Random: Take things as you find them
DSLR choice for dim light shots
A question to photogeeks.
Looking for a new entry-level DSLR, the main requirement - the best possible quality at high ISOs. According to DxOMark Rating (is it a good one to trust btw?), D5100 totally rocks here (D5200 is above both my budget and the reasonable pixel count for the sensor size).
Are Canons really that bad when it comes to high ISOs?
Fly & Browse
Increasing data rates, a recent US regulatory simplification, and a steady growth of global in-flight Wi-Fi installations suggest that popularity of onboard Internet access should be booming. But a number of signs contradict that assumption.
My story for Minyanville on in-flight Internet – urge you to read, comment and share!
Above is the pic to attract your attention.
I`ve seen a number of "fake launches," but the announcement of PlayStation 4 was obviously among the "top fakest ever."
Ridiculously weird. No console shown, no set hardware specs revealed - a set of pre-rendered (mostly) unimpressive (mostly) demos shown and promises, promises, promises...
Never expected Sony to act like this when they need PS4 to succeed so badly.
Recall the PlayStation 3 announcement. It was BIG. It was IMPRESSIVE. The console boasted some really awesome hardware, including innovative CPU, Blu-Ray - these were all state of the art!
PS4 is likely to be based on one of AMD`s CPU+GPU chips (those are in general lagging behind Intel`s solutions).
Do you remember PS3 titles, announced along with the console? Tekken 6, MGS 4, DMC 4 - compare these to the, hm, "humble" line-up of PS4 titles. Yes, Diablo 3 might be interesting for some folks, but it`s coming to PS3 too. And it`s already on millions of PCs all over the world!
Killer features? Console recording all my gameplay and uploading videos to the cloud? Are you serious, Sony? Do you really think that gamers were craving to get it all these eight years?
Sorry, it`s F. Okay, F+ – for that nicely rendered head.
And yeah, you can check that "Announce the new console before Microsoft does" box on your to-do list Sony, that was the only your achievement of the night.
Will Microsoft exploit that misstep of the competitor with clear and exciting new Xbox announcement? We`ll see, and I bet we`ll see it soon.
Is Internet in the U.S. slow and costly?
If you live in the U.S., you are probably being ripped off by your Internet service provider. That should make you angry Ц and itТs time to start doing something about it.
That piece just made me rant about the price and speed and multitude of Internet access options here [in small campus town], in comparison with my home city in Belarus, where connectivity was a way cheaper with a number of different options available.
And yes, I`m not even recalling mobile Internet where Belarusian carriers win hands down in 3G-value.
Six handshakes, 19 clicks
Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, the famous network/social scientist, has published his new piece, saying that any two pages on the Web are connected by less than 19 hyperlinks.
Okay, that`s becoming really creepy.
I got used to people and businesses stalking me online, but offline? Was walking with my professor and discussing different stuff around tenure tracks.
In 15 minutes I see that "TenureTrack.com followed you" on Twitter. WTF??!!
MegaMerger in Civil Aviation
American Airlines merges with US Airways to become the largest airline in the world: boards of both companies approved the deal today.
The new-born airline giant with about 1000 planes in fleet and more than 166 million carried passengers in 2011 (former leader Delta carried 160 million, Lufthansa Group - 100 million) and valued at $11 billion.
While market valuation of Google is $258 billion, Apple - 439, Microsoft - 235, Facebook - 66...
An Awesome SW tracert
Do tracert 18.104.22.168 and follow the output starting from 13ish hop ;)
Hard Disk Drive Prices Go Down as the Industry Recovers from the Thailand Flood
Hard disk drive prices in general still fail to reach the pre-flood level of late October 2011. Clear signs of recovery and gradual price decline trends bring hope to the customers, but as industry research data provider IHS iSuppli warned earlier, prices might remain high until 2014.
The devastating flood in Thailand severely damaged the equipment at HDD plants in the Fall of 2011. Western Digital, the largest global supplier of HDDs, was forced to halt production at its factories in Thailand. Toshiba, No. 3 in the market, also had to shut down its Thailand HDD plant. Constraints with the supply of components affected the manufacturing pipeline of Seagate, the world`s second biggest HDD vendor.
