Archive for December, 2009

Seagate in a legal pickle

I just found out about this but apparently it’s been going on for 9 years. The beef is between Seagate and Convolve over technology. The patent dispute goes back to 2000, noise reduction technology, and $800 million. Others dragged into the fray are Compaq, Dell, Hitachi, and Western Digital. An insider, Paul A. Galloway, ex Seagate employee claims to be an eye witness who worked on incorporating the technology to Seagate products. There’s also allegations of evidence tampering and if proven true could put Seagate in quite the pickle. The fact that it’s dragged on this long peaks my interest. If it was a minor issue why not just settle and pay the guy a fraction of the claim as hush money. Obviously $800 million is no small beans but it could be a landmark case that could impact hard drives going forward. Stay tuned.

Should You Lock In for another 3 years?

With the wireless industry in Canada to become more competitive in the new year existing carriers are trying desperately to keep their customers. Offering shiny phones for a brand new 3 year commitment. So should you do it? I guess it really comes down to whether you’re happy with your service provider. In some rural areas you don’t really have a choice with the service provider you have but some of the major city centers will have customers jumping ship for greener pastures. Here’s what to expect:

Rogers – phones for $1, initially requires a data plan but can be canceled later, 3 year commitment. Rogers services bundle discounts 15% CSRs are bending over backwards to get you to sign up for another 3 years, no need to threaten to cancel either.

Bell – talk and data plans from $40/month, new deal with the Source to distribute their phones. I believe they also offer a bundled service discounts. No really good phone deals. I’m guessing they are betting on the Olympics to boost their customer base along with touting their high speed wireless network.

Telus – smartphones for $0, $50 for 3 year contracts requires data plan. Great marketing as usual. Have you seen the hippo commercial? Now available at Black’s Camera locations.

Wind – building up steam with their cheap, no contract plans. The only downside is that you have to buy the phone up front. The company seems to be very responsive and listening to the community. Number portability not a problem. Some real promise with the way this company is defining itself.

Dave Wireless – other than no contracts not much has been revealed. New company Dave Wireless says it won’t compete on price.

Public Mobile – no contract (I see a recurring theme here) $40/month for UNLIMITED talk and text. It looks like they are aiming for the entry level market to try to scoop customers away from Koodo and Fido. Phone offering doesn’t look great at the moment.

It looks like pricing should should get a bit cheaper for all but premium services (data) will still end up costing you $50+ a month. I’m still wondering who’s cell towers the new service providers will be running off of. You can be sure that which ever salesperson you speak to they will be extra nice in an effort to get your business. I think one of the barriers to switching for existing customers is the “bundling” aspect. Many already enjoy the “bundle discounts” from having multiple services with one company. Definitely a smart move by those companies who implemented it.

Competition is still good. Hopefully this will be a good time for you to negotiate a better plan with your carrier or even cut ties and move on. Now, what shiny phone should I pick?

Are you happy yet?

Apple fanboys should be happy about this bit of news. It would appear that Apple is planning to release a “tablet” like device that will cost between $500 and $1000. Shareholders were also happy as the stock hit an all time high of $209.35 How much is Steve Jobs worth now? Is he approaching Bill Gates yet? Got your credit card out already? You’ll have to wait until March or April before you get your hands on this shiny new Apple branded device. Plenty of time for you to speculate what colors it will be available in.

I’m guessing it will be offered in a pro version of some kind, built in SSD, and video/photo editing software. Now what accessories should I be buying?

Things I Want, but haven’t bought yet

XBox 360 – why? The games, the freaking awesome games. If there ever was a year to abandon my pc it should have been this year. The lineup of epic games for this console is long. Turn it into your networked media center, play HD movies (LOL), DLC, rent movies through the Xbox live network, frag people in MW2. Let’s just hope you don’t get the red ring of death … oops, spoke too soon.

Android Phone – Motorola Droid/Milestone or even the Cliq. HTC Touch Pro, or the Dream. Even a LG Eve. The Google mobile platform is the perfect alternative for those who find the iPhone lacking. Multitasking, open source development, not as many apps as the Apple store (ok fine), no multi-touch (dang it!), but hey, it’s not Apple (yay). Having a physical keyboard is awesome, touchscreen is overrated.

GPS – seriously, I know where I’m going. Not to say that there isn’t a use for a mapping device. They most certainly come in handy from time to time but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend the $200 on one this year. But it’s one of those status symbol things, if you don’t have one of those suction cup ring thingies on your windshield, you are a loser. Perhaps Santa will offer me the gift of direction this year, but probably not because I’ve been a jerk the whole year.

