Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Blu-ray disc “wins”, X-Box owners lose

It seems appropriate for me to take a moment to discuss the things in life that really matter. Today I’m going to talk about how gigantic corporations affect your life.. or, maybe not.. I haven’t decided yet.

All over, in all the info-tainment media (those folks who pass themselves off as “the news”) has been the headline that Blu-ray has won “the format wars”. (Yes, folks–there’s been a format war going on this whole time!) The info-tainment geniuses, future-predictors, and PR shills (aka “reporters”) also tell us that it was Target’s announcement of its decision to stock only Blu-ray that ended the war and sealed HD-DVD‘s fate.
Wrong.

The fact is, Microsoft recognized that their Halo 3 blackmail got just about as many of their mediocre Xbox 360’s sold this Christmas as they were ever going to sell, that nobody was buying the HD-DVD “add-on” box, and are (probably) pulling out of the competition.. In essence, surrendering to the PS3 and the Wii (Sony and Nintendo). It was Microsoft that was keeping the HD-DVD format in the picture, so that it could compete with Sony’s PS3 which was enormously (outrageously?) expensive because it included a (proprietary) Blu-ray drive, and MS figured they needed a Hi Def drive too.
The real winner — and the sales figures tell you why — was Nintendo and the Wii (fun, affordable, and not crud.) And, (this is a hoot) the PlayStation 2 sold more units last Christmas than the X-Box or the PS3.

So yes, folks, there was a “war” being waged, but it wasn’t a disc format war, it was a game console war.

Why should you care about any of this? Well, let’s review a little: HD-DVD and Blu-ray are both laser-written disc formats.  For the computer user, this primarily means storage (recording); and for the movie watcher, this means making sure you bring home “the ‘right’ kind”.

Let me first deal with the folks who care because it is what the movies they buy/rent come on, and get them out of the way. Have you asked yourself, why are you even dealing with discs? Can’t you get “Premium” Channels? (I realize some can’t.. or won’t.) Is pay-per-view too convenient? If you have broadband, there’s also IPTV. There’s TiVo. There’s Netflix and iTunes. Before very long, all entertainment “content” is going to be provided “on demand”.. movies, your favorite shows, the “news”, all of it. Download and view, or watch it “streamed”. The discs are already obsolete. You’re going to be storing your shows on hard drives.. if you aren’t already. When On-demand reaches us adequately.. we won’t even store it at all.

For computer users, the keyword is “storage” and (1st generation) Blu-ray can hold 50 Gigs to HD-DVD’s 30: a no-brainer. HD-DVD allowed me to “skin” my face over Harrison Ford’s so I can make it look like I’m piloting the Millennium Falcon??? Pleeeease.
But since we often need to backup more than 50 GBs, and you can get 750GB hard-drives for much less than a Blu-ray burner (which also write faster)…
The technology could have and should have come out 5-7 years ago.

All the media attention to this topic adds up to much ado about nothing (including this article). Both formats were obsolete before they even got started. And I blame the gaming console… and I think it’s worth repeating– the older PlayStation 2 out-sold both of the newer consoles!
Who knew Target had so much power?

*To any dedicated journalist out there: I wasn’t referring to you, but to those other guys.

[update: I read that last month in Japan, the Wii sold 331,627 consoles, the PS3 89,131 (¼ as many), and the Xbox… 14,079.]

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

Share this post :

February 23, 2008 Posted by | computers, hardware, PC, tech | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Goodbye Bob Barker+recovery partitions+iPhone

Every now and then there comes a watershed moment and the world is changed forever and is never the same again. For instance; one day there was Pong, and suddenly we could ‘interact’ with our TV and a new word was born, “video game.” On another day the meaning of “apple” changed from ‘apple= a fruit’ to ‘apple= a personal computer that real people can use’…and it was in color so people actually wanted to (not to mention, it had a GUI), to name a few.

Pong screenshot             mac.jpg

Yesterday marked a watershed in my life — though certainly not on the level of import as the events mentioned above — and that is the retirement of Bob Barker from television and The Price is Right. Life will never be the same. Now I do not want you to think I’m a big fan of commercial/public television: I’m not. I particularly detest “daytime” television. There are however a couple of programs I watch fairly regularly, and whenever my schedule allowed, The Price is Right was one of them — in my younger days I would sometimes record it on a device called a “VCR”. The show made me feel…good. I become glad for the people who win (and saddened by a “double overbid”).

Some of my earliest memories are of watching Bob Barker on The Price is Right. He and the show have been a consistent part of my life…almost as consistent as “family”. Time marches on, and I am not angry at Bob for retiring. I just sort of feel like a part of my youth has gone missing. Goodbye, and thank you, Bob. (for an update on this click here.)

Some folks are saying the ‘invention’ of the Apple iPhone represents such a watershed moment in our history, much like Pong and the Mac were such moments. I want to state right here that I haven’t as yet touched an iPhone so I cannot say what it really does and does not do. I can say that it’s supposed to “revolutionize” our life experience by combining Websurfing (email), portable music, and mobile phone into one visually stunning and easy to use package (it runs a full OS, not some watered-down, “portable” OS), and I can say that from what I have seen, it is “cool.” If it can stand up to the physical abuse a cellphone takes, it could be a real winner. I invite anyone who has one of these items to submit their impression, as a comment, and let us know just how “revolutionary” it really is.

Tip of the day: Another recent ‘revolution’ in computing has snuck up upon us, more in the form of ‘evolution’, in that at some point and time PC manufacturers stopped shipping Windows Install disks and shipped instead a “recovery disk.” This disk was really an image of the machine taken after Windows, device drivers, and all the free-trial crud are installed. In the event of a serious malfunction, we could use this disk to restore our machine to as it was “out-of-the-box”. That is, by definition, without any of your files. Today, more and more manufacturers are skipping the disk altogether, and are storing the image on a “recovery partition.”

But what if the ‘serious malfunction’ was a hard drive failure (it happens)? Or, the machine simply will not boot properly? Your recovery solutions are limited. Windows Install disks have two very important features: they are “boot disks” , and they allow you to install the Recovery Console so that you can issue commands, and copy important system files back into the OS. I think this move to recovery partitions is just…wrong.

Fortunately, there are substitute boot disks, and the better ones also include utilities that allow you to scan for viruses, copy and delete system files, browse the Web, and other things that aid in making repairs. I recommend that you (if you haven’t already) download and burn one. I also recommend that you do this before disaster strikes. An excellent resource for boot disks can be found at bootdisk.com, and my top pick is listed below.

Today’s free link: The Ultimate Boot CD. “UBCD4Win is a bootable CD which contains software that allows you to repair, restore, or diagnose almost any computer problem. Our goal is to be the ultimate free hardware and software diagnostic tool. All software included in UBCD4Win are freeware utilities for Windows®. ”

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

Share this post :

June 16, 2007 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, hardware, how to, iPhone, PC, tech, Uncategorized, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment