Monday, January 31, 2011

Intel finds flaw

On January 9th of this year(2011) Intel released its second generation of the i series processors, with Sandy Bridge micro-architecture. With the introduction of these new 32nm processors a new chipset was required to make them work, and being there are no third party chipsets that are compatible with the Sandy Bridge editions of the i3s i5s or i7s the only viable option is what is referred to as "Cougar Point" inside Intel. With these chipsets  a major flaw has been discovered, it has to due with the Serial ATA ports in your computer which typically connect your hard drive to your mother board. This defect has halted production and caused a billion dollar recall.
The problem that's caused Intel to initiate a billion-dollar chipset recall affects the SATA ports on all 6-series chipsets, including the H67 and P67 chipsets most prominently used in consumer products. All of these chipsets are collectively referred to as "Cougar Point" inside of Intel. Because there are no third-party chipsets compatible with Sandy Bridge processors, all Sandy Bridge-based systems are potentially affected, including desktops, laptops, and DIY motherboards. 

 Beside the obvious inconvenience and bad PR, this little slip-up will cost Intel quite a bit of money, too. The firm expects to see a $300-million dent in first-quarter revenue (since full volume production of 6-series chipsets won't resume until April), not to mention $700 million in total repair and replacement costs.
With the need for such a major recall Intel is going to lose over a billion dollars in a new chipset, replacing the recalled chipsets, and repairing damage to mother boards and other computer components of the unsuspecting consumers who went out and purchased the new generation of six core processors. This overall will stain the companies image and reliability which will cause a massive drop in sales and a inversely proportional rise in the sales of companies such as AMD. With this change in consumer consumption Intel's first quarter profits for the year will either be extremely low or will even report a loss. Also this puts extra pressure on the company's consumers. Not only do they have to worry about getting their computers in for the recall, they must also worry about replacing them. Most likely causing a almost complete rebuild of their system. Intel's failure to notice this problem during testing could also be related toward the Microsoft Windows Vista failure a year or so back. This just further proves why it is crucial for companies to beta test their products for an extended period of time when working in unfamiliar territories such as 32nm architecture. Yes it will cost them more money up front, but it removes the potential of billion dollar recalls which are detrimental to a company.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

World's Most Economical Car

Here's the breakdown, Volkswagen made a hybrid car that is the most economical car, which runs on a diesel engine and an electric motor. Plugging it into a regular electric outlet at home can also charge the lithium ion battery. The body is made out of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer parts to lower drag. See Here

Volkswagen says the XL1 hybrid consumes 0.9 liters per 100 km (313 mpg) and its CO2 emissions are 24 g/km. It can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 11.9 seconds, and its top speed is electronically limited to 160 km/h (99 mph).

Let's just assume that these stats are completely accurate, if they are then this probably is the world's most economical car. The demand for oil will definitely decrease in the UK and Germany seeing as the release of the car is in those two countries by 2013. 313 miles per gallon is absolutely ridiculous, but that's only if you charge the car at night or whenever. Just a few downsides to point out here, the rear tires seem like a complete hassle to change along with getting snow or ice out of them. This car probably takes up a ridiculous amount of electricity if it gets 313 miles per gallon. If one is fine with paying for a higher electric bill and being more nature friendly than paying for gas, then by all means roll with it. At least the car will make a large enough impact in the UK or Germany in demand for gas that the suppliers will send more to the U.S.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Egypt's Web Shutdown

According to cnn Egypt has begun to shutdown access to communication sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Some are reporting that entire areas are without access to the internet completely. It is believed that Egypt's government is coordinating the shutdowns in retaliation to the recent riots occurring from the people wanting to remove their dictator, Hosni Mubarak.

This is not only hurting the local economy of Egypt, but it is hurting our economy as well. The Egyptian economy will take a hit from this because companies lose ad space and will start to lose business therefore less money will be spent locally. Our economy will be hurt because internet providers and social websites that use ads to make a profit will no longer have access to the people therefore they won't make any money and so they will have less to spend in our country. Cell phone providers have also been told to halt there services, until further notice by authorities, which means that they will be taking a hit economically for the same reasons as the internet providers. A bunch of the landlines have stopped working as well which makes for a major inconvenience for everyone since phones have become all but necessary in modern day. With all of these forms of media and social interaction not functioning the riots should come to an end quite soon, since most of the planning and preparation has been done using the internet. Hopefully these riots can be quelled quickly enough so as to prevent an economic backlash in both Egypt and the US.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Innovation Revelation

The July/August issue of the CEA's Vision magazine reveals some interesting details about the gaming industry including a $16.51 billion rise in shipment revenue this year.

