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					Thirsty Thursday Tech episode 17 3-11-10

Carlos Slim displaces Bill Gates as world’s richest man

"Riding surging prices of his various telecom holdings, including giant mobile outfit America
Movil, Mexican tycoon Carlo Slim Helu has beaten out Americans Bill Gates and Warren Buffett
to become the wealthiest person on earth and nab the top spot on the 2010 Forbes list of the
World's Billionaires," Matthew Miller and Luisa Kroll report for Forbes.

"Slim's fortune has swelled to an estimated $53.5 billion, up $18.5 billion in 12 months. Shares
of America Movil, of which Slim owns a $23 billion stake, were up 35% in a year," Miller and
Kroll report. "That massive hoard of scratch puts him ahead of Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates,
who had held the title of world's richest 14 of the past 15 years."



Mac Pro 'hexacore' Xeon Core
i7-980x coming Tuesday
Sources claim that Apple is set to revamp its high-end Mac Pro line, adding a
‘hexacore’ Core i7-980x model to the line up.




All information points to this happening next Tuesday, March 16th.

The Core i7-980x is Intel’s first six-core part. Here’s the spec:

  1    3.33GHz (TurboBoost to 3.6GHz)
 2     6 cores / 12 threads

 3     32nm architecture

 4     Socket LGA1366

 5     130W TDP

A ‘hexacore’ system would represent a significant upgrade for the Mac Pro
line.

If you’re thinking of buying a Mac Pro, you might want to wait a few days.




Verizon Viewing iPad as Opportunity to Push MiFi Service




     Reports leaked internal memo from Verizon to its staff members
     promoting Apple's iPad as an "opportunity" to sell its data plans,
 seeking to encourage customers to purchase a Wi-Fi iPad model and
   pair it with Verizon services such as MiFi to provide cellular data
                              connectivity.

Verizon's proposal comes with a tradeoff for customers. The company
cites the $130 premium carried by 3G-capable iPad models, an upfront
cost unnecessary for those customers sticking with Wi-Fi models for
use with Verizon's data plans. Alternatively, those customers could
purchase a MiFi device for as little as $49.99 from Verizon, but that
pricing requires a two-year data contract in comparison to the 3G-
capable iPad's contract-free data plan pricing.

On the plus side for Verizon, its MiFi device, which taps into the
carrier's cellular network to generate a local Wi-Fi network, can be
used to provide access to any Wi-Fi enabled devices and up to five at
the same time. Compared to AT&T's iPad service, which obviously is
limited only to the iPad itself, Verizon's arrangement offers more
flexibility for users who might also want to connect their notebook or
other device such as an iPod touch to a network while on the go.

Verizon's MiFi proposal does require, however, that users carry a
separate device in addition to their iPad. And on the pricing front, the
two-year MiFi contract is priced at $39.99 per month for 250 MB of
data or $59.99 per month for 5 GB of data, significantly higher that
AT&T's contract-free iPad-only data plans priced at $14.99/250 MB or
$29.99/unlimited per month. Consequently, Verizon's strategy seems
to likely hold appeal primarily for those customers with multiple Wi-Fi
devices requiring cellular data access.
OpenGL 4.0 comes out to play




With Microsoft becoming increasingly marginalized in areas like mobile
media, DirectX is becoming less of a must-use toolset and more of a
gaming-specific one. The other side of the coin is, of course, the
increasing relevance of standards like OpenGL, OpenAL, and OpenCL:
powerful cross-platform systems for graphics, audio, and parallel
processing. You may remember OpenCL from its debut on the Mac in
Snow Leopard, and OpenGL ES of course powers the UI on the iPad.
OpenAL is still a ways from being brought under the public eye, but it’s
getting there. In the meantime, OpenGL 4.0 was announced today at
GDC, and clearly it has DirectX in its sights.

4.0 has a lot of features which users like you and I don’t really need to
know about. Texture swizzling? Awesome. Tessellation? Sure, as long as
it’s not like whatever they used in Messiah — remember that game?
These new toys for developers will make for a richer and faster graphical
experience, to be sure, but I’m not going to list them off for you.