Western Digital and Seagate shipped together 87% (45% and 42% respectively) of the total consumer and enterprise HDDs in Q2`2012, IHS iSuppli reported.
After the flood impact, HDD prices immediately skyrocketed 200% on average. Their subsequent decline curve appeared much less steep than the nearly exponential price rise graph. Average HDD selling prices in Q4 2011 and Q1 2012 rose about 28% compared to the pre-flood timeframe, according to IHS iSuppli.
In September 2012, the analysts announced full recovery of the global HDD industry and forecasted record shipments of HDDs that year. However, global vendors are not hurrying to drop prices.
The Question of Money
Camelegg.com follows price tag updates on the virtual shelves of Newegg.com, a popular online electronics retailer. The site helps to uncover interesting HDD pricing tendencies. Those closely resemble cost fluctuations for the same goods at Amazon.com and BestBuy, if tracked through CamelCamelCamel.com and CamelBuy.com services.
Desktop one terabyte capacity internal drives are slowly returning to the price levels of early fall 2011, but are not there yet. Value priced Seagate Barracuda Green drive is now $69.99, still 75% more than $39.99 in August, 2011. Performance 1 TB WD Black model first skyrocketed from its $75-80 pre-crisis bar more than 200% to a whopping $249.99, then settling down at $104.99. The same thing persists and for two terabyte consumer drives: WD 2TB Green HDD shows similar price behavior for its 1TB sibling: $78.99 to $229.99 to $109.99 now.
Desktop drives of smaller capacities, 500-750GB, follow the same trend as their more capacious line-up mates. Bigger drives do the same. Three terabyte juggernauts that mostly hit the shelves after the crisis dropped in price significantly. The Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 3TB drive that arrived in the Winter of 2011 at $289.99 fell more than 50% to the same $139.99 price point, on Black Friday it fell to $89.99. Four terabyte colossi were off the mass market in 2011 and they are still far from abundance in the consumer market now, where they are mostly represented with pricey enterprise models.
Those enterprise HDDs in general seem to miss the trend as they are already beating pre-flood price levels. For example, a rugged WD RE4 1TB desktop drive declined to $109.99 (with a low of $99.99) from nearly $120 in late October 2011. Competing Seagate Constellation ES shows a similar cost performance, dropping to $119.99 from a pre-flood $125. Two terabyte enterprise drives reached Fall 2011 levels too, in contrast with half-terabyte models that are still failing to recover completely.
Things also differ in the smaller Ц by physical dimensions Ц drive segment. Seagate-Samsung`s Spinpoint M8 at 1TB returned to the same price point as 15 months ago. It was priced at $89.99 with occasional drops to $69.99. WD`s Scorpio Black 750GB model fell in price to $89.99 from $112 or to $69.99 from $90, if you take extremes into account.
Industry analysts at IHS iSuppli forecast continually growing demand of hard disk drives, but manufacturers warn about the opposite.
Rapid growth of flash-memory fueled devices, such as smartphones and tablets, combined with a chilly consumer reception of Windows 8 led to the decline in the PC market. However, a shift to cloud technologies, the adoption of higher quality video standards and the expanding market of digital home devices with embedded HDDs will ultimately require more capacity and more drives.
The market situation most likely won`t lead to acute price drops, given the oligopoly in the industry. After huge mergers in 2011, when Western Digital bought Hitachi GST, and Seagate acquired Samsung`s HDD unit, these two biggest players control nearly 90% of the total consumer and enterprise HDD market. Competitive pressure significantly decreased since early 2011, so did the rate of price decline.
IHS iSuppli predicts that the prices might return to pre-flood levels only in 2014. Some segments have already recovered and some are close, including enterprise and mobile HDDs. Still, consumer desktop drives, especially in low- to mid-capacity range, remain priced significantly higher than in Fall 2011.
It is unlikely that their prices will drop fast unless significant outlying industry events interfere. There are no signs that SSD would pose a significant threat to conventional HDDs in mid- to high capacity segment: IHS iSuppli predicts rapid SSD supply growth in 2013, but HDDs will continue to dominate the market.