The interactive magazine (accessible via the CEA website) also discusses gamer/consumer trends such as gamers buying into 'franchise titles' such as Halo and Mario Kart, the rise in accessory purchases for our consoles and digital delivery of video games through websites like Steam.

The gaming industry has always relied on new innovation in game play and fresh new ideas to keep consumers coming back. Unfortunately for gaming developers and publishers in this tough economic time, they can't afford to gamble. With hit franchises like Call of Duty and Halo selling record numbers, video game publishers just aren't as willing to risk creating a new intellectual property. Developers are being pushed to develop their main franchises because of publishers stubbornness. Take the publisher Activision for example. Activision has some of the top franchises in gaming, including Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, and the Tony Hawk series. As the years have progressed Activision has pushed the developers of these titles to churn out one game every year. In the gaming industry it usually takes around a two to three year cycle to create a quality game. By forcing their developers to finish new titles in only a twelve month span, Activision has seen its revenues fall and its heavy hitting franchises reduced to a shadow of what they once were. With executives like Bobby Kotick running things it seems as though these frivolous precedents will continue for years to come. For the gaming industry it seems like until the economy improves and gaming is on the rise, all bets are off.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cold Fusion?

To start he is the definition of cold fusion: " the hypothetical near-room-temperature reaction in which two smaller nuclei join together to form a single larger nucleus while releasing large amounts of energy."

Recently in Bologna, Italy, a small group of scientists claimed to have perfected a small, near cold fusion reactor as seen depicted here. This reactor takes 1000watts of power, hydrogen, and nickel to get started. Once the reaction has begun, the power is reduced from 1000watts to 400watts where is it remains to maintain the reaction. 

"Rossi and Focardi say that, when the atomic nuclei of nickel and hydrogen are fused in their reactor, the reaction produces copper and a large amount of energy. The reactor uses less than 1 gram of hydrogen and starts with about 1,000 W of electricity, which is reduced to 400 W after a few minutes. Every minute, the reaction can convert 292 grams of 20°C water into dry steam at about 101°C. Since raising the temperature of water by 80°C and converting it to steam requires about 12,400 W of power, the experiment provides a power gain of 12,400/400 = 31. As for costs, the scientists estimate that electricity can be generated at a cost of less than 1 cent/kWh, which is significantly less than coal or natural gas plants."

With this use of common easy to find materials and the high ratio of energy used to energy produced this type of energy generation becomes highly profitable drastically changing the price of electricity. Also being that this type of nuclear reaction does not produce radioactive waste it would be possible to build such a device for your own personal use with the correct type of radiation shields. With this availability of cheaper, less pollutant and safe way to not only make electricity but also create copper. I can see this causing an effect to both the energy market and to the copper market, with its currently high price and this new way of creating copper it is safe to assume that the price of copper will drop. This one device could and probably will change the common trade of electricity and minerals due to the theology behind supply and demand. With the two materials needed to start and maintain this reaction having a higher demand the companies that gather and sell these minerals will raise the price. With more people wanting these elements, they can get away with overcharging as long as people will pay for it. In addition the supply of these elements will dwindle faster being the frequency and amount of uses has risen. The lower the supply and higher the demand the more the item costs. Then you have the output of this reaction, energy and copper. Currently there is a scarcity of copper in the world. Not only is the supply of this mineral low, yet the demand is extremely high being it is used for electrical wires and tubing for certain chemicals. It is even among one of the items/materials upon the list of most stolen objects. With this noted, when these type of reactors are put into mass operation or even used in small amounts the element copper will have a higher supply, and it will also be a high value of copper being it will be 100% pure copper. With an enriched supply of high grade copper and demand that is not changing or predicted to change drastically you can assume the price will drop. Being that people are no longer competing to get a small amount of copper, they are simply sharing a large abundance they will be less willing to pay high amounts for the substance.

The end result is not only will this cold fusion reaction cause the price of energy to drop being we have a new, cheaper, and more efficient way of producing it. It will have a trickle-down effect causing a change in the cost for several other materials. So not only will this change the energy market, yet also will change the world mineral exchange. 