The big news for graphics is handhelds right now. Mobile gaming is
blowing up and Microsoft can’t get a foot in the door. Hell, it’s getting its
foot booted out from the other side. In the other corner, OpenGL (and the
rest of the Open toolset) is setting itself up as being flexible enough to
be applied on a handset, a laptop, or a desktop. It may not have DirectX
11 fidelity in water shaders or the latest normal mapping technique, but
it’s damn close and what’s more, it doesn’t need a high end graphics
card to be the library in use. Though I feel I should add that the games
coming out on Windows Phone 7 Series and the Zune HD 2 are looking
pretty awesome. This race isn’t over by far.

The OpenCL thing is great as well. If you remember, OpenCL is a set of
tools for offloading certain tasks from the CPU onto the GPU, when those
tasks are better served by parallel processors. Loading web pages may
work fine on your Snapdragon, but decoding video will have it at 100%
and drain your battery — better to send it over to the GPU. The GPU
computing thing hasn’t quite taken off yet, but it’s pretty much
inevitable that it’ll start being implemented on a low level, since it can
improve the user experience so dramatically.




[Windows XP]

Windows XP is the most widely used operating system in the world, but users might be
given a firm reason to upgrade soon. The BBC reports that, as hard drives expand their
sector sizes from 512 bytes to a new industry standard of 4 kilobytes, XP users could
see a performance hit, especially when writing data. Some advanced drives will be able
to emulate the older sector sizes for compatibility, but still, those building their own
computers or trading up on hard drives may see notable performance problems. If
you're a devoted XP user facing down the future of storage.
Windows XP is the most widely used operating system in the world, but users might be
given a firm reason to upgrade soon. The BBC reports that, as hard drives expand their
sector sizes from 512 bytes to a new industry standard of 4 kilobytes, XP users could
see a performance hit, especially when writing data. Some advanced drives will be able
to emulate the older sector sizes for compatibility, but still, those building their own
computers or trading up on hard drives may see notable performance problems. If
you're a devoted XP user facing down the future of storage, tell us how you plan to
adapt in the comments.



it Ethernet field trial using new Cisco gear, proves it does
care
Remember those network investments that AT&T was talking up just days before Time
Warner slipped over an offer for help? Looks as if the firm wasn't kidding around, but
there's still nothing here that should get you excited about more available bandwidth in
the coming days. Utilizing that fancy new Cisco router, the carrier recently completed a
live network environmental trial of 100-Gigabit backbone network technology (far more
hasty than that 40-Gigabit stuff that's around today), but we're told that the tech isn't
expected to be ready for "commercial deployment" until the "next few years." 'Course,
we suspect we should be struck by the notion that the internet may actually have the
proper infrastructure to keep on keepin' on once Hulu really does take over the world,
but for now, we'll just have to extract a bit more joy from those vague "little things" in life.
AT&T completes 100-Gigabit Ethernet field trial using new Cisco gear, proves it does
care




Remember those network investments that AT&T was talking up just days before Time
Warner slipped over an offer for help? Looks as if the firm wasn't kidding around, but
there's still nothing here that should get you excited about more available bandwidth in
the coming days. Utilizing that fancy new Cisco router, the carrier recently completed a
live network environmental trial of 100-Gigabit backbone network technology (far more
hasty than that 40-Gigabit stuff that's around today), but we're told that the tech isn't
expected to be ready for "commercial deployment" until the "next few years." 'Course,
we suspect we should be struck by the notion that the internet may actually have the
proper infrastructure to keep on keepin' on once Hulu really does take over the world,
but for now, we'll just have to extract a bit more joy from those vague "little things" in life.

