The Netbook Phenomena

Recently, with the introduction of the ASUS Eee PC, an entirely new class of mobile PC was created. Dubbed netbooks, these diminutive mobile computers are smaller, lighter, cheaper, and generally cuter than notebooks. They follow a recent mantra, ‘fast enough,’ violating the popular and longstanding, ‘it can never be fast enough.’  What does that mean, you ask? It means that these netbooks are built to do one thing really well, surf the internet, hence netbooks. They are, in essence, PC-lite.
Why now?

Up until last year, a company called VIA dominated the lower power processor market. Their products run everything from wireless routers to audio systems, they are masters of small and efficient processors designed for specific devices. While they produced processors capable of running small computers, the performance just wasn’t what modern notebook users have come to expect. Deciding to take a risk, Intel developed an extremely low power (1-4 Watt), extremely cheap, and ‘fast enough’ processor named Atom, for use in a market that did not yet exist. Much to everyone’s surprise (including mine), the netbook market took off with unexpected force.

Oops, looks like we missed the train! But it's ok, we've got our netbooks!
Oops, looks like we missed the train! But it’s ok, we’ve got our netbooks!

Some entries into the netbook market include the aforementioned ASUS EeePC, MSI Wind, and Dell Inspiron Mini. Most of these incorporate the Atom processor, a tiny solid state hard drive (4-20 GB), and Linux instead of Windows. Linux might seem foreign to most users, but it offers a cheap (free) alternative to Microsoft products (much to Microsoft’s chagrin, and the reason they decided to continue offering discounted Windows XP to netbook providers). Not to be overlooked, because of their light performance envelope, netbooks generally last 4-6 hours on battery, an impressive feat. Netbooks do have a couple weak spots, their 7 to 12 inch screens pale in comparison to average notebooks that have 13.3 to 15.4 inch screens. Also, their performance in compute heavy situations, such as high definition video and video games, is absolutely dismal. Then again, netbooks aren’t meant for gaming beyond internet flash games, and most people don’t really care to watch hi-def on a 10 inch screen anyway, so these cons are mitigated somewhat.

What now?

The economic climate is partially responsible for the incredible uptake in netbooks, why get an $800 dollar notebook when you can pay $400 dollars for something that does everything you want (surf the net, watch a DVD) just as well? In addition, companies like Nvidia have added hardware to certain netbooks that supercharges their graphical performance, allowing them to reach into HI-Def and Gaming territories that have previously been out of reach. Intel plans to release a dual core version of the Atom (for use in netbooks) sometime in the near future, and storage space continues to increase. Microsoft’s next operating system, Windows 7 (due out in 09), also looks as though it will provide a powerful alternative to Windows XP on netbooks. The development continues, though at a certain point it begins to invade the territory of more fully featured $800+ notebooks, something of a bother to manufactures like Dell. Profit margins on netbooks are woeful compared to regular notebooks, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to stem the tide of these little monsters. Be afraid, be very very afraid.


I’m not sure if anyone knows what the title for this article implies, so I’ll tell you that it is the nefarious corporation involved in F.E.A.R. and the upcoming F.E.A.R. 2.
Check out the site, make sure your sound is on, and let it “present” for a couple minutes. I promise this isn’t a screamer site, but make sure your volume isn’t maxxed out anyway. An example of great marketing.


The world’s game mega-publisher, and last major holdout to Valve’s Steam service, has finally debuted on the popular Digital Distribution platform. In the gaming world, this is analagous to Apple loading its computers with Microsoft Windows Vista. This is a BIG DEAL.

The debut list from EA is somewhat sparse, compared to their MASSIVE catalog, but it includes some popular titles such as SPORE, WARHAMMER ONLINE, MASS EFFECT, CRYSIS, and soon RED ALERT 3. We all look forward to the entire Red Alert catalog sometime in the future. *wink wink*

Student Finds Stolen Xbox 360 with His Wireless Controller

Short of it? University student falls asleep without locking the door, some dude takes his 360. The kid wakes up, files a police report for the theft, and notices his controller still connects to the XBOX. So, he sweeps around the floors of his dorm, finds the room, perp gets caught. 

Best line ever: “Ketsenburg [360 owner] says that he is prosecuting the thief to the fullest extent of the law.”

This is why we need capital punishment, the thief needs his hard drive erased.

Greasy Computing

What happens when water hits expensive electronics? We’ve all been in this situation, dropping a laptop in the sink, pool, or bathtub, maybe kicking the family pc into the Pacific, and what happens? It goes KA-BLOOEY! (Yes, I have decided to use the word(s) “KA-BLOOEY”)
Now what about that big vat of mineral oil you keep under your bed? What happens when your cell phone or gaming desktop fall into THAT? Apparently, nothing! Apparently, dipping the internals of a PC into what might be called a bullet-proof aquarium and filling it with mineral oil allows for jaw-dropping computing performance and sky-high overclocking. 

Finally, a computer as greasy as the lonely, pubscent face badmouthing your mother in Counter-Strike!

Fusion – Closer to Reality

MIT (of course, who else? :P) has discovered radiowaves can be used to effectively manipulate plasma used in would-be fusion reactions. Theorists are stumped and cannot explain exactly what is happening to induce this behavior. This brings Fusion based power generation one step closer to reality, a development that could effectively deal with most of the world’s energy problems.