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Accepting the inevitable; John Ottini on the changing attitudes of developers

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HPC noobie
HPC noobie Page Icon Posted 2005-07-12 10:41 PM
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hi guys..i was wandering the internet looking for some Linux on HPC hardware and i found this website http://www.jlime.com/
for those trying to get linux on their Jornadas. I've read that it is stable and fast and that the touchscreen capability works once you've calibrated it. Hope i've helped someone.
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takwu Page Icon Posted 2005-07-12 10:51 PM
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H/PC Elder

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pengyou Page Icon Posted 2005-07-17 2:32 AM
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H/PC Philosopher

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It seems to me that we live in a world that is binary, not only referring to the fact that we all use and love computers but that we tend to think about problems in terms of solution A and solution B. This problem is really more of a 3 dimensional problem and not 2.

First of all, technology marches on and, in the computer age, today's computer is already out of date. 3 years later the average person must toss it because they don't have the savy to tinker with it, even though, with a little bith of knowledge it could still provide years more of useful life. I am still a newbie on this forum but most of the H/pc's I hear discussed on this forum are not today's machine, not even yesterday's machine but seem to be models that are 2-3 years old which puts them in the hands of us people who love to "tinker" or are satisified with what the device will do without having to tinker. Our issue is the same issue that people with notebooks and desktops have. Technology is forced to move on for fear that we will somehow or other "get behind" everyone else. I was just reflecting on how many new accessories there are out now for notebooks and desktops and I think the main reason for this is that the slowed release of new processor technology has allowed developers time to make the products more useful. The H/PC has not had this luxury. I applaud the person earlier who suggested putting software into some kind of trust.

Instead of fighting the battle that already seems to be lost - because of copyright and $$$ - maybe we should try to create a new future for H/PC's so that 3 years from now the three year old H/PC will be so common that people will still be willing to support them? I saw a new product announcement on the web yesterday. It was an LCD computer monitor with the computer built right into it! It was about 3/4" thicker than a normal LCD, contained an internal DVD player/writer and came with a wireless keyboard. How much cheaper would a device like this be with a H/PC OS on it? What about H/PC devices for education? For deprived areas of the country/world? Disabled people? Is another fundamental problem with the advancement of H/PC's that there is not enough money to be made in software sales? I know that when a new version of Windows comes out it usually sells for $300, then ultimately comes down to about $100. Office is usually about $300, bringing the total price of this software alone to $400. Acceptable prices for games seem to be $40 to $50 whereas a hearty home application can justify $60-80 or more. I know that from the beginning, it has always been perceived that H/PC and PPC software should be relatively inexpensive, probably because the devices are much smaller. I remember the outrage expressed on a forum once when the first software developer released a CE program with a retail price of more than $100! It would certainly seem that it is more lucrative to not only develop PC software but to also maintain it as well.

Can H/PC's with more powerful but general purpose processors be developed to provide good home entertainment features? Controlling home applicances, lights, alarms, etc? I know that I am probably rambling a bit now...but if a hardware "core" were developed and left to open source developers to create applications for them...but then we return to something akin to Linux. One of the benefits of a H/PC or a PPC is that they can be charged, turned on and then used immediately. This is what most of my friends who have H/PC's or PPC's do. If you change this why would people buy one? The few mfg of H/PC are selling them new at $700 or more. You can get a notebook for that. If you wanted to dream and get something with much more flexibilty, at the extreme, can you imagine an H/PC with interchangeable video cards, CF controllers and output devices? But then we arrive at a miniature desktop system or subnotebook....But that is not what most of the folks who buy the H/PC want. Also, I think all mfg's of mobile devices have long since abandoned the idea of socketed cpu's, etc because it becomes a liability for something that moves around and vibrates.

To make matters worse, too many things are proprietary in H/PC's. With many H/PC's for example, if you want to connect an external monitor to them you have to buy a special cable. Some come with it standard, some require you to pay an extra $30-40 for it and if it breaks or get lost a year or two later there is no way to replace it because it is not made anymore. Why can't designers reengineer the pda so that they use a standard VGA port? Yes, I know that the H/PC is smaller...but if it were a priority it could be done. I would wager to say that batteries would be only %30 of present cost if manufacturers would choose a battery from a standard set - maybe have a consortium come together to endorse 5 or 6 different designs.

I think...if a mfg could make a H/PC and sell it for about 40% of the price of a laptop they could find a willing market to buy it. "40%" may not be the correct number - that is where good marketing comes in. You can buy a brand new notebook computer with a version of a P4 chip for around $700. You can buy one that weighs 2.5-3 pounds for about $1,100. For an extra $200 you can buy a universal batter that will make it last 6 hours, maybe not as long as a brand new H/PC but more than enough time for most people. Besides the new H/PC sells for almost $ 1,000, only a few hundred dollars less than the notebook. Why would anyone want to buy an H/PC when they can buy a notebook? The average person who uses a computer is, please forgive me, somewhere between an idiot and "dangerous" in knowledge. In the first couple of years of H/PC history the H/PC operating thought system was not standardized across the industry and certainly didn't very well fit the desktop system. I think people still have that image about H/PC's and prefer to buy something that they think has a standardized setup so that they can ask their friends or colleagues for help, or go online to any of a coulple hundred forums that can give them anonymous help, so that their macho image need not be shattered by the need to ask someone how to use spell check in their WP.

But i return to my point. If an H/PC could be made cheaply enough with generic parts and a simple OS that was common with all other H/PC and fit the PC style of thinking people would buy it. Isn't that what Commodore did with the C64? Also, there was GEOS (excuse me if the name is mispelled) put out more than a dozen years ago. GEOS was a combination OS and applications that worked like windows - 3.x at the time - and felt like windows so people could easily learn how to use it but it WASN'T Windows so there were no outrageous license fees to pay. That is why China is developing their own standards for digital video, audio and telecom. BTW, they are also pushing full speed ahead with Linux development. They realize that if they have their own standards they don't have to pay the fees...but also, they can charge foreign companies an arm and a leg to use their standards. I think it is possible to do this with PDA's of any flavor, if you found a way to get rid of some or all of the licensing fees and proprietary parts. That was one of the reasons why the Palm was cheaper than CE devices. Hmmmm there is a lot of talk about porting DOS and desktop windows to a H/PC...why not use something like GEOS? Or Linux?

Maybe the bottom line is "what do you want"? I love my mobile devices, especially my Casio PA 2400. I bought it because I was content with the limitations it has. I wanted a pda with a big screen. Now the only thing I am trying to do is to get it hooked up to a G3 mobile/cell phone so that I can connect anywhere....if I can do that, it will be enough.

My two "bits" worth

Edited by pengyou 2005-07-17 2:51 AM
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