[SATLUG] $200 Laptops Break a Business Model

Borries Demeler demeler at biochem.uthscsa.edu
Mon Jan 26 08:44:21 CST 2009

Just wanted to share a couple of items with this group:

1st item:
I recently ordered a MagicJack - anyone knows about this? For $39.95 +
s/h you get a little usb plugin device that at the other end allows you to
plug in your home phone. If you run Windows or Mac OSX and have broadband,
this allows you to make/get unlimited calling in the US, Canada and
Puerto Rico.  There is a $19.95 yearly charge for this service (first
year is included in the $39.95). It includes voicemail, a local number,
and caller ID. I run the software on an XP image running under VMWare on
my linux laptop. If you set up your network correctly, it works great,
sound quality is very good, even on international calls (for which you
have to pay, but only very little). You can also use a headset instead of the
phone. They are working on a Linux driver, but no ETA yet. The concept and
cost is the best VOIP solution I have found, so now I want to get rid of
my landline and replace it with this MJ device. I did have several startup
difficulties, which were all resolved with the help of their online chat
help, but it was tedious and time consuming. The problem was the original
number didn't work for incoming calls, they changed my number, now it works
great. One word of caution: They chat help is pretty incompetent, until you
get elevated high enough in their hirarchy.

2nd item:
So, now I am thinking about getting a very low power consuming laptop
that I can leave on all the time without a big draw of electricity. It
only needs to run the MJ device. I was looking at the 8.9" intel Atom
netbooks, and also was wondering if there is something very low power
consuming but also very cheap, that may even come without a screen and
runs off of a CF card that I could preload with WinXP until they come
out with the Linux driver, so I don't need to have VMWare running all the
time. My current Linux system is a Inspiron 9400 power hog with lots of
memory, big screen and big harddrive, so I don't want to let it run 24/7.
I'm hoping I can get something for less than $200 that draws maybe 8-10
watts max.  Any suggestions?

3rd item:
here is an interesting article in today's NYTimes:

$200 Laptops Break a Business Model
As consumers are finding ways to buy computers at a lower 
cost, high-margin businesses are hurting.

Some excerpts:

   "...So who's up, who's down and who's out this time around? Microsoft's
   valuable Windows franchise appears vulnerable after two decades of
   dominance. Revenue for the company's Windows operating system fell for
   the first time in history in the last quarter of 2008. The popularity
   of Linux, a free operating system installed on many netbooks instead
   of Windows, forced Microsoft to lower the prices on its operating
   system to compete."

   "...The makers of open-source software also continue to benefit from
   the growing appeal of their often cheap, if not free, products. Sun
   Microsystems distributes 65,000 downloads a day of its MySQL
   database, which has turned into the favored business software of
   new companies. The job search engine Indeed.com shows a thriving job
   market for MySQL and Linux developers..."

So maybe us Linux geeks and programmers are recession proof this time around?
Let's hope so...


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