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Tuesday, October 29, 2013
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Slowly, but surely, Windows 8 and touch screens are making it to business desktops. The HP EliteOne 800 ($2,173 direct) is one of the latest, and it's definitely a move in the right direction. It solves many of the problems that IT managers had with all-in-one desktops, and its speed will wow your workers. It's got the stuff to claw its way in as our next Editors' Choice for all-in-one business desktops, and here's why.
Design and Features
The EliteOne 800 is a high-end business all-in-one desktop, and the system certainly looks the part. It is corporate black, not consumer silver, so it will fit in among your firm's corporate-style monitors and desktop PCs. The 23-inch 1,920-by-1,080 resolution IPS display dominates the design, and the edge-to-edge glass shows that the system has a 10-point touch screen built in. The system can be equipped with a $99 articulated arm and stand can be adjusted for tilt, height, and pivot into portrait mode. That way you can adjust the system to be comfortable for virtually any sitting or standing position, plus it works well if you work on vertically oriented data (like Websites and news page layout). This is an improvement over the stand on our current Editors' Choice for business systems, the Dell Optiplex 9010 AIO ($2,592), which tilts and has a height adjustment, but doesn't pivot.
Above the screen there is a 2-megapixel webcam, which is optimized for Microsoft's Lync video conferencing system. You can order the EliteOne 800 without one, but if your business has specific privacy concerns then your user can close a manual shutter over the camera for privacy. There is also a manual shutoff for the system's built-in microphone in the row of touch sensitive buttons below the screen. The EliteOne 800 we reviewed came with a top-end Intel Core i7-4770S processor, 8GB of memory, 2GB AMD Radeon HD 7650A discrete graphics, DVD burner, and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD). This review system is configured with faster components than the base EliteOne 800 with touch screen that goes for $1,299. The EliteOne 800 we reviewed comes with a Windows 8 Pro license, which allows you or your IT folks to downgrade to Windows 7 Professional instead. This is a good fit for the mixed office or development department, where you may be running both operating systems in the same location.
The EliteOne 800 is well connected, with Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi networking. The system can be connected with plenty of peripherals like hard drives via the six USB 3.0 ports. Other I/O ports include a DisplayPort (for external multi-monitor support), a serial port (for older peripherals like cash register drawers), audio, and a pair of PS/2 ports in case your business still uses PS/2 mice and keyboards. The system we reviewed came with a HP wireless keyboard and mouse set with a USB dongle.
The front panel has a NFC (near-field communications) sensor, in case your business is starting to roll out NFC-enabled devices like smartphones or access cards. The back panel of the system is particularly IT friendly, since it lifts off after pushing a pair of simple switches. The back panel can be locked with a Kensington-compatible lock, which also keeps the system from walking away from users' desks. Once inside, IT service personnel can swap out hard drives, memory, and the optical drive. The stand can be removed so the EliteOne 800 can be mounted with a VESA mount on a wall or on an arm. Particularly determined techs can also install mini PCIe cards in the free slot. Upgrades to the processor or AMD Radeon MXM graphics card are best left to a service depot. The system comes with a standard three-year warranty.
The EliteOne 800's SSD and Intel Core i7-4770S processor combine to give the system excellent performance at the day-to-day PCMark 7 test. It beat out systems with the previous high end Core i7-3770S like the Lenovo ThinkCentre M92z and was in a dead heat with the Dell XPS 27 all-in-one Touch (2720), which has the same processor as the EliteOne 800. The Dell XPS 27 had better 3D performance on account of its consumer/enthusiast graphics card, but the rest of the benchmark tests were comparable. The EliteOne 800 edged out the Dell Optiplex 9010 AIO, and was also competitive with the Apple iMac 27-inch (Intel Core i5-4670) on the multimedia benchmark tests.
