11 July 2007
SETI League
PriUPS Project

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News From Dell and Elsewhere

Just about a year ago I volubly lamented two nasty aspects of computerdom:

  • When you buy a new computer from Dell, it comes with all manner of useless software that wastes your time.

  • You can't get desktop LCD monitors with good resolution unless they're enormous.  We know smaller ones can be made since laptops routinely deliver good resolution in smaller sizes.

I am pleased - and astonished - that yesterday I received, in two separate mailings from Dell, an admission on the former and a partial solution to the latter.  Coincidence?  I think so.  Consider this email from Dell: 

Introducing Dell(TM) Vostro(TM)
A full range of products, support and services designed just for small business. Vostro is not just a PC, it's a commitment to doing more.  Small businesses spoke. We listened. And we believe they deserve a computer that works just as hard as they do.
No Trialware.
Vostro systems come without annoying trialware, so you only get the software you want.
(Emphasis supplied)

Someone at Dell must have read my blogitem, and perhaps even the subsequent Mossberg column in the Wall Street Journal decrying the "craplets" that come with their computers.  While I can understand their dropping them in the face of near-universal opprobrium, I find it hard to believe that they used the phrase "without annoying trialware."  That's sort of like pleading guilty ("I did it and I'm sorry") rather than nolo ("I didn't do it and I promise not to do it again").  In the light of this remarkable admission on Dell's part, I shall not even comment on the fact that they think "Vostro" is a good name for a new computer series, even though it sounds like they're imports from Transylvania.

High-Resolution Monitor from Dell

Within hours of receiving the "annoying trialware" email from Dell, I received their consumer catalog in the post.  In it they offered a monitor with the following specifications:

  • Screen: 19"

  • Resolution: 1680 x 1050

  • Price: $199

The resolution specification is one that you often see on 20" and 21" monitors.  You might think that shrinking the monitor by an inch (and the price by over a third!) isn't such a big deal, but it is.  It's inexpensive, and it makes it easier to combine monitors for big displays.  For example, for less than the price of a single 2560 x 1600 monitor (Dell 3007-WFP, $1269), you can get six of the 19 inch monitors, giving you 5040 * 2100 resolution.  Of course there will be lines running through the viewing area, but then there's also the plus of not having to connect them all to the same computer.  Today Dell gets a P for Progress.

Follow Up 12 July 2007

Q:  Richard!  Where did you get the stupid idea that Dell would do something right in the monitor resolution department?
A:  Well, as I said above, I got this brochure in the post:

Q:  And you believed them?  Ha!  Look up that model number on their web site.  It's the usual crappy 19" monitor with the usual crappy 19" resolution.
A:  Sigh.  You're right.  But there is a plus.  It seems there's already been a price reduction!  Sorry, Dell, your "P for Progress" is ignominiously withdrawn.

BEA 2007 - BookExpo America and Google Book Search

If you haven't been following this issue, here's a quick summary.  Google has been digitally scanning books for search purposes.  It's controversial because many of the books are in copyright and some (but not all) publishers and some (but not all) authors object to the practice on copyright and intellectual property grounds.  Google has not been requesting permission to do this, another bother to some, but is willing to exclude copyrighted works at the request of the copyright owner.  Needless to say, those who object feel that's backwards.

Google had a booth at the recent BEA and, according to science fiction magazine Locus, the following transpired thereat:

Pan Macmillan CEO Richard Charkin tried to make a point of protest about Book Search by stealing two laptops from the Google booth and hanging around for an hour until someone from Google noticed.  Then Charkin returned the laptops and explained that he'd taken them because there was no sign saying "Please don't steal the computers."

Good story, innovative protest, may even be true!

Lapsarianism vs. The Singularity

And, speaking of Locus, Cory Doctorow wrote an interesting column about the above heading.  Not to suggest that his other columns aren't interesting as well, but this one introduced me to the first term.  Disregarding the meaning of "Lapsarianism" (or the lack of meaning of "Vostro,") I like the way it sounds.  If Dell offered a laptop computer called the "Lapsarian" I'd give some thought to purchasing it.

NP:  "Epistle To Paradise" - Plastic Cloud

Richard Factor

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