Commercially available technology still fails to provide flash-drives with enough capacity to compete with the ever-increasing terabyte capacities of modern HDDs. Capacities will continue to grow. Western Digital might roll out its 5 terabyte drives late this year.
Those drives will use helium instead of air to address a number of technological issues and boost capacity. Rival Seagate plans to beat new density levels with shingled magnetic recording in 2013 and heat-assisted magnetic recording in 2014. Vendors will price these drives high, at least for the initial period.
In sum, don`t expect HDDs to be as dirt cheap as they were in 2011. But we`re heading that way, and in some segments we`re already there.
Reddit Co-founder and Information Freedom Activist Killed Himself
Some are already starting to hail Aaron as a martyr. That rhetoric makes me uncomfortable for different reasons, and let me finish by trying to explain why. Aaron may or may not have made a mistake when he downloaded the JSTOR articles, but he definitely made one when he killed himself. The person he killed did not deserve that
No matter what his real motive was, it`s anyway a sad, sad story.
CES Tidbits #4
This year`s CES is all about hands-off experience: Ubuntu`s phone (no touching!), Oculous Rift (private demos only), NVIDIA`s "Project SHIELD" (glass-protected):
What are you afraid of, dear exhibitors? Seeing is believing, but playing with – that`s where the real experience comes from.
CES Tidbits #3
Weird metallic snakes? Plenty of crazy robotic creatures out in the CES Central Plaza:
Or maybe it`s a centipede? Hmmmm...
CES Tidbits #2
Those poor Chinese folks seem to have spent all of their money to pay the booth and flights (and casinos?). So their signage is the humblest I`ve ever seen:
But it`s still colorful, right.
CES Tidbits #1
So SHARP showcased "The Future of Television" – 8K 85" panel:
Cool, huh? But wait a minute... Haven`t we seen it somewhere already? Oh yes we have! IFA, Berlin, 2011 (!!!):
Okay, I`m at CES 2013, helping out former colleagues from IT.TUT.BY. Check out their coverage and follow my updates in Twitter!
Full coverage story about the event will be published here soon.
Never stop believing, especially in yourself. And then you`ll achieve everything - in 2013 and beyond. And you`ll be happy.
Happy New Year!
How is Microsoft Doing? Infographics
If you read this brilliant summary of recent Microsoft failures or just followed the industry news for a couple of months, you may have noticed that the Redmond software giant had not nearly its best year. Weak performance even led to one of the key Microsoft executives stepping down and heading to School.
Microsoft is facing troubles with tablets, smartphones and even with its new desktop-tablet "mutant" Windows. How is the company doing on the financial side? Can it afford the luxury of experimenting and burning millions on trying to create a competitive mobile environment? On playing with hardware like Surface?
The answer is "yes." Microsoft is doing well on the financial side, and $66B of stockpiled cash just add to self confidence. However, some red flags are certainly there, but nothing serious or catastrophic [yet].
To display the current financial situation with Microsoft, I took its division financials from Bloomberg and added some graphics:
Here`s the source with some additional data + link to 10K:
I guess these graphs need no further comments. Just to clarify: Business is Office/Sharepoint/Dynamics/etc., Online is Bing/MSN and Windows Phone falls under Entertainment and Devices.
Microsoft historically proven itself to be a capable and diligent learner, when burned money on the initial stage came back when the product went off the ground (like Xbox). Well, not always - Zune is a powerful counter-example. It`s a massive question if the company could successfully deal with strengthening Google and Apple ecosystems in mid- to long-term, given unimpressive current efforts to catch on its competitors. We`ll see. At the moment, M$ is financially stable and can afford dumping money right and left.
North Carolina Students Signed Petition Against STEM Research Sequestration
Two hundred and seventy three students from North Carolina signed the petition against funding cuts in STEM field.
The petition was signed by 6,180 students across all 50 states. It was hand-delivered to the local offices of all U.S. House leaders and senators Wednesday, according to the press release from American Physics Society.