The HP EliteOne 800 bests the previous Editors' Choice Dell Optiplex 9010 AIO in terms of features (IT friendliness, SSD capacity, discrete graphics, NFC) and in speed. It fits in to the corporate look, rather than standing out like a consumer-grade system would. It's fast, serviceable, and works as a Windows 8 touch system or as a Windows 7 Pro system if your organization isn't ready for Win8 yet. That's the recipe for our latest Editors' Choice for business all-in-one desktops.
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Google Switzerland spent 10 hours and used 16,000 bricks to create this light installation for the Google Zurich office. Depending on the angle of the light, the pattern of the Lego bricks either reveals Yoda or Darth Vader. It's called "The Force", and it's a pretty amazing Lego hack. [John Mueller]
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By Ross Kaminsky, The American Spectator - October 28, 2013
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple's quarterly earnings are still sagging even as sales of its iPhones are rising, a vexing phenomenon feeding investor worries about whether stiffer competition in the mobile device market will continue to undercut the company's prosperity.
The fiscal fourth-quarter results announced Monday closed the books on a sobering year that saw Apple's market value plunge by about 25 percent, or about $160 billion. Apple Inc. remains the world's most valuable company, despite the downturn.
The company's earnings have been shrinking along with its share of the smartphone and tablet computer market that Apple reshaped with the 2007 release of the first iPhone and the 2010 introduction of the iPad. Apple hasn't come up with another breakthrough product in a new category since then, raising questions about the company's ability to innovate following the death of co-founder and chief visionary Steve Jobs two years ago.
Apple's earnings have now fallen from the previous year in three consecutive quarters after a decade of steady growth.
The Cupertino, Calif., earned $7.5 billion, or $8.26 per share, during the three months ending Sept. 28. That compared to income of $8.2 billion, or $8.67 per share, last year.
The latest quarterly earnings topped the average estimate of $7.92 per share among analysts polled by FactSet.
Revenue rose 4 percent to $37.5 billion — about $600 million above analyst predictions.
Investors were evidently hoping for a better showing and, perhaps, a more optimistic forecast for the current quarter, which covers the crucial holiday shopping season. Management predicted Apple's revenue will range from $55 billion to $58 billion in the quarter ending in late December. Analysts had projected revenue of $55.6 billion. Apple also indicated that its profit margins would be in the same range as the past quarter.
Apple's stock dipped $6.45, or about 1.2 percent, to $523.43 in extended trading after the numbers came out.
Activist investor Carl Icahn, who holds a 0.5 percent stake in Apple, is pressuring the company to spend $150 billion buying back its own stock in an effort to boost the price. His idea would more than double the $60 billion that Apple's board has budgeted for buying back stock during the next three years.
Apple apparently doesn't have any immediate plans to placate Icahn. CEO Tim Cook told analysts on a Monday conference call that the board won't announce any potential changes to its current program for buying back stock until early next year.
The latest quarter included early sales of the latest iPhones released last month.
The models consist of a 5S, a high-end version featuring a faster chip and a fingerprint reader, and the 5C, a slightly cheaper version that comes in a variety of brightly colored plastic cases. Apple didn't specify how many of each of the new models sold during the final week of the quarter.
The company sold 33.8 million iPhones in the past quarter, a 26 percent increase from the same time last year. But the prices for those iPhones averaged $577, a 7 percent decrease from an average price of $618 a year ago.
Apple's iPad sales edged slightly upward, with 14.1 million of the devices sold versus 14 million a year ago. The average price for an iPad slipped 14 percent to $439, a shift reflecting the growing popularity of a smaller version featuring an 8-inch display screen.
An update to the iPad Mini with a higher definition display screen and a higher price is scheduled to go on sale at a still-to-be determined date next month. At the same time, Apple is cutting the price of the original iPad Mini by $30 to $299. A thinner and lighter version of the full-sized iPad, called Air, will go on sale Friday.Associated PressSource: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/495d344a0d10421e9baa8ee77029cfbd/Article_2013-10-28-US-Earns-Apple/id-d12172a0afb9491d9e0ece05d4873a30
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I first met Lou Reed about 10 years ago, at a benefit in New York. Reed was sitting next to his partner, Laurie Anderson, and fiddling with a Palm Pilot. He was wearing a grey blazer covered with black furry patches, in a sort of random pattern, and tight blue jeans stuffed into black cowboy boots. I couldn’t help but peer over Reed’s furry shoulder—and his rather imposing mullet—watching him paging through menu screens on the PDA at an impressive clip. I thought of the black-and-white Velvet Underground poster that hung in my kitchen for years, and the image of Reed as a champion of down and dirty minimalism, of raw three-chord rock, and New York cool. And there he was, Mr. Rock ’n’ Roll Animal, fiddling with a Palm Pilot.
