Particle Debris (Week ending 12/19) Quad Cores and Cyber Attack!

SSDs are on the way, and chances are good that the next notebook (or netbook!) computer you buy will have one. Even though we're Mac fans from birth, it's still an interesting question to consider which OSes do better or poorly on SSDs, thanks to the way SSDs work. A Computerworld article looked into that. Hint: Windows 2000 (ridiculously fast) followed by Linux!

Also at Computerworld was a great article by Mac OS X expert Ryan Fass on how to slim down and speed up your Mac right now . (For those who can't wait for Snow Leopard.) Some of the ideas will take some work, other may unpalatable. Fortunately, in his usual style, Mr Faas describes step-by-step how to do each one of the ten tasks.

For those who may wonder whether a quad-core CPU is really worth the extra cost, ExtremeTech did an extensive comparison with difference kinds of apps and found that, given current development and application technology, quad core is worth it. Some have speculated, as a result, that the iMac will jump to quad core at Macworld next month. That would be terrific.

In addition to a possible upgrade to quad core, electronista is guessing that a new iMac will also have the NVIDIA 9400 graphics based on leaks and an inspection of the SMC and ACPI power management code in the 10.5.6 update. If all this is true, the iMac will suddenly become a killer desktop computer.

In a completely opposite direction Ian Lamont at Macworld opined that the iMac is going to be killed by Apple because of 1) the recession and 2) popularity of notebooks. I don't believe it, but the arguments Mr. Lamont makes are thought provoking.

Switching gears, the sanest analysis of Steve Jobs canceling his Macworld appearance comes from Mac-savvy Carl Howe in his Notes from Anywhere. Of course, even though there may be perfectly logical reasons for Mr. Jobs to cancel his appearance, there's the long term effect on the Apple community to consider. I wrote about that in a fantasy interview on Thursday. I saw a wise comment, unusually wise, on a TV show recently: "When you are a gift to the world, you don't get to decide how/when to withhold your gift."

Netflix recently added a surcharge for customers who have elected to receive the Blu-ray version of movies they rent. However, for some customers, the wait for hot new titles in Blu-ray has been irritating. Phil Swann at TV Predictions blasted Netflix for taking the money, but not reducing the wait time. It's such a simple proposition that it's lost on Netflix: when you pay more, you expect to get more.

Steve Swasey with Netflix told me:

We try to have enough discs for everyone in both formats. When we don't, preference is given to those who pay the same but have rented less in that time period.  We're up front about this.  We think it's fair to send it first to the person has rented, say, four movies recently compared with someone who has rented, say, 20. Netflix is in the camp with every other company that does not have unlimited resources.  The vast majority of folks understand.  

That seems like a round about way of saying, "We're gonna charge everyone more, but only a selected few are gonna get more." That doesn't work for me.

Is the U.S. ready for a massive cyber attack? With 90 percent of all our computers running Windows? Duh.

U.S. government and industry officials don't think so either after a two-day cyber wargaming exercise. The upshot is that a cyber attack could come before a physical attack or, alternatively, be used to cripple command and control systems in a time of U.S. economic vulnerability.

Which brings up a good question. How ready is the average home computer user ready for a crippling cyber attack against the U.S.?

  • Could we still pay our bills? Paper backups?
  • Access our funds out of state?
  • Access our own data in the Cloud?
  • Could we even do our jobs?
  • Is all our important data backed up?

Everyone has a stake in this, and it's probably not a bad idea to have contingency plans thought out, especially when we have some free time over the holidays.

I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. See you at Macworld.