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November 5, 2009
        External Storage for your Inner Executive
    External hard disks do not often look pretty. They are usually covered with black or white plastic, or maybe hastily painted steel or aluminum if you look for teh right enclosure. The Brinell Purestorage is definitely NOT your typical external storage drive. If there is a part of you that craves to look good in all that you do then the Purestorage will finally give you a way to carry your data in First Class seating. With size options from 160 to 500GB and case choice of leather, wood, or brushed stainless steel you can have a different one to match each of your Power Ties. Class never comes cheap though. The Purestorage is currently only for sale in Europe with a pricetag of €189 (that's $280 for those still reading)

October 22, 2009
        Steve Jobs is a Closet Spambot
    I spend a good bit of time and space here bad mouthing Apple. Some of it may seem like unfair or unwarranted insults from an obviously Windows-centric PC user. Be that as it may, I still believe that Steve Jobs may be the Devil. His latest nudge toward the end of all comes in the form of a patent application. This patent provides for opening the Apple OS to popup ads. Computer users have been dealing with Internet based popup ads for years, and most have either gotten used to ignoring them, or discovered ways to stop them completely. These ads will only popup when you are browsing the internet (unless some infection acquired WHILE browsing said internet is popping them up constantly). Steve Jobs wants to be able to offer you a "free or reduced cost" operating system by off-setting the cost you aren't paying by forcing you to watch and listen to advertisements. While the ad is playing, one or more of the OS functions may be disabled. How about trying to offset some of the cost of the OS by doing something drastic and characteristically un-Apple like pricing systems competitively to similarly specced Windows based machines? And how long do they really think it will take malware designers to turn this into a nightmare? Imagine having your ad enabled Mac being taken over an popping up a new pornographic ad several times per minute, and while each ad is displayed your machine is useless so there is nothing you can do but watch. Steve Jobs does not care about your user experience. He is worse than a used car saleman that polished a lemon and parks it out front of the lot.

October 15, 2009
        Not Exactly a Garden Gnome
    Everyone knows that nerds are a strange bunch. When we come up with something we are especially proud of, we often erect a monument in its honor. Google is currently very proud of its smart phone OS known as Android. Each version number is given a confectionary codename. So far we have codenames like Cupcake, and recently Donut. Next up is Eclair for the as yet unreleased version 2.0. Google has decorated the lawn of its office building with massive rubber monuments in the shape of each of these goodies, in addition to a statue of the Android product logo. According to EnGadget, a future release will be codenamed Flan. I'm waiting for Fudgecicle and Chocolate Volcano before the idea of Android Theme Park hits them.

October 15, 2009
        Rodentus Gamercus
    I just couldn't resist posting this. Check out the video of the mouse playing Quake! All in the name of science. Researchers at Princeton put a  mouse on an oversized trackball then surrounded the mouse with a 270 degree projection of a Quake map. No mention of how the animal shoots, jumps, or talks smack after pwning its noobs.

October 7, 2009
    Recently, over ten thousand Hotmail account logins were compromised. Those logins were posted on the internet for a short period for all the world to see. A password is intended to be a combination of characters and numbers that is easy for you to remember and difficult for someone else to guess. 123456 is not even remotely difficult to guess. It was however the most common of the passwords found in the list of compromised accounts. If you use this password or something similar, do not expect anything "protected" by that password to be secret.

October 1, 2009
        Bump-Top - Simply Amazing
    The article doesn't even begin to describe the awesomeness of Bump-Top. Follow the video link and prepare to be amazed.
Video Link

