Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Posts Tagged / tablets

  • Jul 26 / 2014
  • 4

Tablets Are Doing Well

Oh, the poor desktop PC. First, the notebook overtook them in units sold. Then the smartphone did the same. Now it’s the tablet’s turn“The worldwide tablet grew 11.0% year over year in the second quarter of 2014 (2Q14) with shipments reaching 49.3 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker.
…Share outside the top 5 grew to an all time high as more and more vendors have made inroads in the tablet space. By now most traditional PC and phone vendors have at least one tablet model in the market, and strategies to move bundled devices and promotional offerings have slowly gained momentum.”

These are real people and organizations buying these tablets. The real PC is no longer a big box filled with air and fans, but a tiny energy-sipping small cheap computer running */Linux. OK, quite a few run iOS but iOS has certainly lost most of its early lead.

See Worldwide Tablet Market Grows 11% in Second Quarter on Shipments from a Wide Range of Vendors, According to IDC.

  • Jul 07 / 2014
  • 23

Gartner On Personal IT – 2013 to 2015

According to Gartner, the legacy PC shows little or no growth compared to tablets and smartphones. That makes sense:

  • the legacy PC is too expensive, noisy and it’s hard to maintain,
  • those small cheap computers allow most folks to do most tasks simply, and
  • they are portable. Yeah!

To put it into perspective, more small cheap computers will ship this year than all the legacy PCs that exist, by a factor of 1.2, and that factor is increasing, year to year. As the digital divide is being bridged, the legacy PC is falling into the chasm. No one is interested in buying a mainframe when a small cheap computer will do. That was true when the legacy PC came to be and it’s true today when the legacy PC can do more than most people need: drying hair, making noise, supplying unused expansion ports, taking up lots of room, wasting natural resources, costing several times as much to buy and to own, etc. The industry and the employment of huge resources for maintenance of the legacy PC is threatened. With it will die the mindshare and necessity for Wintel. */Linux on ARM can do the job better for a lot less money.

See Gartner Says Worldwide Traditional PC, Tablet, Ultramobile and Mobile Phone Shipments to Grow 4.2 Percent in 2014

  • Jun 19 / 2014
  • 25
Linux in Education, Teaching, technology

John C. Dvorak, Educational Luddite

The Luddites were folks who tried to destroy new technology threatening their old ways of doing things.“When tech enters the classroom, the usual result is money squandered. This was obviously the case with PLATO and it is quite apparent today with daffy educators suckered into going all-in with PCs and tablets.” John C Dvorak is an educational Luddite. He decries the use of IT in the classroom. He associates IT with distracting from the activities of teaching and learning.

That is so far wrong I am amazed. Education is about training brains to absorb information and to modify information and to present information. What IT does is to make that information faster and easier to find, modify, create and distribute. IT is a great lever to increase the efficiency of education. Nothing moves information around and manipulates it faster than IT. What books, paper and pens did for education hundreds of years ago, IT, particularly with small cheap computers, is accelerated many times over.

For example, consider a school’s library. I have been in modern and effective schools which had thousands of dead-tree books on shelves mostly sitting there being dead. Using the library meant students had to travel individually or in groups to the library possibly wasting 10 minutes. A card-index slowed students down more minutes. A few quick reads might find a suitable book in 30 minutes or so. A quantum of time in the educational system being 45 minutes meant a whole quantum was wasted before any useful work was done except learning how to do things inefficiently. Now compare that with schools having a server with ~100K books/articles/images or good access to the same on the WWW. Teach the student how to search once and they have a lifetime of information available as fast as they can read. By the time the dead-tree-worshiping school has a book in the hands of a student, the new student may already have made progress to acquiring important information. Google has gone around the world digitising books. Should schools ignore that body of knowledge they could not possibly acquire any other way? There are about 20 students for each teacher. How many of those few teachers are experts in any field in which a student needs/wants to learn? Books, digital or not, are the best teachers and just getting the students to the books makes them winners.