Netbook – ok, just to clarify, I do have a 9″ netbook which was clearly an impulse buy but after extended use I have found the keyboard to be lacking. A 10″ netbook has just enough keyboard to make things comfortable. However, rather than spend another $300 for a slightly wider version I need something else. A faster cpu, better graphics card, more hard drive space, something! Let’s hope there’s a 2.0 Ghz Atom processor in the works. Being able to compute anywhere, anytime definitely has it’s advantages. Hmm, so now I’m working ALL the time … how is this good for me again?

Bluetooth headset – even though it’s now the law in Ontario (no talking on cellphones while driving) I haven’t got around to investing in a bluetooth headset. For the amount of time I spend in my car, let alone talking while driving, I can’t justify spending $50 – 100 for a headset. If it’s really important they’ll leave a message or call back. I ain’t pulling over to answer a stupid phone call.

Laptop – with the latest i5 and i7 offerings from Intel the price was right for an upgrade. Again my sensibility got the better of me. While I’m not sold on the i5 or i7 series, going for a top end duo core 2 laptop with a 2.8 Ghz processor would have been a nice addition to my technology collection.

Data storage – MORE! It was the year of the terabyte. Prices were more than affordable but why didn’t I break down and buy a 1 or 2 TB hard drive? Well it turns out I don’t actually have that much data. And what I have nicely fits on to a 500GB hard drive and/or CDs/DVDs (backed up to another 500GB hd of course). Sure I could buy another hard drive but I honestly have more than enough storage as is.

Bluray DVD player – um, no. I don’t see the overwhelming argument here for going from dvd quality to bluray dvd quality. If I did give in to my impulses then that would mean I’d go with a PS3, which goes against my Xbox purchase (do I really need 2 gaming consoles?). Although bluray dvd movies got real cheap, real quick, I don’t think I’d want to invest a bunch of money into building up a bluray collection, while my existing dvd collection gathers dust. Hmm, I guess that wasn’t a smart investment after all.

Tech Stories That Stuck With Me This Year

Apple – well a lot happened with Apple this year. The illness of Steve Jobs. A new iPod Nano with a built in video camera. Dominance of the iPhone and the app store. Believe it or not there are still plenty of countries where the iPhone is not officially available. Apple had a big year, made a lot of money, and a few problems with their iMacs. iTunes now sells more music than Walmart, now that’s scary. I think I’m getting brainwashed by their marketing, even I want an iPod touch and an iBook now.

Facebook – MySpace what? Social Networking became synonymous with Facebook. Friending people left and right, installing silly apps, and sharing (intimate) details with everyone. People getting fired for ranting about their bosses. Er – what happened to privacy? The Canadian government stepped in and decided to force the issue and now it’s a BIG deal for everyone. And seriously, stop playing Farmville. It’s dumb. AND I don’t give a crap about your status so don’t bother.

Twitter – who knew in 140 characters or less people’s random iterations could draw such a following. However not just for random blurbs, but also breaking news. Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods just 2 of the celebrities whose story spread like wildfire over twitter. However I can’t help but feel that it’s lost some of it’s luster after the ladies of the View talked about it. Forget blogging, it’s all about the Twitter. So how many followers do you have? Spammers don’t count.

Google – search? No, more like ad money, a browser named Chrome (which made a little splash) and then a mobile OS called Android that made a big splash. Almost single-handedly keeping Motorola mobile division employed. The Droid and Cliq and probably many more phones on the way. Also the controversial project to convert books to digital format and offer them all up for free download. Not sure where Google is going with this but ebook reader sales have never been higher. Now there’s a dumb product I thought would never get off the ground.

Crunchpad/JooJoo – here’s an interesting legal story about how intellectual property laws might get a precedent. Who owns the rights to the product and who can distribute it. A classic story of “he said/she said”. Perhaps it will all fizzle out by the time Apple comes out with their version. Again, touchscreen mobile workpad? Really? Who’s gonna buy this anyways? Prove me wrong people, prove me wrong.

Bandwidth – throttling of my interwebs makes me go crazy. Nonetheless peer to peer file sharing is taking up a lot of time on service provider’s agendas. Data usage going way up, despite a handful of users doing it all, and the pressure to continue to provide equal service for all. Not only for the home user downloading tv shows, music, or porn, but for the mobile user checking email, using gps services, and texting (yes, lots and lots of texting). It looks like ISPs and wireless providers need to get together and invest in some infrastructure to quench consumers thirst for dwindling bandwidth.

Games – how is the gaming industry pulling in more money than the movie industry? Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Wii Sports changing the game and how we play it. More and more entertainment is becoming a larger part of our everyday lives. Blu-ray quality games played on HD tvs, movie dialogue, immersive gameplay, all increasing the production value of that $60 game. Online subscription services for multiplayer, even downloadable content, or even providing an opportunity to connect with your fellow gamers. On your phone, your computer, your tv, where ever you go each device is used for your amusement. It’s kind of worrying. It says a lot about where our society is heading. But what I’m wondering is this: if we’re spending more time playing games, what activities are we taking away from?

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