October 1, 2009
        State of the Game
    Video games, both PC and console, have come a very long way since the days of PacMan and Pong. Studios have released games that are classified into more different genres than I care to count. However, some of those genres just do not make any since. I was a big fan of the SimSomething franchise right up to the point of the astoundingly popular Sims series. Why would anyone want to spend hours of free time running a character through such mundane tasks as washing dishes and going to the bathroom. This goes for titles like Second Life as well. What use is a second virtual life if you are failing to enjoy the first one. Reality gaming is just as bad as reality TV. If i wanted to watch people do stuff I'd hang out in an office building downtown near a window. Playing games is about doing something fun and entertaining. I have to agree with Thomas McDonald of MaximumPC when he says, "If someone makes a game in which a muscular Cimmerian gets fitted for a cybernetic arm with kung-fu grip and leads his Adventure Team into a jungle swarming with dinosaurs that time forgot, I’d never leave the house."
September 18, 2009
        A TwoFer from DFI
    Ok, so when I read the Engadget article about a hybrid motherboard that combines an ION platform with a P45 platform, I must admit my first thought was El Camino (half car, half truck no good at either). Follow the title link and watch the video. DFI truly accomplishes the feat of cramming 2 systems onto the same main board. The ION platform supports Intel's Atom series processor and is equipped with HDMI output making it perfect or browings the web on your TV or playing back videos from HDD as you would with a "Nettop PC." The P45 platform supports the Intel LGA775 socket processors (Core2). Also included will be an integrated KVM allowing you to switch between the platforms if you choose to run them to the same monitor via the DVI/VGA ports. Each platform can toggle between 4 shared USB ports and the standard on board audio ports. Both sides of the system have 2 dedicated USB ports and a Gigabit LAN port. The video wraps up showing the power draw of the ION system at dead on 30 Watts, which makes it perfect for an "always-on" PC that will not hike up your power bill. This motherboard is truly impressive!!!!!

September 18, 2009
        Nikola Tesla: Born Too Soon
    If ever there was a man born in the wrong era of technology, it would be Tesla. Inventor of such things as Alternating Current (without this, the whole world would be battery powered and the Energizer Bunny would own our souls), the pocket sized Earthquake Machine, and the Tesla Coil. This last invention was his attempt at wireless electricity. If you have ever seen a Tesla Coil in operation, you know that it does indeed disperse electricity wirelessly. The problem was that he never managed to workout the receiver and safety issues...details. Now, decades after his death, his dream is realized and working it's way into the consumer market.

September 15, 2009
        Spiffy Home Server
    Home servers are part of the latest craze of tools allowing home users so coordinate file share and other activities across their home network. As suggested in it's name, a Home Server is exactly that, a server for use in a home (ie. non business) environment. These machines typically run the Window's Home Server operating system, since your average (or even above average) home user lacks the skills and cash to install a true server. A copy of Server 2008 runs over $700 and that is just the OS, no hardware or other software. HP's newest pair of Media Smart home servers top out at just UNDER $700 for the whole package. HP has configured these machines to be accessible from either PC or Mac computers, even iPod and iPhones can stream media from the server. The server can also help the home user establish a disaster recover plan by allowing Windows PCs and Macs to backup against the need of a "bare metal" recovery. The machine can handle up to 4 2TB internal hard disks (up to 7GB total interal disks) with another 10TB of external pairing possible. 17 terabytes is 17,000 gigabytes, or 17,000,000 megabytes which would fill roughly 680 BluRay discs or over 3,600 DVDs.

September 10, 2009
        Eye Candy
    Don't get all hot and bothered until you see what kind of eye candy I am talking about. AMD's next generation graphics processor that will be the heart of th eRadeon HD5800 series video card will be capable of outputting to 6 displays. What would i need 6 displays for you may ask? Well if you have to ask... We are talking about maximum resolution in the range of 7680 x 3200. That is native resolution of 6 Dell 30" Ultra High Resolution Monitors (2560 x 1600 listed at Dell for $1700 a piece). Full HD 1080p is 1920 x 1080 for a little perspective on the level of detail I am talking about.
    At this same trade show, AMD also showcased an extension of the awesomeness of the new cards capabilities. Today's PC elitist cannot abide with a single video card. Anyone not running AT LEAST 2 video cards can't properly be classified as an enthusiast. At the moment the Holy Grail of video processing involves an EVGA mother-board that can run 4 video cards in tandem (requires a HUGE case, and a boatload of power too). AMD had a display configured at the trade show with 4 of the new cards running. Break or the math...Johnny has 4 video cards each of which has support for up to 6 monitors, how much space does Johnny need to clear on his desk? Answer: A bunch!! 24 monitors (only 24" screens in this setup) output a staggering 12240 x 5280 resolution!!!

