29/07/2006

Core 2 Duo is here

Intel, under increasing pressure form AMD, have released new Core 2 Duo CPUs. They say they are the most significant thing since the launch of the Pentium 4.

They are based on their microarchitechture which replaces NetBurst (used in P4) which is already available in Woodcrest (used in newer Xeons).

The processors don't run as fast as existing P4s which means they run cooler, but they run more instructions per cycle.

The Core 2 Due also comes in an Extreme edition designed with gamers and creatives in mind.

a Toast to BluRay

Roxio have announced a new version of Toast 7 for the Mac that supports BluRay burners.

Currently only available to OEMs it will support writing 50GB of data onto BD-R or BD-RE discs.

As with Toast 7.1 it's a universal binary so will run on both PowerPC and Intel based Macs.

Roxio currently don't have plans to add BluRay support to the retail version of Toast.

Mighty Mouse goes wireless

Apple have released a Bluetooth 2.0 version of their mighty mouse. It uses one or two AA batteries and has power saving features that reduce power when not in use (i.e. moving). It also has an on/off switch.

Apple claim the new laser tracking technology is 20 times more sensitive than a conventional mouse.

It costs £40 (+VAT) from the Apple store.

ImageKind launches

A new site ImageKind has launched (in beta). Though other sites have been offering image galleries for a while, ImageKind is different as it allow users to print quality artwork from their images (utilising the latest printing technology without users having to worry about how the technology works), it's a social site so users can build up communities of work, users can sell their images and have control of how much they make, it's very easy to use and users can buy normal art just like in a "real" shop.

The printed artwork is professionally produced and touched by real people who'll do their best to actually make sure it all comes out right.

There are 3 types of service: -

* Create allows users to purely upload their own images and have them printed.

* Free allows a single gallery and is limited to 200MB storage and 200MB bandwidth per month.

* PRO has no storage limits, unlimited galleries and 400MB bandwidth per month.

Both Free and PRO accounts allow users to sell art and set their own pricing, PRO account users also get commission on any framed sold. PRO accounts cost $7.99 per month.

Though only in beta, it's a pretty slick site and worth a look. If you've got some interesting artwork, set-up an account and get selling.

Sony goes back into profit

Sony has posted a profit for the April to June quarter. Sales of laptops and TFT screens improved, though Plasmas and CRTs fell.

The DaVinci Code movie helped a lot too.

Playstation sales weren't that good, though that's exected to change when the PS3 is launched later this year.

Ofcom Telephone Numbering Statement

Ofcom revealed further details of its numbering plans for the UK.

There will be a new numbering range 03 which will be considered geographic and can be included in free-call plans etc. There will be no revenue share available on 03 numbers. It is expected that businesses will take up 03 numbers instead of 084/087 ranges so consumers understand the charges etc.

07 personal numbers are to be reviewed and ONLY allowable for personal numbering, any company who has fraudulantly used 07 personal numbers will not be allowed to use them in the future. Use will be monitored and they may be moved to a 06 range instead, so 07 will be completely reserved for mobile numbers.

24/07/2006

My rant on broadband pricing

> >Says download in eclipse's aup. And it's 50gig between 6-11pm. And
> >they don't ban you, just rate limit you if you go over it
> What's actually the problem with ISPs letting people download things
> unlimited??? Are they just capping things to charge us more money or
> is there actually a problem they're trying to control?

Because the redicuously low margins that ISPs make don't cover the infrastructure required to support GB's of international transit.

The "Internet" is a loose collection of around 40,000+ networks that "talk" to each other. ISPs and other organisations have "peering"
agreements at places like public Internet exchanges where they agree to exchange packets. LINX in the UK is one of the bigger exchanges, anyone can connect (for a fee), but everyone connecting has to make their own agreements to exchange traffic (so ISPa and ISPb have to make their own agreements), this is even more true as security is implemented so traffic cant be diverted to the wrong place.

Exchanging traffic locally doesn't actually cost anything (generally) so UK traffic is really just local to LINX, so having (a) fat enough
connection(s) to LINX means that's the basic cost of transferring traffic.

Getting out of the UK is another matter, and there are companies that just offer "transit" connections i.e. local peering is just swapping packets between your customers and those of the other end of the peer.
Transit connections allow traffic going to other places i.e. say to non-customers in say the US or EU.

Transit traffic is metered and charged by the MB (or GB or TB or whatever), and it's measured both ways (i.e. in and out).

In order to get good connectivity ISPs will have local peering agreements and transit peering agreements. Transit agreements cost real money. The more data transferred, the more the ISP has to pay.