tel's Core i7-980X Extreme Edition 'Gulftown' review
roundup
Six cores. Twelve threads. A new flagship processor in Intel's stable. Here at GDC in
San Francisco, the world's most widely recognized chip maker is dishing out its latest
desktop CPU, and to say it's a niche device would be greatly understating things. We
spoke to a number of Intel bigwigs at tonight's media event, and everyone confessed
that the Core i7-980X Extreme Edition was a low quantity, high performance device
aimed specifically at gamers and content editors that simply refuse to live anywhere
other than on the cutting edge. Intel's planning on selling these in retail, standalone form
for $999 (MSRP), while they'll soon be available in a variety of gaming rigs from the
likes of Dell, Alienware and whoever else wishes to keep with the times. As for Apple?
The company stated that Steve and Company "sort of call their own shots," and that
we'd have to dig at Apple if we really wanted to know what their refreshed Mac Pro
would hold. We chuckled, nodded in understanding, and then learned that this here slab
of silicon is a bit ahead of the software out there, with Intel noting that only games
optimized for 12-thread use and benchmarking utilities that did likewise would really
demonstrate the performance boost. 'Course, anyone who spends a great deal of time
multitasking will appreciate the extra headroom, and power users can always find ways
to make use of more horsepower. Oh, and for what it's worth, the company stated that
this will be its lead desktop chip for some time to come, and if you're looking for a
mobile version in the near future, you can keep dreaming. As for the critics? Just about
everyone with a benchmarking license managed to get one of these in-house, and
everyone seems to feel (mostly) the same way. There's no denying that this is Intel's
speediest consumer chip ever, but you won't find 50 percent boosts just anywhere. Yet.
When the software catches up, though, there's no doubt that this chip will make even
the other Core i7s look downright sluggish. 50 percent more cores and 50 percent more
threads than the prior kings of the line leads to fantastic gains when serious number
crunching is involved (audio and video editors, we're staring at you), with some tests
showing upticks in the 30 to 50 percent range. As a bonus, the power consumption here
is also extremely reasonable, with the shift to 32nm enabling it to even use less power
in some circumstances when compared to the Core i7-975 Extreme Edition. Dig into the
glut of reviews below if you've got a cool grand with "chip upgrade" written on it -- you'll
be glad you did.




Six cores. Twelve threads. A new flagship processor in Intel's stable. Here at GDC in
San Francisco, the world's most widely recognized chip maker is dishing out its latest
desktop CPU, and to say it's a niche device would be greatly understating things. We
spoke to a number of Intel bigwigs at tonight's media event, and everyone confessed
that the Core i7-980X Extreme Edition was a low quantity, high performance device
aimed specifically at gamers and content editors that simply refuse to live anywhere
other than on the cutting edge. Intel's planning on selling these in retail, standalone form
for $999 (MSRP), while they'll soon be available in a variety of gaming rigs from the
likes of Dell, Alienware and whoever else wishes to keep with the times. As for Apple?
The company stated that Steve and Company "sort of call their own shots," and that
we'd have to dig at Apple if we really wanted to know what their refreshed Mac Pro
would hold. We chuckled, nodded in understanding, and then learned that this here slab
of silicon is a bit ahead of the software out there, with Intel noting that only games
optimized for 12-thread use and benchmarking utilities that did likewise would really
demonstrate the performance boost. 'Course, anyone who spends a great deal of time
multitasking will appreciate the extra headroom, and power users can always find ways
to make use of more horsepower. Oh, and for what it's worth, the company stated that
this will be its lead desktop chip for some time to come, and if you're looking for a
mobile version in the near future, you can keep dreaming.

As for the critics? Just about everyone with a benchmarking license managed to get one
of these in-house, and everyone seems to feel (mostly) the same way. There's no
denying that this is Intel's speediest consumer chip ever, but you won't find 50 percent
boosts just anywhere. Yet. When the software catches up, though, there's no doubt that
this chip will make even the other Core i7s look downright sluggish. 50 percent more
cores and 50 percent more threads than the prior kings of the line leads to fantastic
gains when serious number crunching is involved (audio and video editors, we're staring
at you), with some tests showing upticks in the 30 to 50 percent range. As a bonus, the
power consumption here is also extremely reasonable, with the shift to 32nm enabling it
to even use less power in some circumstances when compared to the Core i7-975
Extreme Edition. Dig into the glut of reviews below if you've got a cool grand with "chip
upgrade" written on it -- you'll be glad you did.