September 10, 2009
        Slowest of the Slow
    In a one on one contest between DSL and carrier Pigeon, one would think that the odds were stacked against the pigeon. Unfortunately, in South Africa, that was not the case. Unlimited IT was so upset at the speed from the local ISP (probably tired of being the butt of jokes about the limits of Unlimited IT) that they staged a contest of data transfer between their ISP and a carrier pigeon. The goal was to transfer 4GB of data a distance of 60 miles. The pigeon flew a 4GB flash drive the distance in a time of 1 hour and another hour was required to load the data from the flash drive to a PC. In the same 2 hours the DSL transfer completed 4 percent of the move. To put a little perspective on that, 4 percent of 4GB is 160MB or less than a quarter of the data on an average CD.

September 4, 2009
        Adventures of Buckaroo Playstation In The Third Dimension
    In an upcoming software update for Sony's PS3 console, gamers will be able to render games into a 3D format compatible with Nvidia's stereoscopic glasses. With the release of displays that have refresh rates of at least 120Hz, 3D goggles have hit the ground running. The stereoscopic glasses use a shutter effect to opaque alternating eyes, while the image display is rendered from 2 slightly different aspects creating a "Left Eye" and "Right Eye" image. The best part of upcoming software update for the PS3 is that players will be able to render "any" game in 3D. It sounds a little too good to be true, but we shall see.

September 3, 2009
        Robot Responsibility
    This little robot, despite its cuteness, leaves me with some interesting and disturbing thoughts. The robot in the article is essentially a 4 legged automated greenhouse. The robot moves around looking for whatever it requires to take care of the plant inside if greenhouse. The question i see from that is how long before a similar device is designed as a babysitter?

September 3, 2009
        Massive Storage Server
    Check out this custom file server. It has 67 Terabytes of storage space and costs about one eighth of what a comprable system from a major manufacturer would.

September 3, 2009
        Home Theater Keyboard
    Controlling a Home Theater PC can be a challenge. The mouse and keyboard have to wireless, but trying to keep up with both a mouse and a keyboard and keep batteries in them is a real hassle. Enter the Adesso AKB-440. Adesso has incorporated a touchpad into the wireless keyboard just like a laptop has. And priced at just under $60, this is an excellent addition to any HTPC setup.

September 2, 2009
        Lazy Susan Meet Lazy Gamer
    Here is a modder that has created the ultimate in lazy gaming or Xbox Gamers. aside from switching the D-Pad and Action buttons, four buttons were added to the back side of the controller making 1-handed gaming possible.

September 1, 2009
        Power Versus Efficiency
    Intel has held the processor crown of power in both desktop and server markets for a very long time. That crown is based on raw speed and brute force. Surviving in the shadow of the giant has been, and continues to be, a difficult job for AMD. Over the years they have had to give up hope of being the fastest and most powerful and aim at more narrow sections of the market. AMD has shown solid success in the "bang for your buck" sector of the desktop processor market and more recently in the "energy conscious enterprise" sector of the server market. While each revision of the Intel Xeon brings more and more processing power to bear, the energy consumed also continues to rise and the amount of heat produced rises as well. Servers are a significant investment and getting them to stay alive long enough to become obsolete is often a function of keeping them cool, clean, and dry. For this reason, data centers are generally served by their own air conditioning systems, which can elevate the humidity of the room and cause condensation. AMD's server processor, the Opteron, is available in a low power consumption model. The newest addition to this line is the 6-Core Opteron that is a drop in replacement for the 4-Core Shanghai based Opteron. With power consumption at 40W and clock speeds matching Intel's 6-core offerings, this is an excellent chip.