Light up Power Cord

So, according to CNN there's a power cord that lights up when electricity flows through it. This is suppose to show when the chord is actually transferring electricity to an electronic device for example the iPhone which will be release February.
Think about the "vampire electronics" in your kitchen -- all of those blenders, coffee pots, toasters and toaster ovens that are sucking down power simply because they're plugged into an outlet. These electronics gobble an estimated 5% to 10% of all the electricity used in U.S. homes, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

This sounds like a pretty solid idea. Simply unplugging some appliances in the house if they are "vampire electronics" could save a great deal of money in electric bills. I really don't see a downside to something like this other than that the product is faulty or defective. I mean sure the electric companies might lose some profit here and there, but economically overall it can do nothing but good. People will save some money and will be able to use those savings to go buy stuff. Which in turn just keeps the ball rolling in the market.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Plans for the Boeing 737

According to an article in business week Boeing is planning on changing the design of their 737, which is famously the only plane that Southwest Airlines operates. The 737 is also famous for being very simple to maintain and fly. The change in design hasn't been officially announced, but Boeing has stated that they will be improving the fuel economy of the plane, perhaps at the cost of simplicity of maintenance and operation. The improvement in fuel economy will hopefully enable the airline to cut prices and operate more efficiently. But the added complexity could create a scarcity of pilots capable of flying the plane. If the scarcity of pilots increases and the demand stays the same the price of a ticket would increase. The same goes for complex maintenance. Just like the scarcity of pilots increases so would the scarcity of mechanics. Mechanics would demand higher wages if the skill required to maintain the planes increases. All of which translates to less efficiency for the first year or so after the switch. Changing to a more fuel conscious jet would pay off in the long run because after a while the training will become standard and will be expected in pilots and mechanics. Because the initial cost will lessen over time the choice to change to a more fuel efficient plane is more profitable than the next best thing which is to keep using the same plane.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Solar-Powered "Smart" Roads

Everyone loves a good snow day, but few realize just how much it costs the government. The total cost, annually, is in the billions which includes extra school days, use of snow clearing vehicles, damage to streets, etc. The proposed streets, yet to be tested and proposed by Scott Brusaw, would be made of a strong glass and have internal heating units that would be powered via solar energy.

These streets are both a good and a bad idea in an economical view. They're good in the sense that the government would be paying glass companies quite a bit of money to replace the streets and in the long run would theoretically spend less money, because they wouldn't need the snow clearing vehicles. The bad thing is that asphalt companies would most likely all but go out of business without the government needing their services, which would hurt the economy because money wouldn't be getting pumped into it by the government. With asphalt companies shut down all the workers would lose their jobs and their paychecks. This whole ordeal would mean that less people are spending money, hurting the economy. With over 3 million miles of highway in the US the impact would be quite severe given how many workers are needed to maintain the upkeep of those roads. Overall I think that the idea of these green roads is cool, but I don't think our nations economy is quite ready to have all those people unemployed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What will become of Apple?

Can you imagine a peanut butter sandwich without the jelly? It's a tough sell for two ingredients that have been wedded for so long.
That's part of the challenge Apple now faces with Steve Jobs' decision to take another medical leave of absence and hand over the day-to-day operations to Tim Cook, the company's chief operating officer.

With Jobs leaving Apple again, how big an impact will Apple make in the future? With Jobs at the helm, Apple has grown to become one of the most successful companies on the planet. Apple products like the iPod and iPhone have revolutionized the way we listen to music and use the phone forever. The Mac is another popular device that allowed Apple to edge in on the personal computer market. Jobs was at the forefront of leading Apple into the future of technology as we know it and his absence will surely take away from their out of the box way of producing products people love. There is no doubt that Apple will still be a powerhouse in the industry, but will they be able to continue to lead the pack when it comes to new technological innovation? Estimates put Apple's stock second only to Exxon Mobil, so what's the problem? With the announcement of Jobs leaving, Apple has already seen a drop in its stock. Some investors seem to think that Jobs' departure is a sign of bad things to come for the company. The future for Apple looks bright, but can they keep their core happy?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Prospects for Lunar Mining

 Is it possible to have a lunar settlement on the moon?  Lunar geologist Paul Spudis believes it is. He has suggested a plan to the Obama administration to return to the moon. In this plan it has a way to offset the costs of such a expedition such as a robotic lunar mining base. Yet Mike Wall, wrote on a article on how such an operation digs up legal issues. Then there is the matter of protecting your mining claim or transporting the resources back to Earth. 

