Print 56 comment(s) - last by serajadeyn.. on Dec 13 at 12:25 PM

An introspective, completely unsubstantiated view of the technology enthusiast, in late 2007

More than a few times someone asked me why does DailyTech cover all that global warming stuff, or defense tech, or automotive breakthroughs.  There's a good answer to that, but its not a simple one.

In 2004 I already saw the writing on the wall.  PC technology started commoditizing, and at a brisk clip as well. 

When I got my first K6 processor, it was not just the overclockers that cranked up that 66 MHz front-side bus.  Anyone who bought a computer had to know some of the essential differences between MMX and 3D-Now!.  A lack of knowledge, in those days, would set the up and coming computer user back hundreds of dollars if he wasn't careful.

Whether you agree with Karl Marx or Karl Rove (or anyone in between), a telltale sign of commodification occurs when the manufacturer stops focusing on tangible aspects of the product and starts pushing less tangible selling points.  This often occurs when competing products are too similar, or at least indistinguishable from the purchasers point of view. 

Where have we seen this before?  Well, my HTC Hermes did everything the iPhone did a year beforehand, but I'm pretty sure Apple sold a whole lot more iPhones.  Look at today's motherboards: any manufacturer would tell you its  all-solid capacitors are better than the next guy. And don't even get me started on the memory industry ...

I remember the exact instant when computer hardware became a commodity.  Steve Jobs got up in front of one hundred journalists and in less than 60 seconds, a million Apple zealots went from ardent Intel naysayers to hardened Intel devotees.  In that moment I realized it didn't really much matter to anyone which CPU was better than another, it only mattered what Steve Jobs told everyone to think anyway.

Other signs of the death of the PC enthusiast are littered across the Internet like the tattered remains of a kite breaking up on rentry.   The birth and demise of AMD's Quadfather, the ubiquitous lack of support (or interest) for quad-GPU graphics, failed physics processors and inconsequential sales of "killer" network cards. 
In a recent conversation with Jon Stokes, both of us agreed that while PC tech has seen some great growth over the last few years, this growth is not keeping pace with the Internet as a whole.  PC technology, as a journalistic discipline, is unfortunately niched to the degree you'd find with muscle cars. 

This leads me to answer the question I started out with: the PC industry, as a whole, just isn't as fast-moving or interesting anymore.   Attempting to debate the merits of largely intangible technology topics is a discussion more akin to politics than science.

You bet I'm excited about CPU-GPU integration and new OLED technology, but another unfathomably high frequency bump in the sea of JEDEC memory timings completely fails to pique my interest.  Analysis of Google Keywords would indicate those more mundane markers of progress in the PC industry fail to grasp even the smallest of demographics on the Internet as well.

That does not discount the importance of the tech enthusiast.  Those of us who grew up debating the merits of CPU architecture in the 1990's are the pioneers in virtual discussion.  We are what the majority of consumers will become over the next decade when new, broader forums come to be. 

Don't worry, I'm still the first person in Taiwan with Intel's next-generation roadmap.  However, as this industry withers and new ones blossom, I encourage you all as pioneers and enthusiasts to look beyond the chips and bits once in a while.

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By TomZ on 11/30/2007 9:26:11 PM , Rating: 1
I'm so sick of the holier-than-thou attitude of open-source advocates. I own an engineering company, and I personally like that I can sit down in Visual Studio, develop a nice program (myself or with my small team), send it to a customer, and then send out an invoice. That to me is a very good thing - earning money for myself and for my family by creating something useful to someone else.

By cochy on 11/30/2007 11:30:05 PM , Rating: 2
The open-source community has created much usefulness for many people. I agree with you that holier-than-thou attitudes suck, no matter where it's coming from. However don't let some with pretentious attitudes detract from an otherwise great thing.

By TomZ on 12/1/2007 7:29:05 AM , Rating: 2
Just for the record, I'm knocking the attitude, not the software. There's definately some good OSS, although quite frankly 90% is junk, the remaining 10% contains some real jems, e.g., GCC, Linux, Apache, etc.

By noirsoft on 12/1/2007 8:43:57 AM , Rating: 2
I like to distinguish that while I'm not against open source software, I am ardently against the "Free Software Movement"

And Richard Stallman is an idiot. Just because Emacs isn't worth paying for doesn't mean that the rest of us shouldn't be able to make money.

By TomZ on 12/1/2007 2:54:48 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, and in the end even Stallman himself earns his own living off of software, even if indirectly.

By mindless1 on 12/4/2007 2:22:36 PM , Rating: 2
But what if they really are holier than thou? If they pretended they weren't, wouldn't that make them all the more holy? What was your good thing? Money. What was your opposition's good thing? Sharing information with open source.

Yeah, one is holier than the other in a general sense. Get over it.

By TomZ on 12/1/2007 4:46:58 PM , Rating: 5
No, if I go a little deeper into my thoughts, what comes to mind is:

"You're full of shit"

Your post couldn't be more far off. Nice try, and thanks for playing. No fear here.

By Xietsu on 12/2/2007 5:39:24 AM , Rating: 2
" GeorgeOrwell said:
Because at the end of the day you are probably ripping your customer off and are afraid that if they see what they've really bought vs. what they think they bought, you'll be in trouble.

Even if you are not ripping them off, you are afraid that there is something not worthy in your work, perhaps some copied code that you don't have a license for.

You probably believe that food labels shouldn't have to say what's in the food either."

Your attempt to gauge the assimilations of one's mind are made in an almost asinine aspect. Often, only the truly Godfearing would continually question the morality of their commercial conditions. Most are content with the coverage of their conclusive capacity.

The remark in regard to food labels was ludicrous. Every construct of hardware isn't consumed by physical abdominal contraction, thus, the consistency of its constituency need not require disclosure (as the components of a nutritional project are [consumed by physical abdominal contraction], ingredients become a credit of liability). Personal health relates to communication of such due to the connection of potential complications in an individual's welfare.

The critical differentiator is the fact that the market allows such disparity between competition, thus an engendering of proprietary proliferation becomes so productive. It is merely the acknowledgment that, due to the customer's willingness to accept such compromise, the criteria for contemplating a company's level of consequence is crude.

By SavagePotato on 12/2/2007 4:47:26 PM , Rating: 2
I would be afraid of being a goatee wearing unemployed bum living in a basement writing open source code for something to do out of the false pretense of saving the world as well.

Giving away everything free sounds like a noble goal for sure. Thats not entirely an accurate portrayal.

The current open source for money architecture seems to work this way. Sell customer services using open source software that they have no clue whatsoever how to operate, and have no hope of getting support outside the tech in question. I know this first hand having witnessed this buisness model in practice.

Now which is more of a rip off? securing a customer through lack of knowledge and making them dependant on you to maintain this open source solution you sold them. Or them paying a corporation like microsoft who supports their own products?

I don't see that big a difference.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

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