HTML5 vs. Flash comparison finds a
few surprises, settles few debatesThink we'd all be better off if
HTML5 could somehow instantly replace Flash overnight? Not necessarily, according to a

set of comparisons from Jan Ozer of the Streaming Learning Center website, which found

that while HTML5 did come out ahead in many respects, it wasn't exactly a clear winner. The

tests weren't completely scientific, but they did find that HTML5 clearly performed better than

Flash 10 or 10.1 in Safari on a Mac, although the differences were less clear cut in Google

Chrome or Firefox. On the other hand, Flash more than held its own on Windows, and

Flash Player 10.1 was actually 58% more efficient than HTML5 in Google Chrome on the

Windows system tested. As you may have deduced, one of the big factors accounting for
that discrepancy is that Flash is able to take advantage of GPU hardware acceleration in

Windows, while Adobe is effectively cut out of the loop on Mac -- something it has

complained about quite publicly. According to Ozer, the differences between HTML5 and

Flash playback on a Mac could be virtually eliminated if Flash could make use of GPU

acceleration. Hit up the link below for all the numbers.




Think we'd all be better off if HTML5 could somehow instantly replace Flash overnight?
Not necessarily, according to a set of comparisons from Jan Ozer of the Streaming
Learning Center website, which found that while HTML5 did come out ahead in many
respects, it wasn't exactly a clear winner. The tests weren't completely scientific, but
they did find that HTML5 clearly performed better than Flash 10 or 10.1 in Safari on a
Mac, although the differences were less clear cut in Google Chrome or Firefox. On the
other hand, Flash more than held its own on Windows, and Flash Player 10.1 was
actually 58% more efficient than HTML5 in Google Chrome on the Windows system
tested. As you may have deduced, one of the big factors accounting for that
discrepancy is that Flash is able to take advantage of GPU hardware acceleration in
Windows, while Adobe is effectively cut out of the loop on Mac -- something it has
complained about quite publicly. According to Ozer, the differences between HTML5 and
Flash playback on a Mac could be virtually eliminated if Flash could make use of GPU
acceleration. Hit up the link below for all the numbers.



DoubleTwistʼs iTunes Alternative (That Works With
Android) Adds Podcast Support
Over the last six months, doubleTwist, the iTunes alternative that lets you manage your
music, videos, and photos, has really been stepping up its game. In October the
company integrated an Amazon-powered MP3 store, allowing users to download and
sync their music directly with any of hundreds of compatible devices, much as they
would with the iTunes/iPod combo. And today itʼs adding a new feature that makes it an
even more viable iTunes competitor: support for podcasts. Co-founder Monique
Farantzos says that doubleTwist has built and integrated a podcast search engine with
20 times as many podcasts as iTunes offers. Rankings are based on popularity (as
opposed to a simple listing that would grow unmanageable with that much content). The
new feature is launching on Windows now, with Mac support for podcasts coming next
month.  Later this year, doubleTwist will offer an API allowing other applications to tap
into the podcast search engine.  The company is also planning to launch a client for
Android (which would presumably allow users to stream content) over the summer.
Farantzos says that doubleTwist is also going to start offering more cloud-based
services. In May, users will be able to store the podcasts theyʼre subscribed to server-
side, so theyʼll be able to use the same subscriptions on their desktop and mobile
clients without having to dock them together. While it supports many devices,
doubleTwist is becoming increasingly popular as an ʻiTunes for Androidʼ. In January, it
forged a partnership with T-Mobile, which promotes doubleTwist and has pre-installed it
on some devices. Now, 53% of doubleTwist users are using it to sync with Android
phones. The application also supports syncing with many other devices, including
WebOS, BlackBerry, Sony PSP, and digital cameras. doubleTwist is still missing some
of the functionality that iTunes has, like the ability to download TV shows and movies.
But the podcast functionality will add some video content, and 1 in 5 users are using it
to manage video content they already have.  And some people may even appreciate the
added simplicity if theyʼre just interested in music. In any case, it probably isnʼt worth
holding your breath for doubleTwist to add movies and TV downloads any time soon
— content owners are still set on wrapping that content in DRM.