August 28, 2009
        Unsecured Wireless Security
    Securing a wireless network is an essential part of home security. Utilizing your routers security features uses one of various methods to encrypt the broadcast information. This encryption keeps strangers from hoping onto your wireless network and browsing through your files or utilizing your internet connection to carry out assorted dastardly deeds. WEP (Wired Equivalency Protocol) and WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) as well as WPA2 are available on most late model wireless routers and access points. The oldest of the encryption methods is WEP which uses a hexidecimal key of a specific length. Years ago methods of hacking this encryption were proven to be so simple as to render a WEP protected network unprotected in a matter of seconds. Until recently, WPA has withstood attempts to hack its encryption by all but the most stalwart and determined hacker (someone who is truly determined and equipped with sufficient skill will eventually find ways around any security measure). However in the past few months WPA has proven breachable by brute force attack using a method that simply tries every word in the dictionary in combinations of words and numbers. This process was demonstrated to break into a WPA network in 15 minutes or less. Researchers in Japan have produced a method that provides access in 60 seconds or less to a WPA (version 1) encrypted network. The only WPA networks with TKIP enabled are vulnerable as of yet, meaning WPA with AES enabled is still safe, but for how long? If you store sensitive information on any computer that can be access through a wireless network, it is always best to keep security measures current.

August 27, 2009
    Cybersquatting is exactly what it sounds like. It is the Internet version of a bum taking up residence in an abandoned building. Except instead of abandoned buildings, cybersquatters take up residence in unclaimed domains and wait for someone to offer them money for the domain name. The most common tactic is to buy and park domain names related to a popular product, company, or concept. Done properly, this can be a very lucrative business, but as with anything, there is a right way and a wrong way to carry through. OnlineNIC, is a prime example of the wrong way. OnlineNIC sat on 663 Verizon related domains, possibly hoping that Verizon would take notice and buy them. Well, take notice Verizon did, but offer to buy the domains they did not. Verizon sued OnlineNIC and was awarded $33.15 million in damages by a federal court in Northern California. The damages were awarded by default to Verizon, since OnlineNIC somehow managed to evade repeated court summons (no mean task in itself). After the judgement, OnlineNIC appeal the verdict claiming the sites only earned them a little over $1400 in profit. The judge maintained that, "OnlineNIC's reference to its alleged profit fails to take any account of the damages suffered by Verizon in the form of a likelihood of confusion surrounding Verizon's marks and the diversion of internet traffic to websites selling rival products."
    Morals of this story: 1) Do not step on the digital toes of anyone who can afford more lawyers than you have employees, and 2) If you are going to squat, find a way to turn a profit, as you may have to defend your "investment".

August 27, 2009
        Stirring Words from an Unlikely Source
    Recently, the torrent tracker site The Pirate Bay was ordered to shutdown. Court orders and paperwork have not stopped the site, as one might expect from a crew flying the Jolly Roger. The Swedish courts resorted to threatening the ISP on which The Pirate Bay's server resides with a hefty fine unless the ISP cut internet access. The ISP complied to the court's wishes, and instead of giving up, The Pirate Bay jumped over to another ISP. So far there is nothing surprising here, but The Pirate Bay has issued a statement that is worded so well, it might have come from a Hollywood epic and makes me think of John Paul Jones's "I have not yet begun to fight!" The statement reads, "Even though large parts of the Internets and many old and famous trackers have fallen or may fall into the grip of the lfpi and all the odious apparatus of MPAA rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end!"
August 24, 2009
        How Microsoft Handles Product Failure
    As I mentioned in a previous post, the way that Apple has been trying to sweep the catastrophic hardware failure of the iPhone under the rug really bothers me. I do not expect any company to release a product that, during its lifespan, does not experience problems. However, when that problem is pointed out to the company by the end user (who will invariable find ways to destroy the product that the company never even dreamed of) I expect the company to recognize the issue and at least pretend to try to fix it. Since it's release, Microsoft's XBox360 has had a wide range of hardware issues. The most notable result of these issues is the infamous Red Ring Of Death (RROD). The RROD is the greatest fear of any owner of Microsoft's console gaming system. It indicates that your system is dead (as a door-nail) and will need to be shipped off to a warranty repair center, where it will take its sweet time returning to you. As painful is this process can be (one user claims to have had 11 console fail) Microsoft will indeed fix your dead device and has made NUMEROUS hardware revisions resulting in lower failure rates. Whether the product is flawless (if you expect Microsoft to release a flawless product, then I apologize for drowning your fantasy in the sea of reality) upon its release is not early as big an issue as how a company handles the flaws.

