Category: Desktops

Microsoft claims it is picking up Apple defections

Microsoft-Surface-Pro-42Software king of the world Microsoft claims that it is picking up defections from the fruity Apple cult as users are miffed that the MacBook Pro was not up to snuff.

Apple’s new Macbook Pro was released without key functions and with an out-of-date chip, effectively turning it into a chocolate teapot for developers.

Vole has been targeting Mac users with its Surface commercials recently, and it appears they might be paying off. The software giant claims that November was the “best month ever for consumer Surface sales,” following several Black Friday deals on the Surface Pro 4. Vole isn’t providing sales numbers, but the company claims “more people are switching from Macs to Surface than ever before”.

Microsoft cites “the disappointment of the new MacBook Pro” and its trade-in program for MacBooks for tempting people to switch to Surface. Again, Microsoft refuses to provide numbers but vaguely claims “our trade-in programme for MacBooks was our best”.

Microsoft is also expanding on the availability of the new Surface Book with Performance Base. The most powerful Surface Book is now available in Australia and New Zealand, and will arrive in Austria, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland, and the UK early next quarter.

RedMonks crown JavaScript king

8618453583_80b765a28dUK Analyst outfit RedMonk just added up the numbers and divided by its shoe size and worked out that JavaScript is the most popular programming language followed by Java and PHP.

This has been unchanged now for six months, but one of the biggest surprises is the “performance of programming languages relative to one another on GitHub and Stack Overflow”.

Here is RedMonk’s top 10

1. JavaScript

2. Java

3. PHP

4. Python

5. C#

5. C++

5. Ruby

8. CSS

9. C

10. Objective-C

Writing in his bog  [shurely cell.ed]  RedMonk analyst Stephen O’Grady said that the positions have solidified and it will take a serious push—or crisis—to significantly alter the dynamics of the top tier absent minor and statistically irrelevant drifts from quarter to quarter.

O’Grady thinks this is due to “a predictable period of consolidation” in development tools.  Farther down the list, though, RedMonk’s rankings do show at least a bit of movement since January. Here’s the second half of RedMonk’s top 20 (note the tie for the 20th position, which actually pushes the list to include the top 21):

11. Shell

12. R

13. Perl

14. Scala

15. Go

16. Haskell

17. Swift

18. Matlab

19. Visual Basic

20. Clojure

20. Groovy

R has jumped ahead of Perl into the 12 spot, following Microsoft’s acquisition of Revolution Analytics. And Visual Basic owns the number 19 position.



Flash Memory Summit 2016 – Consolidation?

FMS2016_BannerAd_300x250The Flash Memory Summit 16 will be convening at the Santa Clara Convention Center over August 9 -11, 2016. Flash memory is now established as a key technology enabling new designs for many products in the consumer, computer and enterprise markets.

Storage Crossover

The industry is at a critical juncture where the total cost of ownership for flash based SSD’s achieved crossover with hard disk drive equivalents last September as the enterprise storage medium of choice.

The fact that the number of producers is limited has altered the landscape of consumption with some analysts indicating that serious shortages will exist for some time to come. An interesting, but mitigating fact is that most of the analysts are not technical – the ones that we’ve talked to that have a technical bent are not so sanguine about the availability mix. One item that stands in the road to profits is the need for this next generation storage device to not only retain data but do so interactively without losing bits. The unrecoverable bit boogie man is now staring the industry down. The ability to store immense amounts of “ready data” for execution now depends on the technologies ability to reliably retain data.

All Flash Array producers are now entering the “really big data storage array” market – the battle has dropped down to the cost of storage per dollar creating a whole new category of marketing lows. 3D Flash is now so dense that failure modes are now dependent upon being aware of “how and when” the bits were used during the entire lifetime of the device.

Cork, Ireland NVMdurance was the first to understand this phenomenon and is now firmly embedded in their first customer Altera (now Intel). Pure and Nimble Storage are offering their services for their AFAs – seems that leasing AFA memory is a probable in the future of solid state storage. We’re still left reading the indemnification clauses of their contracts.

Poison Pill

Micron Technology filed with the SEC a poison pill last Friday. The buzz is that the company is once again in play. The likely suitor is none other than Intel according to the lead rumor. We will be talking with Micron and Intel at FMS 16 and although they’ll not say anything about what’s going on we’ll at the very least get to look into their pupils while they’re telling us…,

Apple’s PC business bites the fruit of doom

poison-appleThe fruity cargo cult Apple has managed to ward off the downturn in the PC market for a while now – thanks mostly to its fanboys refusing to buy anything without an Apple logo.  However, all that has suddenly changed.

Apple shipped eight percent fewer Mac computers during the second quarter of 2016, compared with a year earlier, according to new estimates from two research firms.

What should be worrying Jobs’ Mob is that some of its bigger rivals managed to find growth in the PC business. So the concept that Apple will always have a market for its products is proving groundless.

Analysts estimate Apple shipped 4.4 million to 4.6 million Macs in the quarter ending June 30. True, they had a higher margin than other PCs in the market, but if a couple of fanboys refuse to buy a Mac then the figures take a bigger kicking.

