999.

Based on exchange rates at the time of writing, US$450 = AU$490.

We’re being ripped off over AU$500! That’s more than a second laptop costs in the USA!

Sure, it’s all about the market, but with the strong Aussie dollar it sucks that we cannot get some benefit when it comes to computers!

Apple does the same thing. The 13″ Macbook Pro is US$1190. In Australia it’s AU$1599. A rip off of over AU$300!

On the flip side, it stops me from spending money..

Fedora, Macs and EFI

When installing Linux beside OS X, Fedora toggles the boot flag on for its partition. This causes GPT to see it as an “EFI boot partition,” rather than “Basic Data”. This appears to cause a problem if you want to triple boot with Windows and under OS X the disk utility will see it as one whole partition, with the Linux half missing.

To fix this, toggle the boot flag to off using parted and then sync the GPT partition table to the master boot record partition table. It’s easiest to do this while the installer’s running (switch to TTY2) else you’ll have to install anaconda under your install to get gptsync (or run it from the rEFIt menu).

Simply run the following:
parted /dev/sda
toggle 3 boot
quit
gptsync /dev/sda

The gptsync command should spit out the “Current GPT partition table” which should show something like:
EFI System (FAT)
Mac OS X HFS+
Basic Data
Basic Data (if you have a fourth partition for Windows)

The “Proposed new MBR partition table” should show something like:
EFI Protective
Mac OS X HFS+
Linux
FAT32 (LBA) (or NTFS, depending if it's already been formated)

Now Windows should install cleanly on the fourth partition (if you’re doing that) and the partition structure under OS X should be correct.

The Incredible Guide to NEW Ubuntu (Karmic Koala)

The guys over at “Make Use Of” have released a new free PDF book for Ubuntu. After a quick inspection it looks pretty good, with reasonable explanations about components of Linux.

Xandros selling Microsoft patent protection direct

Back in 2007 Xandros struck a patent deal with Microsoft, while in June this year they said they were: “kind of getting away from being a Linux company.”

I never actually noticed this before, but Xandros sells patent protection from Microsoft directly to end users who purchase their Debian based GNU/Linux distribution.

Xandros racketeering for Microsoft

They call it “Intellectual Property Assurance” but I call it a “Protection Racket“:

A protection racket is an extortion scheme whereby a criminal group or individual coerces other less powerful entities to pay protection money which allegedly serves to purchase protection services against various external threats, usually violence or property damage – sometimes perpetrated by the racketeers themselves.

Isn’t that a perfect explanation of what Microsoft’s been doing?

Laptop reliability

Thinking of buying a new laptop? Take a look at this report before you choose..

SquareTrade analyzed failure rates for over 30,000 new laptop computers covered by SquareTrade Laptop Warranty plans and found that one-third of all laptops will fail within 3 years. SquareTrade also found that netbooks are 20% more unreliable than other laptops, and that Asus and Toshiba are the most reliable laptop brands.

This won’t be my new MythTV box..

Thanks to Robert for pointing this out, but according to Raymond Wagner the new Dell Zino HD won’t cut it for a back end or front end MythTV box (if you’re doing high def).

That processor is marginal at best. You would likely not be able to
decode full bitrate ATSC, much less do so with any deinterlacing. The
$110 more expensive 6850e would be a bare minimum, and even then you can
hardly manage half-bitrate HDPVR recordings, and bluray/hddvd is out of
the question.

You should be able to get the HD3200 working well enough with the fglrx
drivers, but it will not currently, and will likely never support
hardware accelerated decoding. You can upgrade to the HD4330 which now
has XvBA support indirectly through VAAPI, but will not be supported by
MythTV until at least 0.23.

Awww… I was always weary of the AMD video card anyway!

The Canonical online music store

Looks like there’s a proposal for Ubuntu to get its very own online music store, in time for Lucid next year. It would be tied directly into the desktop with applications like Banshee and Rhythmbox providing a web front-end for users to purchase music.

That’s quite an interesting suggestion and I wonder if it will come off. No doubt the store will be closed source and proprietary, as we’ve come to expect from Canonical.

Still, if they offer Music in lossless formats, I’d buy them. I have never bought any music online because it’s all lossy MP3, which I detest. For me, CDs remain the best way to get high-quality music on my PC. That would definitely change if I could buy FLAC albums somewhere..

hello, microblogging world

I think it’s high time that I try this “microblogging” thing. As such, I now have an Identi.ca account which also feeds to Twitter. Let’s see what all the fuss is about!

If you have any tips, please let me know. It’s all so foreign!

This could be my new MythTV box

I think the upcoming Inspiron Zino HD could make a great MythTV back/frontend.

Coming with Ubuntu, up to 8GB RAM and a 1TB internal drive, the units have AMD processors with AMD graphics. My problem would be the graphics driver – I’ve no idea if the free drivers will support it, but in my experience AMD’s proprietary driver on 64bit machines is absolute rubbish.

Nevertheless, it looks like a cool little box:

In every case, the Inspiron Zino HD includes wireless networking (802.11b/g or 802.11a/b/g/n), four USB 2.0 connectors (two front, two rear), audio I/O (microphone, line, and headphones), a four-in-one memory card reader, and gigabit Ethernet. The device’s rear panel (below) also includes a VGA output in addition to the HDMI port, plus two eSATA connectors for external hard disk drives, says Dell.

Of course, they’re not going to sell it with Linux in Australia, right? *Sigh*