Still not convinced? Consider teaching students to write cogently. How many books on a particular topic should a student read to form some sound thoughts on the matter? One, ten, twenty,…? How many books can a single school at some location afford to own? A school is a far better place for learning by having 10 or 20 times as many ebooks as dead-tree books. Remember the class sets, the ones bought for more than $1K that get used for a few days or weeks and then go back into storage? Think how inefficient that is to hold back every student to the pace of the slowest reader and to have expensive resources sitting unused. With one PC per child, everyone can be reading/learning at their rate all day. That’s optimal for every student who can read. Johnny can’t read? The PCs give the teacher more time to teach him. It’s parallel processing. It works. Schools should use it.

What is wasteful in educational IT is use of Wintel everywhere. The big old desktops were just too large for classrooms designed in the days of dead trees. The small cheap computers running FLOSS on ARM and wirelessly networked are custom-made for education.

One last example. Education is a building process. Each individual adds to his knolwedge one brick at a time. That’s a rate-limited process and can be improved. Suppose the work of all students was preserved/published/distributed so that each student not only benefits from the knowledge and experience of his teachers but also from other students in the building and students and teachers previously in the building or in the educational system. With networking, databases and search-engines, every school can be an inspiring space, not a box. Students who are motivated and challenged by their peers are vastly superior learners and that motivation can be magnified by IT. In communities where I worked, I put wikis on the servers so students could find stuff related to their families/communities rather than just “the world” out there. How many dead tree books are relevant to students, written by someone in a faraway place with a different dialect and vocabulary and published on some stranger’s dead trees? Try teaching reading and writing in English to aboriginal students who live in their local dialect. Try teaching them to read and to write about the people and places they know. See the difference? No one wants to learn stuff that is irrelevant. IT brings relevance to every school and student and a connection to the rest of the world in a way that dead tree books don’t. Economics, space, freight all make that impossible.

Education with IT bridges the digital divide giving every student everywhere an equal opportunity to learn. IT, in itself, does not replace teachers and is not about education, but IT is a far better tool than what most schools have used for centuries. Folks who decry IT in schools are Luddites, trying to hold back a tide of knowledge, knowledge of people, places and things but also new ways of solving problems and indeed examples of real problems that inspire students to learn. Most of my education was accomplished in the early years with dead trees and it worked but you know what I remember best? Examples my teachers brought in of new and interesting stuff, nothing from all those dead trees. Where teachers can manage to bring in dozens of memorable things, IT can bring in millions. Present them all. Let the students sort them out.

See Classrooms Need to Ditch PCs, Tablets.

  • Jun 17 / 2014
  • 2

Yes, Virginia, Smartphones Are Real PCs

One line the trolls use to try to restrain or to demean the idea of the smartphone and other small cheap computers being the “new PC” is that to do real work one needs a hair-drying big expensive piece of hardware to get “real” work done.“Using a piece of paper with a specially printed grid and a regular smartphone, Rendor may have just cracked the 3D scanning code. The system allows you to create a 3D scan of almost any object simply by taking video of it from every angle. The program interpolates the shape of the object based on how it is positioned on the grid and then generates a usable 3D file.” Here’s the counter-example that kills that attack. Replica Labs will soon release software for Android/Linux that runs on smartphones and does the kind of work that needed a mainframe in the “old days” or a powerful expensive hot noisey box a decade ago.

Now, though, small cheap computers are very powerful and 3D calculations and 3D interpolations are child’s play. OK, so it’s a cheat, but that’s just smart IT, isn’t it?
“How it Works
1. Download the application and print out a scanning grid HERE.
2. Place the object to be scanned on the grid (make sure some circles are showing).
3. Open the Rendor App, press “Scan”, and take a video of the object from as many angles as possible.
4. Once that’s done, click “Submit” to send the scan off to the Rendor servers for processing.
5. You’ll receive your rendering in a minute or less via email (depending on your internet connection).”

Using Wintel with all its costs is not smart. FLOSS on small cheap computers is the right way to do IT.

See Rendor Turns Your Single-Camera Smartphone Into A Real 3D Scanner.

