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April 28, 2008

Introducing Linux to new users: The Great Ubuntu-Girlfriend Experiment

Linux is never going to make it as a consumer PC operating system until the average user can comfortably use it. The Content Consumer checks it out in the The Great Ubuntu-Girlfriend Experiment:

I’ve toyed with Linux since 2002, when I first installed Mandrake. With the latest release of Ubuntu, I was interested to see how far Linux had come since then in terms of being used easily by the mainstream. So, I tricked my grudging girlfriend Erin into sitting down at a brand new Ubuntu 8.04 installation and performing some basic tasks. It’s surprising how many seemingly simple things become complicated and even out of reach for someone without a knowledge of Linux. There are a lot of little things that could be done to make the experience a lot more friendly for non-computer-literate people – some of them easy to implement, others not at all.

Click through to read the full test (it’s not tedious at all) and I think you will agree that 1) Erin is unusually savvy for a philosophy major, 2) things aren’t as bad as the introduction would lead you to believe.  Still, after reading it, I’m not sure Linux would do very well in a Great Ubuntu-Grandma Experiment.

Posted at 3:04 pm. Filed under Linux, Operating Systems

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Standalone GPS prices to plummet?

Toby Sterling at the AP has an assessment of the GPS market which is bad news for makers of standalone GPS boxes, but good news for consumers – GPS market at turning point with sliding prices, demand off:

Consumer navigation devices have gone from expensive gadgets to mainstream gear in just three years, but Europe’s largest maker is struggling.

The experience of Netherlands-based TomTom NV — which saw earnings fall 83 percent in the first quarter — suggests the market for stand-alone global-positioning systems is at a turning point.

“What we saw for the first time is that selling prices fell, but volumes didn’t improve enough to compensate,” analyst Eric de Graaf of Petercam said after the results were reported Wednesday. “It’s a signal the market is getting saturated.”

Some analysts believe that as stand-alone versions are overtaken by cell phones and other devices with navigation technology built in, GPS devices will become low-margin commodity products, like pocket calculators. But others think a smart company could turn GPS devices into premium products the way Apple Inc. made its iPod music player stand out from a host of cheaper devices.

Now, 10 percent of U.S. drivers and 20 percent of those in Europe own a navigation device. But prices for basic stand-alone devices have fallen below $200 from $500 or more.

TomTom’s main competitors are Garmin and MiTAC which are numbers 1 and 3 in sales respectively and all three combined amount to 80% of the market. MiTAC is indicating 15% lower sales while Garmin hasn’t reported as yet and is cushioned by making industrial GPS units for aircraft and ships.

The big competition in the future is apparently expected to be from cell phones, but I find standalone GPS units hard enough to read, much more trying the same thing on the average cell phone screen. Still, in a saturated market, price should continue to fall and manufacturers will keep adding bells and whistles to try to prop them up.

Posted at 2:50 pm. Filed under Bargains, Companies, Garmin, GPS, TomTom

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April 17, 2008

Toshiba laptops 20% off until May 1, 2008 (now May 15)

I have been a pleased user of a Toshiba laptop for over 2 years and get a variety of advertising information from them. Today, I noticed that they are having a 20% off sale on selected models until May 1st.

Save 20% instantly when you customize select Satellite® laptops online.  Offer ends 5.01.08.  Shop today!

More precisely, it’s 20% off on all customizable Satellite laptops (which amounts to 5 models), where “customizable” means that you select the exact software and hardware options that you want. Seems like a great deal on a great product. Give it a look if you are in the market for a laptop.

Update: This offer has been extended until May 15.

Posted at 12:43 pm. Filed under Bargains, Companies, Laptop, Notebook, Toshiba

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