Reed was always a tech boffin, a part of his history that often gets glossed over. Read old interviews and he talks at excruciating length about the technical aspects of recording. “I spend a lot of time researching,” he told Simon Reynolds in 1992. “You could call it studying. I ask, ‘Why does digital do that? What's the analog-to-digital conversion process? Are the filters better now?’ It goes back to the wood in the guitar, which pickups to use.”
When I heard that Lou Reed died, I was in London, fiddling with a mobile phone as the streets filled with rain. I couldn’t believe that Reed was dead; he was an ur-text for rock ’n’ roll, for New York, for my childhood. By the time I was 17, my teenage friends and I had memorized every Velvets song; we knew all the outtakes, live versions, and B-sides. We covered our house in aluminum foil to get it to look like the Factory; we put a strobe light in the bathroom, where “Venus in Furs” played on loop. My friend Blake donned a handmade Andy Warhol wig and I practiced a Nico accent. Reed was like a family friend to us; we yelled at him through the stereo. We chuckled at songs like “Lady Godiva’s Operation,” relishing the moment when Reed’s voice cut in, complementing John Cale’s elegant Welsh lilt with the grace of a thousand heavy rocks. When we burned out on the VU, we tuned into David Bowie, and to Reed’s solo output—from Transformer to Berlin to The Blue Mask. My personal favorite was Reed’s critically panned 1975 opus Metal Machine Music.
The album—once denounced by Rolling Stone as the “tubular groaning of a galactic refrigerator”—was Reed’s masterpiece. It was Reed at his most aggressive—four sides of earsplitting feedback, spread over two LPs—and Reed at his nerdiest. Cale had turned Reed on to the power of the drone and to experimental electronic music, and Metal Machine Music was Reed’s ultimate synthesis of the two. “No Synthesizers,” Reed proudly proclaimed on the back of the LP, writing that the album displayed “drone cognizance and harmonic possibilities vis a vis Lamont [sic] Young’s Dream Music.” He told Lester Bangs that bits of Vivaldi, Beethoven, and other classical composers were embedded in its chaos. “This record is not for parties/dancing/background romance,” Reed wrote in the Metal Machine Music liner notes. “This is what I meant by "real" rock, about "real" things. No one I know has listened to it all the way through including myself. It is not meant to be.”
Metal Machine Music was Reed at his conceptual extreme. I still laugh at the last line of his snarling, obnoxious liner notes: “My week beats your year.”
I fell asleep to Metal Machine Music every night for years when I lived in New York City, harnessing the album’s punishing waves of feedback to drown out the cacophony of the streets below. After a while, I found the album soothing, even nourishing; there was something cosmic about it, something timeless. I somehow knew that Lou felt the same way. The only thing heavier than the feedback was the hubris—Metal Machine Music was Reed at his most ridiculous and conceptual extreme. I still laugh when I think of the last line of Reed’s snarling, obnoxious liner notes: “My week beats your year.”
Reed packed more life into those weeks than most of us ever will. I remember staring at his face in awe, studying those deep character lines and ridges, a face as tough as a piece of old leather.
“I really disliked school, disliked groups, disliked authority,” Reed once said. “I was made for rock ‘n’ roll.” It wasn’t an entirely true statement; as Slate’s Carl Wilson notes in his appreciation, Reed’s classes with the poet Delmore Schwartz at Syracuse University were central to his aesthetic, and he was most famous as part of a group. But part of Reed’s brilliance was in disliking almost everything—in cutting through the “glop”, as he would say, in distilling music down to its essence. He had little tolerance for bullshit. “Repetition is so fantastic, anti-glop,” Reed wrote in the pages of Aspen in 1966.
