February 15, 2008

Amazon Launches Kindle

The last bastion of analogue started to crumble today with the launch of Amazons much-anticipated e-Book reader called Kindle (US$399). The Kindle device, in development for three years weighs just under 300 grams and introduces what Amazon are classifying as a 'convenient, portable reading device with the ability to wirelessly download books, blogs, magazines and newspapers.'

The Kindle isn't the first mass e-Reader product on the market. That credit goes to the Sony PRS-500 Portable Reader System. Both devices use technology called Electronic Paper Display (EPD), which according to eInk 'possess a paper-like high contrast appearance, ultra-low power consumption, and a thin, light form, giving viewers the experience of reading from paper, while having the power of up-datable information.

According to Amazon, Kindle has been designed to operate without a computer. Instead, Kindle relies on the Sprint Evdo network to gain access to the Web, and importantly Amazon.com where you'll buy most of the content for your Kindle. And that's where Amazon have added plenty of value, where Sony couldn't. Amazon have partnered with most major publishers and have over 88,000 books available, including 100 of the current 112 New York Times bestsellers. Amazon have also partnered with top international newspapers and magazines like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Time and Forbes, and have also made 250 top blogs available under a subscription model as well.

Content for the Kindle is reasonably priced with bestsellers and new releases starting at $9.99, while other books can be more or less expensive. Books that are purchased come with proprietary Amazon DRM and can't be shared between Kindle users (unless the Kindle's share an Amazon account) or printed. The files can however be backed up. All Kindle users are assigned an email address, where for a small fee they can transfer their own files (Word and picture files) to their Kindle, and the Kindle can hold approximately 200 titles internally with SD card support for expansion.

The Kindle is already being touted as the 'iPod' of books however that metaphor doesn't quite hold. True, the only place to get DRM'd music for your iPod is iTunes, however iPod's also play non-DRM music that is freely importable through iTunes. According to Gizmodo, the Kindle only supports books in its '.azw' format, and the only files you can transfer on without getting 'taxed' (Amazon charge 10c per email attachment) are image files.

Sadly, I can't see Kindle coming to our shores anytime soon. So, for more information, and to find out what we are missing check out the Amazon.com information page. What do you think? Will Kindle be a hit or is paper still king?
Can you say 'Small'? Intel launches new chips based on 45nm technology by Danny Gorog http://gorogsguide.blogspot.com

If you're reading this article on a computer, chances are it's using an Intel processor. With a reported market share of over seventy five percent, Intel are the dominant player in the microprocessor space and have been an integral part in driving the IT boom for the last fourty years.

In 1965, one of Intels founders, Gordon Moore observed that the number of transistors that could be put on a microchip would double every two years. When he made this obersavtion Moore was reasonably confident that his observation would hold true for at least ten years. Well, that was more than fourty years ago, and while it's getting harder and harder for engineers to keep up, the wizards at Intel have done it again with thir new line up of 45 nanometer chips, code named 'Penryn'.

45 nanometer transistors, when combined, produce a microprocessor with very low current leakage and record high performance. The new 'Penryn' chips deliver energy-efficient, low-cost, high-performance computing products for both laptops and desktop PCs.

With roughly twice the density of Intel 65nm technology, Intel's 45nm packs about double the number of transistors into the same silicon space. That's more than 400 million transistors for dual-core processors and more than 800 million for quad-core. To put that into perspective, you could fit more than 30,000 45nm transistors onto the head of a pin, which measures approximately 1.5 million nm.

Intel are also putting the spotlight on environmental issues with the launch of their new 45nm platform. The new chips for example are one hundred percent lead free and halogen free. So, not only will you get more processing power but the environment will be better off as well.

So how does this effect you? Well, if you buy a new laptop with Intel 45nm technology chances are it will run faster, but also produce less heat, and therefore consumer less power - that means you get better battery performance. If you use a desktop computer you'll be able to get faster chips that make doing complex tasks like editing videos or transcoding music even faster than before.

Break-Out Timeline
1953: The first commercial device to make use of the transistor is put on the market – the hearing aid.

