Apple announced earlier today that it has now climbed to be the number two music retailer in the US. With over fifty million customers, and over six billion songs sold, the power of the internet to push music can’t be ignored anymore. However, while all the major labels have signed contracts with at least some of the various music download services, most have yet to really embrace them. They are still clinging to pushing physical albums. While I don’t think radio and physical media are going to completely disappear any time soon, I do have to question why many major labels still seem reluctant every time they renew their contracts. It seems so obvious to me that digital download is the future. Why is it so hard for them to accept?
The third bridge guitar is just like a normal guitar, except it has three bridges instead of two. While some have been manufactured, the more common third bridge guitar is a regular electric or acoustic guitar with a screwdriver jammed underneath the strings on the fret board. The third bridge guitar is perhaps most well known as being used on multiple occasions by both guitarists, though this technique was also used in Nirvana’s “You Know You’re Right.” The third bridge creates a bell-like harmonic second tone in addition to the primary sound. I love that after all these years of using guitars, people are still inventing new ways to make music with them.
After two years and 1.3 million HD-DVD drives sold, the high definition format war is over. Toshiba, the format’s main backer, has announced that it will stop development, manufacture and marketing of the format. Though both HD-DVD and Blu-ray enjoyed roughly equal support initially, HD-DVD has slowly been losing support in recent months. Despite having cheaper stand alone units, the HD-DVD camp simply couldn’t stand up to the comparatively massive install base of Blu-ray afforded by the PS3. Fortunately for many, this format war was over before either format really caught on, or else there could have been many more than 1.3 million people that spent hundreds of dollars on what is now essentially useless. I can only hope that the next generation of optical media can be decided on before people throw away hundreds of dollars on something destined for uselessness.
I’m figuring all these costs as per month while I’m at school. So, my school related costs are as follows:
Tuition – $7034
Room – $3220
Food – $1680
Additional (school related) – $280
Grants/Scholarships – $6630
The semester is 16 weeks long (including finals), so on a per month basis this works out to roughly $1396 a month. This number includes all of my tuition, housing, TV, internet, utilities, and food/drink related expenses (except for beer and restaurants). I don’t own a car, so I don’t pay for car insurance, and I don’t have health insurance. I have a cell phone that costs $200, or $8.33 a month for a 24 month contract. Additionally I pay $40 a month for cell phone service, bringing the total cost of the cell phone to about $48 a month. I don’t buy clothes that often, so I figure maybe 7 new tshirts a year ($20 each), 2 new pairs of pants ($40 each), socks, underwear, ect. ($40 a year), and new shoes ($50 a year). That’s about $310 a year for clothes, so I’ll round up to $350 to figure for any extras (just to be extra generous, even though I’m already assuming with the prices that I’m not bothering with any sales). As far as entertainment (including beer/restaurants), I think a generous assumption would be about $20 a week. So all total (and aside from any large purchases such as a new computer or something that only occurs when I would have the money to spare), I figure I spend about $1553 a month, making my cost of living about $2019. This, of course, dwarfs my Crash and Burn money. I wouldn’t say that it’s really any more or less than I expected, after all the vast majority of it is school related money that I had to pay up front. Since I was figuring my current expenses as assuming that I’m paying off school during the semester (I’m not, I have deferred loans), a direct comparison to my cost of living after graduation won’t work too well. Nevertheless, the school’s CSE department says that the average starting salary of a Comp Sci graduate is around $55k, which would give me plenty of money left over to spend on hookers and blow after paying off my projected $24,228 cost of living.
Microsoft is now in hot water over its “Windows Vista Capable” stickers. Currently Microsoft is facing a lawsuit over these stickers, and the fact that to qualify, a machine only has to meet the minimum requirements on the most bare bones version of the operating system while all the effects are turned off. So in other words, the software giant is letting anybody slap a sticker on their computer saying that it’s Vista capable even if the machine can’t run any of those oh-so-touted new features. In fact, the vice president for Windows product management, Mike Nash, has written, “I PERSONALLY got burnt. … Are we seeing this from a lot of customers? … I now have a $2,100 e-mail machine.” It’ll be interesting to see what Microsoft does to make this latest PR disaster go away.
When most people think about Apple and portables, they don’t usually think of failure. However, that’s exactly what happened to one of Apple’s first forays into the portable market with the Apple Newton. The Newton was one earliest examples of a PDA, and despite remaining in the marketplace for six years, it was a failure. The failure was mostly due to the fact that the concept was before it’s time. In actual execution this resulted in an expensive and bulky machine with poor handwriting recognition. In other words, it was everything a PDA should not be. Despite being a failure in the marketplace, some of the Newton still lives on today. Some of the handwriting recognition software of the Newton was added into Mac OSX 10.2 to be used with graphics tablets. Apple also began development of a successor, though it would never reach the market. Finally, and perhaps Newton’s largest contribution, is what some consider its spiritual successor, the hugely popular iPhone.
I recently came across a new company that has a rather interesting new product. Bug Labs makes a small, cheap, open source computer that, combined with addons that you can purchase, make this endlessly hackable. So far they only have four modules (a screen, motion detector/accelerometer, GPS receiver, and a digital camera), but the company promises more in the future. These additional modules are designed to just snap onto the base and immediately start working. Bug Labs even provides a place on their website where people can share programs they made. With a software development kit available, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination and patience.
My favorite entry in the Innovate or Die contest is MIT’s pedal powered supercomputer. Although I am rather fond of many of the other entries that were more pure creativity and ingenuity that somebody cobbled together mostly from things they had lying around, I liked MIT’s entry the most because I think it was the most practically significant. I’m not saying that there is going to be a run on pedal powered computers in the future, but it is a fine example of energy efficient computing. With computers as common as they are, making them more energy efficient can have many implications on energy consumption. Not to mention that this technology is probably the most marketable idea in the contest. Again, not because of its pedal power, but its extreme energy efficiency is likely to catch the eye of companies that operate supercomputers and servers. The less energy the computers use, the more money in the company’s pocket, and the less heat the computers generate because of the reduced energy, the closer together you can put the computers. With computers that are more energy and space efficient, what’s not to love?