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IceDiver (321368) writes "I'm an ordinary PC user. I'm not a sysadmin, or tech in charge of a large number of PCs. I have a desktop and a laptop. That's it. Yet over the past year I have suffered what seems to me to be an unreasonable number of component failures: 3 hard drives (well 4, actually, as the replacement for one arrived DOA), an optical drive, a graphics card, and a RAM chip. One of the hard drives and the graphics card failed within 6 months of purchase. Everything else is less than 2 years old. I generally buy name brand parts, and research current reliability ratings, to try and ensure that I am getting quality parts, yet here I am, spending a small fortune shipping parts back to the manufacturers for RMA.
Are there any good brand names left? Or has price competition fatally compromised quality across the board?" top
IceDiver (321368) writes "I am a teacher in a small rural school. My Grade 9 students are doing a unit on astronomy this spring. I have access to a 4" telescope, and would like to give my students a chance to use it. We will probably only be able to attempt observations on a couple of nights because of weather and time restrictions. I am as new to telescope use as my students, so I have no idea what objects would look good through a 4" lens. What observations should I attempt to have my students make? In other words, how can I make best use of my limited equipment and time to give my students the best experience possible?" top
IceDiver (321368) writes "As most Slashdotters know, the Church of Scientology's practices are widely scorned and even mocked. Now, however, the so-called Church has been convicted in France of fraud and one of its leaders given a 2 year sentence. Yes, the sentence is only a suspended one, and the effect this will have on the worldwide church is still to be determined, but we can hope. Is this the beginning of the end for L.Ron Hubbard's five-decade-old scam?" Link to Original Source top
The Recording Industry Association of America is declaring attorney-blogger Ray Beckerman a "vexatious" litigator and is seeking unspecified monetary sanctions to punish him in his defense of a New York woman accused of making copyrighted music available on the Kazaa file sharing system.
The RIAA said Beckerman, one of the nation's few attorneys who defends accused file sharers, "has maintained an anti-recording industry blog during the course of this case and has consistently posted virtually every one of his baseless motions on his blog seeking to bolster his public relations campaign and embarrass plaintiffs," the RIAA wrote (.pdf) in court briefs. "Such vexatious conduct demeans the integrity of these judicial proceedings and warrants this imposition of sanctions.",
Beckerman is accused, among other things, of "providing false and misleading information and for unreasonably and vexatiously multiplying and prolonging this litigation."
IceDiver (321368) writes "I used to be an avid PC gamer. However, I have only bought 1 game in the last 18 months because I am sick and tired of the problems caused by the various intrusive, and sometimes damaging DRM schemes game publishers insist on forcing upon their customers. Once burned, twice shy!
The EA announcement that upcoming releases will include SecuRom, along with verification requirements and major restrictions on installations left me wondering:
What recently released or upcoming games (particularly major titles) are being released without DRM? Are there any?
How has DRM affected your game purchasing?
Will EA be negatively affected by their DRM decision?" top
IceDiver writes "According to Ars Technica (http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071127-korean-researchers-demonstrate-plastic-optical-fiber.html) Korean researchers have developed a new, more flexible, plastic optical fiber that is easier to install and make connections with than traditional glass fiber. Though slower than glass, its 2.5 GB/s bandwidth is still far superior to copper. This new development may make broadband connections possible where they used to be impractical because of the costs associated with running fiber." top
IceDiver writes "Tom's Hardware has a brief article giving us more information on Intel's Terascale project (an 80 core CPU prototype). Highlights include 1.6 Teraflops on just 62W power, and an inter-core communication system that allows for custom CPUs to be designed with different mixes of core types.
What I found most interesting, however, is that Intel has worked out a way to greatly reduce the power required for the clock signal.
The prototype also used a reduced clock signal distribution system. Whereas traditional CPUs assign about 30% of their power budget to clock distribution, according to Bautista, Tera-scale uses only about 10%, which was enabled by having fewer "repeaters" throughout.
This seems like a technology that could be rapidly adapted to current CPUs, greatly reducing power requirements." Link to Original Source top
The company claims to be trying to pay more attention to their customers, with initiatives like Ideastorm and Ubuntu and bringing back XP, but I have seen little sign of real improvement. Let me explain.
I am in the market for a new notebook and, after doing a great deal of research, I decided that the Dell Inspiron 1521 was the best fit for my needs within my budget. I tried to order one. Since Vista is not an option for me (forbidden at work) I asked for XP as my OS. Dell told me that was not an option on the 1521 and suggested several other machines that I had already decided not to buy because they were either a) lacking features or b) much too expensive. I then tried to order the 1521 with no OS only to be told that this was not an option available for any machines in Canada, where I am located. Ubuntu, too, is not an option. Disappointed, I decided not to buy at that time.
Today, I saw an ad for the 1521 at $100 off the price of a week ago. "Great!" I thought, "That will pay for my copy of XP!" I tried to order, only to discover that, though the specs of the laptop state it can take up to a 2.2GHz CPU, no CPU upgrade options were available on the advertised special. I called Dell to try to get the CPU I wanted, only to be told that I would have to pay full list price ($889 for the same base machine) and upgrade from there. I asked why, and was told that the advertised special was a "standard" machine, and no options were available because of this fact.
This excuse is complete nonsense. Other items on the advertised special have upgrade options available: RAM, display, webcam, wireless card, hard drive, battery, and more. This hardly makes the 1521 special a "standard" machine with no available options.
I can only conclude that Dell's attempts to improve customer relations are a sham. Sure, the claims Dell makes are great PR, but it seems the reality is lacking.
Sure, Dell offers Ubuntu — but not on the hardware you want.
Sure, Dell offers Win XP — but not on the hardware you want.
Sure, Dell offers a no OS option — but (you guessed it!) not on the hardware you want (or, apparently, outside the USA).
Sure Dell offers CPU upgrade options — but you have to pay more for your laptop, and then pay more again for the upgrade.
Sure, Ideastorm is a great idea — but Dell doesn't seem to be doing much with the suggestions.
Is anyone else having problems with Dell? Does the Slashdot crowd have any ideas for me?"
IceDiver (321368) writes "According to an article in the Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/207415) an Ontario company has been given approval to build a 40MW solar power plant near Sarnia in Southwestern Ontario. This is enough power for about 10,000 homes. The plant will cover 365 hectares (1.4 sq. miles) and is to be operational by 2010. OptiSolar, the company building the plant, claims to have developed a way to mass produce the solar panels at a dramatically reduced cost, making the plant competitive with other forms of power generation." top