With the discovery of large amounts of water, helium and other rare earth elements on the moon there is potentially new lunar race on the horizon. This race would cause a massive amounts of funding to be transferred from programs in current use by many world governments to this lunar race. Such as Europe’s race to the new land now America or the race to colonize in Africa. While at the same time as being a huge economic drain this could reduce the cost of many goods which could be good for the consumer. If this lunar race takes off the entire world economy will be changed in a drastic move.

The probability of this happening in the near future is low being the legislation pointed out by Mike Wall shows that it is illegal to claim land on the moon so that puts the resources into a gray zone. These legal boundaries stand in place and could potentially prevent this new space race from happening. Will the world governments decide to create new legislation to allow this to provide a new economic region? Only time will tell, till then this huge economic game changer will loom on the table with a huge potential to re-write modern economics with the vast amounts of Land to be added into the market.

Profit-Sharing Bonuses for Autoworkers

Mark Reuss of GM North American unit says that he's trying to get bonuses tied to profits for autoworkers.
Reuss said the bonus payments wouldn't necessarily be tied to just profits, but could also reward vehicle quality. He's already talked to the new United Auto Workers President Bob King about including it in the new contract when the current pact expires in September. He suggested the union boss is open to such a change.

It's obvious that General Motors and Ford is trying to maximize efficiency from workers to have not just quantity but top quality. What of the people who don't care, are too lethargic, too lazy to try hard, work at minimum efficiency and screw over everyone else? Are there any downs to this new contract that GM is trying to pass in their contracts? Will the efforts and efficiency of the workers create max profit?
Overall, it is a great idea to give bonuses based on profit, but it depends on how GM and Ford choose to manage this. Let's just assume this does work and this helps GM and Ford create more jobs that work the auto line, in the end it'll bring good things to everyone. Jobs will be created for more people as demands increase and GM and Ford can't supply with their current work forces. The workers get payed more because of their max effort; this may strengthen the American dollar as economy gets better if more jobs are created.
As optimistic as this all sounds, there probably are some repercussions to all or some factors that may affect this nice idea. Again it all depends on how GM and Ford choose to manage the given bonuses and what not.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Blow to the Australian Economy

Earlier this year the most devastating flood ever to hit Australia soaked 30,000 homes and businesses. In some places the water is up to 4 meters deep. Along with the destruction of the homes and businesses, the flood damaged the Great Barrier Reef, one of the most successful tourist attractions in Australia. The Industry will likely experience a $100 million loss. The tourism industry in Australia represents 3.9% of it's GDP. The $100 million in tourism is only minor compared to the loss of $10 billion (almost 1 percent of the GDP). This is a bigger impact than Hurricane Katrina in the US. The flood also brought mining to a complete halt in parts of Queensland. Australia is the number 2 exporter of gold and uranium so we can expect the price of gold to rise for a short time because of the increase in scarcity until the mines are repaired. Economist Stephen Walters predicts that since Australia is currently riding a resources boom driven by Asian demand it should be back on it's feet by the second half of 2011.
As a result there will be a decline in growth of Australia's economy because for the next few years alot of the capital that would normally be spent on expansion and improving efficiency will be spent on repairs and the land that used to contain buildings or crops will need alot of labor to be repaired.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gift Card Exchange

If you have ever gotten a gift card that you felt you couldn't use or just plain didn't want, well now there's an easy solution. Instead of having to pawn off the gift card to a friend or relative you can now sell it online to get credit for another store or even cash.

So how does it work? It's simple really, if you are willing to give up a few dollars then a company, such as Plastic Jungle, will buy the gift card from you. After checking online to see how much your card is worth you can request a prepaid envelope be sent to your address. Once you get your prepaid envelope, you place your gift cards inside and mail them in. After the company verifies the cards they will give you a credit so that you can buy different gift cards off of their site or send you cash if you so choose. Because of the simplicity of the process, it has been very easy for the company to make money seeing as they sold over $10 million in gift cards within the last year.

As the popularity of these sites have grown more and more competition has started to emerge. Since Plastic Jungle was first created in 2006 several other sites have popped up like and CardWoo. With this competition and the possibility of crooks using the site to spend money that isn't theirs it has become a little harder for these businesses to make money, but I don't think they are hurting too much as of right now. I think that this area of the market isn't very big and if new businesses keep showing up it will put a lot of strain on all of them, because there just won't be enough demand for their services.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Digital Distribution overtakes Retail

EA CEO John Riccitiello, one of the biggest advocates for the rising dominance of digitally distributed games, told IndustryGamers that he expects digital sales to exceed sales made in the retail space this year -- he predicted digital distribution would account for half of all game sales in 2010 earlier last year. "Then, you know, I think that we'll find ways to even sell our packaged goods content in chunks and in pieces and subscriptions and micro-transactions," he added.

