Saturday, May 31, 2014

Apple To Acquire Beats Electronics

Apple to acquire Beats Electronics for USD3 billion, the largest purchase after NeXT in 1996 (for USD429 million). Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre will join Apple.

Apple has been criticised for not having any break through products after iPad. In another words, Apple has no interesting product yet under after Tim Cook as CEO.

Apple has acquired many companies during pass few years, but are smaller company with advance technology and potential talents eg. P.A. Semi, Placebase, Siri, C3 Technologies etc. From here you will notice Tim Cook's strategy different from Steve Jobs.

What type of company is Beats Electronics that worth Apple to dig out USD3 billion from their pocket? Beats Electronics produce audio product which co-founded by Jimmy Iovine and hip-hop producer Dr. Dre (Andre Young).

The marketing line for the Beats Electronics products is "People aren't hearing all the music, ... with Beats, people are going to hear what the artists hear ..." Beats has earphone, iPod docking speakers, bluetooth portable speaker (and more). Beats' product normally label with "beats by dr. dre".

Beats founded at year 2006. In year 2011, Taiwan mobile phone manufacturer HTC acquired 50.1% stake of Beats with USD309 million. Later HTC sold their shares in Beats, the deal make Beats value at USD1 billion. HTC invest in Beats to use Beats technology in their mobile phones.

Those early products from Beats are manufacture by Monster. You will notice a lot of the Beats products are label with Monster. In year 2012, Monster break-off with Bears as contract end, and becomes a competitor of Beats.

Beats also works together with HP. HP use Beats Audio system in HP notebook, it can be identified with red character with black colour background. HP has a dedicated page for its Beats Audio products (check here). Will Beats Audio still be using at HP's notebook after Apple's acquisition? I doubt it. Altec Lansing (or other speaker companies) should be benefited from this.

Beats has a portable mini speaker product manufacture by China, the beatbox S10 series. The beatbox looks like the X-mini portable speakers, but much cheaper. The beatbox makes X-mini speaker just an over priced product. If X-mini don't improved, it going to be killed by beatbox soon.

After than earphones and speaker, Beats has online music streaming service, Beats Music. There are analysis saying that Apple acquire Beats to improve its music business, especially the online music streaming service.

Is Beats audio device good? It "looks good and sounds good", the Beats audio speaker is "loud and clear". Does Beats worth the USD3 billion? Let's see how it goes.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Which Lens Will You Buy for USD1K Budget

If money is not an issue, you may buy all the lenses you like, because every lens has its own style and character. If you are given a USD1,000 budget, which lens you will buy for the Nikon dSLR?

Information for the dSLR beginners, USD1,000 may not enough for you to buy a good lens. Luckily there are so many Nikon lenses, which came with difference prices and functionalities. With the limited budget you still have few choices of the Nikon lenses, good enough to fit in our needs.

For Nikon full-frame (D4, D4S, D700, D800, D600/D610) camera, you may buy a 28-300mm. One lens for all, is convenience for traveling.

For myself, I like to shoot portrait, I may spend a little bit more on the 85mm. These will be my choices:

1. Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G. About USD 200-220.
The 50mm is cheap and nice, good for portrait and low light. A must, even for beginners.

2. Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G. About USD 500.
Nikon has a 85mm f/1.4G, but the price is three time more than the 1.8G version. There are some slight difference between these 2 lenses. The pricy 85mm f/1.4G make 85mm f/1.8G looks a good buy. If you are not too into portrait, you still can use the 50mm 1.8G and skip this lens as well.

3. Nikkor 70-300mm G. About USD 140.
Since I still want to shoot animals or birds outdoor, not much budget left. I will choose this in-expensive zoom lens.

About the Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6G, this is the older version. It has no auto-focus, not VR (Vibration Reduction). I also doubt that is still available on the market, as there is a version 2 available. I heard 2 of my friends told me they have bought it (the old version) and sold it, they don't like the lens.

Since the lens has no auto-focus, you need to manual focus if you use it on D40, D60, D3200 or D5300 series. The successor is the Nikkor 70-300mm VR, with auto-focus and VR, but it cost 3 times (about USD600, still cheap) more.

For landscape and scenery lovers, you need a wider lens with 50mm. My choices are:

1. Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G. About USD 200-220

2. Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 D. About USD 360.
or the newer
Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G. About USD 700.

3. Nikkor 70-300mm G. About USD 140.

For Nikon DX (eg. D3200, D5300, D7100 etc.) users. These are my choices:

1. Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX. About USD 200.
This is another cheap and nice prime lens like the 50mm, but this is for DX cameras only.

2. Nikkor 18-55mm DX
Normally this is the kit lens, it has a few version, DX, DX II, VR. The latest will be 18-55mm VR II, cost about USD 250.

3. Nikkor 55-200mm DX. About USD 250.

DX lens is cheaper, for DX cameras only. With the budget extra, you might want to get the 50mm f/1.8g, which will worked like a 85mm on DX cameras.

What will be your choices for a USD1,000 budget?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Virtual Machine on ARM CPU

The 2 virtual machine software (VMWare and Virtualbox) that I know runs on Intel x86 architecture. This sounds reasonable, as most popular operating system software runs on x86. Windows, Linux, Mac OS X (10.5), Solaris are all available on x86 cpu architecture platform. Simulator for ARM like armware is in working process, new virtual machine software for ARM should be coming soon too.

What is a virtual machine? What is it use for? Virtual machine (VM) is a software platform which simulate the computer hardware (cpu, memory, hardware storage and I/O etc.), to allow different operating system running at the same time on the same machine. VM simulate as many standalone computer hardware on a single machine, as long as you have enough hardware resources to support it.

Simulation software are normally slow and use a lot of resources. As hardware technology improve, and price getting cheaper and cheaper, a newer personal computer machine is much more powerful than an older server.

As virtual machine software technology improve from time to time, the performance of the software running on virtual machine is closer to the software performance running on native platform. The using of the virtual machine software came with many advantages.

There are many advantages with using virtual machine. With virtual machine, you can run a different operating system software on the same machine. For example, you can setup 2 operating system on the same machine, 1 for development, another 1 for testing. You can easily setup the software environment on the virtual machine by backup, copy and restore the VM image. With virtual machine, testing and server management are much easier.

Current iOS and Android runs on ARM cpu platform. As mobile environment getting more popular, ARM cpu are getting more powerful and more popular too, improve with multi-core and moving to 64 bits. Apple is pushing its mobile cpu to 64 bits with A7 cpu, other competitors like Samsung and Qualcomm will follow as well.

AMD is trying very hard to include ARM cpu in their hardware platform (read here), not sure AMD is pushing ARM into their server platform. There are rumors that Apple is testing ARM cpu for their notebook actively.

CPU performance is not the only benchmark, power consumption is the area where ARM cpu out perform the Intel cpu. Apple notebook will equipped with ARM cpu, sooner or later, then a virtual machine for ARM will exist.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The Evolution of Homepage

Since we have world wide web, every personal and companies want their own homepage, for branding and marketing. A the beginning, we create our own homepage with html.

In web 2.0, we do blogging. Blog updates from time to time, it is more interesting than the static homepage which only update quarterly or once a year. The micro-blogging expand blogging to the mobile world.

Later we build "fan page" as our homepage on Facebook, as Facebook has a community base users. It is more effective to have a fan page as the homepage.

Now in the mobile world, we don't create html homepage. We create mobile apps for branding and marketing. So what's next?