When connections cost a lot of money (like leased lines, early broadband or even dial-up) the transit costs could easily be absorbed. With the ever increasing speeds of broadband and the ever decreasing revenues, those transit costs become increasingly apparent.

BT Wholesale charge something like GBP 8.25 per month per end-user connection, then add the capacity of the "fat-pipe" connecting the ISP to BTW (something like 300,000 pa for a 155Mb/s connection i.e. 25K per month - when that was supporting 512K customers that allowed about 16,000 customers per pipe i.e. it costs around 1.50 per month per customer), so 8.25 + 1.5 is about 9.75 per month per customer. Companies were charging say 20 quid per month so that left (inc VAT) so there's maybe 6 quid a month to pay for everything else and make a profit. When the customers move to 2Mb/s that costs about 6.50 per month - so suddenly most of the money has gone to pay for anything else. Take that to 8Mb/s and it's costing more ... OK, the backhaul pricing has changed, but they are still ballpark figures.

LLU operators have it better (like Easynet, Bulldog, Be etc) but the margins are incredibly low (Bulldog pulled out of retail as the marketing/cost to acquire a customer would eat most if not all of their profit and they couldn't compete with all the free offers, it took them several years to get ~100,000 customers, TalkTalk got 340,000+ in 3 months).

BT Wholesale are NOT allowed by Ofcom to reduce pricing until there are 1.5m LLU customers, this sounds reasonable to stimulate the market, but it's killing current BTW resellers as their margins are feable and they have to compete with the LLU players. When BTW can reduce costs, then the LLU operators will struggle as they'll have to match BTW in order to be competetive and price wars start again, margins potentially reduce further, more fire sales and ISPs (and indeed telcos) get bought or absorbed which then reduces competetiveness as there's less players.

BTW have something like 8m+ customers (through Openworld, Demon, etc etc), NTL (inc Telewest) about 4m, AOL 1.3m etc.

AOL's now up for sale, probably going to Orange or Sky.

It's just going to get worse.

> BTW I wrote to my MP about the article I posted to the list recently,
> about the idea to start charging for different streams of internet
> usage, and realised that if we start following the Merkin system
> that's so unfair - because the corporations' arguments (why shouldn't
> we charge for the infrastructure we've built to make the internet
> work) are mainly stemming from the US, where public opinion is
> different cos internet is free for users there anyway, isn't it.

It's potentially a good thing, and also very bad. It's a net-head vs bell-head argument. In the telecoms worls (bell-heads) data has always been metered (ignoring free "local" calls and things - even they were metered, just zero rated), in telephony terms you pay per minute/second/whatever, in data terms you pay for the size of the pipe (i.e. a 2Mb/s circuit costs less than an 8Mb/s or 155Mb/s pipe). In tjings like Frame Relay (which was popular before IP came along) you paid for the pipe and data sent through it.

The Internet changed all that and made connectivity flat-rate. However the "core" networks still charge per bit, and that's where the issues arise. Core networks tend to still be run by bell-heads and will continue to do so (telcos own fibre and the core networks). Therefore consumers are consuming bandwidth at ever increasing speed (sic) and no one's really paying for the increased infrastructure required.

As voice moves over the Internet, things will likely change as businesses etc will pay for quality (to ensure your voice path isn't congested), and quality costs. So there may well be 2 Internets, one which is flat rate and one which maintains quality metrics and people will pay for the quality version. Market forces will dictate how much goes where!!!!

Adobe releases Lightroom for Windows

It's still a beta, but Lightroom for Windows is now available to download. Users must have an Adobe/Macromedia ID to get to the download section, but anyone can register.

It's not clear when Lightroom will come out of beta, or how much it will cost.

MS Coming Zune to you

Microsoft have set-up an official site Coming Zune for their future range of products under the Zune brand. This will be their iPod killer supporting music, video and photos. The unit will also have WiFi and allow users to directly download tracks from Microsoft's download site.

Little information is available, though the unit is expected before the Xmas period. It will be designed and built by Microsoft like the Xbox and family, however they may license the design to others.

It's likely to integrate well to other Microsoft offerings.

AMD to buy ATI

AMD the chip manufacturer giving Intel a run for its money in the CPU wars has now agreed to purchase the Canadian graphics chip company ATI for $5.4 billion in cash and stock.

AMD just makes CPUs while rival Intel makes embedded graphics controllers for motherboards etc, with this purchase AMD get the capability and can better compete with Intel.

AMD also have agreements with NVidia a major rival to ATI but AMD say this will not effect the relationship.

If all goes well the deal should complete in the 4th quarter of this year.