The Tame Apple Press is doing its best, saying that that the whole of the PC market is suffering and it was wonderful that Apple saw off the inevitable for so long. However.

But HP, Dell and ASUS all increased their shipments during the last quarter, and benefited from a healthy US market. This is a bit weird given that is the same market which Apple is supposed to be doing well in.

Some of the problem is that Apple has basically ignored the Mac and not bothered to upgrade its MacBook Pro. Instead the company has been promoting its Surface Book clone so that it probably only has itself to blame.


Apple Macs stuffed-up by old Git

oldguyAnother bombshell has dropped on the Fruity Cargo Cult Apple’s poor security in its expensive Macs.

Jobs’ Mob’s software genii have apparently not bothered to upgrade the version of Git which comes bundled with OS X versions.

Git allows developers to manage source code repositories, keeping track of code changes from version to version. But the version in El Capitan is so old it exposes users to two possible attacks.

Security expert Rachel Kroll discovered that El Capitan comes bundled with Git 2.6.4. and the vulnerablities were found in  all Git versions before 2.7.3.

The two vulnerabilities are heap-based buffer overflows, allow attackers to execute malicious code on the machine. The attacker can use the malicious code hidden in the repo to launch an attack on the Mac, compromise the system, and take control of the user’s device and all the Mac user’s Coldplay collection and pictures of their mum and cats will be vulnerable.

There is no way to fix it either. The bundled Git version can’t be updated without breaking Git support.

Writing in her bog Kroll wrote: “If you rely on machines like this, I am truly sorry. I feel for you. I wrote this post in an attempt to goad them [Apple] into action because this is affecting lots of people who are important to me. They are basically screwed until Apple deigns to deliver a patched git unto them.”

Apple boss attacks the poor

ipadPhil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing has created a storm online after he attacked users who could not afford to buy PCs every five years as “sad”.

The comment was made at the Cupertino rally where Schiller said that more 600 million people are using PCs that are over five years old. “This is really sad.”

Of course this got a laugh from the audience of extremely rich folk who attended the rally. After all poor people are so funny when they can’t pay for overpriced hardware like rich folk.  But the comment went down like a bucket of cold sick among users of the live feed.  Who posted their anger on Twitter.

The Tame Apple Press rushed to defend Schiller saying that he was subtly digging at competitors while trying to show that the new iPad Pro is the ultimate PC replacement.

But the comment showed how out of touch Apple is with real people and underscored the privilege and lack of self-awareness of those who can afford to buy the hot new gadgets whenever they come on the market.

Five years is a long time for Apple users who are expected to upgrade every year even if they don’t need to. Apple’s MacBooks start at $1,299. The new iPad Pro starts at $599. You can buy older laptops with decent specs from resellers and on sites like eBay for less than $200.

It is not sad that people still use five year computers. It is incredibly sad that Apple think those users should be the butt of some joke.

Intel’s Andy Grove logs off

andrew-groveFormer Intel boss Andy Grove, who managed to save the company in the 1980s, and helped create the PC revolution has died. He was 79.

Grove’s youth under Nazi occupation and escape from the Iron Curtain inspired an “only the paranoid survive” management philosophy and made Intel the outfit it is today.

He had suffered from Parkinson’s disease and prostate cancer in the mid-1990s but no-one is actually saying how he died.

The press obituaries politely describe him as being “mercurial” but “visionary” and certainly he did work out that shifting from memory to processors to serve the new PC industry was agood idea. At the time Intel was down the gurgler.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said Grove made the impossible happen, time and again, and inspired generations of technologists, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. But perhaps not journalists.

Robert Burgelman, a professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business who started teaching management classes with Grove in the late 1980s, called Grove “one of the most incisive thinkers that I have ever come across”. He said Grove’s technical and strategic abilities were critical in building Intel and fending off threats from Asian competitors.

“I don’t think Intel would have been Intel as we know it, and therefore the US chip industry would not have been what it is” without Grove, Burgelman said.

Grove managed to transit the company from memory to PC processors and out of the clutches of the mainframe industry. But he did not exactly win many friends with his combatitive style.  He could be vindictive to those who crossed him.

He is also famous for one of Intel’s most famous PR cock-ups. In 1994 , Intel’s flagship Pentium microprocessor had a major calculating flaw which it turned out Grove knew about but thought it  too insignificant too fix.

Grove’s response to the outcry was to require customers who wanted to return flawed chips to call Intel and convince the company they needed a replacement. Later he gave in and set aside nearly a half-billion dollars for a no-questions-asked exchange programme.

Grove wrote several books, including “Only the Paranoid Survive,” a 1996 treatise on the science of managing crises, and his 2001 autobiography, “Swimming Across,” a harrowing memoir of Grove’s childhood.

He was born in Hungary as Andras Istvan Grof. He fled to America by boat in 1957 and westernised his name.  He survived scarlet fever at age 4, though it permanently damaged his hearing. As a Jew growing up in Nazi-occupied Hungary, he survived the Holocaust by moving frequently, boarding with family friends and taking on an assumed name. Then he survived Stalin in a run for the Austrian border.

He arrived in the US aged 20 with no cash, with poor English – which makes his career all the more rags to riches.  His personal fortune is believed to be  $400 million, according to Forbes magazine.

He enrolled at the City College of New York, where he studied engineering and paid his way by working as a student assistant. He moved west with his wife, Eva, and earned a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, after which Grove landed his first post-Ph.D. job at Fairchild Semiconductor, founded by the “traitorous eight” employees who left William Shockley’s legendary Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory.

Two of the eight, Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce, went on to found Intel. Noyce also invented the first commercially viable integrated circuit during his time at Fairchild. Grove was Intel’s third employee, though Intel considers him one of the Santa Clara, California, company’s founders.

Grove was named Intel’s president in 1979, took the chief executive job in 1987 and in 1997 added the chairmanship to his duties. He stepped down as CEO in 1998, and relinquished his chairman title in 2005.

Time declared Grove its Man of the Year in 1997. It said he was the “person most responsible for the amazing growth in the power and innovative potential of microchips,” the core ingredient of the digital revolution.

Time wrote: “His character traits are emblematic of this amazing century: a paranoia bred from his having been a refugee from the Nazis and then the Communists; an entrepreneurial optimism instilled as an immigrant to a land brimming with freedom and opportunity; and a sharpness tinged with arrogance that comes from being a brilliant mind on the front line of a revolution.”

Chipzilla improves Compute Sticks

IMG_0682Chipzilla is having another crack at its PC-in-your-pocket form factor by creating new Compute Sticks.

The original Compute Stick which plugged into the HDMI port on your TV or monitor and offered to provide a full-fledged computing experience, did not do as well as the should have.   This was partly because they were  little more than a proof of concept.

Intel’s second crack at the Compute Stick is a little better.   In the shops from February, Intel has three new base model Compute Sticks to choose from. The first is an entry-level option running a quad-core Atom x5-z8400 quad-core processor clocked at 1.44GHz to 2.24GHz. It also features 2GB of RAM, 32GB of eMMC storage, a pair of USB ports (one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0), 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Windows 10.

A second USB port allows users to plug in both a USB mouse and keyboard rather than having to go the wireless route. Intel has upgraded the Wi-Fi. It will set you back $159 which makes the entry-level model underwhelming.

But the Core M models are a lot more interesting.  They are sporting a 6th Generation Skylake Intel Core m models. The higher end has a Core m5-6Y57 vPro processor while the lower end version is equipped with a Core m3-6Y30.

They both have 4GB of DDR3-1866 RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage expandable via microSD card slot, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and three USB 3.0 ports (one on the Compute Stick and two on the power adapter).

All three new Compute Sticks can hardware decode HEVC/H.265 video and the Core M3 and M5 models can manage 4K processing.

Without an OS, the Core m3 model costs $300; Windows 10 adds $100 to the price tag. The Core m5 Compute Stick will sell for $500 and, at least for now, doesn’t appear to offer a version with Windows 10 pre-installed.


Chromebit hits the shops

dsc04016Google and ASUS’s $85 computer in a stick is officially in the shops.

Chromebit is a full Chrome OS-based computer on an HDMI stick all you need to do is find a TV with an HDMI port to plug it into.

It comes with 16GB of onboard storage (in the form of relatively cheap and slow eMMC storage and 2GB of RAM.

It has a dedicated charger, but unlike the Chromecast, it also features a USB port. The Rockchip-based Chromebit comes in “Cacao Black” and “Tangerine Orange”.

You can connect to it to a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard although the USB port allows you to plug in wired peripherals too.

As a full Chrome OS machine, you can pretty much run any web app on it. So that means movies and TV shows from Google Play, Netflix or Hulu. But its main use is as a computer which only uses web apps. It could also turn any modern screen into a single-app kiosk in a hotel or store, for example.

Of course it is not the fastest but the quad-core Rockchip SoC is perfectly usable.

Surface Pro is a sell out

Microsoft-Surface-Pro-42The latest version of Microsoft’s Surface Pro has sold out in five days after it was listed for pre-orders on Vole’s online store.

The new device will be launched in the US on 26 October. Microsoft thinks that initial stocks were sold out because of “strong demand” but the Tame Apple Press insists that they did not make enough in the first place.

Microsoft never revealed the number of units that were available for pre-ordering.

A company spokesman said it will have limited quantities of Surface Books available in store on October 26 and will be updating online availability with new product ship dates soon.

The new Pro is an interesting product because Apple cloned the old model leaving Microsoft free to produce something that cleaned its clock.

The Surface is a hybrid device that works as a tablet and a laptop and has a starting price of $1,499. It runs on the newly-released Windows 10.

In comparison to the latest MacBook Pro lineup, the Surface Book has a 13.5in display with 3000×2000 resolution and comes preloaded with the PixelSense touchscreen technology.

It comes with a Surface Pen and battery life of up to 12 hours. Also, there are features such as facial recognition through Windows Hello and Cortana integration.