August 21, 2009
        Advancing the Stethoscope
    The stethoscope has been a trademark of Doctors and Nurses forever. The design behind this ubiquitous device appears to have remain mostly unchanged, until now! The Littmann Electronic Stethoscope adds some high technology to the tried and tested stethoscope design. It can record heartbeat and lung sounds then transfer them to a PC via a wireless Bluetooth connection. It has ambient and frictional noise reduction and sound amplification as well.

August 21, 2009
        A Mouse for The Reaper
    A new mouse has been released by Steampunk that aims for a unique look instead of increased functionality. An a unique look is exactly what they achieved! Made from real Brass and real sheep skull (certainly not endorsed by PETA), this mouse is not for the faint of heart. Though one might imagine finding it on the desks of Death, Ozzy, or maybe even Dracula. The cord is even wrapped in what looks like cotton weave for the authentic mouse tail look.

August 20, 2009
        CoolerMaster Builds A Cooler Mouse
    CoolerMaster, a company best know for its PC Cases, has made an entry into the world of rodents. Not the kind you call an exterminator to get rid of, but the kind that earns you the title of The Exterminator. Maybe that is a little dramatic, but the mouse released by CoolerMaster uses 2 lasers that use Doppler effect to actually track your most precise of movements instead of using a single laser and trying to predict your movements. It also comes with a tiny OLED screen in case you have a spiffy logo you want to display on the mouse.

August 20, 2009
        Razer Builds a Better Mouse
    Ever feel like your mouse didn't have enough buttons? Check out Razer's newest mouse that has 12.

August 14, 2009
        Solid State Drives: Not Just for Enterprise
    Solid State Drives, or SSD, are the latest and greatest thing in the storage world. Where a Hard Disk Drive stores information on magnetic platters spinning at between 5400 and 15000 RPM, an SSD stores information on flash memory chips, much the same as a USB Flash Drive. The biggest advantage of an SSD lies with the simple fact that it doesn't rely on moving parts, which seriously reduces the amout of time required by the drive to hunt down specific information. As with any new technology, they are VERY expensive, especially when viewed from an amount/dollar perspective. A 1TB (1000GB) HDD can be found for under $100 easily while an SSD even 1/4 that size will set you back more than $500. On a side note, SSD's also consume less power and produce less heat than HDD's. The cost factor has limited the acceptance of the SSD mostly to the world of Enterprise, where cost can be underwritten because of the phenomenal abilities of the drive for tasks requiring constant access to stored data. The closest thing the PC user market has to this level of "need for the best" is the Gamer (other than the Enthusiast, who's need is based solely on bragging rights). Users who play games on their computers always want things to be faster, whether it is to give them the microsecond edge over the competition in a Multiplayer Shooter, or just lack of patience for environment loading associated with visually intense Online Role-Playing games. Samsung is targeting this audience with advertising campaigns for their speedy drives. I am really surprised it has taken this long to target the Gamers. They spend more money, more often than nearly any other segment of the PC market.

August 13, 2009
        I Am Not Alone
    Having looked over some of my previous posts regarding Apple, I had begun to think that my Apple-bashing was just resistance from another Windows user. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes at ZDNet posted a blog today that mirrors my misgivings about the software and hardware giant. Since Apple's App Store is controlled entirely by Apple, any developers that want to provide Apps to users through the App Store have to apply first to Apple. Anyone submitting an app that does something Apple already has an app for is denied on the basis of "duplicates existing functionality." What ever happened to the freedom to choose? Just because Apple would prefer to sell me their browser and email client and document editor and make a buck for themselves, does that mean I don't want to be able to choose the App the fits my useage the best? So at least I am not the only person wondering how Apple has avoided the "antitrust bullet" as Adrian Kingsley-Hughes puts it.