УIf you want future growth for the economy, then you should not cut federal funding for science, which has contributed to more than half of U.S. economic growth since World War II,Ф said John Mergo, initiator of the petition and a graduate physics student at Cornell University.
Legislators` offices staffers have well received the students who delivered the petition.
УI believe it`s been noticed,Ф said Tyler Glembo, Government Relations Specialist at American Physical Society. He said that staffers Уwere very happy to receive the letter and chat with them [students] a little bit about it.Ф
Michael Bertucci, the president of Graduate Professional Student Federation and a doctorate student in chemistry at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill thinks that sequestration has already affected STEM students across the board as the agencies decreased the number of grants earlier in the year in preparation for possible cuts.
УResearch in this area doesn`t only generate new discoveries, but also (Е) generates jobs,Ф said Bertucci.
Mandatory federal spending cuts, or sequestration, will take place on January, 2, 2013. If no legislative action taken by then, federal science funding will be reduced by 8.2 percent.
It will affect the budgets of National Institutes of Health (drop by $2.5 billion), National Science Foundation ($586 million), NASA science programs ($417 million), Department of Energy's Office of Science ($400) and other federal agencies, by the total of nearly $12.3 billion.
УIt`s pretty obvious the effects that the research that`s funded by these agencies has on the economy and the job market, and it`s all positive,Ф said Bertucci. УIt would be really hurtful to (Е) the future of the graduate education if these massive cuts go into place.Ф
Winter in Carrboro
Is it global or local warming?
Bold Tech Show: Apple as Headliner, Nokia as Desperate Warm-up Act
Big digital week kicks off this Wednesday with Nokia and Google-Motorola showcasing their latest smartphones, followed by the presentation of new Amazon Kindle products the next day. And these devices would better be impressive, because Уthe most valuable company in the worldФ has just officially confirmed its iPhone 5 event to be held in a week, on Sept., 12.
No matter how exactly the new iPhone would look like and what specs will it get, even the weak announcement (very unlikely) won`t shake the financial prospects of Apple and market leadership. Google-backed Motorola and online-sales-backed Amazon are also more or less confident, no matter their outcomes. But for Nokia, once incontestable mobile market leader, the stakes now are incredibly high.
Since former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop replaced veteran Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo on the position of Nokia CEO, he made a number of disputable decisions, dropping company shares to 17-year minimum and making ex-technology leader lag behind aggressive competitors such as Samsung, Apple and even HTC. Massive layoffs, plant shut downs and brain drain heavily affect the company Уin transitionФ Ц Nokia records losses 5 quarters in a row, losing cash, and market share.
In early 2011 Elop bet on new mobile platform from Microsoft Ц Windows Phone Ц throwing away in-house developed Symbian OS and shutting down promising MeeGo project. Despite heavy marketing support from both Microsoft and Nokia, company managed to sell only a modest 330,000 of Lumia devices in the U.S. (2012), Asymco estimates. Moreover, according to the Strategy Analytics report, the share of Windows Phone ecosystem will total just 4.1 percent in the U.S. by the end of 2012, or about 5 million devices. That is definitely not enough for company to sustain growth, given it was selling 10.2 million units in Q2.
If Nokia fails to show something truly impressive on Wednesday, future of the company might be seriously questioned. Finnish manufacturer desperately needs breakthrough models to serve as Уsales driversФ, while company struggles to completely abandon current smartphone revenue drivers (Symbian-based devices) and while customers still tend to adopt Windows Phone at a slower pace than Microsoft and Nokia expected.
According to the leaked information on The Verge, Nokia will announce its new flagship device Lumia 920 featuring wireless battery charge and boasting anything but breathtaking tech specs. Company taunted Samsung on being first to announce Windows Phone 8 smartphone, but sad enough for Nokia, Samsung has already revealed its world-first WP8-device last week.
Will Nokia reveal something market-changing? Or it will continue to slowly fade away as a smartphone maker? How will Google-backed Motorola perform? What does Amazon have in its sleeves? And yes, how will iPhone 5 look like? Answers won`t take long to show itself Ц just keep your eyes open for the next seven days or so.
