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Saturday, December 26, 2009

On A Friday (One Hour Belated!): A Christmas Gift From… VLC?

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(Posted 1:00AM 26/12)

VLC Media player changed quite a lot when it reached version 1.0, but I never expected this! After watching a video last week in VLC I was met by something quite unexpected and amusing at the end. Instead of just displaying a traffic cone (the VLC logo) on a black background as it usually does at the end of a video, the following screen appeared:

VLC CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not only had the image on the screen changed, but the program icon too!

This raises the question of whether essential basic software should become “involved” in the celebrations of some cultures but not others? VLC has many applications in the business world, and this may be considered inappropriate in some sectors there too.

To answer my own question the writers of the program have every right to place the image there, however should provide a clear path to turning it off if they want the program to be taken as a serious competitor to commercial products.

Don’t get me wrong – it actually was really funny! (It is probably because this is a serious program that it was so funny)

***UPDATE***(26/12) – I’ve just made a quick search and found that this Easter Egg also appeared in 2008 with the traffic cone being a Santa hat. I stand corrected!


Friday, December 18, 2009

On A Friday: Go Figure

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After reading a test of AMD and Intel processors in the most recent Australian Personal Computer magazine, I was “inspired” (this seems to be the fancy way of saying “copied”) to create this table.

The article mentioned that the newest AMD Sempron processors cost “$0.00000011” (AUD) per transistor, but only mentions this statistic for that processor.

Being a picky buyer, I’d like to know the value for money that I’m getting for each part of my system to the most minute detail. So below is a continuation of the work that APC has started, enjoy!

(IMPORTANT!!!: THIS TABLE IS NOT ACTUALLY OF ANY USE as any kind of indication of value for money. It is entirely for entertainment value. It doesn’t take into account the number of cores, the FSB speed, socket, any cache or the inclusion of HyperTransport/Hyper Threading and as such is no indication of processor value!)

Processor Make and Model $RRP/bulk (IN USD) # of transistors $ per transistor
AMD Sempron LE-1300
AMD Sempron LE-1300 logo
$39.99 (Best price on AMD website) 114 million $0.00000035

AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core 7750 (Black Edition)

$79* 450 million $0.00000018
AMD Phenom II X4 945
File:AMD Phenom X4.png
$165* 758 million $0.00000022
AMD Six-Core Opteron 8435
File:Opteron logo.png
$2759.99(Best price on AMD website) 904 million $0.00000948
Intel Celeron Dual-Core E1600
Intel® Celeron® Brand Logo
$53** 105 million $0.00000050
Intel Core 2 Duo E8190
Intel® Core™2 Duo Brand Logo
$163** 410 million $0.000000398
Intel Core i5-750
Intel® Core™ i5 Brand Logo
$196** 774 million $0.00000025
Intel Core i7-940
Intel® Core™ i7 Brand Logo
$562** 731 million $0.000000769

*These may be bulk prices, I am unsure.
**These ARE bulk prices for quantities of 1k.

(All prices are in US Dollars as these companies are based in America. This also ensures that these statistics remain as accurate as possible for as long as possible despite exchange rates.)

And the winner is:
In this sample, the winner is the AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core 7750 (Black Edition) at 0.000018 cents per transistor.

(All logos and names are © AMD or Intel)

I hope this table amuses you! More useless stats coming in another On A Friday soon!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

News: Australia Post Denied Postage Price Increase as Workers Plan Industrial Action

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PostBOXAustralia Post has been denied a price hike on postage  stamps that would have seen the basic postage rate increase from 55 cents to 60 cents.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) denied Australia Post the price increase, stating in a media release today that “the proposed costs of Australia Post in the material provided to the ACCC do not reflect [the decline in usage]."

Australia Post submitted a draft pricing proposal on the 24th of July this year. This draft included proposed changes to the postal service’s Small, Large and PreSort letter services.

A media release issued by Australia Post today said that it is “disappointed by the findings of the ACCC”.

An Australia Post spokesman today told One Cuckoo Short of a Nest that Australia Post “haven’t made a decision” on whether they will appeal the ACCC’s decision, and that they will be “making a decision over the next few days”.

The ACCC has stated that it has been “unable to determine how Australia Post's demand forecasts were derived”. The spokesman also told One Cuckoo Short of a Nest that the predictions had been made in “a way we have done it the past two times [and not been rejected].” He also stated that the service was expecting a 2.3% decline in usage over the next three years and that the increased price was “reasonable” given that overseas postal services are expecting a decline of “up to 5%.”