As Riccitiello points out the gaming industry is moving in the direction of digital distribution with many retailers reluctant to give in. This new way of approaching selling games is a huge benefit for publishers such as Electronic Arts, who view the digital marketplace as the future of the industry. Putting a game out via download cuts costs for the publisher significantly, however retailers would be cut entirely out of the equation if this were to happen. Texas based Gamestop is one such retailer that would be devastated if the digital marketplace were to become the new way to buy games. If publishers were to put out full retail titles on the digital marketplace they would cut costs in land, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship thus maximizing their profits. Retailers like Gamestop would not survive in the digital age of video games. Just as Netflix overpowered Blockbuster with its instant to watch online service and low monthly cost, digital distribution will spell disaster for Gamestop. So will digital distribution become the new "norm" of the gaming industry, or will Gamestop continue to retail games as always? Its up to the publishers to decide, and the decision seems clear.

Xbox Kinect only for Xbox?

The Microsoft Kinect is a video based game controller released in 2010. It takes a live video feed of a person standing in front of their TV and uses the motions it spots to move the in-game figures and objects. Since its release the Kinect has been charted at selling "8 million units in 60 days."

Recently it was stated by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that the Kinect will soon be supported for PC gaming . The effect of this will be large and could be massive amounts of profit for Microsoft, yet I predict a catastrophic flaw in this choice. As PC gaming stands today most gamers play two major types of games, First person shooters and MMORPGs (Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Games) such as World of Warcraft. These types of games favor items such as high dollar mice and keyboards. Most people who are PC gamers most likely will not wish to make the switch to full body controlling.

Another problem with putting the Kinect out for PCs would be a drop in Xbox 360 sales. From the release of the Kinect the sales of this gaming system have jumped. Causing a large profit to be made on the Kinect and the Xbox 360 itself. If it is released for the PC those who don't own an Xbox only need to by the Kinect and not spend the extra $300 dollars on the Xbox just to use it. Over all if this happens I predict a drop in Microsoft's profits due to the Kinect yet a continued rise in sales.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bacteria eating Natural Gases from Oil Spill

Studies show that deep sea bacteria completely devoured all the gases released from the Gulf oil spill. In USA Today people such as David Valentine of the University of California says that they "expected the methane to persist longer."

Future deep-sea oil spills "will at least partially be met with a micrbial fate," based on the findings study lead author John Kessler of Texas A&M University, by e-mail. Federal Scientists in November estimated that about 13% of the 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the gulf from the 84-day-spill was consumed by microbes.
If these studies are true is it worth possibly having another Gulf oil spill? Is it worth endangering another ecosystem as well as other states that are dependent on Gulf of Mexico?

I think it is worth it, most of the world is dependent on gasoline and natural gases and drilling for oil in the Gulf is not something new to the ecosystem. I'm not saying that it wasn't an ecological disaster because it was, but there is no alternative fuel source that has been found yet that is not only cost effective and can replace gasoline completely. Therefore until we do find a such a fuel source, gasoline as a limited resource as it is has to be used. Unlike drilling in Alaska, the Gulf deals with seeps of oil and natural gases constantly, more so than any other place in the world. Ergo it would be safer to drill in the Gulf where mother nature is already prepared to deal with partially than disrupt an entire ecosystem such as Alaska. The bacteria acts a natural biofilter and they respond naturally to large-scale inputs of natural gas. So therefore the long term effects of the oil spill didn't persist as long as most have predicted.
With this new information, the dangers of drilling in places such as the Gulf of Mexico isn't held to such a high degree and will push people to drill in the sea which will overall help the economy. The United States will be able to export gasoline and oil from the country instead of relying solely on imports. This will increase the strength of the American dollar and therefore it will be beneficial to drill for oil instead and is worth the risk of another oil spill. The U.S. economy is already in a hole as it is, finding ways such as this to bring the economy back up is logical. While at the same time, it would be wise to find an alternative fuel source that is cost effective and efficient as it is only beneficial from here on out for the whole world.