Well, it's that time of year. The year is almost done with, we're one step closer to tax season, and we're getting closer to a world without Steve Ballmer and his antics. Oh Stevie. We've had a good year, in 3 months we have had over 1,000 visitors and helped quite a few of you I hope. We have a nearly releasable version of EONS, our Linux-based OS optimized for the average desktop user. Due to our perfectionist natures, we prefer not to release it until we have 0 problems and have thoroughly tested it with all age and skill groups, but fret not young Tillamooks.
Now we can have some fun here. Following are the top 10 gifts we would like to see under our Tux-adorned Christmas trees, followed by the top 5 tech headlines we won't see in 2008. Some are headlines we would like to see, some we're glad we won't. So here we go, in grand countdown style:
The Top 10 Tillamook Gifts
10. A flux capacitor replica. Who among us hasn't seen the third major trilogy (behind, of course, the original Star Wars and Lord of the Rings), Back to the Future. Well now they're selling working replicas of the work of science and art, and by working I mean it lights up. Now your Toyota, Saturn, Geo, or bicycle can time travel with the best of them. Great Scott!
9. Atari Flashback 2.0. Who isn't a fan of retro gaming now? Even those who weren't alive to experience the joys of early game systems can appreciate the low resolution images and monophonic midi music. Now, if you aren't one of the lucky ones with an original system, you can at least enjoy a new system complete with a bunch of your favorite games. The system comes preloaded with 30 games and there are even websites with information on hardware hacks for the system.
8. ZaReason MegaLap. ZaReason is a California-based computer company who started by building computers out of parts from the local electronics recycler and installing Linux on them. They now sell their own custom systems with your choice of Ubuntu, Kubuntu, or Edubuntu installed. The MegaLap comes with 1GB DDR2 and a 17'' screen, more than enough for any Linux user on the go. And at around $1,500 it's a decent deal for a reliable system. They also sell much more affordable systems, for those of us with smaller pocketbooks, though I would still recommend Toshiba for high quality on the cheap.
7. Toshiba Gigabeat T series. I've been a fan of the Gigabeat since its inception, I even have the original Gigabeat. They have excellent audio quality, great battery life, and a high quality screen. They've typically gotten better reviews than iPods and have a far lower price tag, but don't do much in terms of advertising. If you're looking for a portable digital audio player I suggest you look no further than Toshiba.
6. Nintendo Wii. Alright, I admit this is probably on almost every tech gift list you'll see this year, but it's a lot of fun. Nintendo has always had good games, cheap prices, and reliable systems. The gyro-based controls are a lot of fun too, unless you swing wildly and clock grandma during a heated game of tennis. If you can find them, they're well priced and small enough to fit in an entertainment center.
5. Muse. Smart homes have been getting more affordable and easier to set up. Convergent living just made it easier, and with embedded Linux as well. The Muse is a WiFi system that, when used with their other systems, can control cameras, temperature, TVs, lighting, audio, security, and everything but your mother-in-law's mouth. If you want a smart home, look at the offerings from Convergent.
4. Tesla Roadster. I know, there's no way this would ever fit under a tree. And at a base price of almost $100,000 it won't fit in most wallets. But wow. Electric cars have been around for quite a while now, and electric motors accelerate much more quickly than gasoline or diesel engines. But with 248 hp, 0-60 under 4 seconds, 245 mile range, and relatively quick charges, coupled with a body rivaling most European cars or supermodels this one is a winner. Every environmentally conscious individual with a need for speed (and a lot of extra cash) should have one of these.
3. Asus Eee PC. Ok, so it's a poor name. But that and the small screen are as far as my complaints go. Imagine this: a solid-state, rugged laptop running Linux with WiFi. Now stop imagining and go look at the Eee PC. It has a 2-8 Gb solid-state drive, decent audio (so say those who have one), and 256mb-1GB DDR2. This thing would beat the pants off of my Toshiba laptop, if it wore pants. Can life get better under $400? Probably, but not much better right now.
