Linux, politics, and other interesting things
I was just reading the latest catalogue from Dick Smith Electronics (a chain of computer stores in Australia).
The first interesting thing that I noticed is that laptops are cheaper than desktops in all categories. For any combination of CPU power and RAM in a desktop system I can see a laptop advertised with similar specs at a lower price. Of course you won’t get such a big display in a laptop, but big displays don’t always work well. I just read an interesting review of LCD display technology  which states (among other things) that TN panels (which provide poor colors and a limited viewing angle) are used in all current 22 inch monitors! They state that the Dell 2007WFP (which I own) comes in two versions, I was fortunate to get the one that doesn’t suck. Based on that review I think I’ll refrain from all further monitor purchases until the technology gets sorted out and it becomes possible to reliably buy the better monitors at a decent price. The most expensive desktop system that Dick Smith advertised in their catalogue has a 22 inch monitor.
It seems that with desktop systems being more expensive an increasing number of home users will use laptops instead, which will of course change the economics of manufacture. Maybe the desktop computer is about to die out and be replaced by laptops, PDAs, and mobile phone type devices (blackberries etc).
Another interesting thing is an advert for a LASER pointer (it seems that they haven’t been banned as “terrorist weapons” yet). Being on special for a mere $27 is not the interesting thing, what is interesting is that the advert claims “projects up to 500m indoors“. I’m sure it will be handy if I ever have to give a presentation at the Airbus factory. But otherwise it seems quite unlikely that I will ever get an opportunity for a 500m indoor space.
The prices on digital cameras have been dropping consistently for some time. Now they are selling a Samsung S860 (8.1MP with 3* optical zoom) for $98. This is (according to the specs at least) a very powerful camera for a price that most people won’t think twice about. I expect that an increasing number of people will buy new digital cameras every year the way white-box enthusiasts buy new motherboards! Hopefully people will use services such as Freecycle  to dispose of all their old cameras, to both avoid pollution and get cameras into the hands of more people.
Very few monitors are being sold with resolutions greater than 2MP (1680*1050 is the highest you can get for a reasonable price). So an 8MP camera allows significant scope for cropping and resizing an image before publishing it on the web. Even the 4MP cameras that were on sale a few years ago (and which are probably being discarded now) are more than adequate for such use.