Photo credit: Nokia
Chris Roush has kindly pointed to some mistakes in the post
Interesting facts about North Carolina
Well, I`m now two weeks in North Carolina (and 16 days in the US), it`s high time to post something interesting :)
North Carolina. What does average Belarusian know about that state? Well, most probably, nothing. But as for me the word was very familiar, something from childhood: near the villiage called Carolina there was (there is?) a great mulberry tree. When I was a kid and visited my grandma while on summer vacations, we often stopped near Carolina while on our route to fishing places - of course, to taste those mulberries.
Wikipedia and other sources will tell , that North Carolina, despite its name, is actually a southern state. It`s situated on the eastern US coast, with mountains on the west and the Atlantic on the east. It`s a farmer`s state, the state of furniture and textile manufacturers. Though, it might be already in the past: production of tabacco declined, and you know what happened to the textile industry.
Now some facts:
– the flag of North Carolina has white and red colours - like the historic Belarusian flag;
– the state is smaller than Belarus in terms of area, but equals it in terms of population (nearly 9,7M);
– it was North Carolina where in 1900 brothers Wright started to test their planers;
– that`s the place where huge intellectual resources amassed, thanks to the three big universities and local high-tech park - – Research Triangle Park ; it is where the biggest research campuses of Cisco, IBM, Intel, EMC, GlaxoSmithKline situated;
– New Bern is Pepsi home town;
– the biggest city is not the capital, but Charlotte;
– though there is a Red Hat HQ in Raleigh, the capital;
– local motto – ЂTo be rather than to seemї (one of my favourite quotes, btw);
– people are soooo nice here :)
What`s wrong, what I`ve missed? Next: interesting facts about the city and the university. Don`t change the channel!
P.S. Some silly pictures and brief comments you can find on my Facebook . Even shorter stuff (though more business-related) – in my twitter Twitter (sic - it`s not ittutby anymore!).
Check them out: my posts in BBC Learning English blog
This April I was contributing to BBC Learning English blog as a "student of the month". According to the feedback, these posts were interesting to read and discuss, so I encourage you to check them out:
Please comment there or send your comments to me directly.
Started contributing to the Nomadic Mindburst group blog – looks like it`s gonna develop to a really interesting reading (and it is now, in fact).
My first article is on the top-paid Belarusian workers – IT-workers. Take a look >>
100 Facts About Belarus (1-10)
A guy called Mikhail Moroz compiled a really nice collection of facts about my beloved country – Belarus. Here is the original version, divided into two parts: 1-50, 51-100. I`ve chosen and translated ten of these for you. Check them out:
1. The National library of Belarus was opened in 2006 in Minsk. It is one of the biggest of it`s kind worldwide. It boasts a total area of 112000 sq.m. which 55000 is allocated solely for book storage. Library is two times heavier than Ostankino tower. Minsk inhabitants seem to dislike this "Chupa chups"-shaped building, as parisians treated their Eiffel Tower some time, but I think that somewhere deep inside they are a bit proud of it.
By the way, the 1485 sq.m. surface of so-called "diamond" is covered with LED-panels* what makes it the biggest advertising screen in the country. Each day from 9 till 10 pm you may rotate there anything you like for just $3+ per minute.
* From the translator: it is a really disputable issue, because the adv.area is in fact created by a lots of colored lamps (they might be LED-based, though), not real LED-screens.
2. Flax from Belarus is imported by the Treasury of the United States to make paper for dollars, where high quality long-stapled flax makes up 25%. The rest is cotton.
3. Advertisments of tobacco and alcohol outside of relevant shops are prohibited since 2004, so you definitely won`t see any Marlboro cowboys on the billboards alongside Belarusian motorways. And manufacturers are obliged to add standard health hazard warnings on the cigarette packs. Still, you don`t have to print something like that on vodka labels.
4. Lee Harvey Oswald lived in Minsk and worked on the plant that was called "Radio devices plant named after Lenin" those days. Nowadays it is "Horizont" enterprise. There is no memorial plaque related to this fact at the main entrance of "Horizont" :)
5. Belarus is "a home for elephants" :) In 2006 there was found and lifted (from the depth of 8 metres, while building a Minsk metro line) a metre-long fossil bone of fleecy forest elephant (or mammoth, if you like).