2. Chumby. Sure, it has a funny name. And yes, it does look somewhat odd. But what's better than embedded Linux in a leather multimedia console? It has a 350 MHz processor, WiFi, USB, a touchscreen, and accelerometers. It will know when you're tossing it around! That puts it above some cats! It's fully hackable so you can load other software on it, or completely alter the hardware. My plan, should I be fortunate to find one under the soft glow of LEDs this holiday season, would be to load Android on it eventually and make it scream when thrown. Party on Garth.
1. OpenMoko NEO 1973. An embedded Linux phone? Hark, are they not things of legend only, mythical creations dancing like sugar-plums in yon noggins? Well this one is real, and from what we're hearing it actually works. Trolltech got our hopes up with the Greenphone, but this one may come through. Thankfully, Trolltech is backing the NEO 1973 which will hopefully prove to yield a quality product. There are even videos of people playing Unreal Tournament on the phone, why someone needs to do that boggles the mind, but apparently it's capable of it. Now will the software match the awesome factor of the hardware? That has yet to be seen, though there are some rumors lingering of a partnership with Google for the Android platform being shipped with the final version, though the legitimacy of those is in question. It's enough to make a geek downright giddy though.
The Top 5 Tech Headlines We Won't be Seeing in 2008
5. OLPC a success! The One Laptop Per Child computer, which is targeted to third-world countries has proved successful. Microsoft conceded in their attempts to put their operating system on the computers and allowed them to operate unabated with Linux. All hardware failures are immediately repaired by the now tech-savvy youth and the computers generate no waste. Miraculously, there were WiFi hotspots available to all the youth in the countries they were sent to, as well as adequate power grids, things unavailable at the time they were shipped. Now, thanks to the OLPC program, every hut and cave in the world has a laptop and the children are computer literate. Motombu Genericchild of Small Country #2 said "Gee, I might even start a new ecommerce site. It even stopped all the larger countries from dumping their electronics waste in my village! Now if only it could grow food for my family."
4. Linux overtakes Windows in the desktop market. In a recent poll, shocking everyone except the 6% who were already Linux users or Nostradamus, it was found that 45% of the desktop computers in operation are using a Linux operating system. Microsoft's Windows operating system has now slipped to 44%, the Mac OS now holds 10%, and the remaining 1% are men wearing suspenders who maintain Unix or OS/2 Warp are vastly superior.
3. Google goes belly-up. One time Internet search king Google closed shop this week. It turns out their Android operating system, YouTube, wireless networks, innovative and unobtrusive ad systems, and countless other projects weren't enough to keep them afloat. Yahoo spokesmen were quoted saying, "Neener neener neener."
2. Linus Torvalds wins Nobel Peace Prize for Linux Kernel. Inventor of the Linux operating system and kernel maintainer Linus Torvalds was finally recognized for his contribution to humanity. Linux has enabled thousands of those who would otherwise be unable to afford a graphical operating system to have full access to all the wonders of technology. After the awards ceremony Torvalds donated his prize to the public domain and his money to helping promote open-source software. In related news, Microsoft has launched a lawsuit claiming they hold undisclosed patents related to the prize, open-source software, Linux, and the name Linus.
1. Windows: FOSS Edition. In a stunning move by Microsoft they have adopted the Linux kernel and the GPL for their latest revision. After realizing most people don't want to go buy a high-end computer so they can have bouncing windows and more security holes than your average 7-11, the software giant moved to only free and open source software. Bill Gates went on to say "I figured we don't need to make any more money on our innovative code, which we created all on our own. We already bought the patent to the US Patent Office, so we are researching other revenue streams." Steve Ballmer, resident spokesman, was quoted saying, "We looked through our books and found out we violated some of our own patents and are failing to make ad revenue from Clippie, so we will be filing several lawsuits against ourselves. B'YAHHHHH!!!" The new version of Windows will be released in the third quarter of 2008 and will retail for $295 for Basic, $318 for Business, $459 for Student Premium, $689 for Safe and Secure, and $1,098 for Super-Ultra-Platinum-Premium. Office will still not be included and will retail for $9,000,801.