August 12, 2009
        Taking the Risk Out of Hero Tactics
    The field of robotics seems to make its biggest leaps and bounds in Japan. A new robot is taking some of the risk out of fire fighting by finding and rescuing unconscious humans within a burning building. While I certainly support risking fewer fire fighters, there are a number of things about this robot that i am unclear on. Robots are generally very heavy, what good is a rescue robot that falls through a floor that has been weakened by fire (except as an express trip to the first floor)? Once the person is inside this metal rescuer, what happens if they regain consciousness? If I woke up inside a box after passing out from smoke inhalation, my fire related injuries would quickly take a back seat to panic and a heart attack.

August 12, 2009
        Finally, Useful DisplayLink
    DisplayLink is a recent addition to the world of display connectors. Before it's release, the hype claimed that users would be able to use DisplayLink to attach additional monitors to a PC through USB. However, until now, there have been resolution limitations that have kept the standard from getting any serious recognition. Logitec has now released a USB-to-DVI dongle that will support resolutions up to 2048 x 1152. High Definition televisions that are advertised as FullHD use 1080p with is 1920 x 1080 resolution. This leaves me with one serious question though. Since none of these DisplayLink connected screens will be running through the video card, how big a drain will they be on system resources?

August 11, 2009
        Add a Touchscreen to any PC
    Even though the device is still not to market, this has to be one of the coolest add-ons i have seen for a PC in years. Nanovision's MIMO 720-S is a Touch sensitive secondary screen that you can connect to any PC with a USB port. Measuring only 7 inches, it is not designed to be a primary viewing screen, but have you ever wanted to have your feed reader stashed off to the side somewhere that you did not have to scroll through with your mouse. Or how about your Outlook emails calendar reminders literally at hand. In my book $215 is even a reasonable price.

August 11, 2009
        Body of Music
    Using conductive body ink and a pre-recorded music track Calvin Harris is able to use 15 bikini models as a synthesizer. Each of the models has strips of conductive ink painted on. When these strips complete various circuits, predefined tones are generated. Check out the video, though i am still a little unclear on the hows of it all.

August 11, 2009
        Pay As You Go Netbook PC
    HP intends to release a netbook in the Japanese market that will be equipped with a SIM card tied to a pay-as-you-go 3G network. There are currently 3G enabled models offered in the US already, however they are all locked into specific providers and require the consumer to purchase a lengthy contract. Allowing the 3G to be enabled as needed strikes me as a much more consumer friendly method. This would allow the consumer to only keep enough airtime to cover their needs without having to pay for a monthly service they may discover wasn't as useful as a salesman made it sound.

August 10, 2009
        Former Champ Returns to the Storage Ring
    Some people may remember the name TDK from the long ago times of magnetic tape storage. TDK is jumping back into the spotlight in the highly competitive hard disk storage market with a 2.5TB drive. While front runners like Western Digital and Seagate are developing 500GB disk platters, TDK is upping the ante to 640GB platters. For a company that is a virtual unknown in today's world of storage, this is a big surprise. I can't wait to see how the rest of the pack responds.

August 7, 2009
        Stop Sponsored Ads in Gmail Sidebar
    Ever notice the side bar full of sponsored links related to keywords in your Gmail messages? I method has been discovered that keeps these advertisements from showing up. The logic behind it is brilliant! Since all of the ads are based on keywords within the displayed email, creating a signature type sentence that goes at the bottom of each email that contains keywords that Google bans from its ads will result in no ads being displayed. These words include George Carlin's famous dirty "Words You Can't Say On Television" as well as various words with dirty or violent connotations such as Massacre, Slaughter, etc.

August 5, 2009
        Fired up Screen Saver
    This is a pretty cool screen saver. It takes your open windows, icons and other items on the screen and sets them on fire! It comes complete with crackling fire sound effects and a few background music options. I'd love to see a future version where little cartoonish fire fighters in trucks, helicopters, and boats dowse each of the flames only to have them re-ignite after a short wait.