The Australia Post media release explains that “cost pressures [are] a reality due to rapid growth in [some] areas”, and that “the basic postage rate has not even kept pace with inflation over the last two decades”. It continues to suggest that if it had Australia’s basic postage rate would presently be 70 cents.

This media release mentions that Australia post is “also in dispute with the union who are demanding additional costs be placed on the business, despite a four percent pay increase guaranteed for next year.”

Postal workers have been threatening Australia Post with work stoppages over Christmas and self-imposed bans on checking for proper postage on mail, effectively meaning that mail without stamps will be delivered.

Australia Post holds the monopoly in mail delivery in Australia.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Quick Look: Ubuntu 9.10 and Font Installation

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A previous post on installing fonts in Windows and Ubuntu discussed Ubuntu not having a logical method of font installation. The recent release of the new Ubuntu 9.10, “Karmic Koala”, has seen a great improvement in font management.

new font front-endcropOpening a font file now throws up a different preview screen, one more detailed than that of Ubuntu 9.04. This screen also includes a button which has long featured on the Windows preview screen - “Install Font”.

There are still some areas in need of improvement to bring Linux up to speed with Windows’ font management. Firstly, Linux lacks an option to install a font when you right-click on its icon. This has been present in Windows since XP and is a useful shortcut when installing a select few fonts from a large selection.

Another issue is one which could confuse less tech-savvy users. If a font has already been installed and the “Install Font” button is pressed, the button changes to failedcroppedread “Install Failed”. This is true, however the font still remains installed. In similar situations Windows informs the user that the font is already installed and the old file should be removed to install the new one.

Although still rough around the edges, Linux font management has vastly improved with this new version of the operating system (OS). installedcroppedThe “Install Font” button has made it possible for people who have never used Ubuntu to figure out how to install a font. This improvement is a sign of Linux’s progression from a IT professional’s server OS to a standard desktop frontend.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

News: CPRS Rejected as Abbott Takes the Liberal Throne

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In a knife-edge win yesterday, MP Tony Abbott won control of the Liberal party in a spill against former leader Malcolm Turnbull. A spill motion was carried and three candidates, Turnbull, Abbott and Joe Hockey stood for election by the party room. Hockey was defeated in the first round of voting, and Abbott won the second round over Turnbull by 42 votes to 41.

Speculation over the legitimacy of this win has arisen, suggesting that an MP who was ill and unable to attend the meeting would probably have voted for Turnbull. There was also an informal vote, which may have been intentional or a legitimate mistake, thus meaning Turnbull may have won.

No matter what happened, Abbott is now the Liberal party leader, if only a "temporary" leader as former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke suggested yesterday. As a result of the change in leadership, the party consensus on the CPRS legislation has largely changed to rejecting the legislation.

When the senate voted on the bill, the Greens, Family First and Independent Nick Xenophon voted against it. In addition to this, the Liberal party voted against the CPRS except for Senators Sue Boyce and Judith Troeth. This is the second time that Troeth has crossed the floor against the Liberals this year, the first time being because of her support for a bill that would mean refugees no longer have to pay for their detainment. Troeth will be retiring from the senate next election.
Despite the two Liberal Senators voting with the Government, the bill was rejected today giving Prime Minister Kevin Rudd grounds to call a double dissolution election. Abbott has said that he is not "not afraid" of an election on climate change.

Abbott has also said that he is "not ruling [] out" nuclear power as a response to potential climate change.

In a video addressed to Liberal Party supporters, Abbott explained that the Liberals are now an "alternative" to the Labor party, saying that "that (the alternative), I think is what [the voters] wanted". He also said that the Liberal party "will give the Government a bloody good fight."

The Labor party has already started attacking the new Liberal leader. In an email to Labor party supporters, Labor said "Mr Abbott's extreme views will take Australia backwards", particularly in relation to climate change and WorkChoices, which Abbott supports. The email also includes a link to a campaign video against Mr. Abbott.

This upheaval in leadership has not been good publicity for the Liberals, who face a by-election in Peter Costello's former seat of Higgins this weekend. The Labor party has not fielded a candidate, and the Greens are posing a threat to the blue ribbon seat.

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