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COMPUTERS AND NETWORKING
NEW PC FOR BOTTOM-FEEDERS
It was in 1982 that I became the proud owner of my first computer, a Timex Sinclair 1000: a little Z80-
based machine with 2 kB of memory and a processing
speed of 3. 25 MHz. Two days after shelling out $29.95
for the unit, it croaked, as did many of the others
produced by the joint venture between Timex Corp.
and Sinclair Research. Still, it was fascinating that — at
least in theory — it was possible to build something for
well under $100 that could perform many of the same
functions as the IBM 4341 mainframe down the hall,
which cost about $275,000 (but was loaded with a
whopping 4 MB of main memory). Thirty years later, the almost-free concept has reappeared in the form of the
All Winner A10 Android Mini PC. Details about the Chinese-made machine are sketchy, but by picking data from
various websites it seems to be powered by a 1.5 GHz CPU plus a Mali-400 GPU (as used in the Samsung Galaxy SII
smartphone). It comes with 512 MB of DDR3 RAM and 4 GB of nand flash, and it offers Wi-Fi 802.11b/g connectivity.
Video output is 1080 p HDMI, and it all runs on the Android 4.0 operating system. Included in the package is an AC
adapter (EU plug), HDMI cable, mini USB to USB OTG adapter, and a user manual (both in Chinese and English). It's
hard to say what you might want to use it for, but for only about $75 at various online stores, maybe you'll figure
something out. ▲
■ The All Winner A10 Android PC.
UP TO 32. 7 HOURS BETWEEN CHARGES
If the laptop marketplace seems to be a confusing mass of machines that are essentially the same, that's because it is and they
are. If your prime directive is to compute over long periods of time
without a battery recharge, though, some new business models from
Dell might be a good bet. The new Latitude E-series machines —
which range in screen size from 12. 5 to 15. 6 inches — sport Intel's
new Ivy Bridge processors which are more efficient in general, and
can save power by shutting down idle cores. This contributes to the
machine’s ability to provide up to 32. 7 hours of battery life (in
average use), but the main contributor is a nine-cell internal battery
plus external packs. In addition, users can remove the optical drive
and replace it with a battery. Additional features include the
ExpressCharge feature that allows for an 80% recharge in as little as
one hour, USB 3.0, optional LTE mobile broadband and Bluetooth 4.0, and a ruggedized version for extreme environments.
Price information had not been released as of this writing. ▲
■ Dell's Latitude E6430s offer extended battery life.
GET YOUR HEAD IN THE CLOUD
You have no doubt heard a lot about "cloud computing" lately, but may not have a clear idea of what it means. The short definition provided by NIST is "a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool
of configurable computing resources — for example, networks, servers, storage, applications, and services — that can be
rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction."
"Okay," you might say. "But what does that have to do with me?" Well, NIST has put together a publication — Cloud
Computing Synopsis and Recommendations — that "explains cloud systems in plain language and provides
recommendations for information technology decision makers, including chief information officers, information systems
developers, system and network administrators, information system security officers, and systems owners." It's not
immediately evident that the language is all that plain, and at 81 pages it isn't exactly concise. But it is free. If you're up
to the challenge, you can download a PDF version at www.jkeckert.com/freedownloads/cloud.pdf. ▲
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