“Listening to a dial tone in Bb, until American Tel & Tel messed and turned it into a mediocre whistle, was fine. Short waves minus an antenna give off various noises, band wave pops and drones, hums, that can be tuned at will and which are very beautiful. Eastern music is allowed to have repetition…Andy Warhol's movies are so repetitious sometimes, so so beautiful. Probably the only interesting films made in the U.S. Rock-and-roll films. Over and over and over. Reducing things to their final joke. Which is so pretty.”
It wasn’t often that Reed called his own music pretty, but most of his music was pretty in spite of itself. The stark, brutal lyrics heightened the beauty; it made the moments of light feel lighter. “Just the verbal and musical zeitgeist that Lou created—the nature of his lyric writing had been hitherto unknown in rock, I think,” Bowie once said. “He gave us the environment in which to put a more theatrical vision. He supplied us with the street and the landscape, and we peopled it.”
By carving out all the negative space, Reed created the environment for thousands of bands to bloom. He stood for many things: New York City, minimalism, repetition, feedback, poetry, darkness. But most of all, he defined what rock ’n’ roll could be: not just for himself, but for all of us.
For more on Lou Reed, read Mark Joseph Stern on whether the singer was the first out rock star and Rob Wile on how Reed helped bring down communism in Eastern Europe. Also, check out this great PBS documentary on Reed.
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Alan Cheuse reviews Jeanette Winterson's latest book, The Daylight Gate, set in 17th Century England. The novel is set seven years after the undoing of the infamous Gunpowder Plot, in which Catholic terrorists attempted to blow up the House of Parliament of the anti-Papist King James I.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
With Halloween just around the corner, we have a review now of a ghoulish new novel from writer Jeanette Winterson. It's a dark thriller with a cast of characters that includes witches, an unforgettable spider and the devil himself.
Alan Cheuse has our review.
ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: The absolute forefront of British writing, that's where Jeanette Winterson, now in her mid-50's, has stood for me ever since I read her early fiction. She's a writer in the vanguard still, and moving against the traditional decorous nature of the British novel. Her latest work of fiction, a daring book called "The Daylight Gate," takes us back to the bloody raucous early English 17th century, where some seven years after the undoing of the infamous Gunpowder Plot, in which Catholic terrorists attempted to blow up the House of Parliament of the anti-Papist King James 1.
"The Daylight Gate" of the title is, like the novel itself, a membrane of time. On the other side of this gate, supposedly hell and the dark gentleman, otherwise known as the devil await. But in fact the ordinary English side of this gate is a hellish enough realm for Catholics. In the wake of the Gunpowder Plot many of them, accused of dabbling in magic and outre sexual liaisons, have already suffered hunger, prison, and physical torture in advance of being tried as witches and hanged.
Winterson's bold sentences and pithy but authentic scenes quickly build sympathy in the reader for the naysayers, the mad violated children, the same-sex lovers, and even one of the gunpowder plotters who has been emasculated by the king's torturers. This last fellow has taken refuge on the estate of a wealthy high-born Catholic woman named Alice Nutter, a master of falconry who doesn't appear to age. Weird, but she has some potion that keeps her looking young.
Roger Nowell, the local magistrate, likes that. He finds himself caught between his desire for the beautiful Alice and his devotion to his legal and political duties. Will Nowell's desire for Alice keep him from rounding her up with the other suspected witches? Will she give up the fugitive gunpowder plotter hiding in her house? Such are the matters at hand in this passion-charged work of fiction that - I really have to say it - flirts with greatness, a book that gives you the sensation that the novelist is trying to pull you over to the other side, or at least to help you peer across into the darkness
CORNISH: The book is "Daylight Gate" by Jeanette Winterson. Our reviewer Alan Cheuse teaches writing at George Mason University.
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