1961: The first patent is awarded to Robert Noyce for an integrated circuit. Original transistors had been sufficient for use in radios and phones, but newer electronics required something smaller – the integrated circuit.

1965: Moore’s Law is born when Intel’s Gordon Moore predicts that the number of transistors on a chip will double roughly every year (a decade later, revised to every 2 years) in the future, as stated in an article in Electronics Magazine.

1968: Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore resign from Fairchild Semiconductor, and start a new company named Intel, short for integrated electronics.

1971: Intel launches its first microprocessor – the 4004. The 4004 was 1/8 of an inch by 1/16 of an inch, contained just more than 2,000 transistors and was manufactured with Intel’s 10micron PMOS technology.

1982: The 286 microprocessor, is released. It utilizes 134,000 transistors and has a maximum speed of 12.5MHz.

1985: The 386 microprocessor is released, featuring 275,000 transistors. Multi-tasking, the ability to run multiple programs at once becomes a reality

1993: Pentium Processor is released with 3 million transistors.

1999: Pentium III processor – a 1x1 silicon square containing more than 9.5 million transistors manufactured with Intel’s 0.18micron manufacturing process technology

2002: The latest version of the Intel Pentium 4 processor is introduced at 2.2 billion cycles per second for high-performance desktop PCs. It is manufactured using Intel’s 0.13 micron process technology and has 55 million transistors.

2005: Intel’s first mainstream dual-core processor, Pentium D debuts with 230 million transistors and manufactured with Intel’s 90nm process technology.

2006: Intel Core 2 Duo makes its debut. These processors have more than 290 million transistors and are built using Intel’s 65nm process technology.

2007: Intel reveals breakthrough transistor materials called high-k and metal gate, that it is using to build the insulating wall and switching gate on the hundreds of millions of microscopic 45nm transistors.

45nm Facts
The original transistor built by Bell Labs in 1947 could be held in your hand, while hundreds of Intel’s new 45nm transistor can fit on the surface of a single red blood cell.

The price of a transistor in one of Intel’s new 45nm chips will be about 1 millionth the average price of a transistor in 1968. If car prices had fallen at the same rate, a new car today would cost about 1 cent.

You could fit more than 30,000 45nm transistors onto the head of a pin, which measures approximately 1.5 million nm.

A 45nm transistor can switch on and off approximately 300 billion times a second. A beam of light travels less than a tenth of an inch during the time it takes a 45nm transistor to switch on and off.


Streaming Radio

Streaming or Internet Radio is the term given to live radio that is delivered via the Internet in one continuous stream. Some Internet Radio stations operate only via the web, while other traditional terrestrial radio stations also offer an Internet Stream. Occasionally, Internet Radio is confused with Podcasting, however a Podcast is a distinct audio file that is actually downloaded to your computer rather and therefore can be listened to offline, while Internet Radio requires a persistent ant Internet connection.

Internet Radio has many advantages over traditional terrestrial radio but the reason it's become such a sensation is that you can tune in to a radio program that's being broadcast from the other side of the world. For example, when my father-in-law came over we tuned in to Cape FM - a local FM station in Cape Town, South Africa. And sometimes even if you want to listen to a local radio station (that you can tune in to on the dial) you'll find that tuning in on your computer means you'll get a static free sound.

Finding an Internet Radio station is as easy as visiting radiotime.com and either searching or browsing for a station. Once you've found the Internet Radio station you'll need to make sure you have the right software. In most cases you'll need either Windows Media Player (which comes standard in Windows but Mac users will need to download a copy from microsoft.com) or Real Player (www.real.com).

If you find yourself listening to lots of Internet Radio there are even programs that let you time-shift - or 'record' and listen to the programs when you want. If you're using Windows check out Red Button (http://radiotime.com/downloadcenter.aspx), or Radioshift (http://www.rogueamoeba.com/radioshift) for Mac OS X.

Internet Radio has become so popular that Grundig have even produced a product dubbed 'The Wireless'. It's a small radio like device that connects to your WiFi signal at home and lets you stream Internet Radio as if you were tuned into a terrestrial signal. At $499 it's a bit pricey, but if radio is your thing, then why not?