August 4, 2009
        Apple is a Model Big Business Bully
    Usually when a company releases a product that fails so catastrophically, that company issues a product recall. When the pillars of the business community at Apple receive notification that their most popular product can go out with a bang and a fireball, they only offer a refund of purchase price if the end user signs a gag order that prevents them from saying anything about the incident to anyone. When did acts like this become acceptable business practices? Anyone who pays upwards of $300 for an iPod Touch or even more iPhone only to have it melt down or explode is due much more than a refund. Apple seems to be putting profits and marketing above consumer safety.  When the power transformer in Microsoft's XBox was shown to be capable of over heating and starting fires there was significant media coverage and the problem was fixed. A house fire can be devastating with loss of property, but a mobile media device or cellular phone exploding could inflict serious injury resulting in pain and permanent scarring. When a company like Apple tries to sweep reports of a dangerous product under the rug it shows just how little they care for what happens after they get paid.

August 4, 2009
        Digital Camera and Projector
    Nikon Coolpix S1000pj is rumored to be both digital camera and LED projector wrapped up into a single convenient package. The classic weak point of any projector is the projection bulb. They are notoriously fragile, especially when in the "cool down" phase before turning off. If Nikon has found a way around the problem, then this could be a very cool camera.

July 30, 2009
        Maximum PC Dream Machine '09
    It is time again for the Annual Maximum PC Dream Machine build. The Dream Machine is a testament to the "money is no object, performance is king" market segment. Having gone a bit overboard in years past (especially last year's $17,000 chrome monster seen here), I am pleasantly surprised to see 3 budget ranges addressed this year. The price of the top end build is low enough to to be enticing on more than just an academic level, while it has specs that can compete with the best offering from high end custom boutiques like Alienware and Voodoo. My only serious gripe is that each of the machines is loaded with Windows 7 RC1. My complaint is not with the operating system itself, but with the fact that as a Release Candidate, the cost is zero, and allows a small side step of the ceiling in each of the budget ranges.
    Although since Maximum PC did away with their "Rig of the Month" section due to a decrease in quality of submissions, I would have liked to see something outrageously creative from a build team i hold in the highest regard.

July 29, 2009
        Whining In the Produce Section
    Apple is starting to sound like a kindergartner, tattling to the teacher because it feels that it is enduring some insufferable injustice. Since the release of the device, the iPhone has been exclusively sold to customers of AT&T with no apparent plans to change this. The arrangement is great if you happen to be with AT&T. If you prefer to use a different provider for your cellular service, you are officially left out in the cold. Unofficially, if you are willing to pay the retail cost of the phone (upwards of $600) you can acquire an unlocked phone and activate it on your carrier's network. Apple has tried every trick in the book to prevent this on their own, and having been outsmarted at every turn, now they are wailing Drugs and Terror to the federal government to criminalize the unlocking of their device. If the device contains what amounts to a national security threat, it certainly did not write itself into the code. If this threat is truly as serious as Apple claims, I believe a federally mandated recall is in order. Obviously nobody has considered that releasing the iPhone to other cellular providers would seriously reduce the number of Free Use advocates that work to circumvent every attempt at securing the device that Apple makes.
    I think Apple has spent so many years overshadowed by a certain other company, now that they have a viable product again and are starting to take back market share, they are trying to milk the consumer market for every penny possible. Eventually someone needs to step in and say "play nice and don't fight, or you can pack up your toys and go home!"

July 29, 2009
        Pen(guin) Drive
    I found the perfect starting point for my product commentary. It is reasonably socially conscious and at the same time contains some humorous aspects . Although I work almost exclusively in Window's environments, I am a tentative fan of the Linux camp. I have tried out a few Linux Distributions and been pleasantly surprised by what I have found.  Active Media Products is now marketing a USB flash drive that contains bootable copy of Ubuntu. The flash drive is shaped like an Emperor Penguin and 5 percent of retail sales are donated to the World Wildlife Fund. The pricing looks very reasonable with a 16GB drive coming in under $44.
    The humorous side here is that cap of the drive is the head of the penguin. When the device uncapped and put into a USB port it will look like a penguin stuck head first into your computer. Whether this is the intended effect or not, a future release should have motorized feet that kick back and forth when the drive is in use. I would easily consider paying an extra $20 for this as a conversation piece!