  • Jun 16 / 2014
  • 14

Government of China Bursts M$’s Patent-bubble

M$ has been taxing Android/Linux distributors by threatening legal suits over software patents. “A list of hundreds of patents that Microsoft believes entitle it to royalties over Android phones, and perhaps smartphones in general, has been published on a Chinese language website.” For years, M$ has not bothered to publicize the patents in question because fear is a powerful motivator. Thanks to inquiries in China, a list is now public. This will permit M$’s competitors to organize a cooperative response rather than suffering under “divide and conquer” conditions.

For a start, one of the patents in question is for differential GPS, something that has been known for decades… This is another example of re-patenting the wheel, something that is supposed to be blocked by USPTO but is not. OEMs have been paying up because it’s cheaper than taking on a patent-troll in court. If all the OEMs get together they could sue M$ collectively and cause the empire to crumble. What’s it worth to clog the courts for a decade to drive these bastards from the market? $50 million? It would be a bargain rather than paying $billions in “royalties” to extortionists.

See Chinese gov’t reveals Microsoft’s secret list of Android-killer patents.

  • Jun 16 / 2014
  • 0

Photovoltaic Panels Reach New Low Price

In emerging markets like Africa, IT is sometimes available before electrical utilities. In such cases, silicon solar panels serve to run battery-chargers to keep the small cheap computers, lamps and networking devices running. Only a year ago, prices were ~$1 per watt. Lately, prices have reached as low as $0.40 per watt. Here’s an example of an advertised price of $0.54 per watt. A national or local government can readily import container-loads of these panels and distribute them to communities at far lower cost than running transmission lines all over. Combined with small cheap computers and wireless networking, this makes IT affordable almost everywhere. The next billion users of IT are queued up and free to choose other than Wintel for their IT because electrical power, the last barrier to entry has been breeched.

See also, an example of communities being installed of solar power in schools and clinics:
and another

  • May 22 / 2014
  • 7

The War Between M$ And OEMs Heats Up

I wrote earlier about M$’s tablet. It’s bigger than I thought. Not only is M$ losing money on its tablet and being ignored by consumers.“the Surface Pro 3 delivers no killer punch to either Cupertino or Mountain View.
Worse, it’s a call to war by Microsoft on PC makers because Microsoft actually sees the Surface Pro 3 as a laptop killer. Panay on Tuesday called Surface Pro 3 “the tablet that can replace the laptop.””
The more M$ pushes its tablet the more it alienates OEMs. Could this be the year they rebel and refuse to ship M$’s products? Lenovo, for instance, believes it can thrive no matter what’s happening in the market. Could such confidence leave M$ in the dust?

Just dreaming of a perfect world…

See PC makers! You, between Microsoft and the tablet market! Get DOWN!.

  • May 21 / 2014
  • 1

Tablet PC Market Has Matured

The tablet PC was a technology waiting to happen a few years ago. It took off in the market and for a while suppliers and retailers could barely keep up with the demand.“tablet PC display shipments are expected to reach 342M in 2014″ According to DisplaySearch, we are now in a mature phase where a multi-year rise in production has levelled off and supply has met demand. From now on, the market should grow at more easily managed rates with lots of upside with emerging markets in Africa, Asia and South America.

The market is healthy with products in every price-range and a multitude of suppliers making enough money to continue. While several large companies have the lion’s share of the business, there is lots of business for the smaller operators. China is the boiler-factory but tablets are produced in many other countries because the technology is widely available and so is software. This is how the PC market should have been all along if it weren’t for M$’s bullying.

See For the First Time, Tablet PC Panel Shipments Decline Y/Y.

  • May 20 / 2014
  • 34

For $163 OEMs Can Have An 8-core ARMed CPU

According to Digitimes, that’s the going price of 8 cores of ARM.“The 8-core CPUs have been in volume production for over six months, with prices of 8-core smartphone now falling under CNY1,000 (US$163), and therefore the adoption of 8-core chips may not be able to effectively lift up smartphone prices in the end market” I remember running whole computer-labs on less CPU power (my first 30-seat LTSP lab had a single 32-bit core of Intel at 1.8 gHz). Folks are putting this in a smartphone.