6. There is an opinion that when God was dividing minerals among different countries, Belarus got in really late. But somehow it managed to claim a Starobin deposit of potassium salts (near the town of Soligorsk) - the biggest in the world with 9+ percent of total explored worldwide reserves (only one deposit in Canada has more). Billions of tons. A tasty morsel, for sure.
7. Mr. Francysk Skaryna from Polotsk was an enlightener, printing pioneer, humanitarian philosopher, translator, writer, physician, public figure... Well, our "all-in-one #1 hero". He started printing books 50 years before Russian printing pioneer Fedorov. In 1534 went to Moscow to demonstrate his Bible first printed in Belarusian as early as 1517. Though, he barely managed to run away from infuriated pope-scribes, who wanted to burn the heretic alive - and his books were destroyed. However, Fedorov then had to leave Moscow for Lvov for the same reason, but that`s another story.
8. Belarus still manufactures great hosiery and lingerie items that look veeeery good on the ladies :) I bet you know "Milavitsa" brand. Ancient slavic people used "Milavitsa" word for Venus.
9. Pyotr Mironovich Masherov was the first secretary of Belarusian committee of the Communist Party of Soviet Union (since 1965), he ruled the country for 15 years. A really unusual person for the top communist bureaucracy establishment: people LOVED him! That partisan, teacher and a great organizer enjoyed not only respect, but LOVE. I recall that my grandpa, who held quite a high post in authorities on construction issues and was a biting person with almost no authority, could talk about Pyotr Masherov only with deep respect. People say that after Masherov awkwardly, tragically and mysteriously died in 1980 Belarusians were crying and the funeral train was of a massive scale. The people of Minsk had never seen anything like it before, nor have they since.
10. Belarus - it the northmost country with no sea access. We also don`t have any mountains.
Each time I get an opportunity to talk to people from different countries, I ask them to tell some jokes. It really common thing in Russian-speaking countries, but I see that joking culture is a bit different throughout the world. Still, there a lot of nice jokes in English, and some of them are really close to ours!
- Doctor, I feel like a curtain! - Well, man, pull yourself together!
- Doctor, everyone just seems to ignore me! - Understood. Next!
British visa looks like as a pretty common Schengen one ;)
The long awaited new record from DDT finally arrived this year. And, to the joy of the fans, it features not just 28 new songs, but a fully-featured show with a powerful video and light effects which the band will be touring, starting October, 26th.
Despite the changes in the team, DDT still sounds like DDT, and the vocals of Yuri Shevchuk (or "Yura, the singer" - as he was nicknamed after the memorable altercation with the Russian prime-minister Mr.Putin) sound like no one but himself.
The style was purposely made "more modern" and that, along with strong female back-vocals, adds some really special flavor to the "Otherwise" ("Inache") program, making it refreshingly new and different to the eyes, ears and hearts. If one sets aside not-really-like-the-old-DDT tracks like "Provodnik" ("Train attendant"), "Solnechnyj svet" ("Sunlight") and too heavy ones like "Krizis" ("Crisis"), he would notice the bright talent of Mr.Shevchuk and his team fully uncovers itself in the new album.
On a double CD one could discover a bunch of 100% power hits like "Pesnya o svobode" ("A song about freedom"), "Za toboi prishli" ("They`ve come for you"), "Novaja Rossija" ("New Russia") or "Rock-n-rollnaja Muza" ("Rock-n-roll Muse"), accompanied by tracks cutting really deep like "Bolnitsa" ("Hospital"), "Yugo-zapadnyj veter" ("Southwester") or the outstanding ballad "Kogda ty byla zdes" ("When You Were Here").
And the main thing about the album (and the programme) is the sound - DDT-style sound is unmistakable. Critics are now arguing whether the newly released album is one of the most significant band`s milestones since the "Mir nomer nol" ("World Zero") programme, started 1998, but as for me, itТs not a matter of discussion - "Otherwise" is really that good.