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The Geek’s Reading List; Week of December 5th 2014

Piccioni: The abject fiasco which is Windows 8 continues to affect the PC industry.

There were good mix of tech news items this week, with no dominant theme.

“Low end” (mostly meaning low price) smartphones are gaining attention. Solid State Drives, which will render Hard Disk Drives obsolete in the same manner as flash drives replace floppies, are being recognized for their robustness.

The price of cloud services offered by major vendors continues to plummet to zero, and Microsoft is hoping to save the world from Windows 8 by introducing Windows 10, eventually.

The Market For Low-End Smartphones Is Looking Up
I continue to believe the top will drop out of the market for smartphones. By which I mean consumers will eventually realize “high end” phones are wildly overpriced and even carrier locked phones are a waste of money and negotiating position. You can purchase a good quality unlocked Android phone for less than C $200 nowadays and, even though you might have to live with the shame of not having an iPhone, you are paying a fraction of the price for pretty much the same functionality.
“Once upon a time when you walked into a store looking to buy a new cell phone, you were presented with three options. High-end devices like Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy line were cutting edge, but expensive. Mid-range phones like HTC’s Desire series were cheaper, but not nearly as powerful. Low-end phones were the most affordable, but also the most technologically limited of the bunch. Their processors were slower, their screens were less crisp, and their build quality often left much to be, well, desired. Looking at the market today, many things are the same. High-end phones are still pricey and aspirational while the midrange is still middling. Cheap smartphones, however, are in a state of disruption.”

The SSD Endurance Experiment: Two freaking petabytes
Solid State Drives (SSDs) are frequently characterized as short-lived, however, such a comment must always be made within the context of the life of the end product and typical usage patterns. SSDs do tend to wear out after a large number of writes but the vast majority of access for the typical consumer are reads, not writes. SSDs are much, much faster, mechanically robust (try dropping a Hard Disk Drive (HDD)) and typically consume much less power. Almost any system benefits from an SSD upgrade and the HDD industry is doomed. Thanks to my friend Humphrey Brown for this item.
“More than a year ago, we drafted six SSDs for a suicide mission. We were curious about how many writes they could survive before burning out. We also wanted to track how each one’s performance characteristics and health statistics changed as the writes accumulated. And, somewhat morbidly, we wanted to watch what happened when the drives finally expired. Our SSD Endurance Experiment has left four casualties in its wake so far. Representatives from the Corsair Neutron Series GTX, Intel 335 Series, Kingston HyperX 3K, and Samsung 840 Series all perished to satisfy our curiosity. Each one absorbed far more damage than its official endurance specification promised—and far more than the vast majority of users are likely to inflict.”

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Amazon cuts the cost of sending data out from its cloud by as much as 43%
From time to time we encounter companies who expect to “disrupt” the cloud services business. Most recently we reported on a company which had figured out a way to get consumers to cover its capital cost, which it paid back with “free” heat. The thing is, cloud services is a race to the bottom: there is little in the way of sustainable competitive advantage, meanwhile the cost of delivering MIPS (processing power) continues to decline. Above all it is a buyers market and may never be a good investment.

“Market-leading public cloud Amazon Web Services is at it again, reducing the price of its services. Today it’s networking costs that are getting lower. The new price cuts affect the process of pushing data from Amazon’s cloud services onto the Internet. Amazon is also decreasing the price of sending data out from its CloudFront content-distribution network onto the Internet. Percentages for the price cuts vary in each geographical region or cluster of Amazon data centers. In the Asia Pacific region, for instance, the cost of transferring data out is going down by 43 percent for the 40TB following the initial 10TB. But in the US West (Oregon) region, the price for that data transfer is falling by 6 percent.”

600 Millions PCs Waiting for Windows 10
The abject fiasco which is Windows 8 continues to affect the PC industry. Microsoft’s efforts to promote that abomination means that if you buy a new PC you will have to learn a new, frustrating, and anti-logical user interface which will become obsolete once Windows 10 is released. So for the sake of all that is holy, do not buy a new PC if you can put it off. That is the real message of this article. That and the fact Microsoft appears to find novelty in listening to its customers.

“Windows 10 is still in development at Microsoft, but Redmond’s partners claim that interest in new PCs has increased lately, especially after the software giant released the very first Windows 10 Technical Preview for testers. What’s more, millions of PCs are waiting right now for Windows 10, as the new operating system is already seen as a breath of fresh air for the collapsing PC industry which has suffered from dropping figures in the last couple of years. Windows 8 didn’t help, many said, so Windows 10 could definitely boost shipments, Intel’s executives explained during a recent press conference.”

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