Intel has responded to such pressure by supplying Atom processors at ever-lower power-consumption and prices. They are now competitive in tablets. The other half of Wintel is still floundering though trying to sell the OS for less on small devices and more for big devices. How many need big devices? Chuckle. Hint: It’s not the size of the device that matters for most of us. It’s the price. Not many care what OS runs on it as long as they can figure it out. Lock-in is almost gone for consumers and many businesses.

  • May 12 / 2014
  • 0

White-box Tablet Shipments Approach 100 Million Per Annum

Those small cheap computers are keeping the big guys honest.“There were 20.4 million white-box tablets shipped globally in the first quarter of 2014, decreasing by 27.4% on quarter and by 2.4% on year, according to Digitimes Research. … Of the shipments, 7-inch models accounted for 70.5%, 7.85/7.9-inch ones 21.3%, 8- to 9-inch ones 4.2%, above 9- to 10-inch 2.9%, above 10-inch 1.1%.” This is not like Wintel where a couple of suppliers controlled everything about IT for decades, and charged way more than market-price. Wintel kept demanding OEMs ship bigger and more powerful units. Now the world is demanding and getting what it wants, tons of small cheap computers. In fact, the small guys and their small cheap computers are eating the big guys’ lunches. At the same time, everyone is making some money and the consumer benefits in a big way. We will never see another client OS monopoly in IT again.

See Global white-box tablet shipments down in 1Q14.

  • Apr 22 / 2014
  • 13

Intel Desperately Struggles To Maintain Relevance Against ARM

Intel, despite Moore’s Law advantages, and serious price-cutting, still has difficulty competing against ARM.“Intel is currently offering its dual-core Atom Z2520 for 7-inch models and Atom 3735G for 8-inch ones, while MediaTek is mainly pushing solutions such as 8382 for the white-box tablet market, the sources said.
Intel’s 7-inch tablet solution is currently priced at about US$20 and the 7.85-inch one around US$27. With a LTE module, which raises the overall cost by about US$20, a 7-inch Intel-based white-box tablet currently has an ex-factory price of about US$50, the sources detailed.
A 3G white-box tablet using MediaTek’s solution has a competitive ex-factory price of US$39.9, the sources added.”
They even have ASUS going exclusively with Intel thanks to huge discounts.

OEMs are paying attention. They will demand similar sharp price-cuts for desktop/notebook PCs and M$’s price will stick out like a sore thumb. GNU/Linux, here we come…

See Intel, MediaTek become favorites in China white-box tablet industry.

  • Feb 27 / 2014
  • 5

Android/Linux Overtakes XP on Weekends

The title says it all. Folks are using their Android/Linux smartphones a lot everywhere, even at work. Same with tablets. The personal computer has been redefined by consumers, employees, everyone but the sycophants of Wintel. The small cheap computers flooding the markets are computers and people, real people, love them. They are personal. Since “7″ is on borrowed time and declining while Android/Linux usage shows higher growth than M$’s other offerings, it looks like in a year or two, Android/Linux will be the top dog in a sea of “others”.

Speaking of others, they are a fragmented mess with none able to gain huge share. Even the OS with few salesmen, GNU/Linux, trumps M$’s Phoney OS. It looks as if the future will soon be Android/Linux with a huge share and everyone else getting something like a few percent each. iOS is losing ground to Android/Linux. The only thing that’s sure is that there is competition for operating systems on retail shelves, something we did not have a few years ago. It’s all good.

“Linux server demand continued to be positively impacted by cloud infrastructure deployments, as hardware revenue increased 14.4% year over year to $4.1 billion in 4Q13. Linux servers now represent 28.5% of all server revenue, up 4.6 points when compared with the fourth quarter of 2012.”I do have fond memories of each new PC being more powerful than the one before but I don’t miss the fact that Wintel sucked up that power every few years pressuring people to buy anew. Apparently more CPU power will shift to servers/clouds. We have plenty on the small cheap computers for doing everything but drying hair. According to IDC, GNU/Linux is doing great on servers.