                                             Over the last six months, doubleTwist, the
iTunes alternative that lets you manage your music, videos, and photos, has really been
stepping up its game. In October the company integrated an Amazon-powered MP3
store, allowing users to download and sync their music directly with any of hundreds of
compatible devices, much as they would with the iTunes/iPod combo. And today itʼs
adding a new feature that makes it an even more viable iTunes competitor: support for
podcasts.

Co-founder Monique Farantzos says that doubleTwist has built and integrated a podcast
search engine with 20 times as many podcasts as iTunes offers. Rankings are based on
popularity (as opposed to a simple listing that would grow unmanageable with that much
content). The new feature is launching on Windows now, with Mac support for podcasts
coming next month.  Later this year, doubleTwist will offer an API allowing other
applications to tap into the podcast search engine.  The company is also planning to
launch a client for Android (which would presumably allow users to stream content) over
the summer.

Farantzos says that doubleTwist is also going to start offering more cloud-based
services. In May, users will be able to store the podcasts theyʼre subscribed to server-
side, so theyʼll be able to use the same subscriptions on their desktop and mobile
clients without having to dock them together.

While it supports many devices, doubleTwist is becoming increasingly popular as an
ʻiTunes for Androidʼ. In January, it forged a partnership with T-Mobile, which promotes
doubleTwist and has pre-installed it on some devices. Now, 53% of doubleTwist users
are using it to sync with Android phones. The application also supports syncing with
many other devices, including WebOS, BlackBerry, Sony PSP, and digital cameras.




doubleTwist is still missing some of the functionality that iTunes has, like the ability to
download TV shows and movies. But the podcast functionality will add some video
content, and 1 in 5 users are using it to manage video content they already have.  And
some people may even appreciate the added simplicity if theyʼre just interested in
music. In any case, it probably isnʼt worth holding your breath for doubleTwist to add
movies and TV downloads any time soon — content owners are still set on wrapping
that content in DRM.



New Flip cams to launch in early April?
The details are slim to none on this one, but we're all about a good pocket cam rumor.
According to the usually-reliable Business Insider Cisco will launch a new set of Flip
camcorders around the NAB show which runs from April 12-15, but we don't have any
specs yet. Come on Cisco, now you've got us guessing not only about the future of the
Internet, but also if your newest Flip will support 1080p. Told you we didn't know much,
but we'll obviously be keeping an eye out for more. New Flip cams to launch in early
April?




The details are slim to none on this one, but we're all about a good pocket cam rumor.
According to the usually-reliable Business Insider Cisco will launch a new set of Flip
camcorders around the NAB show which runs from April 12-15, but we don't have any
specs yet. Come on Cisco, now you've got us guessing not only about the future of the
Internet, but also if your newest Flip will support 1080p. Told you we didn't know much,
but we'll obviously be keeping an eye out for more.


Razer promises Mac support for all upcoming products
Razer already provides full Mac support for a few of its gaming peripherals -- including
the Naga and DeathAdder -- and basic support for others, but it's now taken avantage of
GDC to "reaffirm" its commitment to Mac users. That apparently means that "all
upcoming" Razer products -- including the company's line of StarCraft II peripherals --
will boast full Mac support out of the box, and that the company will be rolling out
updates to some of its existing products "later this year," including the Orochi, Mamba,
and Imperator gaming mice. First Steam, now Razer peripherals -- dare we say it's a
good time to be a Mac gamer?




Razer already provides full Mac support for a few of its gaming peripherals -- including
the Naga and DeathAdder -- and basic support for others, but it's now taken avantage of
GDC to "reaffirm" its commitment to Mac users. That apparently means that "all
upcoming" Razer products -- including the company's line of StarCraft II peripherals --
will boast full Mac support out of the box, and that the company will be rolling out
updates to some of its existing products "later this year," including the Orochi, Mamba,
and Imperator gaming mice. First Steam, now Razer peripherals -- dare we say it's a
good time to be a Mac gamer?

				
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